personal comments edit

Christmas 2003 has come and gone, and with it has arrived a bountiful helping of goodies and fun. Not to mention some cool toys that I’ve been wanting.

Here’s a picture of the majority of Jenn and my Christmas Haul. Not everything is pictured; some things have already found homes, are in use, or have been taken by Jenn to work today. Click the picture to get a larger version.

Most of the 2003 Christmas Haul. Click to
enlarge.

The first thing that long-time readers will notice is that the picture quality is much improved. That is thanks to my parents’ gift of a 2.0 megapixel digital camera and 128MB smart media card. I can now take up to nine minutes’ worth of 320x240 video, or like 275 pictures at 1600x1200. It’s got a flash, it’s got a nice little preview LCD display… perfect. Plus, plenty of space for pictures! I’ve been hoping for something like that. Now I’m in business.

Other highlights…

That’s not all, but that’s the majority of it. If you’re reading this and I didn’t mention your present, nothing personal.

Jenn got two George Foreman grills - one smaller one, and one larger one. I think she’s going to take the smaller one back and get something else. We hardly have counter space for one grill, let alone two.

I always have trouble deciding what to get Jenn, mainly because she wants “nice things” but she also wants lots of things to open. So what do you do? Buy fewer, more expensive things or several less expensive items? The last couple of years I erred on the “several less expensive items” side, but this year I got her a nice Mickey Mouse watch that she wanted; a Citizen Eco-Drive watch that’s solar powered so she’ll never have to get a new battery. I think she liked it, but you could see her disappointment with not having a lot of stuff to open. Next year I’ll probably go back to several less expensive items.

So here’s how the holiday went:

Christmas Eve we went over to Jenn’s… uh… cousin’s? uncle’s? I dunno, some relation’s… house and had some food. I wasn’t too hungry, particularly considering it was a ham dinner and I don’t like ham. But it was nice to meet some of her relatives that I haven’t met before (there seem to always be more).

After that, we went over to my parents’ house and watched Pirates Of The Caribbean and hung out. We got home, exhausted, about midnight.

The next morning we were promised breakfast at her parents’ house, so we busted over there by about 9:30a and found that there was no breakfast. Bah. We opened gifts (which, as ever, consisted mainly of watching Jenn’s niece open thousands of gifts - every child should be as spoiled as she is; I know I never was) and hung out for a while.

At around 11:00a or so, we went to Jenn’s grandma’s house to visit. We hadn’t seen her grandma for a while, so it was good to see her again. Not much was going on there (surprise) but that was just fine by me. Usually it’s utter chaos.

We got to my parents’ house around 11:45a or so and stuffed some food in our faces (leftover pizza from the night before) because we hadn’t eaten. After that, we opened gifts until about 1:00p when my grandparents showed up. We ate, talked, and did a small amount of further gift opening. About 4:00p or so people started leaving, so Jenn and I packed up and headed out.

At 6:00p we headed back to my parents’ house so we could meet up and head to the theater to see Paycheck. I liked it quite a bit - I had hoped it would be good and was excited by the previews, and I wasn’t disappointed.

After the movie we went straight home and, well, now it’s today. Tomorrow Jenn and I will go shopping to return the things we don’t need and buy ourselves the prizes we didn’t get.

I think the only thing I’m really disappointed about is that, as time goes on and I get older, Christmas loses more and more of its magic. I do my best to keep it in perspective and try to maintain the wonder, but the hustle and bustle and commercialization of the season usually overtake me and I don’t get into the Christmas spirit until it’s far too late to really appreciate it. Jenn noticed it, too, and we don’t know what to do about it.

The part I think I have the hardest time with is trying to make everyone happy. This includes making sure we make it to everyone else’s house with enough time to spend some quality holiday time with folks as well as making sure we get gifts for people that they’ll like. It’s hard, and even with my online shopping I think the simple fact that so much weight rests with good gifts is what brings the season down. We’re toying with the idea of doing a secret Santa style drawing in my family where everyone just buys one really nice thing for one person and that’s it. It would definitely make it easier…

So that’s that. One more year, and now we start anew.

If anyone’s looking for a belated gift idea, I just discovered they’re releasing a two-disc version of Alice In Wonderland. Booyah! Then again, maybe I’ll just buy it myself…

personal, food comments edit

Saturday was the family meal.

See, my grandfather likes to get the whole family together and then, rather than getting people gifts, he buys lunch or whatever. Usually it takes place at some “halfway point” since half of the family lives in the Seattle, WA general area and the other half lives around Portland, OR. Last year we went to Spiffy’s, and it was… not so good. This year we ended up at the Country Cousin restaurant in Centralia, WA for breakfast.

Sigh.

I can’t really complain so much, since it wasn’t nearly as bad as last year. We got there about 15 minutes early, and all of us (my parents, sister Tori, Jenn, and I) were totally hungry after driving two hours for breakfast. We had the room in the back to ourselves and when we got back there we saw that most everyone was there already.

I ordered the chili omelette, I think Jenn had some “meat lover’s omelette” or something… It was all pretty uneventful.

Highlights of the trip included:

My aunt telling us about how she went out dancing the night before and had some little Mexican guy saying, “Spank me! Spank me!” at her.

The waitress. (She was hot.)

The photo op outside. There was one of those walls with peoples’ bodies painted on it and holes cut out so you stick your head through the hole and it looks like your head is on the painted body. One of the holes was about a foot off the ground and the painted body was a dog. My dad got his head down and stuck it through the dog hole. I’m hoping those pictures came out.

That’s about it. Generally uneventful, which is surprising considering the crew we had together there. I think next year we may pass on the trip, though; driving that far for a quick meal isn’t a whole lot of fun, especially when we see everyone at different times throughout the season anyway.

Onward to the holidays!

traffic comments edit

We just couldn’t go through the holiday season without a Traffic Asshole, could we? I don’t think so.

Yesterday I went to training. Normally that’s nothing too special, but it’s nicer on the commute than most days because the training facility is only five minutes away from my house.

Usually.

This time it took 45 minutes.

See, to get there, I have to cross a bridge. That’s not a problem, but it’s an older bridge with only one lane going in each direction. Traffic generally flows pretty well. When I got there yesterday, though…

Traffic blocked up
BAD

Traffic was blocked up like a toilet after someone who wipes too much. No plunger was going to clear this jam-up, though. I thought, “Maybe I could pass some folks…”

No Passing On
Bridge

“…or maybe NOT.”

After sitting stationary for quite some time, things began to move… a little…

Are we
moving?

… but quickly stopped again. I couldn’t believe it! I left my house 45 minutes before class thinking I’d get there with plenty of time! Might as well enjoy the view…

Nice view off the
bridge

Ah, a nice Folgers-style morning. Good to the last drop. Or whatever.

I knew it was getting bad when I saw that I was being passed by pedestrians I passed half an hour earlier.

Passed by
pedestrians

And when I finally got through, you know what it was?

Fucking
Bronco

A Bronco. The earliest form of - say it with me - sport utility vehicle. And we all know how much I love SUVs. ARGH! Chalk one more accident up to the SUV drivers. Bastards.

net comments edit

This class is finishing up, so here’s the last post on it.

Overall thoughts:

The teacher was a good guy but wasn’t too familiar with the subject matter, so he floundered at the beginning and to cover for it he rambled about things that had no bearing on reality. Having taught the section on code access security myself when he was ready to gloss over it, it makes me wonder what other tidbits of information I’m missing out on that he also glossed over due to lack of experience.

The courseware sucked donkey. There were altogether too many questions that had answers you could never have come up with on your own. The idea was there, but the person (or people) who QA’d the book should be fired. Or maybe they need to take the course, too, so they know why they did such a crappy job. Regardless, it made the class a little harder than it should have been, methinks, and that’s never good.

In the end, this whole thing is exactly what I thought it was: “Software Engineering the Microsoft Way.” It’s one more method to pull together and manage software development projects. This one focuses way too much on the planning phase, though, and while it looks good on paper, I can see several shortcomings in it, particularly when scaled down to apply to smaller teams and projects. This one’s best left for the larger stuff - huge product suites, operating systems, etc. I’m so glad this is a test I get to take.

Now we’re just talking about different ways to derive object models for your project. I’ve already had my four years’ worth of training in this one, but I’m listening to see what other people do; it’s always interesting to get an outside perspective.

After that, I’m outta here! Go home and… well, I haven’t planned that far yet. I guess I’ll see when I get there. On to the holidays!

net comments edit

We’ve been going hard and heavy today, so I probably won’t be posting again until I get home here… which means this is today’s report, even though it’s only midday.

It took me 45 minutes to go five miles on this morning’s commute, which is not something I was planning on so I was a little late for class. I think/hope I got some pictures of the traffic asshole that had the accident on the bridge I needed to cross, so if I did, I’ll post ‘em.

I got to teach some of the class yesterday (and a little today) on my meager knowledge of Microsoft .NET code access security. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve spent many hours (and company dollars, I’m sure) on the phone with MS developer support fighting code access security issues, so I do have some decent knowledge of it (and what a huge pain in the ass it is).

I’m not looking forward to taking the test for this class. Gonna suck, big time.

Speaking of tests, Jenn got her results from when she took the national pharmacy technician certification test… she passed! That’s very cool and I’m totally proud of her. (She got a really good score!)