Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas

I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas. I know I did, even though this is definitely the time of the year that I miss family and friends back in Michigan the most. We spent the day quietly at home while Miranda played with her new Barbies and magnetic "paper" dolls. There was plenty of time spent on the phone with family and it sounds like all are doing well.

This year for Christmas, our dinner and meals went a little astray. Breakfast was french toast in pear sauce with venison sausage. Lunch/Dinner was ham, spinach dip, bread, and carrots. That didn't come off so well. The spinach dip was off. The ham was ok. But Miranda ate well minus not wanting french toast. Sometimes I wonder about what she likes to eat. She is really a carnivore.

Before too much longer, we will be starting 2010. I always wonder what changes there will be in this new year. I know some of my friends will be facing their own changes as some expect children and others continue their education. Some will be focusing on new jobs and others will be getting into their stride in their current jobs.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope that everyone is have a fun and safe Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Review: The Last Remnant

Non-game related... LIONS WIN. Wasn't pretty, but really I don't care when a win is a win.

Recently finished playing The Last Remnant and I was impressed by the game. The game is classified as a JRPG. You take on the role of Rush, who seems to fill a typical lead character: young, male, not bright, impetuous, and brave. It starts with Rush's sister getting kidnapped and he must now head out to rescue her and happens into a battlefield. You meet up with a group of individuals that pull you into much bigger problems happening in the world.

The characters are interesting. The story is interesting. The battle system is also interesting.

The characters range through a bunch of types. The game takes time to setup up side quests for a large number of unique leaders. These side quests are used to tell the individual stories. One of the stories I enjoyed was that of Loki. Loki's story is that of a despicable bandit who is offering his services to bid. But once you have put him into your squad you get a chance to talk to him and find that he was born under a bad sign and the whole village treated him as a bad egg. Over time he engaged in more and more atrocities, until he happens upon a blind girl who he decides to help when she blindly offers friendship. He is now on a mission to correct her eyesight which he needs your help to do so.

The story starts simply, but expands. The world is filled with these items called Remnants that are able to do incredible and magical things. Remnants seem to be a combination of magic and futuristic items. So there is this guy called The Conqueror who is forcibly gathering Remnants in his bid to join the political congress. But things are not always as they seem. Rush's family is special as is Rush himself. What bothered me but also intrigued me was how you were kept guessing as to what was going on in the world. There was just a lot of mystery.

The battle system is pretty different for me. Instead of running 3 to 5 single players, you end up controlling between 3 to 5 groups of individuals. These unions each have a formation, one or more leaders, and soldiers. The leaders and soldiers each have individual skills and abilities, but in the union their health and ability points are pooled and they act in concert. It can get pretty frustrating at time as you don't tell them what to do specifically, but instead give them very general commands as to what you want them to do, not helpful when the group is in dire need of health and that is not an option. You get up to 5 options which can feel pretty random.

One beef with the game is you really feel like you don't have any control of how your characters progress. I think this leads to your characters being week on the first playthrough. Given my limited time to play games being a father and all, I turned to the Last Remnant wikia to help make the most of my character ability progression. The other beef I have is with the amount and length of load times. I spent around 150+ hours on the game over the last 9 months and probably have a couple of hours (or 10s of hours) waiting for the load screens.

Otherwise, I am impressed.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Lions are the worst team in the NFL

I thought we might be getting better. I was wrong. We are the worst. Not a good feeling as a fan.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Review: Glasshouse

Glasshouse by Charles Stross tells the story of Robin/Reeve in a world where intelligent beings have reached a point that traveling through space is as simple as sending packets across a router. You can live forever, but there are still hazards that could kill you or worse, steal your identity. Robin has recently gone through a procedure to remove large segments of his memory. This is a pretty common procedure for people. Robin believes he has specific horrible events that he needs to remove either from recent virus wars or some other traumatic feature. As part of his recovery, he has decided to enter an experiment that should help him find new focus and life. Instead he finds himself in a prison run by the things he is trying to forget.

I have found this sequel to Accelerando to be a good read. Mr. Stross has taken basic networking concepts and applied them to the life and movement of humans in the future. When you can take a backup of who you are now, you definitely would live your life differently. In addition, the problems you face are drastically different when you start learning of viruses and firewalls. He takes the idea of hacking to body types, memories, behavioral reward systems, and transport worm holes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Football season blues

Week 6. The point in the season that marks the last trades that can occur for the year. Their have been a couple big trades in the first 6 weeks. I am not sure if we will see one more as the deadline is Tuesday. A number of the analysts have put together their lists of players that could use a change in scenery or teams that should do what it takes to put talent in place to make a run at the playoffs. There is nothing the Lions can or should do. To many missing pieces and all they can trade is draft picks. And because of the needs, the draft picks are could be useful to the Lions, unless you can grab a real winner in a trade.

So the Lions lost today. They did get a win a few weeks ago so that I would buy my Lions hat. But this loss was particularly painful. They were shut out in a divisional contest and continue to allow opposing quarterbacks some franchise best days. Even with the porous Green Bay offensive line and the plethora of penalties, the Lions couldn't even score a point. I like the calls to not go for 3 and head for a touchdown. In the situations they were in, they correctly decided to try. Although I really question a sweep on one short yardage situation instead of running a dive or qb sneak.

I really like my football Sundays but I do have somethings that annoy me. First off, why are their still blackout rules? Not just economic reasons, you would think that it would help the NFL and the broadcasters to be able to run multiple games at the same time. Second, why is overtime they way it is? Why not just play 1 more quarter? Or do away with it, and deal with the tie. I have probably griped about these already, but they just continue to be an irritation along with rookie pay, collective bargaining agreements, and other issues that could risk alienating the market. If we see a lockout or strike next year, it would severely dampening my enthusiasm for the sport, and that has me most worried.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life happens

Well, let's see if I can summarize some of what has happened. Ben and I headed to PAX a few weeks ago. Wow, it was fun. I was impressed by how the Washington State Convention Center was able to handle the amount people there. Lots of stuff looked really impressive, some you expect (stuff from Blizzard) and some that was a surprise to me (Torchlight Games). We went all three days which is a first for me. We went to see Bill Amend's talk, Wil Wheaton's talk, also a talk on game design strategy and failure in games as part of design. Otherwise we spent some time in the table top area playing board and card games. Got to hang out with Eonflare as well. As for concerts, we stuck around till JoCo played on Saturday night and that was a lot of fun.

Then I spent a week sick. Very, very sick. But I was able to effectively quarantine myself as the rest of house was able to stay healthy.

This weekend finds me home with Miranda while Michelle is at a knitting retreat. We have done some coloring, reading, running around, legos, dancing, and movies. She seems to be bearing up well with mom being away.

Oh yeah. The Lions decided to end a 19 game losing streak avoiding the record. They seemed to want to give it away, but held on to find new life and new opportunity. WOOT!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lions' bets

Still sick. Not H1Nerd1 from PAX. Just the plain old flu.

If the Lions post double digit wins, I will buy a Authentic Jersey with the team MVP.

If the Lions avoid the record consecutive losses, I will buy a Lion's hat.

This year I am trying to avoid the negative bet that I made last year, so this is my way of trying to keep it positive.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Passing on the affliction?

So far I have finished two fantasy drafts for fantasy football season. I am sure all of us feel that we could put together a team that would be successful, but that isn't really why I play. I play because for many years now, I needed something else to help Sunday be fun again while Detroit was trying to figure out that Matt Millen was not the right solution for creating a winning season. It gave me people to watch and celebrate when they did something successful, which was really in short supply with the Lions.

Now I am faced with a dilemma. I can pass on this unhealthy love of a bumbling team to my daughter or let her go down a different path. Michelle's family is generally a Green Bay family, so that is one option. Another is the Seattle Seahawks. I am not a particular fan of either. And how do you influence the team they adopt? Is it peer pressure? Is it watching a parent cry in their hands when there team suffers a crushing defeat? Maybe I really don't have a say in the matter.

That said, I do have a group of players I can cheer for. I have a couple leagues, one standard yahoo public league (Adrian Peterson, Steve Smith/Car, etc) and then my custom league. This is the first year that I have tried the individual defensive players instead of the team defenses. I ended up picking up my defensive players starting in the 6th round. I might have been able to hold off longer, but I had some defensive players that I definitely wanted on my squad. The worst part of it was 4 of the 10 teams were unable to show and Yahoo does a poor job of ranking defensive players. It should be simple to apply league scoring rules and show the number of points a player racked up last year. Rank on that and you at least have a good idea of where that player should go.

It should be fun this year. Lots of new things to try and lots of teams to keep an eye on during the season.

This years Lions prediction: 4 - 12. Also I predict that they set record for consecutive losses (even though they are really only 3 away...).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Book Reviews: Charles Stross

Recently finished a bunch of books between illness and vacation.

Halting State was a tremendously fun book. The book is about a couple of geeks. One is a computer geek, one is an accounting geek, but both enjoy games and other forms of geeky entertainment. The story starts when an online bank in MMORPG bank is robbed. A jumpy marketing executive gets the police involved and suddenly you have the risk of currency collapse in this world. It only gets worse when at the root of the problem, this type of robbery should be impossible and that the fact it has occurred has very real implications to all things networked which in the near future work is everything.

I found the characters to be fun, interesting and engaging. The world itself is a delight with its blending on online and offline elements. It is not as ground breaking as Snow Crash or Neuromancer but takes those same rough concepts and updates them with the most recent state of the art and extrapolates it. The story has a few good twists in it and carries quickly through from scene to scene, rarely feeling like it is dragging. The story is told through a couple points of view which can be a bit disjointing but is fun. For me, I had to just get through the police officer scenes which were not as interesting to me, but they were not bad either.

In terms of Charles' other books, this has more the feel of the occult-geek books but with a science fiction settings. You have a spy versus spy story with plenty of action similar to Jennifer Morgue and Atrocity Archives, but without the Elder Gods.

Singularity Sky is set in the far future world where humanity has been spread through the universe but not as you would expect. The universe is policed by the Eschaton to keep causality events from occurring. And some of those far flung pockets of humanity are pretty dumb.

Enter into this an engineer for hire who specializes in singularity drives (mini black holes that are spun for energy and propulsion) and a special operative who specializes in diffusing situations where governments are tempted to use those banned causality violating events. A minor backwater world is "invaded" by The Festival, a group of AIs that rain down factories and gifts in exchange for information. This backwater world is controlled by a regional galaxy government that is focused on restricting information and controlling the population. The government decides to take their world back by sending a armada far into the future and then back again in an effort to sneak past the Eschaton's monitoring.

The books set in this universe are a bit harder to read. They are set in a far different world and a lot of time is spent describing it. The story feels choppy and will burst forward with lots of stuff happen and then halt to describe an aspect of the world. The story when it is moving is interesting but that when it stops it just is painful. The characters are fun and interesting as well as some of the science aspects.

Iron Sunrise is the sequel to Singularity Sky. You have our two intrepid policing agents again but are introduced in more detail to Herman (a non-present character in the first book) and Wednesday, a teenage girl who has lost her home planet and feels the outcast in her surroundings.

Another of the pockets of humanity is suddenly destroyed setting off a set of events involving 40 year bombs and terrorism of populations. Rachel, Martin, and Wednesday must stop the new Aryans (ReMastered Race) from destroying the many lives and worlds protected by the Eschaton.

Yup that is pretty much it. The story is as engaging as the previous book while going a little deeper. The major pain is the beginning of the book which is terribly disjointed but this soon fades away as the story picks up and we engage with the characters and find out more to the mystery of who the ReMastered are as well as more about Herman as well. If you could get through Singularity Sky, then you will probably enjoy this one more, just fight through the slow beginning.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Went to michigan. Saw friends and family. It was fun. Came home. Got sick. Not fun. Otherwise terribly busy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Movie Review: Dorkness Rising

Recently watched a "Nerd" movie called, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Basically it follows the work of a DM/Writer trying to put together a test campaign with a group of guys at the local game shop. Needless to say that it picks up at the most recent attempt at the campaign and it ends in the death of the party. There is a suggestion to add more people than just the 3 guys currently playing so they grab one of the guy's ex and end up with a NPC as well since they could not find a fifth.

The story takes place both in the real world as well as in the game world. The special effects work is kept fairly light. The acting is a bit over done at times but really works in poking fun at some of the weird moments that happen when people game together. The characters are generally likable and you get conflict at multiple levels. It's hokey but altogether fun as well.

If you like card or board games (new style) or read books of a fantasy slant, this you will probably enjoy this movie. It is a niche movie that fills the role nicely.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Book Review: The Difference Engine

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling was an interesting alternative history book. After reading Pattern Recognition, I was not sure if I would like this book, but it was shown to be one of the highly recommended science fiction works. I believe this falls under the steam punk genre, but really I am not an expert in genre definition. There is steam, but not so many punks.

The world of The Difference Engine is set in and around 1850 Britain after Charles Babbage and the mental elite have setup a meritocracy in England around the enterprise of their steam powered computation machines. The United States do not exist other than in a pocket of the Northeast, except for the Manhattan Commune. The South is it's own country along with Texas. Germany is a scattered set of nation states and Britain and France are deep allies.

The story is centered around 3 main characters that have come into contact with a set of punch cards, but the story is not really about those cards (or if it is, I start worrying about the depth of story). The story starts with that of a fallen woman, whose father lead an anti-technology movement but was executed for those beliefs. Next you follow a paleontologist who is attempting to navigate the world of Britain's savant aristocracy. Finally you follow a British spy who is primarily interested in keeping the world that Britain has created and cultivated in existence.

The most interesting thing for me was the section around Thomas Mallory, but I really liked the special policeman that is assigned to help keep him safe and protected. The story is meandering and seems to just hint at these menaces hovering at the periphery. His portion of the story takes place during the most overt of the conflict, the rising up of the communist ideals against the meritocracy.

Overall this has been under consideration by some of my friends as must read science fiction. I don't think I would do that, but it is something that I can recommend as fun reading.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sleep Stomach

Week did not go quite as I would have liked. I ended up with the stomach flu during the week which when coupled with the amount of work I am trying to get done, does not make it any less stressful. Miranda has decided that sleep is also optional making it optional for me as well. Well that was only last night. The night before she slept 12 hours. So overall I guess I can't complain other than I stayed up late the night she slept and then she stayed up the night I wanted to sleep. 7 hours sleep total for the weekend.

Finished reading The Difference Engine by Stirling and Gibson. It was good and I will likely put up a full review soon.

Um, that is it...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

EA... NCAAF 10

Ok... I just got a note that basically says you can unlock anything or start with an advantage by bribing EA. Seriously.

Want to start Road to Glory mode with a 5 star DT or DE? 100 points (or 50 cents) will get you what you want. The same can be said for DB, WR, RB, LB, and QB.

Ok, so you can spend a little dough and get a head start on your first person football mode. No big deal, it's only 50 cents. At least Dynasty mode is pure... right?


Adding new pipeline states is crucial for adding good players and it is normally hard to get, but now can be easily had for 150 points. Unlock new promises will also make it easier to recruit and set you back 180 points. For another 150 points, you can get bumps to your pitches which also boosts your ability to sell on recruits. How about a recruiting advisor to help with your decsisions for 120 points (I do find this to be the least offensive). Or maybe you want to know what your rival teams are focusing on recruiting for 120 points.

Want to download team rosters? 800 points ($10) will unlock all the team building and downloading slots.

Between seasons, you want to keep the best and train them up. Spend a little bit of points (180) to always max out your training. Or maybe you want a boost for retaining them for their senior year for 180 points.

Your stadium can give you an edge. Why not give that a boost too for 120 points.

But why go ala carte? Grab the whole set for 1000 points (or roughly $12).

Someone paying to cheat at games is not really new. Some folks just want to win more than to experience the challenges. That isn't what is really frustrating about this. What is a joke is that if you want to compete online, you will need to buy these packs as the folks you will play dynasty against online will have these.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Happy Anniversary

8 years. Doesn't seem that long ago really. But we have been out here just shy of 4 years. Miranda is over 3 years old. I guess there are years and events the fill the time, but it all really doesn't feel that long ago.

Michelle, when I married you, I had no doubt that you would be able to make me happy. I only hoped that I could do the same for you. Today I know that you have made me happy and that the reason the years have seemed short is because I have enjoyed them so much.

I am glad you are back from Michigan. I am glad we could have some thai food with friends. I wish the chocolate cake thing had been better, but experimenting with baked goods is always asking for trouble. I hope you like the coffee grinder, cause I think the copper sculpture is pretty.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

Also happy First of July for Canadians. July has come in with a little bit of heat. The warm weather is right up some people's alley, but not so much for me. I like things to be on the cooler side. Spent this year's Fourth playing some Munchkin Booty with some friends on ours. I couldn't scrape together a win but it was still fun. Made some lunch of grilled chicken wings which turned out good as well as throwing some walla walla onions in with asparagus in tin foil for the grill. Messy but good.

Lately I have been pretty busy with work but have managed to squeeze in some time to game. Finished Saints Row 2 recently with Ish. A ridiculously fun game. It is completely over the top criminal behavior that just runs to the crazy side. Add a dash of co-op and you have a really great time. Graphics are good and the game play is straight forward. Plenty of side missions/activities to go with the main mission so there is always something to do. Pretty much all I have left is some races, the DLC and some online...

Also finished Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit - Will Travel". Very typical R.A.H. juvenile. I enjoyed it. Next looking at the Difference Engine by Sterling and Gibson.

Also recently got to try some new card games. First up was Anima. This is a card game that attmepts to mimic a JRPG. You control a party of characters that are out to save the world from a great evil, but you are racing other parties trying to save the world as well. One wonders if you should be competing to save the world? But the game is fun and the mechanics are pretty simple and neat. You have an initial mission that has you exploring the world and having random encounters in order to build your party and also complete that mission. Once that is done, you uncover the final mission and attempt to complete that. Ben and I have been working on some slight variations and found some pretty neat ideas for extending the game (base play is about 40 minutes) and also making it a bit more dynamic. It does has some balance flaws around party size and how quickly you can get to full party, but overall I can recommend it.

The other game is Arkham Horror. I went searching around for a board or card game that you can play in a co-op fashion. The adversarial games are just rough on me as they generally make Michelle pretty upset which means I lose arm hair. This one is pretty dark in that you and a group of friends trying to stop and ancient unspeakable horror from destroying the land. So far, Ben and I have only given it a single pass which took about 5 - 6 hours. And we lost. But still had fun in the process. I am definitely looking forward to trying it again and hopefully with more people so that we actually have a chance at clearing out the baddies.

Also, please can it rain? Although with Ish coming out to visit, I think we are guaranteed some rain. :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ahh Father's Day

First going to start off with a thank you to my Dad. More than just supplying me with about 50% of my genetic material, you have instilled in me a set of values and priorites along with a strong sense of respect and responsibility that I appreciate.

I tried to get Miranda to draw with me and make a Father's day card for grandpa, but no luck. For the first time ever, she totally didn't want to draw. So bizarre. My Father's day has been uneventful. I like it that way honestly. Michelle and Miranda were kind enough to pick up a Lego video game for me as well as picking up Munchkin Booty, the Pirate Munchkin game. Woot! Now just have to set aside some time to try both out. It is a little hard to play card games with Miranda but we'll get there someday. Michelle and Miranda were playing "Go Fish" the other days with some adjusted rules. Basically creating a matching game out of it with the cards face up.

Miranda is getting better with her letters. She can recognize a bunch of them when she sees them. She loves her Thomas the Tank Engine flash cards with one side containing the letters and the other side containing one of the trains or some train related item. School is out for her so she can enjoy more time with Mom.

Recently finished Singularity Sky by Charles Stross. Will have to do a write up on that one. Game wise, I have been playing Last Remnant and Saints Row 2. Mostly just doing some cleaning in my free time though.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Book Review: Team of Rivals

This book took quite a bit of time to get through. It tells the story of the Lincoln administration during his terms as president. It goes through the political and personal histories of those involved and then plots how they worked together during those years. The book is well written. I enjoyed how the chapters were put together. The first few chapters talked about the individual people at the same times in their lives (as the members of the cabinet were of different ages, you could not have the same time period). As we got closer to the time of the presidency though you saw the timeline grow together. Each chapter would contain multiple 2-5 page sections that generally focused on a single issue or individual. This shortness lead to it being relatively easy to read, but at the same point, it didn't really give you a ton of depth.

The story of the Civil War and the time of Lincoln are known by all Americans, but it is well told in this volume. I recommend it just for one of the main points of the book, which is through differences of opinions and open discussions can we achieve the best possible results. Lincoln's cabinet was made up of individuals from both sides of the issues and it was through discussion and disagreement that some of the best policies and execution of those policy existed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Visited Michigan, picked up the flu


So two weeks ago was my friend, Jim's, wedding. I was part of the wedding party show I flew in a couple of days early and helped Jim and Heather put together the wedding, keep everyone sane, and just hang out with my best friends from high school. As usual, sleep was not a huge priority.

I arrived and AY picked me up from the airport in Lansing. We grabbed some pizza and beer while at the Crystal. Talked video games (Fallout 3), Red Wing's hockey, and just caught up. Aaron was my best man in my wedding, but we just haven't kept in contact like we should. I am going to endeavor to do a better job of that going forward. Finishing the night we played some hockey when Jim got home.

The next day was the bachelor party. Jim's favorite activities are golf and poker so that was the plan for the day. Five of us heading about 40 minutes out of time to golf. Two of us had never been golfing before so it was bound to be an interesting day. Poor AY got stuck with the two of us who had never golfed while Jim and the best man, Rob, headed out ahead of us. Jim and Rob were able to make it through all 18 holes while the 3 some were only able to get through 9 holes. Wow do I suck. After that, we hit Legends where Jim and I each bought a box of football cards hoping to score the latest rookie sensation as an autograph or piece of Jersey. Either way, we both drew blanks on this one. Ouch. Which left us with perfect time to head over to a charity poker tournament. Jim did best of any of thus ranking 7th, but was not able to get his draws. I was first out, but again this was a first for me and I got a little bit anxious when I had a couple of decent hands and then those. We finished the evening with a little two on two hockey. It was a lot of fun.

We all spent the next day getting things for the wedding finished up. Heather's sisters were running the decorating of the reception hall with Rob and AY. Jim and I went to pick up the tuxes and also pick up a bunch of other random things we needed from party stores and the like. Afterwords was the rehearsal and dinner, which was some phenomenal food. And then back to the hall for some final touches to the reception hall.

The wedding itself was very pretty. The bride looked stunning. The groomsmen looked bored. The maid of honor looked ready to get the show on the road. There were lots of folks at the wedding and reception and it all went well. Only one minor glitch which was the loss of the ringbearer pillow, which in the tradition of something going awry at a wedding is a pretty light one. Photographs before and after the wedding which I am still waiting to see. Reception started a bit later than we wanted with the amount of photos and travel time. Jim was a little disappointed with the reception. I am sure he pictured it being the big party of weddings past. I thought it was a good reception, but it was not a huge extravaganza. Memorable moments for me was when Jim sang a song for Heather, as Jim did such an excellent job on it, and also as all the groomsmen ditched their shoes for something more comfortable.

When it was was all over, basically we had the wedding party and Jim's parents cleaning up the hall. It took till pretty late. Jim, Heather, and Rob headed off for Detroit as their flight to Aruba was the next day, while AY and I headed to Stevie's hotel to crash before my flight out the next morning. 1 hour of sleep and sitting next to someone coughing probably led me to my last two weeks of sickness, but it was a trip well worth it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Book Review: Line War by Neal Asher

To follow up on my previous post on the Ian Cormac series. I recently received the final book in the series. I was a little miffed that it took so long to move across the Atlantic ocean to arrive here in the States, but it did finally arrive.

I am currently in the middle of reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and was about to take a trip to Michigan for a wedding. I really didn't feel like lugging around this huge volume and decided it was the perfect opportunity to read a little pulp.

Line War is set in the same universe where AI's control humanity. Rather than seem like evil controlling dictators, they come across benevolent gods working to help humanity and themselves along. The Polity (the AI/human government) is threatened over the series of books by Jain technology which is from a 5 million year dead society. This technology has the ability to aid, corrupt and control any organic intelligence it touches. The final chapter in the saga has Ian running around the universe trying to solve the mystery of why a Jain/Rogue AI combination has been seemingly random attacked multiple Polity worlds while his lover Mika is working with an alien organic construct known as Dragon to hunt down the source of Jain technology and perhaps find what happened to the Jain themselves.

It is tempting to ruin the end of the story. I didn't find this book to live up the expectations set by the series. Ian Cormac, the unflappable super agent, is seen just hopping around on a wild goose chase through the entire book. You are introduced to a character in Randle Fiddler who you don't know if you should trust or not, but then the author gives it away a couple of chapters later. I know by the end that he did it for other interesting dialogues he wanted to told, but overall it degraded the stories possibilities. Mika who you originally see as a pure human who is cold and analytical, slowly becomes this scared creature that is not completely likable. In the end, the book degrades down to a common conspiracy theory and collapses to an endless struggle against power and corruption.

That all said, if you have invested time in the first four books which were all quite excellent, you will likely go in for this one, but realize that it is the weakest of the series.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


It was nice to have some visitors this week to play with Miranda and give us some adult conversation. My parents came into town for a week and they were able to help us get straighten out and entertain Miranda too. It was quite nice. Weather in Seattle was decent. We had a couple sunny days but mostly it drizzled. Temperatures were generally pretty nice for this time of the year. Unfortunately things have been a bit busy for me at work so I didn't get to spend to much time with them. Maybe the next time I see them in August will work out better.

Miranda seemed to have fun. She has mentioned them a few more times today but most of it Michelle and Miranda were down in Kent wandering around. I stayed home and did some more work. I haven't really talked about my reading of late. I picked up a couple of books that I wanted to try.

1) Rendezvous with Rama. Great book from a master author. The story is a bit dry but the concepts and characters speak volumes outside of the written work.

2) Jennifer Morgue. Another fun Charles Stross book dealing with computer technician/demonologist/super spy. This is the second book using this universe and main character. I liked the first one and the second one was fun as well.

3) Pattern Recognition. William Gibson explores a book of brand identity and recognition surrounding a obscure piece of film that is slowly leaked via the internet. I didn't particularly like it. It's pacing felt off and it felt like a very odd blend of low tech, spy-thriller (without the thrills), mystic, adventure. Just didn't really dig it.

4) Blindside. This book about left tackles in football is pretty darn interesting. It tells the story of Michael Oher, a poor boy in a bad neighborhood that through a series of events brought him into a family that loves him and the opportunity to play this vital position. He just happened to the 23rd overall pick in this year's NFL draft. The writing style in the book was enjoyable for me.

5) Freakonomics. Pretty interesting book. Causality and coincidence really call into question certain events and statistics through history. This book takes a view at those events and the data behind it to attempt to find the connections.

6) Team of Rivals. I am currently in progress for this look at Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet. So far, so good.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Lions 2009 Rookie Mini-camp

Well I spend some time looking for a list of undrafted free agents and also players trying out for the Lions. I happened to find that "canusaylions" on the comments for Killer's article has posted a list.

2009 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents No. Name Pos Ht Wt Age Birthdate Exp College Hometown
14 Boldin, Demir WR 5-11 205 22 6/20/86 R Wake Forest Pahokee, Fla.
47 Downey, Andrew LB 6-1 231 22 3/9/87 R Maine Kingston, N.Y.
64 Gerberry, Dan C 6-3 302 23 11/10/85 R Ball State Austintown, Ohio
68 Gill, John DT 6-3 302 22 10/28/86 R Northwestern Los Altos Hills, Calif.
1 Waters, Swayze K 5-11 178 21 5/18/87 R Alabama-Birmingham Jackson, Miss.

2009 Rookie Orientation Tryout Players No. Name Pos Ht Wt Exp College
6 Justin Goltz QB 6-5 220 R Occidental
21 Gerald Riggs, Jr. RB 5-11 229 1 Tennessee
23 Antone Smith RB 5-8 191 R Florida State
28 Bradley Pruitt CB 6-1 195 R Northern Illinois
29 Leslie Majors CB 5-9 168 1 Indiana
36 Marcus Demps S 6-0 198 1 San Diego State
44 Marcus Parson CB 5-9 186 R Ohio
45 Johnell Neal CB 5-10 183 R Central Florida
46 Bret White LS 5-11 240 R Georgia Tech
50 Chris Kemme T 6-6 306 R Akron
52 Ben Person G 6-4 302 R Ohio State
53 Cliff Ramsey G 6-6 299 R Boston College
57 Jovan Olafioye T 6-4 321 R N. Carolina Central
58 Steve Jonas G 6-4 307 R Colgate
59 Dylan Thiry T 6-7 328 1 Northwestern
61 Ryan Kees DE 6-5 277 R St. Cloud State
67 Ricky Hope DE 6-1 250 R Texas A&M-Commerce
69 Chris Murphy DE 6-2 284 R Gannon
73 Chris Gaddis C 6-1 300 1 Villanova
78 Marcus Smith DT 6-2 260 1 Texas A&M-Commerce
80 Ernest Jackson WR 6-2 215 R Buffalo
83 Sean Bailey WR 6-0 184 1 Georgia
89 Will Judson WR 5-7 162 R Illinois
90 Daniel Holtzclaw LB 6-1 242 R Eastern Michigan
98 Spenser Smith LB 6-1 237 R Eastern Michigan

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Draft 2009 Lions grade

I have to say this is a failure of drafting. I am pretty sure the Lions will grade out as one of the worst 5 in terms of their picks. At least the Raiders seemed to have been a bit more boneheaded.

  1. Matthew StafFORD: Didn't want it to begin with even though we all saw it coming at least 2 to 3 weeks ago. This is drafting to put butts in the seats. Could he be Chuck Long, Andre Ware, or Joey Harrington?
  2. Brandon Pettigrew: A TE? TE? Oh no. With so many other glaring needs and good players you can't do thing. I know there are teams that love to draft purely on their board. Highest rated no matter what. But what if he is graded at a 87 while there is a 85 linebacker and you need linebacker? Or a 83 OT and you could use some help on oline?
  3. Louis Delmar: Love the fact he is from Western. Doesn't mean that this is something that we need. How many safeties have we drafted the last few years? Aren't any good enough to start? Again, there were a lot of great players still sitting on the board in places of needs.
  4. DeAndre Levy: Finally a need . . . wait a second, we need middle linebacker as will and sam are well covered. Ok, maybe a depth pick? Maybe can slide him in at middle? This one isn't so bad. First pick I am not angry about.
  5. Derrick Williams: A WR/KR/PR. Probably won't be high in the receiver core that could use a solid second, or a slot receiver that could be second with some growth. But this could work out. Ok, not angry here, but still not happy.
  6. Sammie Lee Hill: Big, beefy, strong, raw D-lineman. I am happy here. Don't know if it will pan out but we are starting to add some folks that are a better bet.
  7. Aaron Brown: RB/WR/KR/PR? Seems to be a special teams pick in the 6th round. Not sold at all on this pick. Not sure what the need is or what they are trying to do with this.
  8. Lydon Murtha: Happy day. I think this is a great place to pick up this offensive lineman. I think he has a lot of the tools to be productive in the rotation right away and maybe earn a spot over time in the starting of a position. Big and strong.
  9. Zack Follett: Again, happy with this pick. Was productive in college and will be able to contribute to the Lions. Starter? Not so sure, but I am sure he will provide a boost to special teams.
  10. Dan Gronkowski: I don't get this at all. But this is the second to last pick.

So there we have it. I would give this a D+ grade. Addressed needs late. Picked questionable talent early. Feel worse about this draft than the last 5, so maybe it is a good one, or just exceptionally bad. I do look forward to seeing if they can get their hands on some good undrafted free agents or maybe grab Leroy Hill but who really wants to play for the Lions if they can help it. I wish this team would win, cause each year hurts. My current wish is for them to win a game early so we don't have to hear about the increasing number of consecutive losses they are piling on the record. Great free agency, poor draft. Let's see how this pans out.

Go Lions.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Draft bomb

Probably my worst set of picks ever. The more I try to research the worse I do. Either way it is for fun, but what wasn't fun was watching the Lions pick. Fine, I can accept the fact that they picked Stafford first. I am not thrilled about it, but whatever. However the tightend pick of Pettigrew leaves me scratching my head. I am sure that he is going to be a good TE but a good TE isn't going to help us that much. Why didn't we get a OT or LB? What about DT or DE? Shoot, why not move back? As for Delmas at 33, fine. You need safety, I like Western Mich, so this is probably a good fit. Not sure if there was a better safety or position player. That said, I thought they would have went with Rey Maualuga or Laurinaitis, or Ebon Britton or William Beatty.

So that I can look back and see if I can pick talent, I will record who I would have picked at these spots.

1) Eugene Monroe

20) Rey Maualauga

33) Jarron Gilbert

There you go. Let's check back in 2 years.

Draft 2009 revised

Watching the analysis for the draft this morning is painful with everyone laughing at the Lions.
  1. Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford. It's a done deal. I don't think this is going to work out for the Lions. If we are patient, this may eventually work up, but I don't have a good feeling about it. Maybe they will trade him...
  2. St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe. While they need WR and OT and could use Curry over at SLB, I think they will address some core QB protection with someone that can come in day one and start. Jason Smith is likely to need some more technique work before he can start.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs: Brian Orakpo. I thought the Broncos would make a move for this position, but the more I thought about it, the more this didn't feel like something that team would do. I see the Chiefs picking a guy that will fill a role and is a strong talent for the position.
  4. Oakland Raiders: Michael Crabtree. Hoping to make a splash and add an offensive weapon for the QB Russell, they step up and grab to top rated WR in the draft before the Browns or Bengals can grab him.
  5. Cleveland Browns: Aaron Curry. Cleveland will try and shop this pick around with Crabtree off the boards, but there will be too much desparation and they likely won't get a bite on this one.
  6. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Smith. Shocked that he has dropped to here and in need of more protection for Carson Palmer, they grab some raw talent and plug him in right away.
  7. Seattle Seahawks: Malcolm Jenkins. Looking for a combination SS/CB, the Seahawks will grab one of the larger presences in the draft for this position.
  8. Jacksonville Jaguars: B. J. Raji. Looking to regain their status as one of the top defenses, they bulk up on the D-line to give them more power and run stopping ability.
  9. Green Bay Packers: Tyson Jackson. With the move to 3-4 defense, the Pack will need to brack a tall, athletic DE that will help move the running lanes and press the line.
  10. San Francisco 49ers: Mark Sanchez. I said before that the 49ers wouldn't pick a QB here, but I think they might go with Sanchez if he falls to here, they might just take a shot on him.
  11. Buffalo Bills: Andre Smith. With Peters on his way to the Eagles, the Bills need to bolster their offensive line and will grab the best OT available on their draft board.
  12. Denver Broncos: Everette Brown. The Broncos will go with the developmental QB late in draft ala Tom Brady and Cassel. Instead they wll go with a defensive lineman.
  13. Washington Redskins: Michael Oher. Not so sure on this one. Doesn't seem like the thing Snyder would do, but this is definitely a need for their team.
  14. New York Jets: Robert Ayers. A large powerful DE for Ryan's 3-4 will entice the Jets to move up a few slots to make sure they get him.
  15. Houston Texans: Peria Jerry. Saw them trading down as the Lions would want a big name OT, but at this point I see them sitting tight while the Texans use their pick to bollster that line.
  16. San Diego Chargers: Jarron Gilbert. Losing Igor will hurt a bit less by grabbing this potential 3-4 end.
  17. New England Patriots: Brian Cushing. The Saints will trade back a second time to pick up even more picks. New England will move up to bolster their LB crew that they have lost in trades or are aging.
  18. Denver Broncos: Rey Maualuga. Filling in some defensive holes in
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jeremy Maclin. They need a WR. Pretty good bargain at this point.
  20. Detroit Lions: Clay Matthews. I thought about writing in Josh Freeman here, but that would just be silly. Although I would have preferred them picking up Pat White in the second or third round. I would also like to see them grab Alex Mack here. Instead I see them grabbing Clay Matthews here to bolster the D. I question if they put in in the MLB position or not. Instead I could see them moving him to the Dline.
  21. Philidelphia Eagles: Knowshon Moreno. With Brian Westbrook getting older, look for someone they can bring in to be that speed rusher they like to use. Also fits the Westbrook mold of a multipurpose back.
  22. Minnesota Vikings: William Moore (SS). Looking for a ballhawk to sit out in the middle to help their defense out.
  23. New Orlean Saints: Sean Smith. Bolster that secondary that is seeing some age. Don't make Brees win a shoot out every game.
  24. Atlanta Falcons: Sherrod Martin. Look for them to pick up a CB after losing their best one in free agency. Has played FS more often than not but could make the transition.
  25. Miami Dolphins: Connor Barwin. Adding a rushing OLB to help Joey Porter out and give some rest to the aging LB.
  26. Baltimore Ravens: Vontae Davis. While the Ravens need help with the Linebackers, I see them picking up Jasper Brinkley later on to fill that role. So they will grab up Davis to help with their CB line earlier. They could grab a big DE but those will be available later on as well.
  27. Indianapolis Colts: Brian Robiskie. With Marvin gone, there is still a need for a big possession type receiver.
  28. Buffalo Bills: Aaron Maybin. Look for Buffalo to bolster their d-line. There has been some injuries in the past season and surprisingly Maybin will still be available. Or maybe not surprisingly.
  29. Arizona Cardinals: Alex Mack. Technically you could say the Giants pick Anquan Boldin, but either way it will be the Cardinals pick here. My guess is that they are going to use this bonus pick to bolster that front line to help protect their QB dinosaur.
  30. Tennessee Titans: Ziggy Hood. Haynesworth? Do we need him? Maybe, but this should be a good pick here.
  31. Arizona Cardinals: Chris Wells. Look who slides to the end of the first round. Maybe I am just picking on Ohio State... maybe I think injuries and recovery has been an issue for him. But the Cards are looking for a tandem running back team with Hightower.
  32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ebon Britton. They will try to pick up someone to stop their QB from continuing his trek to achieve permanent brain injury. Likely to move Ebon inside to G to bolster the run game as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Forgot to mention about Miranda...

She had her yearly check up and she is healthy. 37 inches and 30 pounds.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

NFL Draft 2009, what may be...

Most folks would find the NFL draft to be boring and a waste of time. However for football fans, it has been turned into a spectacle, an extravaganza of future opportunity and non-stop highlights. As part of my tradition, I attempt to gaze deep into the crystal football and see what will happen. It is an impossible endeavor to attempt to see what they see as we don't have all the access to what they are looking at. From the combine, to private workouts, all the way to stalking the athletes using social websites, scouts are looking for the edge to tell them whether they have a star or a bust. This year, I also have the pain of watching my team go number one. I keep hearing that this year is a weak year in terms of talent, but I don't believe the hype. Not everyone can decide to stay in school another year to avoid being drafted by the Lions. In general, you can't evaluate a draft class until years have passed. What makes a good college player doesn't translate directly to the makings of a great professional player. At least this is what I keep telling myself, because likely the Lions will be shelling out $37 million in guaranteed money and probably running about $60 million in the end for the first pick and this could seriously put a damper on finances if you have a bust. Even a guy not making the pro-bowl earning this type of dough is a bit of a bust.

This year, I am going to try and do this a bit different. I always try to take a look at what trades happen, but end up just filling out my draft prediction without them. This time, I will see what I can do in predicting those as well.

  1. Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford. I don't see the Lions picking one of the other slots. I think the draft is deep enough at OT to pick up one later. I think LB is also pretty deep as well. I don't know if he is a blue chipper, but we need one for the long haul.
  2. St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe. While they need WR and OT and could use Curry over at SLB, I think they will address some core QB protection with someone that can come in day one and start. Jason Smith is likely to need some more technique work before he can start.
  3. Denver Broncos: Mark Sanchez. This I really see as the first trade. I am not sure what they will offer besides swapping first round picks, but Denver is going to make a move to get a QB with Cutler gone and I see them making the move before Seattle can potentially try and draft a QB. If this doesn't happen it will be McDaniel's being upset with the Cassel trade.
  4. Oakland Raiders: Michael Crabtree. Hoping to make a splash and add an offensive weapon for the QB Russell, they step up and grab to top rated WR in the draft before the Browns or Bengals can grab him.
  5. Cleveland Browns: Aaron Curry. Cleveland will try and shop this pick around with Crabtree off the boards, but there will be too much desparation and they likely won't get a bite on this one.
  6. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Smith. Shocked that he has dropped to here and in need of more protection for Carson Palmer, they grab some raw talent and plug him in right away.
  7. Seattle Seahawks: Malcolm Jenkins. Looking for a combination SS/CB, the Seahawks will grab one of the larger presences in the draft for this position.
  8. Jacksonville Jaguars: B. J. Raji. Looking to regain their status as one of the top defenses, they bulk up on the D-line to give them more power and run stopping ability.
  9. Green Bay Packers: Tyson Jackson. With the move to 3-4 defense, the Pack will need to brack a tall, athletic DE that will help move the running lanes and press the line.
  10. San Francisco 49ers: Jeremy Maclin. Isaac Bruce is not getting any younger and the 49ers could use a raw speedster to add the receiving core. There are other needs, but the 49ers are not likely to grab another 1st round QB and ROT can wait till round 2.
  11. Buffalo Bills: Andre Smith. With Peters on his way to the Eagles, the Bills need to bolster their offensive line and will grab the best OT available on their draft board.
  12. Kansas City Chiefs: Rey Maualaga. The Chiefs need to bolster their LB corps even though they have acquired a few in free agency as those have been on the older side.
  13. Washington Redskins: Everette Brown. Don't expect the defensive spending to stop for Mr. Snyder. He is boning up the d-line to add the supporting cast to make his major acquisition look the star they paid him to be.
  14. New York Jets: Robert Ayers. A large powerful DE for Ryan's 3-4 will entice the Jets to move up a few slots to make sure they get him.
  15. Detroit Lions: Michael Oher. Lions will make the trade that the Texans want as Detroit will want to grab a top tier OT before he goes to San Diego.
  16. San Diego Chargers: Peria Jerry. They need help filling up holes on the defensive line created by age and player attrition. While picking up a powerful end, those are few and far between. I expect them to grab Peria who could play either spot depending on how they develop him.
  17. New Orleans Saints: Brian Cushing. A lot of money would be needed here to pick up another RB in the stable for New Orleans. Expect them to grab one is the 3rd round with the pick they grab from the Jets (or perhaps Thomas Jones).
  18. Denver Broncos: Jarron Gilbert. With the switch to 3-4 (which is common this year) there is going to be a strong demand for that style DE. I think Jarron will fill that role for the Broncos.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Darrius Heyward-Bey. Definitely a need for picking up a speedy WR to play opposite Clayton.
  20. Houston Texans: Chris Wells. Look for the Texans to beef up their running back corps to use the 2 back system everyone else is using now-a-days.
  21. Philidelphia Eagles: Knowshon Moreno. With Brian Westbrook getting older, look for someone they can bring in to be that speed rusher they like to use. Also fits the Westbrook mold of a multipurpose back.
  22. Minnesota Vikings: William Moore (SS). Looking for a ballhawk to sit out in the middle to help their defense out.
  23. New England Patriots: Clay Matthews. The Patriots strike gold again on their Linebackers by adding Clay after losing Vrabel and seeing that Bruschi isn't getting younger.
  24. Atlanta Falcons: Sherrod Martin. Look for them to pick up a CB after losing their best one in free agency. Has played FS more often than not but could make the transition.
  25. Miami Dolphins: Connor Barwin. Adding a rushing OLB to help Joey Porter out and give some rest to the aging LB.
  26. Baltimore Ravens: Vontae Davis. While the Ravens need help with the Linebackers, I see them picking up Jasper Brinkley later on to fill that role. So they will grab up Davis to help with their CB line earlier. They could grab a big DE but those will be available later on as well.
  27. Indianapolis Colts: Brian Robiskie. With Marvin gone, there is still a need for a big possession type receiver.
  28. Buffalo Bills: Aaron Maybin. Look for Buffalo to bolster their d-line. There has been some injuries in the past season and surprisingly Maybin will still be available.
  29. Arizona Cardinals: Alex Mack. Technically you could say the Giants pick Anquan Boldin, but either way it will be the Cardinals pick here. My guess is that they are going to use this bonus pick to bolster that front line to help protect their QB dinosaur.
  30. Tennessee Titans: Ziggy Hood. Haynesworth? Do we need him? Maybe, but this should be a good pick here.
  31. Arizona Cardinals: Brian Orakpo. Yet another team moving to the 3-4 and have a need for those type of specialized players. Brian should definitely make that defense even better. However look for them to potentially move down and grab another DE/OLB and a RB to help Hightower out.
  32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ebon Britton. They will try to pick up someone to stop their QB from continuing his trek to achieve permanent brain injury. Likely to move Ebon inside to G to bolster the run game as well.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Miranda

Well we finished up Miranda's birthday and she seemed to have a good couple of days. Saturday we have a couple of her preschool friends over as well as some of our friends from the "old country". Well make that Michigan. It was a later party starting around 4pm. First the kids did an Easter egg hunt which they had fun with. Some of those kids were fast on the draw. Once all the items were found, we moved inside and the kids made their own mini-pizzas while the adults had some yummy food that we had picked up from Metropolitan Market. The kids then played and adults did what normal parents did which was watch their kids. Miranda had lots of fun and was pretty sad to see her friends leave.

Sunday was Miranda's actual birthday. First thing we did was assemble the Barbie bicycle from Grandma and Grandpa D. She was very excited. Of course she was blaming me for it arriving in a disassembled form. "Daddy broke it." But we got it together only to watch it rain all day. Miranda played cars, trains, and princesses with Mom and Dad all day. Plus we watched Bolt. Miranda definitely thought it was too sad and to scary. She was crying through the back half of the film as Bolt was coming to grips with be ordinary. I thought it was fairly cute.

Mom and Dad got Miranda a big girl bed about a week ago and she has been sleeping in it the whole time. We are pretty happy that she has taken to it so well. It would be really nice if she would stay in her bed while she is getting ready to sleep but she didn't in the crib either.

Miranda with new bed

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The high price of being number 1

Or at least the high price of being the wrong type of number 1. It is nearly time for the NFL draft so this will likely take up more of my blogging time. I did find an interesting article by ESPN's John Clayton talking about time to fix rookie salary structure which explains why having a high draft pick will cripple already bad teams. I specifically want to call out:

To draft Baylor left tackle Jason Smith, Detroit probably must commit more than $11.5 million a year. To draft Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Lions might have to offer $13 million a year or higher because quarterbacks drafted near the top of the draft receive premium deals.

This is so painful and for that reason it cannot be traded. The only thing that could make it worse is if we have this and next year this problem is fixed leaving Detroit with 7 years of crap that no one else will ever have to.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A quick trip to Michigan

Last weekend, Miranda and I went to Michigan. The primary reason was that I had promised Amanda that I would come out for their wedding, but the timing on our end didn't work out. When I found out that she was throwing a party in St. Joe, I decided that I had to go. Plus if I was that close to my hometown, I should grab Miranda to see some family.

We arrived Friday evening in South Bend. My parents picked us up and we grabbed a quick bite to eat, since I was able to keep Miranda fed, but neglected my own lunch. There is a lesson learned. Miranda did have a rough time coming into Detroit. Those big jets really have a pressure differential. The regional jet from Detroit to South Bend went smoothly. Oh forgot to mention that I tried the family security line at Seatac Airport. The security folks there were very helpful and nice, but I did feel rushed because some turkey that was alone was behind me acting impatient. Moron. Also Miranda decided to throw a temper tantrum in the security line because she didn't want her jacket or shoes off.

Saturday spent a lazy morning with Miranda and my parents before scooting to see Chad and Amanda. First off, I had no idea that Trinity Lutheran had acquired another building so I went to the Church first and didn't find anyone. We eventually found the place even though Miranda just wanted to play at the playground. We visited and ate dinner rolls (Miranda's favorite food from the trip) and nursed a meltdown. After all was right, Jaimee, I and the little ones headed over to the playground and the little ones played. It was very cool seeing them play on the slides and whatnot. That night, I dropped off Miranda with my parents and darted out the 5 O'clock bar to meet up with Jaimee, Dan, Amanda, and Chad for a drink and some reminiscing. Overall it was fun. I had totally forgotten that you are allowed to smoke in public buildings in Michigan.

Sunday, we snuck up to South Haven to surprise my grandma. It worked. Grandma was so surprised to see one of her great grand kids. We spent the day visiting and my uncle Tom and cousin came to visit as well. Miranda had lots of fun and was a pretty good girl for the weekend.

Monday we jetted back to Seattle. She did ok for some of the flight, but really it is a long flight and she was pretty tired by then, that she was a brat for the last part of the second flight. I think the hit to the face and then headbutting my face might be what made it pretty bad.

I spent a good chunk of the trip fairly stressed out. It is hard to fly with a 2-3 year old. She needed constant attention and basically is was like working a full day without eating and a deadline looming. We made it back, but I think I am still unwinding from the trip, but I am not doing a good job so far.

Things I learned from the travel:
  1. Carryon bag should be highly compartmentalized for easy retrieval of any specialized gear
  2. Bring items that make security easy. No laptops, slip on shoes for both. Have the jackets off ahead of time.
  3. Bring salty and sweet snacks for the little one.
  4. Bring energy bars for yourself.
  5. Bring a cup that doesn't leak for drinking for the little one.
  6. Book the window seat for the little one. If things work well, you can just change them in the seat without hitting the bathroom.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

LASIK after 2 months...

It has been about 2 months now with good vision. I still have some halos and some dryness, but really haven't been tied to the eye drops at all. So this is what it is like for everyone with good vision. No worrying about contacts or carry stuff to take care of them. No glasses getting wet in the rain. Just waking up to see and seeing the clock in the middle of the night. Of course, I can now see that the shower needs to be replaced. Sigh.

A little while ago, Andrej asked how the eyes are after the surgery. I said tired, but didn't really explain. After the surgery there was about 5 weeks where I didn't get a full night of sleep. I would wake up with painfully dry eyes which would require a round of eye drops. Now it is starting to get to the point where I can sleep all the way through the night.

Right now I am looking forward to my first trip without bringing the contact solution, case, glasses and other misc stuff. Should be easier traveling for that, if only traveling with a 34 month old would be easier too.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Most wonderful time of the year

I love this time of year. It is one of the few times in a year that I can have a little hope that the Lions will come out better than in previous years. So many mornings I find myself with a cup of coffee and view at the recent NFL transactions hoping to gain insight into what my favorite team will do to crush my spirits. I have been watching these huge mega-deals go through and been very thankful that we are not in on those, but that seems to be the way that the new front office operates.

Albert Haynesworth got the fattest deal ever for a defensive lineman. $41 million in guaranteed money, $32 million in the first 13 months, and over $100 over the length of the contract. Whoa, this for the guy playing on a very solid d-line as well as having the honors of a fine and suspension for purposely stepping on another players face that didn't have a helmet on. What a weird world, huh?

Otherwise it is just been very interesting to watch these big money deals come through. I think a lot of the wild spending has to do with the fact that no one knows what will happen next year with the cancellation of the end of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Basically 2010 will have no salary cap unless something can get done soon. That is very sad to me as I think that sports with a salary cap are much more enjoyable to watch.

On the Lions front, they have pick up Maurice Morris, recently of the Seahawks. He is a good second runner. Nothing spectacular for a signing though on such a huge first day of free agency. Right now I am hoping for two signings in particular. The first is to get Khalif Barnes who has proven to be a very solid left tackle and still pretty young. This would be a great addition to the offensive line and allow them to do some shifting to put their best 5 players on the line. The second player is Michael Boley who is a great linebacker waiting for a run stuffing opportunity. I think the Lions could really use that type of player on their D.

But that was only the first day, and this period will last 1 month or so leading up to the draft. Trades are now allowed as well and there likely will be some pretty big trades as some of the new coaches are coming into teams that traded away this year's picks for last year's busts.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

NFL Combine and Lions

The NFL combine is such a weird thing to me. When you are evaluating talent why do you need them to go bench 225lb a bunch of times to see if they are good football players. Why agility drills and the 40 when this is without pads which really isn't going to transfer to real football speed. It is only compounded by special training regiments that are tailored to optimize these athletes to the tests. It is a flawed concept, but I think it has a couple things going for it. First off, it always help identify some flaws in players around professionalism. How they approach this media circus helps give teams a view into how they would approach life as a pro player. Did they come unprepared to the combine? How readily did they pick up the coaching for the Wonderlic or 40 yard dash? In addition the medical physical might be one of the most rigorous they will have.

This two players have been hurt by the combine. The top wide receiver prospect Michael Crabtree showed a stress fracture in his foot. This will probably hurt his stock when it shouldn't at all. If you look at how he played, he is a great wide receiver. The other player is Andre Smith who was one of the top OT prospects. For different reasons from Crabtree, this type of behavior I think is much more negative. Sure, he had a fantastic season where he was the type of roadgrader run blocking tackles in college football, but when he acts selfish and unprepared for his future, I just see a holdout and flop for a short NFL career. And to think this was one of the guys I wanted for the Lions, not so much now.

Now onto the Lions. My friend, Ish, insists we are going to pick a QB with our first overall pick. I insist that we are going to go defense as it seems like the intelligent thing to do. If I had my pick, it would go to probably B.J. Raji and then with the 20th pick, I would try to get a LB like James Laurinaitis or Ray Maualuga. I would also willing accept Alex Mack at center or maybe another offensive lineman with the 20th pick. Please don't screw this up, Lions.

I wish Miranda would use the potty

Still not potty trained. I think we will have to just drag her into the bathroom every 45 minutes instead of asking her every 30 minutes whether she needs to go. Lately her sleep has been interrupted and it looks like the cause is a molar breaking through.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Neal Asher's Ian Cormac series

At some point, Amazon started recommending Neal Asher books for me to read. I am not sure which other science fiction book I had read pointed me towards it, but I just kept holding off on buying the books. I was really hoping I could find them in the local used book store to at least try them before paying retail if need be, but I could never find them. Eventually I was out of books at home and needed to order some more so I thought it was about time to give these a whirl.

Currently the Ian Cormac series is at 4 books in the US and one more to come out shortly. This series takes place in a couple hundred years in the future in Asher's Polity universe. The basic concept here is that humans were able to create artificial intelligence and over time these AIs started ruling the humans. This worked out best of humanity as there were much less war occurring because of politics. That isn't to say that everyone happy. This is where Cormac comes in as one of Earth Central's government agents who takes care of little uprising and rogue elements.

These books are spy books. There are plenty of combat situations. There is violence. There are bizarre planets with bizarre life-forms. There is future technology. It has the makings of entertaining reading. The writing is very good and keeps one tied in especially near the end as Mr. Asher has a great way of really building up to a climax.

Gridlinked (Ian Cormac, Book 1) is the first book in the series. The basic story is Ian is an agent that has been in service for a long time and his neural interface has been in too long making him a bit too mechanical to be an agent. The only solution is to turn it off and send him out on another mission, one he is specially equipped for as he was one of the first to deal with the entity known as Dragon and Dragon is back. This book is able to stand on its own, so if you wanted to try out his writing without getting involved in a long series, this is a great way to take it. The remaining books are partly tied together so you are left wanting more once the books are done.

The Line of Polity (Ian Cormac, Book 2) is the second book and looks at another reappearance of a piece of Dragon sending Ian out again. This time you are introduced to a new world ruled by a Theology and a rogue scientist who is intent on resurrecting 5 million year old alien technology that has the potential to make his invincible. In his previous book, the intro to a chapter was like a dictionary telling you more of the world, but in this one you get a super graphic children's book where the soldiers of light are shredded by the local fauna.

Brass Man (Ian Cormac, Book 3) has Mr. Asher returning to one of the villians from the first book in Mr. Crane. Mr. Crane is brought back and you are given a more indepth look at what makes him tick as you explore a world populated by pre-Polity tech humans and a handful of different crazy killer creatures. Once more you find another piece of the Dragon which send Cormac out to hunt again.

Polity Agent (Ian Cormac, Book 4) looks at what happens as this alien technology poses a threat to human and AI alike. I found this book to have the best writing so far as you watch Ian and his regular crew deal with Dragon and Jain technology and how it interacts. This one really left me wanting more though and book 5 isn't available to me yet.

Speaking of wanting more, Mr. Asher has the amazing ability to end every chapter with a segment where you desperately want to know what is going to happen. Every chapter feels this way. Sometimes, I would like to put the book down for the night and it feels like I never ever get the chapter that says you can go take a break now. Another item that I felt a bit put off by is the strange fauna his places on his world. They are always deadly like way more deadly than anything you have seen in a nature show. And the planets seem to only have a handful of species, but that really isn't what the books are about.

Even with these problems, these books tend to fall in the Scalzi or Heinlein camp for me as they tend to be more focused on characters instead of on the technology. Some of the tech is cool and interesting, some feels light and fluffy with little substance behind it. It also only lightly looks at some of the social pressures of the new technology. There is some talk of how AIs are very similar to the humans that initially gave them rise with their individuality, but these seem to be light interludes between the action sequences.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Trips to somewhere

Well I started looking at plane tickets and plans today for a pair of trips. Wow, it is hard to figure out things. First up, a friend from high school is having a party post wedding and I would like to head in with Miranda for the weekend. The second trip is just for me as I am heading to my friend Jim's wedding. Since I am in the grooms party, get to show up a bit early and hang out with my best friends from high school for a few days.

I know the days I am thinking of doing, but I have to figure out the timing with my parents to figure out when I should stop by there and when they would like to see me. I am sure it wouldn't be a problem for either, but it is good to check the best time.

Tonight I am just sitting watching Robin Hood with Miranda. The Disney version that is. I don't think it is all that great but Miranda likes it although she runs out of the room at the "scary parts." Michelle has the evening away so just chilling.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

LASIK Week 2 and 3

It has been 20 days since I had LASIK and finally things are starting to feel a lot better. Last week things were clearer and much of the discomfort was gone. This week the vision continues to get even better with less halos at night and just crystal clear visions. The best way I can put it, is that the first 2 weeks it kinda felt like I was wearing old contacts. The vision was definitely dirty and my eyes were uncomfortable. I kept wondering when I could take my contacts out. Now things are super clear and my eyes are starting to feel like my eyes. I can definitely tell that my right eye tear duct plug fell out. That eye lets me know if I haven't put enough drops in.

If you would have asked me about getting this done in the first week after, I would have said it might not be worth it. Now it is totally worth it. It isn't really better vision, just easier vision. That said, I am still using drops about 6 times a day, but mostly in the morning and after any sort of commute.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

LASIK: Day 6 and 7

Well we are over a week past my eye surgery and I was actually started to get worried. I ran into some issues where in the morning my left eye (which still has the tear duct plug in) was dry and painful. I would be able to open it and it would remain sore all day long. So I called the office to see if they wanted to look at it or if there was something I could do. My right eye has been doing pretty good and the eye bruising has started to subside (basically instead of a well defined red blob, it is now starting to drain away so there is still a red tint, but much better looking).

After talking to the doctor, they said that they think I may sleep with one eye partially open and that I should switch to use gel based tears at night. Last night was my first night trying it and the results were generally good. I did wake up in the middle of the night with a dry eye, but it was not painful. I applied more gel drops and went back to sleep.

Really that sums up the last couple of days. My eyes are still dry but the discomfort is decreasing each day. I can't wait till I can wash my eyes thoroughly. The drops leave me feeling yucky, and the splash/pat dry method just isn't cutting it. Also I am still having halos so computer work is still a bit off for me as it makes black text on white hard to read.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

LASIK: Days 3, 4, and 5

Today I went in for my "1 week" checkup. It looks like my eyes are healing nice and the bruising on my right eye is going down. Today is my last day with medicated drops and I can use plain old drops which I see as a huge plus. Just a few more days of wearing the ugly sleeping goggles.

Sunday was spent mostly listening to football. I woke up in the middle of the night with very dry eyes. I got up and put in some drops before heading back to sleep. My vision got steadily better through the day and I noticed that some of the halos around objects were shrinking quite a bit. No really problems other than my eyes are pretty dry but I keep using drops and that helps.

Monday I decided to go to work and try my luck with that. I again woke up in the middle of the night with dry eyes. Again more drops and back to sleep worked fine. The first half of the day my eyes were definitely not happy, but by midday things were getting better. My vision seemed to improve quite a bit through the day as long as I limited the eye strain from computer work.

Today I worked from home. I woke up in the middle of the night, but my eyes weren't dry, YEAH! But when I woke in the morning, I needed a lot of drops just to open my eyes. It's getting better, but taking time. During the day, I am noticing I need less and less drops which is nice and visual halos are now down to just lights and not even all the times. Eye strain is still a concern, but setting times to walk around and look at large objects help.

So far, I am only a few days after surgery and vision is holding steady at 20/20. Things are a bit dry and scratchy but not bad. I still have amazement periodically through the day when I can see without corrective lenses. Definitely would recommend this to people who are tired of contact lenses and the work involved and the limitation and irritation of glasses. If someone is fine with either of these solutions, then don't get the surgery. The convenience is really what is making this worth while.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lasik: Day 1 and 2

Yesterday I went in to have LASIK corrective surgery for my eyes. I decided to go with Clearly Lasik and they have been very pleasant. To start with I had two pre-op visits. The first one was just to see if I should even bother with corneal thickness and other prescription and shape requirements. That was a go, but I needed to be out of my Rigid Gas Permeable contact lenses for 4 weeks plus 1 wee for every decade I have worn them so 5 total weeks out of contacts and wearing glasses from the mid-90s. Oh well.

First and foremost this is expensive and given that they were playing with my eyes I then opted for all the bells and whistles. Here is a list of their stuff:

  • Extended (pre-op, LASIK or PRK, post-ops for a year, 1 year free enhancements, $499 enhancements later): $1199/eye
  • Extended Wavefront (pre-op, LASIK or PRK, post-ops for a year, 1 year free enhancements, $499 enhancements later): $1599
  • Lifetime (pre-op, LASIK or PRK, post ops for a year, lifetime enhancements): $1399
  • Lifetime Wavefront (pre-op, LASIK or PRK, post ops for a year, lifetime enhancements): $1399

  • Intralase (bladeless, otherwise making the flap uses a blade): $400/eye
  • Temporary Tear Duct plugs: $100/eye
  • Permanent Tear Duct plugs: $150/eye

I opted for LASIK w/ Wavefront w/ Intralase. Basically Wavefront allows for more precise laser signal. Older LASIK had a limit in the diops it could correct for and variation between prescriptions. New technology is more exact. (for more information checkout Wikipedia LASIK)

So I arrived Friday morning at 9:45am for a 10:00am appointment. I filled out my consent forms and headed back to the payment room. Payment was due prior to surgery and day of. Luckily Clearly Lasik is covered by VSP so I got 15% off the bill. After payment, getting some valium, and going over my prescription guidelines (when to take which eye drops) we went back to the relaxation room. Really this is just a second waiting room where they have movies going and snacks available. Luckily I only had to wait about an hour back there before I was taken to the operation room which has a large window where friends and family can watch. Put on some surgical booties and a surgical cap and lay down on a chair. Next step, they lined my eyes up under each machine and made sure everything was set and gave my eyes some numbing drops.

After that they lined me up with the LASIK machine and put on some sort of suction cup for my eye. This was pretty uncomfortable. Let me stress that. When they put the suction on the eye, it must impact the optic nerve as everything goes dark in that eye. Not a big deal, the problem for me is it was not comfortable. It didn't help that I twitched the first time, and it didn't line up well the second time, so it took 3 tries to get the suction on my right eye. Once it is on, you can't see anything out of that eye for about 1 minute. The slid me over to the Intralase machine and it made the microbubbles in my eye for the flap. Next, they did the same thing for my left eye, but that went much smoother but still darn uncomfortable.

Once both eyes were prepped, I found my head under the LASIK machine for the rest of the time (the easy part). The attached another device to my eye to keep it steady. They then flooded it with fluid and peeled back the top layer of my eye where the bubbles where made. After I was lined up you felt gentle puffs of air or water (couldn't tell) and some popping sounds for about 15 to 30 seconds. Next they irrigate the eye again and float the flap back into place. Right eye went well on this round but not so for my left. Either the numbing solution wore off or wasn't good enough because lifting flap made me yelp. With some more numbing solution we were underway and it went very smoothly. Overall time in the operating room was 15 minutes, but really talking 3 minutes total under the lasers. A little check up and plug install and I was sent home.

The rules are you need to keep your eyes closed for the next 8 hours. Optimally you should sleep. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting to sleep. It didn't help that it was now about noon and I really wasn't that tired. Second my eyes HURT. Started out just a slight burn, but it progressed into bad burning and itching. I called the office and they said take some Tylenol PM. I had taking some tylenol earlier as well as my second valium pill. But the Tylenol PM finally kicked in and I slept for a few hours. Ate some dinner, and some more Tylenol and I was down till the next morning.

As it stands, on day one you are taking 3 types of drops at a steady rate. Drops one is the antibiotic which is a breakfast, lunch dinner, bed type drop. Drops two is the anti-inflammation drops which will be a 4 times a day like the antibiotic but is every 2 hours for the first 2 days. Finally, I also have plain old drops that help keep my eyes moist. It is really important to do that or else the flap can dry and lift and that is very bad, so lots of those extra drops.

So now I am on day 2 and I have finished my post-op visit (I have 2 more post-op visits). The result of my first visit is 20/20 vision (almost 20/15). But I still have some blurriness as things heal. Everything after surgery looks like you are looking through a piece of wax. You can't really see. Today I have moments of clarity but lots where it is just cloudy. If you would have asked me yesterday if this was a good idea, I would have said no way. But today things are just getting better and better as the day goes on and I am very happy to see without any lenses (although it does feel like I have lenses in).

Here are some pics:

Day of LASIK before heading out:

day of lasik

Day of LASIK after surgery:

day of lasik after

Day after LASIK:

day after lasik

day after lasik

day after lasik

I don't know how many more updates on this there will be. Things are pretty good right now and look to be healing very nicely. I will still need to do drops for a while but I am sure that that won't be forever.

And my question to the Sarcastic Weasel, is if this is the Ferrari?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Eyes, Football, and Free Apples

First off wanted to say thanks to Skidge for the apples. When they moved to Germany they dropped off a bunch of food. Well yesterday, Michelle, Miranda and I went do see Cory and Mike before they head off to San Jose and Michelle whipped up some apple crisp from the frozen apples. Yum! Plus it was fun to just get out of the house and talk to other adults. Miranda wasn't quite on her best behavior though but the sight of new animals usually sets her going. Mater and Oliver were quite friendly and adorable.

Only a few more days till I have Lasik done. I am definitely looking forward to not needing corrective lenses again. The nurses and doctors kept mentioning that your vision will not be better than what you have with corrective lenses. I don't care about that, what I care about is not having to deal with contacts and solution anymore. To be able to shave my head without tipping my glasses to shave by my ears. To be able to see the numbers on my clock would be awesome. Wearing glasses tends to give me a bit of a headache and would be glad to have that gone as well. Now my concerns are how quickly can you heal from the surgery. First and foremost really worried about recovery and what I am allowed to do during that period.

Football... well at least the Lions went out and started to clean out their front office. Oh wait, they didn't. So I bought my NFL jersey per my statement. Bought a John Standeford Jersey as he just happens to wear number 16. I could have done custom, but felt it meant more to have an actual player jersey from the season of infamy.

Also along the lines of football:

Dear NFL Operations,

I am married with a child and designating two days for football just doesn't allow me the family time I need. Since you are playing 4 games, why not use the normal slots you have available. Sunday at 1, 4, and 8 and a Monday night game would give you those options. Of course limiting NFL to a cable network would be a bad decision, so work with the ESPN parent company and get it played on ABC.