Weed-Whacking in a Stupor

In the city of Phoenix, when one neighbor calls to complain about the condition of another neighbor’s yard, that activates an Area of Effect weapon. The city inspects everyone in the neighborhood, and fines accordingly. So while someone undoubtedly intended to report the dereclict and unoccupied house next door, my wife had to talk the city out of fining us as well.

Thus, between 20 hour days, I was weed-whacking in a stupor.

You can’t really let your junior age kids do the weed-whacking when fines are at stake. They did most of the raking, though. Teach them to gloat about having no homework.

I woke up in a hotel room in Prescott Valley Sunday morning, and really, really wished I had been camping instead. Sigh…

I’m not entirely TV free – yet. I watched the ASU women win their game Saturday with teamwork and defense and simply wearing out the higher-ranked Texas A&M squad with hockey-style substitution patterns. Then I watched the Suns lose to the sub .500 Kings by doing just the opposite.

I’ll watch ASU’s next game (Don’t get your hopes up too high – UConn is undefeated for a reason), but I’m done with the Suns this week.

Now you know

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No Lead is Safe

When the Dallas Mavericks dashed out of the USAC 15 days ago with a win and a five game lead for the 8th play-off position, we all threw our hand up in despair. The Suns had lost 5 straight at that point, and they would lose a 6th to Cleveland a few nights later. It was over. When does baseball start?

The Suns just beat the Utah Jazz to win their sixth straight. They are now 3 behind the Mavs with 11 games to go, one of them in Dallas. At the Suns Charity dinner (last post), coach Alvin Gentry promised the blue-blooded crowd that his Suns “will catch the Mavericks…”

I’m not saying that’s going to happen. But it seems like its going to be close enough to be worth watching. (The Dallas game is Sunday, April 5th.)

Looking for the Wed Night Meet-up notes? Look here.

The President will speak at the ASU commencement. Just when we thought May might be slow for us…

Now you know.

More “Careful What You Wish For”

For the last week I’ve lived the life I always said I wanted (within limts – these are the goals I could realistically hope for) a few years ago.

It’s fun – no doubt. But its exhausting. So whileI slept that off,my wife hoarked my laptop to do her homework, capping of an already considerable delay.

I rebuilt two of the five gates to my yard. That was never really a life goal, but I’m glad I got it done.

gate-perspectiveThe photo shows the other gate for contrast.

I attended a book signing and then went home ad slapped together a marketing survey for what I hope is my next book. Good News/Bad News there: The survey contained the info they wanted to see, but, despite selling out at the book signing, I’ve only sold 94 copies from national book chains – where most copies are sold. <sigh…>

My book proposal is a similar format covering the Coconino National Forest, which includes outdoor hotspots of Sedona and Flagstaff. But if the original sn’t moving, there’d be less appettite for a sequal.

The again, they made Starship Troopers II.

I’m fairly certain I was the only author at the book signing with an actual publisher who paid me (in advance). Everyone else was self-published.

I took ten copies and walked out with none, BUT I sold seven copies to people I already knew, including my stepmother who bought four copies because she’s a compulsive gift-giver. So it goes.

Then I had the chance to design and run a moving light show for the first time in two years.

samia-09

That’s from the 2009 Suns Charity Dinner. The performer is Tamia Hill (wife of Suns forward Grant Hill, but equally talented in her sphere).

By all accounts it well (despite Suns players appearing briefly as “guest vocalists”).

DO NOT daisy chain DMX between Studio Colors and Mac 2000’s. You might think that because Mac’s have 3pin (and 5pin) DMX that this would work out like DMX signal is supposed to. That assumption leads to daring do on an A-frame ladder at 3am. Studio Colors do not play nice with newer DMX units. I dimly remember running into this barrier before – but I wasn’t in charge.

On a related note, I have long known from an experience so bad its comic now, that you cannot use Atomic strobes as 3pin-5pin DMX adapters.

The key to executing looks quickly with moving lights is to set useful groups and then map out all your positions first. Creating looks after that is just a few steps more (mainly gobos, and their FX) than doing it with conventionals.

Oh, and operating a Grand MA lighting console is not at all like riding  a bike.

I’m also pretty sure this was the first time in 3 years I had a competent ME helping hang my design who wasn’t myself.

I’m sitting in catering, trying to gulp down some outstanding salmon in the ten minutes I had to eat, when Suns owner Robert Sarver burst in the room, slapped me on the back (because I was closest to the door, I suspect) and exhorted us all that we should have fun doing whatever we do.

I’ve also been pushing The Game ahead (I may add a page just for that). I’m still plowing through a working revision of the rules. I have a formula for aging (and associated stat loss), rather than a table, and this pleases me. I also have an spreadsheet summarizing the damage system, which I’ve been wanting to fabricate for as long as I;ve been thinking I ought to just rebuild the damn gate.

Two good sites:

The Space Site for clear, readable extrapolations of the possibilities beyond our planet and

Technovlegy : a compendium of ideas from SF, and who came up with them first.

Now you know.

One

The Nash Era: Exit Whining

You can get drunk with a friend over Facebook chat. Does this make me tech savvy now? (and that’s why there was no update last night…)

“We have to find a way to play with pride and play for each other.” – Steve Nash (last night)

You think?

Every one of the last 5 games was winnable. All were lost by a few possessions. The Suns are a great team for 42 minutes.

While it is still mathematically possible for the Suns to make the play-offs after last night’s debacle against Dallas, it is no longer plausible. The championship window on the Nash-era Suns has just slammed closed. Sarver will blow this team up over the summer and no one is safe.

Two bad decisions:

The Shaq trade.

Letting Mike D’Antoni leave for New York.

One decision rooted in fear and one decision rooted in pride – both of which are poor criteria.

Every decision after that has been damage control. Nobody’s happy. The Nash era is down to 18 games with nothing left to play for but pride, and precious little of that.

Good thing baseball’s starting soon.

Now you know.

Random revelations from a fun weekend

Because we could all use a fun weekend…

The AMC bowling alley near Chris-town has Guiness on tap. A family of four can bowl and eat pizza for about $65 (not including black & tans), and watch as your children discover that real bowling is not at all like the Wii.

With current construction conditions, it is 2.5 hours door to door from the Padegimas house to the Kinsey residence in Tucson. (Half of the eight people who read this know who I’m talking about. A fourth of them live there.)

Watchmen is rated R for good reasons. Don’t bring the kids.

The Gifted and Talented Education  (GATE) program in Arizona is largely funded by federal grants, and so survives the state budget ax better than a lot of programs you might think more vital.

By the time I’m finished, the hardware for my new gate might cost as much as the lumber.

You can fit a 9′ board inside a Malibu.

The Rio Solado project, along the banks of the Salt River as it “flows” through Phoenix (though it currently has a fair bit of water) makes for a good, easy hike if you’re out of shape, and don’t want to prepare for an expedition to get your mileage in. But there is NO convenience store within walking distance of the trailheads.

My Beloved Suns are running out of time to win their bet with GM Steve Kerr and make the play-offs. They must win a LOT of games to overtake Dallas – who they play next – for the 8th spot in the West. Perhaps some mid-court defense would be in order after all…

Now you know.

Counterproductive Drunks

It wasn’t my fault. The desk lamp knocked my beer over into the basket of freshly washed laundry. The lamp, I suspect, was drunk.

drunken-lamp

Of course, so was I. Not only was I not moving laundry forward, I was actually being counter-productive, which is just gut-wrenching for a workaholic.

Still, not nearly as traumatic as taking time out of my life to watch the Suns kinda wave their hands a little bit as Celtic after Celtic dashed past them for nearly uncontested lay-ups. Did GM Steve Kerr laugh or cry? I couldn’t tell.

Memo to former NBA coach and now ABC commentator/curmudgeon Jeff Van Gundy: Basketball is supposed to be fun. This is not Hardball. Lighten up.

A few writing links:

Gary Westfahlon why so many SF predictions don’tcome true. [via Locus Online]

And Lynn Viehl, in her blog Paperback Writer, shares the 22 Immutable Laws of Publishing.

So say we all.

Campground reservations jumped 11% in January, and firearm sales jumped 28.8% (though an upcoming change in legalities may have prompted the gun sales).

“Yes, economic times are tough and it’s obvious that lots of people are facing financial hardships. But lots of folks also respond to such challenging times by realizing the things that matter most to them – family, friends and the outdoors – can be enjoyed without a big hit on the family budget,” said Gary Hovatter, deputy director for the Arizona Game and Fish Department [to the AZGF public information officer].

Here’s hoping that hiking is recession-proof.

I can replace both for the gates in my backyard for about $150 in materials, which is refreshingly affordable. Now, just getting it done…

And then drink beer.

Now you know.

Limits on the Suns offense and FTL travel may be looser than we supposed. 2/21/09

Notice the new Facebook link? =>

Just know I pay as much attention to that as I do this. So, not much.

My Beloved Suns scored 140 points on three consecutive nights following the firing of Terry “Slam-the-Brakes” Porter. Sure, they were against teams who were, by NBA standards, cupcakes, but this is the first time since the 1990 Portland Trailblazers such a thing ahs been accomplished.

And those who slavishly ut your faith in defense – gander at the point differential (20+). Points allowed is not the real metric. It is a statistical fact that the best offensive team wins a championship 50% of the time. It wasn’t a lack of defense that killed the Suns in the playoffs. It was a lack of rebounding. If Coach Alvin Gentry can solve that and keep this pace, no one will remember his brief interim status.

Of course, tomorrow they face the defdending champion Celtics, who have one of the best defenses in basketball, one that held them to 87 points when they humiliated the Suns in Boston.

I Can’t Wait!

Gene Roddenberry was right all along. Dr. Miguel Alcubierre, a theoretical Physicist from Mexico, demonstrated the possible mathematical underpinnings of a warp drive in a now-famous (among geeks) 1994 paper. Of course, to really make it work, you’d need to convert an object the size of Jupiter into pure energy.

In researching my SF Game/fiction universe, though, I stumbled upon new(ish) thinking on the Alcubierre Drive, as they now call it, nicely summarized in the Feb 2000 article in Analog.

You can’t research trans-dimensional anything on the WWW without runnning into a thick layer of new-age gibberish.

Now you know.