Monday, January 29, 2007

Up and Down

This past weekend started off with the Blues game vs. Detroit on Friday night. It was a great game, with lots of tension and stress. In fact, while Detroit never had the lead, the Blues only had the lead for about 1 1/2 minutes the entire game until they won in overtime. Very thrilling. After the game, there were lots of people high-fiving anyone they could find in the parking garage, lots of honking to the rhythm of the "let's go Blues!" cheer that people use during the game, and general merriment. Much fun was had by all, except the Detroit fans in the house.

Saturday was for sleeping in and running chores. I also made the mistake of watching part of the movie "Clerks" on Saturday night, which was pretty much completely wasted time which Kevin Smith now owes me. What a stupid movie that is. I can't even really say exactly what I did on Saturday, it is pretty much a haze after I got back from shopping for my parent's birthday presents. Yes, my parents are getting older. My Mom's birthday was this past Saturday, and my Dad's birthday is tomorrow. On Sunday I headed over to their place after church and we had lunch and ate cake, and then I watched most of the Detroit/Colorado hockey game on NBC. Yes, it really doesn't matter who is playing, I can watch just about any hockey game as long as Vancouver isn't winning. I even watched a high school game last year in Fargo, ND, because it was the only decent thing on TV. Those kids in the Dakotas are better than you would think.

I ended up not going to the Gathering (singles group at my church) on Sunday night because I didn't feel good, and I didn't want to "get sick" in front of everyone. So, I just hung out at home and did laundry, which was desperately needed. Am I an exciting person, or what?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Greetings from Sunny Seattle

Hi, kids. I am writing this from my hotel room in Seattle, WA. I am up here for some training on the software tools and the audit methodologies we will be using for my 2007 project. We have around 60 people up here staying at the Sea-Tac Marriott, and they are doing a good job of keeping us busy, with classes all day and planned events in the evening. The first evening we went to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner, last night we went to Jillian's, which is like Dave & Buster's but with more pool and fewer video games. Tonight we are going to the Musem of Flight for dinner and a tour of the museum, and some big shots from my firm are going to be there to give us a canned speech on how we represent the bes the company has to offer, or something like that.

Other than that, the week will be rather uneventful. Travel back home on Thursday, and nothing to do at work on Friday because we don't really kick off the new project until next week. Well, I do have a hockey game to go to on Friday, so that will be fun. Until then, however, it is boring training presentations and mingling with coworkers. Such excitement, I can barely stand it...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Surviving the Ice

We had another significant ice storm over this past weekend, though it wasn't as bad as the one we had in early December. Things are worse off to our southwest, for sure. Here in St. Louis we didn't get all that much ice, and only about 150,000 people lost power. I know that looks like a lot, but it was four to five times that many people without power during the previous storm, so it looks pretty good in comparison.

On the church front, things have been quite interesting. I have my first single adult ministry meeting this coming Sunday, and it will be good to finally get involved in that. The church has also found itself in the hole financially, as giving last year was not as much as had been budgeted, with a variance in the six figures. This has led them to lay off some staff, with a mix of pastors and administrative staff being shown the door. Needless to say, this has caused some consternation among some people. I didn't know any of the people who got laid off, nor did I attend the informative meeting a couple weekends ago where the head pastor discussed the situation with everybody, but from what I heard the mood was rather ugly. I will admit that it looks fishy when you lay off a bunch of people one week, and then the next week in the Sunday bulletin you advertise for a new part-time position. Maybe it is just bad timing, but if we are having to lay off people because there is no money, then why are we hiring new people? It makes no sense, but I didn't go to the informational meeting, so maybe I just don't have all the information. It is definitely like the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." Indeed.

Warrior: Coupe

Warrior: Coupe by Michael A. Stackpole, 1989, FASA Corporation

And now for the conclusion to the series. Since it had been so long since I last read it, I was once again shocked by the bombshell plot twist in the last few chapters. It has been so wonderfully set up over the entire trilogy, that you know exactly how Captain Redburn feels when he finds out about it.

The main thrust of this book is the conclusion of the Fourth Succession War on the Capellan front, and the final confrontation between the Kell Hounds and the Genyosha, which ends basically the only way it really could. I wasn't overally fond of that story arc, but watching Maximillian Liao get kicked all over the universe by Hanse Davion and his forces never gets old. Total fun. I had also completely forgotten about Comstar's gambit to defeat the Federated Suns. A great end to a great series. Who needs the Clans? Not me. The Succession Wars were the good old days.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Reviews

For the first time in over two months, new comic book reviews are up at my website. Also, I have a new anime review up at Anime Dream. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Should Mark McGwire be in the Hall of Fame?

Yes, he should. Why? Because he broke the single season home run record, which had stood for over 30 years without serious threat. What about the steroid allegations? Tony Gwynn said it best when he said that if McGwire did use steroids, they weren't against the rules that Major League Baseball had at the time. So, if Mark McGwire didn't break the rules, then why is it being used against him? I think it is because self-righteous sports writers, who vote on who gets into the Hall of Fame and who doesn't, want to punish someone for steroid use, which is against the current rules, and Mark McGwire is their first real opportunity to punish someone. Did Big Mac ever test positive for steroids? No. That doesn't matter to our new Moral Majority, however, because they know McGwire used steroids. How do they know? They just do, that's how. One of the hallmarks of the US legal system is that there can be no post ex facto laws. Obviously, that doesn't apply to baseball.

Monday, January 08, 2007


This past week was quite an interesting one, due to the fact that during the work week I had maybe 3 hours of actual work to do. My project team was expecting lots of work after the holidays, and then our client had nothing for us to do. Crazy. I spent the time catching up on reading and cleaning up around the house, after I checked with two managers and realized that nothing was going to happen that week. This week I might have 12 hours of work to do. How will I ever get it done!? :P

This last weekend also saw the completion of a project two years in the making: hanging a medicine cabinet in my master bathroom. The "two years" part of the project length is due to the fact that I bought the cabinet two years ago when I first moved into my house, but I didn't want to hang it until I had painted the bathroom, and that didn't get done until late December. Finally, I could hang it. My older brother came over and helped me get it up. It would probably look better if we had actually cut a hold in the wall and mounted it in the hole, but I didn't want to do that, so we just screwed it into the stud centered over the toilet. Because of this, it sticks out a little farther than I would like, but if I change my mind and want to do something different later I will only have two small holes in the rather rather than a 16x20 giant hole to deal with. This also means that my sink counter doesn't have to be cluttered with crap, as I can now put all that stuff in the cabinet. Now my only remaining project is to re-caulk both bathroom tubs, which if I don't get some work-stuff to do will probably happen sooner than I think.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Warrior: Riposte

Warrior: Riposte by Michael A. Stackpole, 1988, FASA Corporation

The second volume of Michael Stackpole's tale of the Fourth Succession War covers the events leading up to the marriage of Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner, and the opening moves of the Federated Suns invasion of the Capellan Confederation. The war covers more than just the Federated Suns/Capellan Confederation front, but other books (notably, Wolves on the Border) cover the other fronts in that war, while this trilogy is all about the collapse of Maximillian Liao's nation and sanity.

The notable exception is the coverage of the Kell Hounds, which are involved in fighting against Draconis Combine forces. Early on, Morgan Kell returns from his self-imposed exile, and the Kell Hounds are built up to a full regiment. There is significant coverage of Morgan and Katrina Steiner's relationship and how they interact with their erstwhile allies in Heimdall, as well as the beginning of a romantic relationship involving Daniel Allard, another character that gets a fair amount of focus. Other than that, it is simply a continuation of the first book in the series. Which means, of course, that it rocks.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New anime soundtrack reviews

My editor was nice enough to finally post a couple more soundtrack reviews I have written. You can find them here.

Warrior: En Garde

Warrior: En Garde by Michael A. Stackpole, 1988, FASA Corporation

Recently I have been on a strong Battletech kick, and I decided to re-read the novels from my favorite moment in Battletech history, the 4th Succession War. I am an old-school Federated Suns partisan, and reading about Maximillian Liao getting his butt handed to him by Hanse Davion just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

For those of you who aren't Battletech fans and don't know what I am talking about, this novel is the first in the trilogy that details the events leading up to, the fighting during, and the aftermath of, the Fourth Succession War. The old Star League broke up 250 years ago, and humans have been fighting for dominance of known space ever since. The events in this novel all take place prior to the war breaking out. There are thre main focuses to the book, though two of the three have converged by the end. First, we have the Kell Hounds, a mercenary unit currently serving the Lyran Commonwealth. They have made enemies of the Draconis Combine, who makes an attack against the unit. Second, we have Justin Xiang Allard, from the Federated Suns, who is unjustly framed by racists (he's half Chinese) and drummed out of the Federated Suns. He goes to fight on the world of Solaris VII, where battlemechs are used in gladiatorial-style duels. Thirdly, we have Melissa Steiner, daughter of the ruler of the Lyran Commonwealth, who is travelling incognito to the Federated Suns to secretly meet with her fiance. Unfortunately, seemingly everyone knows who she really is and an attempt is made to capture her.

Yes, a lot happens here, and because this is just the first book, the Justin Xiang Allard plot thread doesn't get wrapped up. In fact, it hits a juicy plot twist on the last page of the book, setting up the next book quite nicely. This is some early work by Stackpole, but it still has his touch, and I very much enjoyed my re-read of this book. Non-Battletech fans might find the background confusing at first, but this is good military sci-fi with the focus on the people, not the sci-fi, so it is pretty accessible to anybody, more so than some other Battletech novels.

Holiday Break

The five of you that read this blog may have been wondering where I was and what I was doing over the last week and a half. Well, I was taking a break for the holidays. I had the entire week between Christmas and New Years off as vacation, so I chose not to do any blogging in that time. My holidays were good. I spent a couple days with my parents and brother Mark at my folks' place in Arnold, MO, and then I bummed around my house sleeping and reading for a few days. I did also paint my master bathroom, which probably should have been done four months ago, but better late than never, right? With that, all rooms in my home have now been painted. At some point I need to go back through the rooms and fix a handful of poorly-painted spots, but other than that I am done with painting. Since I got the deck stained a month ago, that means that all of my significant projects around the house are now completed.

Looking forward to the new year, it looks like I will be in town quite a bit. I will probably be on the road 10 to 15% of the time, at least through June, but that is a significant change from the 60+% that I was out of town last year. I am also in the process to join the church I have been attending for the last 15 months as a full member. They have a more in-depth membership process than I am used to, so they have to schedule me for an interview with one of the elders. Hopefully they will get that scheduled within the next couple of months. I am also working with one of the ministers at the church to find the right place for me to help with the young adult ministry at church, so we'll see where that goes.

Happy 2007, everyone.