April 2002 Blog Posts

A Moral Imperative

[Days Until Vegas: 14]

I pre-ordered my copy of Real Genius yesterday. I'm stoked. Jenn doesn't understand why I'm so all over this thing. I asked her what she thought of the movie. "It was okay, but I didn't think it was as great as you did," she said.

Great? I think this was one of the defining movies of my very being. I wanted to be Chris Knight (Val Kilmer). I still want to be Chris Knight. Watching Real Genius gives me the warm fuzzies as I relive all the good memories associated with that time in my life. I guess I just sort of assumed it was that way for everyone. Maybe just not with this movie.

(Oh, and I'm still irritated the soundtrack for this isn't out.)

Anyway...

My friend Mike quit smoking recently. Or, at least, has begun the attempt to quit smoking. I think that's cool. Smoking, while socially acceptable, is probably one of the nastiest habits ever. I would almost rather deal with an alcoholic than a smoker; I can smell the smoker from further away than I can smell an alcoholic (yes, even the really drunk ones), and I'm not allergic and stuffed up when I sit next to an alcoholic, whereas the smoker really gets to me. So I'm really happy for him that he's on the patch and giving it an earnest try. I hope it works for him.

I have a couple of tiny rock chips on the side of my car (probably 1mm diameter) so I bought a bottle of touch-up paint. The thing is, I'm scared to death I'm gonna mess it up. If there's a way to screw this up, I'll find it, so I'm sort of stressing about it. As it is, I'm going to have to go get a smaller paintbrush because the one in the cap of the bottle is too big. I'll probably do that this weekend - wash the car, do the touch-up, wait for it to dry, and wax the whole thing. My car is in desperate need for some love.

This past Friday was the series finale of Lexx, one of my favorite shows. I am sorry to see it go, but then, I'd rather have it go out on a high note, when it's still good, then to languish in mediocrity and die miserably like some other shows I know.

It was my donut day today at work, so I got the donuts, then noticed that Haggen carries POG. Yay, me! So I picked some of that up because I haven't had it since I was in Maui, several years ago. Tasty!

For the geeks out there: I hate Active Directory. Absolutely hate it. It could have been as simple as LDAP, but instead, Microsoft made it x-times more complex (by adding "features") so now it's a bitch to program against, at least for me. The current thorn in my side revolves around the fact that somehow our Active Directory server won't let me list the groups a given user is a member of. Interesting, since that worked last week. Of course, nobody's changed anything, at least according to the folks who maintain it, so I've got a support call in to Microsoft to see if they can figure it out. And just so ya know, if you put a call in to Microsoft, unless you mark it as Urgent!!! (yes, with three exclamation points minimum), they take their own sweet time about it.

Cold Coffee

Cold coffee (not iced, just plain cold) has to be one of the grossest things ever. I see now why they sell those mug warmer things that you can plug in to keep your coffee hot.

I tried to schedule an oil change for my car this weekend, but the dealership is all booked up so I gotta wait until next weekend. Figures. They do have little things of touch-up paint, though, for $5, so I will probably pick one of those up this weekend so I can fix a couple little rock chips I've got on the rear of the car.

Dancin' Machine

[Days Until Vegas: 18]

I got my dance pad in the mail on Tuesday and tried ol' DDR out using that instead of the standard controller.

Man, have I got the mad dancin' skillz!

Actually, to be totally honest, I barely made it through the tutorial. I'm able to do a couple of the songs, but I really need to practice in order to get, well, coordinated. While "dancing" (and I put "dancing" in quotes because that's pretty much what I'm doing), I noticed a couple of things:

  • You pay extra money for a hard dance pad for a reason. The soft ones, while affordable, do slide around a bit. I may have to make a more solid base for mine and somehow anchor it down.

  • I am so out of shape, it's utterly pathetic. I break a sweat doing a simple two-step. Just pathetic.


It's a lot of fun, though. I can see how I could get addicted to it pretty quickly. I should probably finish up Grand Theft Auto 3 and Rez before going too far with DDR.

In other news...

The Alias site on ABC.com has some cool new wallpapers you can download for your computer. I'm stoked they finally have one with Jennifer Garner in the blue rubber dress she wore in the episode she went to Russia. I think that's my favorite outfit she's worn on that show, though I can't really complain about anything else she's worn. She's a hottie, regardless. This one just makes me feel like rubber dresses should be a more commonly worn item of apparel.

Then again, there are lots of folks who definitely don't need to be wearing anything rubber.

I went to the doctor yesterday and got some samples of Allegra. You only take one a day, and I'm still on my first one that I took yesterday around noon. So far, it's okay... I suppose I was hoping to be totally cleared up, but what I've got going now is more of a "not-really-congested-but-still-a-tad-runny" situation. I go to an allergy specialist next Wednesday to see if I can get something better. I like the idea of the allergy shot, but I'm deathly afraid of needles. Also, I remember my dad having to give himself shots, so that's totally out of the question for me. I don't like receiving shots, so there's no way I'm giving it to myself. Unless it's, like, an injection gun of some nature. I'm not worried so much about the pain as I am about the needle part.

Finally, tomorrow is (what they bill as) the series finale of Lexx. I'm sorry to see it go, but better go out at the height of the show than wait for it to get lame. This will also free up some TV watching time that I can allocate to something else.

Nosedive

Fucking Lattice Semiconductor took a nosedive today, closing down $4.31. Normally I don't care a whole lot about that, but Lattice happens to be one of the two companies I hold stock in. I was hoping they'd come out of the slump so my purchase of my stock options might not be in utter vain, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Instead, I will probably have to write these assholes off as a loss, which means I'm totally screwed since I don't have a house and don't have enough stuff to deduct to really make any use of losses.

The long and the short of it is, these bitches won't come out of donkey-suck land any time soon, I'm thinking, since I sold half my stupid options to buy the other half of my stupid options back when they were at $29. What the hell am I supposed to do with it at fucking $12?

Turning Japanese

[Days Until Vegas: 21]

Not to sound like a whiny grandmother, but my sinuses have been acting up something awful lately. I've noticed it slowly getting worse over the last couple of years and I've turned into an antihistamine junkie, which I'm sure is damaging my liver or some other critical organ, so I've made a doctor's appointment on Wednesday to get some Allegra-D or something similar that might be able to relieve this trauma.

My copy of Dance Dance Revolution came in the mail yesterday. The dance pad should be here today or tomorrow. Admittedly, I was skeptical about the idea of a dancing game. I've seen clips of games like PaRappa the Rapper and such, and the whole concept sounded, well, stupid. Hit the buttons with the beat of the music? Puh-leeze. But I put DDR into the PS2 and fired it up... and surprisingly, it's a lot of fun, even with the standard game controller. I can see how it could be addictive. The music's pretty cool, too, and I thought it was really going to suck. I'm looking forward to the dance pad now to see how much more difficult it is. Considering I was having a hard time just keeping up with the buttons I can only imagine the terror I'm going to bring into the apartment when I bust out my oh-so-coordinated dance skillz. I suppose practice makes perfect.

That all said, I am not going out to get Mr. Mosquito or any of the other "fascinating" life-fantasy games the Japanese people come up with. I have my limits.

In other news, and it's not so much news as a general realization I've made and feel like sharing, I have gotten to a point in my career where I am unable to explain what I am currently working on to anyone except other application developers in my boat. That's a little disheartening, to be honest, since I find it nice to share work-related joys and pains with others. If other folks don't get it, the sharing becomes sort of moot; it takes the punch out of a story if you have to explain the details you figure are common knowledge (at least in your own circles). I've even gotten past the point where I can adequately explain what I'm doing or how it works to my boss; he's a web developer like myself, but more into the administrative side of things, so when I get into XML and Web Services and such, I just get a blank look...

Another poor segue: I think I want a SoundBug. It's this cool device that you can affix to any hard surface and turn that surface into a speaker. Connect two together - stereo. Apparently, it sounds a lot like notebook computer speakers, which isn't too bad. The novelty of the whole thing is really what gets me. The only thing stopping me is they're $50. Each. I really don't have that kind of disposable income, especially after my DDR investment. I guess we'll see.

La Revolucion

[Days Until Vegas: 25]

I decided the other day that I'm not as active as I should be. What I mean by that is, since I'm not actually required to get up during the day except to use the restroom, I should probably do something about my physical health before I atrophy into nonexistence.

I have tried several different exercise methods, but none of them work. More to the point, none of them are interesting enough to keep my attention, convenient enough to do when I have time, and terribly cost-effective. I considered the whole Rollerblade thing, since I do like skating, but not only do the skates themselves cost a lot, the weather around here is dubious enough to never really allow you to go outside on a regular basis. I can't run or do anything too repetitive involving feet or legs - I have flat feet, and even with orthotics, it's not a recommended course of action (besides, it's boring as hell). I like swimming, but getting the time to go to the gym/club, get ready to swim (shower, etc.), go swimming for an hour or so, get out, shower, and finally return home is just not in the cards. Plus, joining one of those clubs is not the cheapest proposition in the world. Tried the Tae Bo thing and quickly found out that there just isn't enough room in the apartment for that sort of activity.

You see where I'm going with this.

So I started looking around for something that fits the qualifications I require for exercise.

I found... Dance Dance Revolution! It's this Playstation game that is apparently very popular in arcades in Japan and Europe. The game plays a song and shows you various moves on the screen that occur in time with the music. You have to push the buttons on the controller that match the moves in order to score points. Sort of a "dance simulation." Doesn't sound at all like exercise, right? Well, once you get a dance pad controller, it is. What the pad does is allow you to stand up and step on the buttons instead of just pushing them with your thumbs, effectively making you dance along with the game. Brilliance, huh? Now it's not exercise, it's a video game, something my mind can handle a lot easier.

The game even has a "workout mode" that allows you to get an aerobic workout. Now that's entertainment.

I ordered my copy of the game and a pad yesterday. Got the notice they were shipped today, so next week I should be dancing my way to freedom and leisure. I'm stoked. I hear it's exceptionally addictive, which is fine by me. It's probably healthier to be addicted to a dancing game than it is to sit on your ass all day long. Which is what I'm doing right now.

Coffee: A Primer

[Days Until Vegas: 26]

Before I get going on this, just let me state for the record that I am not a big coffee drinker. It's just a little too bitter for me, regardless of what "roast" or "flavor" the coffee claims to be. I'm a "three-creams-four-sugars" kind of coffee drinker. Why do you think I'm down with the Ventitm Mocha Frappuccino®?

Some things just set me off, though. That's pretty much why I even have this blog thing - so I can go off in a semi-public fashion about how totally stupid people are.

Oh, also for the record - I hate people. But that's a whole other issue.

At work we have these common coffee pots that you can get coffee from any time you want it. There are three different blends: "Viennese," "Sumatra," and "French Roast Decaffeinated." On the rare occasions I go get coffee, I drink the Sumatra. The Viennese is too bitter, even with extra cream and sugar, and the decaffeinated... eh, what's the point? The thing about the coffee pots is, the employees themselves have to keep the coffee brewed; there's not someone whose job it is to just brew coffee all day. As such, there are large signs all over the place telling people that if they take the last cup, they need to make another pot.

We all see where this is going.

What that amounts to is that the coffee pots are in one of two states at all times:
  • Half a cup of coffee in the bottom of the pot, cold; or
  • Empty and abandoned


The side product of this is that any time I want to get my seldom-drunk cup of coffee, I get to be the guy who brews the new pot. (I'm getting to be the Coffee-Frickin'-Masta. I gots the mad coffee brewing skillz.)

Apparently, this also produces large quantities of people who drink coffee but don't have a clue how to brew it. Even though there are directions taped to the side of the coffee maker.

For example, even I knew, before brewing my first pot of coffee ever, that you have to grind the beans. I guess some folks don't realize that.
Grind the beans!
Today I entered upon an entirely new situation - someone decided they wanted to brew coffee into a full pot. This amounted to a pot-full of coffee all over the counter, the floor, under the coffee maker, behind the sink, down the front of the cabinets... you get the idea.

So, for those of you in the cheap seats, here's how to make coffee:

  1. Get some coffee beans.
  2. Grind the beans.
  3. Check: is that enough to make a whole pot of coffee? If not, you'll need more [ground] [coffee] beans.
  4. Put the beans in a coffee filter. If you don't use a filter, you're gonna get chunky coffee. Most people don't like that.
  5. Put the filter into the filter holder of the machine. The ones here at work are a separate item, but I've seen machines where the filter just sticks right in the machine. I'll have to trust you to figure out where the filter goes.
  6. Get an empty, clean pot that will be large enough to hold the coffee you're brewing.
  7. Put that empty, clean pot under (what we will call) the coffee nozzle.
  8. Push the GO button.
  9. Wait until the coffee is finished brewing before you remove the pot.
  10. Dispose of the filter and used coffee grounds. You can not use the grounds again. If you're environmentally conscious, compost them. Normal people will send them to the landfill. The point here is that you don't leave nasty, congealing coffee grounds for the next person.
  11. Clean up any spillage. Yes, there's some there. Use your eyes.
    Congratulations! You've just made a pot of coffee!

    I think my work is done here. I gotta go wash my hands - they smell like nasty cold coffee.

Review: Changing Lanes

As I mentioned earlier, I saw Changing Lanes this past weekend.

Changing Lanes is, long story short, about a poor guy who gets screwed by a pompous rich guy. Basically.

Samuel L. Jackson plays a poor guy whose life is falling apart. His wife is divorcing him and taking his kids across the country, he's a recovering alcoholic, and he just generally seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ben Affleck is a richer-than-God lawyer who claims to uphold the law but really just finds loopholes through which to screw the average person. I'm sure you've heard of these people. These people are why like 10% of the people in the world have 90% of the wealth.

Ben Affleck, in a hurry on his way to court to defend his latest $100M pilfering, is talking on his cell phone and not driving, like most of these folk do. He proceeds to basically run Samuel L. Jackson off the road. Samuel L. Jackson, wanting to follow through with things in his life and get things done right, asks for Ben Affleck's insurance information, which, of course, Ben Affleck is unable to provide. Ben writes Samuel a blank check and shouts "Better luck next time!" out the window while driving off.

This makes Samuel L. Jackson late for his custody hearing, which, in turn, loses him any visitation rights to see his kids. Basically, Samuel's been screwed.

But what Ben Affleck doesn't realize, once he's gotten to court, is that the folder he wrote his name and number on and gave to Samuel L. Jackson is a critical document that is needed to keep him out of jail and ensure he's rich.

Panic ensues.

Ben Affleck tries to appeal to Samuel L. Jackson and Samuel doesn't take any of it. He's still pissed off about Ben making him late for the custody hearing.

Ben Affleck then hires a guy to fix the computers to make Samuel L. Jackson bankrupt with bad credit. Samuel L. Jackson strikes back at Ben Affleck by sabotaging his car. Back and forth, the war escalates.

Eventually, Samuel L. Jackson hits bottom and realizes that the bigger man is gonna have to give in. He goes and gives the file back to Ben Affleck, who decides right there that the life of the lying, rich lawyer is not for him and he's going to help Samuel get his life and kids back first thing the next day.

I thought the general premise of the movie was great - a rich guy screws a poor guy and the poor guy actually is able to do something about it. I guess I thought there would be more to it, though. I'm not sure what, exactly, but something. Maybe more action. Maybe more intrigue. Maybe a little bit deeper characters. I can't really put my finger on it.

On the other hand, it did keep my attention the whole time, and I did end up feeling bad for Samuel L. Jackson and hating Ben Affleck, which says something about their respective skills. I like both of those guys, so I'm glad they could pull this off.

All in all, I'd give this movie, oh, like 7.5 out of 10. I probably won't buy it on DVD, and there wasn't any real reason you'd have to see it on the big screen - no big effects or anything. But it was definitely worth a rental, so if you haven't already seen it, I would put it on your list to check out.

posted @ Tuesday, April 16, 2002 12:54 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Media ]

Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Ball

[Days Until Vegas: 29]

I realized this weekend while talking to Jenn that my random and frequent pop culture references have, for some, no context and thus mean pretty much squat.

Why I figured everyone knew what Happy Fun Ball is, I have no clue. But when I told Jenn not to taunt Happy Fun Ball, she just didn't get it.

I had quite the eventful weekend. Let's see...

Jenn and I went to see the new Samuel L. Jackson/Ben Affleck movie, Changing Lanes. It was pretty good, though not quite what either of us expected. It looks like a lot more cloak-and-dagger style action, whereas it's more of an intense drama with bonus intrigue. Maybe later I'll write up a little review.

On the whole movie tip, we also watched Spy Game and Enemy of the State. For some reason, spy movies just never get old to me. I can't quite put my finger on why, though.

In the vein of Grand Theft Auto 3, I completed the last major mission ("The Exchange") and watched the credits roll. I thought it was a pretty cool ending, just like a gangster movie. The really cool thing is, since I hadn't finished 100% of the game (I still have certain cars to jack, certain stunts to perform, etc.), after the credits rolled I was returned to my hideout one million dollars richer and I can continue playing until I've got 100% done. Last I checked I was at, like, 65%. I think I have a while.

I picked up the game Rez this weekend. As if I don't have enough to do with GTA3. But Rez is pretty darn cool - I got a demo of it from the latest issue of Official Playstation Magazine and it sucked me in. My dad wasn't so enticed by it, but he's not a big music lover, either, and music plays a major part in this one. Great techno here, and the way the game works (for those who don't know), the music is interactive. You make it by performing actions in the game. Very cool.

(I just downloaded the Rez "homepage design kit" from the Rez site. Maybe I'll whip myself up a little Rez tribute page because it's so cool.)

For those who care about my turntable issues, I ended up having to take the stupid thing in for professional service at Fred's Sound of Music. It'll cost me $30 for a new stylus and between $45 and $75 for the repairs. That figures. But, after all is said and done, even with the $55 I spent on getting a like model to cannibalize (that didn't work, either), I'm still getting out spending less than it would cost for a brand new turntable of that quality. So I suppose I can't complain. Too much.

I Can't Escape

[Days Until Vegas: 32]

I entered a contest over at Penny Arcade the other day to win an XBox game. Of course, I'm a loser, so I didn't win, but what else is new?

They did link to me in their news section today, which is cool; maybe I'll get some traffic now, since I think the only people reading this are, like, Jenn and my mom. I've got a bit of mixed emotion going on about where they linked to in my site, though: my Gen13 links page.

The reason I'm mixed is that I'm really not maintaining the Gen13 stuff around here anymore, and I'd hate for folks to come in and go, "Oh, look - another stale links page. I'm outta here!" without coming into the blog section here and checking things out.

I'm not looking the gift horse in the mouth, though. They wanna link to me? I'm down with that. One of these days when I have some money, I'm going to have to send them some. I can say I am the proud owner of their book, as should you be.

I noticed that all the songs on the GTA3 soundtrack from the "Flashback" radio station are from the soundtrack to Scarface. I may have to pick that up for the novelty factor.

Love Media Radio

[Days Until Vegas: 33]

Cruising around today, I found the coolest thing ever.

If you've played Grand Theft Auto 3 (as I have), you've heard the various radio stations that they play in the cars you hijack. I've played enough that I can sing along with the songs. Jenn can too, though she probably wouldn't admit it.

I have several times lamented the lack of soundtrack CDs for the game since I'd actually listen to the stuff in my real car. It's great stuff.

Well, on GTA3 Warehouse it looks like someone has ripped all the audio into MP3 format and you can download it all (except for the radio stations "K-Jah" and "Double Cleff"). So I did.

Then I burned them all into audio CDs so I can now actually listen to it in the car. It takes three CDs to contain it all, but I've got it all burned now, commercials and all, and I'm good to go. Yay, me!

Along the same lines, you can download the GTA3 ring tone for your phone off of the main GTA3 site. (The link is in the "News" section.) It sounds just like the pager you have in the game. I downloaded it to my new Nokia 3360 and I've got it set as my message/pager sound. So cool!

Secret Asian Man

[Days Until Vegas: 34]

Talking to Jenn a couple of nights ago, she mentioned that when she was younger she thought the song "Secret Agent Man" was actually saying "Secret Asian Man." I thought that was pretty clever and funny. Apparently other folks do, too. I thought it would make a good Cartoon Network show. Or a character on Samurai Jack or something. Then again, I don't watch any of those shows, so for all I know, it's already there.

My mom's birthday is today. I, as usual, didn't remember until my parents called me yesterday to tell me when we are all getting together for dinner in celebration (tomorrow). Which means I need to do some seriously hasty shopping tonight to get a gift. Of course, Dad doesn't know what Mom wants and Mom doesn't ever really specify anything she wants, so I'll be guessing. Hopefully something will call to me at the store tonight.

I never remember birthdays (or any other holidays, for that matter). I know three dates: My birthday, Christmas, and my parents' anniversary. I only know their anniversary because it's two days before my birthday (but, uh, two? years earlier, chronologically) and Mom sometimes calls me on their anniversary to wish me happy birthday. Then she remembers that she swapped the dates around and runs out anniversary shopping or something. Heh.

I watched MTV's The Osbournes for the first time last night, and I have to say that I found it pretty funny. That's the first show on MTV that I've seen in, well, years that has actually held my attention. Ozzy cracks me up, especially when he's playing with his bulldog. I may have to become a regular watcher.


Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

Jenn and I are confirmed for the long-needed Vegas trip. Four days and three nights in the Paris Las Vegas, courtesy of Southwest Airlines Vacations. A big tip of the hat to SWA - they are by far the most affordable way to go. Plus, the flight attendants have always had good senses of humor when I've flown and that makes the trip that much more enjoyable. If you're gonna go, check with them first.

I can hardly wait. I've already got the time off approved, I've got the plane, hotel, and rental car booked, and I'm counting down the days until May 14, when we leave first thing in the morning.

Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

MovieSpeak; Vegas

This was an eventful weekend for me in the Land of Movies. I rented a couple and went to one. Here's the rundown...

Training Day: This is the Denzel Washington vehicle to the Oscars. Long story short, Denzel's a corrupt narcotics cop and has to train rookie Ethan Hawke on the ways of Street Justice. You end up hating Denzel by the end of the movie because he's a bad, bad man, and you're happy he gets the Street Justice he deserves.

I liked this movie because it's not the standard fare for Denzel - normally he's the "good cop," but this time he's the "bad cop." It was good to see him change. Not sure if he deserved an Oscar or not for it, but I can't say he wasn't good.

The Last Castle: Robert Redford is a court-martialled General in the US Army who gets sent to prison because he disobeyed an order from the President. While in there, he finds out that the warden is a jerk who abuses his power and treats the prisoners poorly. Redford takes over the prison in an attempt to get the warden ousted.

This was a pretty good one, too, though a bit predictable. You can guess exactly what's going to happen, who's going to die, etc., before the first ten minutes is through. However, if you're looking for something just generally good and fun to watch, I recommend it. Jenn and I both had a good time with it.

Ice Age: This is the animated feature about animals in the (you guessed it) Ice Age from 20th Century Fox. It was very clever and fun with some pretty darn good animation. There's a little recurring character (the "Scrat") who has nothing to do with the story really, but cracks you up. The voices they chose for the characters fit well and were well done.

Before you go see this, though (and I do recommend you see it), know two things: First, it's short. 81 minutes isn't the longest movie in the world. Second, you can't compare it to Shrek. Just don't. Shrek was a lot deeper as far as plot development, characters, and the level of humor they stuck in there. Ice Age is inherently a kid's movie and is pretty shallow as far as all of that's concerned. It is well done, though, which is why I recommend it.

Saw my friend Gerb for the first time since, like, Christmas and we went to Starbucks to hang out and talk (though why he couldn't have driven the extra, like, half mile and just come over to my apartment is utterly beyond me). Guess what I ordered while I was there...

I've been fighting with this stupid broken turntable I've got for a while now. The extra turntable I bought to scavenge parts from supposedly worked when I bought it from the guy, but it sure as hell doesn't work now (and, no, I didn't break it; it never worked while in my possession). My dad fixed the part that was broken on the original turntable I was trying to fix, but then when I plugged it in, I discovered a new problem - the turntable gets power now (yay!) but once you start a record playing, the turntable never stops. It finishes playing, the needle lifts up and returns to its resting position, but the record keeps spinning.

I traced it down to this stupid lever/arm thing underneath it that's supposed to move back and forth to engage/disengage the power to the turntable. It pushes forward to turn the thing on, but it never pulls back to turn it off. Not being mechanically inclined, I'm about ready to go buy a new one. I guess I never realized how stinking Rube Goldberg record players are.

Now I've got a query in to Fred's Sound of Music (where the thing was bought, like, 20+ years ago or something) to see if they can fix it. Here's hoping.

In other news, Jenn and I are working on a trip to Las Vegas. I want to stay at the Paris Las Vegas since I've been there a couple of times and it was really nice, but it's gone way up in price since last time. I suppose I'll just bite the bullet and stay there anyway.

Speaking of Paris Las Vegas, last time I stayed there I bought a ceramic balloon mug from the gift shop before I left. Took extra special care of it on the plane to try to get it home in one piece - and succeeded. Used it once, stuck it in the dishwasher. Destroyed it. It wasn't dishwasher-safe. Of course, there were no labels or anything that would indicate it wasn't safe for the dishwasher, so I called 'em. They very kindly sent me a new one for free. And, of course, it had a label on the bottom - "Not Dishwasher Safe." So if you see these balloon mugs and they have that label on them, it's my fault. Heh.

So, Vegas. It'll be a lot of fun. And, to the people who we said we'd try to coordinate with if we went to Vegas (you know who you are), sorry. I'll try to get in touch with you to personally apologize. Jenn and I just felt that since we haven't ever actually been on a vacation with just the two of us, we didn't want to try to coordinate with other people - we want to be able to do what we want, when we want, and not have to try to make time to hang with other folks or meet up anywhere. Next time, okay?

Talk Dirty To Me

Ah, the beauty and inherent magic of the Ventitm Mocha Frappuccino®. So tasty. In fact, I don't think I even know how to order anything else at Starbucks. I went in today and thought I might try something new, maybe one of those fruity tea-based things, but the only words I could speak when I reached the register were, "Venti Mocha Frappuccino."

And then, before I could think twice about it, there it was, in all its splendor. Mmmm.

I'm feeling a little nostalgic today, streaming my mix of 80's MP3s on my ShoutCast server at work. (No, it's not available outside our firewall. Sorry.) The Poison song Talk Dirty To Me just came on. Bad hair band? Of course. Remind me of a pleasant time gone by? Hell, yeah. Sometimes you just need a little hair band music to put things right.

I took a test on emode.com today that supposedly was going to tell me what my ultimate career would be. It told me my ideal job would allow me to be "Analytical and Creative." No shit. But to tell me actual careers that fit the profile, they wanted $15. I think not. Besides, my current job lets me be analytical and creative aplenty, even if it is programming. I think I'll stick with what I've got.

I set up my Tron light cycles today in a cool action-oriented way on my desk. A pack-and-a-half of the small Post-It® notes works great to prop them up so they don't fall over. Now as long as the cleaning lady doesn't mess it up, it'll stay cool.

Soy Un Perdedor

The Winter Hawks lost last night to stupid Seattle. I can't say I didn't expect it, but I sort of did. Our guys are good, and they did get some crappy circumstances thrown at them that probably put them out of whack, but I think if they had really gone for it (and if Lanny hadn't let the stupid puck get in the net), they could have beaten those Seattle bastards.

In the end, it's all going to be okay, though, since Seattle's going to get their asses wasted by Kootenay (just like the Hawks were going to) anyway. This just means I have a bigger deposit on my season tickets for next year.

To Jerry, Deona, Suze, Tim, Barb, Keith, Greg (hope you're not on swing shift), and Brandon (aka Miss Cleo), Jenn and I will see you all in September. I hope you have the same seats, 'cuz we will.

A couple of follow-ups to yesterday's Public Safety Announcement on how to merge:

First, from the comments, it looks like the damn Californians are coming out to defend themselves. I have mixed feelings on that. On one hand, I'm stoked that I've got comments because it means more than just Jenn reads this thing. On the other hand, I think the Californians had better think things through before attempting to defend themselves. The quote from the comments I'm talking about says, "Until the Californians showed up no one in Oregon drived like that." No shit, man. Things were great until the Californians invaded. Of course, I'm sure things would have eventually degraded to what they are today, but we've all got to admit - the rapid advance of the Californian Driver had sped up the process.

Second, a bit of an addition to the Public Safety Announcement: If you don't have a STOP sign (or other traffic signal indicating you need to stop) and the people waiting to turn onto the street you're on do have a STOP sign, that means that they have to stop for you, not the other way around. What this implies is that rush hour is not the time to decide that you need to "take turns" letting folks at the STOP sign into the road. All this does is fuck things up. The traffic signals were designed the way they are for a reason - let them do their job, and get about doing yours: driving.

Before y'all get on me: I'm not defending the city planners. Whoever took on the job of designing Hillsboro obviously needs to be unemployed right now - making every light function via sensors and not timing creates more traffic issues over there than I can comprehend... and the intersection at 185th and Evergreen Parkway is the worst ever.

I'm just saying that folks need to drive, in a decent defensive manner, and be a lot less concerned with being "nice." You worry about you and your immediate surroundings. Let the guy in the car at the stop sign deal with getting on the road.

On an entirely different note... I haven't played GTA3 for a couple of days now and I miss it terribly. I may have to dedicate a little time to it tonight. Sorry, Jenn.

A Public Safety Announcement

For a while I thought this could be filed in the "unwritten rules that should be written somewhere" category, but then I realized they are written somewhere and people just choose to blatantly disregard them.

What the hell am I talking about?

People don't know how to merge onto the freeway.

No, no they don't. This probably includes you. I tell people I'm riding with about these rules and they don't believe me, but they're there. I think the rules are pretty clear, so I'll let them speak for themselves. I've pulled the appropriate text from the Oregon Driver Manual, published by the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. They even have a Spanish version there, if you don't understand what is written there in English.

What rules? Well, let's see. How about this one:



If you use an acceleration or merging lane to enter a freeway or other highway, you must give the right of way to vehicles already on the freeway or road.
(p. 36)




Or, under the section marked Entering a Freeway (I'll highlight the good parts, just for you)...



In most driving situations, you slow down or stop before you enter a busy road, but when entering a freeway you do the opposite. Use the merging or acceleration lane to speed up and merge with fast-moving traffic already on the road. Try to reach freeway speed by the time you start merging. Keep moving if at all possible. A stop might mean a slow and dangerous start into fast traffic. Even slowing down as you approach an entrance can result in a rear end collision with a driver behind who expected you to pick up speed, not slow down.

If a freeway has an entry ramp with a red-and-green signal to regulate traffic entering the freeway, obey the signal. Stop and go with the light. Then speed up in the acceleration lane to merge with traffic on the freeway.

If you are entering a freeway from a merging lane, you must yield to traffic already on the freeway. If you already are on the freeway, you are obligated to help merging traffic. Adjust your speed to permit a safe, smooth merge.
(p. 57-58)




Now, it does say there that you are obligated to help merging traffic. That part is true. But what it implies is that if you see someone coming onto the freeway, not only do you (as the traffic already on the freeway) have the right of way, but you shouldn't change speeds erratically and confuse the person merging. Which boils down to this: Just because someone is merging into your lane does not mean you have to fucking stop.

That is directed at all the idiots who migrate up here from California or come down from Washington and decide that traffic here needs to be as bad as it is in LA or Seattle. Learn to merge. It's in the driver's manual.

To drive home that point:



A slowpoke on a freeway can be as dangerous as a speeder. Remember, if you drive at a speed below the flow of traffic, you must use the right lane.

Freeways often have several lanes in each direction. On these roads, you should leave the extreme left lane for faster traffic. If you drive at an even speed, you will have less need to change lanes. Remember, lane-hopping any time is dangerous, annoys other drivers, increases the risk of collision and seldom saves time. Sudden bursts of speed also waste gasoline. If you are traveling in the left lane and someone comes up behind you at a faster speed, move one lane to your right. Do not tie up traffic in the left lane.
(p. 58)




Slow people - get the hell out of the damn fast lane. If you're not going to drive the speed limit, get over.

I think Paul Reiser said it best in one of his stand-up routines: "The only reason we have traffic is your failure to go."

While we're on the subject, here's a little anecdote from yesterday:

I'm driving down the street near my house on the way home and make a right turn behind this Ford Taurus. Whatever, right? Well, the speed limit on this street is 25 miles per hour. It's fairly light out, there are no other cars on the street, and there are no people walking around. And yet the chick driving the Taurus decides to go 15 mph the whole way. Of course, it's a no-passing zone, so I'm screwed.

Folks, if the speed limit's 25 and there's not even another car on the road, go the whole damn 25 miles per hour. If you want to know why road rage exists, it's because fucking idiots like that drive around among the rest of us.

I hope everyone has learned something valuable today. That is, how to merge onto the freeway correctly. Maybe at some point in the future I'll put forth another public safety announcement on how to properly use the left-hand-turn lanes that run down the center of some streets.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Panic Weekend

I saw the movie Panic Room this weekend. For those interested, it was actually well worth checking out. It wasn't scary at all, but there was some good suspense going. Forest Whitaker (who is very cool) was good in it, but let me tell you now, and have no illusions about it:

It was all about the Jodie Foster cleave shots.

There was some pretty damn good JF cleavage going on in this one. As far as I'm concerned, worth the price of admission. Gay, straight, bi, whatever. She's hot. That's all there is to it.

Oh, and her daughter (in the movie) was annoying as hell. If my kids ever act like that, I'll beat the crap out of them. I mean, come on - you don't ride your stupid scooter through a house you're walking through to buy. Seriously.

The Winter Hawks won game six of the seven game series with Seattle, so I guess I'll be at game seven tomorrow. Admittedly, I sort of hoped they'd lose because I'd like a little more time to not have to run around all the time, but since they won, I hope they make it all the way.

Of course, if we have to play Spokane, it's all over.

Had a good Easter dinner at Mom and Dad's place. Afterwards, Jenn and I got tormented with home movies that my parents had filmed but never watched. Actually, it wasn't that bad - we have my cousin dancing at Christmas from a couple of years ago, drunk and doing his best attempt at breakdancing. I really should digitize that and put it up here. It's just way too funny.

On a whole other topic...

We have air pots full of coffee here at work. There are three pots, all of which should have some level of coffee in them at all times. There are three huge signs around the pots, all of which say (in some form or another), "If you take the last cup, make a new pot." It takes, seriously, about two minutes to grind the beans and start a new pot of coffee.

I went to get a cup a little bit ago and there wasn't a drop of coffee in any of the pots. Not one. I don't think I could have combined the dregs from the pots to make half a cup. I thought about starting a new pot, but then decided that if I didn't get any, I wasn't gonna make any. Fair's fair.

I think I need to start a CoffeeCam. Stick a motion-sensitive camera out there, aimed at the pots (and, more importantly, the people getting coffee). Let's see who the last person was so we can stick it to them. Or, even better, rig the stand the pots sit on with scales so you only take pictures of the people who leave the pots with less than a cup of coffee in them. I don't think that'd be too difficult. Maybe I should start that as a side project.