bigmog: (moogle mog)
Perhaps my favorite new service is a local FM radio station that only plays bits from stand-up comics. Before I tune to NPR or music, I start with comedy. By listening to this station, I've expanded my comedian horizons greatly. New favorites include Jimmy Carr, Maria Bamford, and Ron White (among many others).

On Sunday I went to famous Red Rocks Amphitheater for the OddBall Comedy festival. The show packs in numerous top-notch comics each doing a 20 minute act. The line-up was fantastic and any one of them would be a headliner at a comedy club. Some of the comics played it safe and used their proven jokes. Others were more risky and improvised their allocated time.

Whitney Cummings, Chris Hardwick, Hannibal Burress, Dmitry Martin, Mark Maron, Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari, and Louis C.K. as the closer. I was particularly starstruck to see Louis C.K. perform. His self-degradation and storytelling are perfectly tuned.

It was strange to see comedy in an outdoor amphitheater. I’m used to stand-up being more up-close and personal. Still, it was incredibly fun. the line-up varies at each stop so I recommend the show if it comes to your area.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Trips to the mountains have been limited this season so I made up for that over Labor Day weekend. 3 days, 3 hikes. Nothing too strenuous however: Cherry Creek State, Elk Meadows, and Deer Creek Canyon. Still, Lefty seemed exhausted and wouldn't even go for a morning walk after all that. Would like to go camping and climb a mountain this year yet. It had better be soon I think.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Want to see the greenhouse effect and ruin your lawn at the same time? Leave a clear plastic drop sheet on your grass on a sunny day to dry out. Oops.

IMG_20140811_195258
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Recently a number of family members gather to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday plus my step-brother's marriage. My brother was away at his in-laws reunion making ours a bit less complete. Still, it was a nice surprise to see my aunt and uncle and my nephew. I suppose that makes me the weird single uncle that most every family has. Tells corny jokes, plays video games, trains dogs to do tricks, and drives a sports car (someday).

With my brother taking a trip, he asked me to dog sit his corgi and I was happy to. Having two dogs around the house was an experience. They got along just fine except at feeding times. I fed them in separate rooms to prevent any misunderstanding over meals. After they had both finished, they would go check out the other's bowl for leftovers. Each was disappointed to find the other bowl just as empty as their own.

bigmog: (moogle mog)
With summer ticking away, and a day off, I seized the chance and went the local water park. I felt it wouldn't be as fun to go solo but if I wait for someone to go with, it'll never happen.

I had been to this water park twice as a kid and made fond memories. Much of the current adventure gave me strong nostalgia. The rides that I enjoyed so much before were still there but felt much safer now. Now that I'm big, I was brave enough to go on the more daring attractions. Those generally involve a steep slide and a few seconds of thrills. I saw how such rides are efficient in their ability to process a large number of riders quickly. That explains why there are quite a few like this.

More complex rides are also available but those are fewer. The wait is considerably longer and I thought twice if I really wanted to wait that long. The choice was made for me however as they do not have a system to accommodate single riders. Such riders would slow down the queue even more so. Just one ride had a "single riders" line which I could enter. Obvious abusers abound but the attendant was strict and only accepted 1 rider at a time at the single riders line. Cheaters could not go together but they still made the line longer than it should have been.

After 4 hours in the park, I had gone on nearly every ride minus the kids and group rides. Crowds were reasonable for a weekday. With that, I left quite early.

Journey

Jul. 21st, 2014 09:27 am
bigmog: (moogle mog)
The rags to riches story of Arnel Pineda revived my interest in classic rock band "Journey". It's rare for a band to get a second or even third comeback like they did.

Steve Miller opened and like many other bands of that era, Steve's voice has degraded through the years of singing. He too employs a backup singer to help cover up his vocal shortcomings. Curiously, this backup singer stole the show with his dancing antics.

Journey put on a well-produced show just as you might expect. Their songs are quite taxing to sing and Arnel has learned from his predecessors. Every couple of songs, he takes a break and one of the other band members does a solo. The rest of the band is also very talented so this doesn't subtract from the show. I believe this is the first concert I've seen that had credits at the end. It's a nice touch to recognize all the behind the scenes work. Still, it just goes to show just how coordinated and structured a modern concert is.

Also, in a rare act of bravery, I jumped in to stop a couple's fight in front of me. He was getting a bit too physical with her and some buried chivalry induced me to intervene. All of this in the middle of an 80's love ballad. Go figure.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Some more personal thoughts about my trip to Washington D.C.

I thought Coloradans were fit and active but the residents in D.C. earn their ranking as fittest city. Even on humid summer days I saw many sweat-soaked joggers around the national mall.

Carpet on the trains is disgustingly dirty. How did such a design ever get approved? Turns out they're finally correcting this mistake now.

Otherwise the train system is quite good. Their cashless system uses a NFC plastic card. This is miles better than the magnetic strip, flimsy, paper cards they use in New York City and Boston.

Seems like the term "Gift Shop" must be regulated somehow because every museum instead has a "Book store" (which is full of souvenir gifts).

I also noticed that fair number of these "book stores" include a section for Presidential pets although no such exhibit exists. No doubt it's a sly way to sell plush toys to kids. I admit defeat here when I found a plush beagle (LBJ owned several).

There are no sprinklers in the lawn at the national mall. It's wet enough there to not need them I suppose. Humidity sometimes has benefits. One more of these is fireflies.

"The Burger Joint" is a rapidly expanding new chain in the area. It's not cheap but it ranks as one of the best burgers I can remember.

Some of the major museums stay open extra hours during the peak tourist season. Very accommodating.

T-Mobile has lousy reception in the area. My phone battery couldn't last a single day because it was constantly searching for a signal.

Out in the suburbs, there are a lot of wooded areas / forests complete with deer and other wildlife.

Large crowds of tourists and endless federal buildings means there is security all over the place. I may have seen more flashing lights than fireworks. Perhaps because of the volume of people, the security checks are rarely deep. Bags are the biggest concern and even then they just take a cursory glance.

I'm not the type of tourist that needs to take photos of everything I see. Still, I took some selfies for my own personal memories.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Washington D.C. is busy during the Independence Day holiday but they are mostly well prepared to handle the crowds. A summary of places I went to with some thoughts sprinkled in:

US Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima) - Much larger than I imagined. The flag is a real flag and not metal like the rest of the sculpture.
US Capitol building - Grand! My tour guide was from Colorado so he gave me a lot of tips and extra trivia.
Library of Congress - The exhibit on history through maps was neat.
Supreme Court - Not very busy. Ate lunch at the cafeteria here.
Union Station - Disappointing. Was expecting something like Grand Central Station.
Postal Museum - Much better than expected. Recommended.
Smithsonian American History Museum - Excellent all-around. Must see.
Washington Monument - Did not go to the top.
World War 2 Memorial - Honor war heroes by soaking your feet in the pool (guilty).
Lincoln Memorial - Very impressive but the loud crowds take away from the majesty.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing - Much better than the mint tour.
Jefferson Memorial - Fewer crowds and also amazing. How do they keep birds out of there I wonder?
FDR and MLK memorials - I only passed through these and didn't stay long.
White House - My tour request was rejected but I still stopped by. You can't get very close.
National Archives - The longest wait was here and it was only about 30 minutes. Amazing to see the actual Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights.
Smithsonian Art Museum - I just spent about an hour here before it closed that day. There's only so many paintings of old European men that I need to see.
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum - Full of kids. Some pretty good exhibits.
Ben's Chili Bowl - D.C. iconic eatery. Pretty good chili dog.
Mt. Vernon - Re-enactors, brass band, fireworks, naturalization ceremony, and cake! They go all out for the Fourth of July. Also, dogs are allowed!
Smithsonian Sculpture Garden - A nice place for a break.
Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle) - If you only have a short time, you can get the quick tour here.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival - Why celebrate China and Kenya on our Independence day?
Smithsonian Natural History Museum - packed with kids running wild. I only went because I had some spare time before the fireworks.
Fireworks at the US Capitol - If you don't arrive early, it's hard to get a good view. Still, I saw Kermit and Piggy and Fozzy in the PBS live special filmed there. I also sorta saw Frankie Valli and a some other artists I'm too old to recognize. Fireworks themselves are excellent but only about 15 minutes long. You can hear the boom as it echoes from the capitol building behind.
Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center - Bigger and better than the one on the mall. The space shuttle Discovery is very well presented. Plenty of other historic aircraft here too.


Missed:
Spy Museum
Building Museum
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
Holocaust museum
bigmog: (moogle mog)
My plans to visit the National Zoo fell through. Hurricane Arthur made for particularly muggy weather in the D.C. area so I opted to spend my days inside air conditioned museums instead. Anyway, the National Zoo doesn't have penguins which is quite surprising. While the Denver zoo may rank low, it wins by default here.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
This year, my company held their sometimes annual summer party at the Denver Zoo. Since I hadn't been to this local zoo in about 20 years, I attended despite my experience at the previous summer party.

The Denver Zoo isn't world class by any means. In fact, it's fairly mediocre based on my limited knowledge of other zoos. Still, they have some penguins and giraffes which are my favorite animals. Too bad those the exhibits themselves are quite mundane.

I didn't leave completely disappointed however. I rode the carousel out of a sense of nostalgia for an era I never lived in. During the ride, I found that every carousel may actually be a time machine to the past. Go for a ride on your next opportunity.

Also, I learned much about the "bongo". Not the preferred drum for 60's hipsters but the large antelope species. A baby bongo was born just two weeks ago and so I watched the new family for a good while. At the gift shop, I was looking for a little souvenir to remember this but there were none. In fact the staff were clueless to what a bongo was or even that the baby was just born. What lousy marketing.

After the lackluster time, I felt that I should now see what a top grade zoo could offer. My trip to Washing D.C. soon provides this great chance and while it wasn't in my itinerary before, it is now. Expect another review then.

Story time

Jun. 18th, 2014 02:12 pm
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Just yesterday I managed to "finish" Final Fantasy 14 A Realm Reborn. That is, I beat the last boss and watched the ending and credits. To keep players subscribed, there are many, many hours worth of "end game" content but I really have no interest.

Even playing the main scenario, it was tough to stay engaged. The story is nonsense and I skipped most of it. At first I felt guilty for this but I just couldn't force myself to read all that text. Imagine reading a book and every other page, you are required to stop and complete some chore before proceeding. How long would you read that book?

I enjoy reading and I enjoy video games but games with story are often a poor mix. There are a few exceptions to this rule: Yakuza 2, Earthbound, FF Tactics.

Instead, games should use the strengths of the medium to tell the story. Visuals and music; not countless dialog boxes of text. Create an interesting world with neat characters and that will speak for itself. A game should show you the story and not tell it to you.

With that in mind, I show you my ending here:

ffxiv_06172014_205528
bigmog: (moogle mog)
This gimpy bird is back again this year. I'm not sure how he migrates from year to year given that he can barely even fly.

IMG_1752
bigmog: (moogle mog)
I like to think that someday, eons from now, future historians will look back at my blog to learn about my life. One of them may even wonder why there was such a gap in the log here. Worry not my distant fan, for all is well. It is simply that life has been uneventful so as not to require any reflection.

Work remains steady and busy. During my personal time, I whittle it away with various forms of pop culture and electronic entertainment. The specifics aren't so important are they?

I plan to spend more time in the great outdoors in the coming weekends. Lately weekends are reserved for home maintenance tasks. Some pictures of those improvements to follow.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Back in the day, I used to be a pretty good typist. I was a unix admin and spent a lot of time in IRC. Plus I wrote all my web pages manually in notepad. These days I feel I'm getting slower and less accurate at typing. Thanks to auto-correct, I don't even bother correcting mistakes many times. I just let google figure it out and continue on.

One one hand, I feel I should practice and return to form. Given how much time I spend at a keyboard, typing fast and accurately is a valuable skill. Still, I see a future where a keyboard is less common interface. With my smart phone as an example, I often use the dictation feature that's built into android. The entire concept of a keyboard on a smart phone is like a square peg in a round hole to me.

Cursive writing has fallen out of the classroom already. Do they even teach typing in school anymore?
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Sorry for the drought of any updates. I could say that it's been an uneventful month but I suppose it's more accurate to say it's just been uninteresting. Work is busy as I drive significant effort to sunset some legacy systems. After work, I watch videos and play games. Hardly blog-worthy material I'll admit.

Summer is nigh so weekends are more and more chances to escape to the outdoors again. Also filling my schedule with nice weather is home improvement. As always this time of year, the yard is springing back to life and in need of maintenance. Better to spend time on it now before it gets too hot later.

I should also plan to have the house painted this year. Fading has taken a toll and starting to show wear. Deciding on colors is tough for me. A change from the brown / tan scheme would be nice. Still deciding on which colors exactly.

Summer vacation is planned however. I know I'm going to Washington D.C. to visit a lot of free museums and hang out with my pal Johno64. Good times ahead!
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Such a eventful weekend I had to cull my choices. Doors Open Denver, Rocky Mountain Pinball Expo, and PAX East, all competed for my attention. Since I had done all previously, I didn't feel pressured to dedicate my time. Added to the schedule was my turn to be oncall for work. This limits me a bit as I need to be somewhat near a computer should there be issues I need to address.

Still, I took my chances against such an emergency and ventured downtown for a while to see Wayne Brady perform. His show came highly recommended by a friend. As a former student of improv and a current fan, I had to see one of the best performers of the art. I even paid for a close up seat in hopes that I might get called onstage. Although that didn't happen, the show was excellent.

What I didn't expect was adult content. Wayne is on broadcast television which explains why his act is so clean on air. In person however, it's a dirtier show. Mostly just swearing and sexual innuendo. Nothing terribly offensive.

Just like a good improv show, audience participation is plentiful. Mistakes and goofs are also common but they add to the absurdity. My tear ducts flow when I'm really laughing hard. I should have brought tissues with me to this show.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
While I can avoid sugary beverages and soda easily, I have a weakness for dessert items. Cookies, cakes, candy, and pies especially tempt me with their wicked yet delicious calories. Numerous attempts have been made to curb my sugar intake but each one fails eventually.

A caffeine junkie gave me an idea for a new strategy. They enjoy their fix without restraint until noon. After that, no more for the day. This way the stimulate could work it's way out before it become a sleep deterrent. Sugar too can affect my sleep and it's better avoided anytime close to bedtime.

The plan expands on another dietary plan that dictates when you eat. That is, eat big at the start of the day and minimally near the end.

"Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper."
bigmog: (moogle mog)
With no plans made and a sense of boredom looming, I consulting the web for entertainment last night and learned that Cesar Milan, "The Dog Whisperer", would be performing a live show. Back when I got Lefty, I read through one of his books and it really taught me a lot about dogs. I've seen a few episodes of his show too although I wouldn't consider myself a fan.

Still, the show seemed like good fun so I went down to the theater expecting to get a ticket from a scalper for cheap. That didn't happen. Apparently the tickets were features on a big discount web site and they sold a lot of seats. I resorted to the box office and paid the full price. At least I avoided the dreaded "convenience fees".

Cesar himself is quite entertaining. He's very animated and uses a lot of physical humor and impressions to teach. Of course the show also includes some of his personal dogs but they aren't really the focus. I was thinking I might see some great dog tricks but there were none. Actually when the dogs started to steal the spotlight, Cesar had them removed so the audience wouldn't get distracted from his act. That's no fun.

3 troubled shelter dogs were brought out for Cesar to work his magic with. He's sometimes criticized that his TV show makes dog training look simple thanks to clever editing. Well his training technique did help one dog and owner in just a few minutes. Quite impressive. The other 2 dogs he couldn't help as well. One was too shy and the other didn't exhibit the bad behavior on stage. Such are the risks of working with animals. Still, he managed to salvage those bits and offer advice just the same.

By the end I saw Cesar as a sort of zen master for dog people. Being calm, staying collected, living in the moment, and other such lessons make it a sort of self-help show. At times I felt a tinge that I had paid for snake oil. Other times I clapped along in agreement for how to live a happy, complete life.

It's clear to other dog owner I'm sure but if I consider it, I'd like to think that raising a dog has made me a better person.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Coincidentally, this weekend was full of song and dance. First, I dragged [livejournal.com profile] kyaathecatlord from his solitude to go see "Muppets Most Wanted". I still maintain a nostalgic childhood enjoyment for the Muppets and the movies leave me grinning and happy inside. It's good wholesome fun with catchy, witty songs. Bret from Flight of the Conchords fame writes the music and it shows. With my spirits lifted, the next night's show would be quite different.

I had a ticket to see a musical downtown: "Chicago". It's not that I'm a huge fan of musicals but I remember really enjoying the Hollywood version of this show. Prohibition era in Chicago interests me and the play is a dark satire on corruption without any gangsters, bootlegging, etc. The play was very well performed and used a lot of 4th wall humor that kept the story from getting too grim. Check out the award-winning movie sometime if you've never seen it.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
For my birthday, I bought myself a gift of a metal detector. I spend a lot of time walking around the open space behind my neighborhood so Lefty can chase rabbits. He enjoys it but it's not so exciting for me. While he searches for rabbits, maybe I could search for buried treasures!

Now that Winter is nearing the end, I can finally give it a try. First I started in my own backyard to get an idea of how to operate the device. I used the non-discriminant mode meaning I could detect everything from gold to garbage.

Well I can say that I didn't find any of the former and I did find much junk. This photo shows my haul:




  • 4 metal stakes for securing landscaping
  • 1 giant plastic stake for securing a tree. (can't explain how the detector found this)
  • 1 bolt found near the deck.
  • 1 mangled soda can.
  • 3 nails dropped by negligent roofers. (I expect to find a lot more)
  • 1 foil cap to a juice bottle.
  • 1 small metal ball about 1cm in diameter.


The last item is the only one of interest. I'm not exactly sure what it is or what it's for. Maybe it's a musket ball! I tossed everything else but I'll clean the ball and save it as a memento of my first hunt.

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