Saturday, December 30, 2006

Student Loan Finally Done

Well after 10 years I can now celebrate.  No more $330 per month payments for my student loan ever again!

So for morbid curiosity I was wondering... How much did my education cost me?

Sallie Mae did not make the gathering of this information easy btw.  I had to copy/paste from the history, 6 months at a crack for 10 years of data, into Excel.  I guess they didn't want me to know how much blood money was extracted from me for my education.

Principle $18,900.00
Interest $10,645.80
Total Amount Repaid $29,545.80

That doesn't count all the expenses. Although those loans did help me pay for tuition, books and housing; I do believe those loans did not cover all the expense (although my memory is getting a little foggy in that area since it was 10 years ago).  Also there was 1.5 years (of a 4 year degree - it took 4 years real time) of local community college classes paid for out of pocket that's is not in those numbers.

So was it worth $30k?  Would I do it again? Yea I think so. I don't think it is fair or right but having that silly piece of paper opens doors that are unjustifiably closed sometimes if you don't have it.  And salary wise, I've probably more than made up the loss.

It does seem like a lot of money though...


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shutdown a remote server

Often at work I need to reboot a remote server.  I remember this being something that I worked on at Harley-Davidson as well.  Recently, I've been logging into the machine using terminal services and then selecting Start --> Restart and entering in a reason and clicking OK.  Takes about 2-3 minutes depending on fast the machine decides to respond.

There's got to be a better way to do this... and there is.

On WinXP and Windows Server 2003 there's the command line tool shutdown.exe.

From the command line (Start-->Run-->type 'cmd' and hit enter) type:

shutdown -r -m \\YourBuddiesPcName

-r = Shutdown and restart the computer
-m = Remote computer to shutdown/restart/abort

To automate it, stick it into a command file (cmd), create shortcuts on your desktop, use SlickRun, or create a PowerShell alias.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Automate it...

Sometimes I get shit at work because I attempt to automate things.  I do it to save time and mental anguish and most importantly - to free myself up to do other things.  Maybe that's reading or learning about a new technology or getting more stuff done in an 8 hour day then the guy sitting next to me because he's doing all his stuff manually and mistake prone.

My old boss, John Barry, was from South Africa.  He told this joke [and I'm going to butcher it...] about a guy who would run past this woman's house everyday pushing his bike.  One day the woman asks, "Why don't you get on the bike and ride it instead of pushing it?".  The guy replies, "Because I don't have time to learn." 

Do you go through your day, pushing buttons like a monkey because you don't have time to learn a better way of doing it?  You know if you just take the extra time to do something better, faster, in a more automated way - imagine how much time you will save, and imagine how that time will accumulate for each little thing you do.  Just like investing your money and compound interest.

I'm sure you do some of this already in your daily life... you use a dish washer, a garage door opener, the microwave, a washer, a dryer... all these things you use so that you can free time up to do things you want to.

There was a good post the other day by Jeffrey Snover, the Powershell Architect on this:

the next [time] you find yourself thinking about how to do something that you've done before, you should take it as an opportunity to invest a little bit and automation the activity so that you don't have to think about it again.

And that's the point.  He also references this guy called Alfred Whitehead:

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

When I moved to Oregon, I changed how I did my finances drastically.  Instead of downloading stuff into MS Money, entering in receipts, tracking everything, etc... I automated it.  I ditched Money.  Only use the banks' website.  Bills are auto-deducted and paid.  Money is auto-transferred into savings accounts, spending accounts, etc.  I spend little or no thought on this anymore.  Maybe 10 minutes per month...  freeing up time to do other things.

Now I still enjoy boiling the water on the stove to make tea.  Sure it's faster in the microwave.  And it doesn't mean I want to do laundry the old fashioned way - some things, boiling water for tea, cooking at home instead of going to McDonald's, are more comforting...


Sunday, December 17, 2006

XNA Game Studio

I've been wanting to check out Microsoft's XNA Game Studio for awhile now so I spent a couple of hours tonight checking it out.  Basically it's a hobbyist release of Visual Studio (C# Express) with a 'Framework' that sits on top of the .NET 2.0 libraries.  This XNA Framework wraps the DirectX libraries with managed code and you get a bunch of classes like Game, GameTime, GameWindow, BoundingBox, blah blah blah.

It shows alot of promise.  I was able to follow along the tutorial and basically make an image bounce around on the screen like a ping-pong ball.  As a business app developer it's cool seeing the C# code, how little it takes, to get this to work using objects I normally don't see like Vector, Sprite, and Texture.  I wonder if someday we'll get to inject some of this kind of code into business apps as the younger generation (where gaming is more... accepted as a norm) gets older and doesn't mind some of the fancier graphics in the app - where it may even enhance it.


Bottom line here is that although they have a great 'arcade' game framework - it's not yet ready for prime time. 

It doesn't have any UI classes...

There's a few posts on the XNA Framework message boards from MS employees stating that they aren't releasing any in V1.  Seeing how cool the WPF stuff is using XAML, it would be cool if they could incorporate the XAML/WPF stuff with this...

Anyway I'll have to keep looking/researching... My Dad and I have been talking about a creating a game for years and I even did some work a couple years back on a web based version.  My biggest hurdle is how to represent a game board that can contain lots and lots of hexes (200 x 200, etc); once I figure that out...


Friday, December 08, 2006

Mt Hood Sunrise

So yesterday morning on my ride to work, Mt. Hood was looking beautiful with gorgeous sunrise coming up behind her.  It took a few pictures on top of the I-5 bridge heading north over the Columbia River (into Vancouver, Washington).

Mount  Hood Sunrise

These pics don't do it any justice.  It looks so much larger in person.  It's hard to see because of the light, but you can make out the snow on the mountain already.

Mount  Hood Sunrise

Monday, December 04, 2006

Northwest Christmas Tree

So this is how you get a Christmas Tree in the Pacific Northwest.

You could go down to the vendors and buy your tree off a lot.  Or you could go out to a Christmas tree farm and cut one yourself with a saw they give you.  Or you could do what we did.  You buy a $5 permit from the U.S. Forest Service and you head up into the mountains and cut down a Christmas Tree for yourself!

Here's Mt. Hood towering in the background as we head up to get our tree. 


It's only a 1 hour drive from Portland to Mt. Hood.  So within about 30 minutes we were gaining elevation and starting to see signs of snow.  It started with ice below, when we stopped at the Ranger Station to buy the $5 permit, get a map, and buy the annual snow park pass ($15).


Basically you end up drive a forest service road up into the mountains and look for a Christmas tree.  We chose a road and started driving.  I had no idea what to expect.  Thank god I had the 4x4.  This isn't a nice plowed two way road.  This is a gravel road, snowed over, full of potholes, only one lane wide, and huge drop cliff drop offs down to mountain streams... if you make a mistake here you're not just going to need a tow truck.


But wow.  It was beautiful.  All over the place there were mountain streams, waterfalls, just coming out of nowhere!




We were probably going like 5 miles per hour because of the snow, treacherous road, and because I kept stopping every 1/2 mile to take a picture of something.  But we were making good progress.  I was a little worried we would have trouble finding a tree because everything I saw at the lower elevation was so large.  The higher we got the better it started to look but the more dangerous it became.  We finally found a spot though.  And the truck made it like a champ.


The most dangerous part was trying to turn around on that one lane fireroad.  They do have little turn around's but the snow was deep and the road just had ruts in it from tire tracks.  I was afraid we might get stuck.  No worries though.  I think the truck was loving it.  And the view up here was spectacular.  Mountain stream rushing by down below, sun shining, and all by yourself up here.


But we did find a tree finally.  I and cut it down with a bow saw, recommended by the employee at A-Boy hardware store.  I felt kind of bad doing it.  But then Heidi cheered me up by saying well at least we weren't supporting the chemical spraying, gas guzzling, big tree farming companies.  And like a good deer hunter, she held up the prize.


Of course after a hard day's work like that you have to settle down for some hot chocolate.


And in the Northwest that means Big Train hot chocolate (the make the BEST spiced chai) [check out the boiling milk on the campstove to the left], some Snickerdoodle cookies and the best part, gingerbread tea cake from the local bakery.


Then when you get home you can hang up your ornaments on your wild northwest Christmas tree.  Fun.  Can't wait until next year.  Later.  Oh yea.  Merry Xmas.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Book Review: The Historian

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - C-

The question I ask myself is how can I give this book a C- when I stayed up until almost 3 am just to finish it.  On a work night no less.

I finished this book the same weekend we went to the beach.  We did alot of reading that weekend and Sunday it sucked me in enough to finish it.  Perhaps I was just wanting to be done.  At 676 pages of fairly small print on large pages it is quite a long read.

I have two major problems with this book.  One was the overuse of descriptions of places and things that had no relevance on the story.  She was describing them in such detail that I found myself almost skimming over those paragraphs towards the end.  I mean I was reading them but so fast sometimes not taking it all in.  And after being bombarded so many times with so many details, like the color and size of some dome on some historical building, it was driving me crazy.

The other problem, and this is sort of a spoiler, was the ease at which they dispatched Dracula at the end.  All that reading, a guy alive for 500+ years, and they take him out with 4 people in a small room... it was anti-climatic and it sucked.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Remote Desktop Connection (Terminal Services Client 6.0) for Windows XP

I'm a big fan of using RDC or TS, whichever you choose to call it.  Just hit Windows + R, type 'mstsc', and there you are.  Instant access to other machines as if you were sitting right in front of that machine.  I use it at home to connect to the other computer without leaving mine and use it at the office to connect to our servers.  I find it better than using the web-based version as well.

So if you too are a user of terminal services you might want to get the new release from MS.  You can get it here.

If you have multiple monitors, it now supports spanning of multiple desktops.

So, this version

 Remote Desktop Connection version 5.1

Becomes this version


Enjoy!  Later.

Monday, November 27, 2006


How to impress your girlfriends' parents at Thanksgiving:

You go out and drink on the back porch with the host, a big, burly, lumberjack, Santa Claus looking fellow who's house is perched in the foothills of the Cascades.  Now the host, Heidi's uncle, is a whiskey drinkin' man.  You're not really, but what the hell?  So after a couple glasses of red wine with dinner you find yourself outside at night with the host, the father of your girlfriend, and another guy, all over 55, sipping on shots of Jim Beam, Jack Daniel's, and Seagram's VO Gold.  At least that's the last thing you remember...  Sure you have a foggy memory of drinking a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale and reading the label off the bottle to the family in the living room late that evening.  And you kind of remember that once you make it back to the home of your girlfriends' parents house at midnight, you had to run outside and puke.  This all comes back to you as you peel yourself off the living room floor at 5:10am in the morning, pillow and blanket in hand (which were so tenderly given to you after you passed out on the floor) and swagger over the hide-a-bed.  Later that day before going out to lunch, your girlfriend and her father try to help you out by giving you a couple of Rolaids tablets to chew on and wash down with some whatever.  After a statement of, "oh boy, that didn't go down good", you run out the sliding glass door for the 2nd time in the last 12 hours and fertilize the lawn a little bit more.

Yea... [in my best Lumbergh impersonation]

Anyway.  So besides my drunken story that I'm hoping will generate laughter and stories down the road, I had a pretty good time at Thanksgiving this year.  We drove down to Heidi's parent's place for a couple days, leaving on Thursday and coming back Saturday.  Thanksgiving was actually at her relatives house in the cascades, only a dozen or so miles from the mountain bike race in Oakridge I did earlier this summer.  I learned at dinner that you can't drink the water in the mountains there because it contains arsenic.  So even though you can use it to do dishes or take a shower, you have to drink bottled water.  I got a little, overserved, that night and paid for it the rest of the weekend.  Honestly, I'd rather have pain inflicted on me than be nauseous like that.  I can count on one hand the number of times I've puked in my life; and 2 of those events were from drinking hard liquor.  I just thought those dry heaves all those years ago was because it was Yukon Jack and I was barely 16.  I guess hard liquor and I don't agree with each other.

We went out to watch the "Civil War" game Friday afternoon between, Oregon State and Oregon.  A hard fought game that Oregon State barely won and came down to the last play.  I suffered through it only being able to eat french fries even though my burger was looking good.  I just couldn't stomach it.

That Friday night we went out for Sushi, which is very good on the west coast here, and Eugene has a good spot called Sushi Station, with a couple of additional girls meeting up with us.  Even though I love sushi, I stuck to the cooked stuff, chicken teriyaki as my main course, because I didn't think I could hold it down.  I did sneak in a few tastes though.

We took it easy the rest of the weekend.  I was still kind of hurtin on Sunday even...  played a bunch of Battlefield 2142 with the old man over Ventrilo.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

B-Day Weekend


What a great weekend.  I took Friday off work and Heidi and I drove down during the afternoon.  When we arrived at the Heceta Head Lighthouse, after a short 3 hour drive, it was raining hard.  Because of the rain it was hard to appreciate the view of the ocean from the road as it S-curved all over to get there.  I was hoping it wasn't going to rain all weekend but if it did, enjoy it anyway.


Our room was excellent.  This is my 3rd stay in a bed & breakfast and I'm liking them over hotels.  We had our own bathroom.  The bed was a cool four poster bed high off the ground.  It had a step stool to get into it.  We stayed in Victoria's Room.  It was supposed to be haunted.  There was this guest log with a bunch of entries from people who saw ghosts, or just proposed marriage, or just had a great weekend.  We didn't write anything in it.  I will say that although I was hoping to see something ghostly I didn't.  But I did have strange dreams both Friday and Saturday night which the log did mention people had.

Here's a view of the lighthouse from the lightkeepers house (the bed and breakfast).  It's just a short 5 minute walk away.  Like the nice white picket fence?


So after we settled in the room Friday we checked out the house and then went out for dinner in the small town of Yachats (YAH-hots) about 11 miles north of the lighthouse B&B.  Chicken pot pie, a guy playing guitar, and a fireplace.  Later that night it was a flashlight walk up to the lighthouse.

The next morning, and this is the best part of a B&B, you get to have a nice breakfast.  This place goes way over the top and the breakfast is seven (7) courses!  It takes about 1 hour 30 minutes and it's well worth it.  It's also nice getting to talk to the people staying there.  It feels more comfortable than the antiseptic feeling of staying in a hotel chain.

Here's the table we all ate at.  Those cold disks are called 'chargers'.  Which I never knew until that weekend...


Thankfully it was a nice sunny day so we drove about 1/2 mile south to the Sea Lion Caves.  They were all out enjoying the day so there were none to see in the cave.  We did see several out in the water though.


After that we picked up some cheese, crackers, and sausage and settled on the couch at the lighthouse and did some reading in the afternoon in front of the fireplace.  This was the view out the window...


 Later that evening we went back into Yachats for dinner.  We found this really cool place called the Drift Inn for some fish and chips.  They have live music every night.  We ended up buying the CD for the 3 guys playing that night.  Ukrainian music.  The guy playing the violin was great.  I find out later that it's a family affair.  His dad plays the guitar and made, that's right, hand-made, the violin, that his son is playing.  Their website isn't up yet but perhaps it'll be someday and this link, Zach Konowalchuk & the Pieces of Eight, will be active.  I took a little video.

The next morning we had another great 7 course breakfast, took a little tour of the house to learn about the history and then headed home.  We drove up the coast abit, which I'm always completely awed at.  I guess when you grow up living in WI/IL you can't help but marvel at the waterfalls shooting out the side of mountain into the ocean.  Hopefully Heidi doesn't get tired of me shouting, "Holy sh*t, look at that!  Way cool."

We stopped at a state park along the way, I forget the name, to look for whales and learn about the local history.  I liked the "Bear Country" sign... of course it doesn't say anything about the Cougar / Mountain Lion population. .. They think the disappearance of one of the cats at the lighthouse is due to one...


As usual more pics here.  I took some movies which I'll upload as well.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Endurox vs Chocolate Milk

I came across this news article today.  Study: Chocolate milk good for athletes.  That's surprising.  I know I did mention coming across something like this in a previous post.  I'll paraphrase some of the article in case the link goes dead.

But a group of scientists recently discovered that one of the most effective drinks to help athletes recover after exercise is the same thing moms across America have been giving their kids for years. A simple glass of chocolate milk.

To be forthright, the study by the scientists from Indiana University was supported in part by the Dairy and Nutrition Council.

Still, their findings are compelling.

The small group of fit athletes who took part in the study were asked to work out strenuously on a stationery bicycle, then drink low-fat chocolate milk, a fluid-replacement drink like Gatorade and a carbohydrate replacement drink like Endurox R4. A few hours later, they were asked to cycle again until they reached exhaustion.

The test was repeated three times — once with each kind of drink — and the data showed that the cyclists were able to go between 49 and 54 percent longer on the second stint after drinking chocolate milk than when they drank the carbohydrate drink. The difference between the milk and the fluid-replacement drink was not significant.

"My way of explaining it is, there's really nothing magic about the powder in a can that you mix with water," cycling coach Scott Saifer said of the carbohydrate drink. "It's water, carbs, proteins, maybe minerals and electrolytes. What's in chocolate milk? The same thing. There's no reason it shouldn't be as good for recovery as a carb drink."

Butch, Ray, Ryan, and myself can all swear by Endurox.  We've all used it, and we've all gone out a purchased those big plastic bins that cost anywhere from $30 - $50 bucks depending on the size.  Next time after my ride, instead of reaching for the bin of Endurox I think I'm going to read into the cooler and mix myself some chocolate milk instead.

After all... don't we all want to go longer?


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

High Winds

Great.  Well hopefully I don't get blown off the I-5 bridge into the Columbia River tonight during the ride home from work.  I might have to walk my bike across.




Well it took me an extra 30 minutes on the ride. Winds practically made me go backwards during the ride south as they slammed into me. Once I made it downtown and into the west hills, with 5 miles to go, I finally found some shelter but those 15 miles... where I would normally be going 18-20 mph i was 8-9 mph. I was also able to ride the bridge.

I was thinking why did I do this when I had multiple offers to drive me home? Proof it could be done? Bravado? Stubborn? Mental toughness training? Beating mother nature? Maybe just stupid.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Turkey-Day Lunch

We had turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, rolls and three different pies; marionberry, apple, and pumpkin (with Cool Whip) brought in for lunch today.  Brought in from Fred Meyer (grocery store chain).  We also got a nice $500 extra put in our pay envelopes today (before tax).  Nice on both accounts.  Now I just need to stay awake (hmm... I guess tryptophan is more a myth than reality).


Thursday, November 09, 2006

35th Birthday

Today is my 35th birthday.  Gone through quite a change from where I was living to now.  While I think one can learn from history, I don't think it's good to dwell on the past.  There's certainly nothing you can do about it.  I'm not feeling real introspective at the moment so I'll just leave it at this.  There isn't a thing I would change about my past.  It's made me who I am.  I think life presents you with opportunities; it's like a path with forks leading to different endings.  It's about the journey not the destination.  I'm certainly excited about the path I've chosen.  I got a great girl and live in a cool city... and I'm going to the beach this weekend!


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Today is Tuesday and time to vote.  Oregon and Washington do things a little different.  You vote only by mail.  Two weeks ago we received two big pamphlets.  One contained pictures and text about each candidate.  The other contained a printed statement about each measure to be voted on as well as short 500 word statements either in favor or opposition to the measure.  It only costs $500 to place your statement in the pamphlets and the pamphlets are fully paid for by this so it costs the state nothing to send out these voter materials.  You then just mark up your selects by coloring in the circles (like a scantron test sheet) and either drop it in the mail or at a drop box.


It took me about 2 hours to go through everything last night.  I have to say I find this very rewarding.  In Wisco and Illinios you stand in line for hours jsut to get to a voter booth and then have no idea who some of the candidates are or what certain measures are unless you have watched a bunch of commercials or tried to do homework on the issues before hand.  And good luck finding non-biased material on what you were voting on.

Check out how one person spelled out the word DUH in their Argument in Favor...


I can remember a few times where I just plain walked away because it was 7pm at night after I had gotten home from work and had dinner and now I had to go stand in sub freezing tempuratures for 3 hours in a line to vote.  Let alone find a damn parking spot.  Lame.

Also, there's no 'party line' voting here.  In WI/IL you can just check off the 'Republican' or 'Democrat' or 'Libertarian' box right at the top and skip voting for each candidate.  Not here.  You have to make your choices.  Another cool thing is that citizens can get measures put on the ballet by getting some number of signatures completely bypassing the legislature.  Truelly government by the people and I think other states should take note.



Monday, November 06, 2006


We had a magnitude 2.6 earthquake here last night.  Around 9:30 PM PST.  That's what I heard on the news anyway.  We were eating a late dinner and watching TV and didn't feel a thing.  Earthquakes though... wow.  Now that's truly not Midwest.  From the Oregonian:

Small quake shakes Portland metro area

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Portland area was hit by a small earthquake at 9:34 p.m. Sunday that rattled houses throughout the city.

The magnitude 2.6 quake occurred about 10 miles beneath the earth's surface under the center of the city, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Reports came from throughout the city from residents who felt the earthquake. Some in Northeast Portland felt a marked shaking. The quake also was felt in the West and Southwest areas, as well as downtown.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

We carved some pumpkins a week ago.  The spider turned out pretty cool I think - not too hard to do when you are just following a pattern.  Heidi's kitty turned out good as well.


Heidi and I went out for Halloween this past Saturday.  She went as Marilyn Monroe and I went as a "Milton Waddams" from Office Space.


She did a really good job.


In a surprising turn of events.  The geek gets the girl.



Monday, October 23, 2006

Oregon is Skateboarding Mecca

Just got done watching a DVR'd episode of Oregon Field Guide (episode 1803). I guess Oregon is the Skateboarding mecca. People come here from Hawaii, California, and around the world to skate here. Primarily because of the concrete skate parks. It all started with a park built illegally under the Burnside Bridge. My buddy at work has mentioned he used to skate there. I guess guys carrying concrete bags built the place so they could skate even when it was raining and to this day it's still squating on the land but the city lets it be. Even towns with small populations, like Burns, Oregon with less than 2,000 people have concrete skate parks. The guys that build the parks now go all over the world to build them. The coolest part was watching guys skate down Mt. Tabor slalom style - now that looked like fun.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

IE7 Released Today...

If you're not using Firefox then you should be getting IE7 now...

HOWTO: Find all classes that implement an interface

So I'm coding along and I run into this nice error:

SideBarList control must contain an IButtonControl with ID SideBarButton in every item template, this maybe include ItemTemplate, EditItemTemplate, SelectedItemTemplate or AlternatingItemTemplate if they exist.

Now the question is. Just how do I find all the classes that implement IButtonControl. Just from memory I know there's the LinkButton and Button. I'd forgotten about ImageButton. I tried googling, both the web and groups. Point is, there's no easy way using either Visual Studio 2005 or the MSDN Library.

Thankfully there's Lutz Roeder's Reflector to the rescue.

How To Find Classes That Implement An Interface

This handy tool will let you see all the classes (classes you have loaded into the tool) that implement the interface either directly or indirectly.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lazy Weekend

Heidi went to Sisters, OR to visit a childhood friend for the weekend and I proceeded to have a nice lazy weekend.

I caught up on my Lost episodes. 16 of em. Well if you count the 2 for this season that's 18 episodes in total. It sounds crazy (maybe it is) but it wasn't that hard. Ever drink beer and watch football all Sunday? Anyway. Kevin, if you're reading, we have some talking to do...

Heidi spent the majority of Sunday napping (I did join in for abit) so I got pretty deep into the The Historian. It was a slow start but it's getting really good now. Maybe it was more because i was reading like 2 pages at a time before passing out right before bed. What a nasty guy Vlad the Impaler was. Cool.


Best Friday Ever?

So when I awoke Friday I had no idea how great the day was going to turn out. Nice cycle into work. Then in the morning my girlfriend makes reservations to go to the coast for my birthday. We're staying in this nice bed & breakfast, Heceta Head Lighthouse, that was the old lightkeeper's house. We get a free tour of the lighthouse and I guess there's even a ghost in thrown into the mix. Supposedly the room we're staying in... Finally at lunch, because our company had the highest sale ever, we had Mexican and Corona's. That's right, every employee (about 25-ish of us) we're in the 1 large conference room eating taco's, chips & salsa, burrito's and washing it down with a cold beer. At work. Did I mention how cool the Pacific Northwest is?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The beauty of Portland

Here's five shots stitched together at the top of the I-5 bridge over the Columbia looking East to Mt. Hood.  I promised a shot 2 weeks ago but it was so foggy that all you saw was white out... that was kind of eerie but a photo wouldn't of done it any justice

Mt. Hood & Columbia River At Dawn

Cold ride, beautiful sunrise


It was a cold ride in to work Tuesday morning. 45. Not as cold as it's going to get back home though. It's harder getting up when it's dark outside. Makes it easy to say... "nah I don't feel like it". That's what happened to me last week. Skipped riding the whole week. This week is a different story. Since I've somehow gained 10 pounds since moving out here I feel commited now to getting that weight back off. I can definately tell when I ride.

Mt Hood at sunrise overlooking the Columbia river. This is the view from atop of the I-5 Bridge.

Mt Hood at sunrise

So I'm wondering what to do about the cold feet... Sure I have booties. Those are OK but sometimes my feet still get cold. I could wrap my feet in a plastic bag then put the booties on. Or also put when of those heat packets on the top of my foot, then put the bootie on. But that feels so wasteful. Throw away two packets everytime I ride in the winter months? I wonder if a pair of winter/cold weather cycling shoes would do it? They are expensive and only a couple of manufactures make them though. SIDI makes a pair. Amazon has em. My size (43) well.

Kind of blurry but there's what's left of Mt. St. Helen's on the horizon there to the left (North) as you're going of the Columbia on the I-5...



Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Weekend Update

I already forgot what I did for dinner on Friday. I know we went out somewhere, came home, and I pretty much was out by like 10:30pm.

Saturday I went to a LAN party with a buddy at work. Basically a bunch of people (8 of us) get together and play PC games over the network. The guy's house was about 1 hour south in the town of Salem, OR. He had cleared out the living room and we setup our PC's on tables in the living room and kitchen and started gaming. We played F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon, Company of Heroes, Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth 2, and Call of Juarez. Back in the early 90's when my Dad got me doing this they were called 'War-gamer weekends' because we'd start Friday night, stay up all night into Saturday until we passed out sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. The other 6 guys I got to know were pretty cool. They get together once a month so I may partake in some of that.

Sunday we went out for brunch at MacAdams Bar & Grill (make your own bloody mary bar), ran some errands, and watched football. It was supposed to be a nice day but it ended up raining (a light sprinkle mind you) most of the day. That's when I did most of the book readin'. Nice to see the Bears kickin butt again. 5-0. There's a Bears fan club bar down the road from where we live that we need to check out.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Book Review: Already Dead

Already Dead by Charlie Huston - A-

It's been a long time since I read a book. Don't think I've made time since the last one I finished in July. I guess that's not very long but it seems like a long time.

I poured myself into this one. The reading was light and easy. It's also about vampires and this is October and Halloween is on it's way so there you are... I got the shipment from Amazon with a couple books in it on Wednesday night. I picked up the book Thursday night to read it and, without trying too hard, had it read by today, Sunday.

It's a rated R novel. Beware. And if you don't like vampire stories, beware. The main character, Joe, is a detective sort of. And a vampire. He lives in New York. I find the story of how the author explains the vampire exists to be kind of interesting and that keeps me going until the actually story of why I'm reading about this particular vampire kicks in. I have only read one other vampire book. Interview with a Vampire. Long before it was a movie actually. I actually read all of Anne Rice's books in the Vampire Chronicles series up to #5 Memnoch the Devil.

Anyway, good book. Not a top ten. Maybe a top ten for vampire books though. We'll see. Next I'm going to tackle The Historian.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Weekend Update

I guess I was feeling 'midwestern'.  Check out the food I ate.  Friday we went out for dinner at Cheesecake factory.  They have a kick butt meatloaf with mashed potatoes.  Heidi went down to visit her parents Sat and Sun.  Sat night I cooked up some London Broil with mashed taters.  Sunday morning it was hashbrowns, bacon, eggs.  And then Sunday night it was pork loin... with mashed taters.  I think I have my quota of mashed taters in for awhile.  I also think I'm picking up a new hobby.  Cooking.  I guess if you like to eating it's a natural progression.

Did some gaming.  Company of Heroes - completed the campaign - it was 15 missions.  Awesome game.  I also did some  online play.  2 wins 2 loses.  Also played some F.E.A.R. online for some fast and furious FPS action.

It was great watching the Chicago Bears trounce the Seahawks 37-6 on Sunday!  Heidi even tried rooting for her home team... which was cute but wasn't helping because the Bears just kept scoring points.  It's great to finally see the offense helping out the defense.  Hopefully things will keep up and it'll be a great season.

Got 80 miles on the bike last week.  Let's see if I can keep it up.  It hasn't started raining yet although I'm waiting for the impending doom they keep predicting.  This time of year is my favorite.  Fall.  Football.  Halloween.  My B-Day.  Thanksgiving.  Christmas.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

New PC

I've been long overdue for a new PC.  I think the last one I built was in Jan of 2003 and if you're a gamer, you're usually getting a new rig every 2 1/2 years, not counting graphics card upgrades, etc. along the way.  So last Friday I spec'd it out and ordered up all the parts from newegg.  And when I got home from work yesterday it was like Christmas.  3 boxes of goodies on my doorstep.

I didn't think the price was too bad.  The machine is pretty close to one of the best you can build atm.  Short of RAID or a small step in a better processor.  But the RAM, Video, HDD are the best.  For now anyway... wait 6 months.

We had dinner at a tappas restaurant so I didn't get started building until about 7:30pm but I had it all together and loading the OS by 10pm.  I'm already amazed at how fast the hard drive is.  WinXP SP2 was thrown down in about 15 minutes.

Looking forward to installing some games and seeing how they look.

Here's the specs on the PC (for future reference):

Product Description Total Price
DISCOUNT FOR COMBO #8823 ($25.00)
Item #: COM
COOLER MASTER Ammo 533 RC-533-SWN1 Black/Silver Aluminum+Plastic front bezel; SECC chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $74.99
Item #: N82E16811119098
ViewSonic VA1912wb Black 19" 8ms Widescreen LCD Monitor - Retail $214.99
Item #: N82E16824116373
ASUS P5B Deluxe/WiFi-AP Socket T (LGA 775) Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $209.99
Item #: N82E16813131028
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E6600 - Retail $319.99
Item #: N82E16819115003
COOLER MASTER SAF-S12-E1 120 x 120 x 25mm SuperFlo Cooling Fan - Retail $7.99
Item #: N82E16811999072
ASUS EAX1900XT/2DHTV/512 Radeon X1900XT 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail $346.99
Item #: N82E16814121554
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X2048-6400 - Retail $299.00
Item #: N82E16820145590
NEC 16X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE/ATAPI Model ND-3550A - OEM $29.99
Item #: N82E16827152058
COOLER MASTER RS-550-ACLY-SLI ATX12V/ EPS12V 550W Power Supply - Retail $119.99
Item #: N82E16817171009
Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10,000 RPM Serial ATA150 Hard Drive - OEM $229.99
Item #: N82E16822136012
Subtotal $1,828.91
Shipping $46.17
Total $1,875.08

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Weather - Portland vs Milwaukee

I can't help but gloat right now over the weather difference back home to here.  Now I may be crying in a couple months but hey... it's nice out right now!

It was dark on the start of the ride this morning, and I had to wear the headlamp for the first time this year, but the sun was beautiful as it rose up next to Mt. Hood.  I forgot the camera at home.  I'll try and remember to catch a shot going over the I-5 bridge on Friday morning.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Riding and buying Liquor

Rode home tonight.  First time in a few weeks.  Maybe like 6-7 I think.  Anyway.  Beautiful day.  84 - sunny.  Must've been alot of bugs out because I ate quite a few.  Noticed I was pretty slow climbing the hills too.  Pushing the low gears at low reps.

Normally I'm a beer or wine drinker.  Last week we had a stretch of cooler weather and a couple days of rain.  Well there's nothing like a Tuaca and Hot Apple Cider.  Mmmm.  Do you know in Oregon and Washington you cannot buy hard alcohol at the grocery store?  What a pain in the ass.  You can buy beer and wine but you have to go to a liqour store to buy the hard stuff.  And the liqour store is only open until 7pm.  Not only that but you can't buy beer or wine at the liqour store.  So you are forced to make two trips... saving gas and good for the environment my ass.

Which is faster? Loading XML from disk or from SQL Server?

I'm going to geek out on you for a minute. I may start doing this abit more from time to time. Anyway...

We had an interesting discussion at work. Which is faster? Loading an xml document from hard disk or loading it from SQL Server. I had assumed it would be faster to load from HDD but never one to assume - I decided to let science do the work.

So I built up a little console app. It simply displays the time after loading an xml file from either hard disk or sql server.

Bottom line? Based on my tests, loading from disk is 4x faster. Even if sql server has your query cached, so it doesn't have to pull the data from disk, it's still 4x faster to load from HDD. Why? Because of all the API's you have to pass that data through just to get the data across the wire. In fact, I gave sql server the benefit of the doubt, loading the xml file into a table with only 1 column and 1 row, running the query over and over so it was cached, and finally the data is sitting local to the same machine the app is on. If the data was buried in a large table on a remote sql server, I'm sure the local copy would be even faster.

Load from HDD console output:
Starting ... [9/25/2006 9:33:56 AM]
Finished ... [9/25/2006 9:33:56 AM]
Elapsed time: 00:00:00.0156253
5 attempts:
Load from SQL Server console output:
Starting ... [9/25/2006 9:34:40 AM]
Finished ... [9/25/2006 9:34:40 AM]
Elapsed time: 00:00:00.0937518
5 attempts:

C# code:

   1:  using System;
   2:  using System.Collections.Generic;
   3:  using System.Text;
   4:  using System.Xml;
   5:  using System.Data.SqlClient;
   7:  namespace LoadXml
   8:  {
   9:      class Program
  10:      {
  11:          static void Main(string[] args)
  12:          {
  13:              DateTime startTime = DateTime.Now;
  14:              Console.WriteLine("Starting ... [{0}]", startTime);
  16:              //LoadFromDisk();
  18:              LoadFromSqlServer();
  20:              DateTime endTime = DateTime.Now;
  21:              Console.WriteLine("Finished ... [{0}]", endTime);
  22:              TimeSpan timeSpan = endTime - startTime;
  23:              Console.WriteLine("Elapsed time: {0}", timeSpan);
  24:          }
  26:          private static void LoadFromSqlServer()
  27:          {
  28:              XmlDocument xmlDocument = new XmlDocument();
  30:              using (SqlConnection sqlConnection = new SqlConnection(@"Data Source=.\SQLEXPRESS;Initial Catalog=tempdb;Integrated Security=SSPI;"))
  31:              {
  32:                  SqlCommand sqlCommand = new SqlCommand("select [xmldocument] from [dbo].[sqlxml]", sqlConnection);
  34:                  sqlConnection.Open();
  36:                  // use a reader since it's the fastest way to read data from sql server
  37:                  SqlDataReader sqlDataReader = sqlCommand.ExecuteReader();
  39:                  sqlDataReader.Read();
  41:                  // use column ordinal instead of column name for faster access
  42:                  string xmlString = sqlDataReader[0].ToString();
  44:                  xmlDocument.LoadXml(xmlString);
  45:              }
  46:          }
  48:          private static void LoadFromDisk()
  49:          {
  50:              XmlDocument xmlDocument = new XmlDocument();
  51:              xmlDocument.Load("Sample.xml");
  52:          }
  53:      }
  54:  }

XML file:

1 <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> 2 <books> 3 <book> 4 <author>Carson</author> 5 <price format="dollar">31.95</price> 6 <pubdate>05/01/2001</pubdate> 7 </book> 8 <pubinfo> 9 <publisher>MSPress</publisher> 10 <state>WA</state> 11 </pubinfo> 12 </books>

SQL Server Script to create the table and data:

1 /* Create the table in tempdb and load the xml into it */ 2 use [tempdb] 3 go 4 5 if exists (select * from sys.objects where object_id = object_id(N'[dbo].[sqlxml]') and type in (N'u')) 6 drop table [dbo].[sqlxml] 7 go 8 9 create table [sqlxml] 10 ( 11 [xmldocument] nvarchar(2000) not null 12 ) 13 14 insert into 15 [sqlxml] 16 ( 17 [xmldocument] 18 ) 19 values 20 ( 21 '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> 22 <books> 23 <book> 24 <author>Carson</author> 25 <price format="dollar">31.95</price> 26 <pubdate>05/01/2001</pubdate> 27 </book> 28 <pubinfo> 29 <publisher>MSPress</publisher> 30 <state>WA</state> 31 </pubinfo> 32 </books>' 33 )

Monday, September 18, 2006

Friday Night Fish Fry at a Packers Bar

IMG_1117Based on some advice from the Green Bay girl last weekend, we tried out the local packer transplant hangout, the Corbett Fish House.  Around here they call fish fry's "Fish and Chips" (like we're in Great Britain or something).  Actually maybe that's what they call it in the New England.  Maybe Kevin can confirm that?

IMG_1121So we walk in and I start taking pictures because I can't stop laughing.  The owner is a Wisconsin transplant (I forget which city).  There's a large Green Bay Packer flag hanging from the ceiling and all sorts of Green Bay paraphernalia hanging all over the place.  Towards the back near the bar there's an office that looks like a shrine.  The only thing missing was packer shirts and jackets on all the patrons.  The staff had green and gold shirts on.  But that might also be related to the University of Oregon Ducks.  Which are followed with strange type of madness around here... (get a real team people).

IMG_1119So how about the food?  Good beer.  Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen (the beer that started Ray and my beer snobbery 10 years ago).  Real Midwest fish fry although with a Northwest spin - Gluten free and environmentally friendly (no overfished species).  Deep fried cheese curds (of course).  Heidi had the perch.  I took on the Walleye.  Pretty good although I will say I prefer the fish without the skin which these still had on 'em.  In fact it's pretty hard to run across fish fry's with the skin on back home. 

Siebert's Pub - Salem, WisconsinIt was no Seibert's but still pretty good for being 2200 miles away (btw, if you're reading this and still live in Wisco and have never done Seibert's you should... best I've ever had - if you don't like fish the stuffed shrimp are awesome.  Just ask Ryan er "Frank the Tank" - just watched that last night buddy!).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Chicago style pizza?

IMG_1115So Thursday after work I decided to hit up a joint on the way home called BJ's Pizza and Grill.  Heidi was going out with one of her girlfriends so I thought I'd see how this place was.  They billed themselves as Chicago style pizza.  They brew their own beer and they're also a chain.  All locations on the west coast though.  Got there before happy hour ended so $2 beer and 1/2 price personal pizza.  Chicago style... NOT.  A deep dish Chicago style pizza usually involves 1 large sausage patty that covers the entire top of the pizza.  One of the most famous is Gino's East.  Usually you can only eat one slice.  Hence the name and having 1 piece of "pie".  Now if you are going to bill yourself as Chicago Pizza don't you think you should do it right or don't do it?  Maybe it's the name.  Chicago 'style' or 'essense' of Chicago.  The beer was good but I won't be back for the pizza.  I'm also still looking for a place that has Italian Beefs...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Movie Review: The Island

The Island (2005) B-

I was going to give this one a C+ but I liked the story was kind of interesting.  Matrix-like.  Although one of the few times I figured it out before the plot gave it too me.  I thought the people were food.  But close enough.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Recharge the batteries

Took it easy and hung around the house this weekend. 

Did some gaming.  Finished F.E.A.R. (FPS)  Completed the first campaign (1/5) in HOMM (turned-based strategy).  Tried the demo of Company of Heroes (WW2 RTS) which comes out tomorrow (Tuesday 9/12). 

Opening weekend football on Sunday.  This was one of those times where you notice you live on the west coast now.  Football is on at 10 am.  With the pre-game there's no more waiting for game-time.  It's on from rise to rest.  Went out to a local pub, Macadam Grill, for bloody mary bar and brunch and watch all the games.  Another thing that's funny out here is that you'd expect to have a bunch of Seattle fans.  Not so.  Many people that live here are transplants.  Plus there's no real 'Pro' team.  So at the pub there were all sorts of different jersey's.  Browns.  Vikings.  Chiefs.  And of course a 4 girls with Packers shirts.  I talked to one of them at the bloody marry bar.  They were from Green Bay and moved here a few years back.  I told her I just moved from Milwaukee and she gave me some names of some local bars that are Packer hangouts that also have authentic fish fry's, including fresh water fish.  Of course I had to mention that I was a Bears fan.  And my heart was so saddened to have the Bears shutout the Packers in the season opener (/kidding of course).  I can just imagine the gloom around the Harley offices on Monday...

It was also really wierd to have football on before you even get off work! I know it was a Monday night double-header but to have a game on at 4PM? Hey, guess that's a reason to hit up happy hour!

One thing that is cool around this area is that even though you "aren't from around here" you never here that.  Everyone welcomes you.  Even though I spent the last 10 years living in Wisco I would still never be considered "from around here" back there.  I think it's alot like that in the central/eastern states.  It just seems less... entrenched here.  It's hard to describe.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dave Matthews

Gorge Amphitheater

Check out that venue... the Gorge Amphitheater.  It's like what Alpine Valley would be if it was set at the edge of a cliff.  It took about 4-5 hours to get here.  The high desert in the middle of Washington State.  I cannot believe the terrain that mother nature has created on this side of the continent.  Just awesome...

Movie Review: Dark Water

Dark Water (2005) C-

Sigh... not sure why I put these movies in my Netflix queue.  Don't waste your time.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Oregon Bicycling

Training tips

A recent study by a kinesiology professor at Indiana University found that cyclists who drank 2% chocolate milk after a hard ride were able to do better in a subsequent exercise session than riders who drank Endurox R4, and as well as those who drank Gatorade.

There's this building I ride past when I ride my bike to/from work that has a unique logo on it. I thought it might have something to do with bike messengers or something.

Anyway it turns out that it's a non-profit organization for riding bikes in Oregon. I guess Oregon wants to be to bicycling what Maine is to lobster.

They have 2 rides this year. A 3-day weekend ride that covers 141 miles and a week long ride that covers 490+ miles.  Looks like they are single events and I missed the 3-day ride.  The week-long one starts this weekend.  Kind of short notice but I'm going to pencil the weekend one in for next year for sure.