I went the entire day without taking a single photo. I thought about taking photos, but when it came down to it I apparently didn't take any.

So instead you get a graphic of Angry Birds Rio! Why? Because in the Android Marketplace the Angry Birds games are free (unlike iOS) and since this is the only game I didn't already own and have progress in (Seasons and the original game I both have on my ipod touch - which works out well for standing in long anime con lines waiting to pick up badges).

So last night I downloaded the game and set to slingshotting birds off to their death to rescue other birds in cages.

No pigs - so kind of sad. But the game is beautiful on the 7" screen.

The last week of March must be the time for birthday's, at least in my department at work. Two people have birthdays this week which meant a tasty funfetti cake AND tasty chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Breakfast and a tasty mid-afternoon snack.

It's the little things.

Walking back from the library today I caught sight of a mouse. Unfortunately my ipod Touch isn't fast enough and has a fixed lens, so there's no clarifying the gray blur partially under the leaf. Still, you know the weather is getting warmer when you see more and more creatures out and about.

Hooray for warmer weather!

Monday nights aren't typically a hyper night for anyone in our place, except maybe Peppy.

While she wasn't named for being hyper or, well, being peppy, she certainly lives up to that aspect of her name. 
She spent the evening zipping around back and forth, elated to have a more interactive cat this time. 

It's not often that Leki will play with her. Usually he's an orange lump that rolls from one side to the other, eyeing her with only passing interest. Not tonight. He chased her, swatted at her, and in general gave Peppy enough interaction to keep her going for quite a while. 

After all the driving and running around yesterday looking at wedding venues, Chris and I decided to take a more leisurly approach to Sunday.

We hung out a bit in the morning and in the afternoon we headed out to Gaslight Village for a quick bite to eat and a short stroll. There's a free-standing Olga's Kitchen so we ate there. Yes, I've been there dozens of times, I know. But every time I think of Northland Center and my little brother insisting on a side of Olga bread.

I've never actually walked through the area, and it's not very big so it's easy to miss. Gaslight Village is a small cluster of shops and - you guessed it - gas lights. It's only a few blocks long on Wealthy Street near Reeds Lake and the local high school and library.

It's a cute little area complete with their own chocolate shop (Mary Ann's Chocolates), which we made a point of visiting.

We did a lot of driving today. A lot. We mapped out all of the Kent County parks that have enclosed shelters and went on a driving trip to a bunch of them that various people have recommended as good wedding reception venues.
It still feels like winter out here. The further north we drove the more ice and snow we encountered. And most parks are still closed to traffic. That meant finding somewhere to park and trekking up and down paths till we found that particular park's enclosed shelter.
Some of the parks had nicer interiors than others, and some overlooked lakes or forests. All of them were nice in their own way but we're not sure if any of them are what we really want to do.

All in all we spent a chunk of the morning and nearly all of the afternoon hitting Johnson Park, Douglas Walker, Long Lake, Wabasis Lake, and Townsend.

All I know is I dont want to spend anymore time with the radio if I can help it. I haven't spent that much time with the radio instead of podcasts/mp3s, and I wont be doing that again if I can help it.

Dinner and drinks with the ladies this evening at 84th Street Pub n Grill.

just sayin'

the temperatures in our apartment has been wonky this winter (we have radiators instead of a forced air system). We started out with no heat, which the maintenance personnel fixed very quickly. A few months later the heat stopped again and they very quickly fixed the heat again.

After that second fix the heat has been insane. The apartment hovered between 75 and 80 degrees. We tried a few different things - turning the heat down, waiting it out and opening the windows - hoping the heat would level out. No luck. And as the temperature outside is rising it's making the temperature in the apartment go up even more.

So Monday we asked the maintenance personnel to take a look. the gentleman came out and graciously fixed the issue.

The temperature went down.

And down.

And when we arrived home tonight the apartment was 63 degrees. Apparently we had no heat - again.

So we called maintenance for a fourth time this winter season. They came out quickly and said they did a quick fix so we would have heat tonight. They also said they were going to have someone check on the boiler tomorrow morning.

The apartment was quickly heating up, which was great - cause it was starting to get chilly.

And it kept getting warmer.

And warmer.

*sigh* At least we have heat now. Here's hoping when they come back out tomorrow they're able to permanently fix whatever was wrong with the boiler.

The maintenance team at the apartment complex is super fast  with response time though.

Mouse Guard and The Mice Templar have been on my to-read list for like a year. Since I have been spending almost every lunch at the library in the winter, I'm not sure why I didn't think to look for these books there sooner.

The Grand Rapids Public Library had the first series available so I read a little bit of it on lunch and checked it out to finish it up later. So far I like it!

Unfortunately the library does not have The Mice Templar so I'll have to poke around and see if I can find it elsewhere, or just pick up issue one to try it out. 

We arrived back from Chicago yesterday evening and almost immediately went to bed. Getting up this morning was hard - mostly because we both woke up before 7am. Good thing we both had the day off.

I laid around a big chunk of the morning (and evening) reading comics. I read a few comics (X-Men only, really) as a kid but mostly spent my time playing video games and reading books. There's a lot of good stuff out there, I just didn't know about it. Thanks to Chris I do. Fables is an awesome series he introduced me to last year. Completely up my alley. So I decided to play with the ComiXology app a bit on the android tablet and see what free samples and first issues were available. So far I've been reading Y The Last Man.
In the afternoon we took a stroll down Kent Trails. The water is high and flowing fast. Murky looking and probably chilly as well. Still, it's great the weather is getting warmer. That means green is going to start popping up everywhere soon.

Chris has a pretty nice wrap-up post of the weekend (including con and aquarium photos) with a nice quick video I embedded below.

On our way back to the hotel from breakfast it started to rain. It continued to rain and rain. So Chris and I decided on indoor instead of outdoor activities for our second day in Chicago.

Apparently so did everyone else.

We arrived at Shedd Aquarium in the morning and there was already a lengthy line clear out of the building, down the stairs, and into the open rain.

We waited an hour to get in.

Because it took so long to get in, one of the shows we were going to see started soon, which meant walking over and standing in another line. We were advised to get in line early, so we attempted to do that (fifteen minutes before the show instead of ten). We were ejected from the line for showing up too early. We waited, we came back, and the line was much longer after the five or so minutes we had been gone. The sheer volume of people and the poor management of crowds and lines made the first several hours of the day frustrating.

We watched one of the 4-D experience videos. It was similar to the Disney simulations at Disneyworld where they add lights, wind, etc to the video you're watching. Only difference was this one was in 3-D and was a condensed BBC program.
We then went off to check out a few exhibits and eat some lunch. Once refueled, we went and stood in another line (this time much shorter) for their other show with dolphins and whales. I dont remember much of Sea World as a kid, but I imagine this demonstration was more educational than Sea World, although I was disappointed that they never actually used the proper names for the training techniques (like conditioned response). Instead they just continued to describe the process over and over. Maybe most people don't know what it's called?

The entire aquarium is large. Much larger than I thought it would be. And the setup is interesting. Because we had set times we needed to be somewhere, we didn't go through the traditional circle it looks like you're supposed to. I'm sure the entire experience flows much nicer if you do go through it that way.

They do have a few things I wasn't expecting at an aquarium, like tarantulas, a monkey, iguanas, and cockroaches. But honestly, they were nice additions to the exhibits they were in. I really probably would have enjoyed this place as a little kid. As an adult it's still fun, but I get far more stressed out in large crowds as an adult that I did as a child.

Shedd Aquarium is a nice aquarium. Very expensive, but nice. Next time we are in the area I hope to hit the Field Museum right next to it.

In the evening we wandered around downtown Chicago until we stumbled across Beef 'n' Brandy, a nice little diner with tasty food. After dinner we walked up to Graham Crackers Comics and headed over to Millennium Park. Chris wanted to see a few things we missed last year over there and I wanted to take more photos. I was on the hunt for Lord of the Rings Online look-alike areas. It's really hard to find stuff like that in urban areas. I'm not really sure why I look. I think its just a game I play with myself.
Anyway, we walked along through the park a bit and back down Michigan Avenue toward our hotel. I spent most of the time wandering off and ignoring Chris snapping photos of random things and messing with settings on my camera because of the fading light. I tend to wander off a lot when I have a mission, like hunting for cool stuff to photograph.
There's a lot of nice areas all over the place, and the parks looks a lot different than it did April of last year. What a difference spring makes in terms of color and wildlife.
We passed a lot of nice spots, including the Art Institute, which we should probably see sometime.

The light was fading, and it was starting to get cold, so I started to pick up the pace a little bit trying to get back to the hotel and make one last attempt at getting a shot of a statue I'd caught a glimpse of earlier in the day during the shuttle ride to McCormick Center. 
We finally arrived and I was lucky enough to find the area mostly clear. Earlier when I had wanted to take photos there were a lot of people around - I'm sure this statue gets a lot of traffic.

So I took a few shots, was disappointed that the buildings marred the background, and wandered up to see what this thing was anyway. I was hoping for a decent vantage point from above but it was getting dark.

Chris sat down at the statute (which is of John Logan, apparently) and listened to me ramble on about random stuff. Finally he sat me down while I talked about the detail on the statue. I'm not really sure what happened next. I thought he was moving to get closer and keep me warm cause it was cold and all of a sudden he's on his knee. 

And then there is a box. With a ring. And a yes. 

This is the second year for C2E2. Last year there was a batmobile, lots of Iron Man, and more comics than you can shake a stick at. This year it felt like it was all about Green Lantern. Maybe I'm just picking up more Green Lantern than normal because of Chris, but I think it was big this year in preparation for the movie later this year. I realize there is going to be a Thor movie and Captain America as well this year, but I feel like there was far less in terms of attendees wearing Thor gear. Quite a few Captain America shields though. Still a ton of comics at the show - it wouldn't be a comic convention otherwise.
We only went to one panel that ComiXology was hosting. After that I downloaded their app. Chris has used it several times but still hadn't tried it. It's nice. The guided view is an interesting experience.
I had several other things I wanted to do but we didn't arrive early enough for me to be able to see the costume contest (being 5'2" works against you sometimes) and the comedy was ok but I thought I was going to be stand-up which it was not.
There were plenty of interesting costumes everywhere. I saw more this time than I did last year, but honestly I think I was looking harder this year.
We got to see Comfort and Adam, creators of The Uniques and Rainbow in the Dark. Their booth was pretty busy most of the times we walked by - which is awesome.

I miss them. We are seriously going to have to try to get together with them soon.
I also got to meet Brian Glass who is a friend of Comfort and Adam's and someone Chris chats with on Twitter as well. He's the writer of The Mice Templar (which has been on my to-read list for awhile now. I'm embarrassed to say I still haven't read them!). Nice guy!

Anyway, here's a slideshow of the shots from the convention.

Today mark's the 2-year anniversary of this blog. Thats a lot of daily photo posts of mostly mundane things!

In between the cat photos and random shots of food, a couple of big things did happen over the last year. I started a new job, I started contributing photo posts regularly to A Casual Stroll to Mordor, a LOTRO fansite (though I never officially announced this on the blog I've mentioned it a few times), I stopped going to school as well. That decision was difficult, but ultimately given the job prospects in comparison to tuition costs as well as time commitment, it just didn't make sense at this time.

This past year has been a good one. Chris and I have had a lot of fun times together, from going out to staying in and hacking gadgets together.

And that brings us to today. One day before a weekend in Chicago with Chris for C2E2 fun and excitement. As you can see, even Leki is excited.

I work in downtown Grand Rapids near a small cluster of Irish (as well as non-Irish) bars. The bars plus warm weather on St Patrick's Day meant the area around me was full of brightly clad people hopping from location to location.

I saw plenty of hats, necklaces, plastic shamrocks, and even a woman in a green tutu (green ballerina?). It was an amusing walk on lunch.

I spent the evening tweaking a second android tablet. Yes. A second. Why? Because I have a problem.

Impressed with Chris's tablet, I ordered a Coby Kyros 7015 myself and it arrived last night. The first thing I did was root, backup, and put the marketplace on it. That was an easy enough.
Next was the debate between loading Froyo via CyaynogenMod (the tablet ships with Eclair, 2.1) or a custom rom. After reading the discussions back and forth on the forums, I opted to load the custom rom instead of Froyo. I'd like Froyo, but since the headphone jack doesn't work that's kind of a problem (since I want to stream anime on this device).

I initially loaded Watery Rom 1.2b, but I ran into the problems several people seemed to be having with the device locking up randomly (despite clearing cache, etc with ClockworkMod). Finally I threw in the towel and loaded Watery 1.2a. A few things aren't supposed to work properly (gallery, music), but I have an ipod touch for music and I don't know that I care too much about a gallery on the tablet either. Plus I honestly haven't verified that these have issues, so who knows...
Once I loaded Watery Rom 1.2a onto the device all my problems seemed to go away. No more freezing. The only minor issue I have is the stock browser needs to be reinstalled on reboot. Since I'm using Skyfire instead of stock browser, it's not a big deal.

I did load FlashLite 9 on the device as well, but didn't have a chance to really test it out. Chris navigated to a few sites and was disappointed that it didn't default to flash. It sounds like you have to do some surfing and what not before flash seems to work properly. "whatismyflash" does correctly identify version 9 in the stock browser (I haven't had a chance to test skyfire yet, but I did confirm Opera doesn't appear to be running it).
So I still have a few things on my plate I'd like to get taken care of before stopping tinkering for a bit.
  • permanently kill voice search - I dont use this or want it but it loads when applications launch by default
  • overclock the device - it sounds like overclocking might address some speed issues and make this even snappier (mostly just waking issues)
  • Crunchyroll - youtube streams beautifully but the crunchyroll application is horrendeous. I'll have to see if its the app or a setting elsewhere on the tablet. 
  • snappier than 1.6 (cupcake) tablet. Not as fast as the iPod touch, but pretty good.
  • access to Android marketplace
  • Android has a good hacking/modifying community
  • 7" form factor makes it more portable (I prefer this over 10")
  • came with plenty of accessories (built in stylus, hard-cover case, two USB cords)
  • Eclair is a phone OS, so some things are optimized for a phone (default orientation is landscape, not portrait, there is a phone app) like Honeycomb would be
  • Resistive screen; it doesn't always register my finger so sometimes I need to use the sylus around the corners.
  • thicker/heavier than more recent tablets. The size isn't off-putting to me, but I think it would be to a lot of people.
And for your reference, here are the tablet specs can be found here.

With the time change last weekend I'm now up and on my way to work early enough to see sunrises like this, which is nice. With that and a cheap (99 cent) tasty coffee from Biggby, what could go wrong?

It was a quiet Monday until this little green plushie made it's way into our apartment (thanks Chris!). Unlike the bird, this little piggie makes noise when you squeeze it.
In related news, these are not edible (but certainly look like they are)

There's a scenic drive you can take at Johnson Park near where we live. It's been awhile since we've been over by it, so Chris suggested going out and walking the trail since it would be closed to cars.
We walked a little bit of it, but I wasn't really in the mood and was getting frustrated with how overcast it was. I tried to take photos and everything just looked blah.
We walked over to the Grand River and watched it for a little bit. Several different things floated by, including a fallen tree at one point.
As you can see, it was a chilly day out. At one point flurries started up. I keep hearing that it's supposed to get warmer next week. We'll see. Last week it was supposed to be in the low-40's and that didn't really turn out.

We left after a bit and headed out to run some errands and see the cheap movie of the week, I Am Number Four. Chris has a pretty good write up of how we both felt about the movie.

It's been awhile since we've been to Palmer Park, so Chris and I headed over there this afternoon since a large portion of the snow has melted. The park entrance was closed, so we drove around to another entrance and walked up next to the golf course. Oddly enough, there was still a decorated tree on the green of the golf course.

We noticed immediately when we got into the park that the boardwalk was missing. The sign was spray painted and the path the boardwalk wound through torn up. It was a little sad, since that is our favorite part of the whole park.
So we decided to wander around the other parts of Palmer Park. There's a road clear of any snow, so we walked that through part of the park. There's still a lot of snow on the ground in some parts, some areas deeper than others.
When we got closer to the main picnic and play area of Palmer Park we stumbled across what looks like a replacement boardwalk. The old one had charm, but was loose, uneven, and rotting in some areas. so I guess it wouldn't be that surprising if they replace the whole thing.

The spring and summer will be interesting as the boardwalk replacement is underway..if that is what those planks are.

It was an early night for me. I came home and just didn't really feel like doing much besides reading. So I settled in on the bed to do some reading. Chris came over and read some RSS articles on this tablet (which has a pretty amazing battery life too, 4 to 5 hours easy which is leaps and bounds over his other tablet).
Even Leki came by after a bit. He usually has to have his people within sight, so no surprise he'd migrate from the hallway to the bed after a bit.

I fell asleep pretty early on.

This evening Chris's new Android tablet (the previous one falling prey to a cracked screen, rendering the touch ability on 1/2 half useless) arrived. 

We hung out on the couch together and set to rooting and loading the Android Marketplace on it. Thanks to Android forums on the internet, there are plenty of people who have gone before so there were a lot of resources. All in all it took about an hour, which was mostly just waiting on the Android SDK to download updates. 

But now the little tablet running 2.1 (Eclair) has the marketplace and hums along at a decent speed. Much faster than the previous tablet Chris had. They're both resistive screens, but since capacitive screens are a good $150-$200 more for similar specs, it hardly seems worth the price. It's not THAT much different for most things.