She said she actually wasn't that nervous, and I think she handled the cameras and the attention quite well. Now that she's a celebrity, we'll see if she can keep her cool when the paparazzi start chasing us around town! (It was an absolute nightmare the last time we were on TV!)
Jan 28, 2008
I found out that first she made it into a group of 300, and then into a group of 150. From there, hers was selected to be among the first-prize winners! We've known since September, but had to keep it under wraps or face disqualification. I wasn't aware of that fact when I published a congratulatory blog post four months ago, but I took it down ASAP when I found out about the gag order.
Jan 25, 2008
Tizona was taken in battle from a Moorish chief named Malik Bucar, and became the sword carried by El Cid while fighting the Moors in Spain. It is now one of Spain's most cherished relics and can be found at the Museo del Ejército (Army Museum) in Madrid. The sword carries two inscriptions: “IO SOI TISONA FUE FECHA EN LA ERA DE MILE QUARENTA” (In medieval Castilian: I am Tisona, made in the year 1002”) and “AVE MARIA – GRATIA PLENA – DOMINICUS TECUM” (In Latin: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you.)
Jan 24, 2008
Where else could we begin? The legends of King Arthur include his establishment as England's king through the sword in the stone episode, the advice of the wizard Merlin, the castle Camelot, the institution of the fellowship of the Round Table, the quest for the Holy Grail and numerous magical adventures.
There are two originally separate legends about the sword's origin. The first is the “Sword in the Stone” tale, in which Excalibur can only be drawn from the stone by Arthur, the rightful king. In the second, Arthur draws a separate sword from the stone, and instead receives Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake after breaking his first sword in a fight with King Pellinore. The Lady of the Lake calls the sword “Excalibur” and Arthur takes it from a hand rising out of the lake. On his deathbed, he asks Sir Bedivere to throw Excalibur back into the lake. Before the sword strikes the water's surface, a hand reaches up to grasp it and pulls it under.
Jan 23, 2008
As I was contemplating the dire situation, I called the Chipley Wal-Mart (about 45 miles away). They also received two…and still had both of them in the store! I couldn’t believe my ears. I must have asked the guy four times to confirm. (“In stock?” “Yes.” “At the store now?” “Yes.” “Right now?” “Yes.” “Available for purchase?” “YES!”)
I called my mother-in-law, but she had an eye appointment and couldn’t leave for Chipley until after 1:00. I immediately went to my supervisor, and asked if I could take an extended lunch break. She was a little hesitant because the other team leader had called out, but when I explained about the Wii she understood (she also has a Wii). I promised that I would come back to work, so she said it would be fine. My wife called just then, so I updated her and I was out the door and on my way.
Man, talk about a nerve-wracking trip! The whole time I was wishing I could go faster, and wondering if the Wiis would still be there when I showed up. I kept thinking about that Chipley buttmunch on EBay with the pile’o’Wiis and I was sure he was going to beat me to the store. At the county line, the road switches from four-lane to two-lane, with 30 miles to go. It was raining and we were behind a truck, so passing was out of the option.
When I finally arrived in Chipley, after what seemed like hours, I found the Wal-Mart and parked the car. I suspected every person around me was here for the same purpose. As I walked in, I could see the electronics department, and saw several shoppers that were much closer than me. I was panicking! I walked calmly (though I wanted to run), and when I got to the video games section I didn’t see any Wiis. I asked one of the sales associates if they still had any Wiis in stock, and he wasn’t sure, so he asked another guy. This other guy seemed very entitled, and I suspect he secretly enjoyed the distorted sense of power that came with the question, and he toyed with me by saying, “Yeah, I think we might have one of them left.” Then he walked away. I didn’t know if he was going to look, or going on break, but I played it cool and forced myself to remain calm and to resist beating the other associate to a bloody pulp for not knowing, and not rushing to check.
After an eternity of staring at reduced videos, the entitled guy popped up from around a corner holding the Wii. I have to admit, I melted a little inside. I was gleaming. The search was over. I pulled out my credit card and made the purchase. Then I walked straight to the car and covered it up on the backseat with a blanket (to prevent theft, of course). Before I left Chipley, I found a phone, and called Angela to tell her the good news. It was pouring down rain, and there was no shelter over the phone, but I felt all sunny inside. I knew Angela was probably stressing out as much as I had been, and I was looking forward to ending her misery. Check out this email she sent me while I was on my way to Chipley:
I'm freaking out. WHY DON"T YOU HAVE A CELL PHONE?!?! I'm so excited and nervous and I wish you'd get back to work so I could find out. Dude! Hurry! I love you so much. You are my hero. I'll love you even more if you got one. I feel all tingly inside. Kinda like when I found out about the sharks. Hurry and call me.
Thank you so much for calling me to tell me we got a Wii and also thanks for going and getting it. You rock! Thank Lisa for letting you go. We are so getting Wii crazy tonight! Awesome! We have to go to Best Buy after work tonight to buy Wii Play and maybe another nunchuck. Anything else you wanna get now?
I'm so happy. I'm doing the Wii dance.
Jan 22, 2008
So when we found out we’d be getting a nice little chunk back on our taxes (we switched to the “married filing at single rate” payroll deduction option) we decided to get one. Well, it’s not like you can just run down to Wal-Mart and pick one up. We’ve been casually looking for about a month, but we’ve never spotted one.
On Friday, we started the aggressive searching. Of course, everywhere we went was sold out: Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart.
On Saturday, we expanded the search by turning to the phone. Some of the replies were less than energetic, and I had severe doubts that some agents were even looking. So, we used a two-pronged attack: we called, we drove, we called as we drove. Still, nothing. Though we did start putting some pieces together: Wiis arrive via UPS, not the regular store delivery trucks (this was confirmed by a couple of different retailers). I found out that UPS usually delivers to Wal-Mart late in the morning, around 11 or 12. This was a big relief – I was glad to hear that going to a store at 7am wouldn’t help.
On Sunday, we started enlisting the help of family and friends. We asked those close to us to keep their eyes peeled and their ears open. If they heard or saw anything Wii, they should notify us immediately. We continued the fruitless search online, but found nothing at the major retailers – all were SOLD OUT. We found a couple of package deals at EBGames.com, but we would end up paying around $475 and we’d get some games and accessories that we weren’t really sure we wanted or needed. Plus, the orders wouldn’t ship until 11 days later. EBay was no help at all. The Wii consoles alone were “buy it now” priced at $400. And some idiot was out there buying them all up on the live auctions with X***X profiles that were created two days ago (X being a random number or letter). We even tried searching EBay for nearby locations (to save on shipping) and found some creep in Chipley who had a sickening picture of a number of consoles all stacked up against a wall. He was selling bundles for some ridiculous amount. Cleary, a few “enterprising” morons are buying all the available stock online and in the stores to increase demand and garner a hefty markup.
By this time, the phone list had expanded to include Sears, K-Mart, FYE, and other lesser-known retailers. Still no luck.
On Monday, we found some Wii-tracking websites (like this one, or this one) that monitor online availability. We found out that UPS was delivering on the holiday, so we made another round of calls. Net result – nothing.
Today we had to go back to work. I’ll continue the search at lunch break.
Recently, I've seen a couple of ".tv" domain codes, and I just assumed that the preferred ".com" addresses were already taken. Actually, ".tv" is quite popular, and happens to be the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Tuvalu.
Yes, Tuvalu! It's a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji. Comprising four reef islands and five true atolls, with a gross land area of just 26 square kilometers (10 sq mi), it is the second-least populated independent country in the world. It is the smallest member by population of the United Nations. In terms of physical land size Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world, larger than only the Vatican City, Monaco and Nauru.
Any person in the world can register a .tv domain for a fee. The Tuvalu government receives a quarterly payment of US $1,000,000 for use of the top-level domain. The domain name is popular, and thus economically valuable (other similar ccTLDs are .fm, .am, .cd, and .dj). The domain is currently operated by dotTV, a VeriSign company. The Tuvalu government owns twenty percent of the company.
Here's some other ccTLDs you may or may not be familiar with:
.ac - Ascension Island
.aw - Aruba
.bf - Burkina Faso
.bj - Benin
.bv - Bouvet Island
.er - Eritrea
.fj - Fiji
.gg - Guernsey
.gp - Guadeloupe
.gw - Guinea-Bissau
.ht - Haiti
.im - Isle of Man
.iq - Iraq
.is - Iceland
.ki - Kiribati
.kg - Kyrgyzstan
.kz - Kazakhstan
.mm - Myanmar (Burma)
.no - Norway
.nu - Niue
.pn - Pitcairn Island
.re - Reunion Island
.sh - St Helena
.sr - Suriname
.tg - Togo
.ug - Uganda
.vu - Vanuatu
.ye - Yemen
.yt - Mayotte
Jan 18, 2008
Cook returned to the islands in 1779. After a month's stay at Kealakekua Bay, on the "big island" of Hawaii, his expedition got under sail again to resume his exploration of the Northern Pacific. Shortly after leaving, the foremast of his command ship (the HMS Resolution) broke and the party returned to Kealakekua Bay for repairs. Tensions rose and a number of quarrels broke out between the Europeans and Hawaiians.
Jan 15, 2008
Jan 7, 2008
The names that eventually prevailed were chosen by Simon Marius, who claimed to have discovered the moons at the same time as Galileo. He named them after lovers of the god Zeus (the Greek equivalent of Jupiter): Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Galileo was perturbed by this, and refused to use the names. He referred to them instead as Jupiter I, II, III and IV, creating a numbering scheme that is still in use today.
Though his name for the bodies didn’t stick, Galileo is credited with their discovery and the moons are still referred to as Galilean Moons.
A composite image showing the relative sizes of the four moons as compared to Jupiter. From the top: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.