Indoor Skydiving

I’m in Las Vegas for a conference, so last night I headed over to Flyaway Indoor Skydiving. It was really fun, and you should check it out if you’re in Vegas. You watch a training video, go over safety and hand signals, get your equipment, and then go into the wind tunnel.

One thing I didn’t picture when I read about it was how HOT it would be in there. As one of the guys working there said “It’s like being under the hood of a car.”

Here’s a video of my session (no audio).

Lord of the Rings Online

In my ongoing quest to at least try almost every MMORPG that comes out (except Star Wars Galaxies), I tried this a couple months ago and hated it but I figured I would give it another go. I had made a dwarf guardian the first time, and the first rat-killing type quest really got to me. I didn’t make it past the first hour.

This time I created Tanru (human captain) on Silverlode. I don’t know if the Bree quests are just way better than the dwarf quests, but I like it sooo much better than the first time I played.

I’m digging the game. Maybe the starter human stuff is just better than the starter dwarf stuff, or I just wasn’t in the right mood when I tried it the first time. The story is excellent and makes you feel like you are part of the War of the Ring. The detail in the world is amazing, and there are lots of familiar landmarks to visit.

On the surface, the mechanics are basically WoW with Tolkien skin, but there’s a lot of good stuff underneath.

I really like the traits, titles, deeds, etc, which give you something to do when you don’t feel like working a specific quest. It really rewards people who just like to explore, which is excellent.

The PvP mechanics are interesting too. Once you hit level 10, you get to engage in “Monster Play”, which gives you a 50th level goblin, orc, uruk, spider, or warg character to play as an enemy for high level PCs to fight in the Ettenmoors.

I still think the classes are screwy, but I’m enjoying my character so far. There’s a 7-day free trial available here, so give it a try, create a character on the Silverlode server and look me up!

Terry Tate, Office Linebacker

This weekend I finished my latest project, a compilation of greatest hits by Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. Man, we could really use an office linebacker at work. (Note to co-workers: just kidding![?])

February 26, 2007 | Posted in: Random | Comments Closed

Toy Fair 2007

Yesterday, thanks to my friends at Puppet Heap, I went to the Toy Fair. It’s the 18th anniversary of my sneaking in there in college with fake business cards. Foolishly I wore myself out on the boring stuff, so I was super tired by the time I got to the cool stuff. But here are some highlights:

- There’s going to be tons of Golden Compass toys this year, from toy alethiometers (which look pretty cool) to many stuffed Pantalaimon forms (and evil golden monkey), to Iorek Byrnison In Battle Armor With Slashing Claw Action

- Stikfas has scored their first product license: Neon Genesis Evangelion! Can’t wait to see those.

- I met Bob from Sesame Street! He’s really really nice!

- Apparently they still make Electric Football.

- Award for most disappointing: the Lego booth was completely enclosed, and entry by appointment only.

February 14, 2007 | Posted in: Random | Comments Closed

Draw a Turkey

Psych Turkey

Found this one via the excellent MAKE blog:

I’m a TA for Psych 1 at Penn. Tasked with photocopying the exam, I took the liberty of appending “Draw a turkey” to the last page …

This flickr photoset shows the results, as well as breaking it down into categories like left-handed, right-handed, with hats, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Beer in the Shower

I’ve said it before and been met with confused stares but I will say it again: after working hard, a beer in the shower is great. Whether your gutter fell off the front of your house and you had to put it back up, or you are painting your kitchen (both of which I did this weekend), when the shower is cooling you from the outside, a cold beer cools you from the inside. Try it, you’ll like it.

Note to beer nerds: Yes, I know you are not supposed to drink beer freezing cold, it keeps you from tasting the Fuggles etc. – but Beer in the Shower is about cooling you down and the psychological benefits of beer as a symbol of relaxation.

Burning Interests Update

Well, here’s what’s been going on with my latest Burning Interests:

Tablet PCs – I ended up getting a Toshiba Satellite R15-S829. It’s not a super-powerhouse, but the price was right ($999 at Circuit City). The built-in optical drive is very convenient but makes it a bit heavy. The 14″ screen is great, and although the max resolution is 1024 x 768, I think that’s plenty for the hobby-type art I am doing. Which brings me to…

Drawing & Sketching – I’ve been doing a lot more now that I’ve got the tablet. I know everyone always says pencil & paper is the best way to learn, but working digitally gives me the freedom to make mistakes and recover from them. On the other hand, there are probably some “happy accidents” (as Bob Ross would say) that never get a chance to happen, but I can accept that.

Working in Painter on the tablet is fantastic. I have a small Wacom tablet on my desktop at home, but with that you are looking at the screen while drawing on the tablet. Better than a mouse obviously, but not ideal. Being able to draw directly on the screen is great. I’m working my way through a bunch of different drawing books. Yes, I am drawing a lot of fruit. I hope to post some of the stuff I’ve been doing soon. Not because I think it’s great, but because I think it isn’t – and hopefully it will be a way for me to see my progress (or lack thereof).

Astronomy – I’m reading a lot of astronomy stuff every day, and saving up for a telescope (must pay off the laptop first though). I tried to scratch the itch by buying a cheapie Explorascope-type scope on eBay (for 60 bucks) but unfortunately the primary mirror was all out of whack. I couldn’t get an in-focus image, even of the moon. My attempts to collimate it (align the mirrors) made it worse – I turned one of the screws too far and it fell out. Not sure how much of that was my fault and how much was busted to begin with; the reason I turned the screw so far was because no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the primary mirror to tilt to the right. I suspect it was out of its cell when it arrived but there’s no knowing now. At this point I figured what the hell and tried to take the whole thing apart but it was just not worth the effort. It is now in the Metuchen dump. Definitely a case of “you get what you pay for”.

I’m undaunted though. I’ve definitely settled on a reflector instead of a refractor since you get so much more aperature for your money. I’ve been going back and forth between Dobsonian and Equatorial mount. The EQ mount will allow you to track objects in the sky more easily and so lends itself better to photography. On the other hand, everything I am reading says “forget photography at the beginning”, due to the expense of the equipment you need to take decent pictures. The EQ mount is more expensive than the Dob – basically it seems like you can get an 8″ Dob or a 6″ EQ for the same money. The scope that has my eye at the moment is the Orion XT8. I don’t think I’m going to go with any of the fancy GoTo stuff for now – I’d rather learn the sky and what’s where than have the scope point to it for me.

Burning Interests Log

As I’ve written before, my hobbies and interests change often. I decided to start to write them down to see how they change over time. This is just for my own curiousity about myself and probably pretty boring for the rest of you but here it is anyway.

The Burning Interests of the moment are (in no particular order):

  • Tablet PCs
  • Drawing / Sketching
  • Astronomy