Over the previous weekend Sarah and I got engaged. I had a limo pick us up and take us to a park that has a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline where I proposed, then out for dinner and drinks including a bottle of wine for the ride back. What's the point of a limo ride if you don't drink while being driven around? It was a nice night and only had a hint of rain when we came home. We don't yet have a date set.
On Monday in Germany we went to Marienplatz and wandered around the Christmas Market, some of the stores, had drinks in a little pub, visited the Toy Museum, and checked out an impressive looking church. We accidentally drew in some other tourists as we stood gaping at the Glockenspiel tower waiting for the little show to begin at the wrong hour. That night Megan and Oliver came by our hotel and took us out to a traditional Bavarian restaurant and brewery that had been brewing beer there for hundreds of years. It was fun although we may have kept Megan and Oliver out too late on a weeknight.
The next day we went to the Deutsches Museum the largest science and technology museum in the world. And indeed it is very large, six floors on a large grounds. I needed to better pace myself: I spent too much energy being interested in the engineering sections with steam engines, mining, aerospace etc. I was completely worn out by the time we got to physics, chemistry, etc. etc. and we didn't even look in the natural sciences section. Anyway, its very large. That night we ate with Jon at an Italian restaurant. During the meal two period dressed children came in and began singing then tried to shake down their captive audience in the restaurant asking for money. The man at the table next to us asked one of the children what charity the money was going towards, the child said they kept the money, and the man said never mind then and sent the child away.
Sarah and I are back from Munich, Germany as of Thursday and I've just about recovered. The trip there via Air France we watched many movies and it was much better than the trip back in which the entertainment system failed and I had a cold. When we arrived, Jon met us at the airport, helped us with the subway system, we played Guitar Hero, ate at a Bavarian pub, and then later at an Australian bar.
The following day we met up with Jon and three of his friends, one of whom was visiting from England and we all took a train to Neuschwanstein Castle. Apparently its the 'Disney' castle in that Disney's castle's are based upon it. The castle is filled with images and statues of swans in homage to the Swan Knight. We ate in the town at a cafe with traditional Bavarian food before taking the train back and getting all you can eat fajitas for dinner.
Electronic devices shouldn't fail, they should just sit wherever I place them and work forever. A while back my home web server started failing so I moved over to a real web hosting service. And this was the home web server I built from pieces Eric gave me after my previous one died during the big power failure the year before. The power socket on my old laptop has come undone from the motherboard so that it can no longer be powered. Just a week or two ago my Xbox 360 stopped displaying video. The CPU fan on my media center died. I also want to put my camera and GPS in this list, but the camera died due to accidentally turning on in my pocket and the GPS was stolen so those aren't the devices just arbitrarily failing.
Last Thursday I saw a bunch of college friends that I hadn't seen in a while, despite all of us working at Microsoft, and Saul and Ciera who were visiting. We had dinner at Typhoon! which I haven't been to in quite a while. Daniil and Val brought their cute child. I got to see Charlie and Matt who I'm not sure I've seen since my 25th birthday. There was much nerdiness. I need to remember to organize such a night myself sometime in near future so I don't have to wait another year to see them.
On the weekend Sarah and I went out to dinner at Carnegie's, a former public library in Ballard, Seattle that's now a restaurant. I saw the restaurant's website in Matt's delicious links and thought it looked interesting. The exterior and entryway look like a public library, but just inside its redone as a sort of modern version of french classical with a bar and two dining rooms. No pictures since my replacement camera only arrived today, but there are photos available. They serve french cuisine which was good and not as expensive as I would have expected. An interesting place, although its a bit of a drive and I'm not sure if we'll be going back soon.
I got a new laptop a while back. I had it in my office and Tim came in to ask me something but paused when he saw my laptop. "Oh, is this one of those new touch screen laptops?" he asked, the whole time moving his hand towards my laptop and punctuating his sentence by pressing his finger to the screen. "No" I responded.
Walking down a hallway I heard Winston, one of our managers, say, "Hey Tim!" Winston catches up to me and asks, "Are you almost done with the XYZ bug?" I realized Winston was talking to me and got my name wrong but I figured I'll ignore it and perhaps he'll realize his mistake. Winston continued "I just talked with some people who say they're blocked and waiting for Tim to finish the XYZ bug." "Dave" I said helpfully attempting to diplomatically correct Winston since he apparently hadn't realized his error. "No, it was Jeremy and Bill." Winston said naming the people he had talked to who were waiting for me to fix the XYZ bug. At this point I decided it would be easier to just answer his question and end the conversation than to get into this whole thing. As far as I know, Winston has not gotten my name wrong at any other time.
This past weekend Sarah and I went to Salty's on Alki. I had never been down to the Alki area so that was fun and I took a few photos while we were there. It turns out they were the last few photos I'll be taking with that camera as it turned itself on in my pocket and the lens extension mechanism broke for the inner most lens. So now I'm looking for a new camera, preferably one that has a lock mechanism so I can't accidentally turn it on in my pocket. The dinner was good and Salty's has a great view. On an unrelated note, the next day we went to an Audi dealership and test-drove the new 2009 A4 which was fun. I'm happy with my car but Sarah's feeling antsy.
I've had a little fun messing around with Photosynth, a Microsoft research project turned into a Live service. You upload a bunch of photos from around the same area and it makes a 3D panorama out of them. For instance, here's National Geographic's photosynth of the sphinx and pyramids in Egypt. Messing around with this I've made one of half a vase of roses, and a larger photosynth of my office.
I recently finished Braid, the Xbox Live game, and a comparison with Portal is helpful. From a screen shot Braid looks like a normal 2D platformer, but that's like looking at a screen shot of Portal and saying its a first person shooter. While the scaffolding of the game-play may sort of fall into that category, the games are actually about exploring the character's ability and solving puzzles. In Portal the ability is bending space and in Braid its bending time. However, whereas in Portal there is one space bending mechanism, the portal gun, Braid's protagonist explores several different time bending techniques including, most prominently, reversing time, but also time dilation, multiple time-lines, and other odd things.
Similar to the difference in game-play, while Portal has a strict simplicity to its visual style, Braid is much more ornate, like you're playing in an oil painting. Without seeing video of the game, or playing the demo (which is available for free on Xbox Live) its difficult to convey, but it is quite lovely and the animation adds quite a bit. Both games too are rather short leaving you just a bit hungry for more and have an interesting plot and an ending that I'd hate to spoil although Braid replaces Portal's humor with melancholy. If you enjoyed Portal and Twelve Monkeys then I'd recommend Braid.
I've got a new office and I must clean off my inherited whiteboard. The previous owner left various diagrams, code snippets, etc. on for such a time that they can no longer be erased by conventional means: the whiteboard eraser is useless! I couldn't find any whiteboard cleaner either, but Ali told me the following secret. You can write over the dried on text with a normal dry erase marker. When you erase the new markings the old are erased as well. It sounds too fantastic, but believe me, its true! I don't know the brand or material of the whiteboard but the whiteboard markers are 'Expo, Bold Color Dry Erase'.
My previous window office was ripped from me when our team moved buildings but now I've got another. The photo is poor because I didn't get the lighting correct and it depicts the office before I've moved all my crap into it. I have a lovely view of our parking lot and freeway which Jane spun as an 'urban view'. At any rate I'm not complaining: I like knowing what its like outside and that there is an outside. The day after I found out about my office, I also got two new patent cubes. I didn't have any pictures last time so I took some now and blacked out their text for fear of laywers.
The weekend before last I saw Dark Knight with some friends from work and then we all ate at Z'Tejas after. Like everyone has said and as the name implies Dark Knight is... dark. Dark Knight was a little over the top at times as compared to Batman Begins but I really enjoyed it. Two times during the movie I thought it had ended but I was wrong. The Joker is both frightening (Cringe inducing line "Wanna know how I got these scars?") and humorous ("Where is Harvey Dent? ... You know where Harvey is? You know who he is?", as well as the pencil magic trick). I can certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Batman Begins. The previews included Burn After Reading a new Coen Brother's comedy that I look forward to, and Quantum of Solace which hopefully does the same thing Dark Knight has, keep up the new direction on the refreshed franchise.
This past weekend Sarah and I went to a Mariners baseball game. I think this is the first MLB baseball game I've seen in person. Sarah's company gave out tickets for the game and the use of a suite. Its a room half way up the stadium with comfortable chairs, a mini-fridge built-in to the marble counter-topped center table, and a big flat screen television with the game on it. I suppose that's in case you don't want to turn to the right and sit at the window, or walk out onto the balcony which features three rows of comfy chairs overlooking the field. Anyway there was free food and drinks and I met some of the people Sarah works with.
Saturday we went to Kirkland Uncorked, a wine tasting festival near our home. We took the bus and after finding the correct one (they really should have different numbers for buses that are on the same route but traveling in different directions) made it to the festival. Unfortunately I don't remember any of the names of the wines just which ones I enjoyed by order. Recalling that I enjoyed the first one I had and the second to last one, doesn't really help me find them again. There were local artists who had setup booths and Sarah got a lovely necklace. After that we ate at Cactus which, because it was such a lovely day, had all its windows and doors open.
Sunday was quieter. A few household chores and plenty of GTA4. I almost got the One Man Army achievement but I found that after four minutes with six stars I eventually dropped back down to three stars without realizing it.
I want to once again profess my love for the Wii's Virtual Console. Sarah and I recently finished playing through the first three Zelda games. Although I'd played a bit of the first two I never had a Nintendo as a kid and so unlike Sarah this was my first time completely playing through Zelda I & II. What people say about Zelda II is true... its all so true. And on the flip side I have fond memories of beating the third Zelda game which Sarah hadn't played.
In hilarious Zelda related news, a friend from work's husband posted the following blog post concerning their son named Link.
In my previous home, just after I moved in, my neighbor which was the city of Redmond's various city government buildings, decided to build a parking structure. This was maybe 30 feet from my window, lasted for at least a year and would regularly wake me up at seven or eight in the morning. Determined to not be so punctual for work, I got earplugs which meant in addition to not hearing the construction outside, I couldn't hear my alarm. I had an idea for a combination ear plug, headphone, alarm clock that I never did anything with, except to write down the phrase "earplug / headphone / alarm clock" on a list that I just now found. In retrospect, I think this problem might be too specific to result in my earplug alarm clock selling well.
The weekend before last was Sarah's birthday and as part of that, last weekend we took a trip to Victoria, BC. I've got a map of our trip locations and photos. Not all the photos are on the map but they're all in the trip photo set on Flickr. It turns out there's a lot of tourist intended activities right around our hotel which was in the inner harbor and downtown Victoria area. As such we didn't get a rental car and did a lot of walking.
On the first day we checked out the Royal British Columbia Museum which had some interesting exhibits in it and the Undersea Garden which was interesting in that its like a floating aquarium but was a bit grimy. There was a group of Japanese tourists next to us during the undersea show in which a diver behind the glass in the ocean would pick up and parade various animal life. The group all repeated the word starfish in unison after the show's narrator and one of the tourists was very excited to see the diver bring over the octopus. The diver made the octopus wave to us while it desperately tried to get away.
We flew in and out of the Victoria International Airport which is a smaller sized airport. Although we needed our passports we didn't need to take off our shoes -- what convenience! The US dollar was just a bit worse than the Canadian dollar which was also convenient. The weather was lovely while we were there and I only got slightly sun burned.
Sarah received her Wii Fit a few weeks ago. The Wii Fit is a game for the Wii and a balance board accessory that can tell how you're standing on it: leaning forward, standing on one foot, leaning backward and mostly on your left foot, etc. The game puts you through various exercises grouped into the categories of aerobic, balance, strength, and yoga. It also lets you set goals and keeps track of how well you do, how long you play, and a graph of your weight.
The portion I didn't expect were the mind games. Sarah turned it on after not using it for a day and it said something to the effect of 'Oh, didn't have time to exercise yesterday? Huh. Interesting....' I'm paraphrasing of course but the Wii Fit was definitely trying to lay down some guilt. In another instance when starting up the Wii Fit Sarah was asked 'Did you know that Dave has been using Wii Fit?' She selected yes and it then asked her how she thought I was progressing giving her four options. She selected the worst one, that I was getting worse (jokingly I hope) and it told her to tell me that, but not to use those words. In conversation Sarah should mention to me that I've been "living large". Now I'm not paraphrasing. It reminded me a bit of this xkcd comic 'Zealous Autoconfig'. Hopefully this is the extent of the manipulation and mind games that the Wii Fit will perform.
My GPS was stolen last night or this morning and I'm missing it already. For instance when I drove to Novus glass repair to get my front passenger window replaced I drove down the wrong road for a while.
When I got out of my apartment this morning there was a police car sitting in my parking lot and the officer asked me: "David? ... What'd you leave in your car?". My face must have changed a lot when I had the following sequence of realizations: (a) a police officer is asking for me by name, (b) I'm not in trouble, (c) my car must have been burgled, and (d) my GPS must be stolen.
The officer was waiting outside my complex because someone had reported my car's broken window to the police in the morning. The officer was very courteous and upon taking my date of birth noted that we were born on exactly the same day. The window's safety glass was shattered and lying in tons of tiny pieces all over the passenger seat, my glove box was open and the middle armrest where I keep my CDs was open. Nothing appears to be missing other than the GPS, the GPS power cable, and the GPS dash mount. Adding insult to theft, the their scattered my CDs throughout my car and didn't take any of them, insulting my taste in music.
My car's window should be repaired now and hopefully the rain that came in through the broken window until I covered it with plastic bags (classy!) didn't do any permanent damage.
Sarah and I saw the Kids in the Hall "Live As We'll Ever Be" Tour in the WaMu theater in Seattle this past Thursday. I'd only ever seen their television show so it was cool to see them live. I thought that them being in a live format on stage would make the show significantly different, but other than having a bad seat and not being able to see very well, and the Kids sometimes ad-libbing or breaking character, it was like watching their show. It consisted of mostly new material with some returning characters like the Chicken Lady, Buddy Cole, the head crusher, etc. Their Facebook page has two videos that they played during the show.
I've been using the best Kids in the Hall fansite with an archive of searchable transcripts since high school. But now days what with all the new fangled video websites I can link right to some of my favorite sketches from the show. Like the Inexperienced Cannibal.
And the meta-sketch The Raise.
This past Saturday Sarah and I took the Savor Seattle Tour of various food shops in Pikes Place. Sarah had suggested it at one point and when Jesse and Nicole brought it up again when they came up to Seattle we decided to go. Surprisingly our tour group consisted of mostly locals. Except for the fish market I hadn't been to see any of the places on the tour. I particularly enjoyed the chocolate cherries and the tea. Our tour guide Tim was funny and overall I enjoyed the tour and would recommend it. I've made a map of our tour including what free trials we got at each location. Yum!