Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Bourne Make More Moneyum

Oh, Lordy, they're gonna make a 4th Bourne movie. The first 2 were great, the 3rd only ok, but now that they're out of books, what's left? I have an idea:

Rather than focus on plot, just leave a film camera lying around and trained roughly on Matt Damon. Hire a bunch of street thugs to then come and beat the camera with sticks, bats, cudgels, etc. Then, take the camera and throw it off a building, but make sure Matt Damon's still visible somewhere in the shot.

Finally, put the camera in a car and wreck it on the highway.

I think it would work: the herky-jerky filming style that we've put up with for the last two movies would be maintained, and the movie would make about as much sense as the most recent Bourne.

Oh, and of course, Matt Damon has to survive everything. Maybe there could even be a brief scene with him being irradiated while flying a small plane into the top of a nuclear reactor while being eaten alive by evil top-secret government snakes. And live!

Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm insaner than you

Last night we had snow, sleet, and freezing rain. And I spent 3 hours in it rebuilding the front of the Miata. It was very cold.

But the job is (almost) done! Yippee! About 2 months of work culminated last night in the ceremonial Lowering From Jack-Stands To Sit On Its Own Tires at 11:40pm.

I don't usually post the car stuff here, but I was very very happy last night. And cold. And a little bit wet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If this is dying, I don't much care for it

It's no great secret that I've been sick a lot in 2008. I started the year sick, meandered through a maze of illnesses, and have probably only been really "well" for about 2 or 3 weeks. So imagine my surprise last Friday when I started feeling a little woozy at night.

It was gone in the morning, but I could be best described as similar to being very tipsy. Not drunk, but close.

And then it came back Saturday afternoon. And Sunday afternoon. And Monday afternoon. Every morning it was gone, only to come back around 4 or 5pm, and it lasted until I went to bed.

By Monday evening, I was getting annoyed, and my lips were beginning to tingle every time I got light-headed. Ok, that's a fever. Sure enough: 99.6.

On Tuesday, I was greeted with the same feelings in the morning.

I suppose it's officially time to worry.

I've also found a small lump in my armpit (probably a lymph node) and have a slight sore throat.

Then there's the fact that I've lost 5 pounds this year without working out at all, and tend to lose my appetite during meals. And the joyful new ability I have to determine when I'm coming down with something: all light sources seem about 15% reduced.

So, to review:

Swollen lymph node
Tingly lips
Loss of Appetite
Unexplained weight-loss
Reduced sensitivity to light
Fatigue (Amanda thinks that's a real one, but I'm not convinced)

Amanda, who loves to watch the show, has taken to playing Dr. House, which fits pretty well with my natural preponderance for hypochondria. So what do I have? According to the good doctor, I'm most likely suffering from Leukemia, or more specifically, non-hodgkins lymphoma. I am, therefore, dying. The romance of it all is just overwhelming.

So tomorrow at 10:50 I'm going to see a real doctor, because playing doctor at home just isn't much fun.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gene Nichol

I just got a letter from Gene Nichol, (former) president of William & Mary. He was just notified that his contract would not be renewed in July, so he quit, effective immediately.

You sorry sack of shit! I haven't been in the business world all that long, but I know that if you don't want to tank your future chances, you try to ensure that the transition to new leadership is a smooth one. He'd better not list W&M as a reference after this.

Gene recounted the 4 most controversial things he's done in his e-mail. He listed the Wren Chapel Cross, the Sex Workers show, his initiative to ensure that families with a total income of <$40K got a full ride without loans, and his insistence on an ethnically & racially diverse campus leadership.

Ok, the Wren Chapel thing was just wrong. He's got all the right ideas on the issue (separation of Church & State, inclusion, liberal blow-hard agenda, blah blah blah), but this is one of those issues that fails when the rubber meets the road: the Wren Chapel is an integral part of the College of William and Mary. Period. And the cross is a part of that chapel. You can no more study European history without studying Catholicism than you can understand the campus culture without appreciating what the Wren Building represents to the student body.

The Sex Workers convention was an odd choice, and again I appreciated his ideals of inclusion and free-expression, but it's a college campus supported by blue-haired grandmothers. Not exactly the typical supporters of the adult entertainment industry. It's like he just didn't care if the college was funded or not. Be damned to practical issues like "can we pay the electric bill this month": Gene wants diversity!

A free ride for anybody whose family doesn't make $40K? That's just nuts. And who pays for these students? Those same blue-haired grandmothers, you moron!

Ethnic diversity is groovy. I'm down with that. But, um, affirmative action is illegal in Virginia, so I hope those diverse folks were truly the best candidates for the job.

But what's this crap about just quitting? Come on, dude! You fought the good fight against the NCAA, you were pretty good about communicating the college's issues with the alumni, and by-and-large you kept your liberal agenda separated from your requirements as president of the college.

But this namby-pamby "If you don't like me I'll take my toys and go home" approach is queer as a football-bat. Especially with Sam Sadler leaving. Who's going to run the college from now until July? Who will help the new president transition into his (or her, or its) new role?

I just lost all my respect for this guy. But mostly I'm pissed because he left W&M out to dry. Have a nice life, Mr. Nichol. Don't call.

When I slice my wrists, money comes out

AV Cables
Racing suit
In-car radio
Car parts
Eating out
New watch

Someone get me a tourniquet.

The same thing happened last year gearing up for racing season: a flurry of activity and financial out-lay, all at the last possible moment. The good news is that it's generally a one-time thing. Yeah, things pop up over the year, but nothing like the mid-winter crunch.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Git R Done!

I've been working on the home theater efforts for the last week. I got all my toys and have made quite the mess.

The TV now has 100% of its cables running behind the walls. I found that the paneling on the back side of the wall could be easily removed, so in-wall cable management and electrical wiring became much easier.

I abandoned the toe-molding cable tracks because of cost, and routed a speaker wire up through the ceiling, around past the furnace, down through a hole the electricians drilled last year, through the crawl-space under the house, and up to the right spot in the den. That means that I conquered one of my greatest fears in the natural world: the crawl space. I don't like camel crickets.

Once that was done, I rigged up all the wall-plates: a 3-gang plate behind the stereo sends 2 HDMI outputs, one component-video output, one S-Video output, and one composite output up to the TV. The 3-gang plate also allows 2 F-type inputs to the Tivo for both cable and antenna reception, and has space for 3 network jacks (for Tivo, the Onkyo, and whatever future BluRay player we get that's network capable).

Below the 3-gang plate is a 2-gang plate of speaker inputs. 7.1 surround is fed into the wall and distributed. Currently this is the only portion of the job that's incomplete, as only 2 inputs are actually routed through the walls. Ultimately 2 of the connections will go to zone 2 audio, which will be distributed throughout the house.

Behind the TV is a new power receptacle for the TV itself and a 2-gang plate with the corresponding outputs from the stereo.

I also bought a truck last week. Found a deal on a '97 F-250 in Highland Springs, and jumped on that puppy. It has A/C, power steering, automatic transmission, an 8' bed, and manual everything else. It's big, it's white, it's ugly, and it's perfect for towing the race car, taking stuff to the dump (did that on Saturday!), and bringing big stuff home from Lowe's. And as another plus, Alastair loves it!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I Hate Sony: The Great PlayStation Debacle

I mentioned the other day that we got new toys. New TV, new Tivo, new PS3 for DVD's and Blu-Ray.

Every single one of these devices has had a learning curve, and I wouldn't claim to be an expert on any of them, but only the PlayStation has caused sleeplessness. Twice.

The first time I ordered a PS3, I had found a deal whereby if I signed up for a Sony Rewards card, I'd get $100 off any order over $299. Great! I signed up and ordered a 40GB PlayStation 3, a memory card adapter for my PS2 card, and a component video cable. I was delighted, and eagerly awaited my new toys.

Then a co-worker told me that the 40GB model wouldn't play any PS2 games. WTF? Even Apple isn't that bad with backward compatibility. So I got an RMA and sent it back. I was out of pocket for $15.42 at the UPS store.

I took my RMA and ordered the 80GB model. It at least claimed partial backward compatibility. I'd have to wait and see if it would play GranTurismo 4, but even if it didn't, I'd be ready for the release of GranTurismo 5, baby!

Well, yesterday it came, and I was excited. I opened the box and found the most attractive game console I've ever seen. I got it all hooked up, attached the clumsy controller, and went through basic setup. I got 1080p going over the component output, audio running through the optical TOSLink output, and started watching "Invincible".

Yay! Everything works! Ready to go and configure the remote control to support my new happy toy, I opened the stereo cabinet door. Wow. It was so hot in there I could have baked bread. If I'd left that door closed much longer we would have had component failure or worse.

Ok, so it runs hot. I (suppose I) can deal with that...

I took the Harmony 880 universal remote upstairs, plugged it in, and went to "Add Device". I typed in PlayStation 3 and saw a new message: Important Information. Following the link, I arrived at a screen that joyfully told me that the PS3 is a bluetooth-only device, and that my $250 remote control could not support it.

Glancing over the entire line-up of Harmony remotes, I didn't see even one that supported bluetooth.

So here again I find myself in the middle of an irritating Sony format-war. 30 years of infrared remote technology installed in probably 90% of American homes, and Sony just decides to jump the shark and go bluetooth. Only. Couldn't be bothered to put in an infrared port for backward compatibility, could you, Sony?

There's a very good chance that the PS3 will get boxed back up this afternoon and taken to the UPS store. The determining factor will ultimately be: can it even play GT4? If not, it's 100% gone.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Toothbrush have boobies on it!

Evidently Alastair thinks that where the word "Crest" is written resembles a woman's chest. Maybe that's the confusion: chest / crest. Chest = boobies, thus Crest = boobies!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Sometimes Life is Exciting in Non-Baby Ways

We got our new TV on Wednesday. We opted for the Sharp Aquos 46" LCD (LC-46D64U, if you're interested), and we're feeding it with a Sony PlayStation 3 (80GB), TivoHD, and the component-output of my Onkyo TX-NR801 receiver.

All of this replaces the old 27" tube Magnavox, Sony DVD player, and Tivo Series 2.

To make the installation right, we got a wall-mount and I just finished ordering all the accessories necessary to put the cables behind the wall. And since I'm going to that trouble, I'm finally going to hide the speaker cables, too.

And if I'm going to go to all that trouble, I might as well get my network ports rigged up to the other side of the room. I found this really cool replacement toe-molding that's actually a hidden cable-tray. That should allow me to deal with some nasty exterior-wall issues.

And if I'm going to all of that trouble, it's probably time to completely re-wire the house for networking, phone, and cable. To that end I'm researching telecommunications racks, patch panels, signal distribution units, and all sorts of other super-cool geek toys. I'm hoping to run conduit up through the walls to the attic and rain down network connections to every room.

Aw yeah: things is gonna get nerdy.

VMWare, Citrix provisioning, 64-bit SQL cluster, Spotlight on Windows, Hyena, Rapid Deployment Services, HP C-class blades. Just a few of the new geeky toys we're playing with, and the list keeps growing!

I've replaced all the suspension bushings in the rear of the Miata, and now need to do the front 8, repack the bearings, and bleed the brakes.

I'm in the market for an enclosed trailer to tow the car, and then it's off to VIR in March for 2 days of track attacking!


These are some exciting times for me. All super nerdy, but a lot of fun as both technical and physical challenges.