Friday, November 24, 2006

Missed a legend

I just happened to notice recently that one of my adolescent heroes, Wil Wheaton, was at the same gaming convention I just went to. Of course, he was there on Saturday which was the day I scheduled myself full of games, so I wasn't actually in the convention hall for very long and so I didn't see him. It would have been cool to roll dice at the same table as a "famous" geek, but oh well. I'm working on a longer, more in-depth review of my trip which I hope to post in the next few days.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Back in the swing

Yes, I am back to 100% health and unfortunately that means back to work. The up-side is that I'm not all worried about any problem with my upcoming trip to GenCon. It will be nice to see some Sunny California for a few days!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Special guest on House M.D.

Have you seen that show? Well, even if you haven't seen that one in particular, I'm sure you have seen one medical program or another. One where there is a sick patient and they can't figure out what the problem is. So they guess one thing, give her some medicine and see what happens. Oh wait, this is drama, so of course that doesn't work. There is a bad reaction and now we have to guess again and give her a different medication. Now what happens? Eventually, things are supposed to work out. But it really sucks if your real life has turned into being that "experimental" patient. The emergency room never really did confirm the kidney infection. But they pushed my I.V. with some antibiotic, gave me acetaminophen for the fever, and phentinol (fentanyl?) for the back pain. Then they proscribed me a different antibiotic (Cipro) and different pain reliever (oxycodone) and sent me home. Wednesday, my first full day on these two and I was feeling much better except for a little nausea which I attributed to the oxycodone. However today the nausea got much worse. I had two small bouts in the morning, and as usual, after your body empties your stomach you get some adrenaline to help you feel better for a bit. I ate a little bit of bread and actually went in to work. But by the third hour there I was extremely nauseous again. I couldn't even keep plain water down after that. So Justin calls the hospital. They think I am having a bad reaction to the Cipro (antibiotic) and refer me to another new doctor. So we trek back in this afternoon. By now I have a splitting migraine, can't sit up straight for long, and hate the light. Hmm... their guess is that the infection is gone and my nausea is really a reaction to something viral. Can't do much for that except give me something to get rid of the migraine and nausea and let nature take its course. Sounds like another gamble to me. Oh well, so far so good. After four hours, I've been able to keep gatorade (to replenish electrolytes), water, chicken broth and even a little applesauce down. I have a little bit of headache, but I think it's from sinus pressure. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Here we go again...

Well, it turns out that if you've had a kidney stone before and start to have similar pain, you probably should believe that you're having one again and go in to the doctor just in case. I experienced some extreme symptoms last Monday (10/30), but was able to manage it will just over-the-counter pain reliever and drinking lots of fluids. By Tuesday, most of the pain was gone. Yet some lingering aches bothered me the rest of the week until finally this Monday (11/6) I got a 102.8 fever. Justin took me back to the hospital yesterday and the poor guy had to wait with me there from 10:00am until 5:30pm. After several blood tests, some urine samples, and a CT, they still couldn't tell me for sure what the problem is. Obviously, there is an infection of some sort evidenced by the fever and elevated white blood cells. But the scan did not show another kidney stone, only some slight inflammation. Anyway, I am home from work again today. Drugged up to the gills and on antibiotics. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Shopping Success

Our mosly-annual trip to the Ozark outlet mall last weekend was a complete success! The ladies all felt they accomplished a lot and the men enjoyed their golf despite a little bit of drizzle and some chilly breezes. I personally made a huge dent in my Christmas list, and am now no longer worried about finishing in time. I must apologize for the lateness of this post. I had wanted to include a total bag count in comparison to past trips but I couldn't find all of my old data. I searched long and hard, even having to get a password cracker to open an Outlook file I forgot the key to. Anyway, that being said, I did find this much:

YearBag Count
2005no trip

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What is a Berm, you ask?

Well, that's what we paid a lot of money for to get in our front yard. The goal was to provide a barrier from the street, without spending a ton on an ugly fence and to cut down on the large amount of grass we have to mow and water constantly. So we ended up with a mound of dirt, some bushes, a few trees, and a bunch of ivy sprigs. This is a view from across the street. The mailbox is almost as tall as the "trees". Posted by Picasa

Here is another angle from across the street where you can see the entire section of land between the berm and the road has had the grass removed and ground cover ivy put in. Posted by Picasa

I'm really hoping these tress grow fast. Since we wanted to block the street from view, and here you can see by looking out our front door that there is still a lot of space to fill in. Posted by Picasa

Despite all my criticisms, the actual work is really nice. Below is a close up where you can see the coolest part -- the big boulders. There are 5 in total, and I think they add some "pizzaz" to the thing. Posted by Picasa
In the end, we're thinking the berm/mound/hill/whatever deserves an official name. What do you think of "Mount Trantor"?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Birthday/Christmas Lists

As requested, here are some ideas for the two of us. For Angie Amazon wish list Slippers Long-sleeve night-shirts A small teapot Work shirts that don't need to be tucked-in Leather belts (one brown; one black -- for work slacks) Goalie shirt Membership to Stand-up easel Full-size Popcorn popper (like in real theatres) Shirt/Sweater - L Pants/Skirts - 12 Favorite color: Pink Likes: Games, Movies, SciFi, Snoopy, Cool kitchen gadgets, Storage/shelf organizers Dislikes: Red, Velcro For Justin Amazon wish list A high quality microscope ("ADVANCED BINOCULAR COMPOUND MICROSCOPE 40X-1600X") Oscilloscope Air compressor Honda EU1000i or EU2000i generator XM radio Size - XL Shirts with no collar; v-neck or large neck Favorite color: Dark green Likes: Movies, Computers, Cool techie gadgets, Books, Stainless steel and brushed chrome finishes, Gift certificates Dislikes: Cows, Dust-collectors For Both Electric Wok with "sear" setting Heatable icecream scoop A really good camping tent A big gift card for Lowe's, Home Depot, or Harbor Freight Planning time from a Landscape architect Certificates to a nursery Time and elbow grease to work on the house (either outside or in)

Boston Movies

Justin wanted to see the new Scorsese movie, so we went to The Departed yesterday morning. I'm rating it a 7 for now, which is kind of a stretch. Although the acting was superb, and the story starts off interesting, I don't feel that it really went anywhere. I mean I am starting to get used to movies that just "end", but there wasn't even the usual character depth that one comes to expect from a good drama. Furthermore, there were too many holes in the story that made the situation not very believable. Yet I really enjoyed Nicholson's and Baldwin's performances. So for comparison, we also watched Good Will Hunting, which still holds to its perfect 10 rating. Now here's a Boston I can believe in and characters I care about. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A day in the life


Alarm goes off. But my dream is so nice.... snooze.


Alarm again. Darn it. Dream is ruined. But I'm soooo tired..... snooze.

Several more snoozes later

Alright, alright. I'm getting up already.

Stumble, as quietly as possible so as not to wake Justin, through the bathroom into my closet. Stare blankly at the shelves for a few minutes while my brain slowly engages. What day of the week is it? What is the weather going to be like? When did I last wear this shirt? Eventually take a stack of clothes from the closet back into the bathroom and turn on the shower. Step on the scale. Yikes! Can't eat anything again today. Step into the shower. Yikes! Water is still too cold. Do I need to shave my legs today? Which shampoo do I use?

About 20 minutes later

Go downstairs and feed the cat. Drink some milk and take some vitamins. Is there anything I'm forgetting? Get in the car and head to work.

Between 7:00am and 7:30ish

Arrive at work and turn on the computer. Fill up my water cup. Read waiting work emails. Connect to computer at home and read home emails. Check schedule for meetings or other things that might interfere with lunch. Run the randomizer and send an email to friends inviting to chosen lunch location. Try to prioritize the tasks for the day and start working. On a good day, this will be actually programming. Other times, it's a struggle between more tedious things like writing documentation, composing emails to various people, and sitting in meetings.


Lunch time! Enjoy time chatting with friends and getting out of the office.

Between 12:00pm and 12:15pm

Grudgingly go back to the office. Refill water cup. Read work email. Connect to home computer and read home email. Update the time entry system by trying to figure out what I've actually worked on during the day. Try to actually do the loathsome tasks avoided thus far.

Between 4:00pm and 4:30ish

Time to go home! Do I need gas? Do I need anything at the grocery store?

Most days: Change into walking clothes. Go on a walk with Justin. Eat leftovers or cook meal or go out to eat. Play computer game or watch movie or read book.

Mondays: Play soccer.

Every other Thursday: Play games with friends.

Sometimes: Do house work, yard work, other chore.

Around 10:00pm

Yikes! It's bed-time (or past it). Change clothes. Put in ear plugs. Put on eye mask and wrist brace. Please, please go to sleep quickly so I can get up tomorrow.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The sweet by and by

Yes, I am WAY overdue for some sort of update. There hasn't been much going on other than watching more movies, but none of them are really worth reviewing. However, I finally made a step toward the resumption of the annual Ozark shopping trip last night by reserving some hotel rooms. This year we are skipping over our standard spot at Econo Lodge to try out Howard Johnson. It has the standard free internet and breakfast, but I'm most excited about the hot-tub. Now we can truly relax after a long day on our feet by soaking in some warm water. The trip should be taking place from October 19 through 22. If you haven't been thinking about what you want for Christmas, you better start now! Chances are, I'll be buying something for you while at the outlet stores. :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Four movie marathon

I finally had a chance to watch all of the Harry Potter movies recently. When they first came out, I was not all that interested since it was a "children's" story. I did see the Sorcerer's Stone and that only reinforced the idea that the plots would not be intricate enough for my taste. However, based on my sister's recommendation, I gave the books a try. She told me they get better and better, so I stuck with them until I was drawn in around the third book. To my delight, the the stories did evolve as the characters got older. Anyway, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is still the weakest of the movies and also the weakest of the books. I rate it a 6 because it did a very good job visually and does set up the characters well. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets rates an 8 because of the execellent mystery and character development. This is where I really began to love Dumbledore. So of course, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is somewhat diminished because of the new headmaster. This one only rates a 7, as I don't think it did a very good job with the time turner and other story intracacies. Finally, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire gets an 8 with more lovely visuals and better handling of story details. Overall, I think my sister explained it best -- the movies are not really all that good in and of themselves. They are just execellent ways to apply visuals to what we read and remind ourselves of the story elements that we loved in the books.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Catch up on movie ratings

Yes, I know it is a shame I haven't posted in a long while. My life has settled into the normal quiet pace of nothing-exciting-going-on. But I do continue to watch a lot of movies. I've even been to the theatre quite a bit lately. So below is my attempt to summarize all that I can remember from the past month or so. Basic Instinct 2 - 2 I wasn't expecting much, but I did hope that they at least kept the character interesting and intelligent like she seemed in the first one. In the end, it really just felt like an older actress trying to reclaim her youth. The story wasn't was good and even the big reveal at the end I thought could have been done a lot better. Brokeback Mountain - 4 As often happens with Hollywood Westerns, all the critical hype makes me think there is something more to the film, so I will watch it and find out that it's really just a boring cowboy story. The actors did a great job in filling up 2 hours of movie when they only had 20 minutes of dialog to work with. Clerks II - 6 I really enjoy Kevin Smith's dialog. He often seems more realistic than many other screenwriters today. I even often enjoy his sense of humor. However, I think a few of the jokes in this went too far. And the plight of the main character seemed too much like the first movie -- it was the same story only in color. Find Me Guilty - 5 I really like Vin Diesel. I think he has talent, and I think he did a great job in this film. Nonetheless, the film felt very "standard" and predictable. Furthermore, I don't tend to like stories about the mafia, especially when they are skewed to look like good guys. Gone in 60 Seconds - 4 Some recent interest in Angelina Jolie's work made me want to see this again. I couldn't remember much of it, and after seeing it a second time I now know why -- there isn't really much there. A few standard car chase scenes, some typical Hollywood bad jokes, some decent music; but no story to pull me in. No character development that interested me. Rumor Has It... - 5 Yes, it is true that I sometimes get a typical "girlish" streak and like to see a standard romantic comedy. Sometimes you run across these suprising little gems. This was not one of those, but rather a more typical story. The only thing interesting is the way they tried to tie it back to The Graduate.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I saw Yet Another Comic Book Movie this weekend with my family -- Superman Returns -- in IMAX 3D no less. Despite the impressive graphics, I'm going to rate it only a 6. The story just didn't pull me in. The dialog was kind of flat. The acting was pretty good, but again didn't really leave a strong impression. Plus, the big secret "reveal" basically made me think, "Oh, here goes Hollywood again." Overall, I would rather have seen it on DVD, but it was worth a watch nonetheless.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's finished

My participation in Corporate Challenge is finally over. Last night I came up against some ladies who have definitely been playing racquetball much more recently and frequently than I. Although I made for some good volleys and a few nice points, their skill was too much for me. I still ended up in 4th place, out of 13 who were scheduled, so that doesn't seem too bad. Plus, I got some exercise and had fun. What more could you ask for?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Forfeits aren't everything

But they do count as wins in Corporate Challenge. I was scheduled for two racquetball matches on Saturday and won both because my opponent didn't show. The trip wasn't a complete waste because I got to scrimmage with a couple of other ladies who were hanging around waiting. Now I am guaranteed at least 4th place, and have two more games scheduled Wednesday night. I am pretty sure that all the no-shows are out at this point, so I am guaranteed to play at least once.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Corporate Challenge Update

Okay, so I've been busy practicing and competing in Corporate Challenge events, plus some work craziness, so I'm long overdue for another update. Pool: I had practiced quite a bit and felt very ready to compete the day of the event. My first game was scheduled to start at 6:00pm at a billiards room up north, so I had planned on leaving work between 4 and 4:30 to give myself plenty of time for rush hour traffic and to find the place. However, around 3:00pm a small issue popped up at work. I started working on it and by 4, I knew I wasn't going to be able to get away. My coworker who was representing the men for our company was able to get in touch with one of the other ladies who had signed up so at least the women didn't forfeit. I ended up staying at work until 10:30pm that day. Bowling: With this, I didn't feel as ready as I could have been since I'd only practiced occasionally before the competition. However, I tend to bowl better when I don't try as hard, so I kept a "This is for fun" attitude. It worked. I bowled above my personal average with a series of 139, 141, and 154. Unfortunately, the other 3 people on my coed team bowled about the same when we were up against some bowlers going into the 200s. We ended up 5th out of 19 teams that participated so it wasn't too bad. Also, out of a total 98 women, I placed 17th individually. Not too shabby. Soccer: This was the event I was most looking forward to. There were 4 women who showed up to play 3-on-3 soccer, and I was the only one who had practiced lately. We were fortunate in that our HR coordinator managed to convince one of the guy players to be our coach, so at least we had some direction. Needless to say, we floundered during our first game but with the help of the coaching, we had a working strategy by the end of it. Despite that loss, we approached our second game with determination and so my only scoring goal gave us a win. We still had a third game scheduled for the first night, and even with a 20 minute rest we were getting tired. Furthermore, we had the luck of the draw to come up against some girls who had obviously been kicking around soccer balls ever since they could walk. We were seriously out-played, but still managed to score one goal ourselves, so we didn't feel completely defeated. I had a lot of fun and hope I get to play again every year! Racquetball: This is basically the only thing I have left. I had planned on dropping out since I discovered I have no easy place to practice in Kansas City, however the only other lady to sign up has already bowed out because of a schedule conflict. This means I have a little over a week to try and prepare. I'm hoping my "This is for fun" attitude will pay off again, because there is no way I'll be ready for serious competition in such a short time. As long as I can score a few points, maybe even win a game, I'll know that I did my best.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Update from the Keeper

Yes, that's right, I've been playing goal keeper on my Monday night soccer team. It's not my first choice, but no one else wants to do it and at least this way I get to stay in the whole game without a sub. I've done this for three games now, and although I have improved a lot, there is still a lot to learn. I haven't yet taught myself how to fall on the ball. My throwing and kicking need a lot of work too. But last night our team won our first game and the other ladies only scored on me twice!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Movie impossible

Yes, I saw MI:3 last night. I went in with very little expectations -- you know, just more spy-action goodness. Hoping for maybe some humor like XXX. Well, the action parts were not that bad; only a few scenes where the laws of physics were ignored. But what I didn't expect was all the drama. They added this whole human relationships element -- ick! You can only do so much in an action movie without it being "over the top", and this was one that I thought went too far. In the end, I rate it a 5.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Save the Internet

Okay, so you all know that I rarely get political. Politics in general are one of those very personal topics that I tend to leave alone because I believe that people should be allowed to have their own opinions and convictions. Yet every once in awhile a topic comes along that rattles me so much that I feel the need to speak out or do something. This is one of those times. If you are not familiar with the Save the Net issue, let me try to summarize: Internet backbone providers want to find ways to make more money. This doesn't bother me. But their plan is to basically start dividing up the traffic and charging extra fees for "premium" service. This means that those people who do not pay extra, will start to have degraded service. In other words, small sites like this one (my little blog) will become slow. Lots of controversial, independent voices could eventually be stifled. The assumed equality of all pages on the Web will no longer be true. In my opinion, there are other ways to make money than to start adding a class structure to the network traffic. So I am signing the petition to try and block Congress from passing a bill that will make this possible. And if you feel similarly, please sign it too. Okay, I've put the soap box away again.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Injury Report

Those of you who know me very well were probably expecting a post like this very soon after my Corporate Challenge announcement. So yes, I have encountered my first injury. Luckily, it's not the knees or ankles -- but just a pulled muscle. Well, both my quads actually. Evidently, I can't just get up and run around without preamble like I used to. I now have to respect my age and actually warm up and stretch appropriately first. The worst part about it was having to watch from the sidelines while my team struggled without enough players. As I have hobbled around and iced my thighs these last couple of days, I have become very determined not to let that happen again. It's one thing to injure yourself while actually participating in the game. It's another thing to run on to the field and then collapse before your feet have even touched the ball. Anyway, there is no update on the other sports yet. Justin and I went on a quick trip to Dallas over the weekend and played a little racquetball at a *proper* Ballys (one with courts). It was a lot of fun, but I discovered that my skills are extremely rusty and there is no way I could represent my company without a lot more practice. And since there are no easily available courts in town, I don't really see that happening. I guess that it's for now. Stayed tuned for more middle-aged-geek-trying-to-do-sports madness!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Corp Challenge Update

Well, it's been awhile since I announced my Corporate Challenge aspirations. I figured I should provide an update on how my "getting-into-shape" goals are progressing. Volleyball: I played on a company team for a couple nights and discovered that all the other ladies have been playing together for a long time. They didn't really need an extra newbie, so I'm no longer a candidate for that event. Bowling: There were barely enough ladies to sign up for this event, so I'm definitely playing on the Coed team. Recently, I have played a few practice games and I've been bowling lousy, so I need to get a lot more training in before the June 3 tournament. Pool: Here there were 3 ladies who signed-up for the 1 person slot. So far, I have beaten one woman and tied the other, so it is still a little up in the air. I am not a shark by any means, but I am remembering a lot of the basic skills that will probably put me in the middle of the pack. A few of my coworkers have been going to Side Pockets weekly during lunch to get some practice in, and that is helping. Racquetball: Again, not very many volunteers here -- only 2 of us signed up for this sport. However, as I tried to schedule in some practice I learned that none of the Bally's Fitness Centers in Kansas City have racquetball courts anymore. I am still hoping to play a little on some pay courts, but otherwise I will bow out to other lady and just be an alternate. Soccer: Ahh, now here is where I hoped to have the most fun. There actually are several women who registered for this event. I haven't heard anything about company try-outs yet, so I figured I should get in some practice on my own. I went back to my old hang-out, All American and signed-up for and indoor Mom's team. It's really just a house team for their 28-and-over-no-experience-required league. I played in my first game this week, and man, am I out of shape! Luckily, most of the other ladies have not ever played soccer before, so I didn't look too bad. Despite my wheezing, huffing, missing, and stumbling I managed to score a goal! I am really happy about playing again, so even if I don't get to participate in the Corporate Challenge I will at least have met my personal goal. I'll keep posting more information as this adventure progresses.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Okay, I'm not doing so well at keeping this site up-to-date. On the plus side, not much has been going on. Except we've been watching movies as always. Most recently, we finally viewed our purchased copied of Capote. It is very well-done, although I think I missed out on some things just because I am not that familiar with Truman Capote's history, or really American Literature in general. I still rated it a 7 overall. Then there was Memoirs of a Geisha, which I also rate a 7. I often enjoy stories of oriental culture, but this one was a little slow paced. Plus, I was hoping for more spectacular visuals like Hero. Another historical flick, Good Night, and Good Luck didn't really hit home with me. The quality still rates it a 7, but I wasn't really sitting on the edge of my seat. I did remark at all the smoking -- my, how the times have changed. The critically acclaimed A History of Violence also fell a little flat in my opinion. The acting was spectacular, but I am tired of mob stories. I hoped for something even more surprising and rated this only a 6. Probably the movie I have enjoyed the most of late is V for Vendetta. Of course, being the latest from the Wachowski brothers, I was anticipating something great. It didn't have as much action as I hoped for, but the story and interactions were still superb. I give this one an 8. Finally, yes I expected some laughs when I went in to see Ultraviolet. Even trying to view this as a comedy, I can't really give it more than a 2 rating. My friend said that it is trying to be a live-action Anime movie. I could see how that might be the case, but better character development would help. It's pretty sad when I start to feel sorry for the non-existent special effects.

As you may remember, when the house was built we didn't want to spend a bunch of extra money on sod for the whole backyard. So this weekend we finally took the time to till up all the dirt; dig up the big rocks; pull up the twigs and roots; and lay down some seed. Whew! It was a lot of work, and now the watering begins. Let's hope it pays off. Posted by Picasa

We finally found a bench that we like a lot! See how perfect it fits in the entryway. Frege even posed for this picture. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 26, 2006

My, that canyon sure is Grand

Well, we made it to the Grand Canyon and home in one piece. Back when we were discussing where to go for a vacation, we wanted someplace sunny and warm for a spring trip. I mean, what do you usually think of when you picture the Grand Canyon? Big, bright sun, the dry desert, blue skies, shorts and sunburn, right? As it turns out, that is only true for certain months of the year. Months that do not include March. Our vacation started off just fine. Our flights to San Francisco went smoothly, and we enjoyed some delicious sushi and an entire relaxing day with Roger and Marian before we packed up the van and headed east. As the long 12-hour drive came to an end, things turned ominous. The last hour was very dark and a little snowy when we finally got close late Sunday night. We couldn't really see much of anything, including the street signs, which made finding our lodge somewhat frustrating. The next morning, we decide to start off easy by walking along the Rim Trail, which doesn't change elevation and is actually paved most of the way. Here is my first view of the canyon. (Note: All pictures can be clicked on for a larger image.)  Posted by Picasa

I should have read the signs more carefully, as here is one that seems to be saying there is more snow on the way! Posted by Picasa

Basically, this natural wonder is so immense my mind can't really seem to grasp it, even in person. While standing right next to this huge crater, it still looks like a painted backdrop or something. Posted by Picasa

We walked leisurely on Monday, taking lots of pictures and browsing all the gift shops. The plan was to do a more serious hike on Tuesday after the scheduled helicopter ride. Oh wait, the helicopter ride was scheduled for Monday? Yikes! Hurry back to the room and call to reschedule the flight for Tuesday afternoon. We can still get in a hike in the morning. Of course, Tuesday began glumly. We weren't sure our footwear would be sufficient for the trail, so we tried to hurry to get a good look before lunch. Although the ground was snowy and stiff with cold, it was the sky that told us another story. Posted by Picasa

I decided that I definitely wanted some boots and by the time we got to the general store, the snow had started. It seemed very light and wasn't sticking to the ground, so at first we weren't concerned. However by the time we got our new boots, it was really coming down. In fact, we had to reschedule our helicopter ride again to avoid weather problems. As the night continued, and the snow kept coming, we even discussed cutting our trip short. Yet driving in the snow was a big deterrent, and the predictions seemed better for Wednesday, so we waited it out. Here you can see the results of the storm. Posted by Picasa

At this point our helicopter ride was scheduled for 11:00am, so we planned to hike afterwards. The sky seemed pretty clear and I was very excited to get in our specially-designed EcoStarPosted by Picasa

We flew over the Kaibab National Forest first - a protected woodland area the size of Switzerland. Is that the canyon over there? Posted by Picasa

The pilot told us to look directly down as we flew over the edge, and it was as dramatic as he predicted. Again, the views are so impressive that it doesn't seem quite real. Posted by Picasa

Unfortunately, the vistas weren't as clear as we hoped. The pilot explained that the clouds roll in and get stuck on the ridges. Posted by Picasa

We were airborne over a protected portion of the canyon, so the pilot wasn't allowed to fly down closer to the river. However, the ride was still worth it. It was definitely something that I will not forget. So after the amazing views from above, it was now time to "get down in it". We filled our backpacks with water bottles, beef jerky, and granola, and started down the South Kaibab trail. Posted by Picasa

The top was pretty scary because of the slick, packed-down, icy snow. By the time the ground turned into a slushy mud, we were in the middle of the clouds. Posted by Picasa

In a way, I was actually glad of the whiteout. This enabled me to focus on my feet since I knew I wasn't missing out on any awesome sights. But we eventually made our way beneath the clouds and came to the first stop, called Ooh Aah Point. Posted by Picasa

By now, the temperature is rising, not only because it is later in the day, but also because we are at a lower elevation. The trail is almost completely puddles, with some areas of mud. Yet despite the disagreeable path, the views make up for it. Posted by Picasa

We make it to Cedar Ridge, and stop to eat and refresh ourselves before going back up. I have seen some courageous wildlife in my time, but never before has a squirrel actually climbed onto my backpack sitting right next to me! Posted by Picasa

Here is a shot of Justin and Roger out near the end of Cedar Ridge. Posted by Picasa

By the time we finished, we had hiked for about four hours, over 3 miles, and a change in elevation of about 1200 feet (both ways). Despite the ache in my calves (continuing three days later!), the effort was worth it. And something we hope to do again - in better weather of course! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Dated Thriller

Last night we watched House of Games, a Mamet movie from 1987. Typical of early Mamet works, the dialog was very stylized. Yes, I would say stylized. It was.... It is memorable because of the sytle. Anyway, I can only rate it a 4 because I thought the acting was flat too. I am trying not to judge the script too harshly given its time frame. I mean, we are such an educated audience these days, that the "unexpected" twist seemed completely obvious. Basically, it was not very good. Other than that, I am gearing up for the trip to the Grand Canyon. We leave tomorrow afternoon!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

You probably heard about the micro-burst storms hit all over the midwest on Suday. While I was visiting a friend in Lawrence, Justin experience a brief hailstorm, that left dime-sized ice pellets all over the place. Here is a picture of the deck after the brief downpour. Posted by Picasa

This is another cool shot, of the gutter drain next to the house. So strange! Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 03, 2006

Vacation update

Justin and I are still planning on going to the Grand Canyon. In fact, Justin's best friend Roger and his wife Marion thought the idea was so cool they decided to come along with us. So we changed our driving plans and are flying out to San Fransisco to meet them. The four of us will drive together to the canyon and probably have a day or two in California together as well. I'm a little bummed that I won't be able to see my brother and sister-in-law this time. But now I have an excuse to plan a special trip just to visit them in Oklahoma!

More mediocre movies

So it seems like Justin and I haven't really missed much on the movie front by not having a theatre for nearly the last two years. We've been watching again -- trying to catch up on lost ground -- and I am still very unimpressed. I was hopeful with some recent picks, starting with Flightplan. I mean, anything with Jodie has to be better than expected, right? Yes, it did have a few things that I thought were done well, but overall the big plot holes and hollywood-esque scenes left me very unsatisfied. I'm rating it a 4. So then last night, we tried Proof. I was hoping for some interesting math, like in A Beautiful Mind, or even some cool intelligent banter like in Good Will Hunting. Alas, that was not the case. However, the story was somewhat interesting and I didn't fall asleep. I'm rating this one a 5.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Getting in over my head?

As the trip to the Grand Canyon approaches, I have been thinking about how in shape I am, and if I'm ready to do the all-day walk. I try to go on walks around the neighborhood, but it is hard for me because I am so picky about the weather. Of course, we have an elliptical machine inside that I can use when the weather is prohibitive, however, you know how easy it is to find something else to do. Well, yesterday at work they found something else to inspire me to seriously get my act together. I signed up for the Kansas City Corporate Challenge. And boy did I sign up! I think I've put my name down for so many things that I may later regret: raquetball, soccer, volleyball, pool, and bowling. Most of these are things that I have done at one time or another, but none of them recently. So the fear of publicly humiliating myself in front of my coworkers is now my motivation to get my body into shape. We'll see how well it works. Stay tuned -- the events are not until May, but I will try to post updates on my "training" as it gets closer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The theatre is on its way!

And yes, we are using the black sheets again for now. It's a quick and easy way to throw up "walls" and keep the room fairly dark. This time the media is on display outside the room. Posted by Picasa