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Archive for December, 2005

My Xbox 360

December 31, 2005 Leave a comment
When I was giving up all hope of getting an Xbox 360 – which is more than just a gaming platform but a whole media center (which works well with our Media Center PC, although you can still use music and picture sharing with Windows XP) – Tracy and I were in Best Buy in Bellevue when we heard some employees getting something ready and we were right to stay for a few more minutes…
 
…they got a shipment of Xbox 360s right before our eyes!
 
We got an extra wireless controller and a charge pack for the main controller (so we don’t go through tons of batteries or have to recharge our NiMH all the time), but alas there was no remote control. One employee said this was the last shipment to get them, but he appears to have been mistaken because when I called back another employee said that was only for the launch shipment. Oh well, they’re pretty cheap.
 
It’s a great platform, though! Complete with micropayments you can buy games (which are cheaper on here than on PC for some Tracy likes to play) this can work wonders, though it didn’t wash our dishes when I told it to.
Categories: Entertainment

More Pictures of Suzie

December 29, 2005 Leave a comment
Tracy’s mom sent us some more pictures of our new dog, Suzie – a puggle, which is a pug / beagle mix.
Categories: Family

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2005 2 comments
Merry Christmas! Tracy and I got back from Christmas Eve service a little while ago – always my favorite of the year because of the good news and because of the traditional Christmas songs. And please don’t ever say "Xmas" because Christmas is about Christ – not Santa nor evergreens, but about His message that was His life.
 
So while you’re celebrating with family and friends remember the true meaning of Christmas and may the Holy Spirit fill you with peace and love that is also part of the holidays.
 
 
By the way, Tracy and I ordered a web camera to keep in touch with family and friends, more specifically because we got my brother one for Christmas. Ours isn’t here yet, but will be soon I suspect. If you have a broadband or3G dial-up connection and a web camera look Tracy or I up on MSN Messenger and we’ll see you then!
Categories: Religion

One Show May Return while Another Dies

December 21, 2005 Leave a comment
I was ecstatic to learn that Futurama may be returning to television due to high DVD sales. This is a great comedy that lasted 4 seasons on Fox. Unfortunately, the Firefly movie, Serenity, only raked in $25 million so it looks like the end of the crew of Serenity. It’s one of those good news / bad news days.
Categories: Entertainment

Movie Review: King Kong

December 20, 2005 Leave a comment
Peter Jackson’s King Kong was good, but it was no Lord of the Rings. The special effects were on par with LotR but over 3 hours to tell a pretty simple story is perhaps a little excessive. Good thing the theater where we saw the movie had pretty comfortable seats.
 
You all know the movie, of course. Girl falls in love with guy; girl gets kidnapped by gorilla; girl – in some twisted case of Stockholm’s Syndrome – falls in love with gorilla; guy saves girl; gorilla saves girl; gorilla get killed. Of course, the military is portrayed in their typical "shoot first and ask questions later" way.
 
The ride during this story is fantastic, though. A friend and coworker asked me if it was full of "gratuitous special effects". While I replied that specials effects when done well are never gratuitous, I think he summed it up from what he had heard rather well. It’s a great movie for special effects and Peter Jackson does a good job telling it, but it was rather lengthy to show off WETA‘s special talents that helped bring LotR to life. Maybe it’s just that the story – told over and over around the world in various manifestations – is old. That’s not Jackson’s fault, of course.
 
I will say that this is probably not a movie you want to bring youngsters to, though. As hinted in the commercials for King Kong there is a battle between a T-rex where the end is a little gory for some people’s tastes (I didn’t think anything of it, but several people in the audience were horrified). I’m sure any kid that’s helped his dad or mom clean the spoils of a hunt would have no problem, though.
 
So, is this movie worth over 3 hours it takes to tell it and a possibly numb butt? Maybe not; but, if you’re into special effects this is a good movie to see.
 
Now that King Kong is out I can’t wait until Jackson’s next venture, The Hobbit.
 
…and sorry it seems like LotR is the rubric by which I judge Jackson. It’s not. Kong was just good, but even a previous work, The Frighteners, was great.
Categories: Entertainment

Yes, Virginia, You Can Lock an Idle Audi

December 12, 2005 Leave a comment
While we may not get a lot of snow at this elevation in the Pacific Northwest (about 92 feet, according to my GPS) we do get a lot of frost because it still gets cold (not as cold as interior states because of the ocean winds) and there’s plenty of moisture. That makes for some pretty thick frost some mornings. Of course, most people warm-up their cars in the morning.
 
I found I couldn’t start my car with the valet key and lock it with the key fob (remote). With some simple investigation I found that both Audis and BMWs don’t allow this. Attempting to use the in-door button locks on the inside didn’t lock the driver’s side door and there’s no push-button lock like on older cars – just the red LED. I called my local Audi service center and they didn’t know of any way to do this, so I sent an email to Audi of America and they said I shouldn’t idle the car in the morning because it causes wear on the engine. Wow, maybe I shouldn’t drive it because that causes wear on the engine and on the transmission. They referred me to the manual that only makes mention of this because it consumes gasoline and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning in ill- or non-ventilated areas like a garage.
 
Not only is it more harmful to run an engine cold (and I mean cold!) it’s also a safety hazard since the windows don’t defrost immediately and a cold enough cabin will cause the moisture in your breath to condense and possibly freeze on the window. Audi agreed and said they considered this in future planning.
 
This morning, however – not satisfied yet that it’s impossible – I tried an "ancient technique": I stuck the laser-cut key from the key fob into the key hole in the door outside and turned it clockwise while the car was running idle. Bingo! The car was locked. The door can’t be opened remotely but you can turn the key counter-clockwise to unlock it while running. I haven’t used an actual key for a car in such a long time it didn’t even occur to me to try until this morning. Apparently my local Audi service center and Audi of America hadn’t thought of this either! This makes me wonder if the same is true on BMWs as well. The local BMW service center also told me BMWs can’t lock when running idle.
 
Perhaps this is more proof that more technology makes us more dumb? Makes you wonder.
Categories: Travel

Movie Review: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

December 11, 2005 Leave a comment
Tracy and I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and it was very well done, from the special effects to the directing to the acting. The one thing I noticed was that the lion and the events had very deep Christian similarities.
 
Warning: spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know about some of the events that comprise the ending you probably shouldn’t read on. Go see the movie. If you don’t mind the spoilers, I encourage you to read on and think about what I have written below as you watch the movie.
 
The lion was a wise teacher and he sacrificed himself willingly for the treachery – the sins – of one of the children. The two girls wept over him but as they turned to leave there was an earthquake and a breaking sound. When they turned the stone on which evil bound and killed the lion was cracked and the bounds were broken. The lion then appeared with the sun blindingly behind him looking quite majestic. When he returned and defeated the witch that had spread evil over the land he stayed for a short time and left. Those who knew him sell said one day he would return, just as Christ will return one day.
 
One of the boys was much like Judas and doubting Thomas, though all of the children but the youngest had doubts at first. Unlike Judas, however, the boy did not kill himself but more like Thomas was forgiven and set at peace.
 
I didn’t really know if the similarities were intentional or coincidence, or even if they were intended were just ripped off from the New Testament. After all, the history of Christ and his teachings is, as such a movie is entitled, the greatest story ever told. This morning in church there was information about the movie in our bulletin and they were even showing the movie in our church later this week. While www.narniaresources.com dances around the issue (leave it to Disney) an article published in Christian News and even Disney as cited in the article confirm that in 1961 C.S. Lewis sent a letter to a reader confirming that the lion does, in fact, represent Christ.
 
Think about this and Christ’s sacrifice out of love for us when watching the movie. It is a good movie with a great message.
Categories: Religion