30 December 2007

TrackMania United Only $22.45 Until 02 January 2008!

Buy TrackMania United on Steam before 02 January 2008 and get it for only $22.45!

This (along with Motocross Madness 2) is the coolest PC racing game made-to-date. Nadeo has done a fantastic job bringing unlimited replay value by creating an easy-to-learn track editor with really cool features.

They even include a Puzzle mode that allows you to have fun while learning how to build tracks.

I highly recommend this game. Go buy it and join FNG for some high-flying, fast-driving, non-stop good times!

27 December 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Wow, what a year. The Lord truly has blessed us this year and owe everything to Him who's birth we celebrate during this season.

As I type this, I'm holding one of my beautiful infant twin boys who are such a wonderful and amazing blessing in our lives. They're becoming quite interactive; their communication manifested by many smiles, giggles and coos. (Darn "shutter stutter"... hard to catch them in full-smile mode!)

Andrew is especially interactive; wanting always to be in the middle of the action. His eyes are big and always trying to absorb everything that is going on around him. His eyes will melt your heart into a dreamy puddle of that ever-so-tasty sugary-goodness sauce that is drizzled over the Asian Star's walnut shrimp dish (in their own words: "Shrimp prepared in an exquisite sauce worthy of an emperor.") - So will Ryan's eyes. Did I mention... Crazy Delicious?!

We were blessed with an amazing new home that came equipped with awesome new friends/neighbors; a fabulous new job which also came equipped with awesome new friends.

While all of it happened in a very short time and was incredibly stressful, we have no regrets; only thanks... thanks again to all who helped make it possible. Gwen wouldn't have survived her nearly 4 months of bedrest and bringing our twins into this world without the help of so many loved ones.

We love you all and hope your Christmas was the best ever. Ours was wonderful because of all of you; and most importantly, our Savior Jesus Christ.

So, let's talk about the New Year. The twins are finally starting to sleep through the night some and we hope this will be a steady pattern. If so, my resolutions for this year are to:

  • Lose some weight and get my cholesterol back down like I did a couple years ago. I slacked off and not only went back to where I was; but got worse. :) I have no willpowa...
  • Blog more (not Trogdor... Blog more) - I've had so much I've wanted to share and have hated not having the time to do so. I'm really hoping I can manage my time such to start posting more here.
  • Beat Super Mario Galaxy (I have to have ONE goal I can make sure happens... heh!)

Happy New Year everyone; we hope yours is awesome as you are.

Wii Rock!

Brennan and Kimmie have excelled at Bowling on the Wii.

Below is a picture of Brennan's 278 game; it won't be long before he bowls a perfect game! Congrats, Brennan!

Here is Kimmie's latest record for "Power Throws." Power throws mode is a mode where you start with a set of 10 pins and get one throw at them. It goes through several rounds, providing more pins to throw at each time (21, 34, and so on until 91.)

For each pin you knock down, you get a point. If you get a strike, you get double the points for that round.

Kimmie earned her gold medal and now holds the family record for highest score on "Power Throws." Did I mention she's three?!!?

Newb Daddy hopes he can catch up... :) Way to go kids!

30 November 2007

Reason #42 Why I Hate Windows Vista - Some CDs appear blank to Vista's Windows Explorer, but read fine when done from a Command Prompt window

Ok, most of you have heard my gripes about Windows Vista verbally, so the title doesn't make sense to those of you that haven't.

I've decided I'm going to start ranting about the problems I run into with Vista here in hopes that if enough people do the same (and believe me there are plenty out there...) Microsoft will get some of this crap fixed.

I have two older video games that I've tried to get to work with Vista that have previously worked with older Windows operating systems.

Two of them exploit a very interesting anomaly in Vista. If I put the CD in, it's name won't show up in the Vista Windows Explorer interface; though it will show the size used on it. If I try to Open/Explore the CD, I get the blank CD dialog that asks how you want to format the disc.

If I open a Command Prompt Window, on-the-other-hand, and do a "dir" command; I can see the files just fine. I can then proceed to launch the install of the game.

How did I find out about this? Luck of the draw... does it mean the given game will work? That I'm not sure... I'm installing one as we speak (Star Wars: Jedi Academy.)

The other I've tried is Titan Quest. Titan Quest works until I click on a merchant. Once I do that, I get booted out of the game and to the Windows Desktop without warning or reason why it did so. I'm not sure if that is a related bug, but I can reproduce it consistently on my laptop and find it equally annoying.

I'd love to hear from others who have had similar experiences; and to hear from those that don't have the same issue with their Jedi Academy and Titan Quest discs.
I have an Asus G2S-A1 laptop with Vista Home Premium.

Incidentally, both games work without these issues in Windows XP Pro and Windows 98SE (Jedi Academy) on multiple desktops in my home.

EDIT: Looks like Jedi Academy seems to work fine so far... I played some multiplayer with Brennan and had good luck... we'll find out later how Single Player fares.

11 November 2007

Behold Our Little Ones; Blessed are the Children

We had the wonderful opportunity of blessing our twins in Church last Sunday. It was a very spiritual and amazing day; filled with family and friends who have been supporting us through the months of trial we went though to get them here.

And look at what a blessing they are; glowing, radiant, wonderful. Newborn babies are an interesting phenomenon. They can send you to relaxville simply by cuddling them (which is a problem when it's time for a late-night-feeding... they turn me into Jello-Head Bob); can bring so much peace and joy by their quirky smiles and cute cooing.

We're extremely grateful to have Ryan and Andrew in our lives; and to have strengthened so many bonds with so many people who have sacrificed of themselves to help us out. We hope you'll ever feel of our gratitude for you and your friendships.

It's like the scriptures say: "And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things."

05 November 2007

Halloweenies 2007

Father of Twins costume - Halloween 2007Mommy, Mandi, Kimmie, Brennan - Halloween 2007

Halloween 2007 was fun this year... though we were cramped for time in getting anything done for it (for obvious reasons.) Gwennie was a clown, Mandi was Tinkerbell, Kimmie was the Great Pumpkin, Brennan was the Ninja of the Dark Dragon and I was the Father of Twins...

Yeah, imagine that... hard costume to put together; wake up in the morning after a night of taking care of two infants and the costume makes itself. Any excuse to wear pajamas to work...

Kim had some "Christmas Story" moments where she'd fall and kick her little legs, unable to pick herself up again. It was quite humorous (bless her heart.)

Thankfully, this year was devoid of any
"Chocolate Incidents."

The pumpkin carving had to be done in two shifts; the first being our Family Home Evening a couple days before Halloween, in which we basically had time to gut the suckers.

Gwen finished them Halloween day with the kids; and the Sonic the Hedgehog ROCKED! I wish we'd had time to finish that one on Monday, because I could've won our ProPay pumpkin carving contest... Oh well, it was still fun to wear pajamas wo work.

Here are the works of art:

Sonic the Hedgehog Pumpkin

Sonic the Hedgehog

Freaky Frog Pumpkin

Freaky Frog

Freaky Eyes Pumpkin

Spooky-Eyed-Triangle-Nosed-Weird-Shaped-Mouth-That-Didn't-Want-To-Show-The-Glow-Much-For-The-Camera Pumpkin

29 October 2007

Some Catching Up To Do...

Some things that happened before our time became consumed with taking care of infant twins and are other children:

Mandi loses her first tooth!
August 2007: Mandi loses her first tooth! She was so elated it's hard to describe. It all happened during some daddy/daughter time at McDonalds. She had a blast calling Nanny and Oma to share the good news. Fortunately, we were aware of the tooth coming out and weren't suddenly notified of it by finding the thing in her cheeseburger.

Brennan's 10th Birthday Cake

Brennan celebrated his 10th Birthday with the family just days before Ryan and Andrew joined our clan.

The day before the delivery of the twins, Gwen and I were sitting down to breakfast when Kimmie approached; binky and burp-cloth (security blankie) in hand. She then proceeded to drape said burp-cloth on Mommy's now perfectly round "pillow," and laid her head on it to snuggle. It truly was a picture moment.

Nearly two weeks after the birth of our fabulous twins, Andrew woke up one evening looking for some crazy delicious (if you can call formula "Crazy Delicious"...) tummy-filling action. He must have remembered the Binky Fight the day we came home from the hospital, because by the time I reached him to take care of that need; he commenced latching on to Ryan and sucking on him instead. It was quite amusing to behold.

September 2007: Crazy Hair Day at the kids' elementary school. Crazy as in "Crazy Delicious."

Brennan's birthday party; which we had to postpone until the end of September... It was ok, though, cause dad picked up a Voltron / Optimus Prime cake. Go dad... :)

Kimmie takes her first turn feeding Andrew... feel the love!

Hopefully now that we're finally starting to settle in with the new "schedule" I'll be able to get back to some blogging... I'm quite back-logged and will hopefully get to make the entries I've been wanting to make for weeks.

Stay tuned!

17 October 2007

Gotta Be Prudent at this Juncture...

Stay the course... a thousand points of light... Those of you that knew me in high school will especially appreciate this one. :)

23 September 2007

Mommy's Laughing On Me...

I so love my Drama Queen youngest daughter. She's really at a cute age right now (when she's not copping 'tude.) She'll use any and every word that comes across her path, whether she understands it or not.

She's actually becoming quite the versed communicator for the most part, excepting the times where direction the communique is supposed to go gets reversed or incorrect prepositions are used.

Here are a few examples:
Kimmie talking on the phone:
"Can I talk to Daddy?" ... means ... "Would you like to talk to my Daddy?"

When asked if Kimmie would like to say a prayer on the food:
"Daddy help you?" ... means ... "Will Daddy help Kimmie?"

But nothing beats the one that happened today...

My ever-so-beautiful-and-on-the-road-to-C-Section-recovery wife and I were feeding our newborn twins this afternoon; when out of the blue Kimmie starts going spastica all over our bed.

Mind you, this is the daughter named after Kim Possible, so naturally, "She can do anything..." She tries to prove this using our bed as a prop in frequent, random splendor. Yesterday, for example... she commenced bouncing from the head of the bed to the foot with a foot-to-knee bounce right at the foot of the bed, topped off with an aerial-twist to the floor; landing her on the bum and rolling backward over her head to a stop just before smacking her head into a dresser resting against the opposite wall. (This, of course, whilst Mom and Dad are busy feeding babies and can't rush to the rescue in any quick fashion.)

Today's near-heart attack started with some rehearsal for the X-Games that we weren't expecting. As Gwen and I were feeding the twins, Kim climbed up on our bed and commenced to start Donkey-Kicking her legs up in the air... then letting her body fall to the ground, gracefully landing on her feet. This was repeated several times, much to the delight and gut-busting (almost literally for Gwen) laughter of her audience.

She was laughing with us at first too, or so we thought. She must have been so engrossed with her own glee that she hadn't noticed the audience watching and enjoying too. After about 10 rounds of "climb, kick, drop", Kim turned to see if we were paying attention.

We apparently were paying with the wrong currency as Kim immediately stopped, pulled the biggest pout I've ever seen... dramatically paused for a few seconds, then started to cry the most heart-wrenching, "Dad and Mom what kind of parents ARE you?!" cry I've ever heard... it seriously broke both our hearts.

That is, until she explained why she was crying...

"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! Mommy is laughing on me.... WAAAAAAAA!!!"

Then commenced the bladder-emptying try-as-you-might-there's-no-way-on-Earth-you-can-hold-it-in laughter that is the worst thing you can do to a child whose feelings you've already hurt because they think you've been making fun of them. Yes, the twins weren't the only ones who needed changing; and to make matters worse, we worried if Gwen had popped the incision made when giving birth to said change-needing infants. Luckily the incision wound is still in proper order.

Oh, from the mouth of the babes... I wish I could communicate half as well (and fully as entertaining) as my precious baby girl. She truly is an inspiration.

So remember... laugh WITH your children, not ON them.

19 September 2007

Ryan and Andrew's First Fight

They didn't even make it home from the hospital before they had their first fight...

We had just changed them into their first outfits to bring them home from the hospital. Andrew had taken a pacifier for the first time since being there and Ryan hadn't. Andrew smacked Ryan in the face with it, and of course, he thought it was something to eat... so they commenced fighting for it.

Too cute...

An Ode to the Cottonwood Hospital Staff

Everyone knows that going to the hospital is a traumatic, sometimes horrific experience. You're away from home, out of your zone; and if you're the patient, not living in the most "wireless" world (IVs, monitors, blood-pressure cuffs, oh my.)

Well, we knew Gwen was in for that ride when it was time to deliver our twins via C-Section. While we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our twins and looking forward to holding and caring for them; we weren't looking forward to the things that make hospital stay something that isn't often equated with the excitement of, say, going on vacation.

But I have to admit, as hard as it is to sleep in those insane recliner/beds the fathers have the privilege of sleeping in whilst staying by the bedsides of their beautiful wives who have just visited the Valley of Death after sacrificing the past 30-40 weeks of their lives carrying and delivering their children... Cottonwood Hospital has always rocked at making the stay as pleasant as possible with the deliveries of all our children.

This time was no exception. In fact, it was the most memorable hospital stay I've ever been involved with, and a fitting last delivery for my wife and I. It makes the impending closing of Cottonwood even more bittersweet (heh, almost the same feeling I felt when Jordan High was torn down to build a newer, bigger, better one.)

Anyway, I have to blog about our stay there because the staff was so incredible. Our world never hesitates to point out the negative things we observe; but how often do we give positive feedback when it's most certainly due?

This entry singing praises and shouting accolades is completely dedicated to the amazing staff that was involved in the final stages of our bringing our blessed twin babies into the world.

This includes Gwen's OB-GYN, Doctor Lloyd - who has been with us throughout the entire growth of our little family. He's an incredible man we know, love and trust; who has always been professional, compassionate, skillful and accurate. Thank you for all that you have done and will continue to do for my wife.

Next, our pediatrician, Doctor Bean. Oh my heavens were we blessed with Doctor Bean. She is the greatest pediatrician to grace the Earth. We have complete faith, confidence and trust throughout the ten years we've worked with her... and have absolutely loved our association with her. We're not alone... as we talked to many of the nurses in the Women's Center at Cottonwood during our stay there; and they too couldn't stop bragging her up. She's an incredible woman and we thank her for all she has done and will continue to do for our family.

Now Doctor Lloyd and Doctor Bean, as mentioned before have been our friends for over 10 years... we also had the wonderful opportunity of making new friends and associating with old friends that happen to work at the Cottonwood Women's Center during the delivery and post-partum stay there.

They made us feel so at home and welcome and took such good care of us, that Gwen and I actually looked forward to each of our four days there. It was such a special experience, I finally started making the nurses take pictures with us so we could keep them in our baby books to save the memories. Thanks for being good sports about it (including Gwen)! (And if any of you hate having your picture in this entry, let me know and I'll promptly remove it. hehe!)

I wish we would've caught all of the names of the many nurses that assisted us during our stay there; we appreciate every one of you... but I will list the ones we spent the most time with recorded after I wisened up to doing so. :)

Thanks and praises go out to:
... and everyone else that helped us that I missed in the Labor & Delivery, Maternity Ward, Nursery and even Housekeeping staff!

Yes, I said housekeeping staff... Everyone that served us at Cottonwood was friendly, professional and loved their jobs... and we as patients could feel it as they worked with us.

It was nice to come home, but hard to leave a plethora of friends, many of which we know we won't see again, as they will either be going to the new IHC hospital, going to LDS Hospital or joining a "float pool" which will have them serving at a few different IHC hospitals after Cottonwood closes its doors.

I hope the same spirit of compassion and kindness will follow you all wherever you go. What you do means so much and it definitely left a lasting impression on us. I certainly hope that your administration will notice and appreciate the hard work you put into taking care of your patients and reward accordingly.

Incidentally, we're writing a similar letter to the Cottonwood staff; but feel the world should hear about the positive things that happen in our lives... especially ones that leave lasting impressions.

Again, thanks to all the fine staff at Cottonwood Hospital. We love you... and appreciate you helping bring our new angels into the world.

God bless as you all move into the next chapter in IHC history.

14 September 2007

And Then There Were Seven...

That's right... the twins finally made their Earth debut early Friday evening; and praise God, they're beautiful... have all 10 fingers and all 10 toes and are doing fine. Mommy isn't doing too bad either considering she had to go through all of the body trauma that is a C-Section.

She and the boys are resting now so I figured I'd hurry and post some pictures of our newest angel additions to our family.

Andrew and Ryan snuggled together in a bassinet. (Andrew's on the left... Ryan on the right...

Ryan Timothy made his arrival at 5:17pm and weighed in at 5 lbs. 5 oz.
Andrew Jameson made his arrival a minute later at 5:18pm and weighed in at 6 lbs. 7 oz.
Both are about 20 inches long; and were expert trained in the art of kicking the crap out of their mother whilst still in the womb.

Both screamed the instant they were removed from the womb, which we were incredibly grateful for. Andrew had a little trouble breathing after that for the first hour or so, but seems to be getting enough oxygen to his body now.

Mommy's first moments with both twins.

We'd like to thank the incredibly talented staff at the hospital and especially Gwen's doctor for how wonderfully the procedure went. We also had the added blessing of having Shelley, a friend of mine I grew up with assisting the doctor with the delivery of our new babies. I forgot to get a pic with her without the mask, dang it... I'll be back for you. :)

We'd also like to express much humble gratitude for the countless people who have had our backs, fronts and all sides during the past 3 months. You've helped us through getting a house ready to sell, moving to a new home and getting our twins here without us stressing out so bad we'd meet our demise. You're all wonderful and we wouldn't have made it this far without you. God bless all of you.

And welcome, Ryan and Andrew, to the world and to our family. Of course, you know that you'll be called "Jim and Tim" and/or the "Tweebs" by your siblings, due to the nature of "the prophecy," and the fact that you're younger twin brothers to our own Kimberly Anne... We're so excited to have you in our lives and look forward to the adventures ahead.

Please don't follow after your father and stay up late EVERY night... ;)

Stay tuned... more pics to follow... the hospital's Wi-Fi connection blocks about every port known to man, so getting pics uploaded has been a harder chore than delivering the babies themselves... I'll post more when I get home... :)

10 September 2007

Delivery Starts With the Letter "C"

... as in Cesarean ...

That's right, we found out today that if an Amniocentesis shows the twins are mature enough to make their debut into the world; we'll be delivering via C-Section this week.

My lovely wife, after what will end up being 12 weeks of bedrest is, needless to say, ecstatic to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Stay tuned, and hopefully by the end of the week, we'll have some good news and a small photo album to go with it! We're stoked and scared at the same time; but looking forward to the new adventures that await our family.

08 September 2007

"Farewell Kim Possible!!! We'll meet again... in time!!!"

(All images © Disney Channel)

And thus, after the biggest marathon event in cable history... we shed a tear at the closing of the greatest animated series ever to grace the television... Kim Possible.

Kim Possible - Her locker at Middleton High
Getting past my immense anger at not being able to participate in said marathon (Disney you'd BETTER be releasing DVD box sets like NOW!!!!) and missing the finale at initial air-time... props goes to iTunes peeps for making it available to me shortly after midnight, so the torture only lasted a few short hours...

What a great end to a fantastic series. Nearly every character that ever made an appearance in the series was present in this hour-long final episode (actually, come to think of it, I don't recall seeing Motor Ed, but I digress.) Talk about taking a fantastic nostalgic trip down memory lane while enjoying the action packed goodness that was my final new episode of Kim Possible. (Disney, that super-secret KP project Steve Loter talked about on his blog BETTER be a theatrical release!!!)

Kim Possible - with Ron Stoppable, Rufus and her new car from Season 4
This show was nothing short of art... Fan-freaking-tastic creative genius. Never met an episode I didn't like... and this one was no exception; and a very interesting way of involving the arch-enemies in this one. Very cool indeed.

And Ron, wow... talk about opening up a can of... well, you'll just have to go see it for yourself. He does try to have a "heart-to-heart" chat with Shego during the episode; that's pretty funny too. Stay tuned to the credits at the end, as they showcase many of the villains that appeared in the series too; like Adrenna Lynne, who I hoped they would've brought back for a revenge episode, but that never happened. And the over-the-top Professor Dementor, one of my favorites was there too... too bad he wasn't worked into this final episode. (He was in the 2nd to the last and it was a sweet one, so I'm alright.)

I'm terribly sad that I have no more future episodes to look forward to; but what a great collection of the "Four Seasons" to keep me company for years to come... Like Motocross Madness 2 and TrackMania, I'll never tire of this one.

Thank you Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley, Steve Loter, Christy Carlson Romano, Will Friedle and so many others that devoted their time and talents to bringing me (and so many other incredible fans) a one-of-a-kind treasure we'll all cherish forever. I've got one word that I think will sum it up for all of us...


Kim Possible - Fighting with Shego
Farewell Kim Possible... You know you are all that... the BEST SHOW EVER MADE... EVER!!!

Now if my "tweebs" would just deliver we can move on to the next adventure... Stay tuned, we're having them next week regardless of if the process has to be "helped." :)


By the way, has anyone discovered yet what the super-secret KP Project Steve Loter mentioned in the final entry of his "So the Finale" blog is? I'd love to find out... when I do, I'll be sure to post it here. Did I mention... DISNEY!!!! IT BETTER BE A THEATRICAL RELEASE!!! Just wanted to make sure I had... Uh Double Booya!

04 September 2007

Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt

It's my current state of mind for several reasons:
  1. In under two weeks, I'll be holding brand new twin baby boys in my arms, welcoming them into the world, then freaking out not knowing what to do with them... oh wait, I've done this before with 3 others newborns, just one-at-a-time. Reality is finally setting in and I'm already losing sleep over it (note time of this post...)
  2. Still dealing with the Guiness record of life-altering events my family and I have gone through over the last couple of months.
  3. Disney Channel has the nerve to end two of my favorite animated series ever during this time of great stress and uneasiness.

Let's start with number one...

Twin baby boys... who seem to have as much stubborn-ness and high-spirit as my already living son who will turn 10 next week, potentially on the day his younger brothers will be born (as if there wasn't enough stress surrounding twins... hehe) If the gray hairs weren't already here, they're certainly going to be here soon! We're going to buckle in and enjoy the ride... Come get us boys!

Number two... In the past few months, we've: learned we were pregnant with twins, prepped our home to sell, sold said home, purchased a new home, changed jobs, moved and are now preparing to nearly double the number of children we're used to having in our home... whew! I know I'll have plenty to talk about with the twins in the next week or so, so I'll save those chapters for the very near future.

In the midst of all this, we've lost what was our lifeline to the televised world... The Disney Channel. For nearly four years in our previous home, it was all our family watched when it came to viewing television programs. Now I didn't get to watch a ton, but as most of you know, I ALWAYS made time for the best show EVER made, Kim Possible.

There were a few others we watched much more casually, but have still kept a vested interest in; namely Phil of the Future, Hannah Montana and American Dragon: Jake Long.

Disney Channel cut Phil of the Future off way before its time, but at least ended it with a really cool episode; and did us the favor of teasing us with an open ending, in case they decide to bring it back (go SaveDisneyShows crew... it can be done, you've proven it with Kim Possible!)

Now they have the gall to pull the plug on Jake Long, in the midst of the raging hurricane that is my life right now... Last Saturday, the first of September, marked the final series finale ... which I'm quite perturbed about since it only got a half hour. The least they could've done was an hour long episode.... {Insert immense anger here} - But I do have to give them credit. The talented writers that work for Disney know how to send shows off in style; and the Am-Drag was no exception. I won't give any away, and you won't appreciate it much if you haven't been following the show... but if you're interested... check it out on iTunes. It's worth the watch.

Now, a week later, and with my luck the day we deliver our babies... they're bringing Kim Possible to an end for the second (and most likely final) time. I knew this was coming; but as mentioned before, I'm in a state of denial. It's been such a fun show to follow, I just don't want it to end.

However, the creators of the series have left Disney for new adventures with Nickelodeon, so there's really not much more I can do about that; 'cept help the SaveDisneyShows crew convince Disney Channel to release the DVD box sets... I'm still harboring hope that there will one day be a theatrical release for Kim Possible; we'll see... :)

I will admit, I'm pleased with the way they've planned to send Kim on her farewell voyage; with a spankin' hour-long episode, and they're pulling the coolest thing they could ever do for the series finale... they're running a marathon-to-end-all-marathons...

Disney Channel introduces, the "Kim Possible: Every Possible Episode Ever" marathon (click to see the full schedule - starting 05 September 2007!):

Ok, so it's not a straight-through marathon; they're stopping to allow Playhouse Disney they're normal programming time... but the rest of the time will so wonderfully be dominated by the creative genius that is Kim Possible. It will be the best 54 hours in a 3 day period the Disney Channel has ever aired... EVER.

Much anticipation has built up by fans across the globe over how they're going to end it... and I can't wait to see it, but at the same time... I'll go into a state of depression that there will be no more new episodes. *sigh*

Those babies better get here fast to counteract this most serious of letdowns... :) Stay tuned... to this blog AND to Disney Channel! :)

23 August 2007

High School Musical 2 Review

Ok, so I'm a little late getting my review in... what can I say? I'm trying to play mommy and daddy at home and still uphold my employment. Let's just say I have renewed respect for my wonderful wife, and no free time anymore. Well, except for a couple of minutes here and there in the which I have pecked away at this quasi-novel.

My kids and I saw High School Musical 2 on premier night and loved it. As mentioned in the previous post, we were familiar with the soundtrack, so we knew some of what was coming, but it was fun to see how Kenny Ortega crafted the dance scenes to go with the musical numbers.

Kenny never ceases to amaze me; how he can take huge groups of kids and get them all doing really cool dances, looking completely polished and professional. I tip my hat to the mastermind there. Did I mention the use of props in the dances? In the first High School Musical, we were impressed by the number "Getcha Head in the Game" where the Wildcats basketball team danced with basketballs. We see that again in High School Musical 2 in the opening number "What Time is It?" and then see more props in other numbers such as kitchen utensils and baseball bats. It's awesome.

One of my favorite numbers, aside from the two full-cast ones at the beginning and end of the movie, was the kitchen scene... "Work This Out." Many of the Wildcats get hired on at Sharpay's parents country club and the boss comes across as a major hemmorhoid their first day there (thanks to Sharpay.)

The song focuses on everyone's distress having second thought about what would otherwise have been a cool summer job. Troy, of course, tries to rally the troops and help them see if they work together they can still have fun and save the summer.

In the middle of the number they get a little STOMP-esque, banging on pots, pans and glassware to go along with the song. It's quite a fun number.

One number I didn't so much care for was Sharpay's "Fabulous" which happened when the crew was all arriving at the country club. The bathing suits were a little on the skimpy side. One thing that most impressed me about the original High School Musical was that they proved to filmmakers everywhere that a movie can be done completely wholesome (void of any sex, drugs, violence, vulgarity, etc.) and still be one of the most popular movies of the year. I feel like this number was a little of a "sellout" though I'm sure with today's fashions, it would've been hard to find things more modest. Still, I feel that those things don't need to be in movies... I appreciated the "breath of fresh air" the original High School Musical was.

That said, I'll be writing Disney to express my feelings and hope that they take it to heart... I'll be utilizing the Save Disney Shows emailer to do so and encourage others to do the same.

Without giving too much away, the premise behind the movie is about the Wildcats' summer vacation, centering on Troy and Gabriella's summer romance which the evil Sharpay tries to bring to an end. Disney's teen start Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana) also makes a very brief non-speaking part cameo in High School Musical 2. It's a sort of "Where's Waldo" deal where you have to be paying attention to see her there. I think I also caught a glimpse of Moises Arias (Rico from Hannah Montana) earlier in the film for a split second, but I'll have to wait til I see the movie again to confirm. Who knows, maybe they slipped a few others in there that I missed. It'll be fun to try to spot them next round.

I enjoyed the story and the numbers; it was a great continuation from the first and I look forward to the third. Rumor was it would have a haunted theme but some of the stars have recently revealed otherwise; though I understand none of them had read the script at the time of their interviews Instead it will most likely deal with Senior Prom and Graduation; which would be a fitting end to the trilogy.

If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it; just make sure you watch the original High School Musical first if you haven't seen it already.

Thanks again Disney for all the fun that is High School Musical.

(And my apologies for the sketchiness of this review... I'm working on little to no sleep and have had to write this over several settings; needless to say, the train of thought derailed several times over the course of this writing. But don't worry no animals were harmed during the writing of this post.)

14 August 2007

What Time Is It? Time for High School Musical 2!!!

Last year, Disney Channel introduced the worldwide hit, "High School Musical." I don't think anyone really had any idea what a huge impact this fantastic film would have...

My family and I fell in love with it and are ecstatic and full of anticipation for the sequel, which debuts on Disney Channel this Friday.

The soundtrack for "High School Musical 2" was released today in stores, online through various avenues including Amazon and iTunes. We pre-ordered through iTunes so we could score some bonus stuff like a music video and two digital booklets including lyrics (some/all of these are available through some of the other purchasing avenues as well...) I downloaded my copy after midnight so my family and I could enjoy it all day today.

Needless to say, the music has permeated the walls of our home, my car and my headphones at work. It has us even more excited for the movie.

The music from both films is catchy; and watching the films make the music have emotional attachment on top of the desire to hear it simply because it jams.

The movie has an incredibly talented and lovable crew (well, 'cept Sharpay... you want to hate her; because the talented Ashley Tisdale plays a very believable snob.) that has wormed their way into the hearts of people everywhere.

If you don't have access to Disney Channel this Friday, find someone that does and hook up your High School Musical party. You'll be glad you did.

Oh yeah, if you haven't seen the original, I'd HIGHLY recommend you do that first. Did I mention, you'll be glad you did?!

Be warned, the songs will get stuck in your head, and soon you'll find your money disappearing into the revenue machine that is High School Musical media. :)

Kudos to Kenny Ortega (Director/Choreographer - also known for Newsies and The Cheetah Girls 2), Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Olesya Rulin (a Utah local!) and a plethora of other wonderful cast members for making this such a special phenomenon!

Rumor was that a High School Musical 3 was being planned for a theatrical release on the big screen. I found out tonight from the IMDB that its been officially announced! Looking forward to that...

Well, you all know where I'll be on Friday (assuming we're not at the hospital delivering twins!) :)

11 August 2007

More Than Meets the Eye...

Most of you that know me know that I've got mad love for the original Transformers cartoon series and the theatrical release that followed in 1987. I own the original VHS and DVD releases of the movie as well as the original soundtrack.

This year, they released 20th Anniversary editions of the DVD and Soundtrack; I know own both of those two. Most mock me profusely for it, but it was a special phenomenon that I hold dear to my heart; as do many others... others that take things to much farther extremes than I. I tip my hat to them, because they're involved in some cool action, like BotCon that happens once a year and had Vince DiCola and Stan Bush (the major players on the Transformers the Movie soundtrack do a special concert for; which resulted in a limited edition collector's CD "Til All Are One" (which I'd love to get my hands on sometime in my life...)

They're also involved in cool things like this YouTube video my cool sister "Tat" emailed me. I'm not going to tell you what it's about, you'll have to click and watch for yourself (worth the watch - trust me,) but I will tell you that it contains some Constructicons, StarScream, Optimus Prime and more. It is accompanied by the "Transformers theme" from the animated movie soundtrack (1987), performed by Lion.

Go on, hit the ol' play button then let me know what you thought. I'm giving full points for creativity on this one... freakin' genius. Kudos to all that participated in this.

08 August 2007

Fun Motocross Madness 2 Screenshot

I was looking through some old FNG (Friday Night Gaming) screenshots this morning and had to post this one. It's from Roswell stunt quarry. Close Encounters of the Nac-Nac Kind

Yes, there was a crash... the UFO didn't fly away quick enough.

04 August 2007

Do Try This at Home...

Oh yeah, there's not much better than a good hour-or-two long round of high-flying, speed-rushing, nausea-inducing TrackMania United action!

If you haven't tried it yet, you're seriously missing out. It's on Steam now for only $29.95!

02 August 2007

Kim Possible - So the Finale

The rumors have been confirmed. The creators of Kim Possible, Mr. Mark McCorkle and Mr. Robert Schooley have left Disney to pursue other projects with Nickelodeon.

While I knew that the best show EVER made... (EVER!!!!) was coming to an end (again), I can't help but get choked up and reminisce about the amazing memories this show has in my heart of hearts.

I've been into a lot of shows in my life, and more importantly, animated shows (Transformers, GIJoe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to name a few) and never has one gripped me quite as hard-core as Kim Possible. It was master-crafted art from in every respect; the dialogue was snappy, the voice-talent perfectly cast, the characters lovable and the continuity of the story too much fun. I could go on and on (as I have in the past both here and to the dread of any who have ears that can hear me...)

Before I continue, I want to tell you how my insatiable addiction for this show came-to-be.

My family and I moved into our first home in July 2003. There we had subscribed to Comcast for high-speed internet and basic cable. The owners before us had a higher-level package than we ordered, but Comcast apparently forgot to put the block on. (We later called Comcast to let them know and confirm we were subscribed to the lower package and wouldn't be charged more... they said they'd come block it... took them 3 years...)

Our first weekend in the house involved much rest after the big move. We surfed through the channels to see what we had at our disposal. We came across Disney Channel and was inundated all weekend with Kim Possible episodes. I immediately fell in love with the show, and when life stopped and I had my kids sit down and watch it with me every time a new episode aired, they quickly followed suit. This was in the beginning of Season One...

As we continued our merry KP-filled lives, mid-Season 3, my third child was born; a daughter we named Kimberly Anne (whom my wife now lovingly calls Kimberly Anne Possible whenever she's in trouble.) She, too, is a Kim Possible junkie.

We followed the series faithfully to its first end after "So the Drama" and the airing of the remaining episodes (strategically saved for after So the Drama for reasons understood by those that follow the show.)

And now we find that the series is again coming to an end, after what has already been an incredible encore season.

So many fun, dramatic and pivotal moments were brought to life during that time between "So the Drama" and now... Wade finally emerging from his room in non-holographic/robotic form, Kim and Ron finally becoming boyfriend/girlfriend, Shego and Kim becoming friends in an episode (due to whacked out circumstances), Ron's pants-falling-down blunders having significance and a bunch of others.

Steve Loter, director of a majority of the episodes has put up a blog in which he discusses the last days of production on Season 4 of Kim Possible. His 14 July post is tear-jerking and heart-warming. I can only imagine what it would've been like to be a part of the team that created something that has consumed the last several years of my life. I know they enjoyed what they were doing, because it showed in their work.

I'm sad to see it go, and I'm going to continue to push Disney to release DVD box sets... and I'm still hoping that there may be an animated theatrical release, but with the creators leaving, I'm not holding my breath; and if it happens, I hope that it will still hold the same heart that every single episode in all 4 series held, thanks to the entire KP staff; from the creators, to the directors, to the animators, to the voice talent, to the fans.

Yes, the fans.

The fans have been absolutely amazing. There is an excellent website for Disney show fans called "Save Disney Shows" that has helped fan-blast campaigns to make Disney hear how much this fan-community loves their KP. I'll never get enough of this show... even after it's completely over. I will watch with glee for the remainder of my sojourn on Earth. :) I want to send a huge kudos out to the fans, that inspired the creative talent that made Kim Possible to continue the masterpiece.

I want to thank everyone that has ever been a part of the Kim Possible staff for making the best show EVER made. And thanks Steve and others who have kept in touch with the fans via websites, blogs, online chats, etc.

According to Steve's blog, "Graduation" is the name of the final episode. I'm stoked to see how they decide to end it this time, because the last time they ended the series, they ended it perfect. I have no doubt they won't disappoint this time either.

Good luck to the entire KP staff in whatever direction they're all taking after this. You certainly will be missed by a huge fan base, and I look forward to see what other fun projects arise in the future from these people.

Thanks again. Kim Possible has been everything I've hoped for and more.

BTW - Steve says on his site:
"... After that, I packed up my last box and headed off to my final meeting at another building regarding a Kim Possible project that is being worked on (and has been worked on for a while). I can not speak about it, but I think some of you clever guys will figure it out."

Dude, you're such a tease... you'd better be talking about some seriously cool DVD box sets full of buttloads of extra stuff, or a killer top secret animated theatrical release y'all already finished before the team dispersed. If so, I will pee and crap my pants, do a happy dance, and of course, be back here to blog about it. Whatever it is, I can't wait to find out!

Stay tuned... Uh Booya!

25 July 2007

Our New Piece of Heaven

Here is our new slice of Heaven on Earth. Our new home, a south-facing home in a cul-de-sac of Riverton, Utah. Riverton is a phase-II UTOPIA city, so in a few years, I'll have my long-awaited, much-anticipated daily fiber dose to solve my internet constipation. It's a fantastic place to house our little family of seven and we're more than ecstatic to finally be here!

It didn't come without some hitches; but it came with so many other blessings that we can't complain - (see my previous post with a plethora of praises for all the family and friends that have helped us in this endeavor.)

We moved in on Friday the 13th, and for the superstitious, it was a fantastic good-luck day. In the morning/afternoon, we were able to haul 3 van-loads of stuff over to the house, and we'd already hauled a van and truckload before we listed the house to "declutter" for showing... so when it was time to load the truck, we were down to mostly the big furniture and a small amount of boxes left.

The big stuff move was completed in about 3 hours (from loading the remains of our old home into the truck, to the complete unloading of the truck in the new home.) We had an incredible crew of friends and neighbors that helped not only us, but my wonderful friends and prior next-door neighbors who were also moving that day. It truly was a sight to behold, and a magnificent display of goodwill and service. Both families are eternally grateful.

A good friend of ours (whose name will be withheld to protect said friend from being taken advantage of by others later) graciously surprised us with front-yard landscaping as a gift to celebrate our getting this new home. The "Friday the 13th" luck struck when Riverton decided (not long after the yard was landscaped) to turn off our secondary water for 2.5 days without prior warning. Luckily we're back to soaking the snot out of it (cause we all know grass doesn't grow well when snot is present...) and I think it's going to survive. I'll share pics when it's in good shape again.

We were promptly welcomed into the neighborhood by our wonderful new friends in the cul-de-sac; every one of them a jewel. We're so excited to spend time with them after we graduate from our current hermit status. :)

The house fits us quite comfortably, and we hope to finish a bedroom or two in the basement by the time the twins are 1-year old.

We really feel that some special things are going to happen in our new neighborhood; things we're supposed to be a part of. I'll take and share some photos of the home when we get settled more.

How Much Farther Now, Papa Smurf?

30 weeks and all is well... er, at least as well as could be expected for a very lovely and beautiful pregnant woman that is expecting twins.

That's right, we hit 30 weeks last Saturday. Gwen had a check-up on Monday and an ultrasound two weeks prior. We found out the boys are both growing at the same rate still and are both measuring on time for where we're at in the pregnancy.

Gwen has been handling herself EXTREMELY well (or doing an incredible job putting on a front) considering the circumstances.

In the last 6 months, we've:
  1. Found out we are pregnant
  2. Fount out the baby is really babies
  3. Changed jobs
  4. Sold our house
  5. Bought a new house
  6. Moved into the new house
  7. Prayed everyday that the twins will stay in the Newborn Nook (womb) until at least 34 weeks so we won't have to do additional hospital stay.

Needless to say, fast life changes throw one through a loop. In this case, our whole family has ridden the life-change roller coaster for a few months now...

Thankfully, we haven't killed over from stress, thanks to a load of absolutely amazing people in our lives... namely my mother-in-law, my mom, two of my sisters and incredible neighbors and friends in both our old neighborhood and new neighborhood.

So many people have sacrificed their time, talents and all with which the Lord has blessed them with to help us keep our heads above water during these changes and their various stages. Wonderful friends from our prior neighborhood helped us pack our home while I was making the transition to my new place of employment and the 120-degree sun-bake commute home after the workday ended (that's right, I have no A/C in my car; but hey... it's paid for so sacrifices must be made. *cackle!*)

We had folks bringing meals every other weeknight to help with the lack of time to keep on top of handling dinner, getting the kids ready for bed, taking care of my beautiful pregnant wife's needs, getting ready for a move, etc.

Without the help of the village pulling together in our behalf, we would never have survived Hurricane Ka-Change-a... so to all that have and continue to help us...


May the Lord bless all of you for your infinite kindness and charity on our behalf. We hope we can someday repay all the kindness and/or pay-it-forward as we always try to do. You're wonderful and we're so grateful to have you as family and friends forever.

Here's to holding out for 4 more weeks! We'll keep you posted.

30 June 2007

TrackMania United - Released on Steam

Ok, I know I'm late posting about this... but did I mention, I'm on hiatus?!

After playing the wild-goose chase for months checking GameSpot's website and all other vendors it lists as USA distributors for Nadeo's fan-freaking-tastic game, "TrackMania United" - I finally find out on the TrackMania Forums that it's been released to the USA via Valve Software's Steam engine.

Steam is Valve's way of offering their games through online distribution. What's really cool about this is that anyone can download the game for $29.95 US Dollars. What sucks, is that I've been waiting to get my 2nd copy in DVD format. So here I sit, still going insane, with no news in sight about when the DVD version will come out.

I can still get the TrackMania United (TMU) English UK DVD via GoGamer.com but it's $37.90; so I'll wait a little longer and see if an official DVD version is released in the USA.

If you haven't read it before... I HIGHLY recommend this game. (did I mention fan-freaking-tastic?!)

15 June 2007

That One Hiatus Guy - Not By Choice

Why oh why have I had to neglect you, blog? So much has gone on, and for over two weeks, I've had so much to tell you. Alas, because so much has gone on, I haven't had time to poop much less blog about what's happened.

Here's the really long condensed version (I love oxymorons):
Well over a month ago, I'd scheduled to have work off for a week before Memorial Day to do all the final work in getting my house ready to sell, so we could find a larger abode to house our upcoming adventures. Well, when the time finally hit, this is what happened...

Day 1: I get approached by my excellent friend Clint, who referred me to a company he used to work for, touting an exciting opportunity in Software Development. I was compelled to go check it out... so I did so on Day 2; after busting butt to try to get stuff done on the house, and spend some quality time with the fam.

Day 2: Interviewed with ProPay and had a ball. I interviewed with four people, and luckily knew two of them from previous work experience and common friends. This made the interview much less intimdating (one against four - those odds are intimidating) and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Day 3: Worked more on the house... helped Brennan's third-grade teacher with a dance party for their class. The festivities included an intense game of musical chairs, the chicken dance and treats with much sugar content. Fun was had by all.

Day 4: ProPay makes an offer I can't refuse. The offer puts me on my friend Wayne's development team working with new Microsoft .NET technologies which has me giddy. The salary increase will help me afford a house in Utah. The feelings at this point are bittersweet; as I already had a killer job with StayWell Interactive in downtown SLC. I now had the ever-so-opposite-of-anything-remotely-close-to-fun responsibility to turn in my letter of resignation.

I will digress now and discuss how painful this is, since I've never had to leave a job I've liked without being forced to due to lay-offs, etc. Leaving a job you don't like is easy... leaving one you do like is torture. I have some really great friends at StayWell and enjoyed my two years with them very much; and learned a lot. They will be missed. Thank heavens for instant messenger.

Back to the story...

Day 5: We find our next home. A too good to be true house in Riverton that's way bigger than we were planning on buying... whose story has to be told in another post, because it's a story of its own. It will suffice to say that we had to jump on trying to land this place or someone else was going to scoop it up. However, at this moment in time, the planets weren't aligned but we tried for it anyway.

Memorial Day (the Monday after the week off): We list our house and put our offer in on the home we felt should be our next stomping grounds. We were basically asked to come back when we had a more serious offer and didn't have a house to sale still.

Tuesday - 29 May: I drive to work with heavy heart and a letter of resignation... head still spinning from all the mayhem that took place the week before. Mustering up all the courage I had, I slowly walked the Green Mile into my boss' (friend's) office and said, "I have some bad news." He said, "I don't think I like the paper that's in your hand." We discussed things and as I returned to my other friends and had to drop the bomb there too.

Note to self: avoid doing that where possible... it's a very difficult thing to do. (Did I mention, thank heaven for instant messenger?)

Back to house stuff... and I need to digress and mention that I'll probably be writing a supplemental post regarding the spiritual aspects of this whole crazy whirlwind that has been our lives over the past month or so... that part of it has been really neat. To illustrate a little in this post, we listed our house at what seemed to be against the odds.

Our agent (and excellent friend) Trent looked up comps in our area, and while one like ours had sold in 3 days, it had been gutted and completely remodeled. Ours has had some remodeling done, but nothing like this other house. The other comps around us were still on the market and had been for 27-45 days; still not sold.

Gwen and I had both always had the feeling that our house would go quick when it was time to sell, so we listed it anyway with that in mind and still went for the house in Riverton. Well, our first sets of people came through the house on Tuesday.

Wednesday: More work on the house, more people coming to see it.

Thursday: More people checking out the house, one set being a couple that had checked it out on the first day and were making a second visit.

Friday: An offer is made on our home by said 2nd walkthrough family.

Saturday: We go under contract on our home and make a second offer on the home in Riverton we wanted.

Monday (4 June): Phone negotiations start between agents on the Riverton home and by the end of the week finally get it under contract.

Friday (8 June): StayWell Interactive graciously takes me to PF Changs for my final lunch with them... That day really sucked... it's always hard to part knowing you won't hang out with those same friends everyday anymore. I wish them the greatest of success and more good times in my absence. I know this wil be dififcult since they won't have the dry humor pun guy there making them groan with 1/2 courtesy-laughs, 1/2 gagging reflex from reaction to the jokes. They also will lack the entertainment of me sitting at my computer trying to play a video one of the other guys sent via hyperlink in an instant message and freaking out about my sound not working; only to find it was because I was instant messaging in a Remote Desktop session on my secondary monitor -- both machine's Windows Taskbars in plain sight on the monitors... good times. They will be missed.

Monday (11 June): I start my job at ProPay. The drive tanks, except for the fact that I'm driving in Orem and that means I get to see lots of UTOPIA trucks and vans around laying fiber optic lines. I've driven past apartment complexes with signs touting their being connected to UTOPIA and my heart skips a beat... then gets extremely jealous and covetous. One day... one day in my Riverton (Phase II UTOPIA City) home... I so can't wait... but I digress (imagine that.)

I've only been at ProPay 4 days so far, but what a cool crew they have over there. I've enjoyed my associations with everyone I've met so far - a very family-friendly company and the work is going to be very enjoyable.

Now we move on to the house inspections, fixing stuff up to prep for the move and all that other fun stuff.

In the meantime, I've started planning (with some neighbors) a block party for my current neighborhood. We put one on last year and it was a ball. We want to do "one more for the road" as a farewell party to have one last huzzah with all our friends before we start a new adventures in Riverton; as well as help integrate the new family into the neighborhood.

Dreyers does this really cool thing every year called "Neighborhood Salute"; where they bring free ice-cream to several block parties. We were fortunate to be selected this year as one of the lucky block parties to have Dreyers' tasty goodness to share with the friends/neighbors. It should be a riot, and we're excited (and grateful!)

In the midst of all this mayhem... I've also been running around like a head-with-its-chicken-cut-off (yes, you heard me right...) trying to finish some side work and keep the Jordan Alumni Association website up-to-date with information on the Centennial Celebration happening in less than three weeks. My latest project on it was to add a Collector Pins database to the site. Shamless plug: some of those pins are the bizzomb. I'll be trying to scrounge up money so I can see about trying to put together a set... :)

Amongst all this, we've discovered this sickening cancerous looking mass growing on my tongue.
WARNING: Clicking on the link isn't for the weak-stomachs out there... for the rest of you, I know how much you want to see my tongue, so click away. :)

I'm getting that looked at by an ENT on Monday and will, I'm sure, be getting it cut off shortly thereafter. That's a pleasant thought... knives in my mouth gouging the tool that allows me to communicate with others... and taste Dryers ice-cream.

I'm sure it's stress-invoked... but dang, kinda freaky. I'll keep y'all posted on that one as I know you're fascinated *barf* -- it merits its own post, so it will most likely get one.

Like I've told everyone else, before I've shared it with you, blog... but I'm obviously a psycho masochist who always seems to find some exposed portion of the plate to slap something else on. My family is going for the Guiness record of most life altering events in a year (or rather six-month period. Crock, we might already have it just from the last month. I take that back, we have to wait til the twins are born so we can count that... three months. Most life altering events in three months.)

I just hope I can finally poop after the 14th of July. The Centennial will be over by then, we'll be moved into our new home (assuming the planets ARE aligned now and things go smoothly.) The job transition is over and the work on getting the house sold is done (again assuming nothing goes wrong there.) -- finally Gwen and I will be able to take a breath for two seconds before the two babies arrive and make our lives crazier than they have been for the past month.

Buckle your seatbelts folks, it's going to be a crazy ride. And now blog, you understand why I've neglected you.

Obviously I'll have more later, until then... nothin' but love.

And thus I end my epistle.

30 May 2007

Google Toolbar's Popup Blocker - Ever Notice...

... that the Google Toolbar's Popup Blocker makes sure to alert you that it's doing its job the first time it intercepts a Popup ... by displaying a Popup?!

Go figure...

20 May 2007

Viva UTOPIA!!!

This screenshot brought to you by a business client on UTOPIA with Xmission as a provider and a 30Mbit/30Mbit package for $125/mo. (Residential clients get 15Mbit/15Mbit for $39.99/mo - see below; and notice that it's ~1MB faster in both directions than what the package states.)

Both pictures are courtesy of two of my friends located in Murray, Utah.
I'd like to see Qwest and Comcast even ATTEMPT to make that happen on their current systems as they exist today. It's time to ride the light, folks... the light that runs on FIBER OPTICS!!! You know what they say: 9/10 doctors recommend fiber for relieving internet constipation.

Notice the upload speed is nearly 10.8Mbit faster than what the package states they'll get... 10.8Mbit alone isn't even available on Qwest's or Comcast's networks...

Qwest offers a 7Mbit down package, but it's ridiculously overpriced and only available to people that live within spitting distance of one of their "COs." Then you must hope and pray that the planets are aligned and the moon is full to be able to get that kind of connection. Otherwise, it's 256k-ville or 1.5Mbit-land for you; still at the skyrocketed price compared to pricing on UTOPIA providers.
Comcast cranks their download connections up more - to around 8-9Mbit for over 1.5 times the cost of UTOPIA providers... and their uploads are only around 1Mbit... so 15x LESS the speed for more money... hmmm, that's smarts. But what do you do when you don't have a choice?!
Did I mention that all of my neighbors are also on Comcast, because our only other option in my neighborhood is a lousy 256k connection. After all, that's all Qwest promised the city of Taylorsville in 2004 when they convinced the City Council to pull out of UTOPIA... no kudos to the short-sighted Taylorsville City Council that somehow lost the vision they once had.
That said, I only achieve the full speeds listed above on the Comcast system when I'm using it at 3:00am after all the neighbors have gone to bed and aren't using theirs.
Ah to have the splendid best of both worlds... where I could have a dedicated line like Qwest provides (not shared with neighbors) - and speeds much greater than Comcast offers and for a lot less money... That's why I'm moving out of Taylorsville and seeking residence in UTOPIA cities.
Remember folks, it's not just about faster internet... it's about the future of all your communications: phone, TV and internet (even though phone and TV are even now being handled over internet as well); and it's about competition and options... something the Qwest and Comcast monopolies haven't had, nor provided. Instead they continue to charge us premium prices for lackluster services... and provide little to nothing in terms of customer support... Don't believe me?
I really hope that Qwest and Comcast will either start bringing their systems up to handle the technology we need to get our state and our country back in the technology race; and enchance our quality of information connectivity... or get onboard and start providing on UTOPIA so they can give their customers the same speeds they're currently charging for.
Want to know more? Check out UTOPIA's web site and then start hounding your City Council to help them understand the benefits of getting it in your area.
Wish me luck in my quest for UTOPIA. Start your own and help grow the list of cities I can look for homes in!

Boy oh Boys

I'm slothful. We had our twins' ultrasound last Tuesday and I'm just now getting around to scanning in the ultrasound pictures. I was hoping to video capture some of the video we got, but that's going to take much more time than I have right now; so it'll have to wait.

Anyway, we found out that the twins will be strapping young men (much like their father... er...)

We got to see them both very well and I'm happy to report that all appendages are present and the babies look completely healthy. God willing, they'll stay that way through delivery and beyond. We're grateful He's blessed them to be such thus far.

Baby B, lovingly known as Thing 2 (the one on the top bunk this round) was moving around like a cow in a tornado. We almost didn't get to discover his gender; but the skilled and cunning ultrasound technician outsmarted him. At one point, it looked like Thing 2 was trying to taunt us with a "Neener neener, you can't catch me and find out what I am!!!" His hand was up by his ear with mouth wide open in a mocking fashion." He must get his sense of humor from mom. :) The same shot also makes it look like he's a pirate... The screen captures don't quite do it justice, but you'll get the idea. And Thing 2 must've been prodding Thing 1, because it appears he was doing the same thing when we got his face shot from the front.

We thank everyone for their excitement for our new adventures. We'll keep you posted on how things are going. Until then, keep the name suggestions coming... the ones in the comments on the "Womb Raider" post were a hoot!

Starcraft II Announced

A few weeks ago, I'd heard Blizzard Entertainment was going to be making a huge announcement in Korea.

Korea, incidentally, is where the still popular video game Starcraft is massively played. It's so popular there, they televise tournaments for it.

Naturally, it was my hope that being the 10-year anniversary of the release of the original Starcraft the announcement would be about a Starcraft II.

I'm happy to announce that Starcraft II is indeed a reality; and it looks to be incredibly cool.

One thing I'm really excited about is the fact that Blizzard states in their FAQ that they're shooting for a "T" rating on the game. Morals seem to be decaying with increasing speed in the entertainment industries, so I'm hoping this will be kept relatively kid-friendly.

I don't care for the swearing (Starcraft had it too) but I can handle it if it's kept to a minimum.

There is a picture on the artwork page that has me slightly worried, and I hope that kind of thing doesn't make it into the game; a picture of Kerrigan (a genetically manipulated Terran "Ghost" woman that was assimilated by an alien race called the "Zerg") and became the "Queen of Blades."

What the picture depicts is interesting though. I was hoping that if Blizzard did a sequel that the plot would offer a way that the Terrans find a way to reclaim and return Kerrigan her former self. The picture suggests this may very well happen in the game. I just hope they depict it in a more tasteful way that doesn't involve mostly nude shots with strategically covered parts... it's really not necessary.

Aside from that, the game looks incredibly cool and I can't wait to see what all they're going to do to the game.

Our Friday Night Gaming crew still enjoys the original game on several occasions; it's a classic.

Kudos, Blizzard for not solely dumping all your eggs into the World of Warcraft basket and leaving them there. Hopefully you'll resurrect the Starcraft: Ghost project that got shelved a time ago too.

30 April 2007

Mourning the Passing of a Dear Friend

My faithful boombox. You've been with me for almost 20 years. You've gone through everything with me: high school, parties, dances, sports, dates, my mission, work; anywhere I went in my youth, you were right there with me.

You were made superior to the rest, and none have surpassed you since. With your built in Hyper-Bass 3D subwoofer of boom, you delivered hi-fidelity, crazy-delicious sound that brought enjoyment to many; and hours of musical solitude to this big fan of music.

I kept you with me as long as I could. Those that knew me, knew you... we were inseparable. But now the time has come that we must part. Parting is such sweet sorrow. I'll never forget the smooth remixes you helped me create from my CD collection, and how much joy those creations brought me. We were a great team, you and I.

You've touched many lives... many love song compilations and "pick me up" compilations given to friends of the female persuasion. (You also helped me contribute to piracy, you naughty fiend... but we've since repented and are mending our ways...) :)

You've more than fulfilled your function as an emitter of audio; and have made many friends along the way. If any device had audio outputs, you were interfaced with it at some point... VCRs, DVD players, computers, video game consoles, even an old turntable.

Thank you for all the joy that you've brought. You will be sorely missed.

... A moment of silence ...

28 April 2007

Being a Software Developer Versus Being a Child Developer

Sometimes I wonder if I picked the wrong profession.

Think about it. I spend all my work day trying to teach a computer what to do and how to behave. I come home from work and have to do the same thing with my children.

The difference is... a computer must blindly obey with exactness; a child gets to choose whether to accept your instructions and perform them, and can choose whether or not they'll follow some, all or none of them.

When the computer doesn't produce the desired outcome I can't give it a timeout, scold it or punish it (trust me, I've tried... it doesn't get me anywhere.) Instead I reword the instructions until it learns the correct way to produce that outcome. The cool thing about that is; I always know I've taught it wrong until I see the desired outcome.

When a child doesn't produce the desired outcome, I have to perform some analysis; decide whether or not I gave the instructions incorrectly or the child didn't perform the instructions correctly.

In Software Development, there are different types of errors... in compiled languages, you can get compile errors and run-time errors.

Compile errors are those that happen when the computer tries to analyze your instructions to see if it can even do what you've asked. If you've given instructions in a way the computer can't understand; it lets you know right away if your instructions have been such that it can't understand them, much less execute them. It's very handy. I wish God would've installed that feature in my children; it would save much time, contention and frustration.

Run-time errors occur when you've given instructions in a format the computer can understand, but there is a flaw in the logic/flow of execution. These errors rear their ugly heads when the computer is in the middle of executing your instructions and can't complete the task. Again, with computers, it's very easy to recognize that when the computer can't complete it's task, it's usually because the Software Developer failed to instruct the computer successfully.

As a Child Devleoper, I don't get that luxury... I can't know when my child displays a run-time error that it's the fault of the Developer. Of course, because of pride, I assume first that the child has encountered a "Memory Fault" error and commence and immediately execute the Child.Chastise(), Child.Scorn() or Child.Discipline() subroutines.

Instead, I should get smart and think like my Software Developer side... assume it's my fault first and look to reword my instructions. Maybe I'll have more and quicker success with reaching desired outcomes from my children.

Maybe I DID pick the right profession...

27 April 2007


Curse you Sam's Club employee that lied to me!!! Curse you!!!! I now have a broken-hearted child on my hands with shattered dreams of interactive goodness.

My wife was informed a few days ago that the Sam's Club near our home would be receiving a shipment of Nintendo Wii's. We were instructed to call in each day to see if they'd come in yet.

Every day we're reminded about as many times as my son takes breaths to call Sam's and find out if the shipment came in.

Last night when I returned home from my sojourn on the "Trail to MCPD" - I was immediately inundated with requests to make that day's status call. I called and was told they were in... I asked how many they had. "We still have a lot left."

There was much rejoicing...

... That is, until I got to Sam's Club and picked up 2 cardboard "tickets" to use to purchase a couple.

I decided to ask one of the helpful Sam's Club employees if they also carried any games for the system. "Let me go look, but you're aware we don't have any of the systems yet, aren't you?"

"Umm, no... I called an hour ago and one of your co-workers told me you were stocked."

"We were supposed to get a shipment today, but we didn't... we've had people lingering around the store all day waiting for them."

What was I to tell my son?! So I asked, "Well, I can go pay for them, and just pick them up when they arrive, correct?" (hoping this would ease the blow when I arrived home sans-new-game-system.)

"No, you can't purchase them until we physically have them here."


Well, we needed to make a trip to Lowe's (who has somehow attached a siphon hose to my bank account recently) ... I decided to call and give my wife advanced warning of the pending doom that would befall our home when my son found out I couldn't deliver.

My son, being faster than the speed of light (only when the phone rings) and knowing how to read Caller Id... hit the talk button at the same time my wife did; but didn't say a word... just listened in hopes I was calling to ask what game(s) I should purchase with our newfound treasure.

Needless to say, when the sounds of discontent emitted through the phone, I realized advanced warning was not to be. Dang it! (Did I metion, "CURSE YOU, SAM'S CLUB LIAR EMPLOYEE?!")

So the hunt begins again... if you hear of any hitting the Salt Lake area anytime soon, hook a brutha up!!!

The Trail to MCPD - 1 Down, 2 to Go

As mentioned in my last epistle, I'm studying to take three Microsoft certification exams. I took the first of three yesterday and PASSED!!!! Needless to say, I'm stoked to have 1/3 less of a stress to worry about.

Unfortunately, it was probably the easiest of the three tests and I studied like a mad-man for it. It takes 700 points to pass and I got 771. While happy about it, I'm still worried about passing the other two.

Here's to hopin'...

24 April 2007

Blog Clog - Dude, Where's my Plunger?

So it's been about a month. I dropped off the face of the Earth and apparently fell into a cess pool of masochist mayhem.

I've managed to get myself piled on with so many things, I don't have time to think, sleep or poop. That's right, it's not just the blog that's clogged. Nevertheless, I digress.

I haven't done much in way of lists on this thing, so let's do one tonight... this is what I have on my plate right now, so my "absence" from this digi-journal (digornio?) will feel somewhat justified: (These are definitely NOT listed in priority order.)
  • Microsoft Exams: My employer has challenged me (and graciously paid for a 5-day "boot camp" of training) to take and pass 3 Microsoft certification exams to become a "Microsoft Certified Professional Developer" (or something to that effect; I hate acronyms...) I take my first test on Thursday.
  • Side Job Project: A friend referred me to a company he works for to do a little data-entry piece of software over the next couple months. It's a fun ASP.net project that I get to use a cool new ORM/Data Access Layer library called SubSonic. So far it's really cool, and if I can get that time to poop, I may just also make the time to blog about SubSonic. Wow, I just used the terms SubSonic and poop in the same sentence. Dangerous. I'm a little excited (and frightened) for the comments on this post now.
  • Jordan High Centennial - For 4 years, the Jordan Alumni Association has been working hard to set up this once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Now it's less than 80 days away and the action surrounding it is picking up momentum like a speeding freight train.
  • Prepping the house to sell. Yep, with the news of twins on the way, our humble abode just won't accomodate us; so it's time to pack up and re-shack up in a newer, shinier, bigger adobe. Wow, I just used abode and adobe in the same sentence; say those ten times fast.
  • Finding a new house. We started this venture before, but realized we need to finish paying off a couple more debts first; and finish prepping our home to sell. We'll start hitting it hard again in a few weeks, but are still putting out feelers and getting other balls in motion (talking to realtors/lenders/etc.) as we get closer to that goal.
  • Work - Ah yes, the real job... the family away from family (since one spends more waking hours with them then your own family.) Can't forget that one. :)
  • Church - Sunday actually FEELS like a day of rest, even though it's as busy as any of the other days in my week. It's nice to take a day of the week and devote it to the Lord and do something different to take one's mind off the incredibly fast-paced, quadruple overbooked lifestyle one lives the other six days of the week. Thank you, God, for the Sabbath.
  • Family - Yes, I actually try to squeeze time in for my darling wife and beautiful children; who have been so very patient with me amidst all my stress. I thank God again that they have'n't killed or disowned me yet. They truly are a blessing. And I enjoy the time I get to spend with them; even if it's short lately. Voltron has become a fun nightly ritual for us...
  • I've probably forgotten something, but it doesn't matter... that list is long enough.

I want to talk more about Voltron for a moment. For my birthday, I picked up the Season One DVD set of Voltron: Defender of the Universe. If you're not familiar with Voltron, it's a catroon from 1984 that had 5 Space Explorers who encountered a nasty bad guy on the Planet Arus. Planet Arus had a mighty robot named Voltron that was split into 5 parts... mechanical lions that could me piloted individually, then flown into formation and formed into the mighty robot Voltron. This, of course is the climax of the show... Voltron is formed, he whips out the blazing sword, and opens up a can on some robot beast sent by before mentioned nasty bad guy (who happens to be known as Zarkon.)

Anyway, I popped the DVD in and instantly had a smile permeate my face as I watched and rode the flood stream that was the nostalgia river in my head. Soon, the kids flocked around me to see what the cool "new" cartoon was. It has entered the ranks of, dare I say, "Kim Possible" in the Litster household. We've been watching an episode or two everynight for bedtime stories; and recently finished the first season.

It only took three days of neverending groveling of my cuties to get me to the store to purchase Season Two. Good times... and at least I have them still amidst the Chaos. I again thank the Lord for the time I get to spend with my family. It's definitely cherished.

Except for those times when 'tudes are copped and voices are raised. Those aren't so fun. My poor kids and wife; they feel the stress and have been affected by it as much as I have; despite my efforts to shield them from it.

The consolation is that, by July 8th - much of that list will be accomplished and moved to the past; and I can focus on slowing things down so I can take care of my wife who will be moving into the "you may be confined to bedrest soon" zone.

So for now, the blincoln blogs may be few, but my thoughts are with my family and friends always... enjoy the silence - you'll be hit with my onslaughts of long-windedness again soon enough.

And thanks for reading! My family and friends mean the world to me. I'm glad you're one of them.

Now I must be off to mind-meld with a Microsoft manual. Say that ten times fast and you'll win cupie doll; but only if you forward this to ten of your best friends in the next 5 minutes. Oh, and I almost forgot... close your eyes and make a wish too, and something cool will pop up on your screen. I didn't believe it either when I first read it, but trust me; it works!