Monday, 04 December 2006

My friend and coworker, Matt, experienced something last week that no one should ever have to go through, and which we all hope never happens to anyone - whether it be us, or someone we know, or any other person. His parents' house, the one where Matt spent most of his growing-up years, burned down one week ago.

Luckily his folks made it out okay. Sadly, their dog did not and the damage to the house was extensive. They've been piecing things back together (as much as you can do that after a major house fire) for the past week, but I can only imagine what it must be like for them. As a police officer, I experienced many traumatic situations, but when it's a friend it just feels different.

Matt wrote eloquently about what happened, and I am pointing to his blog entry here because I think it's important to be thankful for what we have and the family in our lives, and also because it's important to know that it can happen not just to others, but also to ourselves.

Matt said it best:

"It's very true what they say. A tragedy is just an event until it happens to you. I recall seeing at least one report of a house or apartment fire every holiday over the past few years and thinking how terrible it must be for the affected people, but then I change the station and life goes on. Never did I think that could one day be my house on the news and my family standing in the cold. And while we now have to deal with the task of rebuilding and piecing back together some sense of normality, I've very thankful to have my parents around to help with that."

Amen to that. Read his story here.



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Monday, 04 December 2006 14:01:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 26 November 2006

Okay, okay so you can stop emailing and IMing me to ask if I am alive, heh. The blog post shall resume. I am in fact alive and I am back home, and yeah Europe was a blast (both the work and the vacation parts). Pictures are coming, and there's a zillion of them but I need to get them uploaded to Flickr first, and I've seriously been busy with lots of other stuff since returning home.

Here's a quick list of where we ended up going during a whirlwind week of see-as-many-places-as-possible travel. European trains, by the way, are awesome.

  • Vienna > Venice
  • Venice > Rome
  • Rome > Bern
  • Bern > Zurich
  • Zurich > Fussen
  • Fussen > Munich
  • Munich > back to Vienna

More Europe trip short stories and stuff soon, after I get pics and whatnot uploaded.



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Sunday, 26 November 2006 11:03:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I am not sure if it has snowed this early in the season since I have lived here - I believe this is the earliest. Woke up this morning to a variety of flashing clocks and electronics (nothing like a power outage to make you realize how electronicified you are) and was surprised to see this...

 

I am sure it will all be gone before long today, but it sure was cool to wake up to.



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Sunday, 26 November 2006 09:26:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 23 November 2006

Tomorrow is Black Friday - the "busiest shopping day of the year" they say (although some may argue otherwise). Certainly there are many early-bird deals to be had and the people can get out of control.

So - where to shop for Black Friday? How to find the deals? Well, certainly your Sunday newspaper is an important place to start, but for those who are Internet-oriented, check out Black Friday @ GottaDeal.com, where you can get some more great deals both online (many of which are already available early) and in person.

If you're planning to shop for the specials, this is a great place to use:

http://blackfriday.gottadeal.com/

For current online deals, check this address:

http://blackfriday.gottadeal.com/online.php

Also - Do you have last minute questions about Black Friday? Give GottaDeal.com a call anytime at 415-287-3325 (415-287-DEAL) and they'll be happy to help you out. Note that long distance charges may apply.



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Thursday, 23 November 2006 14:24:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Not too terribly long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of taking on an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your mind is pretty much where you'll end up, and for the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of things, some difficult and some pleasant. But every year I try to take some Thanksgiving time to remember that even though life is crazy and time is often too short, there are so many thing in life for which I am grateful and give thanks. Even the stuff I've screwed up.

Life's not perfect, and from the depths of those situations and experience that substantially change us - often things that we would never wish to have happen again - we are destined to learn and grow. I know I have experienced that over the years, and my life is quite different as a result.

Sometimes we learn and grow quickly, other times a little too slowly. I still make mistakes. Lots of them. Especially this year, as I have just recently begun realizing. Fear is a great motivator, one that can be leveraged for good or bad. Best to try for good.

But this is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. Gratitude.

I am thankful for my friends, my family, my good job, my home, my cat and dog, and the many years I had to spend with my dog Buddy, who died earlier in the year. I am grateful for surgeons and the people in my life who cared enough to stop their lives and take care of me when I was truly in need. I sometimes wish I was better to those who were so good to me. But I do appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life.

I'm especially thankful that my friend Matthew, who had brain surgery on Monday this week, is already home and doing well. And I am thankful for the great food we'll be eating at their house in a couple hours, heh.

There are many people in this world better than me, and a few of those good people I know personally. I am thankful for them, even if I don't or can't show it when it counts. I only hope in the future I can be more much more worthy of their time and attention.

Finally, I am grateful for my life, the people in it, the goods and the bads, and for the possibilities of the future, whatever they may be. As they say, "with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."

Yes, it is.



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Thursday, 23 November 2006 14:19:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 25 October 2006

My friend Scott loaned me his XM Satellite Radio for my recent road trip to Minnesota and back (2,000+ miles each direction). Wow. Way Cool.

Nothing makes a long, long drive half way across the country and back bearable like non-stop stand up comedy and 70's era music that just plays all the way across the country. Throw in some CNN, BBC and a little FOX News for balance and let's just say it's a great way to travel.

I went to Minnesota last week to help a friend move, among other things. It's been that and weddings (lots of weddings) recently. The satellite radio - combined with a pair of GMRS handie talkies - made for an enjoyable journey back to Oregon. If you ever drive across the country and your travel companion is in another car, take a pair of 10-mile radios with you and get off Channel 1. You'll be glad you did.

Anyhow - back to the XM radio. This was (believe it or not) my first experience using a satellite radio unit. I've looked at them before, but honestly I have never really liked the form factor of the receivers. On this trip I used the built in FM transmitter to get the audio out of the receiver and over my audio system, since I don't have a cassette player in my car. I wish they could make the transmitters a bit more powerful since I had to change the FM channel on my car radio periodically whenever the frequency selected was in use by a local radio station (too bad there's not a frequency set aside and used for low power in-car type transmitters). But that's really just nit-picking. I guess if I was constantly listening to XM or a similar service in Portland all the time, I'd get frustrated with the FM transmitter since the stations are so many and since they bleed out of band so badly in some cases. But for a cross-country trip it was pretty cool.

I like the ability to take the radio from one car to another, so although built-in receivers would obviate the need for a low power transmitter, that's not really what I'd want.

I noticed that some channels have considerably better fidelity - a compression-related effect, I am sure - than did others. I have been told that XM started compressing a lot of programming pretty heavily early this year, and that Sirius has better audio quality. Anyone done some detailed listening comparisons? I've not yet listened to the Sirius broadcasts, so I cannot compare myself. I know there are differences in programming, as well as a significant overlap in the core channels. Too bad Sirius doesn't have the "decades" channels. I liked those a lot.

Do you use XM or Sirius satellite radio? What do you think and how well does it work for you?



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Wednesday, 25 October 2006 13:30:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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