Monday, September 04, 2006

The Cafe is Closed...

... the Deli is Open.

This blog will no longer be updated.

- The Management

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Free tunes for March 19, 2006

Neurosis - Aeon: No other Neurosis song is as epic as this one. From death march (0:00-2:50), to swirling tri-vocal metal assault (2:50-4:40), to spooky spacious ambience (4:40-6:10), to powerful horn-laden doom (6:10-9:00), fading (9:00-10:00) into a melancholy strings-and-piano outro (10:00-11:44). I'd say more about the greatness of Neurosis, but I'll let you listen and judge for yourself.

Amorphis - Alone: This is a band I'm going to check out with my annual CD order later this year. Everything about this band screams mediocrity, especially if you judge them solely within the context of a single genre which they overlap (metal, prog, pop, etc.). However, I've listened many times over to everything I've found from them. Their songs are just so dang catchy.

Friday, February 24, 2006

New Kids in Town

Two 3-month-old brothers adopted from the local shelter. We lost one of our cats earlier this year (it was likely cancer). Our older male tabby is tolerating them at a distance. We are adoring them up close - a couple of lovable cuties!

Their names are Lingk (left) and Alonzo. This continues our tradition of naming our cats after characters from our very favorite movies:
  • Yanr (Raise the Red Lantern)
  • Cecil (A Room with a View)
  • Ripley (Aliens)
  • Alonzo (Training Day)
  • Lingk (Glengarry Glen Ross)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

10 of 2005

A little bit late, but no less lame. As I did last year, I wanted to record ten significant things that happened to me over the last 12 months. "Dreams, Debt, Death - the stains of mediocrity"

  1. Brought Ruoda home: By itself, my time with Ruoda could take over the whole list: listening to music (her current fave: Fear Factory's Transgression); reading books (fave: All the Way to Lhasa); playing the piano together; going for walks; dancing at summer concerts in the park; drawing with colored pencils together; enjoying hugs and kisses. She is a ray of sunshine not just in my own life, but in that of everyone who encounters her smile. Okay, she deserves at least one more slot in the list...
  2. Swimming with Ruoda during the summer: We had to stay out of the sun, and the Oregon summer nights are a bit nippy for swimming, but we still had a blast together almost every night in the pool and hot tub. Her favorite word is still "moon".
  3. My first international travel: Growing up in upstate NY, I can't really count those two Montreal vacations or that unfortunate night in Toronto. Spending two weeks in China was an unforgettable experience (unlike the next seven banalities in this list...)
  4. Video game carousel: I knew I would have to quit City of Heroes in March upon Ruoda's return, but actually quit a month early as the combat was overly repetitive while the leveling was faaaar too slow. I still miss Paragon City like hell... Tried Diablo 2 again for a bit, but it wouldn't run on my PC reliably. Played Age of Mythology for awhile against a friend, but he got too frustrated; I'm still shocked to find someone who is that much worse than I at real-time strategy games! Spent the last few months with Dungeon Siege 2 (comparable to Diablo 2, but more immersive and with a weaker combat system), but that was also too slow-going, and the final battle (required to unlock the higher levels of difficulty) was absurd in execution. I uninstalled it this week, and am now back to giving Guild Wars another go.
  5. Online puzzles: I started solving puzzles regularly at Conceptis Puzzles (free) and Puzzle Japan ($4/month). Between the two sites, there are about six puzzles types I consider essential (and, no, Sudoku - featured on both sites - is not among these). A fun supplement to my pencil puzzle magazine habit.
  6. Played A Game of Thrones CCG: Collected tons of cards, built tons of decks, tested my decks against an opponent, played Friday nights at the constructed and draft events at Rainy Day Games, and even played in a regional tournament up in Redmond. I enjoyed the scene - even if I wasn't crazy about the game - and look forward to doing something similar with another CCG in the future. Everyone else in the area abandoned the game, so I decided to bail as of the latest base set. That didn't stop me from...
  7. Read the first 3 books of A Song of Fire and Ice: C'mon, that's over 2500 pages there! Amazing how much reading you can get in while a confused infant dozes around the clock. My primary motivation was to give me additional enjoyment playing the A Game of Thrones CCG, but now that I'm no longer participating in the CCG, it's TBD whether I'll continue reading this series. That's because...
  8. Started reading the Discworld series: I've made it through 12 books so far (that's another 4000+ pages - I've never done this much reading in a year in my life). I've tried to do this before, but gave up on several titles when they weren't as good as the first one. These days, I find that light reading is a great pastime to have in a heavily interrupt-driven household. I still like the first book (The Color of Magic) a lot more than the others for several reasons: It's more Doug Adams than Three Stooges; it focuses on satirizing Fantasy rather than overall zaniness; I prefer the episodic structure over the meandering chapterless format of the later books; and I found Rincewind's journey to (and over!) the edge of the world transcedental. Of the other titles, the ones I enjoyed most were Mort (Death takes on an apprentice), Pyramids (I was on my Nile kick at the time), and Witches Abroad (a slight satire on the fairy tale genre).
  9. First year as Group Leader: I still manage the same people and projects that I did before, so it's not really that big of a deal. The biggest difference is that I get to provide inputs into department-level decisions, usually concerning employee relations and the like. Having the Group Leader title does give me that extra bit of recognition and leverage on those rare occasions I interface with other folks outside of my area.
  10. Bloggin': Kicking off the Gathering of Engineers blog was a blast; having a restricted pool of potential bloggers makes its long-term viability risky (other gaming group blogs have had some turnover in the first year of operations), but I figure we could either reinvent it if need be, or I could just consider this an audition for another group blog if it doesn't pan out. I really need that group format to be able to commit to posting that often. I also started my Top 100 Albums blog, but I'm stuck at #79. There's actually a good reason for this; this CD was in my 24-pack CD case when it was stolen ~3 years ago. I have been unable to locate the CD either online or in the stores, and it's hard to get properly inspired by thin-sounding 30-second samples. I hope to get momentum on this again some day soon.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Very Crappy Radio

"WVCR - Very Cool Radio"

"WVCR - We don't rock... we pound!"

I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for Siena College's WVCR radio station. They used to have a standard metal show (thrash, speed, power, etc.) 2100-0000, and then a very intense metal show (black, death, grind, gore, etc.) 0000-0300. It is that later show that exposed me to many of the artists - and their successors - I listen to today. Early 90's was when death metal was stretching into industrial territory, grind was maturing, and black metal was taking off. Truly a magical time for metal.

Today, it appears that they focus on mainstream "urban" music; the only nod to rock I recognize on their playlist is Nickleback.

Freakin' tragic, man.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Free videos: Lumsk; Nile

Lumsk - Trolltind: Folk metal from Norway. I recommend this video to all readers of this blog. I'll definitely have to check out this band. The lyrics are in Norwegian, and tell the story of a Norse legend. The first Earth creatures (trolls) had a large marriage party for several couples. They got so drunk that they forgot to hide before sunrise, at which point they all turned into stone and became the mountains of Earth. You can also see them perform live another track from the same album; this track has more traditional prog-ish elements to it.

Nile - Sacrifice Unto Sebek: I posted a link to an earlier Nile video in April. Sacrifice Unto Sebek is from their 2005 album, and is one of their more straightforward (and shorter) tracks. If nothing else, you can get a feeling for what I would look like if I kept my hair long. Also, check out the free MP3 for "Lashed to the Slave Stick", which is, in my opinion, one of the very greatest death metal songs of all time - what a chilling ending!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Vice Versa

Padded out Rouda's "Orc Song" to four verses. The third verse is lame, but it refers to some of my favorite regional foods from the past three places I have lived.

I don't eat dinner with a spoon
And I don't eat dinner with a fork
But you bet your life
I have a knife
Cuz I eat my dinner with an orc!

I don't eat beef or chicken
And I don't eat fish or pork
Since I thought it'd be neat
To cut out meat
Cuz I eat my dinner with an orc!

There's cheddar from Wisconsin
And apples from New York
But we better stay clear
Of Oregon beer
Cuz I eat my dinner with an orc!

Now you say my song is corny,
And you think that I'm a dork.
Well, sticks and stones
will break my bones...
... Cuz I eat my dinner with an orc!