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Articles: life

Page 1 | Page 2 | ... | Page 10

How to Audition for American Idol
Thursday, 2011 July 28 - 10:29 pm
KaitlynThis is my beautiful, smart, funny, and talented cousin Kaitlyn. We're actually first cousins, though separated by two marriages and twenty years in age.

Kaitlyn went to school with last year's American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery. After seeing Scotty win, she decided she wanted to have a go at Idol herself. So, I promised I would take her to audition this year.

Read more...
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Posted by Ken in: lifemusictelevision

The End of the Space Shuttle Era
Thursday, 2011 July 28 - 8:42 pm
When I was 11 years old, I was utterly fascinated by everything to do with outer space. I'd grown up reading books about the Apollo moon missions, books about quasars, and anything else space-related I could get my hands on.

When I heard that the U.S. was building a highly advanced reusable spacecraft, a ship like nothing we'd ever seen before, my mind was blown. A spaceship with wings? That could fly back to earth and then be used again? It was like science fiction.

Read more...
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Posted by Ken in: commentarylife

Current Events
Sunday, 2011 July 24 - 8:41 pm
Geez, I go away for a while, and all sorts of stuff happens. (I took my cousin Kaitlyn to audition for American Idol. More on that in a future post.)

Amy Winehouse was found dead at the age of 27. She was a terribly troubled person, but for the brief time she had it together, she put out some amazing music. It's just a shame.

The federal debt crisis is still unresolved, causing many to worry that the stock market will plummet this week. Me, I'm debating whether I should sell every stock that I own (and prepare to buy back in if/when the crisis is resolved). It's hard to know where to put money, though: precious metals are already overbought, and of course U.S. bonds are definitely out. Foreign bonds, maybe?

Apple released new models of the Macbook Air and the Mac mini. I'll have a brief summary of the new models in a separate post. Or I suppose you can just look it up elsewhere.

The Space Shuttle completed its final mission Thursday. As my Facebook friends know, my mom found the original drawing I did for the first Columbia launch in 1981, when I was 11 years old. Again, I'll have a separate post about that.

Anyway, I know, long time no blog. I'll try to catch up shortly.
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Posted by Ken in: commentarylife

The Japan Disaster
Sunday, 2011 March 20 - 10:05 pm
Well, the Japan earthquake is already week-old news and I haven't said anything about it, but better late than never.

First, I'm tremendously appreciative of the outpouring of support, not just from my friends but from celebrities and governments around the world. Sandra Bullock gave a million dollars to the relief effort. Ichiro Suzuki pledged $100 million yen (about a million dollars) as well. CBS has been advertising for the Red Cross relief effort during the NCAA tournament games (text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone).

Of course, Fifty Cent and Gilbert Gottfried represent the ugly side of all of this. There seems to be some pent-up anti-Japanese or anti-Asian sentiment among some people... Sweat Pants Mom has the definitive word on that subject.

But the main thing I've felt during this crisis is pride: pride in my culture and in my people, who are the most stoic and resilient in the world. The Japanese are unique in their ability to persevere through adversity, with the spirit of gaman that gives them the strength to endure trying times without complaining. There is no rioting or looting in the quake- and tsunami-ravaged cities; only stories of Japanese people patiently waiting in hours-long lines for food or gasoline, and sharing what rice or noodles they have to everyone they can. It's a marvel of human spirit. Here in the U.S., we complain about lines for the iPad 2.

There are still worries about Japan's ability to get their damaged nuclear reactors under control. I can tell you this: there are Japanese workers who would willingly sacrifice their own lives to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. They will get those reactors under control. They will rebuild the cities that have been destroyed. If there is one country that can survive a disaster, it is Japan.

There have been times in my life when I was ashamed of my background. When you're taunted throughout your childhood for being different, it's hard to be proud of it. But throughout this last week, I could not be more proud to call myself Japanese.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Rip, Mix, Burn
Wednesday, 2010 December 29 - 2:22 pm
Back in 2001, I bought the original iPod, with 5GB of storage and the monochrome display and the mechanical wheel. It was a marvel of engineering at the time. I even took it running with me, though it was a bit bulky and heavy; it tended to pull my shorts down if I had it clipped to my waist.

Nine years and several generations of iPods later, I'm finally getting around to ripping all my CDs to iTunes.

Read more...
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Posted by Ken in: lifemusic

Maybe I Saw the Future
Saturday, 2010 December 18 - 10:45 am
Normally no one really wants to hear about the dream you had last night. Along with your views on politics, it's right up there on the list of "topics you talk about for your own pleasure".

So in other words, it's perfect blog material.

This one really is interesting, though. At least, I thought so. I dreamed that Amy Sedaris had released a new Christmas CD, and she was on a talk show promoting it. This probably had something to do with seeing Amy Sedaris on "The Colbert Report" a few nights back. Anyway, I don't remember all of the tracks, but I remember a few of them:

...
3. You Can't Have Nosy Neighbors If You Wanna F--- Around
...
7. All Night Red Bull Party
8. I Stole My Friend's Insulin
9. Funerals Suck
...

I also don't know what these had to do with Christmas, but I suppose that's the nature of dreams.

Ms. Sedaris, if you choose to produce a new album, feel free to use these ideas. Merry Christmas.
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Posted by Ken in: funnyhahalife

Handy (I Think)
Sunday, 2010 November 28 - 10:43 pm
When we were getting our flooring installed, the installers asked Amy if I was "handy"... meaning, was I capable of moving all the furniture out of the way and putting it back without their help. Amy said, "Well, he thinks he's handy."

Ahem.

Now, to be fair, she only said it so they would move all the furniture for us without charging us. But it's one of those statements that I'll never let her live down. And it always makes me want to prove myself by taking on household projects.

When lightning struck near our house this summer, it knocked out a number of things, like our cable modem and our dryer. Also our upstairs cable TV has been on the fritz; the signal has been weak and some channels haven't been coming in at all.

Now, the cable modem was simple: I just took it to the Time Warner office and they replaced it with a new one. But as far as the dryer and the cable TV, I knew that calling for repairs would require a time-consuming service call that would require me to sit at home all day... and would probably cost me a few hundred bucks for the pleasure.

So instead, I fixed the dryer by looking through the service manual (which was available online, but also turned out to be hidden behind the front panel of the dryer). I went through the tech's diagnostic procedures, and they indicated that a new logic board was needed. I ordered the part on the internet, took the dryer apart, and installed the new board. Bingo: the dryer works perfectly again.

And as far as the upstairs cable, I determined that the wiring through the house wasn't up to par. It was the inferior RG-59 coax, not the RG-6 coax needed for digital cable. There was absolutely no way I was going to replace all the existing wiring: it ran up through an exterior wall, through the attic, and back down into our bedroom. So I ran a new cable through the floor, through a first floor closet, up through the first floor ceiling and through the floor just outside our bedroom. And hey, now all the channels are working again.

These are the kinds of things that make me feel like I've proven my worth as a husband. Now I'm sure there are plenty of independent women that are capable of doing these kinds of things, but look: we men like to feel useful by doing these kinds of things. I mean, what good are we if we don't do stuff like this?

It makes us think we're handy, anyway.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Obligatory
Friday, 2010 November 26 - 11:58 pm
Sigh. I have nothing meaningful to write about today. And I was going to post a picture of otters but FTP upload isn't working. I'll try to be more interesting tomorrow.

Edit: FTP upload now working! Enjoy the otters.

Otters
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Posted by Ken in: life

Gobble Gobble
Thursday, 2010 November 25 - 10:26 pm
Happy Thanksgiving day, also known as "Celebration of American Gluttony". We had Thanksgiving with friends today, and by my calculations, we had enough food to feed everyone six times over. I mean, we had over forty pounds of meat among fifteen people. That is insanity. Also I made two quarts of gravy.

It kind of makes me feel bad that I drove by two homeless guys by the freeway without tossing them a turkey drumstick.

For my many similarly-stuffed American friends... let's be thankful today that we can afford to eat so luxuriously. We live in a country where food is plentiful, and our biggest worry tomorrow is how to find the best parking spot as we shop for our third video game console and fourth television set. We are surrounded by people whom we love and who make us laugh. These are wonderful times.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Punk Ass
Friday, 2010 November 19 - 11:44 pm
I went curling this evening. (All my readers know that I'm in a curling league, right?)

We curl at a hockey rink. Immediately before our ice time, there's usually a youth hockey league that plays... a bunch of 13-year-olds, from what I can tell. Once they finish, the Zamboni runs over the ice, and then people from our club bring out the curling rocks and prepare the ice surface. As I arrived and sat on the bleachers to change my shoes, the ice preparation was going on and the hockey players were departing the locker room.

One of those 13-year-olds yelled over the glass to the people preparing the ice. He yelled, "Women's sport!" with a sneer, as if that were a put-down, and as if that were any more true for curling than it was for hockey.

And then he yelled it again.

Maybe he didn't notice that I was there with a curling broom in my hand. Or maybe he didn't care. But our eyes met as he gleefully repeated his brilliant slur. Four options entered my mind:

(a) I could explain to him that curling was certainly not a women's-only sport, and also that there were plenty of women who played hockey;

(b) I could tell him that it was cowardly and hateful to display a false sense of braggadocio towards something he clearly did not understand, when seemingly protected by a wall of anonymity (and glass);

(c) I could tell him that curling was a game of athleticism and finesse, and were he to try it, he would understand that;

(d) I could call him a punk-ass.

I looked him square in the eye and chose option (d).

Was that the right thing to do? Probably not. But frankly, I have had it with rudeness. I cannot abide the fact that some people think it's okay to do whatever they want, despite who may be hurt by their actions, without any consequences. I cannot stand the fact that some people find it necessary to put other people down to elevate their own status. And on top of it all, I hate when kids pick up these habits, kids who have absolutely no standing in proper society but display a sense of entitlement as if they were kings of the world.

The kid seemed genuinely taken aback. First he asked me, "Are you talking to me?" He didn't say it in a confrontational Robert Deniro-esque manner; I think he couldn't believe that an adult would actually address him that way. I said, "Yes."

Then he asked me, "What did you say?" Again, he seemed to just be asking for clarification. So I said, slowly, "Punk. Ass." And he was dumbfounded.

I glared at him for a moment, finished putting on my shoes, and walked away. As I was just getting out of earshot, I heard him say to his friend sulkily, "That's not even a real word." That made me regret my phrasing to some degree. I should have gone with "little shit", which would have perhaps been within a modern-day 13-year-old's vocabulary.

I am both sorry and glad for what I did. Mostly glad. Maybe, just maybe, when that kid gets the urge to yell something idiotic in the future, he'll look around first for a weird-looking Asian guy wielding a curling broom, and think better of it.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Cheese
Thursday, 2010 November 18 - 11:40 pm
Question of the day: is $10 cheddar cheese actually five times better than $2 cheddar cheese? I mean, I like cheese, and I like good cheese, but when it comes to cheddar... well, I'm not sure I could distinguish the $10 cheddar in a blind taste test.

I was debating this question today when buying ingredients for the company Thanksgiving potluck tomorrow. The store brand was $2 a pound. The specialty brand was $10 a pound. The store proprietors surely would have frowned upon me taking a sample taste.

I'm mixing this cheese with two other cheeses, along with butter and shiitake mushrooms and onion and bacon. I'm thinking, my co-workers will not notice the extra $8 of cheese quality. And when some of them are bringing a $3 store-brand pumpkin pie, or $2 worth of bag salad... well, perhaps they won't have reason to complain.

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Posted by Ken in: foodlife

Vegas 2010
Saturday, 2010 November 13 - 11:55 am
These are the guys I would trust with my life.



And here we are at Del Frisco's.



I look forward to our annual Las Vegas trip every year. It's not the food or the gambling or the shows, though all those things are great. The main thing is the common bond that we share: we all spent our painful adolescent years together, and because of that, we have no shame in front of each other. We've already seen all of each others' insecurities and foibles; there is no pretense. These guys are the closest thing to brothers I have.

See you all next year.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Urgh
Sunday, 2010 November 7 - 1:51 pm
Last day in Vegas. Lost $200 the last day but I have plenty of fun memories. Now to try to survive the plane ride home...
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Posted by Ken in: life

Las Vegas
Friday, 2010 November 5 - 1:01 pm
I'm in Las Vegas this weekend so posting will be terse. It's kind of nice to spend a few days not thinking about work, politics, and frozen lunches. On tap for tonight: dinner at Del Frisco's. Yum.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Rainbow in Kauai
Saturday, 2010 August 21 - 8:48 pm
A perfect rainbow appeared while sailing around Kauai. Click on the image for a larger version.


Waimea Canyon

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Posted by Ken in: interestinglife

Waimea Canyon
Saturday, 2010 August 21 - 6:41 pm
This is a panoramic photo of Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai. Click on the image for a larger version.


Waimea Canyon


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Posted by Ken in: interestinglife

Skirt Chaser 2010
Sunday, 2010 May 30 - 1:20 pm
Remember the Skirt Chaser race I ran last year? Well, I ran it again this year, and this time, my official time was 28:09. I was 395th out of 715, but the women had a three minute head start. If not for that, I would have been 285th. Among all men, I was 172nd out of 276. I need to improve my time by about another minute to climb above the median. But I'm happy with my effort.

Here's me running, near the end of the race.

Ken running Skirt Chaser race 2010

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Posted by Ken in: life

Health Note
Friday, 2010 May 7 - 12:10 pm
So, remember back in the day, when I was running frequently and posting my two-mile times? And then I stopped running for a while, and ate poorly a lot, and my blood pressure skyrocketed? Yeah, that was scary.

I haven't talked about it much, but I'm running regularly again. I've got the Nike+ thing for my iPhone now, which is a lot of fun. There's a decent route for running near where I work. So I'm running 5 kilometers two or three times a week. I've broken the 30-minute mark twice.

And all those frozen lunches I've been eating... yeah, you can decry all the preservatives, but there's no denying that they're significantly lower in calories, fat, and sodium than just about any fast food or restaurant meal I can get. I used to eat out for lunch a lot. Replacing all those burgers and subs with these little frozen meals has made a difference. How much of a difference? Since the start of the year, I've lost eight pounds. My blood pressure this morning: 113 over 77.

And no, I'm not planning on eating those frozen lunches forever; this is just an experiment. The next phase will involve cooking healthy low-calorie meals from scratch. I'm even planning to make my own cheese.

I have a lot of motivation to stay healthy... the main one is that I want to be around a long time to take care of my lovely wife. That's the thought that keeps my legs moving when I'm out there on a long uphill stretch.

I think I'm doing okay.
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Posted by Ken in: foodlife

So, This Happened
Sunday, 2010 May 2 - 10:19 pm
Okay, let me be clear: I wasn't actually part of this; it just happened right in front of me.



Read more...
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Posted by Ken in: life

Happy Australia Day
Tuesday, 2010 January 26 - 9:51 pm
Yes, today was Australia Day, which I will celebrate every year from now on thanks to Elizabeth. I started the day with a Tim Tam Slam, and had I known in advance I was supposed to barbecue some lamb, I would have done that too.

As it was, I put on my Australia temporary tattoo and brought some Vegemite to work, along with 48 little squares of toast. I sent an email to all my co-workers, explaining what Australia Day was, and inviting them all to try some Vegemite.

Vegemite

I had planned to take a picture of each person as they experienced the awesome power of concentrated yeast food product. The theme song of the day was "Vegemite Face", as performed by Lady Gaga. You know, "V-V-V-Vegemite V-Vegemite Face."

As it was, I brought 44 too many squares of toast. Including myself, only four people gave Vegemite a try. And no one had the taste-bud-blowing experience I expected them to have.

Ken VegemiteParks VegemiteTed VegemiteKeith Vegemite

Mostly, the reaction was "hmm, not as bad as I thought". Of course, these were the guys who were the least likely to react in entertaining ways.

I ended up giving most of the Vegemite to a Chris, who's visiting from Christchurch, New Zealand. He's been here for a few months and has searched high and low for Vegemite, to no avail. He was so disappointed that I didn't have a local source for it, I had to let him have the rest of my supply.

So thus ends Australia Day in Raleigh, North Carolina. Next year I'll grill up some lamb. But all the same, thanks, Elizabeth! I had a fun time with all of this. Did I mention that every woman in the building smiled at my temporary tattoo today? (Not that things like that matter to me any more...)
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Posted by Ken in: funnyhahalife

The Ohs
Friday, 2010 January 1 - 11:31 am
First of all, I refuse to use the term "the noughties" to describe the decade from 2000 to 2009. It seems like such an affectation. No one called 2009 "noughty-nine"; it was "two thousand nine" or "oh nine". So when people refer to the decade in actual speech, they'll probably say "the two thousands" or "the ohs".

So I think it's safe to say that my life was dramatically transformed in the ohs. Ten years ago, I was dreadfully single, and just starting to dip into the seedy world of Internet dating. I was working at Nortel. I had dial-up Internet, and I didn't have a blog. I wore white tennis shoes with blue jeans. I was, frankly, a clueless mess.

But since then, I dated lots of women. I learned how to dress better. I got out of a job that I hated. I found my voice through blogging. And that all culminated in getting married to Amy, which I still consider to be the best thing I've ever done. So I'd say it was a successful decade, probably the best of my life. Sure, in the 1970s I learned how not to poop in my pants (mostly), and the 1980s I became educated. But it wasn't until the ohs that I learned self-confidence and style, and that seems like the most important achievement of my life.

So yeah, I'm starting to get old now, and I have years of aches, pains, and prostate exams to look forward to. But at least now, heading into the 10s (the teens? the dixes?) my life has direction, and it's hard to ask for anything more.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Ken's Tacky Christmas Tour 2009
Friday, 2009 December 18 - 8:30 pm
You may remember Tacky Christmas Tour 2005, where I took you on a wondrous journey of North Carolina Christmas decorating. I have some new treats for you, after the jump...

Read more...
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Posted by Ken in: funnyhahainterestinglife

Oh Yeah, Blogging
Wednesday, 2009 December 16 - 10:10 am
Remember, like four posts ago, when I said I'd try to keep blogging on a regular basis? And that kind of seemed like a New Year's resolution? Well, yeah. It's EXACTLY like a New Year's resolution, because it lasted all of a couple of days.

It's not as if there hasn't been anything to talk about: health care reform and Joe Lieberman's douchebaggery; the Big Ten expanding to twelve teams; "Sing Off" on NBC; a trip we took to Schenectady; a big package of Australian goodies that arrived yesterday... so many topics! Argh.

I'll try to catch up over the next few days. Really. No, REALLY.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Turkey Day
Thursday, 2009 November 26 - 5:38 pm
One Thanksgiving dinner down, two to go. Seriously. We went to Amy's uncle's house this afternoon; we're hosting an "orphans'" dinner tonight; and then there's another dinner Saturday with more of Amy's family. Judging from my friends' Facebook statuses, it's not all that uncommon these days for people to have more than one Thanksgiving dinner. I suppose that's a sign of the times.

I don't have a problem with this. Most people who know me know how much I love turkey.

In other news, Michigan won its basketball game today (yay), and Detroit lost in football as usual (boo).

Hope everyone is having a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
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Posted by Ken in: foodlife

It Must Be Thanksgiving
Wednesday, 2009 November 25 - 4:31 pm
I just bought three pounds of bacon and four pounds of cheese. Yep, it's gonna be a good holiday.

To the other shoppers at the Harris Teeter today: I hope you were not alarmed by the appearance of my car, which looked like a bird exploded on it after eating a tub of cream cheese. Also, I hope you did not associate the appearance of my car with the appearance of my jeans, which had dirt stains all over it from doing outdoor work today. In short: I do not ordinarily leave the house covered in poo (and if I did, I'd usually elect to go to the Food Lion instead of the Harris Teeter, so I wouldn't stand out so much).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


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Posted by Ken in: foodlife

Mom and Dad
Sunday, 2009 November 22 - 5:58 pm
When I visited my parents in Japan this past summer, they gave me one of their old wedding photos. I think it's awesome, so I wanted to share it. The photo paper is textured and it made the picture a bit hard to scan, but I cleaned it up as best I could.

Click on the photo for a larger version.

Mom and Dad Wedding
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Posted by Ken in: life

Vegas Photo
Tuesday, 2009 November 17 - 7:35 pm
This is one of my favorite photos from this year's Vegas trip.

Javi and Earl Reflection

Click on the image for a larger version. I'll have a few more photos posted here on realkato.com, but for the complete album, you'll need to be my Facebook friend.
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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel

Day Four
Sunday, 2009 November 15 - 12:25 pm
Fever is down today. Amy bought a thermometer yesterday and it read 100.1°F; today it's back down to my normal temperature, 97.1°F. My throat is still sore but less so. So I may be on the road to recovery... just after missing what I hear was a great party yesterday, and just in time to go back to work tomorrow. Whee.

Now I hear Amy with the same-sounding cough and runny nose that I had four days ago... it's just starting for her. At least, hopefully, I'll be well enough to take care of her.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Day Three
Saturday, 2009 November 14 - 11:27 am
This month is turning into more of KaFluPoMo than NaBloPoMo.

When I was sick as a kid, I used to have two vivid recurring nightmares. In one, I was in one of those garden mazes, at night. Solving the maze wasn't the problem; the problem was, I had to traverse one edge of the maze to get from one corner to another, while being shot at by red laser beams. I knew that all I had to do was make a dash for the corner to get to safety, but I felt like my feet were stuck in molasses and I was scared I wouldn't be fast enough.

The other dream was that I lived in a charming little house with a charming little yard, like something you'd see in a fairy tale. It was very serene except the house was surrounded by giant churning gears that would crush you if you went beyond the boundaries of the yard.

The nightmare I had last night was that I actually had three different strains of the flu at the same time, and all of them were covered by different insurance plans. I had to make sure to have the right plan activated at the right time, depending on which flu strain was presenting symptoms at that time.

I think I'd rather have the lasers.
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Posted by Ken in: life

It's Here
Thursday, 2009 November 12 - 8:58 am
Fever: can't find the thermometer, but I'm pretty sure, yes.
Cough: like I'm trying to turn my lungs inside out.
Sore throat: yes, from all the coughing.
Runny nose: yes.
Body aches: oy, yes.
Headache: pounding.
Chills: yes.
Fatigue: I could sleep all day.
Diarrhea and vomiting: not yet, but I wouldn't be surprised.

I had a seasonal flu shot so it's not that. So yeah, this could well be the dreaded swine flu. I was at work yesterday and out at a hockey game last night... sorry for the Typhoid Mary thing, guys.

Amy is also starting to show symptoms. This will be a fun weekend.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Quadruple Assortant H1N1
Wednesday, 2009 November 11 - 5:17 pm
... also known "2009 H1N1 Type A Influenza", or the "swine flu", even though it is a human disease, not a pig disease. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue; in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting.

I'm kind of a hypochondriac so I probably should avoid reading about stuff like this... but I have to say, I'm not feeling so great today.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Update
Tuesday, 2009 November 10 - 6:18 pm
Sooo, for those of you who didn't see my Facebook status updates, I did make it home Sunday night. The connection from Dallas to Raleigh was also delayed with mechanical problems, so I managed to get there in time to catch it.

However, when I got to the gate, my seat had already been reassigned to a standby passenger. Grrr. So instead of my luxurious exit row seat, I had to sit in 29F. In that steerage-class sardine-can seat, I couldn't even bend down to get something out of my bag on the floor, because the seatback in front of me was about eight inches from my face.

And of course, when I lost my original seat, they diverted my luggage as well. So after I arrived in Raleigh at 12:45 AM, I had to wait around another 45 minutes until the luggage carousel shut down without spitting out my bag.

But I did get home, and that was infinitely better than having to stay overnight in Dallas and flying in on Monday. And my bag was delivered to my house Monday evening by the "delivery service" (which was just some guy in an old Honda Civic). So all is well now. I'm still trying to figure out if I caught the swine flu while I was in Vegas; I have a bit of a scratchy throat but otherwise don't feel sick. Hmm.

Pictures and other Vegas thoughts will appear here and on Facebook soon.

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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel

Well, POO.
Sunday, 2009 November 8 - 5:14 pm
My flight out of Las Vegas is delayed, so I might miss my connection to Raleigh and have to stay in Dallas overnight. It's a good thing I scheduled a vacation day for tomorrow, but I really didn't want to spend any of it traveling. And I was really, really looking forward to sleeping at home tonight.

This is one of those times that I wish airline tickets were binding contracts. American Airlines, I paid money so you would get me to where I wanted, when I wanted. If you can't fulfill even get me to my destination on the day I asked for, you should have to pay me restitution. You should do whatever it takes to make that happen: keep extra planes stashed at airports around the country, add more required layover times, run flights later into the evening.

I know what the airlines say to that: "If we did that, then fares would have to go up". Well, let them go up. I'd pay extra for that peace of mind.
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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel

Down time
Saturday, 2009 November 7 - 2:18 pm
One of the nice things about these trips is that we don't feel the need to cram in a lot of activities while we're here. It's not like we haven't already seen just about everything, and it's not like we won't be back again. So we can afford to sit around watching football, or hang out at the pool. I wouldn't normally associate Vegas with relaxation, but that's just what I'm doing now.

Now if I could only do something about these nosebleeds. I've drank enough water to fill Lake Mead and I'm still turning into Ken jerky.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Vegas, baby
Friday, 2009 November 6 - 11:29 am
Yeah, I'm in Las Vegas again, for our annual Monkey Boys trip. I'm rooming with Javi. One thing that tickles me is that Javi has fans and if they were here, it'd be like they won a contest or something. Don't get me wrong, I feel privileged to be here. I just think it's great that we get to enjoy Javi in his full uncensored shirtless glory.

In other Vegas news, the first bottle of whiskey is gone and I just ate like half a pound of smoked salmon at the breakfast buffet. Ah, Vegas.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Sister-in-law-in-law
Monday, 2009 July 13 - 10:48 pm
What do you call the new wife of your brother-in-law? Is there some special term for that, or is she still just your sister-in-law?

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Posted by Ken in: life

Japan Photos
Sunday, 2009 July 5 - 3:04 pm
A few photos from the trip, after the jump. I'll have more up on Facebook later.

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Posted by Ken in: life

Back in Blog
Tuesday, 2009 June 30 - 12:38 pm
So, I'm back from a ten-day trip to Japan, hence the long hiatus. I wrote some stuff about Japan earlier and my observations about it haven't changed much... so excuse the re-blog-cycling, but you can just go back and read that older post.

Amy's already posted some photos on Facebook. I'll put some photos here soon, perhaps this weekend.

Oh, in other news? Mom and Dad are now reading my blog. I'll, uh, try not to let that affect my writing.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Sailing Takes Me Away
Saturday, 2009 May 23 - 8:24 pm
So today was the Raleigh Skirt Chaser 5K race. I have not run in an actual race since, um, Christopher Cross was in the Billboard top 40. Yeah, I was like ten years old.

Also, until two days ago, I haven't even attempted to run 5 kilometers in years. I used to run two miles regularly, and four miles occasionally... but my running has suffered as of late. (By "suffered", I mean "I've run from the couch to the toilet, but not much more.") But I went ahead and signed up for the Skirt Chaser race at my friend Anna's behest, not really believing I could finish the race at all, much less do any better than a humiliating last-place.

But you know what? I finished. And while I didn't come close to catching the ridiculous Kenyan woman who finished in under 16 minutes, I managed a respectable 32:30 (approximately; the official results haven't been posted yet). So, yay me... maybe I'm not quite as hopelessly old and marshmallow-y as I'd feared.

A few photos will be up on Facebook in a day or two.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Economic Downturn
Saturday, 2009 April 18 - 12:34 pm
So, in the last twelve months, we've lost 15% of our net worth, due to the economic downturn. I'm not gonna say how many dollars that is, but let's just say, it's more than a fistful. This is the first annual decline in my overall net worth since I graduated from college. I mean, 2001 was bad, but I've never seen anything this bad.

I read stories about the downturn, and I hear about friends losing their jobs. But, ironically, it never really felt personal to me until I ran the numbers.

Still, I'm optimistic that if I carefully start putting money back in the stock market, I'll be able to recover most of those losses within a year or two. Maybe this time I'll actually catch the next wave at the right time. Green tech, perhaps?

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Posted by Ken in: commentarylife

Facebook and Photos
Sunday, 2009 March 29 - 3:50 pm
For those of you not following along on Facebook, I've started posting photos there. For a long time, I resisted using hosted photo-sharing sites like Flickr... I figured I could do just as well with my own site, and I thought that would give me more control.

I used Apple's iWeb and MobileMe (née mac.com) for a while, but they kept changing the dang publishing system, so it's hard to keep everything straight. They've got yet another photo hosting system available now (MobileMe Gallery), but I don't feel like I can trust Apple not to replace it with something else. Apple is still inexplicably behind the curve when it comes to Web 2.0 stuff. What's up with that?

But Facebook is a pretty nice way to post photos. I can control who can see the photos by regulating my friends list. Tagging is effortless, and commenting is simple. And best of all, iPhoto '09 has built-in support for publishing to Facebook.

I'll still include photos in my blog posts here on realkato.com, but when it comes to posting whole albums, Facebook is where I'll do it.

If you're a friend and you want to find me on Facebook, you can do it here. But please, if you're someone I haven't seen in ten years and we were never really that close anyway, don't be offended if I don't accept your friend request... you know? I try to keep my friends list restricted to people I really consider to be friends. (In fact, I'm trying to figure out how to pare down my existing friends list without seeming like a jerk. What's the etiquette for de-friending someone?)
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Posted by Ken in: commentarylifetechwatch

Still... Old Friend
Sunday, 2009 February 22 - 1:35 pm
"Kirk... you're still alive, my old friend?"

Yeah, it's been what, two weeks since I've posted anything? You can blame the idiots who call themselves engineers the job for which I'm very thankful in these depressed economic times. Work has been keeping me busy, because I've discovered that hey! lots of people don't care about writing good software, and it's up to me to clean up the mess they've left behind.

But enough about work. After all, it's American Idol season, also known as "the season when nobody wants to read my blog", because all I do is post meaningless reviews of semi-talented music performances by aspiring Kelly Clarkson wannabes. But whatevah, I do what I want.

The Idol blogs won't begin in earnest for a couple of weeks, but I do have a few thoughts about last week's performances. The format this year is interesting: we now start with 36 for the live voting, and whittle down to 12 over three weeks. Each week, only three of twelve contestants automatically move forward; after the country picks its nine finalists, the judges will throw in three wild-card entries as well. It seems like a good system; we'll weed out the poor performers more quickly, while the judges can rescue anyone who's a victim of wacky voting.

So Amy and I were pleased to see Danny Gokey and Alexis Grace move on, as they were the only ones who showed any talent in week 1. Country singer Michael Sarver also made it, but he's gonna have to show a lot more personality and versatility if he hopes to compete. I think Robert Downey Jr. would play Danny in the movie version of this year's show... I can't quite put my finger on who Alexis looks like. A blonder, cuter Molly Ringwald, maybe?

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Posted by Ken in: lifetelevision

25 Things About Me (Facebook Meme)
Saturday, 2009 January 31 - 2:46 pm
I've been tagged a couple of times in Facebook to write 25 random things about myself. The idea is that you write the 25 things, then you tag 25 other people to do the same thing, until the entire pyramid scheme collapses and the federal government bails you out. And so while I've been tempted to just post 25 links to entries in my blog (e.g., "Good old Post ID 518! Oh, how I miss that one."), I guess that would be recycling, and that would be bad for the economy. So here goes... click through to find my list.

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Posted by Ken in: funnyhahalife

Lenses, Joy of Ken's Desiring
Wednesday, 2009 January 7 - 9:58 pm
As my friend Scott predicted, I am already craving new lenses for my recently acquired EOS 40D. The one I really want is the 50mm f/1.4 IS USM lens. Indoor head-and-shoulders photography is probably what I'll be doing 75% of the time, and this seems to fit the bill perfectly.

It seems like the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens would be useful too, especially outdoors. When I went to Costa Rica, I remember wishing I had a high quality zoom lens for taking pictures of birds and crocodiles and such.

Did I mention my birthday is coming up in less than two months?
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Posted by Ken in: lifetechwatch

Camera OMG Camera
Tuesday, 2008 December 30 - 5:21 pm
I finally have a real camera. Now I just need to find a bowl of fruit, a guy jumping something with a skateboard, and a woman on a horse, and my journey to becoming a photographer will be complete.

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Posted by Ken in: lifetechwatch

International House of Festivus Latkes
Friday, 2008 December 26 - 11:53 am
Merry Christmas to my Christian friends, happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends, and Yuletide greetings to my pagan friends. I suppose should add Kwanzaa to this list, but it's hard to recognize the legitimacy of a holiday that was invented in the 1960s. If you're gonna adopt a recently-invented holiday, I think Festivus is the better choice (which, by the way, was invented in 1966, ten months before Kwanzaa). Festivus is truly an American holiday: it's all-inclusive, not tied to any particular religion or race, and it's fittingly neurotic and weird.

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Posted by Ken in: foodlife

Cancun
Friday, 2008 December 12 - 1:55 pm
Last week we went to Cancun for a wedding, for my friends Scott and Amy (whom we'll call AmyB to avoid confusion with my wife Amy). Pictures and more after the jump.

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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel

Las Vegas 2008
Tuesday, 2008 November 11 - 10:37 pm
Last weekend, I went to Las Vegas for my annual trip with The Guys. You may remember Las Vegas from such trips as Las Vegas 2005, Las Vegas 2006, and Las Vegas 2007.

I think we're right in the sweet spot of our trips, where we've been doing this long enough that we've established traditions, but not so long that it's become merely routine. Sometimes our banter is so smooth you'd think we rehearsed it. There are inside jokes that play off of other inside jokes. At one point while playing blackjack, Alan remarked, "that hand just won't quit!" To explain the layers of inside-jokiness that went into remark that would take HOURS.

A few photos after the jump...

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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel

Albatross
Wednesday, 2008 October 1 - 9:26 pm
Fifteen and a half years ago, I bought a house. I was 23.

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Posted by Ken in: life

New Zealand Part III
Thursday, 2008 August 14 - 11:41 pm
On our final day in New Zealand, we went to the Antarctic Centre, and to the Orana Wildlife Park. The wildlife park was definitely a highlight of the trip. Pictures and videos after the jump.

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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel


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