Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hero's Trial and Jedi Eclipse Reviews

Hero’s Trial (Agents Of Chaos #1 – New Jedi Order #4)
by James Luceno

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Click HERE for the review.

Jedi Eclipse (Agents Of Chaos #2 – New Jedi Order #5)by James Luceno

Rating: 3 out of 5

Click HERE for the review.
© 2006 Productions

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Tangled Web by Jude Watson

A Tangled Web (The Last Of The Jedi #5)
by Jude Watson

2.5 out of 5

No, I didn't do a review of this one. It was a quick read that (combined other more pressing developments) I didn't feel warranted a review. Not that it wasn't a good book, I actually felt like Jude wrote a stronger book here. I just didn't have the (to use some good word smithing) "bandwidth" to write a review.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dark Lord Review

Dark Lord (The Rise of Darth Vader)
by James Luceno

Rating: 2 out of 5

Read the full review here.

Bike riding for Dee-Dee-Dees


YouTube Prank

Not that I dislike YouTube, but I enjoyed this little clip from nalts. And any extra traffic he gets wouldn't hurt!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Specter of the Past Review

Specter of the Past (Thrawn duology #1)
by Timothy Zahn

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Read the full review here.
© 2006 Productions

Friday, August 11, 2006

Statistical Review, Part 2 of 2

For the second part of my review, I’m focusing on the videos I’ve uploaded to Google Video.  Yet another display of my compulsive counting.

Top Ten Videos by Page View
  1. Under the Goat Walk – 1,311 page views

  2. I Ain’t No Holla Back Girl – 1,256 page views

  3. Shooting at the range 3 – 1,030 page views

  4. Seahawks Suck! – 1,018 page views

  5. Snakes On A Plane Wins! – 991 page views

  6. Dad drops a mag – 903 page views

  7. Shooting at the range 5 – 853 page views

  8. Elizabeth’s Haircut Part 1 – 810 page views

  9. The Shaky Tractor Ride – 743 page views

  10. METRA Train in Downers Grove, IL - preview – 742 page views

Top Ten Videos by Download
  1. Shooting at the range 3 – 19 downloads

  2. Shooting at the range 5 – 18 downloads

  3. Seahawks Suck! – 16 downloads

  4. METRA Train in Downers Grove, IL - preview – 15 downloads

  5. I Ain’t No Holla Back Girl – 14 downloads

  6. Shooting at the range 4 – 11 downloads

  7. Shooting at the range 1 – 7 downloads

  8. Snakes On A Plane Wins! – 7 downloads

  9. I’m A Cold-Hearted Bastard – 6 downloads

  10. Under the Goat Walk – 5 downloads

  11. Elizabeth’s Haircut Part 1 – 5 downloads

The Top Six Rated Videos (the only 6 that were rated)
  1. Special Olympics Torch Run – 5 Stars (1 rating)

  2. Stormtrooper Bob Goes To Pittsburgh – 2 Stars (1 rating)

  3. Seahawks Suck! – 1 Star (4 ratings)

  4. Snakes On A Plane Wins! – 1 Star (3 ratings)

  5. The Evil Slide of Doom! – 1 Star (1 rating)

  6. Shooting at the range 2 – 1 Star (1 rating)

To do some analysis paralysis, the METRA video is downloaded more often per page view than just about any other video.  That’s right a video of a train did best.  A train.  Who would have known.  The Snakes On A Plane video is getting a lot of traffic due to obvious reasons.  And for the same obvious reason, the rating is quite low on it.  Apparently there were some disgruntled Seattle fans that thought a 2 year-old Steelers fan deserved one star.  The Special Olympics Torch Run got 5 out of 5 stars.  Hmmm.  The Stormtrooper Bob video is my favorite, and it only got 2 stars.  I’ll try better next time.  There are several shooting videos at the top of all the lists.  Good way to gauge the viewing desires of the public.  Then there’s the Goat Walk (over 1,300 views) and Holla Back (over 1,200 views) videos.  A wide gamut of choices there.  I can see why the Holla Back video gets the page views, but the Goat Walk?

Statistical Review, Part 1 of 2

I decided to do some analysis of my site ( and my videos.  Here’s the first in a two-part window into my boredom.

The Top Five Pages on my site:
  1. Main Page – 1,027 page views

  2. Photos Page – 278 page views

  3. June 2006 Photo Page – 163 page views

  4. Yvonne’s Camera Photo Page – 106 page views

  5. Stormtrooper Bob Photo Page – 103 page views

The Top Five Referral Sources on my site:
  1. Direct (no source) – 570 visits

  2. Google – 63 visits

  3. Fred Talk ( – 57 visits

  4. Fantasy Book Spot Forums – 29 visits

  5. Vintage Mustang Forums – 29 visits

The Top Five Geographic Locations for visitors:
  1. United States – 765 visits

  2. Satellite Provider – 41 visits

  3. Japan – 12 visits

  4. Canada – 9 visits

  5. United Kingdom – 6 visits

The Top Five Geographic Locations for visitors (within the United States):
  1. Texas – 236 visits

  2. Virginia – 212 visits

  3. North Carolina – 81 visits

  4. Pennsylvania – 37 visits

  5. California – 25 visits

The Top Five Network Locations for visitors:
  1. Intuit – 232 visits

  2. GMP Cable TV – 111 visits

  3. Verizon Internet Services – 62 visits

  4. Beyond The Network Access – 41 visits

  5. Cox Communication – 32 visits

Quite a bit of interesting data.  I’m a bit of a numbers junky (i.e. compulsive counter) so I enjoyed this little adventure.  A few other tidbits I found, I had visitors from across the globe.  Europe, Asia, and South America were represented.  The data covers about 5 months or so of tracking.  I haven’t tracked every page, so the numbers are skewed.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Where’s the beef?

I’ve been a little swamped in life lately.  I know I can easily drop a few projects, but sometimes it helps pass the time.  Like I have enough time.  Work has picked up a trifle.  The PTB (powers that be) are pushing to start a training class by mid-September.  That means I need to scramble to get the material, room, and everything else associated with the class ready.  Mostly that means psyching myself up to the task.  And we have a Customer Service Week in early October that will also demand some time.  Added to that are the usual coaching sessions that need to be done and the other time wasters that are dumped on me.  Home has been busy as well.  There’s always something that needs to be done (just one of the many joys of being a homeowner).  Doctor visits.  School starts soon.  Grass needs cut.  Cars need washed.  Well, maybe not.  If they haven’t stopped running from the month’s worth of dirt on there, they should be fine for a little longer.  And there’s the family history.  Keeping track of 25,000+ people is a little daunting.  Watching TV.  Just can’t give up those shows.  DVDs in the queue.  All those shows and movies waiting to be watched.  Dishes to be done.  Stories to write.  You know I write, right?  Random thoughts to blog about.  Submitting my releases to Automat to be included in the Snakes On A Plane DVD.  Books to read.  And listen to.  And review.  A website to update.  RSS feeds to read.  Email to read.  Training material to proof read for others.  An awesome premiere issue of Heliotrope to read.  Breakfast to eat.  Exercise to do, like that ever gets finished.  I think I’m done rambling for now.  That felt, well, not as cleansing as I had hoped.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Showdown At Centerpoint Review

Showdown At Centerpoint (Corellian Trilogy #3)
by Roger MacBride Allen

Rating: 2 out of 5

Read my review here.
© 2006 Productions

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Heliotrope Magazine finally released

Heliotrope Magazine Speculative Fiction

Straight from the horses mouth, one of the most anticipated releases in my easily-distractable life. FBS (Fantasy Book Spot) has finally released their first issue of Heliotrope, their e-zine. There are some major names in the table of contents, so everyone should be happy with at least part (if not all) of this.



Wednesday, August 02, 2006

My Lasik Review

I know, an odd title for a medical procedure. But I had to write about it.


Last summer my wife had Custom Vue Lasik done at the local eye doctor (Dr. Coleman’s in Fredericksburg, VA). She went from 20/800 to 20/20 in a day. Yes, her vision was that bad. She couldn’t see the alarm clock in the morning nor her toes in the shower. She was pleased with the outcome and insisted that I do the same.

My vision was never that bad. I was about 20/200 at the time of the procedure, so I didn’t expect that much of a reaction to the improvement. I didn’t even have to wear glasses until I was in high school. In college I started wearing contacts and continued to wear them. Pushing glasses up your sweaty nose every 30 seconds wasn’t fun. Contacts were much easier.

Over time my vision got a little worse each year until it started to level out some the past few years. I figured I’d stay at that range for a decade or so until old age started to hit harder.


So a few months ago I went to Dr. Coleman’s for my preliminary exam for Lasik. We had planned it with our insurance since last year, but it was finally time to get things going. My preliminary exams all looked good and everyone I talked to was pleasant and professional. Then comes the stunning news.

I have a droopy eyelid. Nothing too major, but it was pronounced enough to be noticed. It was news to me. I never noticed any change in my eyelid in all the years I had been able to look in the mirror. Not even when I put my contacts in.

During my second check-up (still pre-Lasik) there were more tests done, including a trip to another eye-doctor (same office, just a different doctor) to give a second opinion on the droopy eyelid (as well as the original intent to check my retina). My corneas were slightly damaged from wearing contacts for so long, so I got to take drops for that. And he scheduled another appointment for more tests for the droopy eyelid. He also told me more about the droopy eyelid (medically known as a ptosis) and believed it to be a mild case of Horner’s Syndrome.

During my next visit I got to take a Vision Field Test. The most bizarre eye test I’ve ever taken. You stick her head in an egg (think Mork from Ork) and stare at a light. When you see little dots appear, you click a button. After awhile you start to hallucinate and see spots everywhere. Not fun but the results were good. After that, he looked at my corneas and said I could stop the drops. In case I hadn’t mentioned it already, by this time I had stopped wearing contacts for about a month.

During the next visit I got to meet with Dr. Coleman himself and he checked out the droopy eyelid situation. We were a few days from the procedure, so time was short. He didn’t see any need to cause alarm or not do the procedure. He tested my color vision (I’m not color-blind) and my pupils (another symptom of Horner’s Syndrome) and asked about my general health in the past. There was some interest in my previous eye injury (I banged my right eyebrow on a table corner in middle school and got a black eye and some busted blood vessels in my eye) but no positive link to the injury and the ptosis (which is the same eye, the right one).

But he advised me he would be checking with my regular doctor to see if he had an opinion. After a couple of phone calls, it was decided I needed to see my regular doctor for a general checkup before I could get approved for Lasik. A first for the Lasik people. My regular doctor said I was fine for Lasik (he even put in a call to a neurologist) but recommended a visit to a neuron doctor for further tests when I had time (I go later this month).

Now we’re up to the day before the procedure. The Wavescan. You simply stare at a light for a few minutes while they take pictures of your eye. Don’t focus on the light, just look down the “tunnel.” I’m also taking some drops and scrubbing my eyelids (both to prevent infection).


The procedure itself was bearable. There was some pain involved, but not the kind you might be thinking. The morning of, you take more drops and a pill (it was supposed to calm me down and slightly sedate me, but I must be too big because it didn’t do much). You get there and take more drops (to numb your eyes). You get to wear fancy shoe covers and a head cover (slightly itchy on your head but you soon forget about it). The Lasik room was supposed to be super-cold, but it was comfortable to me, so bring a jacket. My thermostat is “broken” according to my wife.

You lay down on the little bench with your feet slightly higher than your head. They swing you under the laser after more drops. Then the fun begins. They start by taping your upper eyelid and putting in a “spreader” (for lack of a better word) for your bottom lid. Your other eye is covered with a patch. The “spreader” feels a little funny but your eye doesn’t dry out and the tape doesn’t even hurt when it comes off.

Time for more fun. They mark your eye (I assume) for where they’ll be cutting the cornea open (they cut a single flap like a C, not several flaps like a pie slice). Then the pain sets in. The put the cutting device on your eye, line it up, push down, and cut. You hear a little buzzing when they cut, but nothing as bad as a dentist’s drill. The pain comes from the pressure, which on my right eye I think they had it kind of funny because it hurt more than my left eye. How much pain? Stick your thumb in your eye until it “blacks out” a bit. It hurts a little more than that. The cutting, scraping, lasering, drops, nothing else hurts. Just this one moment. Total time of pain was maybe 5 seconds.

After they make the flap, they take this little scraper (think of a plastic putty knife) and scrape things down. Not sure why, but they did. Looked funny because everything was blurry, but you could still see what they were doing.

Now we get some lasers in the eye. You focus on a light and do your best not to move your eye, your head, or your body (answer there questions with words, not head nods). The laser looks blue with a hint of purple. You can actually see it moving around your eye doing its job. Sometimes in a solid beam, sometimes split up. And be ready to smell some burning flesh. They are using a laser on your body after all. It doesn’t smell much, but enough to notice.

They scrape again and move the flap back into position and remove the lid spreader. The whole process is repeated for the other eye. Again, not a lot of pain involved, but some when they push your eye in for the cut.

Total time for the procedure was about 20 minutes.


Be ready to take a nap after your Lasik. They tell you to take the other sedative pill, but I didn’t. I just slept on and off all day. Which of course made it hard to sleep that night. You get to wear the “birth control” goggles to protect your eyes and put in countless drops over the next week. Space out your drops (in other words don’t put them all in at once, wait five minutes before putting the next one in) and don’t rub your eyes. No swimming either. And no water from the shower splashing into your eyes either.

The day after wasn’t all that exciting. Just lots of sleeping and resting in a dark room. Things were blurry for some of that day, but by nighttime I could start to see clearly enough to notice a difference.

You’ll have another appointment the day after to check your vision and to make sure things are healing okay. I scored 20/15 at this appointment with only one missed letter in my left eye (one missed on the 20/15 line). The hardest part for me the day of and the day after was not being able to read or watch TV. Granted, you should be resting as much as you can, I’d recommend getting a book on tape to listen to when you can’t sleep. After a day you can watch TV, read, and do most anything. But take it easy if you can. Don’t go right back to staring at the computer monitor if you can help it.

More drops, resting, and goggle-induced days later, I had another appointment yesterday (6 days after Lasik). I scored a perfect 20/15 and was able to make out about 25% of the letters on the 20/10 line. You’ll have more appointments to come (1 month, 6 months, and 1 year I believe) but all should be good by now.


- Total time spent at appointments (including the procedure): about 4 hours*
* Results not typical due to mild case of Horner’s Syndrome.

- Total time for Lasik: about 20 minutes

- Total cost: just under $3,000 (but worse starting vision will increase the price)

- Worst part: tied between the limited pain from pressure on eyes during the procedure and not being able to read or watch TV that day

- Best part: still having better vision than my wife

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Betrayal Review

Betrayal (Legacy of the Force #1)
by Aaron Allston

Rating: 5 out of 5

Wow. It’s like the New Jedi Order all over again.

Read my review here.