Sunday, November 30, 2008

tree and b-day

Day 94 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, today is going to be a busy one for me.

My wife has her birthday today and there is food to make and presents to wrap - today is also the day we break out the Christmas CDs and put up the tree.

Lots to do.

And the rat cage needs cleaning again - maybe we will skip it until tomorrow night, or next weekend.

With regards to computer games - I know, where did that come from - I have a new rule now.

I can not buy another new game until the games I have loaded onto my machine have been finished.

You know I have Oblivion loaded - so I am cooked. Well, in that case, once the main quest is done it is considered finished otherwise - I mentioned cooked, right?

So short and sweet today.

Oh, and I’m making perogies for the B-Day supper.

Off to get the dough prepared, then dig through the boxes downstairs to find Bing, Elvis and the tree . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, November 29, 2008

recharge

Day 93 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I love weekends.

They give me time to sleep in, not commute, just spend some quiet time reading, or loud time gaming, or entertainment time watching DVDs, or fun family time.

If only weekends were three days long instead of two.

And how I would have hated to live a hundred and fifty years or so ago when the working stiff literally worked from sun up to sun down six days a week.

With no computers.

Or DVDs.

Oh, the horror.

But there can be no definition of darkness without light, and no definition of weekend without a work week.

If I had all my days off I would therefore need to artificially create a work time and work off time. I can easily see where that would lead.

I would have scheduled two four hour days of work and a five day weekend.

Of course, how much "work" would I get done if that were the case?

But for now, while I’m still employed, I’ll look forward to my two day weekend and relish each hour of it when it arrives.

Tomorrow is my lovely wife’s birthday and I’m going to be making her homemade perogies.

My daughter loves them too. And, with the danger of sounding egotistical, my perogies are AwEsOmE!

And I find it odd that my spell checker doesn’t have the word “perogies” in it. Maybe if I used the Ukranian or Polish version?

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, November 28, 2008

Peanuts vs Grinch

Day 92 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Today’s post will be short and in the form of a question - just like on Jeopardy.

Of these two Christmas Specials, which is your favourite? (Flash up Visuals of Chuck and the Grinch on your inner mind’s eye screen)

First off I have to say, when I was a kid, these specials were something to be looked for in the TV Guide and then remembered (usually by parents) to watch. You just couldn’t see them any other way.

I recall how exciting it was each Christmas season to find out when they were on, then sit down and savour it for them first time each year.

In the digital age (now) this sort of tradition is kind of dead. I mean, you can watch these two specials any time you like - on your phone even. I mean, where is the fun in that?

But that is beside the point.

The question is, which is better? Which one stirs your Christmas spirit more? Which one typifies the season for you?

I’m going with the Grinch . . .

. . . Like minds?

Oh, and officially the US Thanksgiving is over for this year - so it’s okay to start with the Big C chatter.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, November 27, 2008

three in a row

Day 91 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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-three in a row-

Well, last night marks the third week in a row I was at the bottom of the heap on the worst court.

Only 11 out of 27 possible games won.

Time to start facing a few facts.

1) I’m not young anymore.

2) I’m really out of practice.

3) Don’t got game.

There, that admission wasn’t too tough to swallow.

Last night’s excuses include - I was using new strings at a looser tension (which I liked, by the way but will take some time adjusting to). My hand was hurting me for almost the whole first hour. I’ve put on a couple of pounds (too many cookies, beers and treats about the house) and so, was a half-step slow on getting most balls.

But I hate giving excuses. The reality is I just wasn’t very good. My wife says I’m too hard on myself.

She is probably right.

Still, it is difficult to live in the now with my current (lack of) abilities when I used to be ranked a 6.0.

And just so you know, a ranking of 6.0 would let you compete on the Satellite circuit which is only one step below the ATP professional tour. No, really.

I would actually rank myself around a 4.0 to 4.5 right now. See the slide.

On the positive side, it still is fun and great exercise - just a little disappointing and frustrating.

I will continue though, but am having a hard time realizing that I just don’t have it anymore - at least not like I used to.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

personal string theory

Day 90 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Tennis is the hardest racket sport of them all. I kid you not.

And the strings you use and how tight you have your racket strung makes a difference.

I used a Max 200G for about 20 years until I switched to the Maxply McEnroe two years ago. And, I’m still figuring out how tight to string my new rackets and what string to use.

It was a piece of cake on my Max 200Gs. The tension was 58 pounds and I used 15 gauge Sensation string.

It’s what I practiced with over thousands of shots and what I got used to.

With the new rackets - I’m not quite sure yet.

I’ve tried 60 pounds (too tight in my opinion) with both 15 gauge and 16 gauge Sensation. I just broke the 16 gauge on Saturday so needed to make another choice.

I’m going to go with 58 pounds 15 gauge and see how that holds up. I will get to play with my new strings tonight.

I have a feeling I may have to string my rackets even looser. I like the feeling of the ball on the strings for a longer time than tight strings allow. Loose strings though give you a little less control and more power so it’s a trade off.

Going back a ways Borg used to string his racket at 85 pounds and McEnroe at 45 pounds, so you can see the range that you can get used to.

I need to find the tension I like and then stick with it. I’m thinking the Maxply will be the racket I use for the rest of my “career” so I should be able to figure it out in say - twenty years?

Well, off to the work spot and more office speculations.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

losing common cents

Day 89 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It looks as though the excessive culture we have spawned here in fat North America is grinding to a snails’ crawl.

Environmentalists rejoice!

Do we all need to consume so damn much stuff all the time anyway? Do each and every one us really need a car? How many “all you can eat” buffets are enough already?

I’d say it’s high time we started living within our means and not on credit.

But this type of attitude and behaviour comes at a price. If you don’t consume like a maniac, well all those people making consumables go out of work because the demand drys up.

Vicious cycle, isn’t it?

I read somewhere that we are consuming 30 % more than the Earth can replace. Maybe this downturn will see us consuming 40 % less and put us back on a path of environmental sustainability?

But Uncle Sam and Cousin Pierre don’t want you doing anything quite so conscientious. No, lets pump billions back in the bloated excess system and try to get those fat wheels grinding down everything in their path once more.

It just takes too much brain power and thought to make any other kind of system work.

And so, here we are, on the verge of jobless rates not seen in a long while and I wonder if all those jobless numbers from way-back-when included the stay at home moms and dads?

Seems to me when I was growing up one parent (usually the mom) was at home with the kids, you know, looking after them instead of letting them run wild plugged into electronic gizmos.

I have a feeling we have lost our way wallowing in excess and are going to fall down, hard. I mean, does every new house need to be 4000 square feet? I mean really, how often are people there anyhow what with two power jobs on the go to pay for it?

Insanity I say.

And if you don’t think the kids of today are worse than the kids of yesterday - please pull your head out of your ass. Kids of two working parents may have lots of material wealth, but are lacking in behaviour wealth.

I mean, if both parents are more concerned about making cash, getting a bigger house and going on trips than they are about bringing up little Johnny, don’t you think little Johnny is likely to get the wrong message and turn into a little materialistic A-Hole?

Okay, enough ranting from me. I’ll put my teeth back in now, go out on the porch and yell at the kids walking to school by themselves to “Get the hell off my organic lawn!”

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, November 24, 2008

career choices

Day 88 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Yup, 1988 - the year I graduated from Ryerson. See, I am an old bugger.

Holy Crap that seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it? And I didn’t even want to graduate from there in the first place.

No, I wanted to go to U of T for Phys-Ed. But, after one year of Engineering at Ryerson I was convinced (badgered more like) to keep at it and not pursue the Phys-Ed path which would lead to earning less money than an Engineer.

I even applied to U of T and got in. I was pretty excited about it back then and really looking forward to trying out for their tennis team.

Choices are what make up a life. I should have stuck to my guns and done the Phys-Ed like I wanted. Oh, I did okay as an Engineer, but never really liked it and Ryerson only had a Badminton team (which I played on for two years) but no tennis team.

So, Engineering it was. It pays the bills, keeps me in DVDs and computer games, and that’s about it.

I was doing some reading about doing a job you love vs. what I chose. It seems you actually save more money making less doing what you love because you don’t compensate as much after hours.

. . . like computer games and books and movies and DVDs and “stuff”.

Why can’t this information be imprinted on the four year old mind? It would save a whole lot of hassle later down the road.

So, if you are just starting out on this journey called life, go for a job that will satisfy your passions, not the prospect of money alone.

All that money doesn’t do you much good if you only blow it on distractions.

Now, if only I could time warp back to 1984 and do it all over again.

And - so as not to sound too whiny or full of regrets - remember life really is what you make of it and attitude is everything despite what choices you make along the way.

I have a great family and life right now, so only the profession choice was a screwed up one.

Not bad, not bad at all really.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the old guy court shuffle

Day 87 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, I’ve often talked about how I still play tennis at a not-too-horrible pace for an aging guy.

Heck, last week a 68 year old thought I was 28.

Me, 28?

He must have forgotten his glasses, accidentally taken double his daily meds and been drinking heavily.

Today - you get to judge for yourself.

It’s not stellar play (just me during our Saturday tennis aerobics yesterday) but will give you some idea of how (fast, bad, good, lazy, great . . . pick any adjective you like) I am on the courts.

I was surprised to see myself moving pretty well (my footwork was not too bad), even if I duffed a couple shots (including the lazy last shot in the net - you will hear the Pro groaning about it).

Still, I’m 44. What do you want?

The video is courtesy of my daughter who was recovering from the flu and sitting on the sidelines. Normally she has lessons at the same time. She took a few more videos and there are some of me volleying and hitting overheads . . .

. . . but this one video will torture you quite enough for one day, I’m sure.

Sorry the file is a bit big. I don’t know how to shrink it. It is about 6 Meg (and only 18 seconds) and really, if it causes you problems, it’s not worth the hassle just to see me make three out of five forehand shots and run around the bubble court like a, well, like a 28 year old . . .

Still, if you must.

Here I am smacking those forehands.

You will see my new red shoes. I really like them - best tennis shoes I’ve owned so far. Tons of support, and hey, they are red.

Well, now you know what I get up to twice a week. Oh, and that racket is a Dunlop Maxply McEnroe, just in case you need even more information.

Now if only I could get sponsors to send me money. Let’s see - my shoes are Wilson, my racket Dunlop and my clothes Nike.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, November 22, 2008

on the grid

Day 86 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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As my mind finds little time to focus and concentrate on anything remotely like writing I tend to exercise my muse by gaming instead . . .

Don’t worry - it’s only temporary, like some forms of insanity used during trials.

But, with the new rig and major life distractions I found a racing game which is quite challenging, yet accessible. It’s called Grid, and it looks almost photorealistic.

There are three separate circuits to race on. American, European and Japanese. You have to use different cars in each regioni and the races themselves are quite different as well.

Anything from drifting competitions and mountain chases in Japan, to time trials and Indy style in Europe, to muscle car and even demolition derby events in America. A huge variety of tracks and races as well as cars to choose from. And the cars handle differently which is actually pretty challenging when you switch zones and events.

And the coolest thing is you can start your own team. Give it a name, acquire sponsors, hire other drives, choose car colours and schemes, buy and sell as many cars as you like, and collect cash and prestige to get into higher paying and tougher races.

Very well done, but quite hard to do. There is this flashback feature that lets you rewind if you crash during a race, but so far I've used it only once. It feels too much like cheating when you do. So, win or lose I just race as best I can to the end.

Like I mentioned the graphics are as close to watching racing on TV as I have ever seen, but the damage models are a bit too forgiving. I mean, when I slam my Mustang GT at 100 miles per hour into the side of a competitor and all I get is a paint scrape and some fender damage - well you know what would happen in the real world. In Grid, you just take your knocks and keep on racing, though, if you do excessive damage you can total your vehicle.

I’m still struggling a little bit to get my knew machine up to the level of work ability like my old one when it comes to voice recording, movie making, music making, etc. Maybe over the Christmas break I’ll make it a goal to get that stuff working again so I can churn out some other types of creative projects.

I mean, I have the rig now. I just need to get the software working with it.

Well, it’s off to tennis aerobics again today and visiting some friends in the Toronto area later and breakfast calls, so . . .

Until Tomorrow . . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

no handouts for the hands out

Day 85 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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And so it goes.

Three little companies tried to convince the Gov they needed cash, and they needed it now.

“But where is your plan?” said Gov.

“Plan? We need a plan?” said the three looking perplexed.

“Yes,” said the Gov, “and it better be a good one. Now, go away and come back in two weeks time with a plan, a cunning plan, a plan so good we can cut it with a knife. And then, just maybe then, we will throw you a bone if we like it.”

“But, we need the bone, I mean the cash - right now, and it you don’t, well the entire world will collapse like an ill constructed house of credit cards.” wailed the three believing themselves clever.

“That may be so,” said the Gov yawning, “but we have a holiday to attend to, so bugger off and don’t bother us again for two weeks,” said the Gov.

And so it goes.

Don’t’ you just love hypocrisy and lunacy. Here are the Govs looking for plans. I wonder if any of them have plans, or limo drivers, or super-overly inflated paychecks (mostly tax free I may add).

Oh, it’s glorious with all its posturing, bluster and stupidity.

Oh how we toted Capitalism as the best system ever. How we laughed and ridiculed the Communists and Fascists and Socialists and any other ists out there as inferior systems devised by feeble minded tribes.

But I know little of Govs and how they pretend to work and have no constructive criticism to spew - so will leave off and let the kettle boil over.

And so it goes.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

almost over

Day 84 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, the trip yesterday wasn’t quite as long or hideous as I predicted.

And, it didn’t snow nearly as much as the forecasters has said it would so shoveling this morning will be a breeze.

Things are looking up, well, maybe not the Stock Market - but my little patch of reality seems to be going okay.

And since I was on the road all day yesterday I kinda missed out on what up with the auto industry bailouts. The only thing I did hear was that if the US gives any money to the big 3, it is NOT to be used to save Canadian or Mexican jobs . . .

. . . I can see where this is going.

Funny thing will be if I actually get early retirement courtesy of the US Treasury Department.

Who would have thunk it a few years ago?

Stay tuned for more exciting news on the work front - soon to be the out-of-work front I’m thinking.

On a related topic we were to use a pool car to go on this trip - but, upon trying to sign out a pool car we found out that the week before they were all rounded up and auctioned off . . .

Each morning now I’ll go to work wondering if my computer, desk and chair will be there - you may get them for a good price on the chopping block and I’ll have to stand all day with my own paper and pencil to work - if the building is still there that is as well as my job.

Desperate measures with no end in sight = not a good sign.

So far I’ve not seen any employees walking around in black robes with “The End Is Nigh” signs, but some of the looks on faces reflect just that.

On the up side I did buy a thumb drive. 2 Gig for ten bucks - good deal and great for transferring the music from one computer to another and storing my writing, which appears as though its importance will increase a thousandfold very soon.

Hope I can sell it and stay out of the cardboard box.

Well, I don’t have anything more of great significance to relate (no tennis last night) so I’ll let you get on to those other sites.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

dont wanna

Day 83 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Oh how I hate business trips. Hate them with a passion.

I’m a stay at home, or stay at the office man.

But today I have to go on a day business trip.

Granted it’s not as annoying as the overnight type, but it still screws over my routine - and I like routine as these 83 days straight of blogging will attest to.

It seems I need to meet the people in the big city of Toronto who run the warehouse my products (the ones I buy) are shipped to. I guess that invention by Bell just doesn’t cut it.

I get to see a warehouse . . .

. . . All together now “Oooohhh, Aaawwwee.”

And I so wanted to be close to the I-net today to check on what the US of A was going to decide about throwing in money, or the towel, for the big 3.

Guess I’ll hear on the news on the way home.

Traffic to and from Toronto during rush hours.

Oh, the joy.

Well, if our company goes mammary glands to the sky, I’ll have my wish.

A stay at home job (writing) with no mandatory commutes or business trips to annoy me.

Only drawback - no money and having to live in a cardboard box . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

giving you almost 25 percent

Day 82 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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On the one hand, I can’t believe I’ve been at this for 82 days straight. It is, to me anyhow, pretty unbelievable.

And equally unbelievable is the fact that I’m not even one quarter of the way through this Marathon yet.

Holy Shite, Ratman!

I’ve even taken to drinking pre-ground coffee these days . . .

. . . for shame.

And I’m back to using AVG virus scanner again too although I’m not sure exactly why - which means annoying updates all the bloody time.

Of all the twenty years I’ve owned and operated computers, I’ve only ever had one virus and that was upon opening an email with that stupid fireworks display.

Yeah, you probably know the one.

I know better than to open or look at any email from an untrusted person now. Besides Yahoo scans the hell out of them beforehand anyhow.

Every scan I’ve ever done with AVG has turned up nothing. Of course, when you are on dial-up I think the viruses give up trying to infect your machine.

I did manage to upload most of my music now and didn’t realize how integral a part of my writing background random music really is. I bought a ten dollar flash drive with 2 Gig which should do nicely for transferring the rest of my music from my old machine.

And, I need to figure out how to download my vinyl to digital. I have about a hundred or so old records I would love to listen to again while I write.

I think there are turntables you can buy that plug into USB ports so you can upload your albums? Maybe I’ll look into this for Christmas . . .

. . . because I haven’t bought anything for myself yet . . .

. . . Okay, maybe this new computer, but it has been almost four years.

Not buying that one?

Don’t blame you.

Well, I’ve filled a page or so and you have better things to move onto.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, November 17, 2008

what alarm

Day 81 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I hate sleeping in, and I did it again this morning and hence this rushed, babbling blog.

I don’t want to miss a day, and I won’t.

But sleeping in does not help the quality around here.

Anyhow, today - or at least this week - I should find out if my work place is going to ride the wave or head down the tubes.

Fun times.

If I wake up on time tomorrow, I promise a bit more.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

hopeless clutter

Day 80 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It’s just everywhere.

At least it is at my house, and I don’t think I’m alone on this one.

We started a cleanup of our basement - commonly referred to as “the dumping ground”. There is just so much “stuff”, I can’t help thinking of George Carlin’s (RIP) routine when I look at it.

My wife was told by her mother that, “it’s hopeless.”

Gee, thanks - way to inspire the troops Granny.

And so we started the grueling task of rifling through the stuff to see what needs keeping, dumping or recycling.

After one hour yesterday we could almost see a difference. It’s not hopeless, maybe closer to insurmountable. Sisyphus would be proud of our efforts.

We managed to build a pile of cardboard about two feet high, collect junk into two garbage bags, and thought, at least for a moment, we could actually see the carpet . . .

. . . but that may have been a dust or mold induced hallucination.

Today we will tackle some more.

In say, three months, we should have it under control.

Should, if more “stuff” would stop appearing to replace what we get rid of.

And with Christmas on the way - Oh, dear, not sure if we are going to get ahead of the tide.

Still, when somebody tells us something is “hopeless” it only spurs us on to prove otherwise.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, November 15, 2008

comes the snowman

Not too bad, considering it’s getting on in November already.

But I know what is coming - and I don’t like it.

No sir, I don’t like it one little bit.

The snow storms I can handle. It only makes the commute a bit longer. No, it’s not the snow itself that bothers me overly much - No, it’s the idiots that don’t know, and will never learn how, to drive on it.

You know the types. You’ve seen them. Barreling along like it’s the middle of July on a major highway, tailgating and out of control.

They drive SUVs mostly.

They think just because they have a big vehicle and winter tires they are immune to physics. Yes, they are out there, and I sure as hell hope I don’t have to deal with too many of them anytime this winter.

I’ve never used winter snow tires on my car.

Ever.

Why?

Because around here you really only need them maybe one, two days of the year. All you need are some good driving skills, patience and, oh yes, that most absent and elusive of human qualities - common sense.

You see, all it takes is to use the brain in your head to know that if it is snowing like hell, maybe, just maybe, you should reduce your speed a bit and not tailgate?

And if it is a real snow storm, say 30 + cm within four hours - then stay the hell home for Cripe’s sake.

Makes sense - ya think?

So, it’s coming.

Next week we are in for our first bunch of the stuff.

The news will make it sound like an apocalypse. Maybe we should start naming any of our snowfalls over 1 cm like Hurricanes? They get treated like that already by the media so why not go the whole distance?

So, please, I beg of you. Don’t drive like an ass on the slippery, snow covered roads this winter.

Now, where is my shovel?

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, November 14, 2008

eeek-onomy

Day 78 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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-eeek-onomy-

Well the market seems to be up and down like a toilet seat these days, doesn’t it.

Hope you life savings aren’t riding on the stocks. Mine aren’t. I have liquidity - then again, the sound of two nickels rubbing together doesn’t get you too far ahead financially. It does make a neat grating sound though - give it a try - if you have two nickels, that is.

It should be no surprise to anyone reading this that I work in the domestic auto industry - and am wondering what is up with that.

Despite several attempts to pair down the bloated operations the industry still seems to be sucking wind. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

But, they will get better - your government tells you so.

Yeah, I’m filled with relief now. So, all the government needs to do is funnel me say, 500,000 bucks, and I’ll be able to carry on my operations just fine . . .

. . . what do you mean the money is only for the financial institutions?

What a mess.

But hey, I still see food on my table and coffee in the pot - so, we are not like Afghanistan yet, or (take your pick of any one of hundreds of screwed over countries).

It is nice to see that the Canadians are not freaking out like the Americans are. Our economy is not doing too badly, however, since we are totally tied to the USA it is only a matter of time.

It’s kind of like paddling a canoe with the Titanic’s boat anchor hanging off the front. How long before you think it’s going to capsize?

Well, enough cheery news from me - if you want more please tune in to the fearmongering USA news networks and knock yourself out.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go check the bare cupboards to see if I have anything to eat for today . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, November 13, 2008

old bones

Day 77 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I was back to tennis again last night after a break, and I have to admit - I am not 20 anymore - at least my body isn't.

Sad, but true.

What advise can this aging tennis player give to other aging tennis players?

Do all you can not to get injured. I sat out a week and a half because of my hand, which is getting better, but still caused me problems last night.

I’m not sure if I actually broke a bone in my hand or only sprained it, but whatever happened, it lowers my game a notch or two and has me taking a little better care of my body on the courts now.

And, almost like clockwork, I can tell when I have been playing for 1 ½ hours - because that is the time my left ankle begins to hurt me a whole bunch. I even pop two Ibuprofen before every match. Maybe that’s the time the pain killers start wearing off?

So, all that said, I won 11 games last night and lost 16. I wasn’t playing full out for fear of making my hand worse, but I still managed to hit a few awesome volleys and overheads - so all was not lost.

And, despite my griping, I actually feel a whole lot healthier for having gone out to play for two hours.

So, never give up on the sports you love to play no matter your age - just be aware that as bones age they have a tendency to get injured a wee bit easier and recover a wee bit longer.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

a short fallout 3 review

Day 76 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I know I was to have my daughter’s cello playing up today, but I still don’t have half of my programs loaded onto “the beast” yet and so can’t create mp3s at the moment.

But, as you know and fear, I do have Fallout 3 loaded.

If you could care less about computer games feel free to skip the rest of this post - I’ll pick up with non-computer game related stuff tomorrow.

And, as you also know or can guess, I can’t concentrate worth a spit with all this stuff going on in my work spot. Very distracting.

So, to take my mind off of the current situation, I head out into the Wastelands . . .

. . . First off I would have to say this may be the finest video game I’ve ever played so far. And for those who know me, you know that means many, many, (way too) many games.

If you have played the first two Fallout games, then you know how fun Fallout can be - but perhaps not how absolutely scary it can be.

And this game is scary. It reminds me a lot of Doom 3. You explore a lot of dark places and hear the sighing and stomping of creatures ready to rip your insides out. Luckily for you there is a wide variety of weapons, from baseball bats to bazookas, to help you deal with these pests.

You have many skills which you can upgrade when you go up a level. Things like sneaking, picking locks, hacking computers or small guns. Just like you would expect.

Have I mentioned the visuals are second to none. When you are traveling around you are really there. Of course, the rig you run it on plays a big part. I happen to have a GTX 260 overclocked card which makes all the difference I’m sure.

There is just so much to see and do in the Wastes, and you are given complete freedom to do them. You can be a total ass and rob or kill anybody and everybody you like, or be the shining knight in leather armor for those less fortunate than yourself.

Whatever you want, you can do it.

I’m just at a point now where I’ve discovered the subway. Wow, is about all I can say about it. The environments created for this game are mind blowing. Couple this with giant ants that breathe fire and you have a total winner in my books.

And the VATS combat system is great. You cue up your shots, ala the old style Fallout using action points, then watch them unfold in 3D slow-mo ala Peckinpah. Very, very cool.

And I have yet to encounter one problem (I do have the patch installed though) that others have ranted on about and SecuRom has given me zero issues as well.

If you have the machine to run it, you will not be disappointed to play this game. It’s a bit bleak, but hey, what do you expect after the bombs fell.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

hi tech

Day 75 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well it seems there is just on getting over the fact that we live in a very high tech society, and its something you can’t escape easily.

Our new replacement mobile phone arrived yesterday because our old mobile phone was analog and the analog network is now defunct.

We got the new phone for free because our current provider most likely didn’t want to lose our business - good plan, and it worked.

The new phone is about the size of a hand held Next Generation phaser. The old phone reminds me of early seasons of X-Files when either Scully or Mulder would whip open a brick and talk into it.

Tech marches on and we must march with it or be left behind.

It’s like our cars getting mor computerized and soon to be electronically driven 100%.

Our minds are still those of feral apes hunting prey, but our tech is getting beyond scary - never mind the H bomb.

It is hard for our youngins to even conceive of not having colour flatscreen TVs, cell phones or digital recorders of every kind.

It’s exciting, and scary at the same time. And frustrating trying to learn all there is to know just to operate the machines.

It’s no wonder shows like Terminator are so fun. What we don’t really understand can truly be scary.

And don’t forget that it’s Remembrance Day - so, remember why we have all the high tech toys to play with.

And I really need to get more music transferred to my new computer - as much as I love Flock of Seagulls, I’ve about heard enough already.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, November 10, 2008

entering the wastes

Day 74 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, I’m happy to report that “the beast” is a most excellent piece of machinery and I’m very happy with it.

What can I really say, except, if you are a PC Gamer then you have to satisfied with an Asus ENGTX260 Top overclocked video card.

Fallout 3 runs like a dream with no noticeable frame rate drop-outs at all in 1440 x 900 with everything maxed out - and I mean everything.

And is the game good?

Hell yeah. You are literally thrust into the wastelands in eye burning 3D surround sound immersion. At times you are amazed at the vistas before you, other times your heart is pounding as a pack of wild dogs is charging you from the wastes.

Absolutely stunning in every way.

I’m also back to using an ergonomic keyboard which takes a little getting used to all over again. It is much more comfortable while writing, but when your hands are used to the conventional layout you find yourself striking the wrong keys quite a bit.

I will get used to it though and in no time will be back to my flawless typing . . .

. . . Um, yeah.

So, back to work today . . . Oops!

Forgot - sorry bout that.

I looked out this morning to see light snow. Snow.

That is a four letter word I can do without during my commutes to work. Otherwise I love snow, grew up in the snow, drank the snow, etc.

Snow is, and forever shall be, my friend.

Unless I have to drive through it to work.

Well, I best go find out where I stored the shovels.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, November 09, 2008

from the belly of the beast

Day 73 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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it is very quiet here this morning. No music eminates from my speakers as I haven't loaded in my music yet on this, the new machine, aka - the beast.

I'm even using OpenOffice Writer to make this blog instead of Wordperfect 11, which has yet to be loaded.

All is new, and somewhat unfamiliar.

The operating system is the same as my last machine, but its capabilities dwarf that old machines about ten times over in every other way measurable.

I loved it when I loaded Fallout 3, which then went into a hardware check, and automatically set everything to “Ultra-High”.

And it plays like a dream and looks as good.

Now my wife has fears of never seeing me again as I hide away in my lair playing games at all hours of the day.

That will not be the case.

Sure, some time will be spent enjoying “the beast” and newer games, but as yesterday's finished laundry can attest too - I am still upholding my familial duties.

Well, I best get at loading in all my music so the sounds of the 6, yes 6, fans in “the beast” don't become the only thing I'm hearing.

And after that, well I'm sure to be listening to Ron Perlman say,

War . . . War never changes.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, November 08, 2008

post-prediction trauma

Day 72 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, let’s see just how accurate I was about my doom and gloom predictions.

1) Salaried workforce wages will be decreased by 10% starting December 1st - Oh, and merry X-mas, you are Ho Ho Hosed.

-Well, the wages weren’t decreased 10 %, but another 10% reduction in salaried workforce is due. You say potato and I say . . . Oh, wait, that doesn’t work in written form.

2) Mandatory no-pay days (10 of them) will be introduced for 2009. We will get to choose when to take them. Think of these as 10 little out-of-work days to contemplate your life.

-missed the mark on this one. But, I still think it was on the table next to the mashed turnips nobody wanted to touch . . . yet.

3) Two weeks of holidays will be taken away to make up for the 10 no-pay days. Why will you need holidays when we have given you 10 lovely days to choose no-pay whenever you like? See how generous we are.

-see remarks for 2.

4) Three more production plants (possibly four, four plants, ah, ah aahhh) will be closed and those already announced will be moved ahead to end of this year. Too much capacity, too much stuff that people don’t want to buy. Now, just how could that have happened?

- line slow downs and the temporary layoff of close to 4000 workers. Not quite the same thing but equates to the same thing. However, if you expect the industry to turn around, at least a little bit, you don’t want to kill all your production capability in case you need it.

We are so Frelled . . . kind of obvious, no? (This should have been number 5)

-and yes, Frelled is as good a word as any. Between GM, Ford and Chrysler - it would appear that each of them will run out of operating capital early next year.

That will mean Chapter 11 and very possibly hundreds of thousands of job losses fi not over a million, maybe two.

How do you like them rotten apples?

Until tomorrow . . . when I should be posting from my new rig. Squee!

Friday, November 07, 2008

nervous excitement

Day 71 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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that’s what I have today.

On the one hand my new machine is coming tomorrow - on the other the ax is coming today.

Just think, two more days of blogging and I won’t mention the Work Spot again.

In fact, I may never have to . . .

. . . but that is unlikely. If the Munga-Corp I belong to wants to have any chance of survival at all it must retain some intelligent, hard-working employees (self-plug in case you missed it) or it is utterly doomed.

And did I mention my new computer . . .

. . . Oh, I did, and you want me to shut up about it.

Okay.

There are three things I want to get posted here at the blog before the end.

Of November, not, you know, any other kind of end . . .

1) A song my daughter played for her Suzuki Book 2 graduation. (mp3)

2) A audio version of Kaylie’s Smile, my creepy sci-fi horror story. (mp3)

3) Another Trance-Dance instrumental riff tune I’ve been working on. (mp3)

Three goals.

Three mp3s.

Three minutes to midnight . . .

Now I suppose you want exact dates. I should provide them so I actually have deadlines to meet instead of nebulous whenever promises.

So here goes.

1) Wednesday November 12th 2008.

2) Wednesday November 19th 2008.

3) Wednesday November 26 th 2008.

There you have it.

Three goals and three deadlin dates. Now all I have to do is meet them and all you have to do is show up to make sure I did.

See, that didn’t hurt one little bit.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, November 06, 2008

black f-day approaches

Day 70 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I mean Black.

And I mean F.

I know I try hard here not to spew on about the “Job”, but the news coming down the internal sewer pipes is far from good.

In fact I could describe it as - dire.

We have a meeting Friday to announce significant alterations to our business - and that means, in laymen terms, “We are so Frelled”.

Here are my predictions. Kind of fun to see if I’m right in my guesses. I will know for sure Friday - black Friday - and you will either here it all in the news or here on Saturday as I recap the kneecap removal.

So here are my predictions in no particular order:

1) Salaried workforce wages will be decreased by 10% starting December 1st - Oh, and merry X-mas, you are getting Ho Ho Hosed.

2) Mandatory no-pay days (10 of them) will be introduced for 2009. We will get to choose when to take them. Think of these as 10 little out-of-work days to contemplate your life.

3) Two weeks of holidays will be taken away to make up for the 10 no-pay days. Why will you need holidays when we have given you 10 lovely days to choose no-pay whenever you like? See how generous we are?

4) Three more production plants (possibly four, four plants, ah, ah aahhh) will be closed and those already announced will be moved ahead to close by the end of this year. Too much capacity, too much stuff that people don’t want to buy. Now, just how could that have happened?

We are so Frelled . . . kind of obvious, no?

And responses I’ve seen to this domestic auto sector economic situation are two sided. One camp says, “hey, the domestic auto sector should be saved” while the other camp says, “screw them and their dumb decisions, let them burn in a fire.”

Looks like Confucius got his desire.

On another note, which is not workplace related, the stats for this little blog seem to be climbing upwards. I’ve even seen a spike as high as 43 visitors here in one day.

Well, I never.

But, maybe, just maybe, 70 days in a row of insightful and entertaining posts will do that sort of thing in cyberspace . . .

. . . okay, maybe just entertaining?

. . . hello?

. . .

Until tomorrow, aka, “black f-day” . . .

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

bleak house

Day 69 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, it looks as though the USA is really changing these days.

Electing a black president (should it now be called the Black House?), their economy is in the tank and Michael Jackson doesn’t live there anymore . . .

. . . my how the times change.

And since my job is directly tied to the USA economy (owned and operated by them to be exact) - I’m hoping Obama will not stick his head in the sand like the Bushwacker did when it comes to some low interest loans to stave off the “B” word which will likely throw upwards to a million plus out of work.

But, only time will tell.

It will be interesting to see just what Obama goes about doing to bolster the economy and deal with the messy wars “over there” that the Bushwacker got going.

I must say though that I am so glad this election is over. Two years of propogandic BS is just too damn much for any sort of election - don’t you think?

On a personal note - my computer should arrive this weekend, which means I can fully turn to the Dark Side and play Fallout 3.

Ooh, the post-apocalyptic Capital Wastelands await.

It is very hard to concentrate on much of anything these days - oh, and a big announcement this Friday in our Work Spot. And you know it can not be good, not good at all. Wondering how many cuts this time.

Well all you Americans - enjoy your new President and get out there and spend, spend, spend!

. . . if you have a job, that is.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I’d rather be the Pope

Day 68 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Pres day dawns in the US of A and it’s high time to dump the Bushwacker and put in somebody else, isn’t it?

Obama or McCain?

One sounds like a terrorist, the other a frozen juice product . . .

The people will decide. And I think they will go Obama, but what the hell do I know?

And since I know very little about either candidate (other than that one is a POW and the other is not quite white ex-preacher) I don’t really have much of a comment to make.

Except - let’s hope the next Pres can get some consumer confidence back into his people, or things will get far uglier than they already are for the US economy.

Oh, and don’t be like Canada people, and have lame turnout at the polls. Get off your fat America arses and vote for Cripe’s sake. If you don’t you deserve everything you get - good, bad or ugly.

But enough about American politics.

Some of you may have noticed a slight dabbling in NaNoWriMo from me over at the site. Don’t get too excited. The likelihood of my actually finishing 50,000 words is about zero.

When, and if, I dabble with the new novel idea I’ll post my total words up.

And it won’t be pretty.

Well, since most of my readers are American, I’ll leave off short today so you can go vote.

So, go vote.

Out of the chair - vote!

NOW!

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, November 03, 2008

wind down

Day 67 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, as you can imagine, yesterday’s festivities were tiring.

And they were.

My little girl played very well and I managed to get some sound recordings of her play which I will try to get up here sometime this week.

But for now I’m just taking a wind down time as I listen to the rain outside and the Media player within.

I’m also getting through my next Dance Trance throw-together tune which will likely make its home here in the not too distant future.

Oh, and my computer (aka the beast - my new gaming machine) should arrive this coming weekend - Fallout 3 is already cued up and waiting for fun.

And I know what you are thinking - time for computer games? What about NaNoWriMo?

Well, I say, since my novel idea was only one-quarter baked, and not too inspired, it is just as well this year that I skip. And, as mentioned before, my head space is full of clutter and uncertainty and this does not lend itself to great writing - but it does lend itself to escaping from Vault 101 and checking out Washington’s radioactive wasteland in fantastic hi-def 3D.

And so that is what will take place.

Now, I have to go and write a couple of book reviews for Reader’s Den, and then I may work on my newest Trance Tune.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, November 02, 2008

graduation day

Day 66 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Today is very special in the Darcy domain.

For today is graduation day - for my daughter.

No, not university (that can wait quite a few more years, please) but her Suzuki Book 2 cello graduation.

She has been playing for over 5 years now and is getting extremely good.

To celebrate her Suzuki Book 2 accomplishments we are having over about 20 people to listen to her play a concert of pieces and have some fun and food afterwards.

Now this may not sound like too much, but the Suzuki method is quite different from Conservatory which, like Suzuki, go from Book 1 to 10 in increasingly difficult and complex musical pieces, but in a different way.

You see, in the Suzuki program she has to have all of the Book 2 pieces memorized, unlike the Conservatory where you read as you play the music. There are 15 songs, I believe, and they are not easy little pieces - and yes, she has them all memorized and knows the composers as well.

Very impressive. I can’t state this strongly enough. VERY IMPRESSIVE!

And yes, I’m a proud Daddy.

Having a “very bright” and accomplished child has its own set of challenges - but for today we will celebrate her musical skills with a heart felt smile.

I will sit back with the camera and listen in amazement to her play beautifully. Oh, and she will be accompanied by piano (a good friend of my wife's) and my wife too playing her cello. It will be a three piece concert - and it is going to Rawk . . .

. . . Well, in a classical music sort of way.

I’m going to enjoy this celebration - one of many along my daughter's wonderful journey to adulthood.

And yes, where the ‘H’ does the time fly too - I mean, wasn’t I just doing her diapers last week?

I love you my silly little girl (can’t call her that for too many more years) and sometimes I can’t believe just how good you've become on the cello.

If I have any computer skills (don't hold your breath), I may be able to post, here at the Twisted Mind, some of her playing from today later this week.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, November 01, 2008

the beginning and end of madness

Day 65 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well here I am, ready to go insane trying to juggle seventeen bowling balls with one arm tied behind my back, blindfolded and walking a tightrope in platform shoes over Victoria Falls . . .

I’m afraid it’s just not going to happen.

But what, if anything, is going to give?

It must be fate because today we have relatives arriving and staying for 5 days, we have a slight personal emergency which needs tending to and is extremely time consuming, and my computer just informed me it needs an update of 76.7 Meg - and I’m on dial up!

Sometimes the Universe works in your favour, and sometimes it gives you a really hard open-palmed slap to the face - like it has for me this month.

I still have the stinging red welt hand print of the Universe on my cheek to prove it.

So, casualty number two in the I-have-little-time this month and too-much-crap-to-deal-with-right-now . . .

. . . NaNo is ByeBo for me.

Oh, I’ll hang around the forums on occasion and cheer on the troops, but I can’t really get into writing anything until about next Thursday - and I hate to try and do NaNo all half-assed.

Because when only one of my cheeks is functioning - I get off-balance and you know where that leads in the games won vs lost department.

I may find some time to hammer out a few uninspired words and add them to the NaNo totals, or I may save myself the aggravation and not bother at all.

And before I take too much flak - there are others out there who have far more time than I and, well . . . nuff said.

This blog Marathon though, will go on - but I hope, not in a Celine Dion kind of way . . .

Shudder . . .

Until tomorrow . . .