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Disappointment

I stopped by target today on my (extended) way home from work to pick up a battery for a stopwatch that had stopped working. While there, I noticed some good deals on some DVDs, so I picked a few up. While in the media section, I also noticed that Linkin Park has a new release.

I’ve been waiting for just such a thing. Reanimation, Linkin Park’s follow-up to the hugely successful Hybrid Theory, was the album that, up to this point, I was most skeptical of, because it wasn’t just Linkin Park, but included various guess artists, most of whom I had never heard of. But I was happy after getting it, because it turns out that the remixed songs made some interesting music still (With You, Forgotten), and a few songs even got monumentally better (such as Pushing Me Away), or at least stayed as good while being refreshingly different (Crawling, My December). Of course, it also had its sub-par material (In The End, High Voltage). It is interesting to note that the songs in Reanimation which improved the most were redone by Linkin Park themselves (actually, just Mike Shinoda, whose work on Pushing Me Away and Crawling is fantastic). The songs that Linkin Park had the least influence on generally degraded the most.

When Meteora, Linkin Park’s second real album came out, I quickly snatched it up, and was quite happy with the evolving sound. Live in Texas proved to be a fun but mostly useless followup, as only one song changed at all (Crawling was a mix of the Hybrid Theory and Reanimation versions). To appease us, I guess they decided to do some more joint work, this time with a better known artist. Let me be gentle and just say, there is a reason I don’t buy Jay-Z albums. After hearing one demo (easily obtainable online, but I won’t link it because I don’t endorse it), I decided that this album wasn’t for me – and this is big news because its the first time I’ve made that decision with anything involving Linkin Park.

Sure, the track is somewhat catchy, but thats just because it uses a tried and true tune (Numb). Add in the Jay-Z and it still holds some sway, but then try to put the Numb Lyrics back over that, and it just doesn’t work. At all. It’s not unique, it’s not interesting, and it’s not good. I suspect the entire album is that way. In addition, its got a parental advisory label, which means, along with its tradition of generally good music, Linkin Park also decided to ditch its tradition of genreally clean music as well. Two regrettable decisions, all in one album. Lets hope it does poorly in stores. I don’t have much hope for that, though. Too many dumbtards or something.

Catching Up

Thursday Morning, I awoke around 8:30, dressed for a morning football game in the rain, picked up Scott, and headed to Newport High School’s football field. These days, Scott and I are “old” people (better than 19) so we joined forces with that crowd against the younger crowd. And it was a crowd – it was the largest turkey bowl in my memory. But the numbers only seemed to help the old people; we slammed the younger guys pretty well. So bad, that we had to switch up teams to make it resemble a competitive game again. I wasn’t too productive on the offensive side of things, with only a couple of catches and one interception-shortened series as QB (after the teams got switched), but I also had two interceptions and a very good time.

Unfortunately, I also jammed the index finger on my left hand pretty badly at the beginning of the game. It swelled up pretty well and made me less agressive throughout the rest of the day. And its still hurting, so I may have to see if there was any additional damage. While I’m at it, I might as well have my right pinky looked at too, which has never been up to par after a flag football game way back in my early high school days.

After the turkey bowl, I dropped off Scott, returned home, and made myself presentable for company. And there was lots of company. My aunt and uncle (Dad’s brother Mike and Marie) came from Florida, my sister Robin and her family (husband Dave, daughters Zoe and Thea) came from Seattle proper along with a family friend and her daughter (as an aside, the friend, whom I had never met, showed up first. I looked quizically at her as she drove up, which prompted her to ask, “Is this the right place?” Having no idea, really, I responded, “Maybe…”). Also, my cousin (Christine, daughter of Mike) and her Husband Luca and daughter Isabella were there, along with my brother and his girlfriend (soon to be fiancee) Kaylee. It was quite a crowd, with a good contingent of youngsters mixed in.

Then came the food. We are not always a traditional thanksgiving-feast family, so instead of turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes, we had roast beef and wild duck, mashed sweet potatoes and baked potatoes (which I mashed myself, because I’m not too much of a fan of sweet potatoes), and various other misundry fruits and vegetables and other items. It was really quite good, but I sure do miss downing those perectly mashed potatoes smothered in turkey gravy. Hand-mashed potatoes in beef juice is still pretty good, though.

After dessert, we sang some songs, which the kids seems to especially enjoy, told some thanksgiving stories (Marie, as a kindegarten schoolteacher, was most excellent at this). Then we mostly hung out and talked and got tired early. Seems to happen when its pitch black by 5:00. I still managed to stay up late, though, because Theo was comign over. We managed to lock the door on him, so when he arrived about 1:00, he had to get my attention by lightly rocking my window. It finally worked, and we stayed up until 300 playing around (albeit unsuccessfully, moslty) with Linux f the Gentoo variety.

The next morning, I awoke late, enjoyed breakfast, and then people started to arrive for the party. With Scott, Dan, Colin, Theo, Ben, Kaylee, Jim, and Julie ready to go, we began to figure out how to enter GPS coordinates into our three units (it wasn’t too hard) and then we began our journey. The first Geocahce we stopped at was called Forest Drive Pipeline, and it was, predictably, by Forest Drive. We took the hard way, through woods the entire time, and then we spent a good fifteen minutes with all of us wandering around in the area until Dan found the cache itself, an ammo box hidden beneath some branches and leaves in the nook of a maple tree. I filled out the log book, and then we took a pink carribeaner and left an alligator clip (as is the custom, you take an object and leave another object).

It had been a while since I’d been out tromping through the woods, and it was good to do it again. I had a lot of fun, and even though I made my shoes and pants pretty dirty, it was well worth it. We stopped at McDonalds for lunch, then we drove to the Red Town trailhead where we started the hike for Geocache #2. This one, which I was attracted to because of its less-than-trivial difficulty numbers and pretty photo, was called Sandstone Falls. The hike only needed to be 1.5 miles each way, but we took the long way on the way there and ended up taking more like a 4 mile hike, which I also enjoyed, but along with soreness from the Turkey bowl, I was moving pretty slowly by the end of the day. Since it was getting past 4 by this point, we abandoned further attempts at geocaching and returned home for fooding.

Joining us at this point were Beth and Maneesh. Clams, french dip (thanks to my wodnerful mom), and caesar salad were the main menu items, and the all were good (I am told, as I cannot speak for the clams, which I did not partake of). We also played Pass the Pigs quite competitively, followed by a few rounds of Setbefore we generally became just a bunch of talkers. Beth and I were unable to rally the troops for a game of Mafia, so I suppose that it will have to wait until next time. If I’m not too old the next time around…

Everyone was leaving around 9:00, so I got Beth and Scott to take home. After droppin Beth off, Scott and I drove all over creation (from Bellevue to North Seattle to Des Moines and back) talking up a storm. I finally returned him at 2:00 am. It’ll be good to have him back for the month of December, even though he’s taking a week and a half off for a swimming camp. Crazy man, but what else should I expect?

Saturday was another busy day, in which I made a brief appearance at a lego league session, went shopping, attended Tim‘s Eagle Scout Court of Honor, got miscommunicated with more lego league stuff, then went to Max’s birthday party at Mary and Jason’s place in Redmond. It was good to see them all again, even if Jen and I aren’t as good at Cranium as we wanted to be. I guess it makes sense that the newly expecting couple should have more of a mental connection than the rest of us. That ended with me taking home some hard drives to try figuring out what was wrong with Jason’s desktop. The drives appear to be not-so-good (aka bad). Speaking of which, my computer is giving me issues as well, but thats not for this post.

Sunday, I went to church, where Max spoke, and where I realized that my old ward (Cougar Mountain) is a lot nicer to attend than the one I was going to most recently (Singles). More people I know, more people I like talking too, better lessons, talks, environment… I think I know where I’ll be next Sunday. After all that, I worked on a linear algebra project, making a program to calculate the determinant of a matrix recursively. Its pretty fast until you get to about 8×8 matrices, and then it slows to a crawl, because recursive cofactor expansion is just about the worst way to calculate a determinant that there is.

Which brings me to today, in which I worked, spilled hot chocolate on myself, got a replacement shirt from Dave (thanks, by the way!), went to class (couldn’t concentrate – too hot, a little sick, and had the computer there to work on the project), and then came home and ate. My Miles One Platinum Visa credit card also arrived. Time to start saving up miles and traveling the world on my consumerist habits! w00t.

Geocache Partying

I’ve been tossing around the idea of a pseudo birthday party for a while now, and today the idea finally gelled. So here’s the scoop.

If you think you might be invited, you probably are, and I just haven’t figured out how to contact you yet. Instead, I encourage you to contact me and get details. That is, if you want to come and party hardy. Or something like that. But onto the details:

There are two parts: first, a geocaching expedition that starts at noon. We’ll pack lunches, then head out in search of a geocache somewhere nearby. Since I’ve never done this before, I’ve budgeted a good amount of time (about four hours) to finding a fairly difficult geocache – I figure I should start with something decently challenging. If it goes much quicker than expected, maybe we can go find a few more, or make one ourselves. If it doesn’t go so well, oh well. Good exercise and a god mental exercise as well.

The second part is a pretty normal food – dessert – party thing. At around 5, the brave geocachers will return from the expedition and prepare for food. Others may join them at this point, for dinner and probably something like cake or ice cream and maybe a movie or something. You can probably tell how well planned this is. Anyway, it’ll be fun.

Looking around quizically

At 2:30 am… wondering where the day went after the Counter-Strike: Source after the pre-thanksgiving house cleaning after the CSS after the linear algebra math test (that I feel good about, btw) after the work after the sleep in… Hm, seems cyclical.

Bellinghamming

I just got back from Bellingham, home of Western Washington University and several of my friends. I went up with Shai and Theo, mainly to see Beth and eat at Lemongrass. We were halfway successful. A late start due to a Magic release party attended by both Shai and Theo, and a bike ride in the U-District I went on with Dan in search of Watermelons (and other forms of food), then a heavy desk to move, and Half-Life 2 pushed the departure time to about 8:00pm Saturday night. We capped the night by (well, some of us) watching Antz and then playing some Phase 10. The morning saw us eating pnacakes, and then a late lunch at the a different Thai resturant, where the food was alright, but the service sucked tards. Oh well, not every grass is a LemonGrass.

WTW, WIW, WOW

Worth The Wait

Worth Its Weight

W O W

HL2

First taste of Half-Life 2

After the TRC meeting today (which included talking about the upcoming 2005 competition and stuffing 450 envelopes), I met up with Dan and took a look at Half-Life 2 on one of the few computers owned by a friend that outclasses mine in every respect (well, almost – except for my RAID 0 4x stripe and debatably my Audigy 2 Platinum).

After eating at Applebees, I even tried my hand at HL2, but with different controls and not being used to the feel, I had trouble staying on small beams that are normally easy for me to traverse. Lets just say, tis not good to fall down into a horde of zombies.

After my grisly death, we watched many more grisly deaths in Tombstone, which neither of us had ever before seen. For its formulaity, I enjoyed it a good amount, even though I saw through it, I still had a good time.

Upon returning home, I ended up buying the Gold HL2 package – I figure if I wasted $60 on Doom3, I should reward a good game with a little more. After all, Half Life 2 is why I bought/put together Kaleidoscope (my desktop) in the first place.

Although we tried to avoid it, I still ended up having to download the entire game, but on a cable modem it seems to be going too bad – ETA was an hour.