Out with 2k6 and in with 2k7

Well, the year of our Lord 2006 has come to a close and with it another chapter has been written in the annals of the world. Looking back on 2006, I'd say that it was a pretty good year, full of good times and good people. 2006 was also a pretty big year for me in terms of life, career and those sorts of things; I closed the book on professionally becoming an engineer and undertook a new path that will eventually lead to a legal career. I've changed localities, moving out to Minnesota for the time being; I expect that I'll be back eventually but not until I finish up law school and, besides, it's nice having a change of scenery for a while. 2006 also marks the year that I brewed my first batch of beer, marking the uptake of a new hobby that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my days. All in all, 2006 had a few downs, mostly relating to moving away from people, and quite a few ups, so I would say that overall it was a pretty good year in the life of George.

As tends to be a subject around this time of year, let's talk about New Year's resolutions, shall we? Last year I resolved to 1) get better at meeting and interacting with new people, and 2) be friendlier. In spite of forgetting about those resolutions pretty quickly into the year, I'd say that I did a decent job of being friendlier and a half-decent job of getting better at dealing with new people. Now that a brief analysis of last year is out of the way, let's dive into resolutions for this year:

  • Be more productive
  • Be more professional
  • Be more fiscally responsible
  • Get better at faking extroversion
  • Get better at faking an alpha type personality
  • Exercise
  • Eat healthier
  • Fence more
  • Play more video games

It's a bit of a hefty list this year but that's because there are elements of my life that I've decided are long due for an overhaul. Let's hope I can remember my resolutions this year or, failing that, make good on them anyway.

Merry Chrishanukkwanzaastice!

I want to share with you a term that my good friend Riad--whom you might also know as Weebles--recently chimerized out of the various holidays that pop up around this time of year. The term is Chrishanukkwanzaastice and I am of the opinion that it deserves a place with those other hallowed holidays (Hanukkah, Crimbo, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Solstice, Christmas, Saturnalia and the like). Anyway, I wanted to share the new holiday with you and thank Weebles for his truly enlightened skills of derivation.

Merry Chrishanukkwanzaastice to all!

Merry Xmas 2k6

For those of you that don't recall the past, I'm usually not a big fan of Christmas. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is usually a holiday that I do not like. It's really all misery that I bring upon myself by being overly puristic with regards to principles of gifting. As far as I'm concerned, a gift is meant to express your understanding of the recipient and, as such, the giftee shouldn't tell the gifter what is desired. The end result, for me, is usually that I am disappointed to discover that I have received nothing that I wanted and am left with the feeling that nobody understands me. Of course, it probably doesn't help that I rarely have something that I actually want so people are left having to get me something that I want without my giving them any hints and without my really having any idea what sort of thing I might want to begin with. Yeah, great system I've got, make people find a gift that I want but don't know it. In case it wasn't obvious, I am generally not a fan of my birthday either.

This year, however, I decided to take a different approach to Christmas. Instead of hoping that people would get me appropriate gifts and having my hopes dashed, as on a rock, I approached this holiday without hopes. The direct effect of this year's approach is that I'm not bitter for lack of proper gifts, but there's the side-effect that I really don't know whether I'm pleased by this year's omnium-gatherum or not. For those of you out there that feel like pointing, calling Scrooge and saying that I've lost the Christmas spirit, I really don't care. I'm pretty sure that I lost the Christmas spirit many years ago and, if approaching the holiday dispassionately means that I'm not sad and bitter, I'm fine with giving up the hope of getting a good gift.

In closing, bah humbug.

/inch (72 mul) def
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(I did derive some enjoyment from gift giving this year. Gift giving
and excessive wrapping, that is.) show
%% in case you missed the reference, this funny stuff is postscript
%% id est the text in the second set of parentheses was a PS

On Party Social Interactions

Earlier this evening I had the opportunity to attend a house party hosted by one of my high school classmates. As with most parties of the sort that I have ever attended, the reality was that I was mostly out of my element, though, if you ask me, I think that I did a pretty decent job of faking it. Tonight, though, I made an interesting observation about my own propensities as regards social interactions in such a setting; I'd far prefer to have one interesting conversation over any number of less interesting ones. I happened to find myself in a conversation with another one of my high school classmates at this party who was in a fairly technically/scientifically advanced field. The conversation began, as many of the evening did, with my half-interestedly asking what she was up to now and her responding and general cordiality and whatnot. The conversation continued a little and I found myself genuinely interested in what it was that she was up to but the conversation never really got too far past the generic. I tried, barely really, to steer the conversation in a direction such that it might involve interesting technical details but she was having none of it.

I ask you, Internet, is it unreasonable for me to want to have a scientific conversation at a house party? Is it weird for me to want to know what someone is studying/researching to a real extent? Am I a huge nerd?

Wii Devastation and Wiiproofing

One of my housemates got a Nintendo Wii and, I have to tell you folks, it really is the best thing to happen to video games in ages. I've been playing a lot of Wii Sports and Zelda: Twilight Princess, both of which are phenomenal games that I recommend; I also highly recommend Excite Truck, which takes great advantage of the Wiimote (controller). I haven't had this much fun playing video games in a very long time and, considering how much I like video games, I'm saying a lot here. Twilight Princess is so much fun that I've logged about 34 hours within the past week and I haven't even been side-questing very much.

Wiimote takes out our TV

As much as I love the Wii, my point in this post is not to sing the praises of the Wii but to warn you of the dangers and suggest possible preventative measures. There have been a number of stories propagating their way about the internet about people throwing their Wiimotes into windows, televisions and other people. Nintendo's response to hearing the people have been throwing controllers into televisions and such has basically been to tell people to hold on the controllers. Prior to yesterday, I would have, and did, scoff at those idiots that broke their crap but that would have been before yesterday. Yesterday, I was playing Wii Sports bowling with a few of my friends; we were using one Wiimote between the four of us and since the transitions were fairly rapid, we weren't bothering to use the wrist strap (big mistake). One of the housemates I was playing with *cough*Paddy*cough* lost control of the Wiimote and threw it into our wonderful 51", rear-projection HDTV. The front surface of our TV was 0.093" PMMA (a.k.a. Acrylic or Plexiglas), which is a fairly brittle and not very tough material. Needless to say, a Wiimote thrown fairly hard at a thin sheet of PMMA results in a pretty big crack (see image). A broken HDTV is a very sad thing, especially when it's your TV.

So there we were with a cracked TV so, clearly, the thing to do was pull it apart and fix it. It took me a while to get the thing apart but eventually we had TV bits all over the living room floor and I'd gotten that PMMA screen out. Having pulled the PMMA out at about 2am and having no replacement on hand, the parts were left sprawled out in our living room. First thing (1:30pm) today, I went off to Home Depot with the responsible party and another so as to obtain a nice big sheet of 0.093" Polycarbonate (a.k.a. Lexan), which is about three times as expensive and about thirty times as strong (impact strength) as PMMA. After a bit of time cutting the sheet of Polycarbonate down, a bit more time putting the Polycarbonate in the screen and a bit more time reassembling the TV, we have a functional 51" HDTV. Additionally, Polycarbonate is what's used for bulletproof glass so hopefully that'll make it Wiiproof too.

So, the morals of this post are: 1) make sure that you always use the wrist strap, and 2) replace your screen with Polycarbonate or put a sheet of Polycarbonate in front of your TV.

Massachusetts Times

I was back in good ol' Massachusetts over Thanksgiving break and it was nice seeing my family and a few of my friends from home. As for those of you whom I did not get a chance to see, I apologize but I will be back again for Christmas break and I will try to see you during that period of time.

I will be back out east from December 21st to January 14th; mark your calendars.

The Caffeine Nap

A long while ago, I read about the concept of a caffeine nap and then promptly didn't give it another thought. Today, however, I revisited the topic inadvertently. Finding myself rather tired from last night's minimal quantity of sleep, I was waiting from about 1:30 for my 2:30 class and falling asleep. I had, in my possession, a mostly full bottle of Vault Zero, and by 2:00 my ability to keep my eyes open had approached nil. Thinking that I might as well try to take a 15-20 minute power nap, I vaguely recalled what I had read long ago and decided that I might as well pound the remainder of my beverage before my nap. Surprisingly, I found the caffeine nap to be dramatically more effective than any other 15-20 minute nap that I've ever taken. I may just have to consider the option of caffeine naps more seriously in the future.

Getting out of Dodge

Well, not so much Dodge as Minneapolis but the point is the same. As I write this, I am in Chi-town visiting my friend Jamie. I'd been meaning to get out of Minneapolis in a "get away from it all" for a while sense and I've been wanting to pull a big road trip for a few weeks. So, when I discovered that I had an old friend 6 hours drive away, I found a brilliant means of satiating my desires. As it stands, I haven't been doing altogether too much her but relaxing with a change of scenery and people is really nice. Of course, I'm not terribly looking forward to the amount of work that I'll have to do tomorrow night but it's worth it so, so be it.