I always thought a small, red brick house coated in a sea of ivy would be awesome. Since I'm relatively sure I wouldn't be able to coat an entire house in this stuff, I'll have to settle for an awesome parking garage downtown.

Over the weekend Chris pointed out something called Arduino to me.

I'd seen the little board powering various things on the internet, but I didn't know it was Arduino and I didn't really know what that was.

So what is Arduino? It's a little open-source microcontroller board that you can plug into your computer, send a program to it, and make it do things.

You can save your houseplant from dying of thirst, or sew it into some clothing and let people know which way you're headed. Heck, you can even talk to an Android phone with it. Basically, it can do amazing things.
For just under $22 for a Uno R3, the standard board, I was convinced. I was going to order one.

So the Arduino came today, packaged in an adorable little box roughly the size of playing cards. The packaging is pretty nice and it even comes with some stickers. The whole experience is very reminiscent of unboxing Apple products. Lucky for me, this thing is no where near the price of an Apple device.
You have the option of powering the board via usb or a wall outlet connection (which I don't own yet). I plugged the little thing into my computer, verified it was working, and got to practicing a few tutorials.

There are a ton of tutorials on the Ardruino site, including making a light blink (this is essentially the Hello World program for Arduino), using a push button, and more.

As an added bonus, the Arduino takes advantage of C (and C++). I took some C in college and I liked it a lot more than my Java class.

Do I remember any C?

No. Not really. But having taken a few programming classes does mean I understand the structure of a program faster than when I walked into programming cold, years ago in college.

I wonder if I can knit a LilyPad Arduino into a stuffed Dalek. Hmm....

A little visitor stopped by while I was outside on the deck.

In the morning it was already over 70 degrees outside, but that didn't stop me from enjoying a breakfast pita pizza and reading on the deck.
In the afternoon we took a walk over to Palmer Park and walked the various trails there. While I do enjoy the pine trees, my favorite bit is still the boardwalk.
We got home and I wanted to finally try my hand at the pinata cookies I stumbled across earlier this month, but quickly talked myself out of them again. They take 4 hours to chill in the fridge and honestly, I'm a little nervous about trying them.

Soon though!

Instead I started a new batch of home-made vanilla extract.
I grilled a few things for dinner and then assembled one of the most awesome LEGO sets ever. Gandalf arriving in the Shire.

I don't need all the sets. Honestly, once I get the Shelob set, I'll be satisfied. Unless, of course, they come out with some more awesome sets.

And you know they will.

We headed out to an early showing of Men In Black 3. Since the local (and only) Star Theatre does cheap showings Sunday mornings, we figured this was an excellent opportunity. As you can see, it is usually pretty empty Sunday mornings. 

The movie was fine, and not all that different than the others. 

After that we came home and I spent the rest of the day feeling progressively worse from a headache. I laid in bed all afternoon and probably "watched" (or rather listened to) 6 hours stuff on Netflix. Chris cooked a very tasty dinner and I ate a gazillion mini-cornbread muffins. And I'm not really a fan of cornbread. After that I started to feel better and I ended up stayed up way too late. 

Hooray for the day ending on a positive note. 

It is supposed to rain much of the day, off and on. That means not a whole lot of outdoor activities and a whole lot of indoor ones.

There have been a few things lying around that need to be done and today is the day to do them. 

And all of them will be awesome nerdy fun.

First on the agenda was installing the new Nest thermostat. It's a wifi-enabled thermostat lets you control it remotely with Android or iOS apps, and connects to the internet and pulls the weather.

It's an interesting device.
Next on the agenda was loading a better ROM on my Android phone. I received a lot of recommendations for cyanogenmod and it's definitely one I'm going to check out eventually, but I'm not quite ready to give up the HTC sense on my phone so I went with a ROM specific to my EvoShift - MikShifted-G

Flashing a ROM on an Android phone is really easy these days thanks to such a supportive community. The whole thing took maybe half an hour from start (backing up current data) to finish (restoring some backed up app data).
Speaking of awesome communities, you know what also has a fantastic one? iOS. The latest jailbreak, Absinthe 2.0, was the smoothest jailbreak yet. Even easier and smoother than the first greenpois0n jailbreak  I did awhile back on my ipod - and that was pretty easy.
After messing around with some driver and SLI settings on my computer I was able to spend some quality time with the cat while I did some reading on the Arduino. As you can see, I make an excellent lounging extension.

All in all, it was a great day filled with small nerdy projects.

Tomorrow will be filled with my arguing with my PC as I upgrade it to Windows 7.


This has been a good Friday. I met my pita partner Lori for one last pita before they close their downtown location on Monday.

The work day was shortened by a few hours.

I had drinks and some tasty food with co-workers.

And took an awesome walk in the nearby park with Chris.

I'd say that's a good way to end a week and kick off a long weekend.

I like to build my own computers. It's kind of nice because I know what is in my machine currently and what I can do to upgrade it in the future if I want. Plus I get to work with a clean OS install (no pre-loaded HP/Dell/eMachine etc crap). Not that you cant take a pre-built machine and reload the OS. But I digress...

One thing I've been itching to do for awhile is have an SLI setup (scalable link interface - aka linking two video cards together). I purchased a motherboad that supported SLI intentionally when I built the machine a little over two years ago and finally (FINALLY) I'm slapping another card in there.

So why would you use SLI? Well for me it's gaming. I can run a fair number of games at max settings, but two video cards - the load shared between them? Yeah, this is going to be awesome. Plus NVIDIA even has some pre-loaded SLI gaming configurations - if you're so inclined to use them.

So anyway, what you see in the photo is the primary (top) and secondary (bottom) card linked together with an SLI bridge. The bridge allows the two cards to communicate directly with each other.

I'm also excited because this means I could easily have a four monitor setup (not that there aren't other was around that, like Chris uses). I did grab a 3rd monitor and tried to hook it up, but I noticed that a certain orange monster destroyed part of the cable...

Chris and I headed out to the downtown BW3 to one of his co-worker's farewell party. I always enjoy seeing his co-workers. They're funny, friendly, and treat you like one of their own, so it's always a pleasant experience seeing the group. They remind me a little like the old Sprint group I used to go out with when I worked there (and even for awhile after I didn't).
We didn't stay for very long, however, since we still had more work to be done in the apartment. Not much, but enough to suck up the remaining hours in the evening.

I spent several hours vacuuming the various rooms. I evenly finally put an end to a plague of small white syrofoam balls that had been plaguing us for months and months. Every time we thought we'd cleaned up the last of them, we'd unearth something in the Tardis-like closet and BAM, there'd be a fresh batch ready to static cling to whatever got near them.

But we're done. Done. DONE. This has been the longest move I've ever done in my life - using up the nearly two months between getting the house and our lease being up.

Now begins the slow unpacking an integration of all the various boxes clogging seemingly every available space.

When we do finally separate things into "keep" and "sell" piles, we're going to have one hell of a garage sale.

I came in to find this delicious-looking slab of maple walnut fudge on my desk.

I was instantly hungry and confused - who leaves fudge unwrapped on someone's desk?

I peered closer and realized it was not delicious maple walnut fudge, but a thick chunk of home-made soap, flecks of oatmeal floating in it.

Home-made soap is still awesome.

I now have two co-workers who make the own soap. That's kinda awesome.
Because my brain was primed with the idea of indulging in sugary treats all morning, I decided to indulge and have a delicious pita for lunch. Not sweet, but I would say that the pita is equally indulgent in another way.

Anyway, when I arrived the above sign was posted to the door. It's difficult to see because of the glare (I should have stood in front of the sign) but the gist of it is that they are closing on May 28th. That's MONDAY!

I immediately snapped a photo and sent it to Lori, my pita partner, to let her know they were leaving. Our plan of still having the occasional pita downtown is crushed. We'll have to meet up on the random weekend to eat at one of their other locations.


Ok, I'm super late to this party. On Free Comic Book Day this year we were kind of busy. We tried to hit some comic book stores in Lansing while we were in town to see Avengers with Adam and Comfort, but the ones listed online were closed and the ones a little further out were closed.

Anyway, I found a place in Chicago that had the free comics for "sale" on their website (for free!) and would ship to you. So I ordered The Guild, Serenity, and most importantly, the Archaia book featuring Mouse Guard. It's a hard cover!

So the books arrived today. I'm excited to read them - right after we finish up at the apartment tonight.

It's Sunday, day two of our attempt to get everything out of the apartment this weekend. The weather never really cooled off from yesterday, so while I was reading on the deck at 7am it was nearly 70.
We did a few van loads and car loads, including moving the last of the heavy furniture that we were keeping. And by furniture I mean more book cases.
By 1pm it was too hot and too much for me. Wearing the wrist splints doesn't really help either, since it's like wearing fingerless gloves half way up your forearm. So we stopped around 1pm when it was about 85 degrees and decided to get some shopping in.

We picked up a ladder and a few other things for the house. Now we can climb things!

Unfortunately we didn't get everything out of the apartment, but almost everything. Now we just have a few car loads and a ton of cleaning to do.

The first thing I did today? Picked up doughnuts. Why? Because we are going to need fuel.

While we did a ton of moving on Monday, there are still some things left in the apartment. Mostly there are boxes that have been stored in the depths of a closet I've never seen the interior of. You know what was in there?

A dot matrix printer.

Paper for said dot matrix printer.

A a few other relics from the 80s and 90s.

It was actually kind of awesome seeing the printer. It made me think of the crazy greeting cards and other things we kids used to print out on my parent's Apple II/Apple IIe. I think we used The Print Shop.
Anyway, we moved a bunch of stuff, tossed some stuff, and sweat a lot in the 80 degree heat.

In the evening I grilled some tasty burgers and sausages, which made the whole day worth it.

Now to start in on unboxing and resting for more moving tomorrow! We're so close to being done I can almost taste it.

Normally I have lunch on Fridays at The Pita House (the have a location on Monroe that is not listed on their website) with Lori. But alas, Lori took an awesome new job that is no longer downtown, so it will be harder to do our weekly meetup for pitas.
Chris was kind enough to pick me up for lunch and we went to Brick Road Pizza. So today, instead of a pita partner, I had a pizza partner.

Not a very good photo, but there was a guy wandering around Rosa Parks Circle in a popcorn kernel suit. I assume he was promoting a theater chain.

Blue skies and clear weather. Couple that with nearby parks and paths and today was awesome.

Slowly the days are growing longer, brighter, and greener.

We both enjoy reading, albeit slightly different material. That means each of us has a collection of books. While we've switched to ebooks in the last few years, that certainly doesn't address the existing collection.

So since we both had the day off today we decided it was time to move them. The house is clean and organized, so what better time to toss some extra stuff into the mix and mess it up again.
We rented a van and started moving a little before 8am. I just carried out odds and ends that were light and loaded up the car while Chris did all the heavy lifting with my 8 boxes of books and his 18! And that is not including any longboxes or shortboxes (roughly 1/2 the size of a longbox) of comics.
I ran two carloads while Chris did two vanloads (packed). So the majority of the things are now out of the apartment, and that's a fantastic thing.
Today is also a Guild Wars 2 beta stress test. Since it's only for part of the day, I spent a chunk of the afternoon playing in the stress test while Chris loaded up the van for the second trip.

The game is beautiful, no doubt about it. And kudos to the weather effects, complete with lightning strikes. I mean, look at that screenshot.

I created a new character and I have to say, the Human elementalist outfit is rather skimpy. I'm used to female characters bouncing around in barely anything but standing in the middle of the rainstorm like that just struck me as very odd. The Charr ranger and Norn Engineer I created during the last beta event were much more reasonably dressed.
The game has already crashed several times and lags considerably if I have the graphic rendering up too high, but that is to be expected from a beta. I'm enjoying bouncing around, checking out the game, and providing feedback on quests and bugs.

And honestly, the outfit in this setting doesn't bother me nearly as much. But would I rather the character be outfitted like those on Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor? Yes. Absolutely.

It's Mother's Day and it's the first time we're having my parents over and showing off the house we bought in March. so that means (especially due to my laziness yesterday) lots of preparation before the show up.

Chris assembled the grill yesterday so I got to skewering marinated meats and veggies to cook for today's get together.
Chris gave everyone a tour and then we hung out on the deck while I played with the new grill. I really missed having a grill. I'm going to enjoy cooking this summer.

Let it be known that the Yummy Honey Chicken Kebab recipe was indeed a tasty success. I should have made more of them so I could enjoy tons of delicious leftovers. 
We wandered through Oriole Park and Palmer Park then headed back for some fruit salsa and brownies.

It was a lovely day and you couldn't have asked for better weather.

Chris put the grill together today in between the little rain storms. The only thing that did come pre-assembled was the company logo bolted to the grill top....

I didn't take a photo earlier today, but my pita partner Lori and I had our last pita lunch for awhile. She's gotten an awesome new job that isn't downtown so it won't be as easy to have our weekly pita. We will try, and we will definitely find new places between her new work and my job downtown to have tasty meet-ups.

Friday night I met an old co-worker Shelly, her friend Tammy, and some of Tammy's friends for dinner and drinks at the Beltline Bar.

It was nice to have lunch and dinner with friends at two tasty restaurants.

The best viewing area in all of the house, apparently, is across the back of the couch facing the street.

We get a lot of squirrels out there...

I'm pretty sure this is the first time in at least 6 months that we've returned bottles. Since I drink almost no pop and Chris drinks it rather infrequently it takes awhile to build up a cache to take back to the store.

As a little kid I used to think it was fun to play with these machines.

Little kids have weird ideas.

I'm really enjoying the nice weather and having a deck. Who doesn't love to read in the sun?

Plus this book is really fantastic (Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss)

Assembled mini-pizzas at my desk for lunch. The convenience is great but the taste...? Lets just say little kid me liked things much sweeter than adult me does.

There are still a gazillion bookshelves in the apartment that need to be moved and with just the one car, we definitely had to rent a truck to get them to the new house.

We managed to fill a 14' truck with just bookshelves on one load and still didn't have them all in there.

We have a lot of bookshelves...
As the afternoon wore on it started to rain. Lucky for us it wasn't too heavy, but it did make some things slippery. A small thunderstorm rolled through but nothing terribly exciting happened, which I suppose it just as well when you're carting awkward bookcases and other things down three flights of stairs.

 My knee doesn't hurt so I decided to give running another try. I decided it might be best to do the Couch to 5K routine, which is one less work day and might be a little easier on me.
In the afternoon we had an appointment to see an awesome movie (The Avengers) with awesome people (The Uniques).

The move was very good and company was excellent. Plus we popped into Sushi Blue (which appears to be an old Taco Bell building) for a tasty after-movie dinner.

All in all an excellent Saturday!