Michael Moore

I thought I'd share with you what I've been watching on Netflix lately. For those of you not familiar with Netflix, it is a way of renting movies from the internet. Basically you browse the movies they have and put the ones you want to see in a list. Then they mail a few at a time to you with return postage included. Movies are rated by users and I find it pretty easy to find movies I like, and it is cheaper/more convenient than renting from the local Blockbuster.

My latest fad is watching documentaries. Recently I've seen a lot of movies from Michael Moore like "Bowling for Columbine", "Fahrenheit 9/11", and "Roger & Me". Calling these documentaries is a little misleading even though that is how they are classified. Moore certainly uses heavy handed editing to make his point more persuasive, and he does carry a very liberal agenda. That said I find his movies somewhat educational and very entertaining. You just need to remember that he's coming at you with a very one sided approach even though he does a decent job at hiding it. I suppose being a liberal person and agreeing with much of what he is trying to convey helps make the movies more entertaining.

I think the biggest revelation I've had in any of his movies is from "Bowling for Columbine". In this movie Moore reminds us that the United States has 10-100 times the murder rate of other nations with similar economic standing. He then goes on to show that other nations watch violent movies, have had violent pasts, and some own more guns per person than the United States. Why then does the United States have so much more gun violence than these other nations? Before I watched this movie I don't think I would have had any good ideas. I don't want to wreck the movie for those who haven't seen it so I'm not going to mention the revelation here. Also I'm sure my blog wouldn't do it justice. Go rent the movie and find out for yourself. If you know you hate liberal based commentators like Moore, or you just don't want to watch the movie send me an email and I'll tell you the gist of it.


Windy Weekend

This weekend was a blowout. By that I mean both days were rainy and had winds of 20-35 mph with gusts over 50 mph. I did a bit of hiking and practiced ice skating, but nothing too exciting happened.


ATI Is Gone, Long Live AMD

I am now officially no longer employed by ATI, but rather by AMD. This is because AMD bought ATI. No big news as far as my job goes; I still am in the Applications Research Group doing exciting engineering work. Some of my benefits changed for the better, but the best news to me is that I get a few more days of vacation each year! Sweet!



A buddy of mine at work, Dave, has been playing hockey for many years. Last week I asked him if he knew how a complete novice like me could learn the sport. His eyes lit up at the prospect of introducing someone to the sport of hockey. The information that Dave shared was invaluable and I now have a clear course of action. There is a large skating center (5 rinks) between home and where I work that hosts a novice league. The novice league starts at the end of the year so I'll probably join it then. It turns out that Dave has extras of nearly all the gear I'll need except for a pair of skates that would fit me. So I went to a nearby hockey store this weekend and picked up a pair of hockey skates.

I went to test those new skates out earlier today. I had skated a little as a young child, and I remember skating being pretty easy. Well, it wasn't quite as easy as I remembered. When I first got out on the ice I felt as stable as a twig getting pulled through the rapids. After about 20 minutes I was a bit more stable but my feet muscles were getting sore. I decided that I needed to continue skating for at least one more hour. Looking back I'm not sure why I decided that, but my stubbornness prevailed and I stayed out on my sore feet for the full hour. During this hour I improved noticeably, but I still have a very long ways to go before I'm ready for any hockey. I fell a few times, but only when I started trying to do fancy things (fancy like stopping). When I was done I was eager to pull those skates off so my feet would stop hurting. In all the foot hurting sports I've done (skiing, snowboarding, and rock climbing) when you get the shoes off your feet its feels euphoric. Not so much with skating it turns out. When I got the skates off my feet I could hardly walk for the next 15 minutes. I kind of limped (an odd looking limp since I was limping on both feet) to my car. About half an hour later my feet felt fine. There are no marks or blisters since the skates fit fine. I just think I used a whole lot of muscles in my feet that weren't used to getting used.

It was a humbling experience out on the ice. It's been awhile since I did something new were I wasn't decent at it. That said I think a little humbling like that is good for the soul. I also think a little pain while learning is good for the body. I still look back all those years to when I was learning to snowboard and remember all that pain in such a fond light (just for the record learning to snowboard is much more painful than learning to skate).

I love a challenge, and I'm quite sure learning to play hockey is going to be quite a challenge. I look forward to it.

Cruise Pictures

I'm posting a link to most of the photos I have from our cruise. Just click here to enjoy!


Imagine Earth Without People

I found this article fascinating. The article describes what would happen to the earth if humanity disappeared from the face of the planet. I don't necessarily agree with everything that the author mentions, but I do think it's does a good job detailing how much we've screwed up the earth.


My New Smart Phone

For the last few months at work, I've been working on a programming project dealing with 3d graphics on cell phones. Then last week Nokia sent me a sweet camcorder/camera/mini-computer that also happens to make phone calls. All this while still fitting in my pocket! I felt obligated to use stop using my old cell phone and start using this new whiz-bang phone. I had Verizon as a provider and was never all that happy with their service plus this new whiz-bang Nokia phone doesn't work on Verizon's network. So I went to Cingular and asked them to set me up.

The first thing that happened at Cingular was that the salesman started drooling all over my phone. I guess this phone hasn't been released in the United States yet so it was the first one he'd seen. After the drooling phase, he insisted that instead of just porting my old number to Cingular that I allow him to find me a "good" number. I was just going to have my old number ported, but he seemed so eager to find me a cool number that I just had to let him try. The man was way too excited about going through the numbers. After about 10 minutes of searching he finally found a "good" one. I must admit that it's much easier to remember this new number than my old number, but I still need to send this new number to all my friends/family. Because of that part of me regrets getting the new number, but I guess it was worth it. I got to make the salesman happy, and now I have a new story to tell when I'm meeting people. I'll send my new number to all my friends and family right after posting this. If you think you should have gotten my number and didn't, let me know.


Fall Colors

This weekend started out fun and then it went all crazy on me.

I started the weekend with picking up a motorcycle. It's freaking awesome. Now I just need register it and get insurance. Then I'll be good to go. Sadly winter is just around the corner.

Then things started getting weird. I was out hiking in a state forest and on my way back to my car I came across some folks playing paintball. I'm all for a good game of paintball as long as it's done in an environmentally responsible way. Putting up a bunch of forts in a state forest and spraying the trees with paint is not my idea of environmentally responsible. When I mentioned this to them they responded in a not so polite manner. Not wanting to get in an argument with 10 tough looking men I just continued back to my car. There I called 411 and talked with the police. I explained that some people were playing paintball in the state forest to the officer receiving the call. I couldn't believe my ears when he asked ME, "Are you sure that's illegal?” After a few seconds of stunned science (why was he asking me the law, and what kind of smoke was he smoking to think painball on public land might be ok), I told him that I'm pretty sure it's illegal. My first point was that it's polluting the forest, and secondly it's a potential danger to hikers since most hikers aren't wearing proper eye protection. To this he said that he'd need to ask his supervisor to see if playing paintball is illegally and if it was then they'd send someone out to check up on it. I couldn't believe my ears at this point and mumbled some sort of thanks for looking into it and hung up. I have no idea if they ever sent anyone out, but I sort of doubt it. It blows my mind how stupid police can be sometimes. Discounting the pollution for now, there is absolutely no way the state wants to be held liable for someone getting hurt while playing paintball on their land, but this officer for some reason though playing paintball on state land sounded reasonable. Maybe it was his buddies or something...

Believe it or not, things got even weirder this morning. I'm still trying to decide whether to write about these experiences here or not, and if I do I'll need to come up with a spin for it. Anyways for now, let's just say this morning was pretty crazy.

Hope everyone out there has been having a great fall. The colors are starting to come out around here!


Storyionics 0 – Adventures in Introductions

Storyionics is a word I coined to make it easy for me to search for (or for you to skip if they bore you) a new sort of article I’ll be writing for this blog. Mostly these new articles will be fictitious stories, but in rare cases they’ll be based on a true story. If they’re based on a true story I’ll mention it. I’ve always been writing these stories in my journal, but one of the writing books I’ve been reading said I should try to take some of my journaling and clean it up for public consumption. Storyionics will be my attempts at this.

Happy adventuring!

Motorcycle Mayhem

I attended motorcycle class all weekend. It started Friday night and then went all day Saturday and all day Sunday. It was an even mix of book learning and riding motorcycles. The book portion of the course was similar to driver's education. Boring class time followed by a ridiculously easy common sense test. The driving part of the course was a lot more fun.

For those who don't know anything about motorcycles (hey don't feel bad I didn't know this a few days ago), let me describe the major controls. With your left hand you control the clutch and turn signals. Your left foot controls the shifter. Your right hand handles the throttle and front break. And your right foot controls rear break. It's quite common for you to be doing things with both feet and both hands at the same time. This made learning to drive a motorcycle a whole lot more interesting than a car. It's not really hard to do. Ten out of the twelve people in my class figured it out in our two days of riding and then passed the test. The people who didn't pass mostly lacked confidence in my opinion. It was a great experience and I actually learned enough that I now feel like I could ride a motorcycle on the road in a reasonably safe manor.

The way the driving portion of the course worked was that we never went onto a real road. We split up into two groups of six and then practiced in a parking lot. We did lots of drills with turns and stopping and then some riding. I have the dubious honor of being the only person to pass the course who also dumped a bike. During one of the emergency breaking drills I tried to break a little too aggressively and locked the front wheel. The next thing I knew I was on the pavement with the bike on me. Other than that I did fine.

In Massachusetts when you pass this course you can get your motorcycle license without doing a driving test from the DMV. Now all I need to do is wait for my license to show up in the mail. In the mean time I need to find me a bike.