Is summer over?

September 3, 2008 at 9:23 am

I bought some more bicycling clothes so that I could attempt to get in two rides per week without creating a constant need to do laundry. I’ve got new shorts, new socks, … I was psyched up to give them a try today. I rode “Pink Lightning” (my ’80s Schwinn Super Sport racer) and as I rounded the first round-a-bout, I was starting to wonder if I was doing something really dumb. I’ve never really ridden on a cold day and wasn’t sure how much internal heat I could rely on to get me through the 40 minute ride.

My fingerless gloves were woefully inadequate and I found myself jamming my hands in my armpits at every stoplight. My thoroughly vented shoes are way too summery and left me arriving at work with numb toes that tingled until I got in a hot shower. One layer of spandex shorts did suffice and my exposed legs were A-OK. I checked some of the local weather stations ( sweet weather site – weatherunderground ) and found that it was about 42 degrees. WHERE DID SUMMER GO?

If you want to track my bicycle commutes you can follow along at

And concerning computer games: “Spore” releases this week (Sept 7)!

Surprise! Indiana Jones movie release (no spoilers)

May 23, 2008 at 8:17 am

Last night Kate asked me if I wanted noodles from the similarly named chain restaurant. Of course I want noodles, I love noodles! On the way to the restaurant, we gave Doug and Liz a call to see if they wanted to join us and share Liz’s experience with the tornadoes of the day (she works in Windsor, CO). I thought it a little odd that we invited them when we were two-thirds of the way to one step above fast food, but they were up for it and met us at Noodles. Near the end of dinner, Liz declared that she wanted to do something else and I mentioned that I had wanted to head home to purchase and play the newly released Penny-Arcade game. I then accidentally used profanity in the vicinity of lots of children, but none seemed to notice. Kate suggests we go to check and see if Indiana Jones had any tickets left. Sure, why not… it’s opening night and we might get lucky.

At the ticket counter, Kate had a voucher for tickets! And so did Liz!
“When did you buy these”, I asked, thinking it was probably earlier in the evening.
“Last week”, Kate replied.
I was astounded. With a slack-jawed look on my face I started rewinding my week and connecting conversations with this secret plan. It was a conspiracy! Sweeeet! Kate was hoping for a big hug, but mostly I reacted with shock and a far-away look as I put together all the events which were driven by this plan.

How was the movie? It was fun. I was a little nervous about the time gap in this series and thought we might be getting another debacle on in the same way that Episode 1 was to Star Wars, but it was light and fun.

I was looking for… what was I looking for?

April 7, 2008 at 7:56 pm

Kate and I are in Best Buy Sunday night with a primary mission to get the last two seasons of Gilmore Girls so that we quit watching them out of order when our TiVO randomly decides to record one. And yes, I like Gilmore Girls… you can impugn my manliness as you see fit, but it is an excellent show.

The super-secret secondary mission is for me to go and get my monthly PC game purchase. I’ve got my sights on a box-set of Oblivion and I’m heading to the PC gaming section when I walk by some youngsters playing the song “Should I stay or Should I go?” by The Clash on the floor demo of Rock Band.

Instantly, I’m humming along with the song and standing in front of a row of games with absolutely no clue as to why I am there. A blue-shirt asks me if he can help me and I tell him I’ve forgotten the name of the game I came here to buy. I say “It’s the most popular off-line computer role playing game of 2007” and he replies, “so is that the title?” That one caught me a little off guard. “Um…. no, I’ll work it out. Thanks for your time.”

I browse the titles and my head is filled with nothing but The Clash. I might as well be blind. I go back to find Kate and ask her to tell me what I was thinking when I walked into the store. She’s my ace, and when we arrive back at the PC games, the song is now Nirvana. I’m only perhaps 75% engaged by it, but still cannot find what I’m looking for. Kate picks it up from somewhere directly in the center of my vision and we leave the store with a pile full of Gilmore Girls, midevil RPGs and some $10 James Bond movies. Success!

New Toys for Spring

April 6, 2008 at 7:33 pm

The weather has been mild and we got a big tax refund. Time to shop!

I’ve spent my time and money lately refurbishing Ann’s older (but very nice) road bike into the ultimate commuter bike. This is the most work I’ve ever done on a bike, by myself, and it was a heck of a learning experience.

Kate's awesome commuter bike

Ok, here’s all of the cool improvements I made:
1 – Entirely new handlebars, with all new shifters, brakes and cabling. I did accidentally wire the brakes backwards, but I can fix that later.
2 – You can’t see it, but I installed a sweet LED headlight for evening rides home.
3 – A new bike computer! I need to know how far I ride and how fast! This was the first computer that I have installed and calibrated on my own.
4 – Bike lock, of course.
5 – Seat pack to hold patch kit, spare tube, and multi-tool.
6 – Handy bike pump. Don’t want to be caught with a flat on the other side of town.
7 – New chain. Installing this and then re-adjusting the deraillures was one of the biggest challenges.
8 – New tubes and tires. These have more tread for all-weather conditions.
9 – Changed out the clip-less peddles for platforms so I can ride in flip-flops this summer!

Mark also got to spend a little money, and on Sunday we went out and bought him a nice new grill. He loves it, and it made some darn tasty BBQ pork on Sunday night! With the house, grill and gardening tools we’ve collected over the last few years, we’re nearly back to the amount of stuff we had before we left Indiana. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but at least we have tasty grillin’ again.

Mark and his new grill

Browser Hijack / Trojan / Downloader EXPUNGED!

April 1, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I used to have a core set of tools to keep my PC free and clean of viruses and ad-ware. Then, about two weeks ago, I was browsing the world wide web with reckless abandon and through some unknown means, I picked up a nasty unwanted piece of software that we shall (for the sake of simplicity) call the lop virus. Realistically, it was the combination of a virus, a downloader and one or more trojan horse. I’m wondering if some piece of internet trash I viewed used a security hole to install itself. These have existed in the past and usually take advantage of a buffer overrun or some such which I am positive are ALWAYS caused by C++ programmers with short attention spans.

The short version is that Adaware is no longer my homey. It failed me. My new best friend is SpyHunter, but it isn’t free…

Mark is smelling a little gamey!

February 19, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Kate is teaching a class in Colorado Springs for 3.5 weeks allowing me to “live like a single guy” in the evenings. It means I’ll be eating unhealthy food, playing computer games until the wee hours of the night and generally letting myself slip to a lower standard of hygiene.

Kate bought me a birthday gift last November which caused me to build up a computer from scratch. She bought World in Conflict and it was a brilliant game. I played the single player for maybe 8ish hours and kept hoping it wouldn’t end. Kate did excellent in picking that one. It is the best real-time strategy game I’ve played. After that, I obeyed the end of year ruckus surrounding Portal, and bought it as part of the Orange Box. Portal was brilliant: short, but perfect. After that I replayed Half-Life2 and then continued on with new-to-me content in the Episode1 and Episode2. They are brilliant as well and did not disappoint.

Being a married computer gamer, I have self-imposed limits on my gaming so that I don’t ruin my marriage or my job. The first rule is to never play a game that doesn’t have a pause feature. This rules out all massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft (WoW) or City of Heroes/Villains. Those would be like crack to me and I know better than to give either a taste. I’m nearly done defending the earth from an alien incursion (in Half-Life2) and it is about time to pick a new game. I’m leaning towards conquering the universe in Sins of a Solar Empire (though I shall ignore the multiplayer bits because it will have no pause button), or the most recent well-acclaimed classic RPG’s (from 2006) Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion plus sequels.

To read about the building of the PC and all the parts I choose and why, read on…

Globe hopping

May 19, 2007 at 7:29 pm

All of my pictures from my week-long trip are up in the gallery.

I finished my trip to Japan yesterday. Due to the international date line, I got back to Colorado two hours before I departed Japan. Neat-o! Traveling that far is always quite a taxing day.

Traveling around Japan via mostly train was quite challenging, as I am mostly illiterate concerning signs. I had good help almost every step of the way so it went quite well.

During my short little trip, I was astounded to see how young the Japanese population is, as well as the astounding number of men (and very young men) in business suits. I liked that part a lot. It made the day seem more civilized and refined. The trains were very impressive. They were smooth, fast and quiet and incredibly clean. The very best trains are the Shinkansen high-speed train. These are the 200 mph electric trains that cover the distances between the major cities. If I had the choice between a one hour commute to work by car or by train, I would take the train every time. On one morning trip, I got 15-20 minutes of toying with my laptop because I wasn’t driving. It was really nice.

For dinner the first night of non-travel, we went to a Korean BBQ. We ordered some kind of flat-rate-drink-for-90-minutes item and took good advantage of it. Beer, Sake and Shochu all around and all tasty. The food was very good. It was a meal of cut meats that you grill at your table over a small charcoal pit. After lots of eating and drinking I was quite finished and retired to my room. I would characterize it as a big drinking night for me, yet I did not suffer a hangover for it. Those clear liquors are quite strong, but less painful the next morning. I was a bit dehydrated, but had none of the headache or tiredness that I am accustomed to when I overindulge.

I was on my own for the second evening and found a restaurant with pictures on the menu and pointed. It was beef-like, though of a texture which made me think it was a part of the cow that I have never had before. I couldn’t even start to guess what I ate that night, but it had a nice sauce.

During my trip, I had two means of calling home: a pre-paid phone card and a Vonnage flash drive phone. The pre-paid calling card was useless. I had printed every page of instructions from the web site and this thing was useless. However, the Vonnage flash drive phone was awesome. Every hotel that I stayed in had some form of free internet and as long as I was on the internet, the phone usually worked and all calls were dialed as if I was in Colorado.

On the third day, I saw a fantastic Buddhist temple. It really felt good to be amongst all the buildings and wandering the grounds. We were only there for perhaps a half hour (had a schedule to keep), but it was worth it. On the third evening I moved to a different hotel with nicer rooms and a hot springs on the premises. Unfortunately, I got in fairly late and was traveling early the next morning, so I was unable to take advantage of it. Next to the hotel there was a very beautiful river, but at this point, it was dark and the batteries in my camera had died, so I was unable to take any more pictures until I replaced them.

The final day was a partial day of sightseeing before my flight. We used a train to to get to Tokyo station and then had the incredible experience of rush hour on the local Tokyo trains. It resembled a rugby scrum in business suits. First the train gets packed with people. Then about 10 more people just push onto the train followed by another 15 that I just didn’t believe were going to fit. I think people actually had to exhale to pull it off. At each stop 15 or so people had to unclog the door to let others off and then quickly reclaim the door blockage to get to the next station. We did this three times before arriving in the vicinity of Tokyo tower.

At Tokyo tower, we took in some tourist activities. I purchased some souvenirs for Kate as well as saw some of the sights that are in the lower levels of the tower. We saw a wacky wax museum as well as some Japanese history and demographics. Japanese people have been getting much taller lately! Unfortunately we were unable to go up into the tower because this is the season for school children to see it and the lines were tremendous. Having used most of our time, we were unable to do part II of our morning tourism which would have taken us to see the grounds of the emperor’s palace. So, we headed to the airport a bit early and hung out (sumo on the big-screen TV) until our flight left. It was quite exciting. And then came the super-long flight home…

Temple Ceiling Decoration

Famous Person spot, met!

February 22, 2007 at 11:54 am

I saw a famous person in Las Vegas airport. I was looking at him and thinking… yeah… that is him, so I asked and got to meet…

I got to shake hands with Greg Proops from “Who’s line is it anyway”. This is the first time in the 10 years I’ve owned a cell phone that I wish it had a camera in it.