Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ed Schultz LIVE From Denver!

posted by John Blanco @ 7:11 AM


On Saturday, we went to see Ed Schultz do his show live from the DCPA here in Denver! This picture is of he and former-Senate primary candidate Mike Miles and Be The Change (BTC) lead Bill Winter.

We've had Bill Winter attend our Young Dems meeting to talk and he's a very inspiring man. He's a former soldier and damn proud of his flag. The BTC event he hosted on Saturday went off wonderfully!

And in fact, it is the former staffers of Mike Miles who inspirte BTC in the first place! Many of their volunteers come from Miles, and the term "be the change" is a Ghandi reference that Miles used during his campaign.

While Mike didn't win the candidacy bid, he lost to Ken Salazar who did in fact win the Senate seat for the Dems -- though he's a lot more of a centrist than Miles is.

Part of the Ed Schultz Contingent...

posted by John Blanco @ 7:10 AM


Here's a picture of (from left to right) Richard, Gennelle, and Michele. I work with Richard, and that's his lady next to him. :-) Michele, of course, is my honey. And, this was also her BIRTHDAY!!! Happy Birthday, baby!

One of the "Denver Three"

posted by John Blanco @ 7:10 AM


Ed had Leslie Weise on the show on Friday as well. Leslie is one of the now-well-known "Denver Three". These are the three citizen who were thrown out of a Bush Social Security event because surveillance showed that they had a bumper sticker on their car that said "No Blood for Oil".

Think about this. Bush held this event with taxpayer dollars...yes, MY money was being used for this event...and THEIRS! And they were not allowed in!! They had tickets. They did nothing wrong. And in fact, they were not going to protest or anything -- they held no signs, they had normal T-shirts...


This is exactly what's wrong with this country. The only people allowed to attend these events were those specially given tickets by their Republican representatives. These three actually got their tickets that way! So, when a Neo-Con says "accept your President," I say back, "Why should I? He's not accepting me!!"

If you can't compare these actions to how hard Hitler held his country -- you're with me or against me -- then you need to re-read your history books. It's Nazi Germany without the concentration camps, people.

Be The Change 2005

posted by John Blanco @ 6:54 AM


A picture of the booth hall during off-time, while the meetings were going on.

Be The Change 2005

posted by John Blanco @ 6:53 AM


Here's Michele and I manning the booth. Yes, that is my terrible Clinton impression. ;-)

Be The Change 2005

posted by John Blanco @ 6:53 AM


Here is fellow Young Dem, Anthony, and I at the booth. We did everything we needed on this day: raised funds, raised donations for the National Kidney Foundation Walk in September, and recruited several people for our team!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Happy Birthday to Michele!!!

posted by John Blanco @ 10:41 PM


Today is Michele's birthday!! :-) After watching the Ed Schultz show live at the DCPA, we went with her whole entire family to Traildust Steakhouse (I-25) for dinner. Her parents, Andy (gaming brother), Kevin (right-wing brother), Michael (long lost brother), Chris (giant brother), Shannon (Chris's wife), and James (Chris and Shannon's 2-year-old) were there!

We had great fun! We got pictures of James dancing the hokey pokey and Michele taking him down the big slide. :-) And the food was stupendous!

Michele also got cool gifts...I got her a bunny she's named "Present," a collection of Sim games, a Sims expansion pack, and the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book. :-)

With some of her birthday money, she also got herself Sims 2, and soon we'll be getting a new video card in the mail and it will look kick-ass! ;-)

This is the year, Michele! :-)

Michele and James Slidin'!

posted by John Blanco @ 10:39 PM


Goin' to see Big Eddie!

posted by John Blanco @ 6:52 AM


Michele, Vincen, Richard from work (and guest), and I are going to see Ed Schulz do his radio show live today at the Stage Theater in the DCPA! :-)

Listen in at 1-4 PM MDT!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Happy 1st Anniversay!

posted by John Blanco @ 1:23 PM


Livin' On ZaBlanc: The Forefront of Technology's Past

Happy Anniversary to "Livin' on ZaBlanc", which is now 1 year old. :-)

First Glimpse: Chess Avatara

posted by John Blanco @ 1:03 PM


OK, I've dropped plenty of clues, but here's a first glimpse of what Chess Avatara is like. :-)

What you see is nothing like how it will look. Funny, eh? You see a sungeon scene and two suns with names, apparently. The suns are just graphics I swiped off Google. There will be normal characters instead, in the end. The dungeon represents the first room of the game, but it will not look anything like it does now. Firstly, the room was designed to be small here for the sake of development. In the final game, it will be huge and scroll on the screen. Also, the graphics are also ones I snagged off Google.

The player names are final, for the most part. The yellow name represents the player you are controlling. The white name respresents another player on the server. This screenshow was taken with Aragog playing. (HP fans, get the reference?) Currently, the serer/client system works very solidly, and the player movements are indeed happening live!

I will have over the coming months. Intended release date is sometime in January, but no guarantees. I'm developing as I find the time.

Fun stuff. OK, time for more. :-)

What I've Learned Over the Weekend

posted by John Blanco @ 10:13 AM


I learned a lot over this last Friday and Saturday night; here's a rundown:

You can double-check you have the right DVD, double-check you have enough soda stocked, double-check you have enough pizza ordered, and double-check you have given the right directions...but, you must also double-check that your Air Conditioning system hasn't gone on the fritz before you have a dozen people over for a movie night. :-)

When playing Russian Volleyball, you should always wear kneepads if you're going to play for 5 hours! Knees very sore today from logging so much time in the middle while wearing shorts. Ouch!

Never, ever, EVER, eat BBQ'd raw onions off a Veggie-ka-Bob ever again. Blech! (The potatoes were good, though!)

Never skip dinner to play 5 hours of Russian Volleyball and wonder why you're feeling woozy towards the end.

Never think it's OK to go inside and gorge on peanut M&M's, chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chips and salsa, potato ships, and a root beer to make up for it!

Had great fun this weekend...but today is definitely recovery day. :) Oh, and congrats to Lance Armstrong, 7 Tours in a row...and now a retiree! Excellent work!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Thinkin' Blue

posted by John Blanco @ 7:45 PM


Whew! A whirlwind week...let's give a quick summary before we talk about the near future.

The Yougn Dems have determined that we will have a booth at the upcoming Be The Change event. We've done a lot of remote convo's working out the details, but we're pretty much decided on going and preparing now.

I need to be putting together a flier, but I haven't even started. Tomorrow night I hope to get some direction.

July 29th is the Yog's birthday! I've begun gift collecting, and we're about there. She'll love em. :-) One is sitting at work right now...hmmm, what could it be??

Been playing some StarCraft as of late. Fun game, good that I'm trying to catch up with all the games I skipped out on in recent years. Geeesh.

And, of course, Chess Avatara. GREAT progress this past week! Besides finishing the basic demo, I'm moving on to more detailed parts, part of which is done, and now adding some cool "features" ... so the working demo will be a little more interactive. I love working on fun pieces, and not just base architecture. :-)

Before i go further, I need to clean up the codebase a bit more, and then do some checkins.


Now, for the near future. Tomorrow, I'm hosting a Young Dems movie night! We'll be watching OutFoxed and Bush's Brain. And gorging on pizza. And discussing upcoming events.

Saturday, at precisely 3:03 PM, is the Grinka's Hippie-Q! No meat...very sad...but we'll figure out a way. :-) Should be great fun with great friends and a looooooooooong night!

Next week, July 29th, is Michele's birthday! Can't wait to give her the gifts!!! Also, we are attending the LIVE broadcast of the Ed Schulz Show. On July 30th is the BTC event as I outlined earlier.

So, I got a flier to write, more Avatara to do...and lots fo work ahead! Rock on!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Move over, Tori...

posted by John Blanco @ 7:52 PM



Welcome, Otep!!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Harry Potter 6!!!

posted by John Blanco @ 4:24 PM


This weekend marked the release of Harry Potter 6!!! Of course, it needs to explanation, one of the greatest book series' of all time. The second to last of the series itself, it is called "Harry Potter 6 and the Half-Blood Prince"

I took Friday off from work and all of us friends (Kevin, Annie, Michele and I) ventured up to Greeley to check in to our bed & breakfast. It was a great place, with lots of outdoor charm and a nice swimming pool which we used liberally. :-)

At around 9:30, we made our way back to Denver, to Cherry Creek actually, and waited on line at the Tattered Cover bookstore to get our copy of the new book! The book was being sold at the stroke of Midnight. We got on line a little before 10:30, we were about 20th on line I'd guess...and just chatted.

As the time grew near, things got very exciting. There was a buzz in the air, the lines had long filled out, and the whole bookstore was packed...and this is near midnight on a Friday! People were dressed up as all sorts of character and the mood was jovial. K and I, because of where we were on line, snapped some pictures of the new books before midnight as the lady was walking in and out of the room. She even posed for a great shot of her looking mortified, I hope that one comes out. :-)

Midnight strikes!

We had to wait about another minute and a half, and the books were ours! We hustled our way around hundreds of bodies and out the store, ready to go back to our B&B and read!!

K began reading in the car aloud. He got through a chapter and a half. I had trouble paying attention during parts as I was driving, so I had to read them both all over again anyway. We were in Greeley by 1:25, and while K and Annie read a little bit more, Michele and I dozed off.

Saturday morning hits, and the reading begins. I finished the first chapter again before breakfast. Then, we all went down to breakfast (not too exciting) and then came back up to our rooms to read. We read at a tremendous rate and then lunch. We went to Wendy's and brought it back to eat at a gazebo on the B&B ground. Very yummy, and we chatted about the least, the parts we'd all gotten to. (Michele and I were a bit behind, especially me.)

The next 5 or so hours were tough, I fell asleep for about 2 hours, tired from the night before and having trouble adjusting to this non-stop reading regimen I never usually do. :-) By dinner, I was 250 pages into the 652-page book! And I had to finish it by the end of the night??

Annie and K were cruising...both in the 500's already! Michele and I were hundreds of pages behind, and facing a long stretch!

We got back, and Michele and I declined the pool in order to read. And read. And read. And read. And READ!

K finished the book at 8:30. Annie finished at about 10, and that's when they went to sleep. Michele and I were still quite a bit behind, with Michele about 30 pages ahead of me.

And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read. And we read.

We read til 3:30 in the morning, when we each finished the book within 4 pages of each other!!!!!

Wow, what a book! The weekend has motivated me to re-read the entire series all over again. If you haven't read the Harry Potter books, man, yer missing out -- I really recommend it! They are bloody brilliant!

Well, as with every other book in the series, this books get a 10 rating. J.K. Rawling is simply incredible. Can't wait for book 7!

No spoilers to report. Just cause I read the book in a day, doesn't mean I have to ruin for anyone else. :-) Also, if yer interested in buying my used copy for $15 (Michele and I don't need to keep both), lemme know.

Michele, Kevin, Annie and Me

posted by John Blanco @ 4:05 PM


This is us on line with our proof o' purchases. Great idea, too, it made the line go very, very quickly! (Swap the voucher for the book, and move on!)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Operation: Demo!

posted by John Blanco @ 10:05 PM


Babble, babble, bitch, bitch, rebel, rebel, party, party, sex, sex, sex, and don't forget the vi'lence...blah, blah, blah, got your lovey-dovey, sad-and-lonely, stick your stupid slogan in, everybody sing...


OK...lots to report tonight. :-)

The DEMO IS COMPLETE! Tonight, I hooked in the final piece of the demo and now you can log in and out of the server, move your character around, and watch it move on the other screens! Very cool stuff. :-)

There's just one little bug, but I'm going to ignore it now. Every so often, the other character will kinda snap into place a few pixels ahead of schedule. It may be related to processing times...and I'm a loooooooong way from an optimized client. In fact, I know of some gross offenses to optimized code, but, I'll wait on all that.

My next steps will be to create a couple extra levels and to provide the player the ability to warp between zones. Should be pretty fun to do, and I'll be converting some "temporary" code into "production" code along the way to accomplish that.

Tomorrow, I'll spent some time designing these new features.

Also, yesterday, Michele and I went to our second JeffCo Young Dems meeting. The room was packed this time. We had people representing Be-The-Change there, including Bill Winter, a very inspiring guy. A woman representing "Yes on C and D" was there about Referendums C and D which are must-votes this Novemeber!

Also, Herb Rubenstein, a potential candidate for the 7th district for 2006 talked about his platoform. I'm 6th district, but it's still good to know who's who. Most everyone else was 7th district, so it was productive.

Michele and I are hosting a movie night next week, the 22nd, for the group. Will prolly be about 8 of us...hopefully more. We're going to watch OutFoxed and Bush's Brain. I've seen Bush's Brain before, but I'm very excited to see OutFoxed!

On July 29th, we're going to see Ed Schulz LIVE! Ed is a talk-show host out of North Dakota normally. He's coming to Denver live on the 29th...and Vincen, Kyle, Richard, Michele, and I are going to see him. Tickets are free as well. Nice!

The 29th is also, above all else, the Yog's birthday. ;-) Time is coming to decide what kind of gifts I'll be getting.

And, well, now it's getting late...time for sleep...tomorrow we're headed to a B&B to prep for the release of Harry Potter 6!!! Kevin, Annie, Michele and I are going to be reading all weekend...should be a great book!

I'll post pics as always. OK, g'night for now!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Guess Who's Back -- Back again?

posted by John Blanco @ 9:33 AM


After some time reflecting on the question, I'd finally answered it for myself...under what name will Chess Avatara be released?

It will be released under Rapture In Venice.

I've decided to retire Bite Size Studios now. While I still like the moniker, it represents a small-size game profile. Since the cell phone market proved itself to be week for an ISV, and Avatara is nothing near a cell-phone game, I'm going to go back to my old favorite.

As for a release date, it's still miles away. January 2006 would be a great, and a Best Case scenario, but it will be at least 6 months and I can't guarantee it would be limited to that either.

As for progress, it's going pretty nicely lately. I was actually able to run the client under both of our machines here at home, the PC being the big accomplishment as it's the one NOT hosting the server.

As for public testing, that hit a snag. My Web server (for Bite Size Studios) has a firewall which prevents the Avatara port from being accessed outside of the server. So, I'll need to find a server that will allow me to do this important testing.

But for now, I'm OK. Miles to go before a public server is let's actually *get* to that point before worrying about it. :-)

I did a lot of code refactoring yesterday while Michele was playing In Nomine with Kevin, Aaron, and the Rammie. I added Log4J support (a logging facility), abstracted some base functionality to share amongst server and client (especially protocol stuff), and pulled many constants out of individual classes and into a global constants class.

Eventually, I will pull these values out of the constants class and into a properties file. But, one step at a time.

My next tasks will include login support (no authentication quite yet), and having multiple sprites appear alongside a player. Then, the sprite management code will go in and I'll have the prototype I've been driving for for a while. :-)

Very exciting. I hope to get most of the work done this week, but I only have 3 days to work on it. Wednesday night is a Young Dems meeting.

As for this weekend, including Friday, Kevin, Annie, Michele and I are heading to a Bed and Breakfast to read the new Harry Potter book. Book 6!!! Very cool! So, should be a fun weekend. :-)

OK. Back to work for me.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Tag Day '05!

posted by John Blanco @ 7:55 PM


Tag Day '05!

posted by John Blanco @ 7:54 PM


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Crazed Eating Schedule

posted by John Blanco @ 1:24 PM



Oh, sorry, very rude of me. :-) Today is a weird's TAG day, and errand day. So things are a little whacked.

We play TAG in Manitou Springs at about 5 PM, and will play a few hours. So dinner, won't be til 3 hours after we usually have it, and in the meantime, we'll be running around like loonies. :-)

So, Michele I delayed lunch til 2 and just finished eating, so I'm a little lathargic. On top of that, did all the yardwork this morning and the treadmill to boot, so I'm a little bushed.

Michele and I also did something fun today...we brought in almost her entire VHS collection to Hollywood Video as a trade-in! We got $40 for the lot (minus a few keepsakes), and so were able to buy a few DVD's in return...we bought Meet the Fockers, the Incredibles, and Garden State.

Avatara has also been going well, and I have about 40 minutes notw to get some tasks in order. I still hope to have some nice networking going on by the end of the week, but I have some prelim stuff working for now, so I'm happy.

I'll post a lame screenshot in about a week.

OK, back to the day.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Cindy Sheehan: 'Disgusting' Private Meeting With Bush

posted by John Blanco @ 7:16 PM


I found this a powerful read, and I recommend. Disgusting.

Daily Kos: Cindy Sheehan: 'Disgusting' Private Meeting With Bush

Cindy Sheehan has already had her heart ripped into a million pieces by the illegal Iraqi war, losing the son she loved more than life itself only five days after he arrived in Baghdad in April 2004.

There is nothing more painful or more heart breaking than a parent losing a child.


So when Sheehan received an invitation to meet privately with President Bush at the White House two months after her son died, the least she could have expected was a bit of compassion or a kind word coming from the heart.

But what she encountered was an arrogant man with eyes lacking the slightest bit of compassion, a President totally "detached from humanity" and a man who didn’t even bother to remember her son’s name when they were first introduced.


Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent," said: "Who we’all honorin’ here today?"

"His mouth kept moving, but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all. This is a human being totally disconnected from humanity and reality. His eyes were empty, hollow shells and he was acting like I should be proud to just be in his presence when it was my son who died for his illegal war! It was one of the most disgusting experiences I ever had and it took me almost a year to even talk about it," said Sheehan in a telephone conversation from Washington D.C. where she was attending a July 4th anti-war rally.

Sheehan said the June 2004 private meeting with the President went from bad to worse to a nightmare when Bush acted like he didn’t even want to know her name. She said Bush kept referring to her as ‘Ma’ or ‘Mom’ while he "put on a phony act," saying things like ‘Mom, I can’t even imagine losing a loved one, a mother or a father or a sister or a brother.’

"The whole meeting was simply bizarre and disgusting, designed to intimidate instead of providing compassion. He didn’t even know our names," said Sheehan. "Finally I got so upset I just looked him in the eye, saying ‘I think you can imagine losing someone. You have two daughters. Imagine losing them?’ After I said that he just looked at me, looked at me with no feeling or caring in his eyes at all."

And there's more...

What a Great Fourth -- NOT!!!

posted by John Blanco @ 8:14 AM


So it's July 5th, and you're probably expecting a happy little blog about how great the 4th of July was, right?


What a dissapointment! Yesterday, Michele, Jackie, and I went up to Idaho Springs to have dinner at Beau Jo's and then to hang around for the fireworks show "at dusk."

OK, so everything was fine...dinner ruled...we did some shopping...and then found a spot in the park to hang around and wait for the show.

Firstly, we got there way too soon. We waited around for 3 hours, and even after that there was still plenty of space. But, oh well, we had fun chatting and playing our new Monopoly card game. :-)

Then, the definition of "dusk" comes into play. Here it is from

The darker stage of twilight, especially in the evening.

To me, this means about 8:30...nowadays. But no, Idaho Springs believes this means 9:30!!!!!!!!! So, we waited around til 9:30 to see some fireworks. My gosh! I feel crankity and old, but when it's cold hour makes a big difference!

So, the fireworks start at 9:30 (finally) and I mean...WHOA...this was the most boring fireworks show I've ever seen! Literally, one or two shots would go off, and then there'd be a 10- to 15-second gap where there was nothing but complete silence. It was like being at a fireworks testing ground.

No flow. No rhythm. No fun. WORST FIREWORKS EVER.

So, to anyone in Colorado reading this...stay away from Idaho Springs whenever your calendar hits July 4th!

On a side note, I was humored to find out that our friend Jay was actually at Beau Jo's an hour before us! Creepy. Lucky for him, he did not stick around for the fireworks. Having a 41st floor balcony in downtown Denver means watching them from there.

Sigh. So not much in the fireworks area. Anything else? Let's see, did more work on Avatara in the morning. I'm only a few small steps away from network play. Small steps. Small steps.

That's all I have to report. A lazy Tuesday.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy 4th of July...

posted by John Blanco @ 12:43 PM



posted by John Blanco @ 12:06 PM


Here's a picture from last weekend when we all hung out to celebrate Ramon's 32nd birthday!

I've already described our day, but the picture you see if of a game called "Lightning Reaction." Let me summarize it for you:

  • Up to 4 players grab a controller.
  • The green "button" is pressed.
  • Really creepy music plays...very repetitive...and you must wait for the "signal"
  • The "signal" sounds.
  • Press that mofo controller button as fast as you can or you get..WAHHHHHH!!!!!!

Yeah, pretty much electrocuted. :-) It's massively scary when you're playing and haven't been shocked yet. After that, it's just plain funny. :-) What a freaky game -- and you need such nerves of steel because the music is almost undescribable, hahaha.


Well, Happy 4th! This morning we celebrated by cleaning the house and doing some food shopping...$250 worth...and in a couple hours our friend Jackie will be over as we play games and head up to Idaho Springs for dinner and a fireworks show.

Hope all is well with everyone!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Fell the Heat?

posted by John Blanco @ 8:25 AM


Yikes, this has been a HOT weekend! It hit 96 yesterday...yet somehow I still managed to rake and mow the lawn. Not a cloud in the sky and the sun beatin' down.


Well, Friday night we finally saw Shaun of the Dead. Good movie, very funny. :-) Musta been real fun to watch in theaters, as there were lots of segments that resulted in sudden loud noises. hehehe...

I learned a lot about Michele during that movie. She is TERRIFIED of zombie! She's almost as afraid of them as I am of aliens. Wow. So, if you ever see Michele, pretend you're a zombie, it'll freak her out.

Today, we're headed up to Frisco to meet up with her parents who are up there for the weekend. Hopefully it will be a little cooler at that altitude. Blech! I'm also planning to shave today, which is an event, because it's been a couple weeks and I am scraggly!

Avatara progress has been consistent and incremental lately. My plan of doing small tasks, one at a time, has kept the project going in the face of so little time to really work on it. But, the cool part is I am in the middle of a group of tasks who's end result is to allow networked control. So, in a couple weeks, I hope to have that done. Yesterday, I got the network connection established, and my next chore is to implement a basic message packet structure.

Can't wait til the moment when the movement goes across our two machines. Will be one of the real highlights of my career to see that work. :-)

OK, well, not much time til we leave...and we just woke up! Gotta go!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Since My Last Confession

posted by John Blanco @ 7:51 AM


It seems that I've been so busy blogging on political sites, I've neglected my own pride and joy. :-)

July 2005 marks an interesting is the one-year anniversary of this blog! WOW! Time has flown by! But, in a few weeks, it will mark one-year of blogging.

I remember when I first started blogging...I was a 27-year-old whippersnapper, oblivious to the tribulations the world had to offer was a time of innocence, a halcyon time.

But now I'm 28...bitter with the world...and jaded by a curt, capitalistic bent on greed. I step over the meek to reach bagels on "Bagel Friday" here at work. The translucency of my life is highlt transparent.

But I'll move on...

Tonight, a night I've been waiting for for a long. long time. Michele and I will go out for dinner, which is our Friday tradition, and then we'll sit down to watch:


Yeah! Finally! And now I can rest peacefully. :-)

Well, my chocolate chip bagel with strawberry cream cheese is now ingested...and soon will be digested. My raspberry tea has been inhaled...and I can now be satisfied with my large inclusion of fruit in my diet. :-)

Adios, amigos!