Monday morning we woke to the sounds of thunder and rain.  Leki was his usual self, virtually unphased by either one.  Since the weather was bad to go out and have a picnic, I set to finishing off the extra tower that was lying around in the office.

That took up a large chunk of the morning and I finally eliminated a bad CPU and reset all the components (it's a tight fit in that case).

We then headed out to get another monitor, since all of the ones in the apartment were in use and really...CRTs are a smidge heavy and large for my glass desk.

Once we snagged one of those I finished setting up the computer Leki needed a nap - it's exhausting napping in all those new places!

We spent part of the afternoon playing Lord of the Rings Online.  Honestly, that was my main motivator to finish off this computer.  So we played around in Middle Earth with a classic tank/healer combo.

Chris also spent some time with his new tablet and he was able to make some changes to some files he was loading so now they're snappier and the tablet works smoother.  He has some thoughts posted here (complete with audio!).

My friends Kati and John host an annual Memorial Day weekend BBQ at their house on the east side of the state.  So in the morning we grabbed the cheesecakes and headed out!

We got there and true to form, there was plenty of food.  Everything was all set up and the weather was beautiful.  They've got a pretty good size yard for hosting an event like this, complete with a pool for the kids, shade from the willow trees, games, and a fire pit in the back for the evening.

It was a good day and I was able to catch up with several friends I don't see much, living two hours away.  Everyones kids are growing up fast and it fun to watch the new phases they've entered.

In the morning I baked some mini-cheesecakes to take to Kati & John's for their annual Memorial BBQ.

Then I spent a pretty large chunk of the day hanging out in the apartment, playing Lord of the Rings Online and waiting for the mail to arrive. 

It seemed like the wait took forever..and the mail didn't arrive until around 4pm. And then - the Android tablet (Eken M001) arrived, straight from China.  There's a decent mod community forums we've both been reading and it will be exciting to do some of the tweaks and modifications others are having success with.

Now I have to admit - Chris had originally pointed this thing out to me, and ordered it first.  And somehow mine shipped and made it to the states before his even left China.
He got to spend some time playing around with the tablet, loading applications and checking out comic readers that are available. Honestly, he has an easier time reading things it than I do - must be that whole vision impaired thing.

After that we rode our bikes down to Palmer Park and enjoyed some tasty Jimmy Johns. There were more ups and downs than riding straight along on Kent Trails, but that's ok.  The nice sub for dinner and just being out and about makes up for it.

All in all this has been a fantastic Saturday - packed full of all sorts of little awesomeness.

Awhile back I had to rebuild my main computer and as a result I have a few spare parts left over.  Ok, not a few. I had enough to rebuild another machine.  So the other day I tried and determined that it was really likely an issue with the motherboard and/or processor.  Luckily I had a spare processor, but not a spare motherboard. So had to purchase a motherboard and heatsink.

Well they arrived the other day and I set to trying to build the machine.  Everything is slapped into the case, but there are still a few things I need to troubleshoot, since I'm getting no video.

Not a super rush, since it's not a primary machine. I'll likely tinker with it Monday again. 

Later the car got a bath, not administered by me.  Chris is much more diligent (and rightfully so) about keeping up on the maintenance of my new car.  So while we were out yesterday evening we swung into a self-wash station and he washed the car.

So it's Thursday and that means another round at the dentist.  This time I was scheduled to get two fillings taken care of.  One of them was to replace an old one (10 yrs old) and it turns out instead of a filling I need an onlay (partial crown), which means coming back for a 3rd time in two weeks to get the other cavity taken care of it the permanent onlay put on (have a temporary now).

The whole process was a lot faster and less painful than I would have thought.  Well, there was no pain.  Just some soreness and aching when the numbness wore off, which is to be expected.

If this keeps up I might loose my fear of the dentist...eventually. :P

Another evening of Evidence tonight at school. Some times it's hard to hang indoors, knowing it's nice out.

Here's a shot from the 3rd floor of the school building.


So today I was back at the dentist, getting the first of three fillings done.  This one is the easy peasy one, or so I gather from the dentist.  So in about 3 Cranberries songs (they give you a CD player and headphones to listen to while they work) they were all done.  The whole process was about 20 minutes, although now I'm left with a pretty numb right side of my tongue.

I'm not looking forward to Thursday, but I am happy that this process is infinitely less painful (outside of a needle prick) than it used to be as a kid.

When I was younger I fought ever having a shot, which meant simply giving me some gas and going to work.  Most of the time I really didn't feel anything, but there was one particular cavity that was painful (and in retrospect I should have gotten Novocaine).

Of course as luck would have it these last two fillings are to replace two fillings on that relatively painful tooth some ten years ago... Fillings don't last forever, I suppose.

My IP class ended early this Monday evening.  Since I'd been dropped off for class, this meant Chris had to madly dash back out to downtown Grand Rapids to pick me up.

Honestly it was nice hanging out and enjoying the lovely weather out on the benches at Cooley, using my netbook to surf the internet on their wi-fi and just enjoy the daylight.

Kent Trails is literally outside of our apartment, so it's pretty easy to hop on it and take a stroll.  This Sunday was a day free of errands and commitments.  That meant finally busting out the bike and getting some riding in.

Last summer I tried to bike nearly every day after work - which was surprisingly easy in retrospect when you get off of work at 4pm.  Now I don't get home until 6pm on days I don't have class, 9pm on those that I do.

We took the path from 44th to 84th street, which is roughly the same as what I did last July, except in reverse.  This time I didn't have my SLR, just my cell phone for snapping a few pictures, like this one of distant horses.

It was a good ride, despite the heat, and we got some ice cream at the end from McDonald's since the frozen yogurt shop wasn't open until late afternoon.

The day was pretty sunny, which meant lots of sun exposure and that I'm not rocking a moderate sunburn.  It's not the worst I've had, but it's a minor annoyance all the same.

Still, I'm looking forward to biking the trail again soon.

Apparently there is a flea market every Saturday near the old Studio 28 Theatre.  So Chris and I headed down there just to see one (I'd never really been to a flea market). 

There wasn't a whole lot going on, probably due to the weather since it was overcast and rainy looking for much of the day. 

Didn't buy anything, but it was interesting to wander around and see all the wares people were selling. Even saw a whole bunch of VHS tapes.

Friday was a rainy day.  This makes for wet, muddy trips in the park and it's not really good beach or kite weather either.  Not that any of those were really on the agenda (ok, maybe the visiting of a park was).

So Chris showed me the Wyoming public library, which I'd yet to visit.  It was pretty awesome.  Free wi-fi, a cute water sculpture up at the front desk, lots of nooks (like pictured) spread about the library. 

I'm not sure how old it is, but it can't be more than a few years (maybe 5).  Everything looked pretty new.  All in all I was impressed.

I spent most of the work day today on the road.  I had an appointment in Hartland, which is about 2 hours from where my office is. 

It's roughly the same trip I take when going to visit my parents - just a shot down I-96.  I noticed, however, that they've got a stretch of the freeway torn up in the Lansing area which slowed down my trip just bit.

It was a lovely day to be outside of the office though, so I enjoyed the trip in spite of construction.

The downtown Grands Rapids area seemed busier than normal after 5pm. There were some full parking lots and several "special event" signs up. I had to hunt a little harder than normal for a spot and then BAM, ended up parked closer than I usually am.



I'd put off watching Labyrinth the movie in it's entirety for years. I'm not a fan of singing in movies and I'm indifferent to David Bowie, so the idea of him running around singing in a movie that would otherwise be awesome put me off for quite some time.

So at Wealthy Theatre they were playing it last night and Chris and I went.  There wasn't nearly as much singing as I thought there would be, but the movie made up for that with crotch-shots of Bowie in tights.

Outside of that, the movie was good, given what it was and when it was made. I've always liked the puppets (Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock, The Muppets to name a few) and I've always been a fan of fantasy critters, so it's still surprising I'd never watched the movie in one sitting before.

As a bonus, I apparently had an art book by Brian Froud and Terry Jones that was on the characters from the movie (The Goblin Companion) for the past ten years and had no idea. Oops.

Leki liked the book though!

Construction on I-196 forced me to take a different route to class than I had for last semester. It took only an extra 10 minutes or so from the regular route, so not that bad.


There are a lot of parks all around the greater Grand Rapids area, and they vary in size. Palmer Park is a decently sized one. 

So Chris and I walked the boardwalks and a few other spiraling trails in the park before I needed to head out for a late lunch with a former co-worker.

Lunch was tasty and it was great to catch up with a friend.  I managed to walk away with a rather large cache of whitefish, which should make Leki happy.

Since I still had quite a bit of reading to do for class tomorrow night, so I suggested to Chris that we head back out to the park and enjoy the nice weather while it lasted.  We set out with the best of intentions, but it got cold after about an hour or so and finally we packed up and left. 

Shelly & Jonathan were married today.  I worked with Shelly for several years at Sprint Nextel and have kept in touch with her since we both left there last year.

It's been a year of ups and downs for us both.  And today was definitely an "up" day - today Shelly got married.

Despite the rainy weather earlier in the week, today was a beautiful day for the wedding.  It wasn't too hot, it wasn't too cold.  Which is a great thing for an outdoor wedding.

True to form, Shelly put a lot of attention into detail and the decorating was how I would expect it to be - classy.  Shelly has always had a knack for pulling parties together and remembering the small details that tie everything together.

It was nice to catch up with several of the girls I would routinely have girls night with (which has more or less been on hiatus while the wedding has been in the planning stages).  There were a few current and past co-workers were there as well.

Overall it was a lovely wedding on a lovely day.

I have more pictures of the wedding, all taken with my palm pre, here.

I finished up my week with a visit to my primary care physician for a yearly physical.  I'd already visited the dentist earlier this week and managed to walk with two more appointments for fillings, but I thought for sure I'd get away with no additional appointments today. I was wrong.  I've now been referred to a hand specialist for the issues I've had with my wrist for the last two years.  Hopefully it will be a relatively easy problem to fix.  And what I mean by that is anything but surgery.

Later in the day I used the dough I'd made yesterday in the bread machine (refrigerated over night, of course) to make some doughnuts.  I learned quickly that if you want to make jelly doughnuts, you put the jelly filling in after you fry the doughnut, not before. I ended up with a lot of deep fried strawberry jelly. heh.

Here's a shot of me studying for my intellectual property course in the car.  Chris had a late meeting so I opted to study in the car as opposed to drive around or go shopping.

I decided to mess around with the photo in Photo Effects, which is a free photo editor application on the Palm Pre. The Palm doesn't have the most stellar native photo editor so this does the job on some minor things....

The Humble Indie Bundle is a bundle of indie games that run on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.  They are currently up to 6 games available that all come with a donation price you set on the website.They are, as stated, all indie games AND all DRM-free (which is a very awesome).

I've been reading about these for a few days and had previously missed my opportunity to name my price and download World of Goo.  I'd played this game on the Wii was was very, very impressed with this puzzle game.  So when I saw a pack with even more indie games I had to donate and check them out.

Between school and work I haven't had a whole lot of opportunity to check out all the games, but I did make sure to snag versions to play on all the operating systems we run at home (and consequently, I run on the netbook I take everywhere).

I'd really recommend checking out the games on The Humble Indie Bundle website and consider making a donation. You can name your price - pennies or dollars - and they send you the download link (which you can keep for reference and re-downloading of the games if you need to).

You can choose to donate to the developers, Child's Play, or Electronic Frontier Foundation, or some breakdown between them, if you'd like.  I think it's important to support any developers that support DRM-free software.  I'm also a fan of indie ventures.  So this is awesome for two reasons! I really encourage you to check it out and consider making a donation.  It is totally worth it.

Like a lot of people, I'm not a huge fan of going to the dentist. The longer time I have between visits, the more cavities I seem to I headed to my appointment since it's already been a year.

They moved to digital x-rays, which was cool to see. And I managed to get away with only one new cavity (though 2 additional need to be replaced). 

*sigh* my brother got the good teeth...

Starting mid-last week, the apartment complex where I live has been doing some maintenance to the parking lots. They have been closing down whole lots so people have been parking on the streets.

It makes maneuvering around corners interesting.


It's Mother's Day!  And what better way to celebrate your mom than to go and harass her for hours on end?

So Chris and I headed to my parents on the east side of the state to pop in and say "hi!"  We came with chocolates and carnations, two things I know my mom likes.

It was a good visit with my parents, who I don't see a whole lot since they're 150 or so miles away.  My dad cooked some steaks on the grill (as you can see, the grill attempted to engulf some of the siding at first) and we had a tasty late lunch.

Even though the 4 hours of driving there and back gets old, the few hours I get to visit with my parents and harass them makes it completely worth it.

It was awake most of the early morning on Saturday...  Finally around 3am I popped Monty Python's Quest of the Holy Grail (a classic I've seen many times) in an attempt to lull myself to sleep.  It worked, but I work up around 8:30 so most of the day I was more or less a zombie.

In the afternoon we headed over to the mall and caught a movie, then headed back home to work on a few things.  I poked around online in some video games and discovered my main character in Lord of the Rings Online was missing all her gear and money (a glitch or more likely the account was hacked).  *sigh*  Still, Turbine has always been pretty good with turn around time on any questions I've had so I don't really doubt that they'll have it sorted out and items restored in a few days. But with no gear or anything I just created a new character and checked out one of the new classes from their first expansion just to kill some time.

Chris suggested tasty Chinese dinner to cheer me up (being a zombie + main character being naked = sad and sleepy Jennifer).  It worked!  And the evening was pretty great.

Friday was relatively slow at work.  A lot of people had the day off or weren't in the office.  Maybe it was the cold, cloudy weather that made it seem kind of slow.

The most exciting thing, for me anyway, came in the afternoon.  The other day a co-worker had asked me to set up her iPod Nano only for me to point out it wasn't real (which she had purchased years ago off of eBay but never set up).

Of course upon hearing that she immediately ordered a real iPod Nano which came today.  I spent a little part of the afternoon helping her set up her mp3 player and playing around with the pink counterfeit one you see here.

Apparently it plays movies and does voice recording in addition to playing music.  Of course the unit is cheap and the firmware is clunky.

This week is Children's Week in World of Warcraft, which means picking up an orphan in one of the three major cities (or one in each city if you'd like) and taking them around their respective worlds to enjoy all the wonders.  This includes buying them toys, ice cream, and taking them to various spots like the Dark Portal.

I escorted two different orphans around, a Blood Elf (Burning Crusade expansion) and an Oracle (Wrath of the Lich King expansion). They're both pretty cute and the quests are easy and light-hearted so they're enjoyable enough.

This AM traffic was a little random on my way to work..filled with periodic backups with no real reason why (not even blinding sunlight).


Classes have started back up again, which means reading and briefing cases.  So on lunch I decided I'd try doing a little homework at the Cascade Township Park as opposed to in the office, where it is always noisy on lunch and difficult to focus.

Unfortunately it didn't work out too great.  It was really windy and difficult to keep the pages down to read while typing notes on the netbook.  I tried moving to a few different locations until I finally gave up and tried to finish some reading at my desk back at work.

Still, it was nice to be outside even if it was only for twenty-minutes or so...

In the evening, in celebration of Star Wars Day (May fourth --> May the fourth (force) be with you; it's a play on words) Chris helped me prep a photo of the Village of Empire sign and I uploaded it to flickr.  Watch out for those raiders on the dunes, by the way.

A new month and a new semester of class.  I'm now taking classes exclusively on weeknights, so this Monday was my first class for the semester.  And what better way to kick it off with Intellectual Property.  Sure, that might sound boring but really, so far it's fairly interesting. And this course is only 2 credits, so it only runs for two hours as opposed to my Wednesday class that will run 3 (which has been standard for me so far).

When we got up in the morning at the hotel in Traverse City, we saw that it had rained, although not much.  

I'd been up since around 4:30 in the morning and was more or less ready to leave the hotel, so we left by 10 and were off to find breakfast and headed back to the park.  A part of me would have liked to have stayed and visited a few wineries, but knowing we needed to drive back to Grand Rapids and wanting to go back to Sleeping Bear Dunes, it wasn't worth waiting around for a few hours for the tasting rooms to open. 

So we drove back across to the park and hike a trail.  Yesterday we'd more or less just enjoyed the beach and the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive at the park.  So today was a day to enjoy hiking one of the trails.  I picked Platte Plains because I knew Chris liked the look of pine plantations and the trail goes through a part of one.  

We got to see a lot of work that the beavers had done to some trees and even saw some critter resting out and about in the lake.  I'm not 100% sure what it was, but it was still cool. 

There were plenty of critters to see - birds, snakes, butterflies, and more.  And lovely sights to hold.  It was a really peaceful, fun walk. 

The loop we did was more or less 4.5 miles, so since I kept stopping to take photos and the like it took us a few hours.

after that we headed over to Glen Arbor so I could hit up Cherry Republic, a winery, and then we were off back on our way home to assure Leki and Peppy we were still there to give them food and attention. 

For more photos of Sleeping Bear Dunes from the whole weekend, visit the flickr set here

For more photos of Traverse City (Old Mission, and more as well) from the whole weekend, visit the flickr set here

This weekend Chris and I headed up to Sleeping Bear Dunes and Traverse City for a few days.

We hit Sleeping Bear Dunes first rather than driving to Traverse City, getting a hotel, and driving about 30 minutes East to the park.

The weather was fantastic.  70's and sunny!  There was no rain (though even the morning of the weather was saying showers), and hardly anyone at any of the trails.

So we stopped at Sleeping Bear Pointe first to hunt around a bit and enjoy the beach.  I wanted to walk through the ghost forest part of the way through the trail, but honestly I forgot how much I hate walking on those sand dunes...
So we spent some time on the beach, listening to the water crash into the shore and enjoying how quiet it was (though admittedly I fidgeted quite a bit with my phone and camera while Chris drank the nature in).

I made sure to swing by Deering's Market and snag some tasty chocolate milk from Shelter Farms (rich, and like liquid ice cream) as well as some fantastic chocolates from the Grocer's Daughter. Then it was off to Traverse City to secure a hotel room and enjoy the evening.

I've not spent a whole lot of time in Traverse City.  Mostly just driving through it to Old Mission Peninsula or Leelanau Peninsula. So I had no idea that all of the radio stations and mini-shops were pretty much stuck in the 80's.  Maybe it's for the tourists, maybe it's for the locals.  Really, I'm thinking the tourists enjoy the cheesy shops on Front Street.

Old Mission was nice, but by the time were were driving on it the wineries were closed and so I was more or less interested in finally seeing the lighthouse at the park.

After being attacked by bugs we headed back to Traverse City and watched the sunset over the bay near the hotel.

Overall great day, even if downtown Traverse City itself was a little disappointing and the hotel was overpriced and crappy (and it's the off-season!).

For more photos of Sleeping Bear Dunes from the whole weekend, visit the flickr set here.

For more photos of Traverse City (Old Mission, and more as well) from the whole weekend, visit the flickr set here.