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Started: 2005-01-29 18:28:43

Submitted: 2005-01-29 19:28:54

Visibility: World-readable

Despite outward appearances, my goal is not actually to write one changelog per month, although so far I'm getting fairly close. (More is optimal. Epic changelogs are fun, although long.)

The main reason I haven't written much in the past three weeks is Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, a highly-addictive sequel to the highly-addictive Metroid Prime. It's the same game with a new story and different weapons: Samas Aran follows a Marine distress signal to the planet of Aether, which has been split into two parallel worlds by a cosmic catastrophe. Light Aether is the domain of the Luminoth, the planet's original occupants, and Dark Aether is the domain of the Ing, who wiped out the Marines (following none other than a pack of dread Space Pirates), but since Samas is apparently better-armed than a light infantry platoon, the Ing are no match for her.

I continue to have doubts about the future of my employment, but at the moment I've concluded that I could do much worse, and if I win the stock option lottery I'll be in good shape. I wouldn't complain about a raise or direct deposit, and I'm demanding a retirement plan, but I think I'm doing ok. My biggest challenges will be ensuring that I don't have too much asked of me and that I figure out how to effectively manage myself.

It looks like I'll have the opportunity to build an embedded system using a sexy microcontroller, which I'm excited by. It also represents a direction change at the company; instead of duct-taping off-the-shelf parts together, we're going to start making our own, which (in this case, at least) won't cost too much more engineering time and should save product cost in the long run. The only downside is that building the embedded system has a lower priority than anything else I'm working on; I have less-fun projects I'll have to do first.

Kiesa's grandmother "Mimi" died on or around 13 January. Kiesa drove out to Gentry, Arkansas for the funeral on 15 January, and returned the following day, leaving me alone for the weekend. I played lots of Metroid and watched Sean of the Dead (which was amusing) and Garden State (which was excellent) and even managed to get out of the house to go Geocaching. (I also figured out how to take out the drain plug in the shower, which is important because long hair tends to get stuck in the drain. I located a strainer that fit the drain, which makes cleaning my hair out of the drain much easier (which is far more information than most of my readers wanted to hear, I imagine). I successfully executed my first real home improvement project: installing a dimmer in the master bedroom. I'm beginning to have a pretty good idea how to navigate Longmont's Home Depot, unfortunately located on the other side of town.)

I'll confess I'm not really sure how I should react to Mimi's death. Kiesa isn't giving me many clues as to how much support she wants, which I'm assuming means she doesn't need much but I could be wrong. When my grandmother (also my mother's mother) died ten years ago, I felt little emotion. It seems callous to say "I didn't care", but to a large extent that's what I felt.

Last weekend I found my hundredth Geocache, thirteen months after I found my first cache. In celebration of the find, I plan on placing geocaches in Longmont; I think I have some vague idea what I'm doing now that I've found a hundred others. :) From what I've been able to gather, the city of Longmont is less antagonistic to the placing of caches than the city (and county) of Boulder, although I have yet to find an official policy statement anywhere. I spray-painted a number of penguin peppermint tins black and epoxied magnets onto them so I can stick them to steel beams on foot bridges and other sneaky hiding places. Should be fun.

Last weekend I watched the documentary Control Room. It had great footage from US Central Command before and during the invasion of Iraq, including plenty of screen time for an Army officer assigned to media relations, dealing specifically with the interactions between Al Jazeera and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the documentary lacked context and direction. Since I paid a respectable amount of attention to media coverage of the invasion, I was able to recall the context of the Iraqi Information Minister (who got a few seconds of screen time) and the hyped rescue of Private Jessica Lynch, but the documentary could have spent a few minutes explaining these references for not only my benefit but the benefit of future viewers. There's little sense of time; scenes appear to take place in rough chronological order, but sometimes it's hard to tell when one day ends and the next day begins. Fade-outs and title cards giving the new date would have been great. The one place the documentary uses title cards is in the beginning, apparently in lieu of actually using a narrator. A well-written narrator script would have given the documentary cohesion; add a bit of direction and it would have been a much better film. Even though the documentary is recent, it didn't appear to have gained anything from events that happened after the invasion; it was chilling to remember Abu Ghraib when I watched Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld calling on the Iraqis to treat American prisoners humanely in accordance with the Geneva Convention, but the documentary left it to me to make that connection. It's possible the film makers intended to present the facts and let the viewer draw her own conclusions, but at the end all we have is a bunch of contextless statements from both the American military and various Arabs without any actual investigation. Maybe that's not the reason the film was made. After sitting through eighty-six minutes of documentary footage, I felt like I was watching a home movie: fascinating for what it is, but ultimately in need of much more work.

Kiesa and I have watched the first several episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica series, which apparently aired across the pond before it aired here, so the entire thirteen-episode first season is on the Internet. (Not that I would download anything illegally, but since I don't think it's worth it to pay an extra US$30/month to get Sci-Fi, I have little other option.) After seeing three episodes, I think it's a great show, although my memory of the miniseries is a bit fuzzy. I enjoy the attention to the mostly mundane details of running the rag-tag refugee fleet such as maintaining a water supply. Unlike Star Trek, the first episode refused to invent a reason why the Cylons showed up every thirty-three minutes ("the transmitter took seven minutes to locate the fleet after each jump, then five minutes to transfer new coordinates over the faster-than-light doomerflopper array...") and instead focused on the human reactions to being put into that situation.

Kiesa was amused to see the exterior of Vancouver's Public Library in episode 3.

My mother is coming to visit us next week; she flies in on Tuesday and flies out on Friday. This will likely be amusing, but will likely cut into the time I spend playing Metroid, especially since I'll actually be expected to do the dishes after every meal. After she made plans to visit us, my father discovered that he would be in Denver late this past week and decided to drive up on Thursday (two days ago) to see the house. My mother was distressed that my father got to see our house before she did, but I think she'll survive.