Archives: July 2005

Fri 29 Jul 2005

DVD: Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen

image We watched this over a few days again. And after all, when it was originally aired in 1967, it was four episodes, each a week apart, so that is fine. There had only been the two first doctor stories available on DVD. So it was on to the second. It has been interesting for me to watch these 1960's episodes, because they were the ones which were NOT in circulation on PBS in the late 70s and early 80s when I was actually watching this show. The 4th Doctor was my first doctor, and I remember being shocked when I saw him regenerate into the 5th. I had no idea that could happen! Then over time I was exposed to the newer Doctors as they came about, and got to see some Third Ddoctor... but pretty much no first and Second Doctor. If I saw them, it was tidbits here and there. Which of course makes sense, since a good deal of the First and Second Doctor episodes had been destroyed by the BBC to make room in their storage closets, and just plain don't exist any more.

I think this time around with Brandy and Amy is probably the first time I've really watched a complete first doctor story from beginning to end. And I know that aside from multi-doctor episodes, this is the first time I have seen the Second Doctor in Action.

And hey... I like him!!! The first Doctor was just a bbit too much the grumpy old guy on the sidelines who would occationally chip in, but didn't do much... he left that to his companions. The second doctor is an active participant, and shows some snarky Doctor attitude. Different personality than all the other doctors of course, but I think much more in the mold of all the others than the First, who really is radically different.

The actual cybermen in this were laughable, but that just amde it funny. Their voices were almost impossible for me to understand. I'd catch some words, but they were just so modulated to make them sound cyber... that I couldn't understand a word. I did like the little cyberman theme music that came on every time they were emerging from their hibernation chambers and such. Do, do do DO DO.... Uh, that doesn't do it justice. But I liked it. :-)

Anyway, fun episode. Summary and stuff here. Definately dated, but hey, that's expected. And I do like the Second Doctor. I wish more of his episodes existed. Just a handful survived. There are two Second Doctor stories available on DVD at Netflix. We'll watch the next one in a few weeks. The next two Saturdays Amy will be visiting her Grandma, so we'll wait until she is back again.


Abulsme - Fri, 29 Jul 2005, 06:31:42 PDT
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Tue 26 Jul 2005

And There It Goes...

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And off the shuttle went. A bunch of people from work went out to the back parking lot to watch. As did people from some of the businesses around us. I had Brandy on the phone as she tried to watch from home. One person had a radio and was relaying the 3... 2... 1... stuff. It was fun.

I have to admit though, it was less impressive than I expected given all the buildup. The most impressive launch I've seen would still be the first one I saw down here. That one you could actually hear and feel as well as see. (And it was a night launch too, which made it even more impressive.) The shuttle, from the distance we were at... maybe 30 miles or so... 40 for Brandy... looked like a column of smoke with a white spot on top, and then the white spot went on its own for a bit and disappeared. But no hearing it, and no windows shaking. Which that first launch had... It was the Delta 2 sending Messenger to Mercury.

Oh well, next time we may have to get tickets and get a bit closer. :-)

It was still fun though. Good luck to them on their mission of course.

And looking forward to all the pictures from the many new cameras they added because of Columbia. There was already some good stuff on TV. Brandy Tivo'd it for me.

OK, back to work now...


Abulsme - Tue, 26 Jul 2005, 08:02:46 PDT
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In Town This Time

This time I am in town, and we're coming up on a launch:

STS-114 Mission Status Center
(SpaceFlightNow.com)

1214 GMT (8:14 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 90 minutes and counting. Countdown clocks continue to tick down to T-minus 20 minutes where the next hold is planned. Countdown activities remain on track for liftoff at 10:39 a.m.
I'd like to be at home with Brandy and watch from the lanai. But instead I'm at work. While I'm working on a document I have to do, I have NASA TV streaming in a little window. When the time come, assuming the time does come, I'll step outside to see what I can see.


Abulsme - Tue, 26 Jul 2005, 05:35:29 PDT
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Mon 25 Jul 2005

Bring Me The Sahara!

Yummy! Here comes the sand!

Desert sandstorm heads toward Florida
(Chris Tisch, St. Petersburg Times)

Floridians can't seem to catch a break when it comes to the weather.

Though Florida was spared the rains and winds from Tropical Storm Franklin, warmth from the storm's core blasted the state Saturday, pushing heat-index readings to dangerous levels.

On top of that, there's a sandstorm coming. Seriously.

Though forecasters think the sandstorm will do little more than dazzle up the sunsets, it could tickle the throats of people with respiratory problems. The cloud of dust, which is about the size of the continental United States, originated in the Sahara Desert and could be over Florida early this week.
(via Sploid)

Of course, I'm one of those who has a bit of respritory sensitivity, already aggrivated by the fact that I live with more fuzzy creatures to which I am allergic than I really should. We'll see if I feel anything from this.


Abulsme - Mon, 25 Jul 2005, 06:24:46 PDT
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Sat 23 Jul 2005

Covering Up

In other news, according to the last update we got, we are only weeks away from getting the screen behind our house replaced. Last I heard from them (a couple weeks ago) they said still on schedule for the first week in August. Of course, it was originally scheduled for March. And I wouldn't be surprised if it still ends up not being August. And of course, we are not the only ones:

Pool screens awash in delays
(Scott Blanke, Florida Today)

There are more than 36,000 swimming pools in Brevard County, including the one in Melissa Wells' back yard in Palm Bay. Like many of her fellow pool owners, Wells is waiting for a screen enclosure to be built around her pool.

She put up a fence in her yard so she could use her pool while she waits for a screen enclosure, but it's not the same.

"You can't go out and swim at night without getting attacked by mosquitoes," Wells said.

Homeowners across Brevard County are having to wait months longer than usual and pay thousands of dollars extra for swimming-pool screen enclosures, as screen contractors have been overwhelmed with work because of last year's hurricanes and Florida's housing boom.

The situation has created a lot of unhappy customers.
We're locked into "last year's rate" by contract. They better not try to change that. Brandy has been most upset by the many month delay we've already had. I've never been too concerned about that, cause I expected it. Now the price on the other hand... this is supposed to be entirely paid for by money in escrow from the previous owners. If they try to change the price by one penny, then I'll be quite annoyed. I think they are locked in though.

One of the things the article mentions is how some of the screen builders who signed up too many people (like ours obviously) are themselves getting screwed because they are locked in to only recieving last year's prices while their own costs have gone up considerably.

I guess I feel for them somewhat. On the other hand, I don't care so much that I'd want to pay more. :-) Just get our screen on, so we don't have to worry about bugs and leaves.


Abulsme - Sat, 23 Jul 2005, 08:19:23 PDT
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Disruption

Brandy got some bad news Friday that will probably disrupt our lives here for the next month or so, maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less. Hopefully less rather than more. I won't say more in this forum. All will be well before too long, but there will be some short term stress for both of us.


Abulsme - Sat, 23 Jul 2005, 08:05:11 PDT
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Thu 21 Jul 2005

Morning Foodstuffs

I have never been a regular breakfast eater. In fact, I've always felt a bit wierd eating anything until I've been awake at least 2 or 3 hours, sometimes more.

But the last few days, I've gotten to work and I have been HUNGRY. And tired even if I had a decent number of hours of sleep the night before. And it isn't like I haven't had dinner the night before, or have had less than normal. That has stayed about the same.

But I'm ending up hungry and groggy in the mornings, and not fully functional until I get lunch several hours later. I mean, I'm always a bit groggy in the mornings, I am just not a morning person, I'm best in the afetrnoon and evening... but it has been a bit more so than usual lately.

I'm starting to think maybe I have to think about how to fit a coffee and a bagel or something into my morning routine.


Abulsme - Thu, 21 Jul 2005, 05:53:09 PDT
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Mon 18 Jul 2005

Yuck-A-Tan

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I have not forgotten what is supposed to be my next random trip in a long series of random trips. It just isn't to be just quite yet. Originally it was supposed to be fore 1st quarter of 2004. At this point even 1st quarter of 2006 seems unlikely, but it will happen eventually I tell you! It will!

In the mean time, above is a Google Maps overhead view of the spot. Enjoy!


Abulsme - Mon, 18 Jul 2005, 16:05:07 PDT
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CMS as File System

Hey, a post related to my profession...

Content Management Systems have to a large degree been an effort to provide ways of managing and finding content that are better than simply using a shared drive on a file system. Which is great. That is definately needed.

But on the other hand people are used to their file systems. They use them every day. They are comfortable with them. A CMS with a new propriatary interface has to be learned. It is new. It is different. Some people like that. Many people do not, and will resist the change.

The product at my company tries to use "Windows Like" interfaces for some of the navigation for exactly that reason. CMSWatch notes last week that this is actually a trend:

Navigating Intranets by Folder

Perhaps heeding the old saw that Windows Explorer is everyone's first content management system, vendors are constantly trying to make their tools more "Explorer-like." A couple of product demos today really brought that home. First, CMS vendor Ektron [...] Clearly, navigating folders is faster and more familiar to some employees than browsing or searching an Intranet website -- even when the desired content is an HTML page. [...] Which brings me to my second demo, of the new open-source document collaboration platform, Alfresco. Like many of its competitors, employees can mount the Alfresco repository as a shared drive and drag files into particular projects or business processes (see screen). For the enterprise, Alfresco pitches its rules engine here, but for the employee, the appeal is using good ol' Explorer.
As I mentioned, we make our interface look like Explorer too. But it seems clear that exposing a CMS as a file system is something that is very powerful. You need the full blown CMS for lots of things. But in certain cases, just expose it... pretend to just be a drive. Then you can take advantage of a lot of other things too then that only know about drives.

The two systems mentioned, Ektron and Alfresco seem worth another look too.

As of this post I'm also adding a CMS category for the site, just as I recently did for Books, DVD and Cinema. That way if you want to look at just the stuff in these categories you can. I've been posting regularly enough about it, I thought it was worth seperating it out as its own category.


Abulsme - Mon, 18 Jul 2005, 06:57:17 PDT
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GPS Lust

imageOnce again, my desires for a new GPS to replace my old one with the big yellow spot in the center of the screen rises up. Garmn released a bunch of new car GPS units a few days ago. At all ranges of capability and price. The top of the line is this one:

Garmin StreetPilot 2720

The StreetPilot 2720 is a premium GPS automotive navigator that offers text-to-speech and traffic interface capabilities.

In addition to the turn-by-turn voice prompted navigation available in earlier StreetPilot models, the 2720’s text-to-speech functionality allows the unit to audibly announce the name of upcoming streets and POIs, letting drivers keep their eyes on the road while navigating through busy traffic and tricky roadways.

For drivers in congested metropolitan areas, Garmin is offering the GTM 10, an optional FM RDS-TMC traffic receiver that receives digital information (where available) on traffic, road construction, and weather-related tie-ups. The GTM10 receives data from selected FM broadcast stations in select cities throughout the United States and Europe. This optional feature lets drivers see congested areas via a color-coded map. When connected to the GTM 10, the StreetPilot 2720 uses this data to automatically calculate and suggest alterntive routes based on the traffic information.

The StreetPilot 2720 also boasts a new WQVGA, color, automotive-grade, sunlight-readable, touchscreen display that automatically adjusts the unit’s backlight for optimum viewing in any amount of light. Drivers can view the map in a three-dimensional perspective, or a top-down track-up or north-up view.

The StreetPilot 2720 comes preprogrammed with City Navigator™ North America v7 NT maps—containing detailed road maps throughout the entire United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. This map database features nearly six million points of interest—including hotels, restaurants, gas stations, ATMs, and attractions.

Garmin has also added the ability for customers to augment the pre-loaded maps with custom POI’s from industry-standard CSV files, such as school zones and safety cameras. In addition, a proximity-alert feature is included to optionally warn the driver of upcoming custom POI’s.

In addition to point-to-point navigation, the StreetPilot 2720 can calculate the most efficient route between multiple destinations—a real time-saver for realtors, sales forces, and errand-runners. Drivers can also tell the unit to avoid specific areas or road segments when calculating a route.
(via GPSInformation.org)

Of course, my lust is quickly quenched by this part: "Suggested Retail Price: $1184.60". Oops. Not going to be in the budget any time soon. Too many other things WAY ahead of it on the list. Sigh! But someday my pretty! Someday!


Abulsme - Mon, 18 Jul 2005, 06:15:13 PDT
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Sun 17 Jul 2005

Cinema: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

imageOh. My. God. I absolutely loved this. I didn't think I would. And it started out a little slow, but just kept building. How can you not like a move with trained squirrels?? The colors were all bright. Johnny Depp was increadibly creepy as his Michael Jackson wannabe Willy Wonka. And the Oompa Loompas were just funny.

OK, now some of this probably wont' age well or survive multiple viewings. And you probably have to be in the correct state of mind. Now, Brandy said the correct state of mind for this movie is essentially "altered", preferably "highly altered". Or something like that. But since I pretty much always am a bit off, I was in the perfect state of mind. Especially after several days of not enough sleep as I went on my little adventures last week. I was probably on about half the amount of sleep I should have had when I saw the movie.

I am sure that helped.

But I was laughing pretty much straight through, and so was Brandy. Amy was too, but I suspect she was laughing at different things.

There is not one moment of this film that can be taken seriously. There is no super thrilling plot. No suspense. No real character development. No sense that you really CARE what happens to any of the characters. No mystery. None of the things that normally make one really get into a movie. But it is just FUN. If you try to think about it too much, it won't be fun. But if you just let yourself, it is an enjoyable journey. As Brandy told me, a somewhat disturbing enjoyable journey, but hey, aren't the most enjoyable ones always that way?


Abulsme - Sun, 17 Jul 2005, 15:56:20 PDT
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Treos DO Swim!

I am posting this right now from my dried out Treo 650! I let it dry for just about a week. Then Amy put the battery in while I was still away. It worked!!

Well, mostly. There are a couple of drying spots visible on the inside of the screen. But not bad. Worse, if you are on the phone you can barely hear the other person unless you use speakerphone or a headset. But I usually use a headset now anyway.

So all is good! The Treo yet lives!!


Abulsme - Sun, 17 Jul 2005, 15:10:42 PDT
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Sam Meets Gideon

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As I mentioned in the last post, I unexpectedly was stuck at Dulles airport. It was getting kind of late, but I figured I'd call Rebecca and Chris anyway. I was in the general DC area, and of course my dad is also there, and my friend Al, but both are further away from Dulles, and as I mentioned, it was late. Rebecca and Chris have been known to stay up late and live relatively close to Dulles. Besides, I hadn't met Gideon yet. So, a call was made.

Last time I was stuck at Dulles and I called them, they weren't available. Out of town or something. This time, thery were home, and Chris came to get me. They offered a place to stay for the night, but between having to get up at like 5 AM to be back at the airport in time, and my allergies to their cat, I figured a hotel was the best bet.

But I did get to spend a couple hours with them. As Rebecca already posted yesterday, I did indeed meet Gideon during her impromptu WRCT Day. Gideon was great. Big head and all. He sat with me very nicely, played with my tie, and was generally a happy little fellow. Apperantly he threw up on Al when they first met. I did not get that honor. But I think I can live with that.

Also got to catch up a bit with both Rebecca and Chris. The last time I'd seen them in person was way back at my House Cooling Party well over a year ago, and certainly well before Gideon. So it was very good to visit, even if it was just a short chance visit.

Sorry I didn't get to see all the other DC folks. I'll need to actually SCHEDULE a DC trip sometime, not just get stuck at Dulles for a few extra hours.

And of course, you all COULD just come to Florida. :-)


Abulsme - Sun, 17 Jul 2005, 14:20:46 PDT
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Traveling Man

This last week had a variety of fuin travel adventures. I will briefly catalog them.

  • Barely made it to Orlando in time for my flight becuase of all the traffic leaving the cancelled space shuttle luanch. Traffic on the Bee Line... er... Beach Line... was going like 10 or 20 miles per hour most of the way. Then there was a long security line. Very long. Finally ran up to the gate when they were supposed to be almost done bording.

  • Sometime while I was going through the security, the status of the flight was changed from on time, to delayed. Unspecified delays. (Turns out to have been weather.) I had a connection with only a one hour gap. The plane wasn't even at the gate yet.

  • I had Brandy and someone at work looking to see if I had other options to get to the northeast. Pickings were slim. There was one flight Brandy found on another airline heading in the right direction, but by the time it was clear my connection would probably not be made, it was gone. So, based on a decision from work, I went ahead and got on the flight. To Chicago. I was going to Connecticut.

  • Of course, I got to Chicago after my flight to White Plains, Connecticut had already left. And all other flights heading back to the northeast were already gone, or already had dozens of people on standby from other flights to the northeast which had been canceled due to weather earlier in the day. So, I'd be staying in Chicago over night.

  • I figure I'll head to the airport Hilton. It is late. They have me scheduled for a 7 AM flight back out. I know it will be a little more, but it is right there. So I go there. They are booked for the night. I go back to the little hotel board. I start calling places. They are ALL booked. I was not the only one stuck in Chicago because of weather delays in the northeast. Eventually, after calling most of the places on the board, I found one with vacancy. An EconoLodge half an hour from the airport.

  • An EconoLodge. It took half an hour of waiting for a shuttle, then half an hour of riding, then half an hour of getting checked in, then I finally got to lie down in my EconoLodge room. It had a bed, but no broadband. It was kind of icky. But it would do. And I would only be there for about four hours.

  • In the morning, after dragging myself out of bed and catching the 4:30 AM shuttle I got to the airport, went through security, and then, a few minutes after I got to the gate... Delayed. The meeting I was supposed to be in Connecticut for started at 9:30. I would not have made it even if the flight left on time. I was on the phone with folks from the office. In the end it was decided after we got on the phone with the clients to do a conference call and do a bit of the stuff that could be done without me in person, then reschedule the rest for 24 hours later. As it turned out, I was actually able to do the whole conference call from the airport. We didn't end up leaving until almost 4 hours after the flight was originally scheduled.

  • Got to White Plains mid afternoon. Got to the hotel I was supposed to be at the night before. Basically crashed for a couple hours. Then got up and went to buy a shirt since I was at this point already supposed to be on the way home and hadn't been planning on more days. Food followed, followed by a normal nights sleep, then the meeting in the morning. We finished a little early, partially because we'd already done some of it the day before.

  • So, it was off to the airport, four hours before my rescheduled flight. (Returning a day later than originally planned.) Hopefully they would be able to get me on an earlier flight. Uh, nope. So, four hours sitting in the cramped terminal at White Plains. I read some magazines and some of my book. But that was it. Then, of course, an hour or so before the plane was to leave, it was of course delayed.

  • And once again, there was only a one hour layover scheduled. This time in DC. The flight was delayed, then delayed again, and again. They said there was a chance I could still make my connection, because flights out of DC were also heavily delayed. Uh huh. Well anyway, somthing like 7 hours after I arrived at the airport, I was on the way to DC.

  • And of course, when we touched down in DC, the flight back home to Orlando had left 20 minutes earlier. So, I was stuck in DC.

  • Being in DC, I called Rebecca and Chris, and was able to see them for a few hours. (I'll post about that in a bit.)

  • Rebecca and Chris offered a place to stay, but I am allergic to their cat, and had an early flight in the morning, so I grabbed a hotel again.

  • In the morning, finally, a flight went as scheduled, and I was home a little while later. About 36 hours later than planned, but OK...

    And that was my adventure this week. Woo!


    Abulsme - Sun, 17 Jul 2005, 10:11:47 PDT
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  • Wed 13 Jul 2005

    Matt Lucks Out

    Just under an hour ago, as I was driving away from work to go get packed for my trip, I was listening to CNN on the XM Radio and got this news:

    STS-114 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center

    1732 GMT (1:32 p.m. EDT)

    SCRUB! Today's launch has been scrubbed for today due to a problem with the ECO engine cut-off fuel sensors. A problem with these sensors was noted during the fueling tests on Discovery earlier this spring.
    From the sounds of it, looks like this will be more than a one day delay too, so I should be back before they try again. (Although they are not going to make an official annoucement for a couple more hours.) Everybody seems to be thinking this is not a short turn around event though. They have until the end of July for this launch window. After that, they have to wait until September.

    Oh, and one more thing, someone please get Kira Phillips off the TV. I don't usually watch CNN in the daytime since I am at work and all, so I don't know how she usually is, but she has been asking some of the stupidist questions I have ever heard. Let Miles O'Brian handle this by himself. He isn't the best in the world, but at least he sounds like he knows what he is talking about. (To be fair to Kira, she did say this was not "her area" at one point, but still...)


    Abulsme - Wed, 13 Jul 2005, 11:19:49 PDT
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    DVD: Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth (D1)

    imageWe got back too late from the space center on Saturday. Everybody was sleepy. Amy was already asleep. And this story was six 25 minute episodes. So, we skipped it for the night.

    The next night, there was still some debate. We knew it was a 2 disk set, and would it be fair to watch the first part while my mom was visiting, but the second the next week, after she was gone, thus leaving her in suspense? But thankfully, it turns out all six episodes are on Disk 1. Disk 2 is all special features it seems. (So I put it way in the back of the Netflix Q.)

    But when we got back Sunday, it was late again. So we decided to split things up a bit. Rather than attempt to watch all six episodes in a row we ended up watching one, then the next day three, then on a third day the last two episodes.

    I feel a bit guilty for subjecting my mom to three days of this stuff. I mean, it can be fun, but that is a lot. This was a very famous story, and for the era (originally aired in November and December of 1964) it was considered to be pretty good. But the pacing is slow, the effects laughable, etc. But that was to be expected.

    The quick summary of the story is here.

    We did get to see some fun scenes with Daleks all around London. And the historic moment of Susan leaving. She was the first companion to ever leave. And she was the Doctor's Granddaughter and all!

    And basically, he just marooned her on Earth, with no way to get back to him or to their home planet or anything. It was because she had fallen in love with some guy and was "now a woman" and all that, and needed to start a life seperate from her grandfather. OK, fine, but... basically, he abandoned her on a planet that was not her own with some guy she had known for less than a week.

    Oops.

    It was fun. I liked laughing at some of it. But like I've said before, I've always had a bit of trouble getting into the first Doctor.

    Anyway, that is it for the First Doctor episodes available from Netflix. Next up, the Second Doctor, and Cybermen!


    Abulsme - Wed, 13 Jul 2005, 09:56:01 PDT
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    Tue 12 Jul 2005

    Legolas Transformed

    image

    imageAfter I first saw the tadpole with legs, I would check in occationally. The next night, he was no longer in the tank. He was climbing up the walls next to the tank. The tail was gone. He was all frog. I called him Legolas. Leg. Get it? Ha!

    Anyway, he was a tiny cute little thing. About the size of a dime. He would turn his head and look at you he would climb around. If you got too close, he would hop away...

    For a couple days, he hung around the general vicinity of the tanks, and would occationally get back in the tanks. After that, I couldn't find him any more. He hopped away somewhere, now a free frog, no longer needing to be confined to the tanks in which he was a tadpole.

    Legolas, out in the real world. Good luck Legolas, against all the things out there that can eat or otherwise hurt frogs the size of a dime.

    Meanwhile, at least one other tadpole is growing legs. It so far hasn't climbed out of the water, but it will soon, I can tell. Last I looked, its back feet were ready, but the arms still hadn't seperated. But they were close. I expect it to probably start crawling out while I am away on my trip.

    There may be more. But those are the ones I have seen for sure. The rest are still very much tadpoles, swimming around like crazy, but no legs yet. I'll be keeping watch!


    Abulsme - Tue, 12 Jul 2005, 20:44:30 PDT
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    Matt's Fault

    imageThis weekend, one of the things we did since my mom was in town was go and do the whole Kennedy Space Center tour thing. It was fun. I wish we actually could have spent a bit more time. That was my fault of course, for not being ready to leave the house Saturday until after noon. I could have spent more time at some of the exhibits and such, and we didn't see everything. Of course I liked the exibits of actual artifacts and such with the little explainations to read and such. Amy on the other hand liked "Mad Mission to Mars". Some sort of odd floor show with a robot you watched with 3D goggles. That was an hour of my time that will not come back. But the kids in the audience all loved it, which was of course the point.

    Anyway, this brings us to my friend Matt and what is his fault. The Shuttle Discovery (seen here as it appeared the closest we got on the tour) is due to launch tomorrow at 19:51 UTC. But Matt scheduled a meeting in Connecticut for Thursday morning. Which means that at 19:51 UTC tomorrow, I'll be on my way to Orlando to catch a plane to Connecticut. Actually, if I'm on time, I should just be parking at the airport about then. If I was at home, or even at work, I could just step outside and have a pretty good view. (Not as good a view as driving up to the space center, but still...) While there is a chance I might if I'm lucky happen to be someplace where I can see something, most likely not.

    Thus, unless there are a couple days worth of weather or other delays, I am going to miss my first shuttle launch since I moved down here. Boo! Hissss! This is all your fault Matt!

    (Just kidding Matt, business is business... I understand. Sniff! And of course, unless something happens to this one, there should be a next one a few months down the line, and I'll see that one. And perhaps we'll go somewhere that we can see it fly over while heading for a landing next week... of course, that is scheduled for the middle of the day on a Monday, so maybe not.)

    Current STS-114 status can of course be seen at Spaceflight Now updated in pretty much real time as things happen.


    Abulsme - Tue, 12 Jul 2005, 10:05:16 PDT
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    Sat 09 Jul 2005

    DVD: Shrek 2

    imageSaturday morning UTC (what other folks around here would call Friday night) Amy wanted to have one of her movie nights. Since the movies both Brandy and I have from Netflix right now are not 9 year old friendly, we agreed. But the DVD Amy has from Netflix right now (some Punk'd episodes she has cause one of them has Hilary Duff) is one she decided she did not want to watch right then. So she picked one from the ones we already had. Shrek 2. I'd seen it in the theater, and Amy had bought the DVD long ago, but I hadn't actually watched the DVD yet. So we did.

    I think I still had more fun with the first Shrek, but the second Shrek was good too. It was just cute. Nice cat. Nice donkey. A few ogres. Brandy fell asleep. My mom had not seen it before. It is fun trying to catch all the references in it to various other things. Some are obvious, some you have to look for.

    Anyway, I wouldn't call Shrek 2 a masterpiece or anything. I probably would not be choosing it myself for a second or third or fourth viewing. One was just fine. But if someone else, like the resident 9 year old, chooses it, I certainly have no objections. It is fun, and a good way to kill a couple of hours.


    Abulsme - Sat, 9 Jul 2005, 21:27:20 PDT
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    Fri 08 Jul 2005

    Treos Don't Swim

    I have the day off today. (And Monday and Tuesday) because my mother is visiting. So I was walking along talking to her out on the lanai. We were talking about something that was going wrong with the pool skimmer thing. I realize that I still have my ear thing in my ear from a phone call I'd had a few minutes earlier, so I decide to take it off and put it in my pocket.

    I hear a splash. I look to see if it is another frog jumping in the pool. It takes my eyes a few seconds to find it, then my mind a few more to comprehend what has happened. My Treo 650 is in the pool, at the bottom of the deep end. It had fallen off my belt clip when I'd removed the headset. A half second later, as my mom continues to talk, not realizing anything has changed, I dive into the pool, fully clothed and shod. I get the Treo, bring it up, immediately remove the battery, and now it is drying by the side of the pool.

    They say in these sorts of situations the only hope (and it is slim) is to let it completely and totally dry out both inside and out before applying any power to it. So it is sitting in the sun trying to dry out. In a minute I will take it apart like the site says and try my best to dry the inside. It was underwater for maybe 10 to 15 seconds. And no, Treos are not even remotely water proof, I broke one with sweat alone before. So I do not expect it to ever turn on again. Although it is worth letting it dry and trying it before throwing it in the trash.

    And this is exactly why I now pay an extra $4 a month or whatnot for phone insurance. If it is indeed dead, I will be able to replace it for around a $50 deductible rather than the full retail price of a Treo 650.

    But still, this sucks.


    Abulsme - Fri, 8 Jul 2005, 09:27:50 PDT
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    We Have Feet!!!

    imageLast night we changed the water in one of the tanks. It had gotten so dark green it was hard to see the tadpoles. I was afraid some had died because of the lack of water change. But we changed it out and suddenly they were all swimming around again.

    Then, this morning, I went out to look, and there was a tadpole hanging onto the glass on the side of the tank, but ABOVE the water line! Concerned, I went to look further, and indeed, it had little newly developed legs! It was still and not moving, but it had legs! A bit later just to be sure it was OK, I poked it with something, and it hopped back in the water and swam... but pushing with it's legs, not the tail!

    I got this shot, which was a bit blurry, sorry, the lighting wasn't good... but you can clearly see the legs! (It does still have a tail too, which is harder to see in this picture.)

    So far, this is the only one I've seen that has grown feet. And surprisingly, it is one of the medium sized tadpoles, not one of the big fat ones. There are still a few little ones around too. The variation is a bit surprising given that they all went into the tanks at about the same time.

    But anyway... we have feet!! (And legs!)


    Abulsme - Fri, 8 Jul 2005, 09:19:15 PDT
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    Tue 05 Jul 2005

    Sling

    imageMust have. Must have. Must have. Even if there is no Mac software yet. Must have. Must have. Must have. Um, well maybe after about five dozen other things higher than this in priority. But I've wanted something that did this for years. SlingBox. (Mentioned on like every gadget or PVR site on the web last week when it became available.)

    Ivan, since you are almost always the first to try new AV gear, I expect a full report from you by the end of next week. You can watch and control your Tivo at home while you are in your hotel room in Brazil. You know you want that. You know you do.


    Abulsme - Tue, 5 Jul 2005, 14:02:37 PDT
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    DVD: Doctor Who: The Aztecs

    imageI didn't get home from Atlanta early enough (not even close) to do our usual weekend Doctor Who at the normal time, so we did it about 24 hours later instead. It being a holiday weekend and all.

    First one up was The Aztecs. You can see a summary and all of the details at the link. The short summary is that the Doctor and his companions land in the middle of an Aztec temple, and have a little adventure as they try to escape and perhaps influence the fate of the Aztecs at the same time. This originally came out in 1964, so the flavor is just a LITTLE different than the new ones we'd been watching.

    Black and White. Essentially non-existant special effects. Much slower paced. I fully expected Amy to fall asleep. We were planning on watching the first two of the four 25 minute episodes this week, and the last two next week. But at the end of the first two (with a quick break to play in the pool and watch fireworks being set off by the neighbors) she was insisting on seeing the rest. Right NOW. So we did. :-)

    I've never really been able to get into the first Doctor. He is OK. But I kinda doubt I would have stuck with the show if he was all there was. Well, perhaps when I was a kid, which is of course the target audience. The best part was just laughing at some of the really bad effects and overacting. Always enjoyable.

    Anyway, the disk is back in the mail, and we should have another by next weekend.

    Of course, at the moment we have three other Netflix disks out, one picked by each of us, and we've had them for a long time. I'd like to get to those sometime too.


    Abulsme - Tue, 5 Jul 2005, 09:44:07 PDT
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    Sat 02 Jul 2005

    Antoinette Brown Intro for Mom

    image

    A few hours ago, I gave the introduction for my mother at an awards ceremony where she was given one of two annual awards given to distinguished women clergy in her denomination. (I blogged about her winning it here.) In the picture are myself, my mother, Rev. John Thomas (the president of the UCC demonination) and Barbara Brown Zikmund (the other 2005 winner).

    Here is the introduction I gave:

    Hello.

    They told me not to just recite the bio, since you have it here in the pamphlet. So I thought I would just mention one brief thing.

    While I was in college, my mother was teaching in a seminary in Mozambique in Southern Africa. One summer during that time, I was able to visit her. Aside from unremembered times from early childhood this was my first real opportunity to see her in that kind of context. In my early 20s coming directly from a fairly sheltered academic life, I must admit I was not fully emotionally prepared for everything I saw and heard. Not only a visit to the third world, but to a location at the time still dramatically affected by an ongoing civil war. The culture shock was extensive, and I still regret today that I was not a little bit older, wiser and better able to appreciate that trip at the time.

    But that visit did leave an overwhelming impression on me. Not as much of the place, but of my mother. Here she was, and not for the first time, taking several years of her life, and leaving the familiarities and safety of home, going to a place that was sometimes dangerous, and at all times challenging. Rather than shying away from the difficult things, she has over her life embraced them, and thrived upon them. Brave. Strong. Compassionate. Needing to help those who needed help. Needing to comfort and support those who needed comfort and support. Needing to help in the struggle for justice, where ever it might occur. Above all, her deep love and commitment to the communities she becomes part of, both at home and abroad.

    This is the essence of my mother. Throughout my life I have seen this pattern in the choices she has made. Either overseas during her various trips, in a variety of roles earlier in her life, or today as a pastor of a congregation in Massachusetts and a member of this denomination’s national organizations. She makes herself an integral part of the communities to which she is drawn. Her deep faith grounds her, gives her strength, drives her ministries and moves her to fulfill the missions put in front of her, even when they are extremely difficult.

    I am very proud today to be see her receive this award and am greatly honored to introduce my mother, the Reverend Ruth M. Brandon.
    It had been a while since I had last done public speaking other than in small groups. A conference I presented at back in 2000 I believe. I was much more nervous this time. Last time was me talking about some general principles of content management with regards to organizing an intranet. This time I was talking about my mother, and it was personal. And it was in front of about 500 women clergy. Or something like that. I was preceeded by a speech from Rev. Dr. Yvonne V. Delk who is quite the orator I must say. Really got the croud going! I was a tad nervous. I was a bit shaky, and stumbled over a word or two, didn't make proper eye contact with the audience, etc. And a couple times I had to pause for breath to keep from getting too choked up. (Cause I was talking about my mom after all!) And I think toward the end I spoke a little faster than I intended.

    But never the less, I got a lot of comments congratulation me on my comments and thanking me and saying they were very well done. Including from my mom, which was of course most important. They are probably being nice to a degree. I know I wasn't as polished as the professional speakers, but hey, I don't do it for a living!

    I do like it though. Making speeches is fun! Even short 3 minute ones!

    And I was indeed especially honored to be able to introduce my mother. I'm very glad she asked me.


    Abulsme - Sat, 2 Jul 2005, 13:02:04 PDT
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    Thu 30 Jun 2005

    Doctoring Time

    image

    They refused to play it on any US TV network, but of course there are other ways to see such things. Since the new Series of Doctor Who started on March 26th in the UK, we've been watching it together as a family every Saturday night, exactly one week after it aired in the UK. (OK, usually a week plus a few hours to be exact.)

    Both Brandy and I had watched the show when we were younger. And Amy was hooked with the very first episode of this new series. It is after all designed to be one of those shows that is aimed at kids first, but with lots of stuff thrown in for the adults so they can watch and like it too. For the last 13 weeks, it has been one of the few constant things that we know EVERY week we sit down and do together. It has been a lot of fun. We watched the last episode of the new series last weekend.

    I was worried about this return of the Doctor. It might have been like the Doctor Who TV movie from 1996. Passible. A few good things about it. But missing a lot of the flavor that was appealing about the show in the earlier years. Basically they tried to Americanize it a bit, and in the process just made it not quite right. But no, they did it right. This new one updates the old series in some good ways, but retains all the right stuff that made the show fun to begin with. Yes, I could nitpick about certain things here and there. But almost without exception I had FUN watching the episodes and enjoyed them. So it succeeded.

    There have now been 173 Doctor Who stories made for television (of different lengths both in time and episodes.) That is spread between 9 doctors and over a 42 year timespan. Wow. Even taking into account no new TV stories from 1990 to 1995 and again from 1997 to 2004, that is a long time for a TV show. It of course beats that lame old Star Trek thing. :-)

    Anyway, the BBC sucks, and has only released a small portion of those 173 stories on DVD so far. (Unfortunately, of the 173 stories, 27 do not exist intact any longer since the BBC destroyed a bunch of "worthless old stuff" in the late sixties and early 70s. Damn them!) Anyway, BBC has only released a small portion, and some of those are only available as European region DVDs. Of the ones available in the US region without a region free DVD player, Netflix has 28 available. 28 out of 173 total (or out of 146 that actually fully exist) is pretty deficient, but hey, it is something.

    (The Netflix search I linked to has 33 rather than 28 because it also includes a few disks with bits and pieces of the "lost" stories, and also the 1960s movies with Peter Cushing which everybody agrees don't count.)

    So we are continuing the Saturday Doctor Who thing with Netflix. I filled up an extra personality in Netflix with all the Doctor Who they had and put it in order by when the stories aired. (Then the Cushing movies and stuff after everything else). And so off we go, starting with Story #6 "The Aztecs" with the First Doctor which originally aired as four 25 minute episodes from 23 May 1964 to 13 Jun 1964.

    I am guessing Amy won't be quite as enthralled by these old episodes. Especially from the first and second Doctor when they were in black and white. And the special effects were of course MUCH WORSE. Just plain bad in most cases! And also the pacing was quite a bit different than the fast paced 45 minute episodes of the new series. So she may well fall asleep. We'll see! They just have a handful of first and second Doctor episodes though, so in a few weeks we'll be in color again.

    And that should see us through until Christmas time when the first episode with the 10th doctor will be airing in the UK. I am a bit wary, as it is a "Christmas Special" and the producers have said there will be reindeer and everything. That just does not seem like Doctor Who to me, and they better not screw it up! Especially since it will be the first full episode for a new Doctor! (He got a few seconds in the last episode of this series.)

    Anyway, it has been fun revisiting my childhood (well, my late pre-teen and early teen years) by watching this for the last 13 weeks. And having Brandy and especially Amy into it as well has been great.

    Looking forward to the 10th Doctor in a few months! In the mean time though, bring on the old black and white episodes from the 60s!


    Abulsme - Thu, 30 Jun 2005, 18:12:05 PDT
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