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Learning a Language

Since I’m moving to Germany soon, I’ve started trying to teach myself some German. I’m not much beyond the “Hi. How are you?” stage, but by listening to podcasts and working with a few different books, I’m making some progress.

Since learning is hard, I’ve let a bit of my geeky tendancies come through and started working on a project about learning a language instead of actually learning a language like I should be doing. I guess it’s a way of procrastinating while feeling productive at the same time. In any case, here it is, in its infancy:

The Learning Linguist

It’s not much at all yet, but I’ve got some ideas and possibly lots of time coming up to work on whatever the heck I want to work on, so we’ll see where it goes.

I love my cat

Elli on the Stairs

Originally uploaded by Mike A.

Our home was part of an agent tour today. Twenty-eight agents stopped by to get a look at the place to get an idea about if it will meet the needs of potential buyers that they represent and also to provide some feedback on the saleability of the home. With the large amount of traffic, doors were sure to be open for long enough periods to let a cat or two escape, so we put them in their kennels in the basement. Freddie didn’t really mind, especially after I tossed a few pieces of food in the cage, but Elli was not pleased in the slightest. She was whining as I left for work.

I got home and noticed a slight off-putting smell in the air and saw that the basement door was now closed. A nice (and by that, I mean definitely not nice) smell hit me as I opened the door and got progressively worse as I went down the stairs. Elli was whining and was also standing in a mess. I’m assuming she freaked out with all of the realtors traipsing through and ended up decorating the nice pillow in her cage with the contents of her intestinal tract. Whether it was intentional or accidental, I don’t know, but it stunk up the place all the same.

Bathing a freaked-out cat is quite a chore, and both Carol and I have the scratches to prove it. A load of laundry and a generous airing-out of the basement got everything back to normal (if not even better than before), but now I’m hoping all of the neighborhood realtors don’t think of us as the “cat poop house.”

Buy My House

The for sale sign got planted in front of our house this morning. Our house got added to the MLS system yesterday and there’s a virtual tour up online, too. I got my first spam call from a moving company on my way to work. I also just got a call from a realtor who wants to show it to a potential buyer this afternoon, so things look like they’re starting to get rolling.

Ich bin ein Heidelberger

Old Bridge in Heidelberg
Originally uploaded by Monguinhas

The word finally came, and we’re going to be moving to Heidelberg. It’s a relief to finally know (and totally excellent that we got our first choice), but my first thought was, “Holy crap, we’re moving to Germany. What were we thinking?” That passed quickly, though, and now I just want to head to the library and pick up some more German language CDs.

We don’t really have any firm details yet as to where exactly we’ll live or when exactly we’ll be moving, but now we can at least start getting ready.

Anyone want to buy a house in Tacoma?

Lord of the Strings

It took a few tries, but I finally did it:

Rock Band Guitar Expert

That second solo in Green Grass & High Tides is a killer.

Also, if you haven’t seen it, Aaron has put together a list of all of the Rock Band songs available as MP3s through Amazon.

Happy New Year!

1993 Dom Perignon – Happy New Year!

Originally uploaded by Mike A.

How did I spend New Year’s Eve? By drinking Dom Perignon in my pajamas watching the Chick-fil-a Bowl go in to overtime. Classy.

We uncorked a bottle of Vintage 1993 Dom Perignon that’s been sitting in our basement. A college buddy of mine gave it to us as a wedding gift, and this seemed like as good of a time as any to give it a try. I have to say that I didn’t taste any hints of toast or hazelnuts as some reviewers described, but then again, my unrefined palate was further degraded by a bit of sinus congestion. I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

We have a momentous year ahead for us. Carol’s graduating from residency in June and after that is a huge question mark. We’ll be moving to a new house, but it could be across town, across the country, or across the Atlantic. Hopefully the powers-that-be will send us to a cool place (or let us stay in our current cool place), but there’s always a chance we’ll end up in the Mojave Desert or a Louisiana swamp.

Whatever will happen, it’ll be great to find out what it will be and will be at least a little exciting.

Have an Indie Swedish Christmas

Swedish Christmas TunesOver at Swedesplease, a blog about Swedish indie rock music, they have up a post with a nice mix of Christmas music (in English) by Swedish bands.

Check it out:

Swedish Christmas Mix W/Songs By Irene, Montt Mardie, Hello Saferide, Parker Lewis, The Knife, El Perro Del Mare, Etc. Etc.

For those of you who don’t need your music filtered through the fresh nordic snow, they also have another set of Christmas tunes up on their other blog: A Songs:Illinois Christmas.

Tacoma’s A Riot!

Tacoma’s A Riot! Jul 12, 1935

Originally uploaded by B. Nagurski

Forget those Seattleites, forget pithy Olympians, no need for bored Portland youth, when Tacomans want a riot, we know how to throw down!

Someone on Flickr has been uploading a bunch of neat vintage photos from Tacoma. Here’s a particularly interesting one with a neat story, too. Click through on the photo to read about a riot that happened in Tacoma in July 1935.

Lessig at TED

Larry Lessig gave a talk at TED about How creativity is being strangled by the law. If nothing else, it’s a great example of an engaging presentation. Check it out, embedded below. It’s 18 minutes or so long.

(From Presentation Zen.)

Another Xbox 360 Optical Drive Bites the Dust

I fired up the old 360 on Saturday night play a few rounds of Halo 3 and was greeted by a nice series of grinding noises as the optical drive spun up. Once the game had loaded, the noise stopped, so I joined up with some friends for some Team Slayer ranked matches. We were totally rolling. During the final match, though, a loud, constant buzzing started up, but I was able to finish the match and decided to wait until morning to figure out what to do.

On Sunday morning, I started the Xbox back up and the same grinding noises were there. Knowing that the customer support guy would have me swap out a few discs to make sure it wasn’t limited to Halo 3, I threw in a different disc. The tray immediately ejected. I tried it with several others, and the 360 kept on spitting them back out immediately. It was time to call customer support.

Mohammed was nice, though he stumbled over his script in a few places. He had me try to close the drive tray without a disc in it, and it stayed shut. I put Halo 3 back in, and this time it didn’t spit it back out, so that was good. It did make some grinding noises, and chirped and buzzed like last time my optical drive died. The game didn’t start up and the Xbox dashboard said “Unreadable disc.” Three other discs had the same result.

Says Mohammed, “You’re still under warranty. Do you want me to submit a repair order?”

“Please do,” I replied.

So, I’ll get a return box in 5 to 7 business days and then get a working Xbox back within three weeks. I’m hoping I’ll get one with the new chipset or at least the latest model optical drives. In the meantime, I guess I’ll have time to work on my novel.