Friday, March 31, 2006

A Surprise Card from Cathy

Cathy is a very romantic wife. She'll hide notes and cards for me (and send me flowers!) to find at a later date. I found this today:

It says "eight years"... we've been married nine. How long has this card been hiding?!? Wow, I do not deserve her, but I love her!

Game - BlockDude

If you are the puzzle game type, check out BlockDude. The idea is pretty simple: pick up blocks and rearrange them to get to an exit.

Via: JayIsGames

Solutions for the first 11 levels can be found here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Three Bald Guys

Three Bald Guys - click to enlarge

What can I say? We're all losing it...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Keeping My Cool

I am very protective of my wife. Actually, I have always been protective of the women in my life, starting with my mom when I was still a child.

this is an audio post - click to play

There isn't much that gets me upset, or that gets my blood boiling. However, I am very protective of Cathy, almost too much so. She's a big girl, I know. Perhaps it is the old-fashioned chivalry that my father instilled in me. He always stood beside her, he always backed her up (even when it was her fault). I admire my father so much that I emulate even his faults, which are few. All of my faults are my own responsibility.

It is because of my attempt to retain ownership of my faults that I need to moderate my reactions. When I am under physical or verbal attack, I can remain relatively calm. I need to extend the objectivity I retain to encompass when my wife is attacked.

To be sure, I will defend her. However, I can do so much better, and benefit her more, if I keep my cool.

Chris Bliss Juggling Finale

I came across this amazing juggling act on Google Video after seeing a clip of it elsewhere. Chris Bliss opened for Michael Jackson on the "Victory Tour" and links to this video from his own web site, which I have embedded below. I am impressed!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Facial Communications Disorder

this is an audio post - click to play

I have a communications disorder: people cannot tell when I am smiling. I have a habit of hiding my teeth, which I developed as a result of a childhood accident in which I fell on my face. I grew up with oversized front teeth (they did not have the right size at the dentist) and I began to hide my teeth. Contrast a photo from my childhood and this photo of me and Zachy-Pooh.

The pastor I report to couldn't tell I was (1) smiling and (2) very excited about the opportunities I have before me. I wonder if other people I love and care about have the same problem?

Cathy has been helping me practice and giving me feedback on my nonverbal communication. Lord willing, this will improve quickly!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

At Church As A Family!

this is an audio post - click to play

I can't believe it has been that long since we've all been to chuch togethe. I originally thought it was only a year, but I realized that Cathy's mom was also away in Arizona for a year, so it had been more like 1.5 years! It is great to have everybody at the same church again.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Blogger Categories Using Google Blog Search

It has always bothered me that Blogger does not support categories natively. I have suggested this to Blogger Help several times, and I am apparently not alone in noticing that BlogSpot does not have categories.

The Blogger Help article "What other ideas have users sent in?" mentions using for creating categories. I do not like this approach as it links to another website altogether.

One approach I like a lot is Labelr, but it is both third-party and therefore not something I would want to rely on. However, it is very slick. Who knows... maybe Google will buy it up.

I have used a form of categorizing for about a year now. I initially hoped to search by my post title key words but that did not work. Perhaps Google Blog Search was still too young or it was not indexing my blog. In either case, it did not work initially and I gave up on the idea.

It did not occur to me until tonight to search my blog again. I believe I can begin to insert key phrases at the end of my posts for the search to work right.

UPDATE 11:30 PM 03/18: This guy has the same idea, and seems to have a good implementation of it. I think I'll soon be using categories... :-D

UPDATE 07:30 PM 03/18:
this is an audio post - click to play

UPDATE 11:20 PM 03/19: I think I found the Google search limiter I need... "allinanchor:"

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cathy Back To Work

Cathy goes back to work tomorrow. We would appreciate your prayers!
Oh, happy Pi day.

Le Rêve - A Collection of Imperfect Dreams

Le Rêve stageIf you have knowledge of Cirque du Soleil then you are aware of their acrobatic performances, some with permanent homes in Las Vegas. Some of the well-known Las Vegas titles include 'O' and Mystère. Franco Dragone was a creative consultant for Cirque du Soleil for many years. His credits include 'O', Mystère and "Celine Dion: A New Day" as well as "Le Rêve".

Le Rêve startLe Rêve is described as "a small collection of imperfect dreams". Like 'O', Le Rêve is an aquatic show. It is performed in a domed theater around a circular stage (designed by Dragone). No seat is more than 43 feet from the edge of the pool. Our point-of-view from our seats was close enough to be cause me to lose sight of the rest of the audience.

I was truly surprised that they allow you to take photos during the show, so long as you camera's flash is turned off. The show itself is very abstract, the costumes fanciful, and the actors are apparently in very good shape as they moved effortlessly through the water, on the gound and in the air.

The stage is round, and the audience surrounds the stage. There are three stage entrances, a central pool with a submersible platform and a high ceiling for acrobats on wires.

Le Rêve on fire! Le Rêve diving tree Le Rêve finale

There was a lot of dancing, diving and demonstrations of strength and balance. The show was 90 minutes but it went VERY fast! Each dream was interrupted by the comic relief provided by three or four guys in white suits.

It was quite an experience. Tickets were $89 for the first three rows, $110 for the middle rows and $99 for the last three rows. We got the first of the last three rows (most of the middle rows were empty) and we thought we had great seats. We have seen Mystère and enjoyed it. We'll probably see 'O' at some point, and maybe I can give a comparison then.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Odd Praise: Good Timing for Car Troubles

this is an audio post - click to play

So Cathy's car wouldn't start today. I made plans to skip church, she did too, and I was going to try to jump-start the car. She did get the car started and headed to the dealership, but we forgot they were closed! So, she'll take the car in tomorrow.

As far as timing goes, this is the best time. It wasn't before the vacation and put it off. It wasn't during vacation and stranded us. It wasn't during this coming week, after Cathy went back to work. Between vacation and Cathy starting work is the best time it could happen! (Not sure how we'll pay for it, but God will provide.)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Trip to Las Vegas

Zzyzx Rd Cathy & I headed out to Las Vegas for a week of vacation time. Cathy's mom could not come, so we did not have to find someone to take care of the cats and dog. We have a "timeshare" of sorts, wherein we can go to any number of resorts within the network (no, not RCI). Anyway, we own a traditional timeshare as well as the network, so we have multiple choices for Las Vegas. It is nice to get away from work, school, and other responsibilities for a while! Jenni turned 21 recently, and she wanted to go to Las Vegas to see some shows and get drinks at various places (like Coyote Ugly), so we planned this trip in order to have Jenni and Adelle come with us.

Driving to Vegas - Adelle, JenniWe got into Las Vegas Friday afternoon. Traffic on the Strip itself it terrible! After unloading, we went to Cheesecake Factory (in Mirage, I think) to have dinner. Jenni wanted to see a show called "Thunder Down Under" so all the women all went (Cathy got a free ticket) and I was at the resort alone. I read "The Da Vinci Code" and watched the History Chanel, and mostly tried to settle in to taking it easy. Cathy said the show was very boring, and would not have been worth the money.

On Saturday we went shopping. I was looking for some new shoes (these "Crocs" look neat to me, but Cathy does not like them) and perhaps an anniversary ring for Cathy. That afternoon we all soaked in the chacuzzi and rode inner tubes on a "Lazy River".

I had a little trouble getting on and staying on the tubes. For the first eight attempts, I would jump on, try to lean back, and I would tilt entirely over. That is, I went head-over-heels eight times while trying to get settled on the floating tube! Cathy says the lifeguard was very entertained by my bumbling attempts. Eventually, however, I managed to stay on. Cathy watched me float around a few times until I drifted off to sleep and slid into the water. Supposedly she tried to wake me first, but I suspect she watched and waited for the opportunity to laugh! :-)

I grilled hotdogs and hamergers for dinner, after which we went to Treasure Island and watched their pyrotechnics show, 'The Sirens of TI'. We returned to the hotel to meet up with some of Jenni's friends. Cathy & I stayed behind to relax (she was still pretty worn out from the shot).

M&M World - Lee, Adelle, Jenni - I Lost My M in VegasOn Sunday I decided to spend more time with Jenni & Adelle instead of finding a local church. The three of us headed over to M&M'S WORLD, where we watched the 3–D movie, "I LOST MY 'M' in VEGAS". M&M's had released a dark chocolate M&M as a Star Wars promotion, and I really like them. There's a possibility they'll be selling dark chocolate M&Ms beginning in June or July, so you can try some then (they're good).

MGM Lion Cub MGM LionsWe went to MGM and saw the Lion Habitat. The lions enjoy sleeping on the archway and boy are the cubs cute!

We picked up Cathy and had lunch at Paris Las Vegas, where Jenni played her first slot machine. We went to the original Las Vegas and watched the Fremont Street Experience, a large, overhead LED light show. Adelle and I shared some fried Oreos and a Twinkie! Then it was off to the Reo to watch the Masquerade Show and catch some Mardi Gras beads! We all soaked in the chacuzzi before calling it a day.

Paris Las Vegas - Jenni playing slots Fremont St - Deep-Fried Twinkies and Oreos Rio Masquerade Show in the Sky - catching beads
this is an audio post - click to play

Adelle and Jenni headed back home Monday morning. Cathy and I slept in, then took it easy and started off the day by shopping. We didn't do much as Cathy wore herself out on Saturday and Sunday. Cathy wants to see "Le Rêve" at the Wynn, so we bought two tickets. We did find a Cold Stone Creamery for Cathy, and we spent some time at a Barnes & Noble before going to Bellagio to enjoy their indoor garden and to watch the fountain show. Cathy's favorite slot machine is there, but we played a roll of nickels each, and waitresses came by and gave us free drinks while we played. That was nice; we both had two virgin stawberry daquiris and went home. I finished reading "The Da Vinci Code" that night as well.

Lee & Green MMWe slept in and took our time getting around town. Cathy didn't get a chance to see the MGM lions, so we went to see the cub. However, the cub wasn't there! We swung by M&M World and went home at 3 PM to catch a resort presentation. Due to an oopsie, they had to reschedule us for Wednesday. Cathy took a nap while I relaxed and caught up on sorting the photos and doing some laundry. That evening, Cathy made me some fried chicken (yum! my favorite!), and she also expertly put out an oil fire.

We slept in again (nice) and went to the resort owner's update after lunch. As part of the update, we received two tickets to the Rio seafood buffet. The evening's plans, then, was dinner and a show.

Before dinner we wandered over to the Ventian and enjoyed the interior artwork and walked around the recreation of Venice, complete with gondolas. It was quite interesting.

The Rio Buffet was pretty good! The sushi was sub-par, but the rest of the food was quite good. We took our time enjoying each other's company, had (lots of) desert and coffee, then left very well-fed. We did a little window shopping before heading to the show.

To be honest, Le Rêve deserves its own post. What is surprising is that they allow you to take photos during the show, so long as flash is turned off. The show itself is an abstract story about six 'imperfect' dreams. The stage is round, and the audience surrounds the stage. There are three stage entrances, a central pool with a submersible platform and a high ceiling for acrobats on wires. There was a lot of dancing, diving and demonstrations of strength and balance. The show was 90 minutes but it went VERY fast! Each dream was interrupted by the comic relief provided by three or four guys in white suits. I'll post pictures and a short video in another post.

After the show we went back to the resort. I jumped in the chacuzzi again before we called it a night. (insert contented sigh here)

We slept in (see a pattern?) and generally took it easy. We went to the Rio and bought some glass flowers Cathy saw there, and we had lunch as well. We returned to MGM in order to catch a glimps of the lion cubs, but they were gone for the day. We made plans to see them on Friday and went home. We did some laundry, packed part of our bags, and generally read and unwound. I began looking forward to seeing my kitties and doggie in ernest.

We got up at 8 (!), quite a shock after a week of sleeping in. I packed the car and we checked out early at 10:30. Friday is the bad traffic day in Vegas, so we slowly made our way to the MGM again and parked. Cathy & I picked up some more M&M's before checking out the lion cubs. They were there this time, and Cathy got a very good look at the little babies! Lion cubs look like giant kittens with spots, incredibly cute

Las Vegas SignWe headed out of town about two and stopped for dinner at Joe's Crab Shack in La Puente. We got home by eight and were greeted by an extremely happy dog and several relieved cats. Zechariah, who I thought would be mad at me, actually sought me out and greeted me with nuzzling and rubbing. Fanny and Malachi couldn't get enough of their mommy and Oliver was constantly underfoot.

It is good to be home, and it was great to sleep in my own bed again! There's Zechariah, demanding my attention, so I'm gonna stop here!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Keep Up: Dead Laptops

My laptop died. The way a laptop dies is much like cosmological heat death, or T. S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men". To co-op a line,
"This is the way the laptop dies. Not with a bang but a whimper."
this is an audio post - click to play

That's right, everything was fine, but last night it just blinked off, and this morning it wouldn't start. I'm pretty sure the problem is in the power conversion, but I've got no skills with electronics repair.

*sigh* Ash Wednesday is not going well...