Archive for the ‘General’ Category

PDX Trip Summary

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Day 1: Tuesday, February 17th

The trip started off with a sleepless night. My flight was scheduled to leave out of Norfolk at 6am. Being the procrastinator that I am, I finished up some laundry around 3am, finished packing around 4am, then headed off to the airport. The flight out west was uneventful, and I got there on time and without incident.

I caught a cab to the girls’ house shortly before noon. Brooke was at work and Suzanne was still in Michigan for a few more days. But their other roommate, Lori, was there to greet me and let me in. It didn’t take long for me to find the couch and crash. I got a few good hours of nap time in before evening rolled around.

Brooke, Lori, and I went out to dinner and one of the first things I noticed was that the restaurant/bar didn’t have Miller Lite (something I would get used to for the remainder of the trip). So I ordered up a PBR (something else I would get used to). Afterwards, we went back to the house, hung out for a bit, and went to sleep. I kept trying to tell myself that I wasn’t tired, but I was out before I knew it.

Day 2: Wednesday, February 18th

I woke up at 5am. I got up and went to the bathroom, crawled back into bed, and tried to go back to sleep. But it was no use. I was wide awake. I laid there with my headphones on for a good two hours just looking at the ceiling. I finally got out of bed around 7am and headed downstairs. I laid on the couch watching tv for a while, dozing in and out. I could hear Brooke’s alarm going off in the distance. After she left for work, I finally mustered up the energy to hop in the shower.

I decided to go for a walk. So I put my headphones on and made my way down the street. I came across a nice little park and it was definitely good weather for a stroll, but I was more in the mood for coffee. So I kept walking and found a quaint little coffee shop just another block away. I sat and read the newspaper for a while and after a couple cups and one huge cookie, I left and went back to the house.

In the afternoon, Lori and I headed downtown to check out Powell’s Bookstore. I’d never heard of the place, but I quickly discovered its awesomeness. Covering an entire city block and four stories high, they had just about every book I could think to look for. They sell new and used, and will also buy your old books. I ended up getting three Irvine Welsh books for the price of one new one. Can’t beat that. From there, we grabbed a late lunch and headed back across the river.

By now, it was evening and time to go drinking. We walked down the street to a place called O’Malleys. It was a typical dive bar, which I am totally a fan of—no crowds, no loud crappy music. Plus, they had free pool. After a few games and a pitcher of PBR, we split.

As we were walking, I was amazed at the number of dive bars on that street alone. I thought I was in heaven. We ended up at a place called Devil’s Point, which isn’t a dive bar so much as it is a strip club. I’ll spare the details, but you can definitely call me a fan of that place. Brooke showed up later that night and I hitched a ride home with her. We got back to the house, hung out for a bit, and called it quits for the day.

Day 3: Thursday, February 19th

I was relieved to wake up and see that the sun was actually out. This meant that I slept through the night. I looked at the clock and it was 8:30am. I got up, took a shower, and decided to go for another walk. I headed back down to the coffee shop. From there, I took the long way back to the house and walked a little more. I spent the majority of the day lying on the couch, watching tv, and napping. It was nice.

When Brooke got home from work, the two of us went out to grab some dinner. We went to this mexican place and I can’t really describe it other than it was bright. Gotta love mexican decor. Oh, and the food was excellent.

When we got back to the house, we ended up playing Wii bowling for hours. I’ve never tried a Wii before, but I was instantly hooked. I was doing pretty well for the most part, but after a gazillion games, I think I actually started to get physically tired. That’s pathetic.

Suzanne was flying back from Michigan that night and I offered to go pick her up. So I hopped in her car and went to the airport around 11pm. The place was a madhouse, but I eventually found her and we made it back. We sat up for a while just shooting the shit and eventually called it a night around 2am.

Day 4: Friday, February 20th

I didn’t really sleep. I’d call it more of a nap. My phone rang right on time at about 5:30am. It was Clint and his flight had just landed. I slipped my shoes on, got into Brooke’s car, and headed back to the airport. Thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as crowded.

When we got back to the house, I was already wide awake. So we just sat around talking and catching up. Not long after, Suzanne came down the stairs and the three of us just hung out for a while. We went and ate breakfast at some hippie joint down the road.

We sat around the house for a while waiting for the rest of the guys to roll into town. Bru and Eric showed up at the house around 1 or 2pm. We all went to grab some lunch before heading off the the hotel to check in.

When we got to the hotel, we were very pleased. Clint had done a good job of picking it out. The location was good and the rooms were really nice. We all just laid around for a while trying to sneak in a nap. Then it was off to the airport to pick up Jason.

When we all finally rounded up, we hit the streets in search of food and drink. I stopped at an ATM machine first only to discover that my debit card was missing! After searching my pockets to no avail, I gave it a little more thought. I called the restaurant where we had lunch and sure enough, I left it there. Whew!

After an overly filling dinner, we headed to a place called Life Of Riley. It was a great little bar with a basement area, filled with tables, pool tables, shuffleboard, and Golden Tee. We pretty much drank and played Golden Tee the entire night. Bru and Clint wussed out after a while and went back to the hotel because they both had “tummy aches.” They both earned nicknames as a result, which I won’t mention due to an over sense of vulgarity. Anyway, Jason, Eric, and I stuck around until closing just drinking and playing more Golden Tee. Every place in Portland also has these video slot machines which are run by the state lottery. I put a dollar in and selected the penny slot game and wouldn’t you know it, my dollar turned into 18 dollars. I printed out the ticket voucher and it was as good as cash at the bar, so we had one last round before heading out.

We walked back to the hotel and pretty much found it by chance. Bru and Clint were already in bed, so us three drunken fools just had to wake them up. I hopped into Bru’s bed and tried to kick him off, but he grabbed me by the ankles and yanked me right off the bed. I fell about two feet straight to the ground and landed square on my tailbone. Ouch.

I went downstairs for one last smoke, and for some reason I just started walking. By the time I was done, I realized that I had no idea where I was. So I started walking some more trying to retrace my steps, but I just got more lost. I eventually made it back though.

As I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed, I was taking my contacts out and one of them fell right down the drain. That sucked. I had already lost a pair at the girls’ house and was using a spare set that I had brought with me. Now I was down to wearing my twelve-year-old pair of glasses.

Now, the bathroom was situated right by the door to the room, and for some reason I walked out of the bathroom and just decided to go to sleep right there on the floor.

Day 5: Saturday, February 21st

We woke up the next morning, got our showers, and headed out for some breakfast. Afterwards, we all hopped in the soccer mom mobile and headed up to Mt. Hood. I won’t deny the beauty of the mountains, the trees, and all the snow, but I’m not really into snowboarding or skiing. Maybe some day, though.

So the rest of the guys did their thing. I wandered around the lodge trying to find a bar. I eventually did, so I sat down, ordered up some drinks, and put my headphones on. After about an hour or so, I was feeling pretty tired and intoxicated. So I went back to the van and took a nap. It was bright as day when I fell asleep, then Clint comes knocking and rocking the van back and forth (which scared the crap out of me) and when I finally came to, it was pitch black dark outside. I looked at the clock and I’d been asleep for at least two hours.

We made our way back to the city around 8pm and got back to the hotel shortly before 10pm. By this time, I was ready to hit the streets again. We decided to head to the other side of town to see what was up over there. We came across a few bars—one Irish pub that was packed and charged a cover that none of us wanted to pay, another place that was so packed that they shut the doors and wouldn’t let anyone else in, and another bar that was charging a cover for a band that I can only imagine was pretty lousy. We eventually found a place on the corner that was relatively small, not too crowded, free, and not so noisy. My kinda place. We started out with a couple pitchers of microbrews. I’m not a fan of microbrews really. They all taste the same to me—bitter and hoppy. So we traded those in for a few pitchers of PBR. Brooke and Suzanne met up with us a little later. Not too long after, though, they announced last call, but it was only 1am. So we went back next door. By then, the band had finished playing and admission was free.

Ok, so this night went by like a blur. I don’t really remember too much in particular. I remember it being fun and I remember drinking a lot. That’s about it. Luckily, the girls had cameras, so the night was at least visually captured. (click here for pictures)

Since both Brooke and Suzanne were both wasted, they spent the night at our hotel. The walk back seemed like it took forever. There were so many people out on the streets after closing that it was hard not to just stop and randomly talk to someone. We hung out in the room for a while, passing out one by one. I started rough housing with Bru again and eventually ended up on my back. No big deal. Then he gave me his hand to help me up, I took it, and he pulled so hard that I literally went flying across the room. When I landed, I rolled my left ankle so bad that I could have sworn that I heard it break, or at least tear. Not fun. It instantly began to swell and walking around was even more laboring. I hobbled downstairs with Brooke for one last smoke. Then we went back up and went to bed. After about ten minutes, I heard her fall out of bed, stumble to the bathroom, and then puke. That was about the last thing I remember.

Day 6: Sunday, February 22nd

Pretty much everyone woke up the next morning with a massive hangover. It was time to grab some breakfast, but my ankle had gotten so stiff overnight that I wasn’t going anywhere. So I stayed behind. I managed to get myself across the street to at least get some coffee, but I laid in bed for the most part.

After detoxing for a good part of the afternoon, it was time for me to head to the airport and fly back east. On the way, we made a quick stop at the girls’ house. My contacts had been found. So I picked them up, said goodbye to Brooke and Lori, and my time in Portland was done.

The trip back was horrific, filled with delays and long walks across airport terminals. But amazingly, I somehow made it back to Virginia on time.

R.I.P. Cale Kastanek

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Taken from the S2000 forums…

“Cale was severely injured yesterday (November 9th) during the second time trial session at Summit Point Raceway. He’s suffered many internal injuries, but the most severe was a serious brain injury similar to what happened to Dale Earnhardt. Before we left the hospital last night at 2am, the doctor said there was no brain activity and was recommending the removal of life support. Cale’s family is there and will make the decision. His family and his girlfriend asked me to make this post to let his car buddies know what’s going on.

His car went off Summit Main’s turn 1, tracked to the left and struck a bare concrete wall near the skid pad entrance. No one knows what happened but most suspect some form of brake failure.”

Some of my fondest memories are of you, dude…

Like the time we decided to carry out the world’s dumbest idea by holding a “World’s Drunkest Man” competition. You were a trooper, up with the rest of us at 6am, for what was to be the longest day ever. And somehow, fittingly enough, it ended on a race track. Well, sort of. It turned out to be a go-cart track, which we eventually got kicked out of after Mark and I both passed out while driving. So it turned out that you won. You are still the reigning “World’s Drunkest Man.”

And I remember the first time I looked under the hood of your car. I was amazed, dumbfounded, and humored. You go down as the only person I’ve ever known to build a turbo system out of PVC piping.

Then there was the time when you fell asleep on the couch at 1139. Bru and I tried to wake you up and ask you if you had any cigarettes. But you started talking in your sleep, saying “You’re a hundred feet off!!!” That still manages to make us laugh, even now.

And then the last time I saw you, at Josh & Gina’s wedding… The Steelers were in a playoff game that night, so you went and bought a portable TV so you wouldn’t miss a snap during the wedding reception. Then afterwards, you insisted that we all take a limo to Murphy’s, even though it was only a few blocks away. Ah yes, Murphy’s… where this picture was taken, which I will forever cherish as the best (or worst?) titty twister ever…

I know we weren’t the best of friends, but that’s just a testament to your ability to touch the lives of even the smallest of people, further evidenced by the tremendous outpouring of support, prayers, thoughts, wishes, grief, mourning, and shock of so many others all over.

Rest in peace, man. You will be forever missed.

On the Road Again – Part 2

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Well, my trip to New Jersey has come to an end. It was really something special. I feel so blessed and lucky to have such a loving family and wonderful friends. For twelve spectacular days, I was able to put my mind somewhere else… away from the tumultuous events that have overcome my Virginia life. I really hope to move back to the homeland some day… hopefully sooner than later. There’s something to be said about a feeling of belonging, and I truly feel that New Jersey is where I belong. Otherwise, every time I visit will only be met by the pain of having to leave.

Day 6 – 20 July 2008

I went to church in the morning with the whole family. Afterwards, we ate lunch at Chickie & Pete’s. Mmmmm… mussels marinara. We stopped at Target afterwards while Nolan got a haircut. It was there that I realized how much new stuff I need to recoup my losses.

Nolan, Colleen, and I went and checked out the new model homes down the street by Don Papparone. They were pretty nice, but not “oh my god, I’m blown away” nice. I’ve come to learn that you should never settle for a home, but rather to make sure that you get exactly what you want. There’s a home for everybody. It’s just a matter of finding it. It’s a pretty big investment, and a scary one at that. But it’s pretty exciting at the same time.

After my parents left, Nolan and I went and checked out some of the other new Ryan Homes communities. They’re all within a stone’s throw of where they live now, which is an added bonus. I found one model that I really like. The price seems just about right, especially when you consider the cost of existing homes. It’s pretty exciting to think that all this may eventually become a reality. Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that any one of these jobs that I’ve applied for comes through.

Day 7 – 21 July 2008

I started the day off early and headed back up to Lakehurst for work. It was a REALLY slow day, and sitting in my car for a couple hours in the hot & humid weather was not pleasant. After waiting around long enough, I decided to go grab some breakfast at the diner down the street. I placed my order, went to the bathroom for no more than two minutes, and my food was waiting for me when I got back. You gotta love diners. Faster than any fast food place I’ve ever been to. I went back to the base to see if anything had developed or was going to develop. Nothing doing on that front, so I packed up and called it a day. I was home by 1:00pm.

Day 8 – 22 July 2008

It was another slow day at Lakehurst, although a little bit more action than the day before. I gave Tony a call and learned that he was on his way up to New Jersey. At that point, I considered myself to be relieved of my duties. So I said, “FUCK THAT! I’m taking off the rest of the week!” And that’s what I did. I’ll be losing out on per diem and mileage expenses, but it’s worth it to be able to just relax for a few days.

Day 9 – 23 July 2008

I slept in until about 11:00am. After getting showered and dressed, I headed out to the bookstore in search of a few items. I ended up getting a sort of biography on Tori Amos, which she co-authored with a journalist by the name of Ann Powers. It’s a good read and unlike any other biography I’ve ever come across. I was also looking for a book by Thurston Moore about mix tapes. I asked the woman behind the counter if she could help me find it. She asked me what the title was, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. I told her that I knew the author’s name, if it would help. She then proceeded to tell me that she couldn’t look it up if I couldn’t give her a title. What a load of bullshit. Thanks for nothing, you ignorant bitch.

I met up with James at the movie theater in Mays Landing, where we saw “The Dark Knight.” I definitely liked it better than “Batman: The Beginning,” and I liked that movie a lot. Heath Ledger was brilliant as The Joker, and he ended up stealing every scene that he was in. At other various points in the film, all I could do was picture Christian Bale beating up his mom.

After the movie, we went to Chili’s to grab some dinner. Neither of us had been there in a while, and I’ll be damned… their chicken nachos are excellent!!!

Day 10 – 24 July 2008

I woke up around 10:00am, got dressed, and headed to my parents’ house to hang out with my mom. She works from home now and was pretty busy, so I just kinda sat around and did nothing for most of the day, which is nice to do sometimes. Often times, there’s a level of comfort that’s achieved simply knowing a person is present.

I spoke to Elizabeth online for a little while… yet another old friend that I’ve reconnected with after all these years.

Later in the afternoon, I took my mom to the physical therapist. She seems to be doing well with it. Afterwards, we met up with my dad and we all went to the mall. I ended up with a new vacuum, silverware, and cookware. That takes care of a few things on my shopping list.

Day 11 – 25 July 2008

Every Friday, Jackie spends the day at my parents’ house. Since I was planning on going there anyway, I brought her over there early in the morning. She cried for a while shortly after we arrived, but she eventually fell asleep after a diaper change and a couple ounces of formula.

I picked up some food and went to James’s house for lunch. We sat around watching episodes of “World’s Most Amazing Videos” and “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” capping things off with the Diaz vs. Pacquiao fight. What a brilliant bout that was, and the Philippines now has a title belt. Go Pacman!

I stopped at Bed Bath & Beyond on my way home. I picked up some new bathroom items (i.e. shower curtain, rugs, etc.). Man, that stuff adds up quick. I also got a nifty new trash can for the kitchen.

Later in the evening, Nolan and I went to Best Buy. I ended up getting a new home theater system. Now I just need a new TV to go along with it. J

Day 12 – 26 July 2008

My parents came down to EHT around lunchtime. The three of us headed back out to Best Buy, where they got me… a new TV!!! Afterwards, we met Nolan, Colleen, and Jackie at the mall across the street. We had lunch at Johnny Rocket’s, where they have the best chili fries and burgers.

Later in the evening, Nolan took me shopping and got me a couple new nightstands and an entertainment center for the new setup I’ve got going. I can’t wait to put it all together.

This is my last full day in New Jersey, and it’s a bit sad knowing I have to go back to Virginia to nothing. But I’ll be back in a couple weeks for the big AoD show, which should be great.

On the Road Again – Part 1

Monday, July 21st, 2008

I’ve hardly spent but a few days in Virginia during the month of July so far. Work has me traveling quite a bit these days. The good thing about it is that I get to spend some quality time in the motherland of New Jersey. I was there for the 4th of July weekend. I had to work a couple days, but more importantly, I was there for the christening of my goddaughter, Jacqueline Nicole.

I’m headed back to Jersey for more work, with a stop in the DC area beforehand for… what else… more work. I’ll be attempting to keep a trip journal since the “856” usually keeps me pretty busy. So here goes…

Day 1 — 15 July 2008

I went to work in the morning for a half day. I had a lot of stuff to take care of at the office before leaving for a week and a half. Finally, I hit the road at exactly noon, hoping to get to DC before the heavy traffic started. All in all, the drive wasn’t too bad. Of course, I did hit traffic at the mixing bowl, but I still made it to my hotel in Vienna in less than three hours.

After checking in and getting settled, I thought I would take some time to relax and maybe get some little things done. One thing in particular that I needed to get done was to transfer the electric bill account to my name for my apartment (the reason for having to do this is an entirely different story altogether). So I called up Dominion Power, gave them all my info, and everything was cool. Then the lady on the phone said, “Oh wait, it says here that you have an outstanding debt at [address] that needs to be settled. It has been forwarded to a collection agency. We can’t activate your account until this debt is taken care of.” The best part is that the address she mentioned is one that I’ve never lived at. WHAT THE FUCK?! To make a long story short, I’m gonna need to dispute this with the credit bureaus since Dominion won’t give me a straight answer and the collection agency is impossible to contact. A dispute could take up to 30 days, possibly more. So there’s a chance I might not have electricity in my apartment when I get back.

Around 5pm or so, I headed down to the metro station. I was on my way to Pentagon City to meet up with Christine, who I haven’t seen in forever. So we grabbed some dinner at a place called “Thai Phoon.” How clever. Anyway, it was really nice to spend a couple hours catching up. She said something afterwards that I totally agree with: it’s nice to be able to jump into good and honest conversation right off the bat, which is something you can only do with old friends. So true.

I made it back to the hotel some time before 9pm. I just so happened to have my Xbox 360 with me on this trip, and it just so happened that I was able to get it online through the hotel’s internet connection. So I played for a little bit with the usual crew before calling it a night.

Day 2 – 16 July 2008

I woke up and checked out of the hotel by 7am. I caught the metro to Ballston, which was only three stops away, for a meeting at ONR at 8:30am. Of course, I can’t discuss the nature or content of the meeting, so that’s that.

The meeting ended at 2pm and I wanted to get on the road ASAP in order to avoid as much traffic as possible for my trip up to New Jersey. So I rushed to get back to the hotel, where my car was waiting for me. The only problem was that once I had gotten off the train, I had to wait nearly an hour for the bus. Finally, I got in my car close to 4pm and was on my way. Traffic was a nightmare from about the time I got on the beltway to all the way past Baltimore. Despite all this, I still made it to New Jersey in just under four hours.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted. The combination of heat and traffic seemed to have really taken its toll on me this time. So I settled in, ate a little bit for dinner, and fell asleep by 9pm.

Day 3 – 17 July 2008

Finally, a day of rest has arrived. I woke up around 10am. I kicked back for a while with my computer, surfing the net and taking care of some emails. Around noon, I headed out to Gamestop and picked up the new NCAA 09 football game. After a quick stop at Starbucks for a caramel frappucino, I was back home. I’ve always liked the college games more than Madden, and this one does not disappoint.

Later that evening, I met up with James and Nolan at good ol’ PJ’s for dinner. We sat outside and oddly enough, it seemed to get hotter and more humid as the sun went down. I think we were all drenched in sweat by the time we left.

Afterwards, I followed James to their new crib in Sicklerville. Driving up Cross Keys, I noticed a whole bunch of new stores and stuff. I can’t believe how much things have changed. Bill Bryson wrote a book called “I’m a Stranger Here Myself,” which is an account of his experience of moving back to the United Stated after living overseas for 20 years. Sometimes I feel that way when I come back home. It seems that something new or different manifests itself between visits every time. Kinda weird.

Day 4 – 18 July 2008

I woke up close to noon. I spent most of the day in bed doing nothing. I watched some television and chatted with a couple people online, but nothing much other than that. It was kinda nice.

In the evening, I headed to Philly to meet up with Pat and Connie. They moved into a house together, right around the corner from Pat’s old place in fish town. We spent six hours just sitting around, drinking beer, watching baseball, and catching up. I always enjoy hanging out with them, as they’re such genuine people. That’s probably why they’re some of my best friends.

I stopped at Wawa on the way home for some grub. There’s nothing like a hoagie after a night of drinking. Being the typical night owl that I’ve always been, I sat up for a while watching tv and browsing the net. I ended up talking to Brooke for a little bit, which was super cool. She was one of my best friends during my last year of college, and still is. But I haven’t seen or talked to her in years, so it was great to actually have a conversation.

Day 5 – 19 July 2008

I went out to lunch with John, who was in town for a couple days. He’s been my best friend pretty much since birth. We were born ten days apart and have lived three houses away our entire lives through high school. He ended up moving to Seattle right about the time I moved to Virginia, so we don’t get to hang out like we used to. So when the opportunity arises to see and hang out with him, I jump on it.

About a week ago, James had sent me an email asking if I wanted to play a show with Apple of Discord on the 15th of August. Damn straight I want to! So tonight, we decided to get in some practice time before the show, especially since this would be the only practice before the show. All things considered, it went very well. I haven’t even sat behind a drum set since 2005, let alone played one. I felt a little uncomfortable and timid at first, but I eventually settled in and felt right at home. But now my ears are still ringing and I’m struggling to fully regain feeling in my hands. The numbness has always been a problem, but I don’t think my body is as conditioned to it as it was before.

After practice, I followed Nolan back to Egg Harbor Township, where I shall remain for the rest of the week. I got to play a little bit with my lovely niece before she fell asleep, which is guaranteed to always bring a smile to my face.

NOTE: So far, the theme of this trip seems to be catching up with long lost friends, which is fine by me since I don’t intend on screwing up any more relationships.

New Computer

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

well, it’s finally time to say goodbye to my tried and trusty ol’ pentium 4 computer. it has served its purpose well, but i’ve decided to get a bit more with the times and update my hardware technology. i’ve failed to keep up with all the latest and greatest, save for reading a few computer magazines here and there. so i did quite a bit of research before tackling this build. here is the list of parts:

  • Intel Q6600 2.4GHz Quad-Core CPU
  • ASUS P5N-E SLI Motherboard
  • 4GB WINTEC AmpX DDR2800 RAM
  • EVGA GeForce 8800GT 512MB Video Card
  • Seagate 500GB SATA Hard Drive
  • Western Digital 320GB SATA Hard Drive
  • LITE-ON SATA 20x DVD±R DVD Burner
  • Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro 7 CPU Heatsink/Fan
  • Cooler Master Centurion 5 Case
  • BFG Tech 650W Power Supply
  • Antec 120mm Exhaust Fan
  • Antec 80mm Intake Fan

i used a pre-built gaming pc that i saw for sale as a template. most of the parts are the same, but i upped the RAM, added another hard drive, improved the cooling, and used a higher rated PSU. even with these changes, it still turned out to be cheaper to build than buying it pre-built. can’t complain about that.

i also picked up a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium. not wanting to lose my familiarity and the stability of Windows XP, i decided to create a dual boot system. it was a piece of cake to do this, although a tedious process having to install drivers and software under each OS.

ok, so first impressions… this thing flies. XP boots up at least twice as fast than on my old computer, and Vista loads just as quickly. i’ve heard lots of complaints about Vista, but after playing around with it for almost a week now, i have to say that i’m a fan. i understand that it’s more of a resource hog than XP, but it’s a lot easier to shutdown and disable any unnecessary background programs and services. the interface is pretty snazzy, but takes some getting used to. i’m sure people probably have gotten comfortable in their ways with XP, but i think it just takes time to get accustomed to Vista.

as far as games go (which is the primary reason why i built this), i don’t think i could ask for more. the Windows Experience Index is a rudimentary tool within Vista that attempts to measure the abilities of various components, and here’s what mine turned up:

Processor: 5.9
Memory (RAM): 5.2
Graphics: 5.9
Gaming Graphics: 5.9
Hard Drive: 5.7

at the moment, 5.9 is the highest score value that can be achieved. so i am more than pleased with the results i got. i plan on overclocking at some point, so hopefully that RAM score will increase.

i installed FSX, Rail Simulator, Crysis, and Unreal Tournament 3 under Vista. i finally have a machine that runs FSX decently, averaging about 25-30 FPS most of the time. that number tends to drop in the more densely populated areas, but i haven’t seen it go below 15 FPS yet. this seems to be more than acceptable. Rail Simulator isn’t really a demanding game, but it is DirectX 10 compatible. it runs with all settings completely maxed out, and without a hiccup. Crysis is the ultimate test for a gaming rig. i think this game really shines when played with DirectX 10. with the new rig, i am perfectly capable of playing with all settings maxed out at “Very High,” but some of the cutscenes bring the machine to its knees. after searching around the internet, this seems to be the general case. oh well, what can you do. lastly, Unreal Tournament 3 also runs with all settings maxed out. this was the case even with my old computer. i think this is more a testament to the newest Unreal engine, itself.

i have a Matrox TripleHead2Go (analog version) and three 19″ widescreen monitors. Matrox developed a tool under XP that offered more resolutions to accomodate the growing trend of widescreen monitors. the digital version of the TH2G has widescreen support built in. so far, my only complaint is that i cannot get these widescreen resolutions in Vista with my analog TH2G. but this is more an issue with Matrox, rather than Vista. after searching around, Matrox has indicated that they will not be developing this same tool for use under Vista, and that the only alternative is to purchase the digital version of the product. talk about poor product support. i refuse to shell out another $300, so i’ll just restrict my TH2G gaming to XP.

i’ve been messing around with Vista so much that i haven’t gotten around to getting the XP partition completely setup. i got as far as installing drivers and basic software, but have yet to install the rest of my game collection. FS2004 will take hours alone, given the number of add-ons that i need to install. but i’m looking forward to getting it up and running. if FS2004 ran that well on my old computer for that long, then i can only imagine what this new rig can do.

WordPress Upgrade

Monday, April 21st, 2008

it’s been an incredibly long time since i’ve updated or even visited this site. apparently, ipower has been upgrading their servers, which i first noticed when i saw the new (and really crappy) vdeck console. i recently renewed my hosting services, downgrading to a smaller server size and bandwidth. anyway, i’m gonna try to start re-designing each of my three sites, starting with this one. the first step was to upgrade wordpress to version 2.5. i had noticed on james’s blog that he had problems upgrading, as well as a number of other people in the wordpress support forums. i initially had problems, but realized that it was completely my fault. i had a typo in the name of the SQL server, which was an easy fix. too bad it took me 2 hours to figure that out.

Scenic Flight (11.24.06)

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

this is a slideshow of a scenic flight i took with my brother over southern New Jersey, towards Cape May and over Atlantic City. i was sitting in the back seat and his instructor was up front.

VIDEO DOES NOT START AUTOMATICALLY.
PLEASE CLICK PLAY BUTTON.

Flight Sim Desk (Concept)

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

sheesh!!! my desk is a complete and utter mess right now. in search of some relief, i scoured the internet looking for a potential replacement for my 16-year-old piece of furniture. i came across some rather nice workstations, and some made specifically for flight simmers like myself. the problem is that they are EXTREMELY expensive. so i’ve decided that i’m going to make my own.

click on the picture above and you’ll see my concept for a desktop cockpit. it’s nothing fancy, but it’s functional and practical. basically, i wanted ample space for all my peripherals AND i wanted them to be easily accessible. plus, the simpler the design, the easier it should be to build, right? ( <— famous last words )

Cockpit Secrets DVD

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

The latest offering from FlightLevel DVD is a behind-the-scenes look at commercial pilot training. The downloadable film is divided into three separate files and goes for approximately $15. I recently made the purchase and can say that it’s definitely worth a look. Here’s the official press release:

“Flying is much safer than you might think.”

  • A 2 hour documentary about challenging situations and emergencies performed in a special flight simulator with real pilots
  • From the makers of Secrets of Ferihegy Airport

DETAILS AND CONTENTS:

See an amazing 737NG cockpit based on FS2004 in action!

Using a special, full-size Boeing 737NG cockpit and with the participation of real world pilots, Cockpit Secrets features simulated situations that you can never (or very rarely) see on real flights or in other cockpit videos. The documentary explains that there are precise procedures for virtually every emergency, and flying remains absolutely safe – even in case of failures or challenging weather conditions.

Thanks to the simple narration and over 30 animated illustrations, Cockpit Secrets can be enjoyed and understood by anyone, and there is no doubt that those interested in aviation and flight simulators will also find this documentary absolutely fascinating.

Total running time: approx. 116 mins.
Language: ENGLISH audio (narration, pilots), Hungarian parts subtitled in English

CONTENTS OF THE DOWNLOADABLE VERSION:
Introduction
The Simulator and the Pilots
Crosswind
Landing in Fog (a CAT IIIb approach)
Going Around
Aborted Takeoff
Engine Fire (after V1)
Problems in the Wheel Well (plus alternate flap extension)
Engine Restart in Flight (Crossbleed)
Gliding in an Airliner
Steep Descent (Innsbruck)
A Perfect Turn (Madeira)

For more info, check out the FlightLevel DVD website.

For buying info, check out the simMarket product page.