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Been A While

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated here. I’ve just been busy and haven’t felt like writing so much about myself.

General Life Update
The house that my roommates put in an offer for that I mentioned in my christmas post was accepted and they’ve gone all the way through the entire process to where they’re waiting for the closing date. The deadline in the contract is March 16th, so there will be a house by that date assuming all goes well. Just need to wait for the relevant people to get together to actually close. I’ve been spending time packing and such the past couple of weeks so that’s been fun. We’re moving out of this hell-hole of an apartment at the end of the month.

As it turns out, so is everybody else. Our downstairs neighbor moved out over the weekend and the people across the hall are looking to move too. Must be because of our neighbors from hell. Ugh. Anyway, it’ll soon be over with.

School Stuff
We’re in the middle of another school semester and as I think I may have mentioned here, I’m taking General Drawing this time out. It’s going about as well as expected considering I don’t really have any drawing skills to speak of. Half the class is perspective drawing and the other half is still life. The perspective stuff is a lot of fun for me since it’s all creating a composition, measuring and then drawing it out. I can do that sort of thing. Still life is…touch and go. Some weeks are better than others.

In other news, two of my photographs from last semester ended up being shown in the MVCC Faculty Select student art show.

I was hopeful that I could get something in but the deadline had unknowingly passed and the show was coming up. I spoke with my instructor and she managed to sneak these two into the show. If you’re local and want to swing by, it’s in the Information Technology and Theather building on the Utica Campus on the second floor. Tuesday-Friday 1pm to 6pm until April 7th. My roommate has a lot of stuff in there this year as well.

New Toy
And last, but not least, I have a new technological toy to play with! If you’ve seen my facebook status updates at all, you’ll probably know this already, but I’ve purchased a brand new Apple Macbook Pro.

My old laptop was the original Macbook Pro from 2006, bought a week or so after they first came out. It was still performing all right, especially in non game tasks but it was starting to fall apart and the wireless was REALLY spotty (aka, works fine one minute, next needs to be within 3 feet of the router in order to pick up a signal). It was time to put it out to pasture, as good of a laptop as it had been for me over the years. With Apple being rumored to update their laptop lineup relatively soon, I hunkered down and waited.

Finally the day came and I pounced on the store as soon as it came up and came away with an order for a new laptop. The spec bumps in the 15″ MacBook Pros were…incredibly impressive. I came away with a 15″ MacBook Pro with a 2.2ghz quad core sandy bridge i7, 4GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon 6750m with 1GB of memory, the 500GB 7200 RPM hard drive option and the high res (1680×1050) anti-glare display.

It was delivered on Wendsday and all I have to say is, OMG this thing is FAST. I haven’t been able to find anything I do that really taxes it yet and when I boot into windows for games…wow. I’m playing Half Life 2 with everything enabled at over 100+ FPS at 1680×1050. City of Heroes with ultra mode enabled for almost everything works silky smooth. I’m REALLY impressed by the graphics card they put into these as historically apple tends to skimp on graphics.

I’m VERY happy with my purchase. This thing should last me another 5 years. Sure they’re expensive laptops, but if I’m only getting a new one every 4-5 years, it works out pretty well.

Week 3 - Control

WPC – Week 3 – Control

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I realized I missed Week 2, but the subject was Joy and I was having a hard time grasping the concept last week. Moving on to this week’s subject, Control…well, this may be cheating a bit since the weather was so awful here this week I wasn’t able to get out and get a fresh shot of this one. But I took this in early December and didn’t use it for anything so it’ll have to do in a pinch:

I did this one in black and white because I think it helps to enhance the subject matter of something forbidden. I actually have one of this taken last year too (this is a favorite photo subject of mine apparently ;) ) but it looks much cooler now with the plant overgrowth. It was a lot cleaner last year.

Week 1 - Electricity

WPC – Week 1 – Electricity

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Like I mentioned before, I’m taking part in shutterboo’s Weekly Photo Challenge this year for as long as I can keep this going.

This week’s theme was Electricity. Took me a little bit to figure out what would be interesting to do (too bad I used up the high voltage sign at work on a class assignment) but I had some christmas lights from my little tree and thought it might be interesting to play around with taking a photo of them in the dark.

I’m only semi happy with how this turned out. It was my first time taking a photo pretty much in absolute darkness and I think I need a better lens to really get the look I was going for, but it is what it is. I am happy with how the focus ended up turning out though. I’m still getting a feel for depth of field and how I can play with it to get something cool.

Book 40: Dead Beat (Dresden Files #7)

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Author: Jim Butcher
Genre: Fantasy (Urban)
Pages: 424

Summary
Harry Dresden, Wizard for hire has found himself dealing with a lot of changes in his personal life over the past few months. But what hasn’t changed is his ability to get himself into large amounts of trouble while dealing with the supernatural elements that inhabit Chicago. This time; Necromancers.

Notes
Wow, I’m flying through books here. Ever since I got my new kindle I’ve been reading like a maniac. 2.5 books finished since Christmas.

This is by far my favorite of the dresden files books. It’s the best put together, with even little things like a polka suit becoming tremendously important by the end of the book. Butters, the medical examiner, has also vaulted upwards in my rankings of Dresden sidekick characters.

I try not to spoil in these notes sections so I’ll just say that the climax of this book has one of the most awesome fight sequences I’ve ever read. It’s so absurd in the way that the Dresden books can be absurd but it is just so…Dresden that it just seems to make sense.

Dresden’s internal struggle with a force that promises to offer him great power to help those around him in his greatest hour of need but with a price that he knows will be too great in the future takes center stage here as well and really helps to define Harry’s character.

The more I read of this series, the more drawn in I get.

Next Book

I’m reading the next book in the Dresden Files, Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher. I may not be able to get this done before the new year, so I think my final 50 in 365 challenge result is going to be 40.

Book 39: Tongues of Serpents (Temeraire #6)

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Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Not so historical fantasy
Pages: 274

Summary
The 6th book of the Temeraire series finds Laurence and Temeraire in Australia, due to their previous actions in the series. They’re charged with helping to set up a new colony there and have been provided with three dragon eggs to kickstart a covert in the colony. But one of the dragon eggs gets stolen while they are away from the main colony scouting locations for their covert. Wackiness ensues.

Notes
This is by far my least favorite book in the series. The interesting political wranglings and moral choices of past installments have been left largely behind. It started off ok, with Laurence trying to convince the disposed colony leader and the rebel factions that have taken over the colony when they arrived of his usefulness to the war effort in hopes of a pardon. But this is nearly abandoned for about 75% of the book after one of the eggs is stolen.

The large majority of this book is them traveling across the barren Australian outback, from water hole to water hole, dealing with the bunyip’s that use them to attract easy prey. The story kicks up a bit once they finally find the egg, but it doesn’t make up for the long slog to get there.

The writing was quality as always, but serious pacing issues mar this book. I’m hoping the remainder of the series, still forthcoming, shares more in common with the earlier books in the series.

Next Book
Caught up on one series, I’m going back to the Dresden Files, reading Dead Beat by Jim Butcher.

Book 38: Blood Rites (Dresden Files #6)

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Author: Jim Butcher
Genre: Fantasy (Urban)
Pages: 372

Summary
Harry Dresden, professional wizard, does a lot of different things. And he starts this book out by rescuing a group of puppies from a demon. This launches him (somehow) back into the war between the White Council and the vampires that he provoked so many books ago, suffering an attack from a black court and engaged by Thomas of the white court to help out a friend of his as payment for the many favors he’s been given in the past.

Notes
This is the book in the series I’ve been waiting for when we finally get more details about Dresden’s family, specifically his mother.

It’s well written and in the upper half of the series that I’ve read so far as far as quality. I like the character progression a lot in these books. It’s slow, and subtle but it’s realistic and I find myself getting drawn into Harry’s character the more books I read in the series.

Next Book
I’m popping back over to the Temeraire series with the last book written so far, Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik, just to finish that series out. Then I’ll probably jump back to Dresden.

Christmas Report

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Back at work, sadly, after an action packed christmas weekend. I figured I’d post a quick update as to the goings on.

I left work at 2 on wednsday and spent the time relaxing and winding down. Not too much to report there that’s terribly interesting.

Christmas Eve I wandered over to my parents house to help prepare for all of the food items my mom was making for the family gathering later that day. Once that was done around noonish, it was mostly relaxing until my sister got finished with work and came over for the opening of the presents.

You know you’re getting older when getting clothes on Christmas is actually a good thing. This year shall be known as the year of the sock (which is good because I needed more socks). My parents got my sister and her husband a new vacuum cleaner and individually wrapped a lot of the attachments and various bits and pieces of it. And my sister got my mom a game of quit-opoly which is a quilt themed monopoly type game. It came damaged so my sister wrapped each individual part in a seperate pacakge. So they both did it to each other.

As for me, I’m sporting the new 6″ kindle and a Razer Naga mouse. Along with an x-rite i1 display lt for color calibrating my monitors which is really handy, although I haven’t used it on my main LCD yet.

After the present opening we had a little downtime before the rest of the family arrived. My grandma and grandpa were there, as well as one of my aunts and uncles and a cousin which is about as many people as we could fit in my parents house. We ate, played some games (apples to apples) before my sister and grandma and grandpa left when we switched over to a couple of games of pitch.

Christmas day I went back over to my parents to hang out a bit more. Got to watch the mandatory showing of A Christmas Story in two parts because I came in on the middle of the first showing. After which we played some quilt-opoly (my dad won) and hung out some more.

Sunday I went with my roommates to see a couple of houses that they were looking at. The first one we saw (well the second, the first first one was delayed since their selling agent never actually told them we were coming, so they had to clean up and clear out for a little while) was a ranch type house but the bedrooms were tiny which killed it entirely from considering.

Back to the first house in Oneida and it was really nice. The downstairs was really well set up and the kitchen was probably the best laid out kitchen of all the houses they’ve looked at. Nice big bedrooms, big back yard, only small problem was the neighborhood was a bit less than ideal (neighbors were a bit close) but not insurmountable.

Then we went off to a house in Sherrill which was really nice looking but a little too big for them and the taxes were pretty high which would make the financials a little rocky. They decided after talking about it for a bit to go back to their agent’s office and put in an offer on the house in Oneida. So hopefully that goes well. They’ve got until Tuesday night at 5pm to respond to the offer, so we shall see.

And now…back to work.

Book 37: Victory Of Eagles (Temeraire #5)

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Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Historical (Getting less so) Fantasy
Pages: 352

Summary
Napoleon has invaded england. Laurence and Temeraire deal with the consequences of their actions in book #4. If I say anything else I’m going to spoil the crap out of the last book so I won’t.

Notes
Note: there will be potential minor spoilers of book 4 in this notes section.

This is probably my favorite book of the series so far. It’s overarching theme is consequences. The direct consequences of his actions at the end of the last book and the consequences of Napoleons invasion of England which would not have been possible had Laurence not done what he did.

A good portion of this book leaves Laurence and Temeraire separated and the point of view, for the first time in the series, is split roughly 50/50 between Laurence and Temeraire. I thought the split POV is what made this book so good. Laurence is dealing with a lot of conflicting emotions and thoughs through a lot of this and being able to examine Temeraire’s reaction to everything Laurence is feeling further increases the feeling of detachment that Laurence is experiencing.

This also served as a chance for a lot of character development regarding Temeraire who finally gets a chance to lobby for dragon reform in England and equal rights.

The end of this book wasn’t a cliffhanger thankfully, but it was very satisfying.

Next Book
I’m taking a Temeraire break after such a long string of these books and hopping back over to the Dresden Files for a spell, reading Blood Rites by Jim Butcher, Book 6 of The Dresden Files.

Christmas: Begin!

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For a lot of different reasons this year I haven’t been really feeling too christmasy. Too many stressful things going on inside the family and with friends to really feel like it’s coming around. But it finally hit at the end of last week and I listened to my traditional first run through in it’s entirety of Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve And Other Stories which I’ve been doing for years now. So things are still stressful and all that but I’m not feeling as blargh about it all. At least for a little while.

Yesterday I went over to the christmas party on my dad’s side of the family which was good again this year. Very few cases of “who the heck is that person?!?” and I spent most of the party (probably tragically) sitting near the desert table with my immediate family, talking with my aunt who’s house was hosting the party and whoever else happened to wander on by. The older I get the more I appreciate seeing family who I haven’t seen in forever. A lot of those people I only see around christmas time.  So it’s nice catching up and chatting.

All of my christmas shopping is done this year, and I’m just waiting for 3 boxes from amazon to arrive on tuesday before I have everything assembled.

I’m taking off work at 2pm on Wednesday and I took thursday off for the heck of it. Friday I’ll be going over to my parents house all day to help prep for the party that’s going to happen over there in the evening for my mom’s side of the family. Officially designated the “people without little kids” party because my parents house isn’t terribly child-proofed. My mom’s side of the family’s traditional christmas gathering at my grandma’s house splintered apart a few years ago since they were getting too old to handle all the running around and prep work involved in a party. So we moved the main gathering to the summer and there’s a bunch of different smaller parties going on around christmas. So my parents will be hosting the people who don’t have small children (my grandparents and a few others plus my immediate family) which I’m looking forward to.

Not sure what’s going on Christmas day yet, but usually I end up at my parents for a while. Not sure if that’ll happen this year or not yet.

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