Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Vacation 2005 – Wednesday, August 31

Today we went to the Columbia River Gorge. Very, very cool. The day started out pretty hazy, but was much clearer by the time we reached Mt. Hood. We stopped at the Vista House (above), the Multnomah Falls (below),

went to the big dam in the area to see the Salmon swimming up the ladder, and ate a great lunch at a brew pub in Hood River. Very rarely do I eat somewhere that I cannot make a decision because everything looks good on the menu. This was one of those places: Big Horse Brew Pub--Horse Feathers & Co. We then drove the Mt. Hood loop and captured a couple of pictures of the mountain, despite the clouds. Mt. Hood is over 11,000 feet above sea level. Would have loved to hike there. Maybe next time. Once the new baby is 12-13 years old and can carry its own weight and keep up.

We did have a little trouble getting back to Salem, as we took the scenic route and took a wrong turn, adding about 30 minutes to our trip. We were ready to be done. This would have made a great 2-day trip, if we had time. We didn't do much hiking or stopping as we just had the one day.

Vacation 2005 – Tuesday, August 30

Today was our trip to Portland to visit Babies-R-Us and add more items to our registry. There are items that you just cannot add from the web page, so we got the scanning gun and walked around the store marking items for the registry. Steve and Rachel again steered us to good food today, and we snapped a couple of shots of lunch.

Overall a nice, slow, relaxing day. I do have to tell a story on Steve, however. For dinner he was going to cook, but substituted olive oil for vegetable oil when trying to fry up some hot peppers. I guess they have different heating points, for when he put the peppers into the oil they immediately turned black and released a toxic cloud of what essentially was pepper spray. We had to evacuate the house, and ate dinner out.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Vacation 2005 – Monday, August 29

Today I managed to go for a run, which was good as Cheryl and I split a piece of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake at lunch, and Steve and Rachel purchased an incredible Chocolate Cake and I had a HUGE slice last night. I am trying to not gain weight on this vacation, so I ran.

Today was our day to tour Salem.

We walked around the Capitol Building, and then around Willamette University.
We also went to the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, which is where we ate lunch and had the great dessert.

The rain clouds, however, were gradually building during our entire walking tour. By the time we were on the way back to the car, it really started to come down. We hopped from awning to awning, trying to keep dry. We even went into a bookstore for a while (and picked up a couple of books), trying to wait out the rain. But it just got harder and harder, so we had to make a sprint for it. Cheryl has not sprinted for a few months, and being 6-months pregnant slowed her down a bit. The good side of the whole experience is that we finally got all the dust from Fern Canyon washed off of the car, so we are a little less trashy looking in the rental than we have been.

Steve made his famous spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. We certainly are eating well this trip! We also watched some episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It is really quite funny! I never watched it while it was on, but I may have to add the DVDs to our Netflix list now.

Tomorrow I think we are going up to Portland and finally complete our baby registry at Babies-R-Us.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Vacation 2005 – Sunday, August 28

Today we spent a leisurely morning chatting with Steve and Rachel and hanging around the house. We had waffles for breakfast, but alas, no 7-course breakfast here. :-) We took a walk with Steve and Ethan around the neighborhood, which will come in handy Monday morning when I go for a run. We drove out to the outlet mall, stopping at Baja Fresh for lunch. We tried to get Ethan sized for shoes back in Salem, but Nordstrom’s was packed in the kid shoe department so we aborted and went back to the house.
Then we went out for pizza for dinner. I spent a couple of hours skimming through e-mails in the evening in front of the TV, and we hit the sack pretty early.

One good series of quotes in Nordstrom’s:

Dad: “Michael, don’t walk to far away from us…we wouldn’t want you to get grabbed and kidnapped and then we’d have to get a new Michael, would we?”

Mom: “Let him go. He never smiles in family pictures anyway.”

Vacation 2005 – Saturday, August 27

We had a terrific 7-course breakfast at the lighthouse and then headed out to the Oregon Dunes for our last day on the coast.

We did a lot of hiking on the dunes and out to the ocean. Other than the main dune area, the place we pretty deserted.

After our morning out, we started the long drive up the coast and over to Salem to Steve and Rachel’s place. We stopped at a place that supposedly had the best pizza on the Oregon coast (according to the Moon Handbooks guide to the Oregon coast), but if that was the best the coast had to offer, then it is pretty bad out here.

We also stopped at another lighthouse and took their tour, but the place was crawling with flies!

We then had a long, hard slog with lots of traffic to reach our destination in Salem. Steve and Rachel had a great dinner for us (Chicken Pasta Pesto) and we met the newest addition to the family, Ellie. We turned in pretty early as it was a long day of driving and we were beat.

Vacation 2005 – Friday, August 26

Eureka redeemed itself a little last night, although it was still our least-favorite place so far on our trip. The music was pretty good at the coffee house, and we stayed through the first set and then went back to the B&B. Breakfast was good again this morning, and we checked out right afterwards.

Our drive up the Oregon coast was pretty foggy. We tried to stop once to take in a scenic spot, but it was so foggy we could not see anything at all. The clouds and fog finally broke by the time we got to the next B&B, Heceta Head.
This place was fantastic! I have always liked light houses, and Cheryl picked a B&B where we actually stay in the light keeper’s home!
We got checked in and then took a walk up to the lighthouse. We took the quick tour, and then walked down to the beach. After listening to the gulls and the waves we went back up to the house and selected a restaurant to eat at to the North, the Adobe House. The food was pretty good and we got to glimpse 2 whales out the restaurant windows, just off the cliffs. We could see them blowing spray into the water, and once we caught sight of a tail or fin. Pretty cool. By the time we finished eating and got the camera and walked over to the shore, however, they were gone.

We went back to the lighthouse at dusk and watched the sun set and I took more pictures. We then went back to the keeper’s house to turn in for the night. We had the room with a view to the lighthouse, so I got to fall asleep to the light streaking out to sea, visible from the room. It was the coolest place! I’m glad Cheryl found it. Unfortunately, they had a wedding scheduled for the weekend so we only had one night.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Vacation 2005 – Thursday, August 25

I finished reading Eragon this morning. I have to say I found it pretty derivative. There were a couple of unique thoughts in it, but lots of the components seemed pretty closely tied to Lord of the Rings, D&D, and other similar material. As an example, his dwarf king has the same name as a character in the IceWind Dale computer game. There just wasn’t enough new material to make me fall in love with it as I had with the Wheel of Time series, for example (although that series has its own flaws, it was a very unique land with a very unique background).

Anyway, we had our first breakfast at the Halcyon Inn this morning. It was very good, but not as good as the Elk Cove Inn. The Halcyon Inn has a great deal of style, however. There is a large “common room” for the guests to use, and it is filled with nice furnature. And Mary is quite nice and was very attentive at Breakfast. We’re still not sure if any more guests will arrive today or if it will just be us again tomorrow.

We drove up to the Redwood National and State Parks information center just south of Orick (perhaps some Scottish relatives, part of the Orrock Clan?). From there we went to Lady Bird Johnson Grove and did the short loop hike there. At that spot was where the park was dedicated. Once finished there, we drove down a gravel, one-lane road to Fern Canyon. There we did about a mile loop hike through the canyon. Very pretty as well. We also walked out to the beach to take a few pictures. There was a group of annoying teens there, being loud and blowing whistles (I guess to frighten bear away, but it sent all of the wildlife away). By this time we were getting hungry so we stopped in Orick and ate at a small Mexican restaurant there. We were pleasantly surprised by the food…not the best Mexican we ever had but far better than we were expecting in Orick. We then came back by Target where Cheryl got a sweatshirt and matching sweatpants outfit so she can stay warm, and we then filled up with gas so we’d be ready to roll Friday morning. We have our longest spate of driving ahead, in order to reach the last of our three B&Bs (not counting Steve and Rachel’s place, of course). This one is in a lighthouse. Or at least, in the keeper’s house. Should be great views, if this fog lifts. It was actually quite overcast and foggy all day today, and pretty cold.

The rental car is now covered in dust from the ride to Fern Canyon. We have so much junk piled up in the back seat that I don’t think anyone will think it is a rental.

After a nap and an hour or so watching the news for me, Cheryl and I went to the Old Town Coffee & Chocolates for Internet access and decaf. There was an alternative folk singer setting up, so we decided to stay a while and listen. He was still setting up as I wrote this note, so I'll have to talk later about if he was any good or not.

Vacation 2005 – Wednesday, August 24

There were more guests around this morning, but breakfast was again fantastic. It was not “cooked to order” but was a buffet instead. We checked out right after breakfast and in the fog and gloom drove north. The last stretch of Route 1 was not fun. Very, very twisty and Cheryl got nauseous from the drive, so we stopped at a little store to use the restrooms and grab a snack and some water. We then split off of Route 101 onto the Avenue of the Giants, which went through a forest of redwoods. Very cool! We got some neat pictures and even stopped for a short hike at one of the groves.

We stopped at Scotia next, a lumber town. The buildings were made out of redwood trunks, so it was pretty neat. We went through their museum and then headed out to Ferndale, which had some neat Victorian homes. We had to cross the Fernbridge to get there and back, and we got some neat pictures there as well. Fernbridge seemed to be up-and-coming (or maybe they have already come up), with lots of renovations on homes and lots of people and stores and shops. Then we went into Lolita, which is known for a cheese shop/factory. We ate a lunch of cheese and crackers in their park. Lolita was looking pretty run-down.

Finally we made it to Eureka, and our second B&B. Mary showed us around and let us know that we were the only guests for the night. We settled the bill, placed our drink orders for breakfast, loaded the luggage into the room, and settled in for a couple of hours so Cheryl could catch a nap. I read. We then walked into town to the Lost Coast Brewery and Café. The food was average, the beer pretty good, and the service pretty crappy. They had a serious logistics issue going on where once you got into the door you could not tell if you needed to seat yourself or wait or even where to go to talk to the hostess. Finally we wondered over to the bar where there was a sign facing away from the front doors telling us to put our name on the list. After a 5 minute wait we got a table, and after another 10 minutes we got a waitress. And they were out of fried oysters, which is what Cheryl had her heart set on.

Afterwards, we walked around “downtown historic Eureka”. What a mistake. It was desolate. No-one was walking around. As far as we could tell, people drove in to eat, then immediately drove out. We saw a handful of people on the street, and we walked pretty far from the B&B to the restaurant and back. We tried to go down to the boardwalk by the ocean but an incident ended those plans and we returned to the B&B. Here is what happened. While nearing the boardwalk entrance area, a woman exited a store to head for her car. A cyclist flew by on the sidewalk, nearly striking her and she briefly screamed. He then circled her for a little while, saying he was sorry and asking if she was ok. He didn’t sound too sincere…not threatening or anything, but kind of like, “Whoa…sorry man…didn’t see you…you alright?” As we (across the street) passed by this exchange, the woman (not responding to the cyclist) got into her car and the guy then spotted us and rode over to us. “Got any change?” he asked as he circled us. I replied, “Sorry, no change.” He then continued to do a slow circle around us and said, “Come on, can you help me out?” I went into New York mode at that point, and rather gruffly I raised my voice and said “I don’t have any change!” We continued to briskly walk towards the boardwalk and past him. He then shouted out “I’m only kidding!” which we ignored. But now he was between us and the abandoned boardwalk so we turned away from him and headed up the block back towards out B&B, done for the day. Very annoying. We plan to ask Mary tomorrow at breakfast if downtown is always so desolate or if it picks up on weekends or if everyone just drives everywhere and no one walks.

Anyway, we were back in the room by 8 PM or so. We did have our fist vacation aggravation (due to us) when we realized just before dinner that we could not find a sweater (the only sweater) that Cheryl brought with her. So we called the Elk Cove Inn when we got back but they don’t think they have it. So we are going to have to search our luggage, but I think we may have left it on the bed. Tomorrow we may be taking a trip to Target to get Cheryl a replacement maternity sweater.

Vacation 2005 – Tuesday, August 23

Breakfast at the B&B was fantastic! He had a huge meal, and everything was really, really good. There were only a few guests around, so they were cooking individual meals to order, rather than buffet-style. Great sausage, great frittata, great preserves, great fruit, and real corned-beef hash. Fantastic!! One of the 2 other people in the restaurant at the same time turned out also to be from NYC and we out here for a wedding (in Santa Cruz) and was on his way to Portland, OR to visit friends before flying back home (lower east side). Pretty funny that his trip was mirroring ours, except that he needed to be in Portland by Wednesday, and Cheryl and I were not going to get to Salem until Saturday night.

We went down to the beach since there was no fog and got some neat pictures. I got my feet into the ocean (cold!) and we also spotted a dead beast on the shore. Looked like it may have been an elephant seal. Didn’t want to get too close. Probably washed up on shore.

We headed north for the day to Mendocino, and we walked around the town and snapped pictures. Had a peanut butter truffle there, which I managed to spill onto the camera and my shirt and not notice until an hours later after it had been rubbed into my shirt. We then drove up to Fort Bragg and toured the botanical gardens. They were neat, and we got in some good exercise walking their grounds (45 acres). We then traveled inland through Boonville, and finally made it to Ukiah were we stopped at an old Mill that was still in operation. We had a chocolate chip cookie each and used their restrooms. Next we started back to Elk, and had picked our course when we spotted an unmarked road with a sign pointing to it saying “Elk, 19 Miles”. So we took it. Lots of winding around later, it dumped us about 50 feet from the driveway to our B&B, saving us lots of miles and time. Perfect!! Sometimes things really work out well.

For dinner we went to Café Beaujolais, which had been recommended both by my boss’ boss and Cheryl’s Aunt Janice. The food was really, really good. We did find out that they are no longer open for breakfast. We then drove out to the water and watched the sunset, before driving back to the Inn.

Vacation 2005 – Monday, August 22

We got up and out from John and Jeff’s around 0800. John gave us very complicated directions out to the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway 1, but we managed to follow them without getting lost. We went to Point Reyes next, and out to the lighthouse there. We got some great pictures, and it was a cool drive. We also took an “Earthquake Hike” there, the highlight of which was a fence that had split apart when the fault line shifted 20 feet at one point. The fence just ended and started up again 20 feet to the north. Very impressive.

We then ended up at our first B&B of the week, the Elk Cove Inn. We were greeted with a basket of fruit (2 plums), cookies (2), and a half-bottle of chilled white wine. The room had port wine and chocolates waiting for us as well. The place is really cool with a neat view of the ocean (just not from our room, as we are in the “Ridgeview” room…less cost). Their restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday nights, however, so we went up the street in Elk a little to Bridget Dolan’s, where I had a half-order of a enchilada and Cheryl had clam chowder and lasagna. We both had small salads as well. I am trying very hard not to gain weight on this trip.

By the time we got back to the B&B the lack of sleep had caught up to us and we were in bed, asleep, by 8:30 PM.

Vacation 2005 – Sunday, August 21

We woke up around 0600 and got up and out by 0630. I went for a 30-minute run and Cheryl took a walk down by the beach. She then realized that she really wanted the camera, so she went back for it and got some great Santa Cruz lighthouse shots in the early morning. I got back from my run and spotted her on the beach so I ran across the sand and caught up with her. We then went to breakfast with Janice to a local spot, and I had average buttermilk pancakes but Cheryl’s omelet was fantastic. We sat around back at the beach house for a while and then headed out to San Francisco, but took Highway 1 up from Santa Cruz.

John and Jeff’s place is really great! Lots of room and lots of room to expand and remodel on the lower two levels. Very cool garden out back as well. We sat around and chatted and watched some National Geographic channel in High Definition on their 36” LCD Flat panel TV. Very cool. We then had a driving tour of some of SF on our way to dinner at The Last Supper (Italian). This was Jeff’s favorite Italian, but it apparently changed owners and chef from the last time he was there, and he felt (while still good) the place was no longer great. During the driving tour we had another great quote. As we passed by a salon, Jeff noticed that it looked like the name was “BO” (made us all think of Body Odor). He said, “I wouldn’t want to go to the “BO Salon!” Then Cheryl noticed a bar in the logo between the “B” and the “O” and stated, “I think it is the BLO (blow) Salon.” Jeff replied, “I’d much rather go to the ‘Blow Salon’ than the ‘BO Salon’!” Maybe you had to be there, but we thought it was funny. After dinner we went back and just sat around chatting some more and hit the sack around 1100.

Vacation 2005 – Saturday, August 20

I just couldn’t not watch the new Battlestar Galactica Friday night at 10PM, so it was about 11:30 PM before I got to bed Friday night. Since we were flying out of JFK at 0705 Saturday morning, that meant we had to get up at 0330 in order to get showered, finalize things around the apartment, and get into a taxi and out to JFK. We made it to JFK without incident (and even a little early!) but were selected for secondary screening once we got there. HLS has got to get a better system. I am a defense contractor with a security clearance and my wife is 6-months pregnant. I don’t think we are a threat.

JetBlue is quite nice, by the way. And despite not having a meal, they did provide lots of snacks and plenty of drinks for the 5 and a half hour trip. We did discover, however, that when you have DirectTV to watch on a Saturday, that there are really not that many shows you want to watch in the middle of the day on a Saturday. And we were just too tired to read. We did manage to each sleep 30-45 minutes, but we were pretty tired. On the plane we overheard the first of several good quotes we decided to track. A young, college-aged male in the row behind us came up with this gem:

“They are going to have flights out of Newark? Is it just going to be outgoing flights or are they going to have incoming flights too?”

Cheryl wanted to tell him, “Just outgoing flights. They have to tow the planes over to New Jersey from JFK for them.” But we just laughed at his statement and cried for the future of this country.

Now let me talk about how awful the Oakland airport is with respect to getting rental cars. They have one bus for everyone, and it doesn’t have any type of ramp, so you have to pick up your luggage to get it onto the bus. And the luggage storage is in the middle of the bus, and the doors are, you guessed it, at the ends of the bus. And the bus was packed full of people. And it is not a short ride to the rental cars. From the time we landed it took 60 minutes to get luggage, get the rental bus, and get to the car. 60 minutes before we were driving out of the lot. Unacceptable.

We hit a little traffic on 17 on the way to Cheryl’s aunt Janice’s beach house in Santa Cruz. Feels weird to call her Cheryl’s aunt as she is only a few years older than Cheryl. Janice has a sailboat in Santa Cruz and was kind enough to take us out. Our friends Jeff and John met us in Santa Cruz and the 5 of us went out on the boat. Usually, we have Janice’s boyfriend Steve with us on a sail, but he was in Japan for business. So we were a little sluggish in doing things like moving the jib from one side to the other. But I think we did alright. I’ve been sailing about 4 times, and it turns out that Jeff had been sailing before, so we did alright. We wouldn’t have won any races, but we got to where we wanted to go. And it was really cool.

This is also when we discovered that our new camera rocks. We got the Cannon Powershot S2 IS. It has a 10x optical zoom, and image stabilization. We took some shots from the bouncing sailboat with full zoom and they came out perfectly focused! I’ve included a couple of shots here. Completely fell in love with the camera.

After the sail we went back to the beach house and just sat around and chatted for a while. Then John and Jeff went back to San Francisco and we went to a local brew-pub for dinner. I had the Salmon fish and chips, and of course a local beer. Very good. Finally, at dinner Cheryl and I started to really fade (had been up essentially since midnight local time), so once we got back to the house we went pretty much straight to bed. It was about 9PM.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Stardate 59631.61 - On-Line Game Table for D&D

OK, so if Outlook is running and Word is the editor for Outlook, then the Blogger tool for Word doesn’t work. Good to know.

We tried to have our weekly D&D game last night. It is getting harder and harder to get everyone together for a game. With me living in NYC, Brian on travel, Andy’s distance to Ashburn, and Trent’s new baby it is really difficult to get 100% attendance for a game. So it looks like most of our games in the future will need to be virtual.

Here is a little history…we used to play at my house in Vienna, VA when my wife and I lived down there. We had “in-person” games all the time…it was the only type of game we had. Once my wife and I moved to NYC, I turned over the game to Trent, and I only played when I happened to be back in town on business. After a year, Trent asked if I could take back over and if we could figure out a way to do the games on-line. We used NetMeeting (it was free) and I purchased a camera. So the group got together in VA (usually at Trent’s) and I pointed the camera at the battle mat and they crowded around the laptop to see what was happening in the battles. The sound was crappy, I had to wear a headset, and sometimes it was tough to get the proper perspective on things, but it worked for the short- to medium-term. Later, I purchased the program Screen Monkey and no longer used the video portion of NetMeeting, but we still used the audio portion or sometimes the phone if we got really angry at NetMeeting. We tried to use Microsoft’s IM tool for audio, but we had some intermittent issues.

Near the end of the year last year (2004), I decided I needed a break from running the games. Except for the year Trent ran things (and I ran a game in NYC), I had been DMing games since 1997 pretty much every week. I needed a break and asked Rick (who joined as a member a year ago to replace Eric who had dropped out) to take over.

Now we are in the situation where we just cannot get everyone together anymore, and we need to move to on-line full-time. Thank goodness for Skype. Great tool for audio over the Internet. Works really, really well even in conference mode. Blows the audio for NetMeeting out of the water. We’ve been using Skype not for a while, and it is our audio tool of choice.

Last night, we tried to use Skype and NetMeeting with video to show the battle mat while Rick tries to figure out what on-line tools he wants to use. It was a disaster. NetMeeting was awful…I was the only one who could connect to Trent and see the video. Once, Brian tried to connect to Trent’s IP and I got the approval dialog box! Total crap. So here is a brief e-mail traffic on what we are going to do, and it contains links to some alternative programs that you can investigate if you are looking for an on-line gaming table solution. These are my opinions, and I am not a reviewer, nor have I performed any in-depth analysis of any of these products. For what it is worth, here are my thoughts as expressed in an e-mail to the group, in answer to a message from Rick (also included):

Actually, I know that Trent was probably pissed at having to give up his free night just to screw around with the technology, but I think it was actually useful to have all of us on the line so we could talk about what works and what doesn’t and what we would like to see in a utility. What we learned:

  • NetMeeting blows big chunks of vomit.
  • Skype has excellent sound quality…much better than anything else we have ever used.
  • Fantasy Grounds is cheap, the graphics are top-notch, and even with Brian’s slow connection speed was good. It does peg the CPU.

I agree that we just need mapping and comms at the most basic level, although I do like a lot of the features we ran through with Fantasy Grounds last night in the demo copy.

My thoughts on others:

  • KloogWerks – This is really a combat system. I experimented with it and while it is cool and it looks good it tracks way more stuff then we would want (I expect). It tracks initiative, distances to target, etc. You have to input all your character data and it does all the rolls, manages all the HP automatically, assigns damage, etc. I think it is more than we want/need.
  • OpenRPG – I downloaded this once, but never got around to really looking at it. It does require a lot of other free software to work, as I recall.
  • Screenmonkey – This suited our needs, except when I loaded in a big map. Not sure if 1.5 is any better than what I had been using. Advantage here is cheap and easy to use (not a ton of features, but it worked well for us in the past, I thought).
  • Fantasy Grounds – The reviews were very positive that Rick sent out. I also watched (skimmed) the video – he talks briefly about getting other tokens. I really think this program is pretty cool.

I really, really liked Fantasy Grounds. I guess I would vote for it first, and Screenmonkey second. But Rick would have more prep work with Fantasy Grounds, I think. But the advantage of Fantasy Grounds is that if we don’t like a feature we just don’t use it. With Screenmonkey if we decide we want a specific feature we’re probably screwed. And Fantasy Grounds really looks cool.


From: Rick
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2005 23:39
Subject: electronic gaming...

ok - so I was all prepared for a great session and netmeeting really let me down.

I think the conclusion we've come to is this group for the time being is going electronic - brian's in bfe, andy's locked into dc traffic, curt's in new york, and trent's a bit tied up. So virtual tabletop is the solution. I'll miss the pizza and beer/pop.

We played around with fantasy grounds - I've heard good things about it and it looked fairly simple to use in our playing around tonight. Price is $20 for the client. There's also ghostorb which looks pretty sophisticated and is a service at $4.50 a month (currently free, but supposedly about to come out of beta any day).

At the most basic level our needs are:

a) mapping
b) communication

Fantasy grounds offers mapping and text communication. GhostOrb offers mapping, voice, and text communication. Skype offers voice communication.

Just taking a look at other forums...

KloogWerks - looks cool - one word - java

OpenRPG - free - one word - opensource

Screenmonkey has "upgraded" to v1.5 -
benefits as I see it is that the only thing you need is a web browser and a connection to the internet. The "lite" version is free and pretty well featured. Also now offers window chat capabilities, so in theory if we are having difficulties with internet voice communications we can be text based communication.

At first look I'm inclined to test out and dig into screenmonkey and fantasy grounds. Any other thoughts?


Stardate 59631.57 - Testing Blogger for Word

Here is my test.

OK, I have downloaded the Blogger for Word tool and am trying to compose this in Word, and then have it posted to my Blog.  Not sure if it will work correctly or not, as it warns that if you use Word as the editor for Outlook (which I do) then you may have some issues.

Leaving for vacation soon!!  Cannot wait!!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Stardate 59618.52 - Weekend Events

Still getting ready for the vacation. Managed to miss the rain both today and Saturday....luck was with us. Then we went all the way down to B&H to look at cameras (maybe getting a new one for the vacation) and they were closed today! So our luck ran out. Spent part of the weekend finally clear-coating a piece of furniture that we purchased almost 10 years ago...a Crate & Barrel pseudo-butcher block wine rack sort of table. We're going to turn it into a changing table for the baby. But we never sealed it with clear-coat, so we did that. 2 coats everywhere but the top...three coats there. We also took a trip to Buy Buy Baby to look at strollers and cribs.

We also watched a couple of movies this weekend. Meet the Fockers was bad. Two thumbs down. Major let-down from the first one, which was much better and funnier. Also we saw Dazed and Confused. Two thumbs sideways. It was billed as a comedy, but it is more a period piece about the 70s. Not much plot, not much point.

It was nice to have a weekend with minimal work (I did some administrative items for an hour Sat morning), and no travel. I spent some time playing Neverwinter Nights (I'm working on getting through it for the second time...this time running a female Ranger, whereas I ran a male Paladin the first time). It is interesting how dialog with the other characters changes slightly in many places depending on what sex you play in the game.

Since I keep posting pictures to keep people entertained, here is one of me and Cheryl in Ohio, taken by her brother Steve. Enjoy!! Now I'm going to go to the kitchen and see if Cheryl needs any help with dinner.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Captain's Log, Supplemental - Another Picture

Ok, ok. Last picture today. Here is me in England with Sarah Michelle Gellar. She is really quite short for someone who slays all those vampires. People ask me why she looks mad and I say it is because I put my arm around her and she didn't like that. In case you think it might not actually be her, I'll tell you where the picture was taken: Madame Tussauds. Still confused? Madame Tussauds is a wax mueseum. It is actually her wax dummy.

Captain's Log, Supplemental - Another Picture

Here is a cute picture I just ran across of me and Cheryl and her nephew Ethan from last Christmas in NJ. I look like I need to lose weight in this shot. And as usual, when I smile you cannot see my eyes.

Denise and Greg and Curt and Cheryl

Since I know Denise (orange hat) reads this blog on occasion (she left me a comment once), I decided to put up a picture of her and her husband and us on a hike back in 2003. Damn. Doesn't seem like it should have been that long ago. I'm closing in on 40 years old much faster than I would like....

We look hot and sweaty because it was a hot and sweaty hike.

Captain's Log, Supplemental

Here are Cheryl and me at the Capitol after her brother's wedding. She is showing a little at this point.

Captain's Log, Supplemental

From our camping trip to the Finger Lakes...

What a squared-away campsite! That Starfleet training sure comes in handy! Our tent is great. Check-out that awesome rain-fly!

Stardate 59606.37 - Vacation Plans

Working hard to get everything in place for our big vacation coming up...our last trip before the baby arrives in November. Looking forward to some R&R and getting away from work, although based on the numbers of e-mail I receive daily (about 120) I'm probably going to be checking e-mail while I'm away, just to keep my inbox from filling up. Crazy.

All is progressing well with the pregnancy. Cheryl has an appointment (standard) with the doctor, and she'll get a note just in case the airline wants to give us a hassle. Would hate to show up for vacation and have the airline say, "She looks too far along to fly!"

Seems like everyone is having babies right friend Trent, my wife's brother. Oh, and we're keeping any names secret until the birth. We're open to suggestions, but we are not telling. I just keep telling people we're going to name her after my wife's D&D character: Liljana.