# Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 1:07:32 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, September 8, 2014
Monday, September 8, 2014 4:54:37 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, September 7, 2014

Today I am grateful to wake up to a house filled with the smell of chocolate chip cookies, fresh baked by Brian Sherwin's kids.

Today I am grateful for:
-Jennifer unexpectedly inviting me to 3 events in the East Lansing area last night
-Being there for Jennifer's first experience of MSU Dairy Store ice cream.
-A private, late-night tour of the Lansing Maker Space by Betsy and Nick.

Today I am grateful for all the books I've read in my life and the joy they brought me.

Today I am grateful for my son Tim Giard, who joined us 20 years ago today!

Today I am grateful for the tasty homemade fudge that Susan brought me yesterday.

Today I am grateful that, following recent surgery on her leg, my mother is now free of skin cancer.

Today I am grateful for
1.) Dinner last night with my friend Mike whom I haven't seen in months.
2.) Visiting my former next door neighbors Carl and Susanne, whom I haven't seen in years.

Today I am grateful to John Kellar and his team for all their hard work that resulted in an excellent DevLink conference.

Today I am grateful for my first visit to the Chattanooga Aquarium.

Today I am grateful for dinner with DevLink crowd last night and ice cream afterward.

Today I am grateful to be back in Chattanooga for the first time in 3 years.

Today I am grateful for the hospitality and generosity of Patricia Desmarais and Gary Desmarais.

Today I am grateful I was able to send so much furniture to a better home this past week.

Today I am grateful for a second burst of energy yesterday after I felt completely drained.

Today I am grateful for 1.) Dinner last night with my friend Mike whom I haven't seen in months. 2.) Visiting my former next door neighbors Carl and Susanne, whom I haven't seen in years.

Today I am grateful to God, who has always stood by me even during the times I tried to push Him away.

Today I am grateful for an evening with the folks at the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group

Today I am grateful for time spent with my boys this summer before they headed out of state to college.

Today I am grateful for my first time speaking at the Detroit Mobile .Net Users Group

Today I am grateful my son came to visit me multiple times on his last day in town.

Today I am grateful I could cook fried rice for all the meals I was able to prepare for my sons in this kitchen.

Today I am grateful for the chance to celebrate the marriage of Shelly and Jason last night.

Today I am grateful I was able to find parking right next to my building 2 days in a row.

Today I am grateful to the organizers, volunteers, and speakers, who make That Conference bigger and better every year.

Today I am grateful for water parks.

Today I am grateful for the chance to see so many old friends yesterday.

Today I am grateful I was able to fix my shower and my bed. Mornings will be far more comfortable from now on.

Today I am grateful to attend my first ToastMasters meeting yesterday - something I've been hoping to do for years.

Today I am grateful for the helpful customer service at Target this morning.

Today I am grateful to be heading back to Chicago for a few days.

Today I am grateful that, after owning this car for a year and a half, I finally figured out how to use Ford Sync.

Today I am grateful that Jason Follas found me a place to stay during That Conference, even though it was more difficult than expected.

Today I am grateful for dinner last night with my son Tim Giard for the first time in weeks.

Sunday, September 7, 2014 4:55:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley tackles the legend of King Arthur. Bradley breathes fresh life into the story by focusing on the women of Arthurian Britain, who tend to be marginalized in other tellings of  this story. Arthur, Lancelet, Merlin, and the Round Table knights appear in this story, but only as minor characters.

Avalon is a magical land that exists slightly outside the world of mortal men - surrounded by water and hidden by mystical mists. Only certain people can pass through the mists from England to Avalon and they can pass through only at certain times. Avalon is a matriarchal society ruled by Druid priestesses; the high priestess holds the title "Lady of the Lake". Avalon obeys most of the laws of the natural universe, but it does not exist on a map and the Druids appear to have limited magical powers. At the beginning of this story, relations are good between Britain and Avalon and Avalon is still connected to the world of mortal men. By contrast, the Fairy Lands have become so disconnected  with the physical world that time moves at a different rate there and they interact very little with the men and women beyond their borders.

The primary conflict of the story arises because Arthur gains the crown of Britain helped, in part, by the Avalon priestesses, who gave him the powerful sword Excalibur and its magical scabbard that prevents protects him in battle. A few years after gaining the throne, Arthur resolves to make Britain a Christian country, ignoring the Druids who helped him rise to power.

Primarily, the story focuses on Gwenhwyfar, who is Arthur's wife and queen, but who is in love with Arthur's best friend Lancelet; and Morgaine, Arthur's half-sister and father of Arthur's only son Mordred (the child was conceived during a pagan ritual at which neither sibling recognized the other).

The story follows the relationship of Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar, who begin as close friends but later become rivals and finally hateful adversaries, bent on the destruction of one another.

It is Gwenhwyfar who convinces Arthur to reject the Druids and declare Britain a Christian country and it is Morgaine who takes the most offense at this betrayal.

Morgaine is the most interesting character. She is a Druid priestess, eventually rising to become Lady of the Lake - the highest rank among the Druids of Avalon. She comes to hate Arthur for rejecting the Druids; She hates Gwenhwyfar for influencing Arthur to do so; and she hates The her former lover Merlin, who does not act to stop Arthur.

As time passes, Morgaine sinks toward madness, conspiring with her new lover Accolon in a disastrous assassination attempt; and capturing and executing the Merlin. Eventually, she softens her stance and accepts the direction in which the world is moving. Near the end of the story, Avalon has become far less relevant in the politics of Britain and - not coincidentally - it becomes far less physically connected to the real world surrounding it. At the end, an aged Morgaine accepts the fate of Britain and of Avalon as it slips deeper into the mists.

Ms. Bradley adds depth to characters that are marginalized or one-dimensional in earlier tellings of the story. Morgaine becomes a living, breathing person under Bradley's pen, rather than the spiteful witch painted by tradition. Gwenhwyfar is much more than the beautiful object in a love triangle - she is a strong politician and she knows how to bend Arthur to her will.

Whether or not you are a fan of the Arthurian legend, you will enjoy The Mists of Avalon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 5:34:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, September 1, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014 10:25:23 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 25, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014 1:30:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 23, 2014

When you install Visual Studio, you are prompted to opt into a program to help improve Visual Studio. If you answer “Yes”, Visual Studio will send information back to Microsoft about errors that occur and features that are used. The information is sent during installation and later during your normal course of using Visual Studio. The Visual Studio team uses this information to learn how their product is used, how often the product is used, and where errors are occurring. All this information is helpful as they improve the product.

If you have already installed Visual Studio, you can select from the menu:
Help | Customer Feedback Options

The following dialog (Fig. 1) displays:


Fig. 1

Click the radio button next to "Yes I am willing to participate" and click the [OK] button.

Of course, you can also opt out of the program by selecting the “No” radio button, but then you are not helping to improve the product. Those who opt out of this often do so because they fear for their privacy; but no personal information is transmitted, You can read about the privacy of your information here.

Microsoft makes it easy for you to share information about Visual Studio usage because they want this information to help to improve Visual Studio.

Saturday, August 23, 2014 2:05:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 18, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014 4:48:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 11, 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014 4:46:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Thrawn Trilogy consists of 3 novels: Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. The books tell a story that takes place in a galaxy far away, a long time ago. But it is not as long ago as the events of the 6 Star Wars movies. The story begins a few years after the the Rebel victory at the Battle of Endor at the conclusion of Return of the Jedi. Although the Endor conflict and its aftermath left the Empire weakened and resulted in the deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, The Empire still maintains a formidable navy commanded by Grand Admiral Thrawn, a brilliant military tactician.

Han Solo and Princess Leia are now married and Leia is pregnant with their twins. Thrawn, in his quest to re-establish the Empire, enlists the services of Joruus C'baoth, the insane clone of a dead Jedi master, who is intent on enslaving Luke, Leia, and Leia's twins (the last of the Jedi line) and establishing himself as galactic dictator.

The rebels match wits with Thrawn across multiple planets, the battles flowing in favor of each in turn. Both sides try to enlist the help of neutral parties, such as a guild of smugglers led by Talon Karrde and the Noghri, a race tricked into decades of servitude by Darth Vader and the Empire. In the final book, our heroic rebels face off directly against Thrawn and C'baoth for control of the known galaxy.

These books are part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU), the name given to books, games, and other media that describe the events of the Star Wars universe. Although LucasFilms recently announced that expanded universe stories are no longer considered canon, it is still fun to follow the further adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Zahn stays true to the characters created by Lucas. He also introduces fascinating new characters, such as Karrde, Thrawn, Mara Jade, and others, who appear in later EU stories.

Along the way, Zahn weaves an exciting tale of action and intrigue, loyalty, and betrayal. It's not the most intellectually stimulating tale but it is loads of fun. Like an unexpected visit from old freinds.

Saturday, August 9, 2014 2:33:48 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)