Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sanibel Vid

And here's a short video we shot of the birds feeding. Youtube pixelized the water pretty bad, but oh well.

Sanibel Pics

As promised, some Sanibel pics.

These birds were flying all over this slow-moving pool of water in Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, snatching small fish trapped when the tide came in.

The rare (and ugly) Wood Stork.

Gator country!

A nice shot of some mangroves.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Where's Dave?

I'll post some pictures later, but I was away for a week in beautiful Sanibel, Florida. It was a big family trip, with 9 of us (including 3 kids) staying in two condos by the beach. We got in a bunch of quality time, and I caught a killer cold which made me spend a good chunk of it in a drug-induced haze.

Upon my return, I caught some nasty stomach bug, which knocked me on my back for a solid 36 hours and is still leaving me unstable. Since Monday I have eaten very little of nutritional value, and it's really starting to wear on me, but everything I eat of substance sends me back into digestive panic mode. Today's lunch was a slice of bread, a banana, and a yogurt. Hope it sits with me better than the turkey sandwich I ate yesterday did.

Bad times, too much info, etc.

I said I wanted to start eating healthier when I got back from vacation ... not that I wanted to stop eating entirely. Fooey.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Workout snapshot

I'm still struggling to get back into healthy habits after a too-long holiday break. But I have been running and that's a start.

As I plodded along on the treadmill the other day, I realized I really wanted to take a break. I fought this urge, calling back to all the tough-guy mantras about "no pain, no gain" and "pain is weakness leaving the body," and all the things you might repeat to yourself to make sure you can stay on your feet long enough to complete a 10K, for example. I remembered my 30-minute run from just the other day, and how proud I was to complete it after such a long break.

And then I realized how foolish I was being. I slowed down, walked for a few minutes, and then started running again. In the end, I still ran the same amount, but I was exercising for longer because of the walk breaks. I was less physically and mentally beat at the end, and the whole experience seemed more positive to me.

And yet, the next workout, I fought with the exact same urges.

It's just simple pride, wanting to prove I can tough it out. The truth is, right now, it's much more important that I simply stay active than that I "prove" to anyone (especially since nobody is watching me!) that I can run like I was running three to four months ago.

So for a little while at least, walk breaks are going to be a part of my routine.

I just wish they didn't feel like cheating.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Having fun playing video games

Allow me to nerd out a bit about video games. The following are gross simplifications, and I've done exactly zero study on this. In other words I'm blabbing, not researching.

In most games, you provide input to the system, and that input directly corresponds to motion by an avatar of some kind on a screen. Pac-Man moved up/down/right/left, Space Invader shot and moved around, and in Grand Theft Auto you can punch, shoot, run, drive, etc.

There's another kind of game, where the input to the system modifies the experience in different ways, rewarding you for providing the right inputs. For example, the trampoline gymnastics minigame in the Wii Olympics, you press a series of buttons in the order specified during a very short time. Get it right, and your avatar tumbles, flips, and performs a smoothly beautiful routine. The crowd applauds. Get it wrong, and you barely make it back on your feet to jump again, and the crowd registers its disapproval.

Rhythm games definitely fall into this latter category, and the most recent one to get in the public eye would have to be Guitar Hero. I played GH3 for the first time this weekend, and it's difficult to explain how fun it is. The gameplay is fairly simple to describe. Colored markers move towards you, and as they hit a "line" you must press a button corresponding to the marker's color while pressing another button to "strike." It feels very guitar-like -- you're holding down the strings with one hand while strumming with the other.

What makes the game so much fun is the feedback system. Play flawlessly, and you hear the exact song you think you are supposed to hear. Make a mistake, and a note is missed in the song, or worse, an incorrect sound is produced. So you're mentally rocking out to Metallica and instead of hearing what you want, you hear an awkward clanging sound. It throws you out of the groove and makes you flinch. Screw up a few times in a row, and the crowd turns on you, and the pressure grows. Get back on track, or lose the game.

It's a fun game to watch, because you're listening to music and watching the entertaining antics of the fictional band going on in the background as the player focuses solely on the colored dots. And it's a fun game to play, because in a very real way you are creating music by your actions, with immediate positive and negative feedback for every single button press.

I'm far from an expert on rhythm games, having only played Dance Dance Revolution a few times prior to this. But I can say, for me, Guitar Hero is much more fun than DDR. You are producing the music, not just controlling something that moves along with it. It's so much more satisfying when you win.

I can't imagine how much fun Rock Band is.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Blu-Ray Wins?

I can't help but think this latest move by Warner is going to finally spell the end of HD DVD.

I admit to having a soft spot for HD DVD, and not just because I bought one of their players (I did so at the $99 price, knowing if it lost the format war the very next day I'd still get my money's worth before buying a BD player -- no regrets). I'm not even sure why, except perhaps that it felt more consumer-friendly. The players were cheaper, the discs were cheaper (to make, not to buy), and there was no region-encoding.

The war's not over, though. I expect we'll see some more battles going on. But my gut tells me we won't be seeing people buying HD DVD players for Christmas next year.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dave's Dirty Secret

(no, not that secret)

Quick link-and-run -- the newest Best of Bootie CD is out. You can download it here. I can't tell you how many times I've found new energy on a run while listening to a mashup of songs I'd never listen to alone.

(just kidding about that other thing)

Work is tiring

While I was working with my father-in-law on some home improvement efforts, I realized just how exhausting it would be to do his job full-time. Climbing ladders, hanging siding, hammering, sawing, lifting, climbing, bending over to pick things up, getting your hands all calloused and cut up, etc. I was (and am) so thankful that my job is easier.

And yet today, as I work on my seventh performance review (I have 9 to write), I realize that difficult and exhausting come in all flavors. So, yes, I may not be tired like my father-in-law is at the end of the day, but I'm tired in my own special way :).

Got my second run of the year in today, oddly a more difficult run than my first one, which was breaking over a month of time away from it. Still, got it done. It's nice to have a job that leaves me "tired" in a way that I can still run, I guess!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"A nice relaxing day off."

I was describing today to my mother, and said I had a relaxing day off.

And then I thought about what I did.

I got rid of a huge backlog of laundry from when our basement was torn apart and it was difficult to do any.

I dragged the treadmill out from its hiding place where we had to stick it for the Christmas party, set it up, and did my first run in, well, what, four weeks? Six?

I took down all the ornaments, garland, and lights, boxed it all up, then took down the 8.5-foot tree, dragged it outside, and ditched it in the woods.

Finally, I cleared off both cars, shoveled both driveways, and the porch/steps/sidewalks.

Somehow, this was mentally equated with "relaxing" to me. I personally blame the run. Maybe there's a lesson there.