Saturday, December 31, 2005

Old Year / New Year

The New Year's Eve plans seem like they will be just me and K hanging out at home, watching the South Park countdown to the New Year. And, the New Year will start off in an interesting way; we will be driving to Sterling Heights on the first to visit my family and to attend the funeral of my great uncle Louie on Tuesday. He was 89 so it wasn't a big surprise, but funerals really are never much fun. :( On a positive note, there are several family members who have never met Katy so it should be fun. And, I have never seen my cousin's baby, so I look forward to that, too.

Hmmm... it doesn't look like I'll get around to my resolution from this year. Honestly, it was poorly thought out and I didn't have much interest, or at least enough interest to bother with it. This year, some resolutions come to mind that are, perhaps, a bit more intersting to me. Some are more clearly thought out, while others are currently just vague thoughts to be developed later. So, without further ado, here is...

Andy's Resolutions for 2006

  1. Read 26 books this year - I've always enjoyed reading. As a youngster, I would frequently read in bed before going to sleep. But, in recent years, I've found that I have spent less and less time reading as a leisure activity (which is, apparently, not uncommon for adults to experience once they leave school.) So, my thought is that I would like to read one book every two weeks. But, I realized that there may be times when I am reading a longer book or I have less time and cannot finish in two weeks. There will likely also be books that are shorter, or I have more time and will take less than a week. So, a book every two weeks translates to 26 books in a year and will likely be an easier resolution to keep.
  2. Maintain and follow an elaborate To Do list - There are a number of little mini resolutions I wanted to include, but, after thinking about how I would accomplish these resolutions, it became clear that they would be redundant if I included the To Do list. At any rate, this past year I have already experimented with developing a spreadsheet to be used for To Do items. The hard part will be to maintain it and act on the items contained within. However, this resolution is the one that holds the most interest for me, so I suspect it will be my focus.
  3. Fiscal Responsibility - Our financial situation changed once we had Katy and I really haven't been as big a part in processing the finances as I feel I need to be. The first part of this resolution will involve creating a budget in Quicken and making sure that Quicken is kept up to date. Additionally, I'll probably sell the Lexus and buy a more responsible vehicle. These two items are significant enough that it is difficult to currently evaluate what further actions will be taken upon their completion. So, I will leave it at that.
  4. Donate blood as often as possible to the Red Cross - While we currently are in a situation where it is not a wise idea to part willy-nilly with funds, I would still like to be able to donate to charity. Thus, since I can generate blood for free, I might as well donate.
  5. Attitude adjustment - I think that I've fallen into a kind of grumpy state. In the past, I used to be a very mellow, easy going guy. I am going to try to be that guy again. I'm going to aggressively pursue tasks that others request of me and consider it an honor to be asked instead of upset that I am stuck doing it. I am going to look for ways to do things to help others and do them. I am going to stop procrastinating and try to do things right away. This is, by far, the most vague, least defined, and least likely resolution to be completed, but I feel it needs to be included, at least as a reminder to me.

Well, there is less than an hour remaining before the New Year. I am going to get back to watching the South Park mini-marathon. Happy New Year, everyone. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Happy 2nd Birthday, Katy!

My cute little baby is two years old today! At first, she was a little uncertain about what to do with the presents, but it didn't take too long for her to learn that opening presents is fun. :) She has a little pretend grocery cart that she now loves; she has been pushing it around the kitchen and family room, "shopping" for groceries. She loves the little wash-puppets we got her, as well as the books, DVDs and Dora stuff. Tonight, when I get home from work, we will open her final present from Mommy and Daddy; a Dora game for the computer, her first video game. :) Although it is listed as being for children 3 and up, Katy seems to be a quick learner and I think she'll get the hang of it, with a little help from Daddy.

Although Katy is allergic to tons of stuff, Mommy was able to find cake mix and frosting that were allergen free. Katy hasn't had sweets before, so she is a little uncertain about the cake. Maybe we'll be able to get her to try some tonight. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

TV and Such

I had been suggesting to Kendra that we might want to get the 1st season of Lost, since we both had been hearing about how good it supposedly is. Well, Kendra seemed a bit luke warm about the idea, so I let it drop. But, she surprised me and brought it home from Best Buy on Thursday. So, after watching our recorded television programs, Starved (which is hilarious) and Reunion (which could be good, but is too early to tell), we popped in the first disc. I definitely understand now what the "big deal" about this show is. It is very good and I recommend it to anyone looking for something interesting on TV. We only watched the first three episodes (Pilot 1, Pilot 2, Tabula Rasa) and already we are ready for more.

As mentioned above, I would also recommend watching Starved on FX. While the subject matter might be considered questionable, it is both interesting and funny. IT'S NOT OK!!!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Business Trip

While I have been working at SPX for over two years now, I have only had to take two business trips. The first was while I was still a contractor and was doing some work on the Mercury project. The second was just a couple of weeks ago, and it was to finish integrating my portion of the J2534 project ( PassThruIoctl ) with the rest of the system.

Actually, we really didn't do much integrating. Instead, we finished developing the code and waited on a couple other developers to finish their stuff, too. So, we could have done most of the stuff during those two weeks back at the Portage office instead of traveling to Owatonna, MN. However, it was good to see the other office and was a nice opportunity to meet co-workers there, as well as get to know the co-workers I had traveled with.

Aside from missing my family and my home, the only other big problem was eating. I love eating out, but when you do it every day, you need a big variety. There were really only about five different restaurants that we went to regularly, so it got old pretty fast.

The best part of the trip was that it inspired me to try to take more of a leadership role at my company. After seeing that there is more at SPX than just the Harley project that I had been working on since I arrived, I woke up to the desire to be more than "just" a software developer. I spoke with my local Department manager and made my desire to be a project lead known. Happily, his response was warm and encouraging. The next step is to express this desire to my boss, who was on a business trip of his own recently (to present the results of the project I was working on.)

In the mean time, I am working on a new project, which will involve writing scripts in a proprietary language to interface with specific automobiles. Additionally, I am still the sole developer on the Harley project.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


The National Novel Writing Month is coming up pretty soon. It occurs every year (since 1999) in the month of November. From November 1st through Novemeber 30th, the participants in this event attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. While the resulting work is typically not pretty, it is a good start to actually completing a novel. And, at the very least, it is quite an accomplishment.

I mention this because I am inviting you, all of you, to join me this November in trying to accomplish this goal. It will give us a fun experience to share, plus maybe a little friendly competition / peer pressure. :)

Sign up begins October 1st. While you aren't allowed to start until Novemeber, you can create a timeline / character guide / other notes. The official prize is a pat on the back and the admiration of your peers (plus the story you can tell about writing a novel in a month. ) Won't you join me?

Don't worry about quality; we can take care of that in March. ;)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Picture Share!

Whale statues like this one are scattered around the Mystic area.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Picture Share!

Kendra & I passed this statue honoring Civil war veterans while shopping in Mystic. Grandpa was watching Katy. :)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Let's start blogging!

A Picture Share!

This is the drawbridge as seen from my father-in-law's.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Ancient Relics of Great Worth

This is another little post about video games, specifically older ones. Just a warning for those who might be looking for something more interesting.

A long, long while ago, when I would frequent places like Best Buy or Babbages, more often than not, I would leave with at least one game. What would often happen is that I would enjoy the game(s) for a bit, but then would have many to play without enough time to play them all. Some would, inevitably, get set aside and forgotten rather quickly.

Times have changed; I no longer purchase my toys as frequently, and when I do, they tend to be used and slightly older than brand new. Recently, I have stumbled upon a stash of forgotten games. While not exactly cutting edge, they are, as the saying goes, new to me.

Within the last couple of weeks, I've been playing a game my brother bought for me as a gift, shortly after I bought the PS2. Batman: Vengeance, a game by Ubi-Soft, had a couple of flaws, especially the camera control and unprecise jumping, but was a pretty good time.

Another oldie takes on a slightly different form. Ages ago (around 1994 or so), Davey bought me the RPG, Final Fantasy III for the Super Nintendo. Over the years, I have started this game over a number of times. Typically, I would get pretty far in the game and then would either tire of it or be forced into taking an extended break; when I would try to return to it, often months later, I could not recall what I was doing and would decide that I needed to start again. While I still have the game and SNES sitting in the basement, the practicality of setting it up doesn't really excite me. However, I found that I can play it on my computer now. With an emulator for the SNES and the Final Fantasy III, (or VI, as it was known in Japan) rom, I am able to play through on the computer with some features that were not available on the original. For example, there were only specific locations that you could save at when playing on the SNES, and you could only have up to three saves at a time. With the emulator, I can still use those saves as normal, but it is easier to use one of the ten available "save states" that is, essentially, a snapshot of the moment in the game. Thus, I can save at any point, without any restrictions, as well as reload at any point without long delays. Plus, it has a fast forward button that allows for speeding through movie sections that have already been seen. Very nice. When I finally finish, I'll also take a look at Dragon Warrior 1-4 for the original NES.

For the PS2, I still have "Silent Hill 3" and for the GameCube I have the LOTR:ROTK that I am borrowing from the sibs. So, the need for the new new games is much less.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Games and the Gaming Gamers Who Play Them

Lately, I have been playing a lot of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory for the XBox (in co-op mode with a friend online, since I've finished the solo campaign) mixed in with Spider-Man (which is actually a based on the movie) for the PS2.

Splinter Cell is a blast and my favorite series for the XBox, but I have been on a Spider-Man rampage. I borrowed it from the sibs on Memorial Day weekend and have finished it on the normal difficulty. One feature in games that I really enjoy is the ability "unlock" bonuses or secrets by accomplishing different things in the games; it extends the replayability of the game by giving additional goals asside from simply beating the bad guy at the end. In some games, you need to collect various hidden items, or earn enough money to buy the bonus goodies. In the case of Spider-Man, you get points based on various goals for each level. You will always get points for finishing the level, but to earn enough points to unlock the bonuses, you need to use a variety of attacks, and some levels have an added point bonus if you take no damage. The game is very well done. Some of the bonuses require finishing the game on the harder difficulty levels, so I started over and am playing through on "Super Hero" mode.

And, when I've exhausted both Splinter Cell and Spider-Man, I'll probably continue with the Sims 2 on my PC. What is interesting about the Sims is that you cannot really "finish" the game. Often described as a "sandbox", play continues indefinitely, with the direction and story of the game being left up to the player. Often in games, if you get tired with a certain character, you start over and have to work from scratch. The beauty of the Sims 2 is that the setup allows for restarts with new characters, while the previous characters remain in the neighborhood and the new characters can interact with them. Not only does this allow for a restart with new characters, but it also allows for gameplay at an entirely different level; you are now playing an entire neighborhood instead of just a sim or a family of sims.

And, I think that is enough video game talk for now. Come back later and I'll be sure to bore you further. ;)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Young Man, Take 2

While my progress, and interest, in my 'official' goal for this year is minimal, I have taken to a defacto resolution. Amusingly, the resolution I have fallen into is one which many make in vain; I have returned to the Y.

Starting the second week of March, I've been to the gym three times a week. There have been only a couple of weeks in which I missed a workout, so it has been pretty routine. It all started because of my griping to a co-worker about how I have a membership to the YMCA that I never use and was planning on canceling it. Upon hearing this, he expressed an interest in the Y since he was looking to become more physically active due to doctor's orders. I took him for a quick tour and he signed up the same day; we worked out for the first time the very next day.

It is interesting how some days seem to be trivial, while others feel like I've never worked out before, even though the weights remain the same. We always start with a fifteen minute run before we lift weights, and I think that might be the issue. Maybe it would be better to do the weights first. Though, the one time we tried reversing the order, it made the run much less bearable. We'll see.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Graduation vs. the Pistons

So, it is now about 4:40pm on Sunday June 5th, and I am sitting at home writing this instead of having a graduation dinner with my sister and family at the Rainforest Cafe. The entire state of Michigan is under a Tornado Watch until 8 tonight, so it didn't seem wise to make the 2.5 hour journey to Auburn Hills to participate in Jenny's graduation. It is all the Pistons fault.

If the Pistons had just swept the Heat, or been swept, the graduation cerimonies would have been on Saturday as planned. But, because there was a game six, graduation got pushed to Sunday. So, since there were no weather problems yesterday, the trip would have been a non-issue.

At any rate, I'm sorry I cannot be there, Jenny; I hope it was fun anyways. :)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

It is Decided

Finally, I have come to a conclusion regarding what my resolutions should be this year. I was interested in several aspects of my life, but the ones that stood out were work and my organizational habits (or lack thereof.) Thus, it occurred to me that it might be possible to combine these two areas into one resolution.

My resolution for this year is:

Read SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey and put the lessons into practice.

Gee, that took a while to come up with. The reviews at Amazon indicate that this book is great, so hopefully it will be worth my while. :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

My favorite part of the day

My favorite time of day really happens twice a day, once at lunch and once right after work. It is when I quietly sneak into the kitchen without Katy noticing. Then, eventually she'll either hear me moving or see me out of the corner of her eye. At this point, she goes ape-shit and comes streaking over to say hello. :) I love my baby. :-D

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Let me be the first to say it...

Danny, on the Apprentice, is very annoying. The first episode is on right now and only a half hour into the show and he has already pushed me to the breaking point. Let's hope he gets fired first.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Still Deciding...

I'm still in the process of trying to determine what my New Year's resolutions should be. Last year, the decision was pretty easy; I was overweight and it was my number one priority. This year, however, I have a multitude of things that I could address, yet none jump out like last year. A comparision that I like is the priority ratings I have at work for issues. A "1" is a catastrophic, drop-what-you're-doing, the-customer-might-die-from-using-our-product type of issue. While, a "5" is more along the lines of the color-is-wrong-on-a-screen-that-nobody-goes-to type of issue. Last year, I would say that "Being Overweight" was about a "2". This year, all of my "issues" rate either "3" or "4"s, and there are a lot of them.

So, I didn't forget about posting; I've just been spending a lot of time considering what I should do. I think I have it narrowed down to about four and am working on the phrasing and details. I should be done in a day or two.