Thursday, February 25, 2010

So, Curling

The most interesting thing to come out of my own watching of this year's Winter Olympics is that I have spent a significant amount of my time watching curling matches, both men's and women's. And not just ones where the US team is competing, but all kinds of different matches. Admittedly, part of this is because I am daily checking out MSNBC and CNBC to see which one is showing a hockey game (NBC, in its Universal (get it? It's a joke!) wisdom, changes it up constantly so that I have to check both channels every day), but it turns out that the game itself has much more strategic depth than I had been led to believe by jokes on TV talk shows back when curling first became an Olympic sport. It also doesn't hurt that the participants are not ugly people, in general. I even remember back a few years ago when I was out bowling with some co-workers up in Seattle and one of them mentioned that the way I bowl reminded him of the way that throwers throw stones, in that I get down and low during my release. I even think I would like to give curling a try some time, just to experience the sport first hand. Anyone know if there are tournaments in St. Louis?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tolkien the Poet

I know the man wrote a lot more stuff than just his famous Middle-Earth stories, but I still get surprised when I come across other cool stuff he wrote, like this.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Joining the 21st Century

So, I am getting ready to wrap up my sixth straight work week in Detroit. Six weeks is my longest straight out of town deployment period yet in my career, matching some earlier projects, but this is only half way there with my current project. We'll see how I handle it as I continue to set new personal records every week. One thing has certainly helped, though; my new iPod. Right after Christmas I splurged on a brand new 64gb iPod touch, with the intent of just packing all of my electronic entertainment on it rather than trying to bring multiple DVDs with me, or having to select what albums/songs I wanted to put on my old 2gb iPod every week. Now I can just have the entire thing in my bag at all times. I realize that people with full-size iPods figured this out years ago, but it really is nice to have your entire collection readily available whenever you want it. Interestingly, I find that I am using my iPod more to watch TV shows than I use it to listen to music. I also have some of my favorite YouTube videos that I encoded to MP4 format on my iPod as well (like Terry Tate and Auto-Tune the News), which is fun. I haven't done much with games on the iPod yet, but I'm sure I will get there before too long.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spending Money

So, this weekend I spent the most money I have ever spent in one place at any one time for consumer goods, outside of a computer purchase. Jos. A. Bank was having a big suit sale, and I needed to replace a couple of my current suits (which have gotten too small with age; it couldn't be that I have gotten too big!), so off I went. I also needed a new topcoat, as my old one, which I had been using since 1998, was simply too small and was too tight across the chest. Oh, and my suitcase that I use for my Detroit trips broke on me (the handle would no longer come up), so it needed to be replaced, as well. It turned out that everything I needed was on sale, so I pretty much spent 1 1/2 hours in one store and got it all. Oh, and a new tie, too. I've learned over the years that I really like nicer suits (as opposed to my typical JCP purchases), but they cost too much at regular price. However, when you can get three suits for ~$700, that becomes a good strike price for a good quality tailored suit.

So, yeah, I spent a lot of money. I'm a bit surprised Mastercard didn't call me to find out what was going on, as that definitely did not fit my standard purchasing pattern.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Academy

This kind of thing is why I got a business degree.

Sleep is For the Weak!

This past week in Detroit started out promisingly, but soon decomposed into my own private version of hell. See, last week my colleague and I worked our tails off to finish up a large accounting review project. We then gave it to the manager, who sat in it for almost a week, to the point where I had to remind him to look the thing over. He did, and decided that he wanted the whole thing re-written in a different way. Granted, his way is better organized than what we had originally, but since it was due TODAY, it kicked off a flurry of work that involved even later nights than last week, including a Wed-Thu all nighter in which I got at most 40 minutes of sleep. Yeah, that wasn't much fun. I did survive to the end of the week, though, and I have discovered that I can get by on much less sleep than I would have guessed. Who knew!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

St. Louis is "Distinctive"

According to fancy-pants people in D.C., anyway. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has put St. Louis on their current list of 12 "distinctive cities, and now St. Louis is in competition with a bunch of places I have never heard of (and some I have) for the top position. What does it all mean? Who knows? Probably that we're old and have old buildings that old people think are cool, or something.

Monday, February 08, 2010

More People Have Jobs, Yet Unemployment Is Up?

Did you happen to catch the most recent jobs report coming from the government? First-time unemployment benefits requests went up 20,000 in January, yet unemployment dropped from 10% to 9.7%. What the heck? It turns out that the professionals are trying to figure out what is going on just as much as the rest of us, but did you know that those figures come from two different reports? I just recently learned that, myself. And government statistics get adjusted at least twice in the months after they are first issued, so the bottom line is that nobody actually knows what is going on. News reports sure could try to minimize the confusion, though.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Klingon Attack

The last time I wrote about a game in my collection, it was Federation Commander, a Star Trek-themed board game of starship combat. While the base games are completely playable on their own, the publisher has put out many expansions. Since the first one came up randomly as the next game to discuss, let's see what the first expansion pack, Klingon Attack, has to offer.

As you might expect from the name, the Klingon Empire is the focus of this expansion, though all of the factions in the Klingon Border base set are dealt with. Specifically, this expansion gives you new starships, new map boards (featuring planets on them), new scenarios, and new counters for the new ships. While not required to obtain enjoyment from the base game, this expansion provides more options to players of the games. The new scenarios and new ships provide new game play opportunities, while the extra ships allows you to play out larger battles and provide more tactical options to the players as they select their forces, even for the scenarios included in the basic game.

This particular expansion does not provide any new ship systems or rules, but other expansions do. This is generally kept to a minimum (with Distant Kingdoms being a notable exception), though, with each expansion focusing on providing new ships and scenarios for a specific number of factions. if you plan to play the game enough, the expansions are worth picking up, but are not necessary for more casual play.

That Wasn't Fun

Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth last week, but it was pretty crazy. I don't think I had a workday less than 11 hours this entire week, punctuated by last evening's two hour delay at the airport due to a mechanical problem on the plane I was supposed to be flying out of Detroit on. At least I eventually did get out of the D, and back to the Lou, in one piece. I am still trying to recover from the lack of sleep, though. Thank God for 5 Hour Energy shots!