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I just uploaded a bunch of photos from my 1985 summer vacation in Europe. You can see them here. They were originally taken on 110 format slides, but I just had those slides scanned by a great company in Utah.

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Well, it’s Wednesday night. Last Friday I drove to western Colorado right after work to join my father for the once-in-a-lifetime hunting trip. He was hunting for a desert bighorn sheep. I met him and my brother Kent for dinner at a mediocre restaurant and stayed the night at the house of my cousin Deb. The next morning and for the consecutive 4 days we drove and hiked around area 62, which is between Unaweep Canyon and Delta, west of the Gunnison River. Here are the photos I took on that trip. We saw 10 sheep in 3 groups the first day, and didn’t see any new ones the rest of the trip. He’ll continue hunting on and off throughout the month of November, but I had to come home.

I got home early afternoon today and unpacked and spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on email and snail mail. I got a couple new CDs in the mail, which I had to listen to. Adventures in Modern Recording by The Buggles and Smofe + Smang by Mike Doughty. Both CDs are great. And I ordered 3 more CDs from Amazon.com.

Then, this evening I played EAGLe TFC. We lost both games of the match, unfortunately. Tomorrow it’s back to work. We’ll see if things are more or less of a mess than when I left for my long weekend!

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Ooh, I just got email from Amazon.com saying that they’ve finally shipped my order containing Adventures in Modern Recording by The Buggles. That was their second album, which you can’t get on CD in the US. It’s only available on the import CD from Japan, which explains why it’s $46. You have to be a real fan of The Buggles to pay that for 9 tracks! I hope it’s good!

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I’m eating my lunch at my desk at work for the 3rd time this week. Frankly, I’m getting tired of working through lunch, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to update my blog. Lunch today is from Qdoba’s. I’m having 2 shredded beef tacos and an order of guacamole and chips, plus a Coke. The Coke is unusual because I kicked my caffeine habit a couple years ago and I don’t regularly drink caffeinated beverages anymore. But I was really in the mood for a cola today.

Work is very busy, as I’m on a project that is about 4 months behind schedule. And things will probably stay busy for the next few months since we probably won’t finish until February.

I had to cancel band practice tonight, because I’m leaving town tomorrow and I haven’t even started packing yet. So I need to pack tonight. Hopefully that won’t take much more than an hour, plus interruptions from neighborhood munchkins wanting sugar bombs. If I do have any extra time tonight, I’m hoping to work on music on my own. I need to write a new song for our upcoming live-in-the-studio CD, plus I want to work up a version of Something Is Wrong that we can perform live.

Last night was TFC night. My team plays in a league called EAGLe, which stands for Exceptionally Average Gamers’ LEague. We won the first game and lost the second game. I got to play both, so that was fun.

Last night I also discovered my digital postal scale is massively screwed up. I tested it on a 29 ounce can of fruit and it said it weighs 9.6 ounces. The thing that tipped me off to the problem was that I put postage on two packages this week that I weighed on my scale. When I took them into the post office, though, the clerk told me I massively underpaid for both of them. If I had been paying attention, I would’ve noticed something was wrong because the package containing 3 CDs had only 60 cents of postage on it, which is way too low.

Tuesday night we had a nasty snowstorm that snarled traffic all over the area. I left work late and drove straight to Jon’s house to play D&D and it took me 75 minutes to get there. That’s a drive that normally takes 20 minutes. But I feel really sorry for the poor schmucks headed in the other direction. Highway 287 heading south up Miramonte Hill was totally stopped because nobody could make it up the hill. There was a resulting traffic jam all the way into Lafayette and beyond. That’s about 5 miles of highway that was at a total standstill. At least traffic was moving on my side, even if it was only about 10 miles an hour. Even though traffic was a bitch, we had surprisingly good turnout for the game. And Jon was so kind as to feed me supper, since I didn’t have time to get any on the drive over.

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I was listening to KGNU last night. At 11 PM was Under the Floorboards, and the DJ played “Nightmare Lullaby”! This was the first time I was actually personally listening to the radio when one of our songs was played (not counting internet radio, of course). So that was nice.

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CDW: NEC PowerMate eco – This is cool. I have no idea what the speed of a Transmeta Crusoe 900 MHz processor is like. But it’s nice to see an eco-friendly PC. I like the fact that it’s so quiet, due to having no fans. This could be good for a recording studio. I’d be curious about the speed of the hard drive, too, I guess. And could I use a PC with only USB ports for music recording?

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We played at The Other Side arts center last night, opening for The Voodoo Organist. Attendance was much poorer than even I expected. Whatever promotion the organizer of this show and the venue did apparently didn’t work. I think the only people who showed up were the folks who worked there and people who heard about it through 404 Not Found. It’s sad that 100% of the audience was there due to the opening band’s efforts, and 0% due to the people who were getting the money. At least we didn’t sit around for 2 hours before we could go on, like the last time we played The Other Side. Now I have to go lug all the gear in from the back of the truck, but I’m feeling lazy and will put that off until later today.

Voodoo Organist rocked, though. Getting to see him for free counteracted my disappointment in the crowd size. He’s got quite the act, playing and singing with bravado. It’s just one guy (named Scott), his organ, a drum machine, and a theremin. He used his own PA, which was smart considering the horrible time we had trying to get Christian’s to give us sound out both speakers simultaneously. So I traded Voodoo Organist a copy of our two most recent CDs for his CD, and I bought two Voodoo Organist candles. I felt a little sorry for the guy, trying to make a living touring and playing places like The Other Side with a single digit audience (no, I don’t mean they were gesturing with a single digit, I mean that there were fewer than 10 people there).

We were invited to a Halloween party tonight, but I’m not sure if I’ll be in the mood or not. I have been thinking more and more about sushi, so I think there’s a sushi dinner in store for us sometime this weekend. Also, yesterday I got a package from Amazon.com with a book and a CD. The book is On-Scene Guide for Crisis Negotiators, something I’ve wanted for a while. The CD, called Dark Circles, is from The Devils, mistakenly referred to on Amazon.com as just “Devils”. They’re a group made up of Nick Rhodes and Stephen Duffy. They were both in the original incarnation of Duran Duran in 1978, but Duffy left before they hit it big, ultimately being replaced by the infamous Simon LeBon. The CD wasn’t cheap, since you have to buy it as an import from the UK, so I hope it’s good! And the book wasn’t cheap either, probably since there’s not too big of a market for books on crisis negotiation.

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I had a mental breakthrough last night while I was reading my ethics book on the exercise bike at the health club. I figured out why I have Libertarian tendencies. But to explain, I’ll have to teach you about this British deep thinker of the early 19th century. And I don’t have the book in front of me, so it’ll have to wait.

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Just moments after I published that last blog entry, I looked at the reviews of this book (Who Moved My Cheese?) on Amazon.com. Despite being a “#1 Bestseller” this book has gotten panned by those who read it and took the time to write their thoughts on Amazon. One reviewer writes this: This book is pop-psychology for the CEO-set. Inane and ultimately confusing, the book’s ultimate “theme” doesn’t hold up to even minute philosophical scrutiny. Boy, I can’t wait to read it now! On the plus side, it shouldn’t take me more than about 30 minutes. I guess I can squeeze it in during commercial breaks in this week’s Bronco’s game. 😉

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You got paid for this?

On Wednesday of this week, my company, Voyant Technologies, Inc. of Westminster, Colorado, had our quarterly all company meeting. (You may think that 5 commas in a sentence of 19 words is extreme, but as far as I know I used them all correctly) From time to time, the powers that be like to give us special trinkets for attending these meetings, which usually last 2 to 3 hours. Well, this time every employee got a new copy of Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. I had heard of this book before, but never imagined I would own my very own copy. After glancing through the book, my first and strongest reaction was, “You got paid for this?”

You see, the “book” is only 94 pages long, hardly a length of book you would expect to pay $19.95 (retail price) for. But a more careful look at those 94 pages shows that included in that count all of the front pages – the title page, two pages of “Praise for Spencer Johnson’s Books”, a page listing people who bought the book, another page showing reviewers’ comments on the book, a page listing the author’s other books, a second title page, a copyright page, a page of a couple quotes the author likes, a table of contents, and several more pages of introduction and blank separator pages, followed by a third title page. So will all that filler, the book doesn’t even start until page 21! Discounting all the fluff, that means the “book” is actually only 74 pages.

But wait, there’s less! 15 of those 74 pages aren’t actually text, but contain a drawing of a section of a cheese wheel with a single-sentence smarmy saying. For instance, they used an entire page to say “Having cheese makes you happy.” So, assuming they could (and should) have printed those as callouts instead of giving them their own pages, there’s really only about 60 pages of content here.

Are you getting the idea that the author and publisher of this book used the same approach you used in 9th grade English class when you had to write a 20 page research paper? I don’t know about you, but I would write as much as I could and then double space it, make big margins, and – if possible – use the largest font size the typewriter would handle. Well, the people who brought you Who Moved My Cheese! didn’t forget those lessons from 9th grade. It’s not double spaced, but they used the largest typeface I’ve ever seen an adult book printed in. There’s definitely no need for a special “large type” edition of this book for visually impaired readers. I’m guessing it’s 14 point, maybe 16 point. I just took a random sample of a typical page of this book. It has 150 words. 150 x 60 is 9000. So I’m guessing this book is roughly 9000 words long.

Compare that to 1200 to 2500 for a typical mainstream magazine article. But I guess tiny books are popular in the business world. This particular one says it’s a “#1 Bestseller”. Virginia Polytechnic Institute says “A ‘good’ reading speed is around 500 to 700 words per minute for “fiction and non-technical materials” which probably fits this book. Let’s do some basic math. 9000 / 500 = 18. So, it’ll probably take a good-but-slow reader roughly 18 minutes to read this “book”. OK, OK, I’ll be generous. I’ll assume it’s a good book and that most readers will re-read some of the better passages. And nobody will probably read it straight through. So let’s say it takes 30 minutes to read this book. At $19.95, that’s about $40/hour.

Compare that to a movie, which is about $3/hour ($8 ticket for a 2.5 hour movie). Or a long paperback sci-fi book, which is about $0.16/hour ($8 book that takes about 50 hours to read). Or commercial television, which is $0/hour (and you get what you pay for).

On the other end of the spectrum, consider a visit to a nice spa for $75/hour. Or a high class prostitute at about $1200/hour (ask my friend Charlie Sheen). Or a ride on the Concorde at about $4000/hour.

My point? I guess my point is that this book is a much better deal than taking a high class prostitute on the Concorde to a Paris spa. But it’s pretty lousy in comparison to the next Lord of the Rings movie or a good sci-fi book.