Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sith Lord Chronology Updates

Updated some Sith Lord chronology stuff on my website. You can check out the list of all the updates on the Star Wars update page. Warning, there may be some spoilers for the recently released book Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Personal Updates - December

11 Months in

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written
May 1st - Nothing
June 1st - Nothing
July 1st - Still Nothing
August 1st - Notta
September 1st - Still nothing, I hope to start once my new laptop arrives and I am a little more organized with school.
October 1st - Still nothing. Have laptop, just need time now.
November 1st - Notta
December 1st - Nothing

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2

May 1st - 172.2 (somehow again)
June 1st - 171.0 (Finally something)
July 1st - 172.2 (I bet the scale likes me at this)
August 1st - 171.2 (Yea, back down a little)
September 1st - 172.8 (and back up, apparently doing only aerobics does not help you lose weight. Unfortunately I am doing a triathlon in 2 weeks so that is the main focus of my training.
October 1st - 172.2
November 1st - 171.8
December 1st - 173.6

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.
May 1st - Payed off one more. Down to 2 cards with balances. 1 with 0% APR until 2011 though so that one may be waiting a while.
June 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
July 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
August 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
September 1st - Still 2
October 1st - Actually down to 1 now. Payed off the one card, and now the last card has a 0% APR until 2011, so this will probably not be payed off this year. But otherwise I mostly achieved this goal.

November 1st - Still the 1
December 1st - Still 1

Other achievements of note.
School work is in full swing. Went to Mexico on a trip to see modern day tidal flats which was really cool (and cold). And currently wrapping up the semester. Nothing else that I can really think of of note, but I am starting to work on my list for next year which will include all of these for this year since I don't think I will have any of them done in a month.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Star Wars Timeline and Checklists Updates


I have updated the 4 Star Wars checklists on my site. These include the Complete Star Wars Timeline, the Star Wars Digital Stories Checklist, the Star Wars Video Games Checklist, and the Star Wars Comics Checklist. Head on over to my Star Wars page to see the new versions or head on over to my Updates page to see what all the new change/additions are.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Personal Updates - November

10 Months in

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written
May 1st - Nothing
June 1st - Nothing
July 1st - Still Nothing
August 1st - Notta
September 1st - Still nothing, I hope to start once my new laptop arrives and I am a little more organized with school.
October 1st - Still nothing. Have laptop, just need time now.
November 1st - Notta

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2

May 1st - 172.2 (somehow again)
June 1st - 171.0 (Finally something)
July 1st - 172.2 (I bet the scale likes me at this)
August 1st - 171.2 (Yea, back down a little)
September 1st - 172.8 (and back up, apparently doing only aerobics does not help you lose weight. Unfortunately I am doing a triathlon in 2 weeks so that is the main focus of my training.
October 1st - 172.2
November 1st - 171.8

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.
May 1st - Payed off one more. Down to 2 cards with balances. 1 with 0% APR until 2011 though so that one may be waiting a while.
June 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
July 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
August 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
September 1st - Still 2
October 1st - Actually down to 1 now. Payed off the one card, and now the last card has a 0% APR until 2011, so this will probably not be payed off this year. But otherwise I mostly achieved this goal.

November 1st - Still the 1

Other achievements of note.
Mostly focused on school at the moment. 2 classes are only 1/2 semester and 1 is completely done. The other will be done next week, so that should at least give me a little more time.

This month I got the chance to go home for a couple of days, then I saw Star Wars in Concert (awesome), and then went up to the annual GSA meeting, where I gave my first professional presentation. Overall I thought it went well. But I have been pretty busy lately.

I also announced that I have a new baby on the way, and other than that I have no real exciting news. But I'm already thinking of my goals for next year. A couple of them are going to be extensions of the ones for this year that didn't get finished.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hovercraft Update

So I finally have found some time to work on my Hovercraft. You can check out previous updates over at the Hovercraft Page of my website.


Well, moving from Buffalo to Salt Lake City caused a pretty big upheaval in the hovercraft building process. Here it is attached to the car and still all covered. Several problems developed from the move though. I needed to get some straps to keep it down and I tightened them too much at times so it ended up crushing parts of the skin added previously. Also I could only afford a 4' wide trailer instead of a 6' wide one. The 4' wide one was about $300 as opposed to over $1200. But to solve the problem with the trailer I had to cut holes out of the bottom to fit the wheels through. These now need to be replaced as well as the crushing fixed.


Well after over 2 years I finally got time to work on it again. I flipped it back over and with the help of my friend Brett we cleaned up the cut outs (I originally just quick cut them out with a jig saw since I was pressed for time). I have also fixed the crushing and advanced a little on the lift duct itself. At this point all I have to do is fill the holes and then I can finish off the bottom.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Then there were three (or five)

So it's official, we are about to have a baby wookiee running around. Here is the very first pictures of our Gummy Bear!!!!!



We are about 12 weeks along now (picture was at 10 weeks) and so far so good. :-) SO with our puppies this makes a team of 5, going strong.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Personal Updates - October 09 Edition

9 Months in

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written
May 1st - Nothing
June 1st - Nothing
July 1st - Still Nothing
August 1st - Notta
September 1st - Still nothing, I hope to start once my new laptop arrives and I am a little more organized with school.
October 1st - Still nothing. Have laptop, just need time now.

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2

May 1st - 172.2 (somehow again)
June 1st - 171.0 (Finally something)
July 1st - 172.2 (I bet the scale likes me at this)
August 1st - 171.2 (Yea, back down a little)
September 1st - 172.8 (and back up, apparently doing only aerobics does not help you lose weight. Unfortunately I am doing a triathlon in 2 weeks so that is the main focus of my training.
October 1st - 172.2

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.
May 1st - Payed off one more. Down to 2 cards with balances. 1 with 0% APR until 2011 though so that one may be waiting a while.
June 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
July 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
August 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
September 1st - Still 2
October 1st - Actually down to 1 now. Payed off the one card, and now the last card has a 0% APR until 2011, so this will probably not be payed off this year. But otherwise I mostly achieved this goal.


Other achievements of note.
School is full steam ahead. I still feel like I am always behind but 2 classes end in the middle of October so hopefully I will get a better grasp on the situation after that. But otherwise I seem to still be a float. Finally got my new laptop so I can actually update a little more often now which I have been slowly doing. There are a bunch of updates that I have been wanting to compose so expect to see them sometime in the future.
I completed my first real triathlon a couple of weeks ago and I will have a more indepth post on that soon as well. Other than that nothing really, reading lots for school but almost nothing for fun.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Personal Goals Update - September Edition

7 Months

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written
May 1st - Nothing
June 1st - Nothing
July 1st - Still Nothing
August 1st - Notta
September 1st - Still nothing, I hope to start once my new laptop arrives and I am a little more organized with school.

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2

May 1st - 172.2 (somehow again)
June 1st - 171.0 (Finally something)
July 1st - 172.2 (I bet the scale likes me at this)
August 1st - 171.2 (Yea, back down a little)
September 1st - 172.8 (and back up, apparently doing only aerobics does not help you lose weight. Unfortunately I am doing a triathlon in 2 weeks so that is the main focus of my training.

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.
May 1st - Payed off one more. Down to 2 cards with balances. 1 with 0% APR until 2011 though so that one may be waiting a while.
June 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
July 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
August 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
September 1st - Still 2

Other achievements of note.
Started school and I am currently in week 2. Already I feel several weeks behind though with at least 3-4 papers to read a day. Plus labs to prepare for and grade so needless to say I have been busy. Other than that I started reading the second prequel Dune trilogy and I am about half way through that now. I don't think anything else of note really has happened. So here is to a productive month.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Religious Declaration

After reading an article a little while ago about an Agnostic-Humanist married to a Roman-Catholic I got to thinking "What is an Agnostic-Humanist?"

Now recently I have been referring to myself as an Agnostic but I was not entirely sure of what the definition of one was. I just assumed I did (and I was mostly right as it turned out). And I could assume what a Humanist was (but I was pretty wrong on that one). So I wondered, what am I really? Well after some research it turns out that there is a variety of Agnostics (of course) and I am in essence what is called a Strong Agnostic which believes "that it is impossible for humans to know whether or not any deities exist." This strengthens my belief that I have always viewed Agnosticism as the great indecisive category, the maybe-maybe not of the religious world. I have always felt that people are entitled to their own beliefs but any of that stuff always falls short for me. I believe what i can see and test. Anything outside of that I can't prove it doesn't exist so I leave it open for interpretation.

But I am also a Humanist it seems. Humanism is the belief in morals and other such stuff that religion can teach you just without the religion. I for one have always been in the camp that you don't need religion to be a good person (i.e. not all atheists are bad). Morals and ethics stem from a belief in good and bad, something that is in human nature, not a book (i.e. killing is bad, obviously, you don't need divine inspiration to figure that out).

So in essence I am a: Strong Agnostic Humanist.

Monday, August 3, 2009

2009 Personal Goals - August Update

7 Months

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written
May 1st - Nothing
June 1st - Nothing
July 1st - Still Nothing
August 1st - Notta

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2

May 1st - 172.2 (somehow again)
June 1st - 171.0 (Finally something)
July 1st - 172.2 (I bet the scale likes me at this)
August 1st - 171.2 (Yea, back down a little)

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.
May 1st - Payed off one more. Down to 2 cards with balances. 1 with 0% APR until 2011 though so that one may be waiting a while.
June 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
July 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
August 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off

Other achievements of note.
School prep is still going pretty much on schedule. I start at the end of the month. Loans have pretty much been set and I have an office and a TA position. I can get my student ID on the 11th. So I am pretty excited.
I also finished fixing the sprinkler system which was a big job I was worried about. I replaced 3 out of the 4 valves, the timer, and 10/13 sprinkler heads, cut-off one sprinkler completely (it was outside the fence) and added a new one.
Training for the triathlon goes eh but it is in 6 weeks, so I best get on that. On a bright note I believe I have all the equipment that I need.

Friday, July 31, 2009

New must Read

Ok so this one won't take THAT long to read but I just found an article listing a Hemingway story that he wrote as part of a bet to write an entire story in 6 words or less. Now I have looked online and saw several other stories that mimic this approach (sometimes called "flash stories") but none even come close to this one. It is by far the best 6 word story I have ever read. I will reprint the entire thing here since I feel I might not be violating copyright, or something of that sort.

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn"

Now the story itself evokes images and stories all on its own. What happened?, Why were they never worn?, etc. I just thought it was cool and am passing it on to anyone who hasn't heard of it yet.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another humerous website

Anyone who enjoys laughing at other people's stupidity should check out You Suck at Craiglist. It pretty much finds listings that stupid people put up and makes fun of them.

Star Wars Timeline and Checklist Updates

In more Star Wars updates I have recently updated my Star Wars Timeline as well as my 3 Star Wars checklists - The Star Wars Digital Stories Checklist, The Star Wars Video Game Checklist, and the Star Wars Comics Checklist. Check out the Update page for a full list of updates.

Friday, July 24, 2009

100 Greatest Books #86 - The Picture of Dorian Gray

Next up on my 100 Greatest Books reading list is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. You can find this book on the Sybervision, Observer, and My Own Book Lists.



A rather enjoyable book about a man who (unintentionally) sells his soul so that he may remain the Adonis that he is. Dorian Gray starts out pretty naive until he is told by a painter that he is the most beautiful person he has ever seen. After the portrait that he paints is complete, Dorian sees it and realizes that the painter is correct. At the same time he meets another man, Lord Henry, who says that it is a pity that he will lose his beauty at such a young age, prompting Dorian to sell his soul to maintain his current appearance.. Since that time Lord Henry had steadily corrupted Dorian, acting as a Satan character, leading him down a dark path. Fantastic book. The ending is perfect and unexpected. I recommend it to anyone interested in reading a fairly short enjoyable read. Wilde does go off on some tangents at times and some of Lord Henry's speeches are difficult to follow but enjoyable none-the-less.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sith Lord Updates


I updated some information on my Sith Lord Chronology page. You check out the individual updates Here as well.

Good News!!!!

Ok, on the tail end of my last post, some bright lights have come on:

1. My loans have been reestablished. Apparently what had happened is when I filled out my paperwork I filled in how much the Geology department was going to give me in a TA. Then when I filled out my non-resident to resident form it seemed they cut my loans that I could get. What I didn't know was that the department sent in to the Financial Aid office at that same time what they were going to give me. Then the Financial Aid office had both what I put down and what the department said as two different things, hence cutting my "financial need" by a good chunk. Well after going in and talking with them they realized what had happened and all is good and fine in the world again.

2. The broken sprinkler pipe has been mended and is in good working order. I even replaced all the sprinklers yesterday that were associated with that pipe and everything is working fantastically.

3. My eBay experience actually turned out alright. The company that I bought the game from gave me a full refund and said to just keep the game. Which is great because then I don't have to pay for shipping back. It is pretty much unplayable but hey, no money lost on my part. I even bought a new one from a different seller. Hopefully this one will work better.

So out of everything that has gone wrong, most seems to be amended now. So far so good.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bad Mood

For some reason I have been in a bad mood lately and I don't know why. Many things seem to be going wrong but it should not be enough to facilitate a full on bad mood. I don't seem to have any time to do anything I want to do. I just got screwed by an ebay seller and I really have zero desire to spend for shipping to send it back (the listing was that far off of the actual item). I got screwed with loans (as mentioned previously but I am going in today to fight for them). My cubicle with it's awesome view is being confiscated for a new employee and I am being relegated to the "temp" employee cubicle. While fixing the sprinkler system I put a shovel through a pipe in another part of the system. And other stuff of the such. But still I feel like I am much more disgruntled than I should be so this post is an attempt to air my problems and hopefully that will help them go away.

On a lighter note, it seems all of my investments seem to have gone up this last quarter, which is fantastic. And I finally caught up on much of my paperwork that I have been meaning to do (like convert all of my investment accounts to joint accounts with my wife, hey it only took 3 years.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My dog remembrances - Aikman Part 1

So continuing what I had started for Twix. Here is Aikman's part 1 story. And trust me, this is much more interesting than Twixes story. Well, at least more expensive. You can find this and Twixes story compiled at my website HERE.




So by this point it is the beginning of February, 2007. We had Twix about a year and a half and we were getting ready to celebrate our first year anniversary with a trip around the Seneca Lake wineries. My wife was looking on her newlywed website (thenest.com or something like that) and came across a posting to help this poor dog. The picture was of this brown pathetic looking dog (oh I wish we still had that picture somewhere) with a rope tied around his neck. He was extremely dirty and standing in the middle of a fenced in area with a dog house in the background and a dirt ground. The picture included some things like he doesn’t get fed water because his owner was getting older and senile and decided since the water freezes then he won’t give him any and it also mentioned that the rope collar was embedded into his neck.

Well Veronica showed this to me and my heart just went for him. I told her, whatever, we can get him if she wants. Well after some back and forth with her and the writer of the article we decided that we would pick him up on the way home from our winery tour on our anniversary, February 11th. We dropped Twix off at Veronica’s parent’s house and headed off on our vacation. On the way home we stopped by this house in Rochester (about an hour from our house in Buffalo) and went to pick up the dog. Well, he was in the backyard at the time, in a house littered (and I mean littered) with dogs. We get all his paperwork and it turns out his name was Aikman (like the football player) and he was born into a litter of dogs all named after football quarterbacks (Montana, etc.). He even had a family tree. He was half German shepherd, half husky. That was why we were chosen, because we had such experience with a husky before. It turns out (we found out there were a bit of lies in the original article) that there was no rope embedded in his neck, he was fine, just a little dirty and he could use a good amount of food. He was obviously neglected but probably not really abused. He just looked pathetic. His owner had bred sled dogs and that was how Aikman was raised. But he was 11 then and a bit passed his prime.

So we then coaxed him inside from the backyard, because as it turns out, he was never an indoors dog. He spent his entire life outside. Great. Now we had to housetrain an eleven year old dog. We gathered up all his paperwork, took him into the car and drove home. He eventually ended curled up with Veronica in the backseat floor of my car, because since I drive a convertible, there is not much room for a dog to sit comfortably back there, and we drove the hour back home. When we got home Veronica leaves to go pick up Twix while I get Aikman settled into his new house. Veronica would likely not be back for at least a half an hour so I had some time.

Well, I go to unlock the door and as I am carrying in a bunch of stuff I drop Aikman’s leash. And he’s off. Like a rocket down the street. I go running after him only to realize that an 11 year old former sled dog can run very much faster than I can. Damn. That doesn’t stop me. I keep running after him until I come across my neighbor from across the street. We’re not really social with each other but we say hi and he sees my plight and decides to lend a hand. He drives me back to my house (I had gone a good deal of a ways at this point) and I get in my car and we realize we can heard Aikman where we want to go with the cars. So we drive him in one direction, and lock him in a backyard, and jump out of the car. This is when I find out the truth that apparently this neighborhood of Buffalo does not feel the need to put fences up in their backyard. And it turns out it the houses in this area were adjacent to the power line alleys. And it is February in Buffalo so there is a good 3+ feet of snow on the ground. So even though Aikman gets slowed down by the deep snow, I am far more inconvenienced. So I chase him back and forth across this thing until he is back on the road. I then run back to my car, which coincidently is still running because I just got out and ran. And we played this game, oh 2 or 3 more times, until we finally managed to steer him into a yard with an actual fence. Keep in mind my neighbor and I are chasing him with our cars, his pick-up and my convertible, and yes I do think I bumped him with my car once, but did that slow him at all, noooo. Well my neighbor Jimmy got out and we had him blocked behind a garage. One opening blocked with his car and we were at the other end, but somehow he gets free and the chase is back on. Luckily it did not last much longer and only a few minutes later we trapped him again in a garden, where he managed to somehow hop the garden fence but he was unable to get back out. So I carried him into the car, thanked my neighbor profusely, and proceeded to drive home and catch up with my wife.

It turns out she was just driving home to check on me and the frantic call I made to her as I was initially running down the block. She had already been home and back out into the neighborhood trying to help me but since Aikman managed to get more than 10 minutes away from home she was nowhere near where we ended up. So after an hour of hunting him down, we finally got our second dog, Aikman, home.

How does this happen????

How does this happen? I am offered $16,000 in school loans, I accept all of them. They also list me as a non-resident, but since I have a full tuition waver, I figure it does not matter if I apply for residency status because it can't really hurt me and it helps out the department (or so I am told).

Well the residency application just went through and what do they do? They CUT MY LOANS TO ONLY $3,000!!!!!!!

WTF (and I am not thinking in only letters)

I still have a full tuition waver but apparently my "cost of attendance" is lower. What the hell? How is it lower? I didn't DO anything different. So now I'm screwed and I don't know what to do.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oh Shatner

Oh I love Shatner and Brad Paisley and this video is perfect with both of them. Not to mention Jason Alexander. Definitely one of the funnier music videos I have seen.



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

100 Greatest Books #85 - The Return of the Native

Next up on my tour of the 100 Greatest Books of all time is The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy. You can find this book on the Sybervision list.


Thomas Hardy is able to paint a picture with his novels. When you read them you can be sure to smell the sweet fragrance of a passing flower or hear children playing on a distant hill. His ability to paint such a picture is almost unmatched. The Return of the Native flowed smoothly from the beginning picture he painted through much of the end. It was also a very easy read, once you got passed the little bit of the dated language. And I enjoyed it for the most part. The ending left much to be desired for. Not to spoil anything but the deaths that are depicted are pretty pathetic. One I still don't understand if it was by accident or if it was suicide (which might have been the intent of the author). He even included a footnote to state that the ending he originally intended was changed due to critical review. Also his depiction of women was pretty much atrocious. I have never met such meek women in my life, and most of those I know would never stand to be placed in similar circumstances as that. Now it may be a cultural thing but I have read many works by women of the time that do not portray women as such so I have to assume it is Hardy's inability to understand the female sex (not that I have any real understanding but I do not pretend to). So all in all an enjoyable read but not one I would include in the 100 greatest of all time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2009 Personal Goals - July Update

6 Months in and at full stop.

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written
May 1st - Nothing
June 1st - Nothing
July 1st - Still Nothing

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2

May 1st - 172.2 (somehow again)
June 1st - 171.0 (Finally something)
July 1st - 172.2 (I bet the scale likes me at this)

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.
May 1st - Payed off one more. Down to 2 cards with balances. 1 with 0% APR until 2011 though so that one may be waiting a while.
June 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
July 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off

Other achievements of note.
Not much of note here. We had visits from my Mom and my sister which were great and pushed us to work on the house a bit but nothing much else got accomplished.
Triathlon training stalled for the month but will restart starting tomorrow.
I finally finished the third book in the first Dune prequel trilogy.
The patio in the back was laid out and the edge was put in place with the plants being planted. But I still need to flatten out the bottom and put in a layer of sand so it doesn't look like ocean waves.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New York Drivers....Angry???

So I found this article describing how New York Drivers have been moved up the list to the most aggressive in the country. To quote:

"New Yorkers were most likely to wave their fists or arms. They were most likely to lay on the horn and they were most likely to make some sort of obscene gesture,"

Obscene Gesture? Wave their fists or arms? What the #$?@ is that supposed to mean? I grew up driving in NYC and that's where I learned. Those are not obscene gestures or random flailing of limbs. Those are polite criticisms on other people's driving skills, but since they can't hear us in our car we need to move around a bit more to be noticed.

At least when people drive around NYC you know what they are going to do. They drive aggressively (It's not defensive driving there, it's offensive driving). I currently live in Salt Lake City and if the people weren't so damn nice here I would probably rip off their heads as I drive around. It's not that they are bad drivers here, it is more as if they have no clue that other people are on the road. When a person pulls into the left lane, for no reason, doing 10 under the speed limit, just as I was about to pass him, that is enough reason for their license to be revoked, I feel. Keep in mind this has happened on more than one occasion.

I could probably go on for hours describing the inability of people to drive here, and probably most other places, but please, don't insult my NY drivers. At least they can drive (Ok, at 90 while flipping you off, but I can handle that).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New sidebar

So in relation to my previous post, I have added a Fun/ Humorous blogroll to the side of my blog. These sites are listed in posting order (most recent at the top) and include:

It's Lovely! I'll Take It! - which I mentioned in the previous post

TheForce.net - The largest fan ran Star Wars site on the web

The Official Star Wars Blog - the name says it all

Fantasy Olympics - Actually a lot of fun. A website devoted to playing the Fantasy sports thing with the Olympics.

ReBecca's Blog - My friend ReBecca's non-geology related blog

Get Lost Podcast - A pretty good blog and podcast based on Lost (the TV show)

I will add more as I come across them

Very funny site

Ok I was just pointed to this site, Lovelylisting.com, via my Money magazine and it is great. I laughed so hard I started to cry. Really. And no, it has nothing to do with money. It is all about bad real estate photos that the blogger posts and makes comments on. And just coming off of house hunting last year I can appreciate them all the more.

Monday, June 1, 2009

2009 Personal Goals - June Update

5 Months in and things are slowing down.

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written
May 1st - Nothing
June 1st - Nothing

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2

May 1st - 172.2 (somehow again)
June 1st - 171.0 (Finally something)

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.
May 1st - Payed off one more. Down to 2 cards with balances. 1 with 0% APR until 2011 though so that one may be waiting a while.
June 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off

Other achievements of note.
Finished bar, YEA!!!! Next up I am doing some little things around the house like building a wood holder for the outdoor fireplace and repainting the guest bedroom.
Finished another book on my 100 greatest books list.
And still waiting to hear from the University of Utah regarding my residency status and my loan status. I also started researching PhD topics and that should be narrowed down within the next 2 months.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Star Wars Updates



Since I have two blogs now, I am going to try and clean up the geology blog a little. So here is a combination of the last two Star Wars updates to my website. I am also going to delete out the old Star Wars posts on the other blog so they will only be available here from now on.


I have updated all three of my Star Wars checklists (as of 4-5-09) : the Star Wars Timeline, the Star Wars Video Game Checklist, and the Star Wars Digital Stories Checklist, and completed a new one, the Star Wars Comics Checklist (as of 4-24-09). You can find all three on the page in PDF format. I figured since this is the most downloaded thing on my website it might be good to update it again. Updates include:


For the Star Wars Timeline:



  • The entire first season of The Clone Wars including associated books and comics

  • I listed all of the Ewoks cartoon episodes and rearranged the order where they fall in the timeline as well as the Droids cartoon stuff

  • Added all of the video games onto the timeline, well some of them. Any I didn't know got placed at the end under "To be determined"

  • Added all of the Digital Stories from my Checklist below - most importantly all of the Wizards.com stories.

  • Recent books and comics were added

  • I added more to the first page explaining the timeline

  • I added an Infinites picture to stories that were obviously non-canon but can fit into the story in a specific place. If the story was only a little bit infinites I left it as is.

  • I added a version 3.0 since this the third year it has been on the website and my first release of the year. That way I can keep track of the changes a little better.
    Some other minor things that I can't remember.

For the Star Wars Video Game Checklist:



  • Added a timeline column to know if the story has been added to the timeline above.

  • Updated with recent and rumored games.

  • I listed which games were just compilations of previous games and what was included in those compilations

For the Star Wars Digital Stories Checklist:



  • Added a timeline column to know if the story has been added to the timeline above.

  • Added a few new sections including the Del Rey and Dark Horse sections for new material found online

  • Updated with new stories and old stories that just made their way to me.

For the Star Wars Comic Book Checklist:



  • Includes a checklist of all available Star Wars comics. I figured since I was trying to collect them all I should know what ones are out there. And since I made myself a checklist, I thought other people might want one too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

100 Greatest Books #84 - Nicomachean Ethics


The Nicomachean Ethics [AKA Ethica Nicomachea] by Aristotle
This is a difficult book to describe. Pretty much it seems like common sense. Aristotle goes through and describes each of our emotional attributes and describes the extremes of them (i.e. bravery to cowardice). The result of his analysis was that the middle of the road response in most cases was the "good" response and that most people should strive for them to be "good" people. Overall I felt like I was reading a treatise on the seven deadly sins and I did not gain much afterwards. I would have to recommend this to go on people's skip list.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bar Done!!!! FINALLY!!!!!!

Yes it has been several months since I started working on the bar. You can see the first part of the bar done HERE. The second and last part is pictured below. The main problem I ran into is I miss-stained the bar the wrong color, a far darker color, so it took me over a month to unstain it. That was a pain. Also I had to figure out a way to saw 5" logs in half. Also not a fun thing since I only had my little circular saw. But it is all done and ready for use. YEA!!!!.


View of the front of the bar with the bar top down.

View of the front of the bar with the bar top open.

Side of the bar showing the three pillars.

Back of the bar with a closeup of the checkerboard bar top.

Everything done and in place with the bar of the bar all set up.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Over Thinking Things

I just read this in Money magazine and I felt it was especially apt for pretty much anything. It is from an interview with Philip Tetlock, a guy who studies the odds of financial forecasters and how much they get right.

"I once witnessed an experiment that pitted a classroom of Yale undergrads against a lone Norwegian rat in a T-maze. Food was put in the maze in no particular pattern, except that it was designed to end up in the left side of the "T" 60% of the time. Eventually, the rat learned always to turn left and so was rewarded 60% of the time. The students, on the other hand, fell for a variant of the"gambler's fallacy." Picture a roulette player who sees a long sequence of red and puts all his money on black because it's "due." Or more subtly, he looks for complex alternating patterns - the same kind of mental wild-goose chase that technical stock pickers go on. That's what happened to the Yalies, who kept looking for some pattern that would predict where the food would be every time. They ended up being right just 52% of the time. Outsmarted by a rat."

Now I understand they were just undergrads, but hey, I feel this can happen to anyone of us. Over thinking things has become a staple of human life. We always try to find what isn't there. Sometimes we just need to sit back and look for the simpler pattern. Sometimes it is just that simple.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Star Wars Day!!!!

HAPPY STAR WARS DAY. And in case any of you out there don't know......





May the 4th be with you.


Cheesy? I know. But I love it anyway.

Friday, May 1, 2009

2009 Personal Goals - May Update

4 Months in and so far not too bad, I feel like I stalled on some things though.

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written
May 1st - Nothing

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2

May 1st - 172.2 (somehow again)
Not only am I trying to get a 6-pack now but I am also training for a Sprint Triathlon. How do I get into these things.

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.
May 1st - Payed off one more. Down to 2 cards with balances. 1 with 0% APR until 2011 though so that one may be waiting a while.

Other achievements of note.
Currently on the bar status - The bar has been entirely stripped and restained and is mostly finished. 1/3rd of it is complete and installed. All I am trying to finish is get a nice bar top. I've decided that polyurethane wasn't working and I changed it to epoxy. So far so good.
I also finished one book on my 100 greatest books list.
And working on getting University of Utah paperwork straightened out.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Twix - Part 2

Here is the continuation of my Twix stories. You can find this one and all my other Twix stories at my website HERE.
Twix Part II
So, for the most part Twix acclimated pretty well with us and us with her. She does not have some of the fantastic stories that Aikman left us with but she has a few good ones of her own. When we first brought her home it was immediately evident that we were her saviors. We could not walk out of a room without her following us wherever we went. She would curl up in the hallway when we went to the bathroom. She would curl up on the couch when we watched TV. And that is how she was for pretty much the first several months to the first year that we had her.
When she first arrived we were told she had come from another pound in Ohio and that she recently had just given birth to puppies. She also just got spaded so she was not in the best of shape. She looked depressed but she still devoted every ounce of love on us that she could. But then Veronica had to go to school and I had to go work and Twix was left home alone. This would not have been such a problem but she had an extreme case of separation anxiety. So we decided that she should spend the day down in the basement. It was a mostly finished basement and had a TV and a couch, so she could lounge around during the day and if she had an accident it was OK because the floor was tile and it would clean up easily. Other than the couple of pillows I lost to separation anxiety nothing bad really happened. She was already house trained so that went off without a hitch. She would freak out when we left and be in a state of utter exuberance when we returned but we slowly convinced her that we would always come back and the freak outs became less and less. She still bounces around when we return, 5 years later, but we have grown accustomed to it, and look forward to it now, a kind of over the top welcome home.

When we got Twix Veronica immediately set out to find clothes to dress her up in. Unfortunately (or fortunately in Twix’s case) she could never find anything large enough to fit a normal size dog. Everything we found came in mini form for all those mini “dogs”. But she did find a jersey that looked like it would fit her. Well Veronica is a bit of a Bill’s nut and the colors matched pretty well so we got it and squeezed it onto her (see picture). Well over the next couple of days we noticed that Twix was acting strange. It couldn’t be the jersey. Why would it be that? Well after I managed to get the jersey off of Twix she was back to her bouncing around self. It turns out the jersey was so small on her it was suffocating her or something so she couldn’t move. Poor dog. Well we reached a compromise and shredded the jersey to a point that Twix could still wear it and it wouldn’t strangle her.

When Twix had to go out we would have to walk her from the side door of the house to the backyard since the gate was about 10 feet from the house. So we would let her out and she would run around, sometimes we would run around with her. And she would stay outside until she was ready to come in. At that point she would stand next to the gate and look for us in the window where we could see her from the kitchen. Well when the weather started to get nicer we would let her out for longer and longer periods of time. And then we started to notice that instead of wanting to come in she would just stand and stair up into the trees at the back of the house (see picture). After watching her do this for a little while she would start to run back and forth along the fence, all the while looking up. We realized she was chasing squirrels that were running along the telephone wires and the trees back there.
So one day we saw in the store a stuffed squirrel. And we thought it would be a perfect gift for her. But we didn’t want to just give it to her. We wanted Twix to think she caught one of the squirrels. So when we got home we placed it in the fence and let her out. Well she ran around for a little while, did her usual search routine around the yard to make sure nothing was out of place, then she noticed it. She stopped dead in her tracks and slowly crept up to the fence. She sniffed it for a second then ripped it out of the fence and shook it around. That was when it started to be her new best friend and carry it around everywhere. Whenever we came home from being out she would run to the door and greet us then she would go fetch the Squirrel to show us. It became her new best friend. Wherever Twix went, Squirrel went. They became inseparable. She would snuggle with it in her sleep (see picture) and she would just carry it around from room to room. All I could ever thing of was Pookie from the Garfield cartoons.
One of the things that is great about Twix is that she loves to play. She is definitely a fighter as well. So when we fight it is a no-holds-bar, all out fight. She will snarl and snap and anyone passing by would think that she is mauling me, but she has never injured me. She will bite your hand but never bit down. When we first got her Veronica was a little afraid because she never had a dog before so I showed her that it was OK. Twix was not going to hurt her. So I put my hand in her mouth and I grabbed onto her lower jaw. Twix struggled and got my hand off of her but I showed Veronica that it was no big deal. Pretty quickly she came to be rough housing with Twix just as I do.

About a year after we got her we had to take her in to the vet to get some blood work done. Well we quickly realized earlier that she was not the vet kind of dog. She refused to even enter the vet. When I finally coaxed her into the office, it was a struggle the entire way to the scale and then to the exam room. When the vet examined her everything was going ok, until he decided to take a blood sample to test for heartworm. Well even with 2 nurses and I holding her down we could not take a sample. She would not hold still. So the doctor gave her some tranquilizers. We waited a little bit for them to take effect and we tried again, still to no avail. So the vet decided to give her the good stuff, the kind of stuff that knocks you on your ass. We waited a little while and after a struggle that she was still able to put up we finally got the sample. After that we went home and we gave her a treat for being such a good girl, at which point she just passed out holding the treat in her mouth (see picture). That is one of the funniest pictures of her because you can see her eyes are all bloodshot and she doesn’t even have the energy to eat the treat.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Welcome

Welcome to me new home of random thoughts and other stuff that does not have to do with geology. The official title of the blog will be "The Remnant of Dino Jim's Thoughts" but that will quickly be shortened down to just "The Remnant...". Hopefully I will spruce this up a little in the coming weeks. But sit back and enjoy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

100 Greatest Books #83 - Meditations

Note - This review was originally published on my other site "The Geology P.A.G.E." but due to the content I have moved it here and backdated the post.


Next up on my reading of the top 100 books is Meditations by Rene Descartes. You can find this book on the Sybervision Book List.



Meditations is only the first part of a two part work. The second part is the Objections and Replies to his original manuscript of Meditations that he sent out to a few colleagues. Now Descartes recommends reading both before making any assumptions about the work. I personally only wanted to read Meditations, so I opted to read a condensed versions of the Objections and Replies. So instead of the full 300 pages I only read about 35. Anyway my feeling on the work of Meditations did not change. In general, the work is written in a very abstract way of writing, where one has to reread the sentence several times just to understand what Descartes is trying to say. When I can understand his point it actually makes a lot of sense. He postulates that if he can make it seem as if nothing existed then he could prove that everything exists, based mostly on the fact that he is a thinking thing. Most of this I could follow and I would agree with, although his proof on the existence of God seemed rather circular, as several of the objections also said, and I never saw anything in his writing that proved otherwise. In general a pretty interesting work but I would not be likely to recommend it to anyone. As for the Objections and Replies, I couldn't find anything in there worth reading that would expand on the original work. The objections were interesting but Descartes replies seemed almost nonsensical to me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

2009 Personal Goals - April Update

Note - This review was originally published on my other site "The Geology P.A.G.E." but due to the content I have moved it here and backdated the post.


3 Months in and I think I am doing ok with my goals. I am going to list all of the steps in the 3 months so that I can see the progress in one easy location.

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2


And I have a new goal here. I challenged my wife that I can get a 6 pack (abs not beer) before she looses 20lbs. We'll see.

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.

Other achievements of note.
Well when I started staining the bar I used the wrong color stain. So I had to strip the entire bar down and restain it. Currently I have about 2/3rds of the bar stripped and restained and should start on putting on polyurethane soon. I also finished reading Dune: House Harkonnen which is the second book in the first prequel trilogy of Dune (If you followed that then you are at least as big a geek as I am). And I achieved one of my unmentioned goals of getting into the PhD program at the University of Utah.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

100 Greatest Books #82 - Our Town

Note - This review was originally published on my other site "The Geology P.A.G.E." but due to the content I have moved it here and backdated the post.


Next up on my reading of the top 100 books is Our Town by Thorton Wilder. You can find this book on the Sybervision Book List.
This play makes a whole lot more sense if you read the preface to it, in addition to reading/ watching it. From the outside it appears to be a play about a normal American family but if you read the preface you would know that it is more than that. The family is meant to be timeless. A thing that was not known around Wilder's time. All the concurrent plays were grounded in a specific time whereas Wilder removed all props and set pieces to give the play a timeless quality. A play about any town in America. A play about any family, and although it still feels a little dated, it actually has remained quite timeless. The plot was fairly simple, about a family growing up, loving, and dying, in a small American town. And it was easy to follow, although there is that feeling that your missing something when you finish reading it. I'm still not quite sure what that was but I did enjoy it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

2009 Personal Goals - March Update

Note - This review was originally published on my other site "The Geology P.A.G.E." but due to the content I have moved it here and backdated the post.


Ok, so it has been 2 months since I set my goals (only one since I posted them online) and here is an update. You can see the goals in the left hand column.

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel. Nothing more completed

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs. I weighed myself this morning and I am at 175.2

3. Pay off all my credit cards. One of the 5 cards is payed off and about to be closed.

Other achievements of note are that I finished building the main parts of the bar and started to stain it. All I have left to add are the shelves and the trim once it has been stained and finished.

100 Greatest Books #81 - Peer Gynt

Note - This review was originally published on my other site "The Geology P.A.G.E." but due to the content I have moved it here and backdated the post.


Next up on my reading of the 306 of the top 100 books is Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen. You can find this book on the Sybervision Book List.


This was a play about a boy/man who started out running away from his troubles and inventing imaginary worlds from which to escape into. Although not the greatest of plays I have ever read, nor would I even include it on this list personally, it was not terrible. The moral of the story was a little late in coming but it came and the story felt rushed at points and dragged on at others but it may have been the translation I was using. The translator tried too hard to modernize the story and made it feel severely out of place at times. Not bad but definitely not great.

Monday, February 2, 2009

2009 Personal Goals

Note - This review was originally published on my other site "The Geology P.A.G.E." but due to the content I have moved it here and backdated the post.


These are my goals of 2009. I saw this elsewhere and I thought it was a good tool to keep me motivated. Only the first one is my News Years resolution, the others are just goals I wish to accomplish. So I am placing these in the side panel to the left so that I can keep them on the top of my mind.

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel I currently have about a 1/3 of it done

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs. This is my ideal weight, currently I'm about 180

3. Pay off all my credit cards. Currently we have 5 cards with balances on them, I'm not saying how much

And that is all I can think of. There are little things here and there like do work on the house and such but they are not my year long goals.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

100 Greatest Books #80 - Anna Karenina

Note - This review was originally published on my other site "The Geology P.A.G.E." but due to the content I have moved it here and backdated the post.


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is the only book that is on all 4 of my Top 100 book lists and in my Top 10 book list (Here: Sybervision, Norwegian, Observer, BBC, and Zane's)



Now to state first off I thought this was one of the most well written stories I have ever read. Tolstoy just flows with descriptions that make you feel you understand everything that is going on. The characters are extremely well developed and even though they are Russian (which has a tendency to jump around with names a bit) it is still easy to follow who is who. I enjoyed several of the references to early communist culture (the book takes place about 30 years before the communist revolution) and several of the characters' personality polarities and themes that are emphasized in the book (religious vs non-religious, upper vs lower class, etc.).
Onto my main gripe with the story; it seems like two separate stories going on at the same time. The "main" one should be the one with Anna but I got the feeling that for the most part it was the story line centered around Levin (who supposedly represented Tolstoy himself). The story about Anna I felt was enjoyable and well written. It focused around her leaving her husband for another man which that relationship slowly dissolves over the length of the book as well. While the story with Levin, although in parts were very good, I felt was very political and sometimes unimportant to anything. The whole last section (after the Anna story line was wrapped up) felt out of place and forced and left me wishing the book would just end. All in all I very much enjoyed the first half of the novel but the second half seemed to drag on a bit. I am not going to recommend this on my list and personally would not consider this the greatest book ever. But being that it is on so many book lists it probably should be one that you read.