Woohoo! I found a volleyball league. Or maybe the league found me. Hmm.... Our church just completed a new Family Life Center, which contains a gigantic gymnasium. There were open sign ups for people interested in playing volleyball. I threw my name in. I'm a huge fan of playing the game. I played with the Men's Club Team at Purdue for a couple of years. I was never good enough to travel with the team, but it was a great experience. So I was really psyched when I heard that the church was going to have a league. A couple of weeks ago, a member of the church called to see if I would be interested in leading the open gym. We would meet Tuesday nights from 7 until 9. I was all for it. We had orientation last week, and tonight was our first night of play.

I am completely bushed. It has been so long since i had played a game. We had 16 people show up, so we were able to play 4 on 4 on two courts. We didn't keep score, but played for about an hour. Then we had devotions, and went over the house rules. Once we reconvened, we put everyone on one court and played 6 on 6, with one person rotating in on each side. Two people had left. After three games this way, a couple of people left, so we switched it up to play 6 on 6. After two games of that we played 3 on 3. After a game of that, it was 2 on 2. That was a lot of volleyball! So now I'm sitting here in my sweats after a nice hot shower, trying to let my feet recover. I haven't tried to move like that in a while, so I'm sure that my body will be a little testy with me in the morning. Oh, but it was so worth it!

Fun Toy

On friday, my pop came down to visit with us and delivered my belated birthday gift: Audiovox Sirius Radio! I've been playing with it for the last couple of days, and I'm really happy with it. The receiver unit is tiny, about the size of a recipe notecard. It docks into either a home kit, or a car kit, depending on where you are. Each kit has connections for the satellite antenna and power. That way, when going from one place to the other, you don't have to reconnect all sorts of stuff.

I was really happy when I discovered that I could get excellent reception from office. There is a north-facing window one cube back from mine. I wasn't sure what kind of reception I would get. With XM, the satellites are in geostationary orbit in the south. With Sirius, the satellites are in geosynchronous orbit, and they oscillate north and south. After some experimenting this morning, I'm receiving about 70% signal strength from a north-facing window. In the car, I have excellent reception all the time.

The music is transferred in a stream format. The receive creates a buffer of the music, a little over one second in length. When I drive under an overpass, the receiver plays from the buffer. The stream must have some redundancy. Even when the antenna is covered for a second, there is no noticeable hiccup in signal. The signal did cut out when I drove up to the ATM, but that was to be expected. At our home, I couldn't find a window with a good view to get great reception, but I still had enough to listen. I'm going to keep the docks in my car and at work, though, so it shouldn't matter.

To sum up, I'm very happy with the Sirius Radio. It is a total luxury, as I could be listening to radio over the air for free. I still hear the DJs chime in from time to time, but there are absolutely no commercials. The variety of music, talk, news, and comedy available is great too. Now I can listen to my electronic music as much as I like, wherever I like!

Book of the Moment : Altered Carbon

I enjoy reading, especially Science Fiction books. The last few books that I've read are "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" by Richard Feynman, and "Timeline" by Michael Crichton. For my birthday, Jenn's parents got me "Altered Carbon" by Richard K Morgan. The story revolves around a former military operative who, after leaving the military, became involved in some seedier busines. He grew up as a thug in a gang, and after military service became something of a gun for hire. The story is set far into the future, in a time when humans have colonized several planets, including some outside of our solar system. Also, a technology has been developed for storing the essence of a person. The technology is referred to as a cortical stack, which is an implant at the base of the spine. The stack records all of the essence of the person, including memories and experiences. If a person were to die, the stack could be extracted and inserted into a new body, referred to as a sleeve. New bodies could either be from people sent to jail, and thus removed from their sleeve, clones of the original person, or synthetic bodies that were compatible with the stack. In this way, people could almost live forever by transferring from one sleeve to the next. Travel was made simple by simple transferring the data from a stack to the destination, rather than the entire body.

As the story unfolds, we learn that Mr. Kovacs, the protaganist of the book, has been hired by a very powerful person to investigate his own suicide. Mr. Bancroft evidently killed himself, but he had copies of his stack, and clones of his body, and was easily brought back to life. He is concerned that it was not really a suicide, but instead an elaborate hit on him. It aggravates him, and he has hired Mr. Kovacs to find the truth.

I've really enjoyed the story so far. I'm one chapter from the end, and I think this last chapter is just a wrap up or prologue. The story involves police corruption, power hungry politicians, the rich elite. It also touches on some interesting issues that would arise, should such technology would ever become available. I highly recommend it to anyone that has a penchant for Sci-Fi.

Koby's Eye

A week ago Thursday, Koby had something traumatic happen to his eye. We weren't sure what it was, but that night, he just wouldn't leave it alone. He kept pawing at it and seemed to be in a lot of pain. Jenn had taken Koby on a walk that night with our neighbors, and we thought maybe something flew in his eye, or that the other dog had scratched him. We took him in to the vet on Friday, and he found a scratch on his eye. He gave us some ointments to prevent infection, and told us to bring him back on Monday. By Friday night, his eye was a big, swollen, mucousy mess. He probably couldn't even see out of it. The vet had given us a cream that we were supposed to put directly into his eye. To apply it, we put a bit on our finger, and then rubbed that off on his upper eye lid. Whever we gave it to him, it would cause his eye to hurt again, so we had to be careful to make him leave it alone.

By Monday, Koby was showing great improvement. He was actually using his eye again, although it was still very swollen and red. At the vet, the test showed that the scratch had started to heal. He gave me a different ointment that would not only help it heal, but also act as a pain killer. After the first couple of days, Koby was doing really well, but his eye was still red and puffy. We watched his eye, and it just didn't seem to be getting better, although the eye itself appeared to still be healing. So we continued to use the ointments.

Last night, Jenn noticed that the spot that had been scratched now had a red bump, right on the eyeball! This was really disturbing. It sort of look like, where the eye had healed, a bit of blood had collected like a scab. So today Jenn got in touch with the doc and brought him in. His eye was better, but it was still red and puffy after almost two weeks of treatment. The doc took a look, and couldn't understand why the eye was still agitated. He said that it should have been completely healed within 4 to 7 days. The bump on the eye was fine, a normal part of healing, but the red was being caused by some agitation. He explained to Jenn about the third eyelid that some animals have, and said that he was going to peel it up to look under for some foreign object. He advised Jenn to look away, as eye trauma can be pretty disturbing. Jenn turned away, but immediately the doc noticed something. Jenn turned around and saw that Koby had a large hay seed stuck under his third eyelid! This poor dog has been suffering with this thing for two weeks. He would have had it for a lot longer if we didn't bring him in too. Jenn and I are both amazed at how calm he has been lately considering the amount of pain he must have been in.

So now that this thing is out, hopefully he can heal quickly and get back to 100%. I'm glad Jenn took the initiative here. Just another sign of what a great mom she is going to be!!

[Listening to: Nine Inch Nails - Closer to God - Memorabilia

Review: Matrix Revolutions

Jenn and I went to see the new Matrix : Revolutions. I'll share my thoughts on the movie.

WARNING: I might spoil some of the plot points. So if you haven't seen the films and don't want to know, stop reading now.
Okay, ready for the review? STINK! I didn't hate the film, and it was entertaining. I was just expecting so much more. The first Matrix film provoked all sorts of thought and wondering. "What is the Matrix?" as the trailer put it. Was the Matrix real, or a figment of the imagination? Was Neo going to wipe out the machines?

The second film was action-packed, and had lots of "wow, cool!" moments, but it didn't really answer any questions. We met several characters in the film. We meat the council in Zion. We meet Niobe, a previous flame of Morpheous. Morpheous is shown to be the religious zealot among the military elite. He is at odds with the military commander who is a very tactical fighter. We also learn that Agent Smith is back, and with a vengeance. Not only has he returned, but he can now copy himself at will. In a scene known as the Burly Brawl, Neo takes on several dozen agent smiths. And we start to see a pattern emerging. Evidently, the Wachowski Brothers are very into Eastern Religions, as they are giving us several Yin/Yang characters. Morpheous and the Military Commander. Neo and Agent Smith. We also meet several other characters, including an AI which protects the Oracle. We meet the Maelvingian, who represents the organized crime element within the Matrix and of the machine world. We also meet his wife, of sorts, Penelope. Unfortunately, non of these characters provided much in order to further the plot line. Instead, we get brief glimpses of hollow characters. In the end of the film, Neo is given a choice. He can either save Trinity, and doom Zion to destruction, or destroy the Matrix and with it Trinity, but save Zion.

Given that there is a third film, you can assume that Neo chose to save Trinity. However, after watching the third flick, I wonder why the second one was even necessary. The only plot point to flow through to the third film is the aspect of Agent Smith and his ability to replicate. All other plot points were well established in the first film. Neo has extraordinary power within the matrix. Zion is the last city of the human race. The machines want to destroy Zion. All of these things we learned in the first film. At the end of the second film, we learned that Neo could now control the machines from outside the matrix. This opened up a lot of potential for where the story could go. Were they really out of the Matrix yet? Is Neo human at all?

Given this flicker of opportunity for the story to get interesting again, I was pretty anxious to see this last film to see how it all wrapped up. Big disappointment. While the action and special effects were impressive, I had seen it all before. Neo and Agent Smith using Kung Fu on each other kind of lost its appeal half way through the second film. Now it was just redundant. And the script was terrible. There were times I wanted to bust out laughing at the cheesy one liners and cliche remarks the characters were making. I've never seen a collection of last breath speeches like the ones in this film. Every character, following a mortal wound, receives ten to twenty minutes to make their lost, long, calm, soliloquoy prior to passing. Yeah, that happens. And not only do they not die (and the audience is really wishing that they would by now) but they keep talking, babbling on with their banaled "do it for the gipper" crap.

In the end, I think Jenn and I were both disappointed. The first film was just sooo good. There were so many questions, so many "wow" moments. The third one just feels like coasting. No real answers. The movie is wrapped up, and everything is hunky-dory in matrix land, but back in the real world, we're all a little miffed.


A lot has happened in the last 10 days, and I've been slacking on the blog. Last Wednesday (the fifth) was my birthday. Jenn and I took the day off together. That was awesome! Everyone else was at work and we were out playing. We grabbed some lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, and then wandered over to the theater to watch the latest Matrix film. I had to go into work for about an hour afterwards for a mandatory, all-company meeting. After that, Jenn and I watched Hulk and had a little picnic dinner on the floor of our family room. Jenn is so creative!!! I got home and she had some blankets down and a bunch of pillows for us to lean on. She had prepared a plate full of cut cheeses, dips, sliced meats, and crackers. She also had a bowl of chilled shrimp and cocktail sauce. It was great! I'll have to find a way to have a birthday more often... Hmm....
[Listening to: Daft Punk - Discovery - Fact to Face

Video Game of the Moment

A few weeks ago, I ranted about my disappointment with the video game Dungeon Siege. I finished the game the other day. My contempt for the game became disgust when I saw the ending. You see, with video games, I have two goals. The first is to really enjoy playing through the game. This can happen due to a great story (role playing games), intense action (first person shooters), or the need to use some ingenuity (real time strategy games). Dungeon Siege failed to be extraordinarily enjoyable to play through. I didn't hate it. It was pretty, But there was no story, the action was anything but intense, and there was no need to use any type of strategy. The second goal of playing a video game is to complete the game and be awed by the end-game stuff. In Diablo, there is an amazing computer rendered animation sequence which completes the story for the game. Same with StarCraft, Quake, Half-Life, Command & Conquer, and several other games that I have truly enjoyed. For Dungeon Siege, once I defeated the game, the screen went black. Some text faded in, informing me that I had defeated the evil guy, but that evil remained. Text fades out, credits role. GRRRR! What a cruel ending. Not even a static image of you, the warrior, in the victory pose! Suck Suck Suck! This CD is begging to get microwaved.

Last week I started playing The Simpsons : Hit & Run on the GameCube. I already had the Road Rage, and I enjoyed that one quite a bit. From the reviews that I had read, Hit & Run was to be a lot like the game Grand Theft Auto. I've been pretty jealous that GTA is not available on the Cube, so this was a great deal. I've been playing it all week, and I'm nearly done with it. This is a game I like. There are essentially four basic types of game play: race other vehicles, race against time, destroy vehicles, or collect items. As you drive around the different Springfield locations, you talk to characters who give you the missions. On the side, there are bonus missions to complete, collector cards to find, wasps to destroy, and all sorts of places to explore. The game is slower paced than Road Rage, but I've had a lot of fun playing it. There are 7 levels, and each has at least 7 missions to complete. I'm currently on level five. I am having a lot of trouble finding one wasp in level 1. Other than that, I have 100% completed the other levels. I love this sort of game. If I get bored with the main portion of the game, I can always go looking for the secondary stuff. It keeps the game interesting. The voices are all done by the real Simpsons characters, and the story was by the writers, so at times, the humor is really good. There are also all sorts of references to Simpsons episodes. For instance, in the first level off in the distance, you can see the wold's largest toilet.

So far, I am much happier playing the Simpsons. When I get through with the game, I'll come back and give an update on the ending. I'm pretty sure it is going to beat Dungeon Siege, as I've already seen some cut-scene videos, and the game has a story. More later.

Birthing Class - Part 1

We had our first birthing class today. It was fairly interesting, and we definitely got a lot of good information out of it. I'm afraid that it may have frightened Jenn a bit. She was really not looking forward to the video of childbirth. Fortunately, the first video had a lot of computer animation rather than in-your-face birthing action. The second video, which showed a woman doing a lot of the labor exercises in preparation for a natural child birth, was a bit more... um... "intimate". As encouragement, the mid-wife encouraged the woman on the video to watch in a mirror as the head of the baby started to come through. Next, she was encouraged to put her hand down and feel the baby. Mind you, the child is still not yet born, just crowning. I really had to supress the urge to collapse into a shrieking at that scene. I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to blood and medical shtuff. My roommate Jeff and I used to watch Trauma in the ER on the Discovery channel to freak ourselves out. This is why I operator on computers, and not people. Anyway, the instructor of the class asked if the dads were going to cut the cord. I think I gave myself whiplash shaking my head.

The best part of the class was the part where we went through the breathing and massaging techniques. This was definitely the best part for Jenn, because she was my test subject, but it was also nice for me. Up to that point, a lot of the info wasn't really going to help me out. The massaging and breathing I can help with, though, so I felt like I could finally participate. Every time we talk to our neighbor, she reiterates how useless she thinks I will be in the delivery room. I'm hoping that isn't the case. I'd like to know that Jenn wants me in the room with her, that I'm able to support her and care for her as she delivers our child. I know that there is not a lot that I can do physically, but I want to be there for her in any way I can. To listen to our neighbor, I might as well just wait at home while Jenn takes care of it on her own, possibly with a little help from a doula.

I'm very proud of Jenn. I'm amazed at what her body is going through, and will go through. I'm even more amazed at her attitude. She isn't very worried about the birthing process. Most mothers or mothers-to-be that I've spoken with are absolutely terrified of the pain. Jenn isn't phased by it. She is more worried about being a good parent. I think that speaks volumes to her character. She is already putting the needs of our child ahead of her own. I'm know that she will be a wonderful mother. She's been taking care of a big kid for over five years.

Jade Mason