bigmog: (Default)
Denver Comic Con is a geek convention that attempts to replicate the main comic con in San Diego and it seems to be okay at this (I've never been to SDCC so I can't speak with much authority). I usually attend DCC every other year and it improves each time I go. This year I was lured by one of the guests of honor: "Weird Al" Yankovic.

At the first Al concert I attended 20 years ago, I bought a headshot photo hoping to get it signed. There would be no autographs that day however but I kept that photo knowing that eventually I would have it signed. DCC was my chance.

It was an interesting and expensive experience. Getting a professional photo taken with Al was $70 but I figured that I'd also be able to get an autograph so I paid (cash only). I wasn't the only one. The line for photos was hundreds of people long. I was prepared to wait with my Nintendo 3DS in hand.

However, the photo process is a well-oiled machine and the line moved in record speed. To keep it moving, there are no autographs and almost no interaction with Al. My guess is that he's instructed not to make small talk, chit-chat or even utter a single word. I got to shake hands and he gave me a peace sign. It's a nice photo but I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get at least a minute to meet Al. I suspect this isn't how Al prefers to meet fans but I gather that the system is out of his control.

There was another chance however. The line for photos was cleared in less than an hour. After, Al moves to his autograph area where you can pay (again). I hesitated to spend even more but I'd waited 20 years for such an opportunity. So I forked over another $40 to have him sign my headshot from that first concert.

Curiously this line was completely empty. I was the only one there (maybe because I had come later) but it was a bit strange meeting Al without a crowd of fans around me. As I approached, we was checking his smart phone thus proving that celebrities are not so different.

I showed him the headshot and told him the story of how I'd been saving it for 20 years. He was pleased and pleasant enough. I could have chatted him up but I didn't. I got my autograph and simply walked away smiling. In hindsight I wish I would have said something more but what more would I say? "I really like your work." or "I'm a big fan."? Yeah. No kidding?

So I have a nice memory of me not seizing the moment to make a fool of myself. I want to believe that Al likes fans like me best. The ones that happily pay a premium and then quickly leave so that he can get back to checking his phone.

Staycation

Jul. 2nd, 2017 07:00 pm
bigmog: (Default)
Summer school has made it harder to make the most of the nice weather. Some days I'm stuck inside writing Java instead of enjoying the season. Also difficult is taking a summer vacation. So instead, my friend Johno came all the was from Tokyo to visit me.
(well in truth he came for business but I was available)

Now, I could take a staycation and do touristy things. Here are some highlights:

We went to a Colorado landmark restaurant: The Buckhorn Exchange. Here I ate a local exotic specialty dish, Rocky Mountain Oysters, for the first time. If you don't know what they are, look it up. Although I've lived in Colorado for almost all of my life, I didn't consider myself a true native. Now however, I think this qualifies me.

Also, we traveled out of town to attend the Renaissance Festival. You may have something similar in your area. It's a faire where history is butchered and crafts are sold. The highlight is actually the entertainment some of which is actually good. The Ren Fest is a bit like bowling. It's not all that fun but you go every few years just to make sure you remember it.

Then we went to some arcades to play video games because games and nostalgia. One arcade offers all-you-can-play and the 2nd is local favorite for it's charm and history.

You may be wondering why we didn't bother to explore Colorado's great outdoors. Well in truth that was part of the original plan but didn't quite work out. Next time.
bigmog: (Default)
My wardrobe is separated into a winter set and a summer set. Twice a year, I swap one for the other. Memorial Day being the official start to summer is a good time for the change. It's a bit like getting all new clothes and helps to keep me from buying new things.

Also part of the cycle is to cull some of the clothes that I didn't wear as much the previous season. This offsets the purchase limiting that I just mentioned however as I can then justify spending to fill the gaps. Ah well.
bigmog: (Default)
The summer semester is underway but I'm really not looking forward to it. I suspect this will be painful.

The class is Java programming. As a professional Windows guy, I have never liked Java and I have my reasons (Don't get me started). Still, I'll try to keep an open mind going into the course. Maybe I'll come to appreciate Java even a little. Not off to a good start however. Just one chapter in and I dislike it even more. Ugh.

At least I snuck in a brief trip between semesters. I didn't have much time so I traveled to nearby Phoenix, AZ to visit an old friend of mine. There we reminisced over beers, good food, and sports.

One memory I'll mention here is my first attempt at betting on horse racing. My horse came in at Preakness. It was a great success so now I'll retire with a winning record. Always quit while you're ahead.

Semester 1

May. 7th, 2017 06:41 pm
bigmog: (Default)
I've just finished my first semester as a graduate student at Virginia Tech. Some thoughts so far:

The school itself is way big but online students are just a small part of the student population. They attempt to treat both types of students equally which can backfire.

A student ID can only be issued on the campus and they won't mail it so I have no easy means of proving that I'm a student. Although I do get a .edu email address which is occasionally useful for discounts.

Once or twice I got an email inviting me to attend an event that was only local on campus. I notified that the organizer that such emails made me feel excluded and that they shouldn't email remote students with such events.

The top moron award goes to the IT help desk that tried to call me at 6am for input on a ticket that I had submit. They assume that everyone must be on Eastern time despite my phone number clearly being from a Colorado area code. I raised hell on this mistake and I'm not done either.

I took two courses: Fundamentals of Computer Science and E-commerce.

The computer science course was super interesting and I challenged me to learn a lot about how computers work. The instructor, while certainly knowledgeable, struggled in using technology like WebEx for her lectures. She would have benefited from some capable teacher's assistants.

TA's are the real work horses in academia. In the other class, the instructor only did the first meeting and they left all the rest to his TA. Now, this TA was excellent but why isn't the instructor more involved? I'll raise this question with my advisor.

That course wasn't nearly as interesting perhaps because I've been a web developer in a previous career. The technical aspects of running an e-commerce site were reduced to configuring a hosted WordPress. Yawn. Sure WordPress is super popular and could be worth knowing but not very challenging.

Now I'm nervously awaiting my final grades. In order to have my tuition reimbursed by work, I need a 3.0 or higher. I kept up on the homework and projects throughout the semester so I'm hoping that will offset my poor scores in the final exams.
bigmog: (Default)
If you know me, then you'll know that I'm a homebody. Most nights and weekends I'm happy to just be home and relax.

Lately though I'm mixing it up a bit due in part to my student status.

A random image on the internet gave this advice to students:

Sleep more than you study.
Study more than you party.
Party as much as you can.


I recognize that I'm not a student in the typical sense. This advice applies less to online grad students than it does to undergrad, young, full-time students. Still, I can party a little.

That's what happened the last two weekends. Nothing too extreme here. Just stuff like board game parties, karaoke night, stand-up and improv comedy, local bands, and speed dating (not all on the same night).

I drink a little and socialize with people a little. I get home after midnight which is well past my bedtime so my sleep schedule is askew and Lefty is also confused (dogs like routine). I'll see how long I can keep this up. I'm already planning next weekend.
bigmog: (Default)
After nearly 14 years at LiveJournal, I've transported to DreamWidth.

LJ is a shell of what it used to be. Most of my friends have abandoned it over the years so the community aspect is lost. More accurately, nobody blogs anymore.

Even my own entries have slowed lately but I still try to post regularly.

The tipping point was LJ's full transition to Russia. The servers have been moved and the terms of service adjusted for the worse.

In truth, I would have preferred to switch to Blogger or Wordpress but neither has a reliable method of migrating from LiveJournal.

So, I'll settle in here for a while at least. See how it goes.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
I'm a homebody so I'm happy just to hang out at home most evening and weekends. Every now and then however I feel I should probably go out and do something worth blogging about. So on Saturday I went to the Denver Art Museum to see the special exhibition of Star Wars costumes. This exhibit has been a big hit for the museum with many weekends booked. I had to make a reservation! The crowd was mostly families with their kids but they were well behaved.

Going in, my expectations were low. Jedi costumes are plain brown robes while Queen Amidala has dozens of elaborate dresses. Indeed this described about half of the costumes on display. My favorites are the droids and the military costumes like storm troopers and X-wing pilots and they had those too. I wished they had more of the alien costumes however. There was Chewbacca and Wicket but little else. Still, it was a well done exhibit and great for fans.

Afterward, I strolled around the museum a bit more and ventured outside too to enjoy the nice weather. I had never been to the museum complex during the day and made a note to visit more often. Whenever I travel, I often visit museums so I really should visit local museums more.

Fast & Slow

Feb. 1st, 2017 10:36 am
bigmog: (moogle mog)
My first semester as a grad student is underway. Getting a good start is important to me so I'm being diligent about the reading, writing and other assignments. I suppose you should expect a reduction in blog posts as a result.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
For 2017, I'm cheating on resolutions. In fact I suspect I'll pick up some bad habits instead. Why? My primary goal is to survive grad school. I predict less sleep and more caffeine. I'll make 2018's resolution now too. Survive grad school.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
2016 was a difficult year for many but in my case it was quite good. I'll forgive you if you decide to skip my happy memories. Here are the highlights.

Resolution to cut back on sugar: mild success. I lapsed into my typical habits but not until summer time.

Places traveled: Las Vegas, Tokyo, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands

Shows attended: AC/DC, Metric, Weezer & Panic at the Disco, Rob Thomas & Counting Crows, The Legend of Zelda Symphonic, Huey Lewis & The Bangals & Kool and the Gang, Christopher Tidus, Nick Thune, Dave Coulier.

Accomplishments: Got a raise & a promotion (with another raise), AWS sysadmin certified, took a community college programming course and was accepted in grad school.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
I've owned my 1999 Ford Contour since it was new 17 years ago. During that time it's been remarkably reliable and trouble-free. Last weekend was the first time that it's ever broken down on me and it's my own fault. While out picking up parts for my other car, the temperature gauge on the dash moved to danger hot. The CEL also illuminated so I checked it on the spot with a OBD2 scanner. The error code was for a bad sensor so I continued on figuring that the gauge was just wrong. It was right.

I nearly made it home before the engine overheated and stopped running. I was stranded on the side of the road. Still, I wasn't quite beat. I happened to have a bunch of tools and more importantly, a towel. As any reader of Douglas Adams can tell you, a towel is a travelers best friend. Here's what I did with mine.

In a nearby runoff drainage, a small stream of snow melt made it way into the sewer. Placing the towel there soaked it with ice cold water. Perfect for cooling off an overheated engine. Doing this the engine cooled enough for me to get it home where I could troubleshoot further.

Had the issue been critical, I was decided to go out and replace the vehicle. Fortunately, it was cheap and simple. The belt for the water pump broke. A replacement was $7 and completed in 10 minutes. On one hand, I'm happy to have escaped a major repair bill. On the other hand, I was looking forward to replacing the car with something else. I'm attached to it too much to replace it as long as it continues to run.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Ahead of my advanced education, I took a level 100 course in programming at the local community college. Fortunately, the language taught was python and not java. I enjoyed the class and did well enough to get an A. Programming is interesting and fun as a hobby. Coding as a profession however I cannot suffer.

The community college adviser called me and ask why I hadn't yet enrolled for any spring courses. Of course I have. Just not there. I've been accepted to Virginia Tech and start an online graduate program in the spring.

That leaves just a few weeks to finish up any leisure reading for the next 2+ years. After that, I expect to have very little social life. Not much of a loss to me.

July 2017

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