My friend Mark was in from Chicago over the weekend, and we made good use of the visit by playing more of the Nintendo Wii than I had played in the previous six months combined. I've always enjoyed playing it, but it's true that you get the most fun out of it by playing with a bigger group of people. Ed and Nathan came over to round out the player roster, and while the bowling and golf were fun, I think we got the most entertainment out of making celebrity-inspired Mii characters. Below is a screenshot from one of our later bowling matches, when Jesus barely edged out Satan in a bowling match for the ages. If the match had a soundtrack, it would most definitely have been Carman's The Champion.
Magnum PI didn't even stand a chance. Neither did my shoulder apparently; After we discovered the game mode that requires you to try to hit an increasing number of pins in rapid succession, starting with 10 and culminating in a 91-pin-showdown, we went on a bowling tear that ended up with Mark setting the house record and me pulling a muscle in my right shoulder. I'm only slightly embarrassed to admit that this isn't my first Wii-related injury. All I can do at this point is wait another month for Wii Fit to be released.
In completely unrelated news, we've been turning up the heat on Gus' training. A month ago, I would have never thought a this would even be possible, but here I am with photographic evidence that our dog is, in fact, trainable.
All credit goes to January on this one. We started trying to teach him this when we were on vacation in Gatlinburg a few weeks back, but she's really kept up the training to the point where we're actually getting results. I'm not holding out any hope that he'll ever be a Chuck-caliber performer, but it's good to see progress.
Anyone who knows January knows that she is one of the most stubborn people in the world. It's no big secret, and I'm not going to get myself in any trouble for pointing it out; It's just the simple fact of the matter. But what surprises some people, the ones who feel like they know me fairly well but haven't had to deal with me on any basis other than a social or casual one is that I'm equally, if not more, stubborn than she is. The difference between us is that whereas January is stubborn in the conventional "I'm going to prove to you that I'm right, and I'll prove it right now" kind of way, I'm stubborn in the more annoying "I know I'm right, but I'll pretend that I agree with you and then completely disregard this conversation in the future" sort of way.
When two people decide to join their lives together, they tend to spend the rest of their lives working out their differences and learning to communicate. But when it's two extremely stubborn people together, this tends to turn every difference into micro-battles that go on for years and years. For example, me? I hate being told what to do. I don't even really liked to be asked to do things, but I absolutely hate instruction. Now January, while she's not bossy, her default mode when she is looking to get something done is to phrase it in the form of a statement. Somehow, in her brain, when she means to turn to me and ask "Can you schedule some time this week to get the oil changed," what actually comes out of her mouth it something along the lines of "Hey, the car is overdue for an oil change," followed by an expectant stare. Conversely, while her actual words are "Hey, the car is overdue for an oil change," what i actually hear in my head is equivalent to "Drop what you're doing right now and go get the oil changed!" Similarly, our first year of marriage was filled with extended conversations about how adding the word "Please" to the sentence "Go get me some Kool-Aid" does not turn that mandate into a request.
At the halfway point between our first and second anniversaries, I think we're making some progress. Some dialog from a conversation this weekend:
me: I'm heading out to the coffee shop to do some work.
January: OK. When you get home, I need you to hang up that mail sorter.
me: ... Is that a request?
January: When you get home, are you going to hang up that mail sorter like I asked?
I had the idea about this time last year that when I was short on writing ideas, I would consult my unnecessarily large email and instant messaging archive for topics of conversation. And appropriately enough, I cracked open my email archive file to this day last year, March 27, 2007, to find the beginnings of the following conversation between myself and Jay:
I love this one. Extremely mellow but there's such a great flow to the whole thing. I could listen to it forever, I think. Though, I can see how it may not do anything for you at all. It just connects for me. Great background music for me. That's how I listened to it, until it really grabbed me. I also didn't know how I felt about the guy's voice at first. It reminds me of someone, that I know well, but I can't place it.
Give this one the chance it deserves.
Included with this was a link to a prerelease copy of Lewis & Clarke's latest album, Blasts of Holy Birth. I've pulled this album out every now and then over the past year and found it to be a really solid album.
Coincidentally, January actually knows Lou Rogai from several years back. When the band was first starting out, they played several shows a year here in Columbus and would end up spending a lot of time after the shows with January and her roommates. Also coincidentally, Lewis & Clarke is scheduled to play in town tonight at the Surly Girl Saloon. I don't know what the cover is, but with the Black Swans opening, it's sure to be a good show.
If you're not familiar with Lewis & Clarke, as I wasn't this time last year, here's an awesome ballad off of their latest album. It's offered as a free MP3 on their site, so I assume there's no problem with passing it along here.
Just over a year ago, I finally got with the 21st century and started up a new blog. Team Soell. You're reading it now. The biggest headache that has come up in the whole process, apart from keeping up the motivation to write decent articles, is keeping up with the ridiculous amount of blog spam that goes with the territory.
When Team Soell first launched, the comments section was wide open; no registration required, no moderation, just immediate publication of everyone's comments. Over the past year, this policy slowly got ratcheted down to it's current position, where all comments are moderated. But add to that my lack of motivation in reading through 50 v14gr4! adverts every day, and we ended up with a pretty useless system. Ask anyone who has tried to comment on my articles in the past six months, and they'll tell you.
Over the past several months, I've had the opportunity to work with the Joomla content management system, and it has proven itself to be a pretty solid contender. With its open source license, flexible templating system, and with army of plugin developers to tap into, it seems like a solid platform to switch to. So today, I'm relaunching the "andy" portion of the Team Soell blog in the newly-released Joomla 1.5 framework. Comments require approval at this point, but it is supposed to be smart enough to recognize repeat commenters.
So take a look, let me know if anything seems broken, and thanks for everyone's patience.
[Update] Nathan mentioned the Akismet Anti-Spam filter that WordPress runs, and I realized that the commenting plugin I'm using supports that as well. I've enabled the Akismet filter which should drastically reduce site spam. In light of this, I have turned on guest commenting -- we may have to turn moderation back on eventually, but I'm curious to see how well this system actually works.