Thanksgiving is an American holiday, but there’s enough ex-pats and Taiwanese-Americans over here that many of the big hotels have Thanksgiving dinners for takeaway. We live right behind the Landis Hotel, so it was a pretty easy choice for us. Their meal included a whole large bacon-wrapped roast turkey in a nice basket, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables and pumpkin pie. Downsides are that the stuffing was made of something like lentils instead of the American style bread and vegetable stuffing I’m used to. Also no sweet potato with marshmallow topping, no green bean casserole with french fried onion topping, no mashed potatoes, and no crescent rolls (though we got French Bread instead). But close enough. Emily ended up eating only a little bit and then demanded leftover spaghetti instead. I gave her turkey to my cat King who was very happy to eat it instead. I got to eat a whole drumstick all by myself.

More construction pictures and spaghetti

The memory card reader on my new laptop is really convenient. I can copy and upload pictures quite easily.

Tonight I made spaghetti with creamy tomato meat sauce. I will probably be eating it for lunch for a few days. Good thing I like spaghetti.

Spaghetti and Emily.

We have walls. We have too many walls!

We have more bookcases.

More work on the bookcases.

Bookshelves get spruced up.

Big closet started.

Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire

We went to see the new Harry Potter movie last night. My wife got tickets to the special IMAX showing they have at the Warner Brothers Miramar in Dazhi. I was actually pretty surprised how good the IMAX was. The detail and size of everything was pretty incredible. If you ever get a chance to see a real movie in IMAX, give it a try. (I don’t mean those nature movies they usually have.)

As for the movie itself, this one was a good bit better than the previous ones. The first two, and to some extent the third one pretty much stuck to the books without cutting much out. This one cut out quite a bit. That’s not terribly surprising since the fourth book was longer, but they didn’t bother to even go through the motions of Harry’s muggle step-parents, or much of the quidditch matches, and mostly stuck to the more interesting parts of the story. Even so, the pace of the movie was pretty quick. As an effect of this, some of the usual characters, while appearing in various scenes are reduced to being bit parts. Even Professor Snape really only has one scene of significance.

As well, this movie is significantly more mature than previous ones, particularly the graveyard scene and some characters dying, not to mention several scenes where characters almost died but just got away. For older viewers, this is probably a good thing, but I’m sure there’s lots of younger kids who aren’t going to get to see it due to the more graphic content.

The added characters of Professor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody and Daily Prophet Reporter Rita Skeeter were well played and quite interesting. I hope I’m not spoiling anything, but this is also the first time we see He Who Cannot Be Named back in his full form, and get our first view of current and past (?) Death Eaters, some of who we’ve already seen and some which are new characters.

Anyways, it was a good bit of fun, so if you’ve been following the movies and/or read the books, get out and see this one.

New Scanner is Nice

The new Microtek ScanMaker i320 scanner that I got today is really very nice. I’m glad I finally got fed up with the crappy old one that I never use because it always resulted in such awful scans. I scanned in some more halloween pictures (scroll down to hw2005-1 through hw2005-8) that one of Maggie’s friends took.

If you are worried that the reddish tinge to the pictures and dark backgrounds are artifacts of the scanner, no the prints actually look that way. The prints have a slightly matte finish to them so I had to turn on descreening to get rid of the noise that created, but otherwise I didn’t fiddle with the settings much. If you look at the full res scan you can even see the dust on the prints.

My one complaint is that the scanner gui comes up in basic mode at first and there’s a tiny inconspicuous and incomprehensible icon next to the minimize/maximize/close buttons that switches it into advanced mode. It took me forever to figure out that was how I could get out of the scanning for morons mode. Other than that it’s pretty good. It came with a transparency adapter for slides and negatives but I haven’t tried that out yet.

One For The Wish List

I was down to the computer shopping area to pick up a Microtek ScanMaker i320 scanner to replace my crappy old Umax scanner. While looking around I saw one place that had the Acer Ferrari 20″ widescreen LCD monitor that I’d heard about last week. While it was fairly impressive, what was REALLY impressive was the monitor above it, the Acer AL2416W 24″ widescreen LCD. It’s a 24″ 16:10 1920×1200 widescreen with 1000:1 contrast, 500 candlepower, 6ms response time, 178 degree viewing, and VGA and DVI inputs. The store where I saw it was selling it for TWD28,900 (about USD865). Everything about it seems pretty sweet. (Do I sound like I’m becoming an Acer fanatic yet?) Oh, for those of you in the US, sorry, this one is out only in Asia and Europe currently.