Friday, 10 November 2006

I got a new laptop for work this week and have made it my new primary machine. The old laptop? I just started the Windows 2003 install: going to turn it into a TFS / VSTS playpen.

Here's to a fun weekend. :)

11/10/2006 19:23:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback
Thursday, 19 October 2006

I was watching The Tennis Channel the other day. A show came on... something about gaining better "feel" while playing. It mentioned 4 simple points. They were (in no particular order):

  1. Exhale from the diaphragm when hitting the ball (continue until the ball hits the ground on the other side (they didn't say what you're supposed to do if your ball hits the net and doesn't cross over to the other side (die, I suppose))). This allows proper breathing during the point - no holding breath or shallow breathing.
  2. Center the ball on the racquet. In other words, watch the ball all the way in to the racquet. If it's hit in the center of the racquet it's a much stronger shot with better control
  3. Grip the racquet lightly. On a scale of 1 - 5, the grip should be a 1 or a 2, which are on the "loose" end of the scale. Helps relax the muscles and allows for a smoother, more relaxed, and more consistent swing.
  4. Slow deceleration. In other words, don't stop the swing short. Follow through. This creates a smoother, more relaxed, more consistent swing.

I tried these tips out on Sunday afternoon and was amazed at what a difference they made in the way I hit the ball.

Sort of an Inner Game mentality.

10/19/2006 11:02:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback
Saturday, 14 October 2006

Why does that word begin with FUN? They're not. No, not at all. The few I've been to have not been a barrel of laughs.

 

The first one I can ever remember attending was when I was 30. Pretty amazing string of luck I suppose. I did know people. But none of them died on me until then.

It was Pam's mom. About six weeks after our son was born, my wife's mom died suddenly after a "routine" operation. Totally unexpected. No chance for anyone to say "goodbye". We were in such a state of shock during the service I can barely remember it. But I do remember the pain my wife went through. Pam was devastated.

 

The second one I can ever remember attending was when I was 34. It was my mom.

I took that one kinda hard. Now I understood what Pam had gone through.

This being my second funeral, I didn't really know what to do or how to act. So I stood there in my suit and cried my eyes out and generally made a spectacle of myself. Every time I looked over at my brother I'd cry a little harder. We were just two little boys who had lost their mommy. I felt like I was 2. But I felt better afterwards. Shoot, I knew I was going to miss that wonderful woman for a very long time. A few (OK, a bunch) of tears aren't anything to be ashamed of. (By the way, cancer sucks.)

 

The third one I can ever remember attending was just last year. It was my dad's turn to go.

That service was much different. My dad didn't want anything fancy - heck he didn't want a service at all. But my brother and I felt we needed something for ourselves. Our family was getting smaller.

So we had a memorial service. Happier times were remembered. We shared stories about growing up in the Blizzard household. We shared a few laughs and shed a few tears. And afterwards I felt better. Yeah, I'm going to miss my dad for a long time, too.

Just last week I was looking up a contact in my contacts list. I typed in the letter "R" and one of the names a few rows down the list was Ralph Blizzard. Huh. I just sat there for a couple of minutes. It's an odd feeling, not being able to pick up the phone and ask someone how he's doing.

Moments like that happen occasionally. I wish I could pick up the phone and say, "Hey (Mom/Dad), I'm back in Tampa. Remember when we lived here so long ago? I went walking down Clearwater Beach the other day and was thinking about you guys." Or, "Alix is in college now and she's having a blast! You should see her." Or "Zach just got his drivers license - look out Tampa!" And share some laughs with them.

But I can't.

 

So what brings this up now?

I just attended my fourth funeral ever on Friday.

No, it wasn't my brother's turn.

It was for a dear man, someone who had been a friend of my wife's family for over 50 years. I met him and his dear wife over 20 years ago at a Fourth of July party at Pensacola Beach. At the beach house I took pictures of their grandkids who are now grown and have children of their own. Seems like such a short time ago.

The service was moving. There was joy. And there were tears. He was such a solid, down to earth man. I never saw him without a smile on his face. Always kind.

He will be missed.

 

I have to fly to Charlotte on business on Tuesday. That evening before my flight back I'm going to get to have dinner with my brother. And I'm going to give him a big hug. And tell him that I love him.

10/14/2006 02:48:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback
Thursday, 05 October 2006

Child pornography charges against John Mark Karr have been dismissed. No longer a suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, I suppose now he's free to crawl back under the rock from whence he came.

Unbelievable.

10/05/2006 19:08:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback
Wednesday, 04 October 2006

Fortunately I didn't experience any of these while playing in the Pacific Ocean a couple of weeks ago...

10/04/2006 00:25:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]  |  Trackback

I'm playing competitive tennis again this fall, in two different leagues. One is a USTA league (each team plays 3 doubles matches, 2 singles matches against the other team) that plays on Saturday mornings. The other is part of a K-Swiss (as in sportswear) sponsored league and is singles only.

I had a couple of K-Swiss matches last week and won them both. The wins were very satisfying, especially since last season I didn't win a single match. (Winning 2 sets out of 7 matches doesn't feel too good.) OK, so I've moved down a level this season, but that's not the point.   

There's nothing quite as refreshing as playing a hard-fought 3-set match and coming out on top. I'm currently tied for first place in the league, but there's still a long way to go.

In my USTA singles match on Saturday morning, though, the outcome wasn't quite as enjoyable. I lost the first set in a tie breaker, then completely fell apart and lost the second set 6-0. Bagel job. My team lost the overall match as well, losing 3 matches to 2.

We have a "bye" week this weekend in USTA, so I'm hoping I'll be able to play another two matches of K-Swiss. Anyway, it feels good to be playing singles again (and occasionally winning).

10/04/2006 00:19:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback
Tuesday, 03 October 2006

For those of you who don't receive the MSDN Flash shame on you, the latest edition contained some links to Team System Webcasts:

 

Spotlight on: Visual Studio Team System

Visual Studio Team System Webcast Series

From architecture through development and testing, the integrated tools in Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System enable you to be more productive throughout the stages of application development. To learn more about Visual Studio 2005 Team System and how it can improve the application development process, register for this series of Webcasts now.

There are dozens of on-demand Webcasts, covering these topics

The link is http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/msdnvsts2005.mspx

 

Upcoming Live Visual Studio Team System Web Seminar Series
In this six-part Web seminar series, you will follow an application through the entire software development lifecycle, using the Visual Studio Team System. In this first Web seminar, you will learn how all of the components of Visual Studio Team System work together, and we will discuss the example application that will be designed, built, and tested during the remainder of the series. The first 100 participants to register and view all six Web seminars will receive a Mini-Madison digital camera.
Register now!

Visual Studio Team System Fundamentals - October 23, 10:00 A.M.

Team Edition for Software Architects - October 24, 10:00 A.M.

Team Edition for Database Professionals - October 25, 10:00 A.M.

Team Edition for Software Developers - October 30, 10:00 A.M.

Team Edition for Software Testers - October 31, 10:00 A.M.

Team Foundation Server - November 1, 10:00 A.M.

 

 

There now, that's my good deed for the day.

 

10/03/2006 23:54:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback
Friday, 29 September 2006

Thanks to this guy I know (but not in the Biblical sense :) ), I am now using Windows Live Writer to do my blog editing. This really rocks! On first impression, a few of the things I really like about WLW:

  • Spell checking
  • Preview
  • Very polished UI
  • Hyperlinks with "Open in New Page" option

Now if I only had something interesting to write about.

In the meantime, I think I'll sit back and relax... Where did I put my sunscreen?

09/29/2006 01:10:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]  |  Trackback
Monday, 25 September 2006

On Saturday, on a lark, I bought a disposable underwater camera. I didn't really expect much from it. My total experience with underwater cameras was the expensive-but-incredibly-crappy "digital" camera I bought last year when we were on vacation. That one takes about 5 seconds to etch the image into its puny memory - during which you and the subject have to remain completely motionless. It's pretty worthless when one is bobbing around, about 80 feet under the surface, tracking a poor little fish that thinks you're out to eat it.

But I bought the disposable camera anyway. 27 exposures - film - ISO 1000 film. No flash. Simple. If it turned out to be a piece of crap, no great loss.

Jeff and I headed off to a nice rocky spot, hoping to see some cool fish. Joe had to walk to the little mall near the resort to get a mask and fins, so he was going to meet us in the water.

The afternoon wind had picked up as it does every day, whipping up the waves making the rocky entry a challenge. We felt like rugged adventurers, going where no one had ever gone before.

We somehow made it past the shallow rocks without getting bloodied. And once we were in deeper water the surge wasn't dangerous. The saltwater made us very buoyant and even with the 2-3 foot waves we were relaxed in the water.

We swam around a while, Jeff with just a mask and snorkel - no fins, and me with my mask, snorkel, fins - and my trusty disposable camera.

I took a few hasty shots at the variety of tropical fish that lived along the reef. I had no idea how the pictures would turn out, but I kept snapping pictures. I was so buoyant I was having a hard time staying deep and staying still.

We swam around for about a half hour, then Jeff spotted a giant sea turtle. It was huge. It swam away as we drew near, and I wasn't able to snap a picture.... Hopefully it would come back. And it did a few minutes later.

Its shell was about a 3x4 foot oval, it's head as big as both my fists placed together. The turtle was huge.

We manouvered ourselves to the ocean side of it and worked our way back towards shore, with it leading the way.

As it came closer to the rocks, it cut to the right, and I cut inside it, about 5 feet away. I held the camera close and snapped a portrait head and shoulders shot. Jeff swam by and touched its back just as I snapped another shot.

We came up for air, totally stoked.

"Did you get it!?" he asked. I didn't know.

Joe finally arrived and did some diving with us. We didn't see the turtle again, but I still had some film so we took pictures of each other snorkeling in the Pacific.

That night I dropped the camera off at a 1-hour photo. I asked for prints and a photo CD.

An hour later - success! Excellent pictures of the fish, the reef, the turtle portrait shot, and even Jeff touching the turtle. I couldn't believe it. I didn't bring my laptop's CD player with me on the trip, so I couldn't upload them... that would have to wait until I got back to Tampa.

The next day I ran into Joe and told him the pictures came out. On Monday I ran into Jeff and told him.

On Tuesday, as we were packing for the trip home, I grabbed the bag from the 1-hour photo, took a look inside and saw some marketing material about the store. I tossed the bag, knowing I had already safely put the pictures and CD into my laptop bag.

Wednesday evening we arrived home. We unpacked all our luggage. I grabbed my CD player and laptop, ready to upload the pictures.

I looked in my laptop bag. No photos.

You know that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you realize you've made a horrible mistake? Yeah. That one. That was me. The pictures and CD were still in the one-hour photo bag when I threw it away - it wasn't marketing material I saw, it was the sleeve with the pictures and the CD.

BARF!

Pam and I were the only ones to see those beautiful pictures. And they really were beautiful.

09/25/2006 23:53:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]  |  Trackback
Sunday, 17 September 2006

On Saturday Pam and I rented a Mustang convertible and headed up the west coast of Maui. We had our Avis map and another more detailed map. There was one section on the Avis map along the northwest coast that was marked, "Beyond here there be dragons."

Odd.

Naturally we had to check it out.

The west side of Maui is dominated by a large mountain. Honoapiilani Highway skirts along the coastline, around the mountain's south then west side. The road is just above sea level, and the views out into the ocean are stunning. In certain areas the water was filled with scores of surfers, looking like schools of fish as they awaited the next set of waves to come in.

As we make our way toward the north, north of Lahaina, Kaanapali, and Kahana the road is a nice, two lane and four lane highway. Then north of Kapaula, just where the dragons begin, the road becomes narrow and curvy, like some parts of the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon. The views are similar as well, only the sky is clear and the temperature lovely.

We knew we should turn around once we crossed a narrow, one-lane bridge. No wonder Avis didn't want their cars going up that way. Just up the hill we pulled over. And we saw a beautiful sight. Down below was a catamaran anchored in the bay. The water was a beautiful blue, and a dozen or so snorkelers were swimming around the reef below.


I didn't see any dragons...

We stayed a while and just admired the scenery. Within a few minutes another boat came into the bay. This one was full of scuba divers. They were in for a real treat.


Honolua Bay, at the end of the earth...

On the way back we stopped in Lahaina for some lunch and some shopping. We ate at "Cheeseburger in Paradise," which doesn't have any relationship with Jimmy Buffett. (They weren't playing any Buffett tunes, anyway.

 


Lahaina...

The convertible was an excellent choice. The sun wasn't too hot, but we kept the air conditioning on the entire time, even with the top down. Gas? It's only $3.59 a gallon, so who cares, right? The engine purred like a tiger, waiting to be unleashed.

There was only one slight "problem" with it though - it was too easy to forget about the tropical sunshine beating down on my face. I ended up slightly burned. What a way to go...


Pam and her new best friend...
09/17/2006 20:41:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback

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