Monthly Archives: May 2011

Fullmetal Alchemist

After some debate, Kristin and I have canceled the disk portion of our Netflix service and finally signed up for the unlimited streaming side. We had been grandfathered in on a now-defunct plan so we gave that up to get the unlimited streaming.

I don’t watch much anime, but in college Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA) caught my attention when I saw a couple episodes. Having burned through Archer Season 1 (fantastic and the only season available on Netflix streaming) I decided to look it up. Luckily, the FMA: Brotherhood series had been brought to Netflix in early April of this year – perfect timing.

What’s interesting about anime for me is that it clearly comes from a different culture. Supposedly FMA is one of the best anime shows ever which makes it a prime example. There is one story arc that covers 53 episodes. Only rarely is there a subplot that starts and concludes in one show, but rather you need to watch every episode to get what’s going on. This is no mere cartoon.

There is also a much freer take on topics that we might find sensitive here – genocide, God, violence etc. It’s a bit more like how real life goes, the cartoon delivery and flights of fancy (again, cultural difference) underscore the irony of the situation.

The downside? There are five parts to the series and I exhausted part 1 and 2 over the last week. Netflix only has those for streaming, the rest come on DVD. From what I have read, the length of wait time on these disks can be very long as they are in high demand and you also stand a great chance of getting a damaged disc. Three and four are on sale at Amazon, only $25 for each on Blu-Ray. Tempting… We’ll see. It is TV, after all…

If you have an open mind towards cartoons (Tangled is also great for some very different reasons) and by extension anime, please take a look at this series. It would be nice to have someone to talk about it with! ūüôā

–Nat

Oil Change & More

I took the Passat in for routine 45k mile maintenance yesterday which is just an oil and filter change (still ~$60…) and got a little more than I wanted.

There are a couple outstanding recalls on the car, but I waived them off until another time. ¬†We had an ultrasound/OB visit at 1PM I couldn’t be late for despite my morning oil change. ¬†The recalls required removing the steering column and rewiring the front side airbags. ¬†It was a “minimum” of three hours of work and not the sort of thing I would have wanted rushed. ¬†Not too mention that a “minimum” time required at a mechanic tends to be pretty conservative.

Working away on my laptop on the complimentary wireless, a service associate found me in the nice waiting room and informed me that the rear brakes were worn to the point of needing to be serviced.  New rotors and pads, he informed me, would cost ~$430 for OEM or ~$350 for third party.  I elected to go with the VW parts at this juncture (brakes are important, the brakes are good now, and third party could mean cheap organic pads which should be banned for city driving) and he promised me the car would be done in an hour.  About an hour and half later it was 11:30 and I was getting concerned about the timing of the days events.  He looked grim and said he needed to show me something on my car.  I seriously doubted this meant that they had found a wad of Benjamins in a wheel well and braced myself for the worst.

He began to explain to me that there had been an incident with the parking brake. ¬†You see, my Passat has an electric parking brake that is automagically engaged in park (clamping down the rear brakes) and in order to service the rear brakes you need to have VW service computer or special software to back off the rear calipers so they can be serviced. ¬†I had investigated rear brake servicing after I had been given the quote quickly to make sure I wasn’t being completely ripped off. ¬†Given the special equipment required and the consequences of even slightly flubbing it up – the ECU of the car throwing an error and refusing to start the car – figured the dealership had to be the safest place. ¬†The service advisor told me as much again while we walked back into the garage area, which must have had some 30 lifts and a small army of mechanics swarming all over the place, and then he “broke” the news.

While the pads were off, one of the mechanics had noticed that the headlights of the car were still on. ¬† He then reached into the car and did something, this wasn’t made clear to me, and that caused the car to engage the parking brake. ¬†This drove the pistons through the calipers and destroyed them. ¬†When I was shown the car, it looked like they were still trying to figure out how to disengage the parking brake at that point. ¬†In any case, they stocked no calipers and and had to order them in. ¬†I was given a loaner and promised “the best possible deal” on the brake job.

What’s funny is that the guy seemed very relieved that I wasn’t getting angry at all and said as much. ¬†Getting angry wouldn’t have fixed the problem was my reply – and there was more to it than that. ¬†I think the worst thing you can hear at an import dealership is “there is something I need to show you on your car” – something so bad they get you out of the service waiting area where you have other customers watching before they break the news. ¬†You might as well figure $1k and go from there it seems. ¬†I was so relieved that they had just messed up and that in the end I would be paying less – well, it was all good.

Now I am driving a loaded CC and that is a pretty swanky ride – essentially a¬†re-skinned¬†Passat with a much lower roof line and nicer curves. ¬†It’s got some hail damage but has the sport package, man I would love to steal those seats!

The final thought I have on the matter is that these are the same guys who are going fix the recalls on the car – including pulling out the steering column and rewiring airbags! ¬†Great…

–Nat

VG Cats

From time to time while cruising through the internet I find something new. ¬†This week I stumbled upon the “vgcats” comic, and after getting to this one, ¬†I couldn’t help but share. ¬†In an unrelated incident, I also found this poster which I find nearly endlessly amusing:

Probably Not.

Lastly, it’s been four years that Kristin I have been married! ¬†How fast good times go by… ¬†and only four weeks until we are supposed to continue the TeamJuchems expansion with a baby boy, which is also just freaking crazy. ¬†It does seem like Kristin has been pregnant about forever…

–Nat

Lab Manager Blog

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Lab Manager so far. It has been a great tool for our developers, but it is not a complete solution. It wantonly wastes storage (its primary constraining resource) and it make server maintenance much more of a chore than necessary. I stumbled across this good blog on it now, of course, as it enters its twilight. Hopefully good information on vCloud Director will be forthcoming.

http://bsmith9999.blogspot.com/2011/03/lab-manager-4.html

–Nat