Flying Solo

An experiment in creative blogging.

Friday was another day at work.  Sure, I was getting stressed out about problems some of the people in our Chesapeake office were having that I couldn’t fix, but it had been that way all week.  I was almost used to it.  Since we’re getting ready to basically tear out everything IT related and rebuild all of our connections and servers from scratch, we have been having a lot of meeting with people wanting us to pay them to help us out.  After a few of those meetings, my boss comes into the office I share with my IT coworker and says that the owner of the company is getting really nervous about those people in Chesapeake not being able to do what they need to do, and the customer is probably going to start freaking out soon.  She told him that she wanted me to go down to Chesapeake and try to help in person.  My boss and I have both been trying to help with no progress all week, so we actually laughed at the prospect of sending me down there.

An hour or so later, I got a call from one of the VPs.  I go to her office, and my boss is there.  Turns out that the owner was dead serious about me going to Chespeake.  I was in shock.  Afraid that I wouldn’t be able to fix their problems any better from there, I was told that this was more for PR than anything else.  Since we don’t have an IT person out in Chesapeake, we need to show the customer that we care enough to send the very best (ok, I added “the very best” part).  Still, I though, surely they can’t get everything I need to fly to Virginia at 2:30 on a Friday to have me there by Monday!  It turns out that they can, rather easily.  The travel expenses were deposited into my bank account and I had a flight, hotel, and rental car shortly afterward. Continue reading “Flying Solo”

What We’re Watching (Fall 2009)

I decided to share with you fine readers what my wife and I have been watching on TV this season.


  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
    Both a news and entertainment source, I especially like how they don’t hesitate to point out the hypocrisy in anybody, red or blue, Fox News or MSNBC.
  • The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
    This is satire in its truest form.  No one and no thing is safe from Colbert.


  • House (Fox)
    Greg’s brand of sarcasm and wit gets me in the right place.  Only recently have I started caring more about the team than the weird diagnostic cases.
  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
    This is our favorite show on television, hands down.


  • V (ABC)
    Though this remake just started, we’re pretty sure this show will be entertaining.  I’m worried about how long they can stretch it out, but it should be a fun ride.


  • Glee (Fox)
    This show proves that a musical comedy/drama on network television can not only work, but be clever and insightful.
  • Mythbusters (Discovery)
    Educational and entertaining and they blow things up?  Sweet.


  • Community (NBC)
    Half goofy comedy, half almost heartwarming.  Not the funniest show, but it has its moments of brilliance.


  • Stargate Universe (SyFy)
    Can one show fill both our Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica needs?  Looks like it so far.  Not as fun as SG-1 or as dark as BSG, it seems to run right in the middle of the two, which is great.
  • Supernanny (ABC)
    These families make us want to not have children, but Jo teaches us what to do right.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network)
    I’m the only one who watches it, but this show is impressive.  Better than the prequel movies, better than its own movie.  It’s almost real Star Wars.


  • Indianapolis Colts Football Games
    I’d wanted to start watching the Colts for the last couple years, but it was only when my wife brought it up that we started watching.  Been an exciting season so far!

Blogs I Check Daily

I’m sure no one really cares what blogs I check on a daily basis, but each of them deserves to be read by more people.  I’ll try to classify them for you:

Visual Effects Guys

Darth Mojo: Adam ‘Mojo’ Lebowitz. Visual Effects Supervisor for “Star Trek: Voyager”, “Babylon 5” and Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Director’s Edition.  Visual Effects Designer for the new “Battlestar Galactica” and worked on Serenity.  Shares some behind-the-scenes stuff, but its mostly his thoughts on other work (the new Star Trek most recently).

Drex Files: Doug Drexler.  Former Make-Up Artist (won an Oscar for Dick Tracy).  Visual Effects Supervisor for the new “Battlestar Galactica”.  Artist/Production Designer for all things Trek since 1993.  Usually shares CG ships he’s worked on.

Eavesdropping with Johnny: John Eaves.  Concept Artist for all things Trek since 1993.  Shares his concept drawings, sometimes corresponding with what Drexler has posted, or vice versa.

DarenDoc’s Slightly Nifty Musings: Darren Dochterman.  Concept Artist for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, X-Men: The Last Stand, Get Smart, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Dragonball: Evolution, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and Iron Man 2.  Visual Effects Supervisor for Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Director’s Edition.  Also pitched the idea for “Star Trek: TOS: Remastered”, only better.

Actors Wil Wheaton.  Played Wesley Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and Gordie Lachance in Stand By Me.  Grew up to be a nostolgic writer, a voice-over actor, and a professional nerd.

Dispatches From The Island: Jorge Garcia.  Plays Hugo on “Lost”.

RiffTrax Blog: Michael J Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett.  The stars of the Sci-Fi Channel seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000 who now do RiffTrax, downloadable MP3s of them making fun of movies you own on DVD.

Strange Reviews

Cake Wrecks: A blog showcasing “When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong.”  It’s sad what some people receive on their cakes…

X-Entertainment: A blog that needs to be updated, but when it is, it has hilarious reviews of toys and shows from our childhood.

Slacktivist: Left Behind: A weekly updated, ongoing review pointing out the terrible writing and theology that comes from the Left Behind series, both books and movies.  It took him almost 5 years and 190 posts just to tear apart the first book.  Fun reads, and really makes you think about what life would really be like after over half the planet disappeared. (Link goes to the Index)

Eleven Foot Pole: A daily review of each part of the premade 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons adventures that I’m running, with criticism and how to improve it for your players.  Very helpful to me, at least.

Not A Blog, But You Should Read It

Not Always Right: Hilarious stories of stupid customers, submitted by Readers Like You.

Cruisin’ Caribbean – Bonus Pics

Here are some pictures I picked out but didn’t fit into the main articles:

Some kind of tower constructed for us out of forks and toothpicks at Johnny Rocket's.
Some kind of tower constructed for us out of forks and toothpicks at Johnny Rocket's.
Once we came back to the room and the towels were made into swans.
Once we came back to the room and the towels were made into swans.
Another time it was a heart.
Another time it was a heart.
A view of the ocean from the ship.
A view of the ocean from the ship.
A panoramic view of the pool deck.
A panoramic view of the pool deck.
A panoramic view of Majesty and one of the Bahama Navy ships.
A panoramic view of Majesty and one of the Bahama Navy ships.

Cruisin’ Caribbean – Part 2

Missed Part 1?  Here you go!

We were welcomed to the Bahamas in style.
We were welcomed to the Bahamas in style.
The Lost Hotel of Atlantis.
The Lost Hotel of Atlantis.

So Sunday morning we left the ship onto Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.  We had a scheduled excursion for a harbor tour which ended at the Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island.  The tour was great, but windy.  If I heard right, one of the beach houses we passed used to be owned by Richard Harris, the first Dumbledore!  We got off the tour boat at the pier and walked to Atlantis for our “Discovery Tour”.  The tour guide took us through a part of the hotel and down to the Predator Lagoon.  They had all kinds of sharks and other terrifying sea creatures.  I took a bunch of pictures, but I will spare you them.  You’ve seen fish before.

This manta ray threatened my life if I didn't put a picture of him on here.
This manta ray threatened my life if I didn't put a picture of him on here.

The main part of the tour was actually of the Ruins Lagoon, a confusing replica of the Lost City of Atlantis.  I say “confusing” because the guide kept talking about “actual artifacts” and “authentic replicas” for a completely mythical civilization.  I’m sure that some people have taken what was told them as truth and tell their friends.  Anyway, it was a huge saltwater aquarium with a bunch of sea creatures swimming among big fake machinery and wall carvings.  Again, I took a bunch of pictures but I’ll only post this one.  Picture taking was honestly a problem due to the other people in our tour group.  Apparently they thought the best way to remember the tour was to pose in front of every single window and take their picture, complete with flash.  They’ll be disappointed when all they have is pictures of them standing in front of giant glare spots with fuzzy fish somewhere in the background.

After the Tour of Lies, they released us into the middle of the Atlantis Hotel to do what we want.  I honestly just stood there staring at the private beach and all of the green palm trees swaying in the wind.  I could have stayed there forever.  It was so beautiful.  Eventually I started moving again and we found a place to eat not far from the hotel.  Apparently it was still part of the hotel, because the prices were outrageous.  We paid them anyway, as we hadn’t had to pay for food on the ship.  We rushed back to catch the next boat back to the main island which left every half hour, but missed it and had to wait the extra half hour.  Because it was Sunday, everything was already closed by the time we got back so we just went back on the ship.  After dinner (mahi-mahi this time), we hung out with Eric and Stefani and played Spades with them long into the night.

The sun rises over Miami and the same Carnival ship.
The sun rises over Miami and the same Carnival ship.

The next morning we had to get up early so we could get off the ship in Miami to head home.  We got through customs at the pier, then took a bus back to the airport (the middle-aged ladies were on our bus, but we ignored one another).  We got to Atlanta without incident.  We were hoping that we could get another stand-by flight and make more money, but alas, our plane wasn’t even full.  However they did make an announcement that our plane was having problems and we all had to move to another gate and wait for them to find us another plane.  After two hours, our plane came from who knows where and we finally boarded.  No more vouchers for us. 😦

And that was our cruise!

I have to mention the ethnic melting pot we got to experience.  Every crew member on the ship seemed to be a different ethnicity.  You know those commercials where the help always is smiling and truly seems eager to serve you.  It’s actually like that.  Everyone was nice and polite and helpful.  It was incredible.

Sea life seems to be the way for me.  The boat rocking never made me feel ill, it excited me.  I loved just standing and staring out at the water rushing by.

Overall, the cruise was the best thing ever.  Everyone should go on one.  Heck, we all should go on the same one.  You wouldn’t regret it.

Cruisin’ Caribbean – Part 1

This past weekend Jessica and I went on a Royal Caribbean cruise, my first, her third.  It was an awesome experience, and I can’t recommend it enough.  In this blog post, I will tell you of our travels, and share a sampling of the 500+(!) pictures I took.

It all starts last October.  You see, the church we were working with in French Lick sent Jessica and I to the Catalyst Leadership Conference in Atlanta.  On the way back we were waiting for our flight back to Indianapolis to leave when they announced over the intercom that the flight was full, and anyone willing to wait for the flight the next day would be greatly compensated.  We were in no hurry to get back so Delta gave us transportation to a hotel, a night in said hotel, food vouchers, and vouchers for $400 in plane tickets a piece.  The only catch was that we had to use the ticket vouchers within a year, so we made plans to take a cruise since Jessica always wanted to take me on one and most of the cost of a cruise is the trip to Miami to get on the ship.  We booked our 4 day, 3 night cruise to the Bahamas shortly afterward.  Since then, Jessica had been planning, strategizing and packing for it.

The new Indianapolis Airport is very nice.
The new Indianapolis Airport is very nice.

Finally, the weekend came.  We had dropped off our puppy Jack at the kennel Thursday night.  Friday morning we got up at 4 am to get ready to go.  We had already packed everything into our carry-ons, so it didn’t take long for us to get on the road.  I drove us from Bedford to Indianapolis, an hour and a half or so drive.  We had reservations at Indy Park, Ride, and Fly, but when we used Google Maps on Jessica’s iPhone it led us to nowhere.  We eventually had to call and use the directions they had on their machine to find it.  We still had plenty of time though and made it to the new Indianapolis International Airport with time to spare.

We didn’t get to admire the shinyness of the new airport  for long before we boarded our plane to make the inevitable trip to Atlanta International Airport.  Ugh.  That airport is just too big.  Even when you fly with the same airline you have to ride the express train to get to another terminal.  I can’t imagine checking luggage and having to find it in that mess.  We had less than an hour layover, so we rushed from our gate to the gate for our flight to Miami.  We got there and started to wait for our flight to start boarding.  However, a familiar message came over the intercom: “This flight is overbooked, and any passenger willing to wait an hour for the next flight gets $200 in Delta vouchers.”  We jumped at the chance to get another free trip anywhere and moved to another gate to wait for our new flight.

Finally, we left Atlanta and made our way down to Miami International Airport.  We were supposed to find a shuttle to take us to the pier, but our documents we had printed out pointed us to places that did not exist due to construction.  Eventually we found a Royal Caribbean desk where they called us a shuttle.  Finally, we had made it to our home for the weekend, Majesty of the Seas.

The Centrum lobby of Majesty.
The Centrum lobby of Majesty.
The sun sets on Miami and a Carnival Cruise ship.
The sun sets on Miami and a Carnival Cruise ship.

Even though Majesty is one of the older ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, it is still amazing.  It’s like living in a hotel for the whole weekend and all of your restaurants and stores are right there with you.  And it takes you to the Bahamas.  We wandered around the ship for a while, then went to the required life vest training on the main deck.  Finally, as the sun was setting, we left Miami on our way to the private island of CocoCay.  We had dinner in the huge dining area.  We were assigned a table with 4 other people: a couple our age (Eric and Stefani, from Miami) and a pair of middle-aged women.  We hit it off immediately with the young couple and tried to interact with the women, but they ended up talking only to each other.  After dinner, we saw them talking to the head waiter.  We later found out they wanted to sit with people “their own age”.  Whatever.  Anyway, I got to try lamb, which wasn’t bad.

The Forbidden Island of CocoCay.
The Forbidden Island of CocoCay.

We went to bed early to prepare for our CocoCay excursion.  However, we soon received word via the intercom that the winds were too strong and the little boats that were supposed to ferry us to the island couldn’t make it to us.  That was fine by me, as there were still plenty of things we could do on the ship.  We ate lunch at Johnny Rockets on board.  It’s a 50’s style diner they recently added to Majesty.  They had little jukeboxes and gave us nickels to request songs on them.  The best part was when “Stayin’ Alive” came on and the entire staff dropped what they were doing and put on a show for us!

The crew had no problem stayin' alive.
The crew had no problem stayin' alive.

After our good old fashioned American food, we tried to find something else to do.  We hung out at Casino Royale and eventually found our way down to one of the event rooms where we watched some people learn how to line dance.  Next up on the agenda was Bingo.  We thought we’d give it a shot, so we bought a set of cards and played along.  In the first game the goal was to get a straight line, and I actually got to stand up because I was only one away from winning!  Sadly, not only did I not win, three people got a Bingo at the same time and had to split the winnings.  The next round was four corners, where you had to get four corners of a card.  The game didn’t last long, as Jessica destroyed her opponents and won after just a handful of numbers had been called.  We ended up winning $175!

No one stood a chance.
No one stood a chance.
What a fine-looking couple!
What a fine-looking couple!

That night’s dinner was formal, so we got fancied up and went down to dinner.  I had the duck just because I’d never had it before.  We and our new friends considered going out to Nassau since we had arrived early due to not being able to go to CocoCay, but we decided to stay on the boat instead.  Jessica and I went to karaoke until we were too tired to stand and hobbled back to our room and slept.


I Believe in Harvey Dent

Now that it’s Wednesday, I guess it’s time to write about the extended weekend we had.

Thursday night we finished cleaning up the house as Josh “Harvey” Guerrero was coming that night. Around 8:30 or so we left the house to pick him up at the airport in Indianapolis, which is maybe an hour and a half away. We got there and did a few laps around the airport and on our third lap, Harvey appeared. Jessica had met him before in Texas, but I had only played Xbox 360 with him online. It was weird to hear his voice and not have it come out of a headset while looking at a video game screen.

Since the whole excuse of Harvey coming to visit us was to see The Dark Knight and we were already in Indianapolis, we had ordered tickets to see it in the IMAX theater up there. The problem was that the midnight showing was sold out by the time I realized that we could do that, so we had tickets to the 3:15 am showing. This gave us probably 4 hours to waste in Indy before the show began. Our first stop was Denny’s, where we got a midnight snack of eggs and bacon, with Jessica getting chocolate cake for dessert. We had planned on staying there the whole time, but it was really hot and creepy, so we left to see what else we could find. We decided to show him downtown Indy since we weren’t that far from it. There was still a fair amount of activity downtown for it being 1 am on a Friday morning. We circled around and came back to check out the theater situation. The parking lot was completely full, like I don’t understand how they handle every day traffic when there’s more than just a handful of screens open. We passed the theater and went on a quest to find a Wal*Mart or something open so we could waste more time before we had to stand in line to get into the theater. We eventually found a Super K-mart and messed around in the toy section. We ended up buying a few Nerf guns so we could have random battles around the house that didn’t sting as much as a pellet gun battle would. We left there to stand in line at the theater.

When I had ordered the tickets, the 3:15 showing still had plenty of tickets left. Apparently it had sold out in the last few days because I felt that we were pretty far back in the line, but we were probably in the first 1/3 of the line, if not closer. There were normal fans like us, and then there were those dressed up. Not so many Batmans, but tons of Jokers. Some of them just had neon green wigs and face paint, but one kid left the midnight showing and walked past us in a purple suit with scars on his cheeks and had badly dyed his hair a dark green. It was pretty convincing. Around 3 or so they let us in the theaters and we got ready to experience The Dark Knight in its IMAX glory. I already posted my first review of the movie (and I hope to supplement it with a spoiler-tastic second review if I see it again this weekend).

We stumbled out of the theater after the movie and made our way home as the sun was coming up. We got home and I was ready to pass out, but Jessica and Harvey still had energy for some reason. I told them that I was going to get some sleep, and eventually they agreed. We only slept for a few hours (Berkeley was confused as to why we needed to sleep more; he’d been sleeping all night!). We hung out at home for a bit, and I watched Harvey watch Metal Gear Solid 4 on his PS3 (I know it’s a game, but it might as well be a movie). We then went up to Bloomington to go to the mall and eat. We had planned on going to Laser Tag, but then decided we didn’t want to, so we went home and watched the animated Batman: Gotham Knight (which was OK, but just as disappointing as the Animatrix).

Saturday we played Rock Band pretty much all day. Nick and Morgan came over and we all played together and it was amazing. They left and we continued rocking on into the night.

Sunday morning we got up and set out to get into the Hall of Fame on Rock Band, so we played all day and eventually got in. We still have several songs to unlock and then the Endless Setlist consisting of every song in the game, so the game is far from over, but we got that first step to superstardom. I also need to play the guitar on a level higher than “Medium”, but that’s a whole different story. We eventually had to say our goodbyes and take Harvey back to the airport. The way home was sad.

It’s like this whenever people come to visit. It’s always so great when they’re here, but as soon as they leave Jessica and I both get depressed for a few days. The house feels so empty. We don’t have many friends up here, and those we do have don’t come to visit very often. We hope to change that, and in fact we’re hanging out with Nick and Morgan tonight.

I’ll keep you posted.

Blogger Beginnings

So I was inspired by Lee Tucker’s awesome blog and decided to try my hand at blogging again. This will be imported to Facebook automatically, so that’s realy cool too. I’ll be composing my movie reviews on here from now on, that way you don’t have to log into Facebook or MySpace to read them.

This summer has been fun. It’s our first summer in our own house, so we’ve been trying to have people come see it. The Chastains came a few weeks ago, Josh “harveydent4” Guerrero comes next week, the MacSavenys a couple weeks after that. Then Labor Day weekend we’re going down to TN to visit the Chastains and Browns, which also should be fun.

We’ve not been doing much else. I’ve been spending my free time on the forums, a site originally made to un-Special Edition the Star Wars movies, but has grown into a very active fan editing community of not just Star Wars movies. I’ve been getting involved in “The Empire Strikes Back: Revisited” from the editor of “A New Hope: Revisited” (which has a review on my Facebook/MySpace). Basically this one guy decided that he liked the Special Editions well enough, but some things went too far and others didn’t go far enough. Then the DVD editions came out in 2004 and not only did they change more stuff, they ruined the colors somehow. So he is going though each movie hand-correcting the color, fixing the little mistakes, and making some things make more sense and be more dynamic overall so there isn’t such a large visual jump from Episode III to Episode IV. He also redid every lightsaber and laser blast so they would be consistent from shot to shot. It’s impressive work. It took him two years to do A New Hope: Revisited, but it was his first edit and he was teaching himself how to do special effects at the same time. He also designed and painted his own DVD cover, a sculpted some things eventually not used.

The best part about this edit is the fact that he is open to suggestion. He admits that he can’t think of everything, so a bunch of us suggest things that might need to be changed/fixed/enhanced to make the movie even better. It’s nice to have input and certainly helps this to be an edit by the fans for the fans. Since I lack the technology and skills to do this myself, its nice to have a part in this. He plans on doing all 6 movies, so it’ll be interesting to see what comes of this.

Sorry, that was kind of off topic, but it’s my blog, I can bring up whatever topic I want! I’m back baby!