Friday, 30 May 2008

The best laid plans

Well, I spent some time yesterday making sure I had everything with me so that I didn't have to come in to work today. So I went out to breakfast, intending to spend the late morning and early afternoon at my semifavo(u)rite coffee place and working. But lo and behold all the files I carefully saved to my memory stick seemed to not be there.

So here I am at the office, doing the stuff I meant to be doing, well, not at the office today. Alas. But at least stuff is getting done. Sending whiny e-mails to the dean, getting stuff reading for a spectrogram this weekend, and counting down the days to my Road Trip to Toronto.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Another reason to be mad at my Minneapolis friends

First, they live in a city with both IKEA and Williams-Sonoma. Then they were sitting on Trader Joe's. The latest thing I've discovered that they have access to and I don't: Red Robin

For those of you who don't know, Red Robin is a glorified burger joint. What I would call a 'gourmet burger' place. The first Red Robin is still in business across the Montlake Bridge from the University of Washington campus, overlooking the Cut. But the chain is (according to the website) 350 locations strong.

Sometimes a boy just needs a Banzai Burger, which is a seriously thick juicy yummy burger with teriyaki sauce, a grilled pineapple ring, shredded lettuce, tomato, and enough mayo to bring down a weather satellite. With big huge wunnerful steak fries and/or the biggest thickest onion rings you've ever had in your life. Or a Bleu Ribbon Burger. It's always one of the two. Unless it's the Whisky River Burger or ....

Mmm. I <heart> Red Robin.

In the old days, they had a circus/carousel theme and servers in cheerleader sweaters, girls in pleated skirts, boys in trousers. Now all the servers wear more sober red polo shirts and black slacks, but the decor is still shiny kitchy wall stuff and wood and brass.

And just for the halibut I'm poking around on their website, and I find not one, but three in the Twin Cities area, one in Plymouth, just off the 494. Rats. I gotta go back to the Twin Cities again this summer.

A new malady

Long time readers may recall my previous bout with what I call "Nintendo Thumb". Back in December of 06, when Zelda:Twilight Princess came out, I settled in for several weeks of Nintendo-induced bliss, followed by some days/weeks of seriously Nintendo-induced pain. This came from swelling in my right first (thumb) carpo-metacarpal (where the base of the thumb meets the wrist) and metacarpo-pharyngeal (where the thumb meets the hand) joints. Supposedly due to repetitive stress injury resulting in tendinitis (according to published descriptions of similar maladies, and which I think should be spelled 'tendonitis', but nobody consults me about these things), it comes from mashing buttons or control sticks with your thumb for hours on end.

The new Wii has added a new twist to this, which I am going to call "Nintendo Wrist", which I felt the beginnings of last night and decided to give it a rest. The wireless controller for Wii games has a bunch of accelerometers or something like that in it, such that depending on the game, you can point the controller, swing it, or shake it, to accomplish various things. In Super Mario Galaxy, you both 'spin' Mario and make Mario 'throw' (things in his hands or, properly powered up, fireballs). Both are critical moves at various points in the game.

And if you're like me, you get stuck at anything requiring what you might call timing or skill, so you have to do them over and over again until you get it right and hopefully you don't have to do them again for a while.

Motor learning tells us that if you practice these things for a while, sleep on it, and then try again, your brain magically rewires your systems for all the control you were trying, unsuccessfully, to master during your first practice. So the logical thing to do, when you get stuck doing some combination of things in a game, is to practice a few times, work out what you want your body to do, and then go to sleep. It should be easier the next time you do it.

So last night, when I was stuck on a desert level, where you have to spin out of whirlwinds and fly, helicopter-wise, short distances, then jump up walls and spin yourself out of launch stars and then do it all again, I started to feel a funny twinge in my right wrist.

The smart thing to do would have been to save the game, quit, put the controller down and go to bed. But that isn't how Nintendo Wonks work.

So I kept at it, sometimes having to spin/fly/jump/fall/jump/climb/jump/spin through the same combination probably a dozen times when I messed up on one maneuver (sp?) or another, all the while wondering what damage I was doing to my wrist.

Well, in the end I managed to finish the level, and today my wrist doesn't seem particularly worse for wear. But I should probably take a break from stressing it for a while. Maybe next week, when I'm on the road anyway....

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Would you serve as Vice President?

The Hill asked all 97 senators who were not at the moment actually running for president if they would run for Veep. They report all 97 answers, verbatim, on their website.

NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me"'s Daily Quiz jumped on this story, with the following observations:

Most of them said the politically correct thing: "No, I love my current job working for the people who elected me." Some laughed at the idea, and some were more honest. Said Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah: "Of course. Big house, big car, not much to do. Why not?" Republican Larry Craig's response was the weirdest: "I would say, 'No, Hillary.'"

Was Craig saying he expects Clinton to be the Democratic nominee? Or the President? But why would she ask a Republican to be on the ticket? It seems that, once again, Sen. Craig was making a tragic misjudgment about who was interested in him.


But it seems that the Senate is taking a dim view of recent Veepish shenanigans. From Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN): "I know already who it will be: the man in charge of the search. There’s no need for me to respond. That’s how you get to be vice president." And Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY): "We already have a vice president from Wyoming. So we’ll have to see if Sen. McCain asks me to chair his selection committee. That seems to work well. It certainly seemed to work well for the last guy from Wyoming."

Unless my reading of these comments as ironic is wrong. <shudder>

Friday, 23 May 2008

Asshole Rating Self-Exam (ARSE)

Are you an asshole? Take this self test.

I scored a Four. I think out of 20. I'm 'true, unless I'm fooling myself'. According to the score, 6-15 is borderline and 16-20 is 'certified asshole'. Scale from Guy Kawasaki, developer of the "No Assole Rule" workplace.

I'm feeling so good about myself (what with some nice strokes from my Dean yesterday) I might skip tennis on the Wii and go out for an actual walk in the sunshine.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Fun with electronics

I went back through a few posts and realized that I'd never revealed my lucky purchase in St Cloud. I bought a Wii. Every evening (and most weekend days) for the last week or so have been a near continuous flurry of tennis and bowling in WiiSports, Super Paper Mario, and creating little cartoon versions of myself and various fictional characters on the Mii Channel.

I <heart> my Wii.

It turns out there's a planned/engineered/enforced scarcity of game consoles in Canada. According to separate people at two large retail outlets, every couple of weeks some guy comes in a truck and drops off a couple of consoles. They're not sure exactly when this truck will appear, or how many devices they're going to get at a time, but it ain't often, and it ain't many.

So if you're like me, and you don't want to admit to anyone you're going to shell out money don't really need to on a toy you don't really need, especially one that will just suck more money as time goes on, you want &deity; to tell you when it's time to buy one by providing one for purchase at some moment when you happen to be thinking about it. So once every couple of months, when you find yourself in the neighbo(u)rhood, you stop by We B Toys or whatever and ask if they have one. And if they ever do, it's clearly &deity; telling you that it's time to buy it. But this being Canada, they never do.

Turns out the distribution in the States is similar, in that some guy in a truck mysteriously appears at irregular intervals bearing devices. The difference is that in the States, the guy in the truck drops off a pallet or two of devices at the same time. Such that you sometimes see posts on web-based message boards saying 'they just got a bunch in at the (store) in (city) near the (landmark)'. And if you hurry, you can walk in and get one, although it doesn't take long for them to disappear.

So I thought I would increase my chances for divine intervention, or whatever, by hitting every big electronics store between "here" and "there" on my recent pilgrimmage to the Old Country. I hadn't actually meant to stop at every possible place on the road, but as long as I was (for instance) passing through Grand Forks, I might as well check at that Best Buy right by the freeway, or as long as I was spending the night in Fargo, I should check at the Best Buy and the Toys R Us in range of the hotel. Which I did, and no one had any in stock.

But then my tire shredded and I found myself unexpectedly stuck in St Cloud for a couple of hours. And there was a Best Buy across the street from the Mall (I checked, and no, they didn't have one). I wasn't quite willing to go the couple of blocks over to the Toys R Us, at least not on foot, and once the new tires were on I was anxious to get back on the road. But there was the two hours wandering around the mall.

And there was a little game store in the mall. And they had 'em. Hence my new reverence for St Cloud as a consumer, if not divine, shrine. Little electronics/games stores in malls rarely have consoles in Canada. They had a few dozen just sitting there. <cue angelic music>

So anyway, that's the big secret. I didn't mean for it to be a big mystery. I just didn't want to say anything until I was safely back in Canada.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Announcing


William Charles Cantelon, born to proud parents Michael and Debbie on Monday. 6:14am. Sounds like the kids had a very, very long night. William is my parents' first great-grandchild.

Monday, 12 May 2008

If only

I don't like to post a lot of junk on one day, but this all came up since about noon time, and I don't want to forget about this.

Many of you know that I am a big Zelda fan. I missed this trailer when it first came out. But here it is.

And yet...

Today, I'm a moderately expressed ISTJ. Go fig.

Don't ask, you don't want to know anyway

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Wow, sleep (redux)

As regular readers will recall, a few weeks ago I ended up taking an extended nap, followed by a serious night of sleep, totalling about 16 hours of slumber.

Last night, I did it again.

Just about all the way home yesterday--the drive from Fargo being about 2.5 hours to the border, and just over another hour from the border home--I was thinking about how tired I was. Not that I didn't sleep while I was on the road. I just had to get up earlier than is usually comfortable to fully enjoy my complimentary breakfast (see previous posts) before hitting the road.

I had planned to hang about in ND for a while, to have a serious late lunch or early supper at a Mexican restaurant in Grand Forks. But by the time I got to Grand Forks, I decided I just wanted to go home. So in the end, I was home by about 3:15. I picked up a little (okay, a lot of) food on the way home, ate, and was ready for a nap by 4pm. When I woke up, it was about 8pm, and my choices were to get up and risk being up all night, or staying in bed. Guess what I decided to do.

I did spend a couple of hours reading. I had finished Jim Butcher's White Night on the road, so I started the next (most recent) book, Small Favor. I don't know what I'm going to do when I run out of these books. I'll have to go back to Janet Evanovich or something. Anyway, around 10pm, I decided it was time to go back to sleep. So I did.

Clock radio woke me up about 7:55, as usual, but I decided to snooze and doze for a while longer. But I got up in time to watch Celebrity Poker at 10am. So I've had some sleep. Enough that now, approaching 4pm, I don't feel like I need a nap. So I guess this is &deity;'s way of telling me to do something about the fruitflies which have taken over my apartment in my absence.

On that, I've broken out a fruitfly trap from Lee Valley, hoping that will do the job. Since my make-shift one (I pounded some holes into the plastic lid of a glass spice jar and threw in some warm water, oatmeal, and a little yeast and sugar to start the fermentation. This seems to draw the fruitflies pretty well, but not fast enough to keep up with their production. So we'll put them both out and maybe do a fruitfly count to see if one is better than the other.

Or maybe not.

Goal for this week: Clean the area around the TV enough to make it worth unpacking the Wii. Remind me to tell you the Wii story sometime.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Il pleut. Llueve. It's raining.

Fitting end to my pilgrimmage to the old country.

I seem only to have had fast food Mexican on this trip (if I can delay my drive back enough I'll stop in at a real restaurant for a late lunch/early supper later). But Taco John's is still a big step up above Taco Bell, at least in Canada. Chicken taco salad, and then later a steak burrito. Mmm.

Okay, shopping report. Albertville yielded a decent pair of shoes, four pairs of pants, shorts, and at least one shirt that I can recall. IKEA yielded toffee candy (for the office--I try not to indulge unless I'm hypo), a middle-sized saucepan to go in between the little one and the big one and the bigger one that I got as a set last year), a couple of small 'soda' 'pitchers' that I'm going to use as tumblers, and a pair of narrow-ended tongs. I like tongs in my kitchen. Trader Joe's yielded sundry jarred goods for me and gifties, and some cookies. Okay, those I'll indulge in, but in small quantities over long periods of time.

I'm now listening to Car Talk on the radio, having listened to about an hour of Weekend Edition this morning. I miss NPR.

I was too late for fresh biscuits this morning, so I'm having my Hampton Inn sausage patties on a bagel. Raisin, but it was the only one that looked like it had a useful grain. And some yogurt. And coffee. Ahh. I'm going to have to remember this kind of breakfast when I get home.

Note to Hampton Inn, Fargo: Hampton Inn, Maple Grove, has cute little round eggy things to go with their sausage and biscuits. Mmm.

Okay, must finish my yogurt (which thank &deity; isn't spelled 'yogourt' down here. It's the little things that make you miss your home country).

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Mission Accomplished, or why I will never speak unkindly of St Cloud, MN, ever again

So I'm on my semiregular pilgrimmage to the old country. I had a nice dinner (Italian, tho) with a colleague from Moorhead last night. Got some sleep. Had a nice breakfast thanks to the people at Hampton (let me just say that sausage patties and fresh biscuits are da bomb, nutritionist and endocrinologist be d*mned). Then, somewhere around mile marker 124, my driver's side front tire's tread shredded itself. Quite an adventure.

Cell phone and CAA/AAA memberships pay off big time.

After about 10 minutes on the phone with various AAA people, owing to the fact that I wasn't sure where I was, except that I was eastbound on the I-94 and could see mile marker 124 in front of me, it only took 20 minutes for a very nice man with a bad knee in an old truck to come and change my tire for me (since the last few times I tried to remove a lug nut that had been pneumatized on I almost hurt myself, I thought it better to let a professional handle it). So I rolled another 50 miles or so into St Cloud, MN, on my now (I assume) trashed compact spare, found a Sears Automotive, and arranged for new tires.

Which left me with two hours to cool my heels. And let me just say between the arcade claw game and a lucky break in the mall, I was a very happy consumer. In the sense of acquiring things that were in need of acquisition (including tires) without too much trouble. So all told I was able to roll into the outlet mall at Albertville a little before six and Trader Joe's in Maple Grove about 7 and checked in and safe at the hotel (yay Hampton Inn again) by 7:30. Missed dinner with pal(s) in Minneapolis, but oh well.

Now I just have to find some food and go to bed. Tomorrow is IKEA day, followed by a long drive back to Fargo.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Wow, sleep

I got done with a biggish task at work around 1:30, so I took myself out to lunch, determined not to go home and just go to sleep or something. By 3pm, I was well fed, freezing cold, and tired. So I went home. I started to sort laundry and then decided that a Nap was in my future. So about 5pm, I was asleep.

Ah.

I woke up about 8pm. I thought about getting up, but decided that I just didn't want to spend the rest of the night awake. So I forced myself to stay in bed. I read. I watched a couple of episodes of NewsRadio on DVD. I grabbed a fiber bar from my bedside table and had that for dinner. And I drifted off again about 10pm.

Ah.

I didn't sleep through the night exactly, but I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about getting back to sleep. So basically, I slept right through until about 9:30 this morning.

Ah.

I love sleep. And obviously I needed it. Now I have to accomplish something. I have a stack of papers to read and prioritize, a house to clean, and a ton(ne) of laundry to do. And I'm just holding my breath as to whether I'm going to need a nap this afternoon again....