Friday, December 28, 2007

Lacklustre update blog post motivated by 25-day blog-gap

Well, it's only been 25 days since my last post. But hey, December was busy.

I was reading books, fixing bugs, writing test scripts for our project, parenting, husbanding, getting ready for Christmas, watching football, and basically not writing.

Quite opposite of Karen, from Dorktastic Oddments (see my link bar), I was ready to crawl into a hole to forget that I knew how to write. Now, however, I'm out of that hole.

Hm... updates...

Thanks go to the Morrigan for the new (to me) computer. Yeah, you may think it's old and slow but believe it or not, it's faster and has more memory than our main computer. I installed Kubuntu on it as soon as I had time and it's humming along, even if I don't have it connected to the internet yet.

Thanks also go out to King Kong Awesome (KKA) for the gift of a new (to me) CRT Monitor. I was having issues with it but that was more because of the VGA to DVI adaptor not being plugged in correctly. It cast a pink sheen over EVERYTHING.

Thanks go out to my sister for a wonderful Christmas. She put a whole crapload of work into it, getting everything ready, cleaning, cooking, wrapping, driving herself up the wall with stress about everything coming together on time, and it all worked perfectly. Then, for her efforts, she got sick. And then fell. And cracked her tailbone. Condolences, sis.

Those of you who are on Facebook will have seen the picture of me holding my new treasure. My sister went overboard and got me a Houston Oilers helmet, signed by Warren Moon with a Hall of Fame inscription on it. Yeah. Blew me away.

Those of you not on Facebook will not have seen it yet. I will get a picture of it up here tout suite.

Lily's sentences are coming more clearly, now. Instead of saying "Where we going" she'll say "Where are we going" with an emphasis on the are, to make you know that she knows, now. She's so smart.

Kim got a camera for Christmas. She is now a shutterbug. Not that I would expect anything different. She loves pictures. She loves scrapbooking. So this was a perfect gift for her.

Nick says this was the greatest Christmas ever. He's probably right.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

CBC Radio

I have been listening to 740 radio in the van on the way to work lately, and there are some things I've heard that just make me shake my head:

Carl Heinz Schreiber: Why does the government keep him around? So that he can tease and pretend he has information he doesn't really have in order to avoid extradition? It's just ridiculous. All the political parties are ignoring what the guy is saying and are asking him questions to cover their own arses (Conservatives), or try to bury another party (Liberals/NDP).

I hate politics enough as it is but keeping this guy from facing what he deserves in Germany to further (or keep from un-furthering -- whatever) your own political ambitions is cheesy and wrong. Shame on you, government of Canada.

Edmonton Schools get rid of junk food: So what? All that means is that all the fat kids are going to stop spending money in your school and are going to cross the street to the Mac's, 7-11, George's, whatever is there, and stay fat off of their food. And curse you for changing things.

One year under "Easy"Ed Stelmach: I have very little opinion of this. They say he's poured a bunch of money into infrastructure, and that's good. They say he's not as charismatic as Ralph Klein. I think that's good too. I've had enough of the smooth guy, making grandiose gestures and yelling drunkenly at homeless people.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

I am a winner!

Can't see that? Try this one:
50000 words. Actually I made it to like 50036. Still, I did it. In one month.

In that same month, I also:

Had a computer die on me.
Reformatted another computer.
Released a version of our online banking software, which involved all kinds of big effort.
Traveled with Kim to Calgary.
Parented, actively, mind you.
Fought distraction after distraction.
Used, as my main writing computer, a laptop that's around ten years old, has no internet connection and can only transfer files using my iPod.

All in all, I'm pretty proud of myself.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dangit NaNo!!!

I've been telling Nick a bedtime story off the top of my head and the idea is cool as heck. I want to write it but it has to wait! DANG!

Hurry up, 50000.

Hold on, key story. It's been 13 years. You can wait another three and a half weeks. C'mon!

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Part one is done

Sometime in high school, I had some characters running around in my head for a story. So I wrote down some notes, intending to write the thing later.

Always later.

Through the second half of grade twelve, I wrote the first couple of chapters (some of which still exists). And I wrote more notes.

Those notes were added to over the next six or seven years but I never touched the main story. (later)

There was always a compelling reason not to work on the story itself. (Work, school, work, other stuff) Finally, I was working at Halliburton and I felt the need to write. So I wrote. I got a good portion of a story-arc done. Chunks of the story changed. Big chunks. But writing was still a struggle. It felt like I was holding the pen too tightly or something. So I went back to planning.

Finally, I read a write-up on a website that talked about how your inner-editor is the biggest impediment to writing a story.

The editor is very important during the editing phase, to be sure, but if you can't shut him up while you're creating, then you'll never get anything done.

I don't know how I did it but that voice is gone. (I hope I can get him back when I need him, though) and pages and words have flown by.

The other night, I finished part one. I know that I included the end of part 1 in the beginning of part 2 (more as a bolster for my NaNoWriMo word-count than anything else) but even the part of part 1 that was co-opted is done. Thirteen years of labour and my first one came out 129 pages long and weighing 35000 words. The next one should be closer to 50000 words and take much less than 13 years.

Exploding cigars all around.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

30000 plus

I reached the 30000 word summit last night.

Two chapters to go for the end of October.

It's all war now!

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Local Election

First off: I hate elections. Not because it's democracy in action. Not because I hate freedom. Not because I'm some communist pinko who just wants to be told what to think.

I hate elections because of the visual pollution every three metres down the side of every road in my neighbourhood.

I'm sorry Amarjeet Sohi, blah-blah McKenna, Stephen Mandel. There are others. I don't remember them now but I'll remember when I see them on the ballot. I saw your signs. I don't like your signs. So I'm not voting for you.

I have a little more respect for Sohi than I do for others. He's out on 50th street on the median, waving, pumping his fist in the air at passing motorists. It's a little weird, I have to say. Is it an attempt to say "I don't have to work! I can take the time to greet you on your way to your daily drudgery! Vote for me and I'll use this time productively! Maybe!"

What I would like to see: Some minor politician campaigning by improving my life. Wanna be a city councillor? Fill some of those potholes that knock the hubcaps off of my wheels. Want to clean up the city? Start with the broken beer/malt-liquor bottles on every single corner in Millwoods. If you're already in the middle of the road, Amarjeet, you could spend some time and pick up the garbage there, with your little buddy holding up your sign and pointing at you instead of bragging about your lack of anything better to do.

I just hope they clean up their signs after the election.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

One down, one to go

Kim left Nick and I alone. I figured it was time.
I pulled out the DVD.
I told Nick it was my favourite movie of all time.
After seeing it, he agreed with me.

I don't know what Nick's favourite part of the movie was but I imagine it was either the football fight scene with the giant metal eggs or the crashing the ship into Ming's wedding. He did talk about those parts more than anything else.
And he didn't fall asleep in the middle of it like someone else I know.

If you don't know that I'm talking about Flash Gordon, you don't know me at all.

Now I just have to get Lily to watch it, if I can pull her way from Toupie and Beanoo.

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Three chapters to go!

I did some planning the other night and the first part of my story had four chapters left. I wrote some more that night and tonight and now I have three chapters left. That said, I still have several weeks if not months of editing when that's done but I'm pretty excited.

Thirteen years, I've been working toward this part. I'm excited.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Back at it

I'm writing. It feels good. I told my inner editor to shut up and, lo and behold, he did. 1840 words on Monday, 1057 words last night. I'm on a roll and enjoying it. I want to have part one done by the end of this month. Written, anyway. That way, I can use part two for NaNoWriMo. Or maybe I can use NaNoWriMo for part two. Either way, I want to have part two done by the end of November. Just to see if I can do it. So far, the story is 26,716 words long. I figure there's probably about half that much left for part one.

Wish me luck,


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Monday, October 01, 2007

Texans week 4: Houston 16 - Atlanta 26

Injuries suck. Houston needs to get some people back. There aren't any injured guys who'll come in and take over for Faggins, though. That's too bad.

The Good: Schaub played pretty well. Travis Johnson started to come on. Amobi Okoye got another sack. Kevin Walter and Andre Davis did pretty well.

The Bad: Defensive backfield. The Defense HAS to get off the field.

The ugly: Demarcus Faggins was torched all game long. Whenever he wasn't getting burned, he was committing penalties. Who would ever run the ball against the Texans when Faggins is an automatic first down if not a touchdown?

That is all.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Angry Liam

If you're telling us to do something fast, fast, fast, tell us what the fuck you want done and stick with one way of doing things. At least until the stupid rush is over.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 3: Houston 24, Indianapolis 30

I had a bit of a bad feeling about this game, going in. First off, Indianapolis are the reigning Super Bowl champions and they don't seem to be playing like it (see Tampa Bay, New York Giants and just about every other team to win the Super Bowl other than the Patriots in the last ten years). Second, Andre Johnson is out. Third, Demarcus Faggins is starting. On purpose. Without anyone ahead of him being injured. Still, these aren't your father's Houston Texans (unless you're reading this, Nick or Lily). Matt Schaub has been playing really well and the boneheaded mistakes that plagued the team last year and before that seem to be less.

I listened to Mark Vandermeer calling Mathis's touchdown return to open the game with mixed emotions. Yes, I was excited. Mathis took one to the house and that could only mean good things. But I knew that the game was far from over. Ah well, we were up by seven and no amount of over-thinking things could change that. Only Peyton Manning and the Colts could. And they did. Quick drive, seven points over newcomer Michael Boulware to Stupid Dallas Clark who was supposed to make my day by not playing.

Not a big deal because we've got our own brainy quarterback who can make adjustments. And he did. And the Texans drove. And my heart soared because Matt Schaub truly isn't David Carr. Still, the drive stalled because of an inability to run and a false start penalty. Brown split the uprights and we were up again.

My good feeling was not to last. Manning is Manning and, as such, is unstoppable. He drove his team 65 yards for another touchdown (this time it was Joseph Addai literally OVER Demarcus Faggins for a four yard touchdown run) and just like that reality was setting in. After all, once Houston goes down to the Colts, it's over, right?

Enter the Houston Texans. They drove for 44 yards and had to settle for a punt that would bottle the Colts inside their 15.

A rare three-and-out for the Colts put the Texans in business at their own 38. Then the inexplicable happened. An 8-yard pass, then a running play up the middle that put the clock down to 46 seconds. WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS GARY KUBIAK THINKING? This is not David Carr, to be coddled when there's an opportunity for a score! Maybe Kubiak woke up because he had Schaub pass again but this was a short incompletion that stopped the clock. Indianapolis, likely snickering up their sleeves at the horrible, horrible mincing play, ran the clock down as you do when you have a lead and start inside your twenty with 30 seconds left (instead of doing it when you're nearly at midfield, down by three against the best team in the league) and Houston headed into halftime down by four to the Colts.

The wheels fell off in the third quarter. The Colts completed two 20+ yard completions on their first drive, both to tight ends, as they drove 57 yards for a field goal.

A late throw over the middle to Jacoby Jones was tipped then intercepted by the Colts who took the 21-yard field and drove for a touchdown. That made it 24-10.

My Texans-sense kicked in and I thought we were in for a crap-kicking, but little did I know that these are not your father's Houston Texans (unless you're reading this, Nick or Lily). Granted, the Texans went three and out but after they forced a three-and-out out of the Indianapolis Colts, Jacoby Jones returned the ensuing punt 72 yards to the Indianapolis 18. Turns out that Jacoby Jones separated his shoulder and will miss some significant time but it was still a nice play that should have gotten the Texans back in the game. HOWEVER, Schaub threw an interception the very next play.

Indianapolis, on the strength of a 64-yard completion to Reggie Wayne, kicked another field goal and put Houston behind 27-10.

Undaunted, the Houston Texans started off on their own 27 yard line and Schaub connected with Andre Davis (the other wide-receiving Andre) for 41 yards down to the Indianapolis 1. Two Samkon Gado runs got the Texans into the end zone, 27-17 Indy.

On the kickoff following the touchdown, Rushing returned the ball 47 yards to the fifty. Manning, picking once again on Demarcus Faggins, moved the ball into field goal range, allowing Vinatieri to put them ahead 30-17.

Houston started on their own 25, passing smartly but taking too much time. The clock ticked away while Schaub nickled-and-dimed his way down the field. Normally, I don't have a problem with scoring drives. In fact, they're pretty darn cool. However, the drive started with 10:33 on the clock and ended at 2:53. If you're down by 13 against the best offense in the league, maybe you want to hustle up to the line a little. However, a pass to Vonta Leach made it 30-24. Doing my math, that meant that a touchdown and single point would put Houston ahead. All they needed was an onside-kick or a defensive stop and another touchdown.

It was not an onside kick, so Houston was relying on their defense to get them out of the jam. A false-start by Ryan Diem helped. Demarcus Faggins playing against Marvin Harrison did not. Stupid Manning completed a second-and-nine pass to Harrison for 12 yards and were able to run the clock down to 19 seconds by the time the Texans managed to hold the Colts and get the ball back with no timeouts on their own 20-yard-line. Schaub got sacked on a big blitz and time ran out before they could call another play. Indianapolis wins, 30-24.

The good:

Houston keeps trying, no matter how far down they are, and don't give up until the end of the game, whether it's holding on to a lead, scrambling back from far down or just churning when the game is still in doubt. That's pretty awesome.

The defense came together in the second half, holding Indy to field goals when the offense or special teams was letting them down (or, granted, they were letting themselves down).

For a team with no running game, they still put up 24 points.

Schaub completed passes to ten different receivers.

The return game still seems dominant.

Another sack for Amobi wan Okoye

The bad:

Running the clock out from your own 40 with plenty of time is COWARDLY. COWARDS LOSE FOOTBALL GAMES. I never want to see that kind of mincing, fraidy-cat playcalling, ever, ever again!

Keeping Demarcus Faggins on Indy's best receiver when he was consistently converting for first downs was a bad mistake.

Michael Boulware's first significant action was, unfortunately, marred by having to cover Dallas Clark.

Schaub's two interceptions were horrendous – especially the second one. Talk about a dagger in the heart.

Samkon Gado and Jameel Cook should not be the primary ball carriers for any team.

Next week: rebound game against the Atlanta Falcons and a chance to go 3-1 on the season. Johnson and Jacoby Jones won't be playing and Steve McKinney is out for the year but I'm still hopeful.

Library Book Sale

Kim, the kids and I took in an abbreviated visit to the Library Book Sale on Sunday. Here's the rest.

The Books:
The Ring of Five Dragons – Eric Van Lustbader
Hardcover first book of a series that purports to rival Robert Jordan, David Eddings, George R. R. Martin, Terry Brooks and Terry Goodkind in popular appeal. I’m curious and I have to believe that I will be reading this one with a dubious eye. Why not throw in some more big fantasy names like Feist, Lackey and Le Guin while he was at it? Still, it’s a first book of a supposedly big fantasy epic, so I’ll give it a shot.
The Duke’s Ballad – Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie
I’m worried that it’s a romance novel that just happens to be set in Fantastical times/worlds. Still, I’ve heard of Andre Norton who is supposed to have been very good. I’ll read it, anyway.
Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines – David Hagberg
I like novelizations of movies so I’ll probably like this one.
Star Wars Revenge of the Sith – Matthew Stover
See above.
The Family Trade – Charles Stross
This book starts off in real-world and moves quickly to a parallel Earth. I don’t usually read these kinds of books but the Landover ones and the Covenant ones were both worth reading so I’ll give this one some time.
Fire Sea – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
This is another step in my never-ending quest to buy all the books that I loved when I was a teenager.
The Silent House – Ed Greenwood
I like his Tales of the Band of Four, so I’m pretty sure I’ll like this. It might even be an installment in the same series.
The Anvil of the World – Kage Baker
Fantasy that Nick pointed out to me. Seems fairly interesting and quirky. I will keep my hopes up, as always.
Wind from a Foreign Sky - Katya Reimann
There are two things that are guaranteed to sell me on a book series. A positive quote from an author I’ve read and enjoyed and “Chronicles” in the title somewhere. This one has both.
Empire’s Daughter – Simon Brown
This one has Chronicles in it too and it also has guys standing on the deck of a ship. I like books on boats.
Broken Crescent - S. Andrew Swann
Computer hacker meets other-worldly Druid-types. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

R. I. P. James Rigney, a.k.a. Robert Jordan

When I was in junior high school and high school, I spent a lot of time playing video games. Who am I kidding? I play a lot of video games now. But not NEARLY as much as I did back then. I also really enjoyed reading comic books.

Enter: Bob Johnstone. My dad was a veritable fountain of comic books. He delivered Sears merchandise to a store on his route that doubled as a convenience store. He became friends with the owner and said owner started leaving out the "destroyed" books that hadn't sold. Books, magazines and comics. I read a lot of good comic books that way. I also read one thing that changed the course of my spare time from then on.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan was one of the books my dad received from his friend and the designs on the inside of the book were intriguing enough for me to pick the book up. It was also the biggest book I'd seen to that point.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, I devoured that book. My most vivid memory is sitting at the big green chair in the living room, my legs draped over one arm and my back propped up by the other, flipping through the pages, living the adventures of Rand al'Thor and his friends. Their terror was mine, their panic made my heart beat just a little faster. This was my first experience with a truly earth-moving book.

Another memory I have is of finishing the book and being nearly sick to my stomach, knowing that the library was closed for the next couple of days and I couldn't get my hands on The Great Hunt. When I finally was able to get it out, it fell the same way that The Eye of the World did.

Robert Jordan's writing showed me how easy it could be to get engrossed in a story, how easy it was to pass time not thinking of the angstful and depressing life of a teenaged boy. After all, who has time to think those thoughts when your new best friend is being chased by a Trolloc?

Jordan was working on the twelfth and final book of The Wheel of Time when he became sick with amyloidosis. He died on Sunday before finishing the series. If I'd had the chance, I would have thanked him for my love of reading, my love of fantasy and my love of writing.

I've heard that his wife will take up the chore and finish the last book. If she does, I will read it without reservation, without hoping that it won't suck. I think it will be good, not only because she has been his editor and his wife and shared his vision for so long but because one way or another, it will provide the closure that so many people have waited so anxiously for, over the last 18 years.

It's a shame that there will be no Infinity of Heaven, no more prequels and no outrigger novels (whatever they are).

Thank you, James Rigney for all you've given me. Best of luck, Harriet, in your efforts to close out The Wheel of Time.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Liam's Latest Rejection

One good thing: You can't get rejected if you're not writing anything.
Another good thing: CAPTIVATING prose.

See below:

Dear Liam Johnstone,

Thank for your submission to Every Day Fiction. I regret to inform you that we are unable to use it at this time.

Well-crafted prose and an interesting idea. I don"t think, though, that we are given quite enough information to really make the story work. I need a bit more information to convince me that the protagonist is the good guy and the others are the bad guys, to buy into this world where a man can step into a loom and disappear. I had to read it a couple of times to sort out what I think is going on, and even then I"m not certain. But there"s definitely a germ of a good idea here, and this author should develop it. --Camille

This does sound like the beginning of an interesting story, and the prose kept me captivated, but it doesn't feel complete in and of itself. There's not much character arc or plot development. The prose is good, and we'd like to see more from you, but we need a little more from a story than what is here.

We wish you good luck in placing the story elsewhere.


Jordan Lapp
Managing Editor
Every Day Fiction

I don't have any plans on putting the story this references on the blog yet. I'm going to try and work with it and see what I can do to make it a full story and submit it somewhere else.

So it sucks it got rejected but there's cause for optimism.

Until more later on,


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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Frets on Fire

If you like Guitar Hero, or you're intrigued by the idea of it (even if you've never heard of it) you should check out Frets on Fire. It's freeware, it's free, it's available for download, you can use the Guitar Hero song-packs for it, and there are even tutorials showing you how to create your own songs. Which means there are a ton of songs that are user-created for you to enjoy.

Give it a shot.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007


Kim and I celebrated two anniversaries this week. First, on Tuesday, was the third anniversary of our wedding. Much fun was had, eating Indian food and playing games, and just all around having a fun day. Kim goes more into it on her blog here.

Then yesterday, we celebrated the first year of our living in the Minchau house. We celebrated by helping Kyle and Erron finish moving out of their house. They're moving to Chicago, a move that is sound but sad. We'll miss the Andersons and their children and hope for their safe trip down, and their speedy return.

That is all for now.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

Being a recounting, collaborated upon by my son, of our trip to Vancouver

On the way to Vancouver, we stopped in Blue River for supper. We got too much food because the waitress brought the wrong things for Nicholas and Lillian.

We stayed the night in Clearwater. There was a playground and a game room. Nicholas got to play Foosball and Lillian had a lot of fun on the swings. There was a big wooden swing thing that you used for feet with. Kind of like a teeter-totter.

The next day, we stopped in Kamloops for awhile. We all had fun hitting Nick with the Superman ball.

Finally, we got to Trevor-and-Mina's place. According to Nick, we did nothing all week but I remember a lot.

We all went for a walk by the lake. Nick found a stick that was like a bamboo pole. We also saw a koi fish swimming around.

We went to the Sizzling Asian Festival at Henderson Centre and Nick made an origami flower.

We had a birthday party for Trina (Nick and Lily's cousin). It was a lot of fun. Trevor and Mina's building has a party room on the ground floor and there's a library filled with books. Trina came down dressed in a hang-bok. It was very pretty.

Nicholas and I went for a walk by a river with Uncle Trevor. Nicholas made friends with a snail. We just about sailed Bob the Snail on a leaf down the river but we changed our minds.

The next day, we all packed up and drove to Vancouver to visit Stanley Park. We spent most of the time at the beach where Nicholas collected shells. We put sun screen on him but it was too little and too late and Nick's back burned pretty badly. Kim and I still feel bad for that.

That is the first half of our trip. Maybe I'll finish the report, maybe I won't. I'm wacky like that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My new toy

Generally, I don't consider buying a new thing to be worthy of a post but this one is special.

No more hoping/coaxing our half-working mower to life in an attempt to even out the grass.

No more trips to the gas station so I can get the lawn done before the rain comes.

No more slow creeping across the lawn, staying in one spot for a bit so that the thick parts can get cut properly.

No more standing in the noxious mixed-gas exhaust that left me smelling like a refinery for hours on end.

No more worry about mowing in the evening because of the noise.

Here it is, my sharp new friend:

A reel mower that is pushed by hand

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

I remember, ten years ago (was it really ten years ago? My GOD, I'm getting ancient), amid the chaos and confusion of first-semester final exams, I discovered a book that I'd bought over the summer. And heck, Robert Jordan said it was good, so why not give it a kick at the tires?

Three days later, I'd written a couple of finals and finished this glorious piece of fiction. See, the problem was that I'd read enough mediocre fantasy that I was worried I wouldn't find the right thing to blow my socks off. After all, I'd already read up to book 6 or 7 of the Wheel of Time, so I thought it had all been done.

George Martin opened my eyes up to a new style of fantasy. NED! BRAN! What the hell's going on here? How can he let this happen to the good guys?

Now, the ensuing books haven't been as good, but they are still fine books, better than most of what's out there. I'd been getting a little stale on the series, with Martin's harbingers trumpeting every turd that he makes on the toilet but it was nice to read this one again to refresh myself, get away from the hype and just enjoy the book.

I can't believe it's been ten years and it's only the second time I've read the book.

I've started it a couple of times, but there's an event that happens three-quarters of the way through that is hard to get to, let alone through. The buildup to it is just insane, especially if you already know what's going to happen. Once it happens, you're free to go ahead and finish the book, hopes and dreams shattered but the pressure lets up somewhat. Then picks up again to leave you needing the next book.

Good for you, George. You've recaptured a fan, just not butt-polishing fanboy. I reserve that for Robert Jordan.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Anyone want a gamecube... or a book... maybe some kids' clothes?

We're having a garage sale this weekend. I know that the readership for this blog is absolutely through the roof, so I'm sure that there are a bunch (a BUNCH) of people who will be flocking to our house at 4707 37a avenue nearly breathless with anticipation over the merchandise.

Well, the schedule is as follows:
Thursday: 10 am - 8 pm
Friday: 10 am - 8 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm

I can't promise we won't sell out of stuff before you can make it. I mean, just think of the pairs and pairs of people reading this blog right now. Heck, they may already have read this post and are EVEN NOW coming to my house at 4707 37a avenue to buy what YOU want.

Don't let that happen to you! Come on down to my house at 4707 37a avenue Thursday 10-8, Friday 10-8 or Saturday 10-5 and see what we can do to get you (or your child) into a new (used) pair of pants!

In the news

Ottawa man fined for promoting hatred

I don't normally spend a lot of time reading the news or listening to the news or watching the news because it just riles me up. Watching is the worst because the anchors seem to be able to throw a story out there about four Canadian soldiers who won't be coming home and then switch to the dog show coming up this weekend. It just doesn't work for me.

However, this one just kind of jumped out at me.

Some idiot, living in his grampa's basement, decided to start the Canadian Nazi party and started a website about it, talking about how non-white people should be exterminated. The Human Rights Tribunal got wind of it and
  1. ordered him to stop spreading hatred
  2. turned off his website
  3. fined him 4000 dollars.
Fortunately, it looks like nobody actually took him seriously. The messages posted on his website appeared to be all from him. Still, the things that the tribunal would allow the press to print were disgusting enough. I don't want to think about what they kept quiet.

When notice of the hearing was delivered to this moron, he hid in his house and wouldn't answer the door. What happened to being "in the right" and "fighting for what you believe in"? Apparently, he doesn't believe as strongly in his cause as his website would have us believe.

Also, when the journalist tried to reach him for comment, he couldn't get ahold of the guy. So apparently he's not only an idiot but a coward.

What ever happened to the amusing redneck idiot who would spout off on some daytime talkshow so that Geraldo could break a chair on his head? Now we've got these morons skulking in the shadows, talking about how they're stronger and better? Gimme a freaking break.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dead and Buried by Howard Engel

I've always liked Benny Cooperman. He's not your run-of-the-mill Private Investigator. He likes things a certain way. I've never read anything about him punching anyone out. He'd rather avoid trouble, it seems.

But he's a bright guy who knows what's what and he can get to the bottom of a mystery. I guess if he couldn't, Engel wouldn't have written so many books about him.

Engel tackles toxic waste dumping in Dead and Buried. Not so much from a preachy point of view, but then, I'm guessing we're all pretty against it, so preaching would not do him much good. Cooperman is against it but doesn't like to think about the environment. It keeps him up at nights. The book was published in 1990, so I guess the writer could get away with a sentiment like that. I can't imagine a protagonist being accepted in this day and age if he had any opinion of the environment other than "We have to save it!"

In the end, surprise, surprise, it's the big corporation that's been doing the toxic dumping, and the big boss is behind it and the murders of some people who've been digging around. But never fear, Cooperman will save the day.

I don't know enough about how high society works or how big business works to know how realistic this novel is but it doesn't have to BE realistic, it just has to FEEL realistic. And it does. Good job, Engel.

The Failed Facebook Experiment - or - I was gone, but now I'm back.

I will admit it: I've spent too much time on Facebook. But I've had it. I wasn't getting any social networking done, just browsing people's profiles to see what was new with them.

My one attempt at social networking fell on its face, leaving me with my desire to play hockey intact and ashes in my mouth regarding Facebook.

Still, I persevered, I put in my time, but I kept getting added by people I barely knew and others who I didn't really like. I didn't mind it when Facebook was a dozen or so friends who were still relevant in my life but it ballooned out of control so I would log in, look at some groups, look at some people and log out. I wasn't contributing, I wasn't creating, I was just wasting time.

Instead, I'm going to waste time here, putting posts up on my blog like I should have been doing all along.

After all, I've read 16 books this year and I think I'm shy 14 write-ups. I just hope I can remember what happened in what book.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

June... 24? Yes, June 24.

If you're missing hockey, street hockey, or just streets in general, get your runners, get your sticks and mark June 24 on your calendar because I'm similarly marking it as a day to play street hockey.

The tentative location is Minchau School. I picked this place because it's fairly easy to find, it's in the city and it's close enough to my place to have people over for barbecue later.

It's almost a month away and details are very sketchy right now but there will be more to come.

Streets, hockey, Sunday June 24.

Don't forget to mark it on your calendar.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

JavaOne part three

5/10/2007 6:12 PM Mountain
Monday was an interesting day. We met sometime around 8:30 and went to Mountain View, bickering about radio stations, fighting over which way to take, and generally getting along peacably. After eating, “stopping for coffee” a couple of times, and the drive, rife with traffic and slowness, we arrived at the Mountain View office sometime around 10:00 am. Upon arrival, we all connected our computers to the work network and, to our horror, realized that we had an 8:00 am skip-level meeting with Spencer. Only two hours late. I guess it would have been a good idea to connect to work before going to bed the night before.
I read my emails, sent some emails and had a meeting on Struts2 before it was off to the all-hands meeting where we got another unbridled dose of optimism, good-feeling and an idea of what to expect in our lists of things to do in the coming months.
Honestly, I was pretty positive about the all-hands meeting. My boss's boss's boss, Paul Rosenfeld is a pretty straight shooter and comes across as having very little tolerance for BS. I don't agree with his opinions on everything but at least I'm confident that he does.
After the all-hands, we headed out to San Jose to visit the Winchester Mystery House. I wasn't very enthusiastic about that – I'd tried to talk Marius and Wenpan into abstaining since we'd already been through there but peer pressure guided us all to the decision to follow the crowd. Honestly, I was pretty impressed. The guy had exactly the same spiel as the girl had had a couple of months before but his in-between commentary was a lot better than the girl's.
After that, it was a kind of dinner I've never had before. They brought dishes out – fish, beef, chicken, veggie, but they just kept coming. It was pretty nice and I was impressed by what they offered for the most part but I was surprised to find that at the end of the evening, I was still pretty hungry. There was a lot of good conversation to be had. I moved around, trying not to miss any of it. I talked with Grace, a UE designer and I was pretty impressed with what she had to say. I'll go into that later.
After dinner, Marius, Gustavo, Evelyn, David and I went out to an Irish pub. It was loud during the Golden State Warriors game then people filed out and David Cassidy's evil doppelganger showed up and wowed people with his hair and his guitar. Unfortunately, his guitaring sucked and his voice was worse. I could recognize most of the songs he was playing but only through keen observation. After that, we went back to the hotel and I pressed the up button a couple of times before going to bed.
JavaOne was like I expected it to be – only way louder and with waaaaay more people. The first opening session was likely six to eight thousand people sitting and listening to a guy talk about taking Java open-sourced. Maybe I'm not seeing all of the benefits that this provides but I didn't get really jazzed about it.
I'll go into the details of the sessions in my technical blog at for those of you who care. It's mostly about Java language and web programming but who knows? Maybe there'll be something in there for you to care about.
Probably not, though.
San Francisco has been, in turns, sunny and hot enough to melt a man, cloudy and windy, cloudy and calm, on the brink of rain (without ever actually raining to back it up) and sunny with wind. The San Diegans have been bitterly cold but I have been in a t-shirt and shorts the entire time. I guess it all comes down to what you're used to.
The food has been fantastic. I've been spoiled with the generosity of our manager. Steak, rack-of-lamb, any number of amazing meals that I've eaten happily.
The only one that I didn't enjoy was the pizza.
I like pizza. I like pizza probably more than any man has a natural right to like pizza. However, this one had Shiitake mushrooms which I THOUGHT I liked, but they were disgusting on the pizza. And it also had sauteed onions that covered the top of the pizza like some unnameable slime. I suffered through. I'm such a freaking trooper.
Mostly, I end up struggling to find a wireless signal and I struggle to keep my laptop charged. Disabling the wireless speeds up the charging but I'm fighting a losing battle. I managed to get my Palm charged and synced up thanks to Derek Deter who works for the people we bought and are integrating with. So now I'm taking my in-session notes with the palm and if I can get together with Derek again before the end of the conference, I'll put them on the PC. If not, I'll hope the battery doesn't die on the Palm before I can get the notes off of there. Maybe it's worth it to type them up on the tablet by reading them off the palm. Don't worry about me, though, I'll figure it out.
Last night, Gustavo and I went with Abraham, another Intuit employee, to a party hosted by Terra Cotta, a company that does some kind of caching solution or something. I didn't really understand. I just know that they claim to be 8-10 times faster than JBoss cache. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds like when the skinny doper at the golf course told me he power-bombed some guy through a pool table. My bullshit monitor kind of peaked at that moment and I knew it was time for me to leave.
I don't know how many more of these updates I'll do before I get on the plane tomorrow afternoon but I'll get another one up when I get home. A sort of conclusion to the festivities.
Until next I blog,

JavaOne trip Part Two

JavaOne SF Trip Part 2 – 5/9/2007 11:49AM
The date and time above might be a little misleading. I'm seated in my session and waiting for it to start so I thought I'd keep working on the updates.
So, I explained the “Uncle Marius” thing by mentioning what happened at the hotel but we didn't get to the hotel until pretty late Sunday night.
We got out of the airport area around 10:00AM here, and we were going to be going sailing at around 11:00. So, we had lots of time to get to the marina. Which turned out to be a good thing, since I took several wrong turns, and had a very vague idea of where the marina was.
We stopped at Peet's coffee, which would become a theme of sorts for all of our wrong turns. “oh, it's okay, Eric, we don't need your GPS for the drive home. We're going to stop for coffee on the way back to the hotel.”
So, we made it to the marina and I won't go into the entirety of the seven-plus hours spent on the water but I will say some.
It was sunny, sunny, sunny. I sun-blocked everything that showed but I still burned my elbow-pits. They're coming around now but they were pretty red for awhile there.
The helm doesn't move. I discovered this, to my pain, by experimenting with my nose. I thought I had missed a spot with the sunscreen, since there was a very tender spot, but using my scientist-powers I deduced that sunburns turn red and the spot on my nose was definitely brown. Just – like – a – bruise.
I am a tacking-genius. Okay, so it's not so hard to tack. You just have to turn 90 degrees. But Tom, whose boat it was, said that I got sailing right away. I think that's the highest praise I've ever gotten from him.
Seven hours on a boat in the hot sun can tend to make you stink. The bath at the hotel when sailing and eating and getting Eric back to his car were FINALLY taken care of seemed to be better than any shower I've ever had before or wil ever have again.
And of course, for those of you who don't know, Kim and I chose two and a half years ago not to keep cable. It's nice but it wastes so much time and the absolute crap that is out there, we can get for free. I only mention this because the hotel room has cable – ESPN, all the networks (couldn't find Fox), Comedy and soe others. There are a lot of buttons on the TV remote. Buttons where you can rent movies, buttons where you can turn on the GameCube, buttons for channel changing, volume control and some other crap. The only button that has any meaning in my life anymore is the up-channel button. I pressed that button over and over and over again, going around the horn over and over again.
Now, if I were to do this kind of thing at home, around the horn is four, maybe five channels and I'm done. The same things are on, the same commercial is usually on if I don't catch anything interesting, I get bored and turn off the TV.
The hotel has in excess of 40 channels. This means the usual around the horn takes 9-10 times longer than at home. Coupled with the fact that there are three ESPN feeds, there's always something catching my attention for a couple of minutes. That means that by the time I get around the horn all the way, there's always something new and interesting on a given channel than there was the last time I flipped by it. Unless there's a movie on, then forget about it. Random movies are my special crack and I will sit and watch that until there's a commercial, which just slows the flipping down even more.
I say this because I made the mistake of turning on the television when I got to my hotel room, thinking it would be once, twice around the horn and then straight to bed.
I stayed on that sucker until 1:30 in the morning. Stupid me. Around the horn is a professional's game. You don't go cold into American cable thinking you can spend less than two hours idle time. Being tired made it worse.
That's it for this update. It's long enough.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

JavaOne trip -- Part One

Being part one of a series of posts about Liam's trip to San Francisco for the JavaOne conference, 2007.

San Francisco Update: 5/9/2007 11:21 AM
After Beaver Camp, Nick and I drove back to Edmonton, getting home around 11PM. I helped Kim finish packing me up for this trip, ordered a cab for 5:00 and headed to bed around 1:30 AM.
I woke, shaking my head to the pounding on the door from the cab driver. I rushed downstairs and told the guy I would be right out. Gathering things together, I dressed and shot out the door. Kim also threw some muffins and a banana into my bag.
The US customs guy was actually pretty friendly. The first time that's ever happened for me. I shot through security with Kevin Hu in tow and we sat by the gate to wait for the flight and the rest of the team.
Gustavo showed up first, and Wenpan and Marius didn't make it until the plane was pretty much full. Apparently, security got crazy after we went through. Gustavo got finger-printed and he got a free cuddle from one of the scanner-people.
The flight was fairly unremarkable. I read my book – Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler, while I listened to Sandy Foster on my MP3 player. I dozed off for awhile but it's hard to get comfortable in those miniscule seats.
Renting the car was an adventure, since my credit card was declined. I'm still not sure if it's because I'm in the States without them knowing or because of the credit limit but “Uncle Marius” stepped up and used his credit card and we were on our way sailing.
--I have a session in a couple of minutes on Java Persistence but I'll continue the update later on.
*Uncle Marius is what I called Marius after he helped out with the rental car and then did the same thing for my hotel room, Kevin's hotel room and Gustavo's hotel room.
Catch you after the session – if I have time for that, lunch and blogging.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This one's for "In Rob We Trust" writer Rob.

If he even reads this blog.

If he hasn't already read this.

I got a kick out of it.

A letter from the Smithsonian

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Daily Meditation -- 04/24/2007

We distinguish the excellent person from the common
person by saying that the former is the one
who makes great demands on him or herself, and the latter the one who
makes no demands on him or herself.

-Jose Ortega y Gasset

I read this and immediately shook my head, taking it to be common sense. Of course it's common sense if I agree with it. So I started thinking a little more deeply. Can I find somewhere in my experience where I've disagreed with this? Can I find somewhere in my experience where someone else has disagreed with this?

Looking at the quote, I find it hard to imagine someone who makes no demands on him or herself. I guess living in an addicted haze, stumbling from one thing you need to do in order to survive to the next would be a little less demanding than facing the realities of each day, taking the hits as they come.

So maybe the excellent person is more willing to face life, whatever may come, than the common person. Maybe turning away from a sense of entitlement, opening ones eyes so they can do what needs to be done, rather than what they feel they get to do - that would be demanding.

Then again, maybe I'm just skewing the criteria, trying to fit my carcass into the uncommonly excellent slot.


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I have no idea what a //CODiE// is, but my old project (Quicken Home Inventory Manager) won for best home productivity solution.

There was, sadly, no mention of the installer.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Daily Meditations -- 4/23/2007

That's right, I'm going to try again.

Wise men don't judge: they seek to understand.

- Fingers Pointing Toward the Moon by Wei Wu Wei

I find that the hardest part of any argument is getting to the actual disagreement.

I find that rhetoric and persuasion, followed by anger and self-consciousness are barriers to that. I feel like I spend the entirety of every argument trying to break the sides down to the most basic elements. If I can do that, I'm satisfied and I end the argument, happy to understand the other person's perspective.

I'm not confrontational by any standards, despite the attempts of others to characterize me as the angry bald man. I do like vigorous conversation where points of view are debated but I've walked away from conversations where, rather than explain their part, the other people will resort to yelling and personal attacks. This doesn't happen very often, I'm glad to say. My last line in just about every disagreement I've had since I was twenty goes like this: "So what it boils down to is... ... and I can accept that we disagree on that."

As far as the judgment, I agree, it's the wise thing to try and understand, rather than pointing fingers or making snap judgments.

The Virginia Tech murders come to mind as a place where it would probably be wise to try and understand but in this instance, I chose to (and continue to choose to) judge by saying: "I'm glad he took his own life too because he doesn't deserve to live." I don't care about taxpayers money imprisoning him. I'm not American and I'm not paying to keep him alive but he just doesn't deserve to live.

Wise? No. But it's the way I feel. You may disagree, and I can accept that.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

My new bike

Friday, Kim and I went shopping for my new bike. We spent some time at the Sherwood Park mall. I'm sure it has a name beyond "Sherwood Park mall" but I don't know what it is.

We spent some time waiting for a bike to be assembled but time was bleeding away and we ended up missing out on the one shop Kim wanted us to hit.

Fortunately, there was another shop that was open for another fifteen minutes. We sped across town (actually, it was just down the road) to "Bikes and Boards" where we talked for nearly 40 minutes with the owner. In the end, I decided that JAMIS would be the next brand of bike I'd own. The guy had a two-year-old bike that a 60-year-old lady owned and that she rode a total of 12 kilometres.

I'll admit, the 60-year-old comment almost turned me off of this bike for good. I mean, who wants a bike a 60-year-old would choose? But then I decided that the way this bike fit me, the way it felt riding down the road, and the good feeling I got from this guy (when he said he'd take care of the bike if anything happened to it) decided me. I'm going to redefine this bike, from a hardly-ridden old lady's bike to a bike that a 30-year-old angry man would be proud to ride. (I just have to figure out how to get the ribbons out of the handlebars and the basket off the front. I'm keeping the clonkers on the spokes, though)

Seriously, here's what the bike basically looks like. (It's a product shot from JAMIS's site. I'll get an actual picture of it at some point)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spring has Sprung, the Grass has Riz

I love spring.

I realize I'm not alone in this statement but I really love spring.

I love the same thing about spring as I do about winter. In winter, I want it to snow and snow and snow. I love snow. In spring, I can't wait until the snow's gone. And now it is, mostly.

Soon, I'll be able to bike to work. No more glares from bus-riders. No more standing there, waiting on someone else's schedule.

Soon, Nicholas will hit the soccer field and my indoor games will become outdoor games.

It's bright when I get out of the office now. I don't realize how much I miss sunshine until about this time of the year.

Everything's waking up and life is kicking into high gear.


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Late nights at Palazzo Johnstone

I stayed up late to watch the Canucks-Stars playoff game last night. I went to bed twenty minutes or so before the end of the game.

There's just something about overtime in the playoffs that I can't turn my back on. Every game is so important and you never know when it will end. I love the idea that a game could still be playing when it's time to go to work the next day.

Of course, the Sedins ruined that dream.

Speaking of the satan-twins, there's something almost hypnotic about the way they cycle the puck down low. They always seem to know where the other guy is expecting him to be and then, just like that, the puck's out front and there's a scoring chance.

I hate the Canucks but I hate the Stars worse and I'll cheer for any Canadian team as long as they're not playing against the Flames.

Nice to see Ottawa doubled up on the Pens as well.

Here's to the Flames kicking some Red-Wing tail tonight.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

I knew it put it somewhere!

And here it is.

I had meant to put an Anno-versary post on In The Now but it knew better and snuck onto my technical blog.

Stupid performancing, mucking with my posts. Thinking (or knowing) it knows better than I do.

And quit mucking with my formatting. YOU MAKE NO SENSE!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dragon Story Submitted

I have finally submitted the dragon story for consideration.

The turnaround time is supposed to be really quick with these people so I will keep you all posted. As soon as I hear anything, I'll post it here.

Wish me luck, if it is in you to do so.

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Carr out Schaub in

When David Carr was selected Number One overall, my first thought was 'Who?'. My second was of immediate disappointment because I had either wanted Julius Peppers or (to my shame) Joey Harrington. In my defense, the only college game that I watched the year previous had been a game where Harrington took the Ducks on a last-minute drive to beat the opposition. I'm sure Dylan, being a Lions fan (Harrington's eventual destination), could tell you who he beat. We watched the game together, enrapt by Harrington's control over the offense, hitting receivers short and intermediate. There were no desperation throws. There was no hurry. Just a man who knew the business of moving the ball down the field. Well, most of us know how that one turned out. Harrington was moved out Detroit last year for a paltry 5th or 6th round pick. He played reasonably uncrappily for the Dolphins but they decided that they would take their chances with Daunte Culpepper's ailing knee and the stellar force known as Cleo Lemon. (More on the Dolphins further down).

Regardless, Carr was the horse they put their money on, so it was Carr for whom I would cheer when the regular season came around. I would have no choice, since they put him in as the starter immediately. Oh, the amazing power of hind-sight. (More on hind-sight, later)

Carr's first game in the regular season as a Texan was an amazing victory over the cross-state rival Cowboys. Two touchdowns (one to Cory C.S. Bradford and the other to Billy Miller) and the team was undefeated in its history (in the regular season).

The next week, the Texans came back down to Earth as San Diego pummeled them, registering, I believe, eight sacks. My question at this point was, what in the hell was Carr doing in the game after the FOURTH sack? But that question will forever remain unanswered.

Throughout the years, sacks would be something to which Carr would be no stranger. In fact, over his five years in Houston, Carr was sacked 249 times. I believe (and I don't think it's a stretch to believe) that this is a record over five years. Houston broke the record for sacks allowed in their inaugural season and then would have tied or broken it again in 2005 if 2002's sacks allowed hadn't been so prolific.

Last week, David Carr was released from the Houston Texans after they spent a second round pick this year, a second round pick next year and swapped first round picks with the Atlanta Falcons for quarterback Matt Schaub.

The price for Schaub, at first glance, seems pretty steep. It is my contention, however, that the trade is not as baffling as I had originally thought. Here's why:

According to the Jimmy Johnson Trade-Value Chart, the second this year, the second next year and the move from 8 to 10 is worth the equivalent of a first-round pick in the neighbourhood of 15-20. It is my contention that the Texans had planned on using their first-round pick on Brady Quinn, he of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They may have gotten some indication that Quinn would be picked by someone ahead of them and so decided that they needed to go in another direction. They brought in Patrick Ramsey and Jeff Garcia and Jake Plummer has never been far from the minds of those who know that Kubiak reformed Jake Plummer and that Plummer struggled (sucked) without his O.C. last year in Denver. None of these people became Texans, so the thought was that if they didn't draft a quarterback, David Carr would be the starter next year. So, they didn't use the #8 overall to pick a quarterback, they used the equivalent of the #15-20 overall and they still have a top-ten pick in this year's draft.

“But Liam,” you say, “2 second rounders for a quarterback that isn't proven is a little steep.” I'll agree with that, keeping in mind that the Raiders spent a 2nd on Marques Tuiasosopo and then another on Andrew Walter. The San Diego Chargers spent a second rounder on Drew Brees only to pick up Philip Rivers with the #5 overall (kind of... they had #1 and traded Manning away for Rivers and a boat-load of picks) a couple of years later. And Washington who spent a #1 on Patrick Ramsey and then another #1 on Jason Campbell.

Sure, quarterbacks fall out of trees for some teams (Green Bay, San Francisco, New England...) but the search for a Franchise Quarterback is one that has lost many coaches and personnel men their jobs.

Another point is this: You can think of this trade as trading up to #15 overall and picking Schaub in the draft. Except that he doesn't have to sit down at all. Like Kellen Clemens last year, Schaub, in his last year in college was injured, which dropped his stock to the third round. Granted, Clemens only fell to the second but the point is the same.

“What about all the picks?” Well, if we traded up to pick Schaub, who's to say we can't trade down from #10 to, say, 20-25, pick up an extra second and use our first-rounder to get Ryan Kalil, the best centre prospect in the draft? And then use the second in the same general way we would have used our original #2? Sure, the #2 next year chafes, and the draft is going to be boring between 1(10) and 3(9) but the excitement that this has generated over the past week is just astounding.

In the end, a member of the Houston Texans message board said it in a way that made the most sense to me. “Gary Kubiak should get to coach his guy. He pretty much got stuck with Carr last year and now that they're admitting that mistake (which Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans did at the Schaub press-conference), Kubiak should be allowed to choose the guy rather than picking cast-offs up from the scrap-heap.” I don't remember exactly how he said it but it was along those lines.

“But Liam,” you say, “The Texans should have traded Carr last year and used the #1 overall on Vince Young, the hometown boy!” The Texans could not have traded Carr without first extending his contract the way they did. This is the same contract that made the returns for him minimal, at best. Kubiak, in his job interview, told Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans, that he believed Carr could get a team to the Superbowl. Not a bold statement, since the not-so-dynamic duo of Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer managed to do the same thing for Baltimore. (I'm not comparing the Texans to the Ravens. Just that Carr could probably have gotten THAT team to the Superbowl.) Kubiak probably wouldn't have gotten the job without answering that question that way so I can understand why he would have held on to Carr.

So, David Carr was released outright. That doesn't necessarily mean that there were no trade offers. What it does mean is one of three things, in my mind: 1) The return for Carr wasn't enough to justify pushing all of his pro-rated bonus into this year, 2) Carr wouldn't restructure his contract to go to any of the teams the Texans were interested in trading with or 3) McNair decided that Carr should be released so that he could pick his own team, as a way of saying “I'm sorry we didn't protect you”, “I'm sorry the team sucked” or “I'm sorry for the offensive coordinators you had in your first four years.”

I'm inclined to believe the third point. It was stated that Carr asked to be released and that wish was granted.

Where will Carr go? I'm not really sure. The Dolphins could be a possible landing-spot, with their concerns over Culpepper's knee (and his general ineffectiveness), the departure of Joey Harrington and the fact that Cleo Lemon is the guy waiting in the wings. Oakland has been a hot possibility as well, since signing Carr could potentially free them up to draft WR Calvin Johnson who is widely-regarded as the best prospect in this draft (and narrowly-regarded as the best WR prospect ever out of college). If Kansas City trades (or releases) Trent Green, Carr might be welcome there to hold the spot for awhile. I'd be interested to see what he could do with Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez and company, especially with that massive offensive line in front of him. (It's sad to think that they have Willie Roaf – a guy who was removed from the expansion draft list while Tony Boselli was allowed on there and never played a single down for the Texans.)

I'll watch Carr's career with special interest. He was with the Texans before they turned the corner, he took a severe beating at the hands of opposing defenses and the only time he ever missed was three or four games in 2003 (I think) when he hurt his ankle. He kept bouncing back up after sacks, never threw any teammates under the bus (that I can think of) and he maintained his class even through the days where it was apparent he was no longer in the Texans' plans. I would ask how you could cheer against a guy like that but there are far too many people on the Texans Message Board who have shown me exactly how.

I'm okay with the release of Carr because of two very telling things.

1) Over the last 10 games of the season (that's TEN), Carr threw as many illegal forward passes (2) as touchdowns (2).

2) Carr's release shows that poor performance will lead to replacement. I didn't see this kind of culpability the entire time that Dom Capers was the coach of the Texans and I sure didn't see it during this past season. This shows me that the franchise no longer views itself as an expansion franchise. It's easy to say “Well, just let Carr play and see how he develops” until the fans are sick of the team and stop showing up to games (this hasn't happened yet) but to say, “David, you just didn't play well enough last year. We need to replace you.” That's telling about how I expect this team to be run from now on. No more baby-steps. Get an NFL-ready quarterback, start him from day-one and take this 6-10 team and keep making strides. No more negative-passing-yard days, no more “Well, if Boselli had actually played” and certainly no more “this team doesn't have enough weapons.”

That last one is going to be a hard one for me to get past. I have to realize that the Texans signed Ahman Green, re-signed Ron Dayne and Andre Johnson and have a fantastic young tight end in Owen Daniels, all of whom are ready to break out. Daniels had an incredible opening to last season. I don't know if he got hurt last year but when I looked last, he was ahead of Vernon Davis and all the other tight ends who were taken ahead of him. Another offensive play-maker I want to keep an eye on is Chris Taylor. All I heard coming into the season last year was how well he'd played in training camp and pre-season and that all they needed to do was to give him a chance. Well, he got that chance against Cleveland and he made the most of it, going over one-hundred yards. I can't wait to see how well he does with increased touches. (If he gets them)

I would love for the Texans to trade back in the draft, pick up Ryan Kalil and a second-rounder which they would then use on either a wide receiver to complement Andre Johnson or a free safety to render C. C. Brown redundant. Then they could address the other one with the third round pick they still have. All the other positions will do okay, I think. Defensive tackle is a little thin and I wouldn't mind a pass-rusher to take some of the heat away from Williams. But that's all want. We need a centre (Flanagan was NOT the answer), a WR and a free safety.

So, this Carr is Gone post has turned into a State of the Texans Address, apparently. I can live with that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mouse Trap

I have killed my third mouse since starting

at Intuit.

I am a bad person.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Daily Meditations Friday through Tuesday

I missed out on the daily meditations Friday through Tuesday but I have an excuse. I was sick. Here are some of my thoughts while I was laid-up.

Everything seems to slow down when you're sick. Every moment is stretched out. Not like in Star Trek: Insurrection, where the beating of a hummingbird's wings takes a couple of minutes, but where you can't believe it's only been X minutes since the last time you looked at the clock. Take, for instance, Friday. Friday lasted two-and-a-half weeks. Strange, I know, but being sick made it so. Sleeping takes on a whole new dimension. You close your eyes, exhausted, and then open them at least an hour later to find out only five minutes has passed. Repeat this a couple more times, get sick of it, lift your head to get up, the dizziness hits you, so you hit the pillow again. Five minutes, five minutes, five minutes. Until you're so sick of it, you exclaim to the cold-gods: Next time I wake up, I'm getting up, spins, chills, I don't care!

Except the next time you get up it's seven hours later. Your mouth is dry, your bladder's full. A plaintive thought: Why, if my body is this full of fluids, can't it spare some for my mouth?

You'd call for a glass of water, but your mouth is full of clay. You'd go to the bathroom to empty your bladder (and maybe get a drink) but you're under the blanket - THE ONLY WARM PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE. So you sit there until your bladder is ready to burst and your throat is rejecting your pathetic attempts at swallowing and the two send you flying from the bed to the bathroom where relief of two types waits. Finally. Taking a deep - no, deep is too deep. Taking as unshallow a breath as you can, you realize the folly of this, collapse in a fit of coughing and decide to go back to bed. A couple of rounds of five-minutesy drive you from the bed to conquer the day, watching Flash Gordon, Dune and Big Trouble in Little China.

Oh, except that instead of you, that's all me.

I'm extremely grateful to my wife who was willing to let me get better while she took care of the kids. She's definitely the stronger parent.

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Daily Meditation 3/7/2007

Be Quiet

Have you ever wondered why libraries have special atmospheres? They are places where many congregate but where silence is the code. Quietness in an atmosphere means there is the presence of quiet minds, and quiet minds are not only relaxed, they can concentrate easily and create more freely. Imagine you are in the library of your mind, browsing the accumulated wisdom on the shelves of your life - listen to the silence, be aware of the stillness. Now you can really listen. Now you can really hear. Now you can really think. Now you can create. And behold, you are an artist. Did you not know that silence and creativity are lovers?

Silence and creativity are lovers:

At work, there are a bunch of signs that warn you to be quiet when you're entering work zones, not just for the call-centre, but for engineering as well. They also give out noise-canceling headphones so that the engineers can work in silence. Apparently they agree with this idea. I don't know how much *I* agree with it. More often than not, I would rather work with some quiet music in the background than complete silence.

Browse the accumulated wisdom:

That's a pretty neat idea. Like everything we learn is sitting on some dusty bookshelf, waiting for us to pick it up and check it out. I wonder what my inner librarian is like. Probably some old british lady, patting her hand with a yardstick, ready to dish out retribution to anyone caught talking.

Personally, I always thought libraries had special atmospheres because of the mountains and mountains of books. More than the silence, that much knowledge is awe-inspiring.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Daily Meditation 3/1/2007

Choose Feelings

If your days seem filled with unwanted negative feelings, there is only one cure. When they come, choose them. Don't ask why, don't wonder how, don't fight them and never put yourself down for having them. But most of all never blame someone else for how you feel. If you do, it means you are still fast asleep and your choice is to be a victim. When the feelings come, even big disturbing emotional feelings say, "I choose this feeling" and know it comes because of something you have thought or done in the past, perhaps a certain belief that you have learned or an attachment that is threatened. Choice does not mean you want the feelings, but it does mean you are taking responsibility for them. And that is the beginning of self mastery. It is the first step to the healing and resolving of your emotions. But only the first step. Try this today and then ask yourself what the next step might be. If you are really interested to know, you will come to know!

Taken from another website.


I like this way of looking at the world. It's an acknowledgment that what comes, comes. I'm not a big fan of beating myself up over what I can't change, despite the fact that I seem pretty good at it. I am in favour of taking responsibility for the way you feel, as opposed to blaming someone else. This reminds me of the phrase, "Accept it, then own it." If you take something that you're feeling and accept it as a genuine feeling, it's a heck of a lot easier to get to the root of what the problem is and work toward a resolution there.

This is a hard path, though. It's hard for me to accept my negativity and not blame myself for it. I spend a lot of time trying to please people and when I'm not in the mood for that, whether because I'm down or angry or whatever, I tend to blame myself and it ends up spiraling out of control. Generally, I'm pretty good at cutting the head off of this train of thought but it is a slippery slope.

I guess what I can take away from today's meditation is this: I will be mindful of how I act when I feel badly, both toward others and toward myself.

There are no questions to ponder on this site, which might be a good thing, I'm not sure.

I'll give this site another try tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe I'll just be a daily-meditation wanderer, scouring bits of wisdom off the web.

Kinda like Kung-fu, without the flipping, kicking and punching.

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24: Season One (Day One? Monday?)

One of my 101 goals was to watch the first season of 24. It is now complete. So, I have some thoughts on it. I’m sure I’ll have spoilers in here, so if you haven’t seen the season and want to retain that purity of thought, probably don’t read this.



  • Very intricate. I like how they were able to weave so many story-arcs together. It was almost like reading a book.
  • Fast-paced. There don’t seem to be any breaks.


  • How many times can they keep capturing people, letting them escape, capturing them, letting them escape, capturing… it goes on.
  • Honestly, you’re ex-military and you’re going to let a 17-year-old girl give you the slip? “I’m just going to … um… stand over here and get some coffee… FOR YOUR FACE!” Ugh.


Jack: Jack is one bad dude. I wouldn’t mess with him. From what I hear, he gets more badass as the series goes on.

Mr. President: Mr. President is one GOOD dude. Honest, pure, willing to sacrifice everything for his character. A little too much so. And he “just knew” a couple too many things. Still, I like the actor from the old “Major League” days.

Mrs. Jack: Good, complex character. I had a little trouble buying the amnesia story-line, but that’s more plot than character, I guess.

Little Jacklet: I’m not a big fan of Elisha Cuthbert and some of the stupid decisions she made were a little far-gone, even for a teenager. “Yeah, we’re in a war-zone and my combat-trained dad said to stay down, so I’m just going to go for a little str… OOH, he was right! I’m just about shot!”

Nina: Good character. I knew how the season ended before I started it, so maybe that ruined it a little. Either way, she did a good job. I didn’t know that she killed Mrs. Jack, so that was a bit of a shock.

Tony: Maybe the most consistent character on the show. I thought he was pretty cool.

Big bad guy: What a shock! Dennis Hopper plays the big bad guy.

Lou Diamond Philips: I remember when I heard Kiefer Sutherland was getting his own show, I thought, ‘But what role will LDP have in it?’ Apparently a guy who dies right away.


I liked it well enough. I don’t know that it was the dramatic evolution of television that some people thought it was. It was entertaining, but I don’t feel the need to go out and buy up all the seasons. Or even watch them. There were too many fake-o moments, to me. And a little too much Americana. “If you do right, things will go right, in AMERICA!” At least it didn't have Christopher Walken, looking at Jack Bauer, tapping his wristwatch with a moronic look on his face, just to remind us that it's R E A L T I M E. Ugh. Back to the point. Nick of Time sucked. Oh, and 24 didn't.

Living Life Fully daily meditation

So maybe the Living Life Fully daily meditation wasn't right for me. It was actually pretty flaky. So I guess I'll have to get my topics somewhere else.

I'll keep you posted.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Daily meditations

Today's Meditation


Serious: This is a very good outlook to have. It would be very nice to be able to look at every experience and see the beauty, elegance and things that could be learned from it. It is not always possible, however, to step away from the immediate and not-so-immediate negative impact of these events to see the positive. "We'll look back on this and laugh" is a truism for just that reason. Once a person has the opportunity, the clarity and the distance to examine a situation more objectively, it becomes possible to look for the silver among the clouds. In the immediate, though, it is not realistic to expect someone to lose their job and look at it as a learning experience if they have something invested in the job.

Knee-jerk: This was way too long. Bobby McPherin said it with much more brevity: "Don't worry, be happy."

Fly-off-the-handle: Yeah right! "I'm sorry, Mr. Smith. Your mom just died." "AWESOME! Let's go find some positives!"

Questions to ponder:

1. Can you think of something that happened to you that was "just awful," but that turned out to be a positive experience?

Any experience where I had to slog through the discomfort of alienating people because I like knowing the truth rather than being spoon-fed what people think I want to hear. Yeah, it sucks to have people resent me, but if I know it, it's better.

2. What sort of things build most character in us: the positive and easy, or the difficult and sometimes negative?

This is a question that has no value to me. It's not even a question. It's a statement with the comparator removed and a question-mark at the end in place of a period. You know the answer, and I know the answer. Which is better: a kick in the balls, or twenty-five dollars?

3. How would you advise a friend to look at his or her problems?
Do you look at yours in the way that you would advise others to?

In general, I try to stay out of people's problems. They are for them to deal with unless I'm specifically asked for advice. In that case, I suggest they tackle their problems head-on with no compromise. Absolutely, I do.

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On the Horizon

I've decided that I'm going to try doing a daily meditation on here. Just a little space to think about something, write about something and hopefully clear my head.

We'll see how it goes.

I found a daily meditations site: here

They might be cheesy, they might be insightful. They might be real frickin' obvious. But it's something that I have wanted to try for awhile, so I figure I'll give it a shot.

Lemme know what you think.

Until more later on

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This is another test.

This is a list of Firefox's performancing extension.

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edit:I really meant test, not list.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Blooger? Bloogle? Boogle? Booger? Goggle? Gogger? Bolglobber?

I've been forced FORCED, mind you, to join the rest of the world on Google's new Blogger thingie. Fortunately, Cliff invited me into Gmail's exclusive (or not so exclusive, from what I hear now) membership.

Now I see that there's an error on the page and MSIE graciously tells me that RIGHT_KEYCODE is undefined. Fantastic work, Goobler. Make me switch to something that's broken. Thanks.

I just want my old Blogger back.

Just wait til Feb - no, March... um.. maybe May?

So, there hasn't been a whole lot of spare time running through the offices at Intuit.

Aw, poor baby. Has to work at work.

Yeah, whatever. Shut up. The crunch is on and has been since, basically, September. Sprints come and go, and we work overtime, knowing we have to squeeze this release out so that we can actually point to something, look upper management in the face and say, "See? We weren't just surfing the web!"

The problem (or the stress) comes from this: Upper management got very, very interested in the project, decided that it was going to solve a huge hole in the online banking market and decided to invest in this solution - to the tune of 1.53 billion dollars. No pressure. Just get the project out. Early, if possible.

It's fun, running around like this, for a bit. We've been told that March 15 is the pressure-off date. I wish I could believe it. I was also told that post 1.0 (november) would be a chance to regroup (which it wasn't) and that after Jan 31, there would be some time. (Also, no) So we have to have 1.5 released right away (mar 15) and 2.0 comes out in May so that our partners can integrate.

Will May be the time when things slow down to a normal pace? One can hope but there isn't a lot of precedence backing that hope.

First thing I'm going to do when I have some free time:

Clean up my inbox. There are currently 1932 messages floating around in there. I don't know what's pertinent, I don't know what's not. I read them and move on. I'm not mindful enough to store them in their proper places when they come in.


Beaver camp was great. Tobogganing, candle-making, Kub/Beaver Kars, campfire and a whole slew of other things.

I finished the Dragon story, tentatively titled 'Resurrection'. I've written my three critiques and posted them as well.

I have three or four more goals to wipe off my 101 in 1001, despite the fact I've done pretty much nothing intentionally.

Kim started taking care of Hailey (Brad and Jil's daughter) and it seems that's going pretty well.

My book-reading is not on pace for 50 books this year. It's more like on pace for maybe 12. I'm going to stop making that a goal and just enjoy reading. I'm currently reading Black Sun Rising by CS Friedman. It's part 1 of a trilogy. It doesn't seem to be anything special just yet, but I'm barely into it at all. I also bought the next installment of Steven Erikson's Malazan series, Midnight Tides. I'll probably read that when I'm done with Black Sun Rising.

Last week at soccer, I twisted my ankle, so I've been avoiding sports and doing cross-stitch at lunch instead of soccer. Good progress has been made. I'm just about done the first batch of leaves on the Samurai cross-stitch. Someday, I'll post a picture of my progress and you can "ooh" and "ahh" all you want.

Kim's brother, sister-in-law and niece are here for the week.

That is all. You are now caught up. If not, too bad.

Friday, February 16, 2007

More on Sandy Foster

Okay, so I cut my first post short. And after the clamouring of my fans, I’ll post a little bit more. (it’s easier here than in a comment anyway)

Sandy Foster sings jazz. Her music varies from slower and softer jazz to latin-flavoured up-tempo stuff. Her range is quite high and she sings quite a bit of her music with a breathless quality which I suppose some people could consider off-putting, and which I probably would if she used it for everything instead of using it as a tool like she does with the rest of her stuff. She has a very powerful voice which she uncorks at the right times. She doesn’t wail like Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. I’m sure she could knock the crap out of either one of them doing their songs, if they weren’t so inane. She does all of this effortlessly and it’s very easy to tell that she loves what she does.

She’s a bit older, she’s a wife and mother and she uses her life experiences in the songs she writes. As I said before, she doesn’t experiment with wild new music but her band is tight and they do their jobs very well. Her lyrics speak of a whole bunch of different things. She can slip into silliness a little, like with Cranberry Jazz, where she explores the fun of her relationship with her husband, she can sing a song where it sounds like she’s mourning a decaying relationship in Meet Me Here, and Marooned I can identify with because it explores themes of isolation and not entirely as a negative.

As I’ve said before, there isn’t a bad song on the CD and the more I listen to it, the more I agree with myself.

Damn I’m smart.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This book opens with one of the great lines. "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

It’s also based on a ship, unsurprisingly called The Dawn Treader. I’ve always liked sea-faring books and I think this book has something to do with that. Just like I think The Silver Chair has something to do with my claustrophobia.

At any rate, this is a very good entry in the Narnia Chronicles. Eustace is a complete moron until he learns his lesson. Aslan doesn’t take it easy on Scrubb, just like he doesn’t take it easy on anyone, and in the end, Scrubb is a good character, falling in line the same as Edmund did in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

It’s pretty easy to see the values that Lewis sneaks into his writing. He doesn’t beat you over the head with it, but it’s pretty easy to see he’s a Christian and wants you to act like one too. And that’s fine. If everyone acted the way Christians were supposed to, the world would be a nicer, more patient place. As it is, most Christians I know don’t act like Christians. But that’s a rant for a different time.

Nicholas enjoyed this book, especially the chapters with the Monopods/Dufflepuds/invisible people. I’ve always been a big fan of Reepicheep, so it was kind of sad to see him go, but he’s always there when I read the series over, so it’s not too sad.

We’re onto The Silver Chair now, and it won’t be long until we’re done the entire series. It’s kind of sad, but there’s always Prydain and Taran’s adventures to look forward to.

I’m just over half-finished the fourth book of the year, The Prince of Dreams by Curt Benjamin. I’m also part of the way through Exile’s Return but that’s coming very slowly. I’ll have write-ups on those when I’m finished. Also, I’m going to insert Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman because it’s on a reading list for a forum I’m on.

Finally, on another note, I was accepted late for a short-story workshop in a fantasy forum. I figure that one of my 101/1001 goals is to finish the dragon story, and the theme for the workshop is dragons, so it’s a marriage I can’t skip out on. As of right now, I’m two-thirds of the way finished, with the plot complete and just the writing to finish by Wednesday. That means 2000 words over three days (two-and-a-half, I suppose). Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how it goes. The goal is to get this story published in a magazine, so I won’t post the story here – at least not unless/until I get a rejection letter. If it’s accepted, I’ll also fill you in then.

Until more later on…

Date Night: Wee Book Inn

The potential for a date night with my wife does not come along very often. When it does, we like to live it up to the fullest.

Take this past Friday, for an example. We found ourselves temporarily childless and with the world as our oyster. The itinerary:

-Get Liam fed
-Get Kim cheese
-Go to Wee Book

As you might expect, there was a little more to the 3+ hours we spent on the date than the three lines above. I got a new ring. It spins. (Don't ask – better yet, ask, and I'll show you!) Kim also got a ring. (Does that make up for Christmas?)

Yes, we are truly a live-life-on-the-edge-of-our-seats couple.

Okay, in all seriousness, it was a fairly tame date-night but it was a welcome change to have Kim to myself for a couple of hours. Kim's really like a rock star within the context of our family. If anyone has something to say, something to show, or something to fix, Kim's the first person they go to. I guess it's not too romantic to call her “Lynchpin” but it doesn't mean it isn't true. I'm actually pretty lucky, though, because I'm the only person in the family that she actually CHOSE to be with. Yeah, yeah, she chose to have kids, but who they were going to come out as was out of her control. I was fully formed (okay, mostly) and she decided to marry me. And now she has the adulation of at least three people, and a dog. Don't forget the dog.

Anyway, back on topic: Here's to date-night!

Oh, and I still owe a writeup on Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I'll do that a little later.