Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kappa and Mu

I just received my new toys today. Nothing too big, but i picked up a nice wireless Mac mouse and keyboard. I wasn't expecting them to arrive so quickly but I am glad they did. Means I get to start playing with them sooner. The mouse is nice and exactly what I expected as I use on just like it at work. The keyboard, on the other hand, is smaller than I expected. I expected a full sized keyboard with the number pad on the side, but alas it was not to be. The keyboard is about the same size as my MacBook keyboard with no number pad. Actually, it is the exact same size, I just checked. I miss the number pad for inputting numbers but I really don't input that many numbers at home so I can do without. I am hoping this will help with ergonomics a little. My table and desk are too high to type from and to low to set the laptop on for viewing. This way I can now place the keyboard on my lap and can put the laptop up on something to get the right height. Now I just need to work on my touch typing skills so I am not looking down at the keyboard all the time when I type. Following on my naming conventions, I have assigned the keyboard and mouse greek letters as subsets of the computers main name. I have been giving all my nameable electronic gadgets star names. The computer is Gamma Draconis. At least there is less chance of running out of stars than my buying too many gadgets. At least I can hope so.

On a good note, my computer is up and running again. There are a few minor things to finish tweaking and installing before I am completely satisfied. I am missing some documents and movies but I think I can find some of them on the internet so I am not too concerned. I fixed up the old G4 Mac living under my desk and will set up a backup system just in case. I have been writing most of my documents online for at least the last year and a half so I haven't lost any critical pieces of writings. I lost a few music files and movies that I got from my brother but I should be able to get them back. It is the stuff I can't remember that mildly bothers me. It mustn't have been important but what if it was. Oh well. I will be getting a proper backup drive in the future and I will be upgrading the G4 to a Mac mini someday soon. Visa paperwork and a new sofa are taking priority right now on the bank account.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Up and mostly running

My computer is up and running for the most part. I will be bringing it into work tomorrow and upgrading to Leopard and downloading much needed software. The fast internet connection will will be quite handy. I can also grab some much needed files and stuff from my server which is also at school. I will be missing many of my podcasts but I can get most of them online if I visit each podcasts homepage. A little tedious but in some cases worth the trouble.

While I was trying to get the computer up and running today, which I had forgotten my disks at home making it difficult, I picked up a few nice gadgets. I bought a wireless bluetooth keyboard and mighty mouse. While I already have a bluetooth enabled wireless mouse, I don't like the scroll wheel, it clicks and doesn't scroll sideways. I tend to spend quite a bit of time on the computer at work filling out paperwork and stuff so I have really come to like the mighty mouse. The new mighty mouse also had a right and left click even though it looks like it had one button. I also picked up a mini-dvi to vga adapter so I can plug into a non-dvi monitor or hopefully one day a flat screen TV to watch downloaded shows or stream from the internet. There are many sites now that allow people to catch up with TV shows that they missed or for people like me who don't have TV to watch shows for the first time. I save a lot of money without cable and I can avoid commercials and other crap. aCtually, now-a-days, I find there is a lot of crap on TV.

While I was surfing around for gadgets and trying to keep from completely impulse buying, I was looking at the Mac mini. I have always liked it, but I dislike the fact that you can't really add more storage space to it internally. I think I am going to get one anyway to replace my G4 which I will sell to fund the Mac mini. I don't really use the G4 and the Mac mini supports wifi so I can put one wifi node in the apartment and everything can talk. I will also be getting an large external storage drive to hold TV shows, podcasts, and the all important backups.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Getting there

Another lesson for learning how to roll. It is interesting how relaxed I am in the pool with an instructor there helping me. He keeps making me go through the motions and I mostly have it down I just need to keep my shoulder in and try to not over extend myself. I am a little nervous about trying to roll on my own without the instructor there to help me but I will have to do so eventually. This time I took the time to just go through the motions and reinforce the muscle memory. I hope to try on my own next time. I have also been told that learning how to scull properly also makes for a good comeback. So I will start to play with sculling as well.

In the kayak side of things, I still have to finish the Greenland paddle I started. I found out they are hold a class in March for people who want to make one but people in progress are welcome to join in. So I will join in on that and finish it off. Mostly I feel that the blades are a little thick and the shaft is also a bit too thick for my hands. One of the points of making a Greenland paddle is that it is custom fit to the person. This is someone else's paddle that I am working on but our measurements are close enough that I can made the modifications in the shaping without too much trouble. I have used the paddle once but I want to use it more to see if I actually like the techniques. It is supposed to be easier on the shoulders and joints. Always a bonus as I sometimes have wrist troubles. Too much typing in one day is not good for me. I know better and yet I still do it without realizing it.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

A real duh moment

Everyone once in a while I have a real duh moment, this was one of them. I was working on fixing up some disk permissions and much needed disk defrags. I also had a small partition that used to have Windows on it but I wanted to get the partition back for the extra space. So the big duh moment was when I accidentally reformatted my hard drive. I lost everything. As disastrous as this sounds, when I really think back on what was on my drive, there is very little that wasn't already backup up somewhere else either on another computer or on the internet. Thank goodness I have been a die hard user of Google Docs otherwise I would have lost much more then I did. In the end, I think I lost a few recipes and maybe a few files tha tI can't remember. My logic is if I can't remember it, it wasn't important enough to be worth trying to recover. So after looking at various data recovery softwares and talking to a Mac store about my options (they tried to suggest a company that charges 1000$, yes that is one thousand), I decided to just reinstall over the wiped drive and go about my life as normal.

In the end, I now have more space on my drive where before it was at a premium and I will be looking at doing regular backups and likely also looking into putting even more of my stuff online in some fashion. But for now, other then the general feeling of being stupid, I don't feel that I have really lost anything. Now if my server where to ever go down, that would be a whole other story. I really need to bring it home from work since it is back up and running. I also don't need it there and I will be looking in to getting internet access at home shortly so it will be put to better use at home.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An ode to Goya

I really should write a thank you note to the Goya food company. I wonder if the company was started by some homesick person who wanted easy access to cheap ready to use beans. They have a wide variety of canned beans and I just recently discovered they have large cans and extra large jumbo cans. I picked up two large cans of the white beans and made some supper easy baked beans. I cooked up some bacon and onions in a pan, added it to the beans with the sauce mix and baked for about half an hour. Turned out almost as good as the real deal with no soaking. I also use their beans to make chili. I wish I could get pre-cooked lentils but alas, they do not have those, just the dried variety.

I have been fooling around lately with a black bean soup recipe I found online. I made a few changes and have a real winner of a soup. Not sure why I suddenly want soups but I have been making some very nice soups. I made a nice black bean soup with chili powder and cumin. A cream of leek and potato soup, and creamy red pepper potage. I think this started with a soup mix I bought for a black bean soup that I thought was good but I felt I could do better. So I tossed some stuff in a pot and cleaned the fridge out in the process and voila, a great soup for a cold day. It was really quick to make and I generally have all the ingredients on hand. If I don't have pumpkin puree I just add more potatoes to thicken more.

Black bean soup

in med stock pot over med/high heat, saute in 1-2 tsp olive oil until tender:
1 med onion diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2-3 clove garlic

when tender add and stir for 1 min:
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder to taste
salt and pepper to taste

2-3 cups broth (veg or chicken)

bring to boil, add then simmer:
1-2 small potatoes diced
2-3 tbsp pumpkin (because I had some in the fridge)

When tender add:
1/3 can black beans, rinsed
puree mixture and place back on heat

add remaining can of rinsed black beans
small can of corn, drained
heat through and enjoy
add smoked chipotle tabasco to taste (my new favourite item)

Best enjoyed with taco chips.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Double booked pool

The pool was double booked today. Since the other group was there first, we got cancelled. I wonder if we had shown up first if they would have delayed or cancelled the synchronized swimming competition. Could have been interesting trying to kick 50 kayakers out of the pool so they can judge some swimming event. I'm sure the parents would have kicked up more of a fit then we did. In the end, there was no rolling today and we are to get a refund for that class value. I would have preferred the rolling but this works okay. A bunch of us went down to the local coffee shop and chatted for a while.

It was really cold today too. I was supposed to go on an overnight trip on the Friday that got cancelled due to some unexpected logistics. We didn't know the parking area closed at 5:00 so hadn't planned on leaving work early that day. It would have been a good test of sleeping bags and mattresses. I was just wearing my sandals today since I thought I was going to be running from the warm car to the warm pool. Alas, I had to stand out in the cold and retie my kayak back down. My poor toes turned into little ice cubes before I had a chance to encase them in socks and shoes. At least my down parka kept me warm. I'm sure the neoprene top I was wearing helped some too. Oh well, looking forward to next Sunday's lesson. And tomorrow is a holiday so I can relax and clean up a bit.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Its snowing!

I think this is the first real snowfall this season. We had a light dusting twice before but nothing that really stuck around. It has been snowing since about 10:00 this morning and hasn't really let up. Everything outside is slowly being covered up with a white layer.

I have a quick backpacking trip planned for this Friday and we are expecting more snow on Saturday. Could be interesting. This will be an easy winter camping trip to try to hammer down gear and also make sure the tent I am testing gets tested. I will unfortunately be carrying a really heavy winter bag until the 20F bag (my next test item) arrives. While it is a really good bag, a Sierra Designs Woman-specific bag rated to 0F, it is about 4.5lb. I only really use it as a winter quilt in really cold weather inside the apartment. Now that my apartment has heat included and they keep the place as warm as a sauna, I have not needed it. I can't turn off all the radiators, there is one that will not close, so I can only regulate the heat by strategic window opening.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Kayak rolling 101

I registered for two 4 week classes on learning how to roll a kayak. Yesterday was my first class of eight. I was really excited to be going and a little scared as I wasn't sure what to expect. At least I knew there would be some people there that I would know, so that helped some. The pool was an Olympic sized pool and everyone who already knew how to roll was set up to play in the deep end. Everyone who wanted to learn was set up in the shallow end. There were a lot of new people who wanted to learn to roll white water boots but only 2 people in sea kayaks. How to feel out of place. I listened to the instructor and we started off with T-rescues as the basis behind the T-rescue can help you learn the motions of a good roll. By the end of the class, the instructor was walking around and assisting everyone through the motions of the roll. I did 2 assisted half rolls then 3 assisted full rolls. One was a really good roll but the other two I stuck my shoulder out too far and over balanced myself. The water in the cockpit that was sloshing around didn't help my balance either. But it was a good day. I think I got more helpful instruction from my friend and the DVD he had lent me then from the instructor. But I think that gave me a head start. Next week I hope I can do an unassisted roll. All in all, it was fun to finally start learning how to roll, and in the pool it was very comfortable.

So today I am feeling the pain of rolling. I am still trying to get over the remnants of my cold and whenever I cough my sides hurt, a lot. My back, neck, arms and the back of my legs also hurt. I think some of the neck and arm pain is from carrying in the groceries on Saturday but the back and side pain is definitely from rolling. I could use a good masseuse right now. If I lean to the side to emulate a roll, I can feel the pain. Good thing I have a week to recover. Guess I should try to add some stretching for those areas. The hot tub at the pool was an added bonus. I would have like to relax longer in the hot tub but I had a co-worker's housewarming to go to. It was fun and the food was very good.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

What my trail name means

So I decided to put in my trail name to see what that would give me, apparently I am still a "Type A" personality:

***What Canadian Loonie Means***

You are very open. You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.
You are a naturally creative person. Ideas just flow from your mind.
A true chameleon, you are many things at different points in your life. You are very adaptable.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are balanced, orderly, and organized. You like your ducks in a row.
You are powerful and competent, especially in the workplace.
People can see you as stubborn and headstrong. You definitely have a dominant personality.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life.
You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.
At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What my name means

Someone posted this website on another site I read so I put my name in to see what I would get, sounds like me in a scary sort of way:

You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life.
You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip.
People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life.
You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.
You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out.
Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia.
Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.
You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in.
You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.
You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

First cold of the year

I picked up my first cold of the year on the last day of the ski trip. Likely I picked it up a little before that but the symptoms started showing on the sunday. I am sure the extremely dry hotel room didn't help matters and I just couldn't drink enough water to offset the dehydration lost from skiing and dry hotel air. When I think about it, I think this is actually my first cold in a few years. I have been luck enough to stay healthy in that regard if not in other ways. So this is day 3 with the cold and it really isn't too bad. I am hoping it is on the decline but only time will tell. I really should go out and get some oranges or something with vitamin C in it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Appalachian Trail Hiking Community

Someone from the gear test listserv posted about a new AT community that is currently being developed. I joined as a member and have been posting on the boards recently. Since it is so new there are very few posts and members right now but I also feel that there isn't that much that has been established to it is kind of fun to be a part of. I'm not sure how many of the members are wannabes and how many are has-beens as many of the first posts in a topic have been made by the list administrator. I have been posting to the discussions and trying to pass on some of my hard earned knowledge. But when I look back to when I was first starting, I don't know if I would have taken the advice offered or just ignored it. I found that I read quite a bit and tried to take everyone's advice which left me with a pack that must have weighed close to 60lbs. Now I know better but I don't know if that will help anyone else. Guess I will see, and keep on posting my 2 cents worth.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Big Ski trip

I went on a big ski trip this weekend. I actually worked on New Year's eve so I could take the Thursday and Friday off for this trip. The trip started with a wine and cheese meet and greet on Thursday night in West Virginia's Canaan Valley. Friday morning everyone was grouped off into classes and the lessons began. As I have only downhill skied once, I was one of two new people receiving beginner lessons. I had three instructors too, which was great. Especially when I started to get better then the other guy. We ended up breaking up into two groups and getting more personal instruction. The snow was great on Friday, nice and powdery. Saturday was a little warmer so they stopped snowmaking as it was just creating ice. Saturday night it rained so most people didn't ski Sunday. The resort had a hot tub and sauna which was great for my aching body. The trip included a buffet breakfast each morning, wine and cheese events each night in the trip leaders room and we went to a micro brewery where the trip leader bought us all a round of beer and provided pizza for us. Overall it was a great trip and I feel I learned a lot. Now I will have to find some time to squeeze this into an already packed schedule.

I am now exhausted after all the skiing and partying this weekend but I had a mostly great time. I fell twice and knocked my left knee each time, it is my worse knee, but seems to be fine. I couldn't stay awake during the car ride back, good thing I wasn't driving. I am sore in all the places I would expect and a few I didn't. Who expects to get sore arms while downhill skiing. Apparently the few flat sections where I pushed off with the poles were enough to get my arms into use. My 15$ bargain find skis where great if a little long and I am glad to finally have had a chance to use them. Good think I got the bindings put on last winter. Sorry I don't have any pics to show off of me in my orange ski clothes. I think I over did the orange a little, I am testing a Columbia adobe/rust parka and bought orange North Face ski pants. I was warm and comfy in the clothes. And I was quite visible.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Calendar's

Another year is passing and I have made some calendars of my AT pics. This was about the only other thing I managed to accomplish was to generate two calendars through LuLu of some of my AT pics. While the calendars are nice, I noticed that the picture quality isn't that great. I was only working with a 2 mega pixel camera so I notice the pictures are a little pixelated at the larger size. It isn't that noticeable from a distance. I think this is a shame as they are the only pictures I have from my trail experience. I seriously doubt I will be re-hiking the trail just so I can get better pictures. I pulled together some of the nice water pictures I took and also some of the view pictures and made two different calendars. I did this more for myself but they are available for sale on LuLu's. Guess I will see if anyone buys them. Little late in the year to be selling a calendar though.