June 2002 Blog Posts

Monster Garage

My kitchen is clean! Yay, me! Horizon Restoration came in yesterday and cleaned our kitchen, so the nasty soot crap isn't all over everything anymore. In fact, they organized stuff a bit, too, so it's easier to find everything. Pretty sweet, if you ask me.

They'll be taking our electronics for sonic cleaning some time next week and will bring them back the following week.

I found a new show on The Discovery Channel that I like. Not that I needed another show to watch, of course. Monster Garage is sort of like a combination of Junkyard Wars and Trading Spaces, but... not...

In Monster Garage, a team of mechanics and designers convert everyday cars into funky machines. Like, in one episode, they convert a Volkswagen Beetle into a swamp skiff. In another, they convert a limousine into a fire truck. It's pretty slick to see what these people can do. Gives you a total appreciation for people who know their stuff; I wouldn't have a clue where to begin on something like that.

Anyway, I'm sucked into that one.

On a side note, while we're on the topic of shows like Trading Spaces, does anyone out there think that Laurie and Amy Wynn are as hot as I think they are? :)

Mr. Clean

Well, I think we've finally gotten somewhere in the cleaning effort. Here's the log for the day; hopefully I won't have to add anything to it:

Wednesday, June 26, 2002
8:45a - Kitty from Horizon Restoration showed up at my apartment for the meeting between her, myself, and Doug from Crawford and Company (All-Ways Warm's claims adjuster). She brought out this funky rubber sponge thing and showed me a demonstration - the difference between regular dust and this soot-dust stuff. She rubbed my bedroom wall with the sponge - it came up sort of a light grey. She then rubbed the wall in the living room with the sponge - pure black. Unreal.

9:00a - Doug called. He was a little lost since he's not familiar with Portland. I tried to talk him through directions, but I'm not very good at directions. I recommended he call the apartment office.

9:30a - Doug arrived. He got the demonstration from Kitty and agreed we were dealing with something other than ordinary household dust. I couldn't show him how dirty the cat is because she was hiding under the couch. Doug took some pictures (of what, I don't know; you really can't see anything) and measured the rooms.

10:00a - Called Joe from the apartment management company looking for a final approval to get Horizon in and going. Joe wasn't there, so I left a message.

11:10a - Joe called me at work. Cleaning starts tomorrow morning at 9:00a! I'm stoked. Horizon's gotten the approval and everything's set to go. Yay!

12:05p - Kitty from Horizon called. She'll be visiting my apartment later today with the electronics cleaning guy and the ceiling cleaning guy (actually, it has to be "encapsulated" since the ceiling has asbestos in it). She'll leave a lock-box on our door and leave us the combination to it so we can put a key in there for them to get in and out tomorrow.

So tonight Jenn and I have to make as much room as possible in the two bedrooms (which are already jammed full) so they can move stuff once it's clean into the bedrooms. Whatever. I'm stoked things are finally moving.

Fire In The Sky

Thus ends another business day where this fucking smoke damage problem in my apartment isn't resolved. It's amazing how badly people seem to want to pass the buck here. I appreciate that there's a process involved with getting these things done, but it's been almost a week since it happened and I've still got no damn definitive answer. Here's how today went:

Tuesday, June 25, 2002
9:38a - Doug Jones from Crawford and Company, an affiliate of Zurich Insurance, called and left a message on our home phone. He wanted to schedule an appointment to come look at the damage.

9:55a - I called Doug back and explained the situation to him. I explained how we are trying to go through HSC for damages because we're their tenants and had nothing to do with hiring All-Ways Warm Inc. for fireplace cleaning services. Doug agreed that normally what would happen is exactly that - we, the tenants, would pursue HSC for damages, and HSC would pursue All-Ways Warm and their respective insurance company. He found it odd that we, the tenants, should be caught in the middle of all of this. I provided the contact information for Joe Adrian (of HSC) to Doug and Doug said he'd call Joe and get things moving.

11:42a - I called Horizon Restoration and left a message for Kitty over there to let me know if she's heard the go-ahead from anyone yet.

12:09p - Doug left a message at our home phone. He requested a time when he could come down from Seattle and view the damages firsthand.

12:43p - Kitty called me back. All-Ways Warm Inc. contacted Horizon Restoration with Zurich's information. Kitty provided the estimate to everyone involved and now everyone - me, Doug, Kitty, and Joe (or Joe's representative) have to meet and re-examine the damages. Unbelievable.

1:15p - Jenn called Doug, then called me to let me know: Doug and Kitty and the gang will all be at our apartment tomorrow morning at 9:00a. I called Doug immediately after I found this out to verify he has sign-off authority to get this thing moving. He wasn't there, so I left a message.

2:00p - Attempted another call to Doug. Still no answer. Didn't leave a second message.

2:20p - I called Doug again. Doug spoke with Joe. Apparently, Doug will do an inspection and report back to Zurich, but he does not have the sign-off authority to get things moving. That authority resides with Joe. If Joe says "go," then the cleaning commences and I'd be out of the loop. The fate of my apartment rests with Joe.

2:25p - I called Joe. Joe told he he was working with their insurance to get things resolved. Joe confirmed that Doug will not be holding up Horizon getting going on things and told me that the only thing he (Joe) is waiting on is a final blessing from HSC's insurance company. Joe said it was basically just a formality, and once that blessing is in, Horizon can start their job. Joe said the blessing should be in "shortly."

4:30p - I called Joe again, since the end of the business day was looming near and I still hadn't heard any final confirmation. Joe, of course, was not answering the phone or wasn't at his desk, so I left a message to have him call me with the confirmation.

That's it. As of now, I'm waiting, albeit impatiently, to hear back from Joe. I swore to myself that something would get moving today, but as you can see, people are still too concerned with processes and not fucking concerned enough about my apartment. Someone's gonna pay on this one.

Smoke On The Water

Last Thursday my entire life was turned upside-down. Let's start from the beginning and inspect this horrid yet true tale.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002
Jenn and I got a notice on our door that at 12:00p on Thursday the 20th a company would be in to perform routine cleaning on the gas fireplace in our apartment. (I think you can already see where this is going. Humor me.)

Thursday, June 20, 2002
6:00p - I arrived home from work. Jenn was on the couch watching TV, having been home for maybe half an hour to forty-five minutes. As is my usual routine, I went into the kitchen to wash my thermos. As I set my thermos in the sink, I noticed some grime on our kitchen counter. It looked like it might have been some overspray from the frying we had done the night before but had missed during the cleanup effort. I got a washcloth out, wet it a bit, and commenced scrubbing. All it did was smear.

So I got a little bit of dish soap. Still smearing. Finally Jenn came in with the Lysol orange cleaning spray and sprayed down the counter. With a considerable amount of elbow grease, the counter finally came clean.

Then we noticed the floor.

I can't begin to describe it. It looked like someone had tracked a thin black paint through the kitchen.

A quick (and then not-so-quick) inspection revealed that there was a layer of fine soot-like dust covering everything in our apartment.

Now, when I say "everything," I mean everything. This isn't an exaggeration. It was on the bookshelves. It was on our new white silk lampshades. It was on our pictures. It was in the frames. It was on - and in - all of the electronics. It was on the walls. In the carpet. On the ceiling. On the cat. In the cupboards. EVERYWHERE.

The more I saw this, the more I panicked. I was in shock. How do you even comprehend the level of damage done? This is, well, pretty much smoke damage.

6:15p - Called the apartment "maintenance emergency" pager number and asked for the assistant manager, Meg Naglee. The pager company, of course, didn't have a record of her. And, as luck would have it, she's the only on-site manager-oriented person that Jenn or I knew of; the apartment manager we were used to dealing with, Stephanie, had recently resigned. On the fleeting chance it would work, I asked for Stephanie instead. The pager company did have record of Stephanie and rang the pager.

6:24p - Larissa from Richland Terrace called. Apparently, she's the new owner of Stephanie's pager. I explain the situation in as great a detail as possible. She said she'd try to page Meg.

7:09p - I was on the phone speaking with Larissa when Meg called and left a message on my voicemail (I don't have call waiting). She didn't leave a number, but said she'd call back later.

7:20p - I called Larissa in an attempt to understand what I should do about eating since we couldn't prepare any food in our kitchen. She told us to go out to eat and save the receipt; we could get reimbursed for it.

7:30p - Meg called back. She told us she'd be over at 8:30a on Friday since there was nothing she could do about the situation Thursday night. We accepted that and went to dinner.

Friday, June 21, 2002
8:30a - Meg arrived to inspect the damages. (I stayed home from work on Friday to deal with this fiasco.) She took the receipt from the previous evening's dinner at Izzy's Pizza and looked around. She agreed that the dust was most insidious. She said that she had left a message for her boss, but he hadn't called her back yet. She would continue to try to get ahold of him as well as All-Ways Warm Inc., the fireplace company that did the cleaning. She did mention that All-Ways Warm Inc. wouldn't open until 9:30a. Fine.

10:00a - Meg called. She said she would be over at 11:00a with a representative from All-Ways Warm Inc. She also mentioned she still hadn't heard from her boss.

10:08a - I got a little restless not being able to clean, and daytime TV sucks, so I called my renter's insurance agent, Mariko Locke of State Farm, for a little advice. I spoke with a nice lady there named Christina who told me not to operate appliances or electronics because it may not be good for them. Oops - I had already watched TV. I guess I never thought of that. Anyway, Christina recommended Dow Columbia, a local smoke and water damage restoration firm, to me to come in and clean. I took down their information in preparation for giving it to Meg and the All-Ways Warm rep.

11:00a - Meg arrived at my apartment with Ron Buchholz, the owner of All-Ways Warm Inc. Ron did (what seemed to me) a very light inspection (everything I showed him seemed to be a surprise to him, so I still don't think he realizes how far this stuff got) and offered the services of a general cleaning company. I explained that I didn't feel just any cleaning company would be able to clean things to the level they would have to be cleaned and requested that Dow Columbia or a comparable smoke damage restoration firm be contacted to do the job. He said he'd make some calls and call me back.

11:15a - Meg returned to my apartment and gave me the $20 from the previous evening's dinner. She recommended that, if I did any cleaning at all, it should only be as minimal as possible since the cleaning was the responsibility of All-Ways Warm Inc.

1:35p - Meg called. She told me she would call a general cleaning firm to get the major stuff (countertops, kitchen floor, etc.) and would get back to me on that. That way Jenn and I could at least live in our apartment while we looked into getting a smoke damage restoration firm to do the detail work.

2:15p - Meg called. She said that Kay the cleaning lady would arrive at the apartment between 5:00p and 5:30p. She also said that Dave from a local carpet cleaning service would be in on Saturday the 22nd at 11:00a to do the major walkways of our carpets so we wouldn't be tracking the grime around anymore.

3:40p - Meg, Ron, and Ron's assistant, Susan, came over to the apartment. Susan did all the talking. She offered me the option of either a general cleaning service or making me deal with the cleanup through their insurance and waiting until Monday for a claims adjuster to come over. I explained again that a general cleaning service would be inadequate to service the restoration portion of things so accepted the offer of dealing with it through insurance - the only other option left open. Susan tried to convince me otherwise, but I continued to attempt to explain that general cleaning is only part of the solution. They all left and called off the cleaning service and carpet cleaner that were supposed to arrive to alleviate some of the pain.

4:45p - I attempted to call Zurich, the insurance company for All-Ways Warm Inc., to see if I could schedule the appointment with the adjuster. After sitting on hold for 52 minutes, I realized this for what it was - Zurich doesn't tell you the company's closed or that you're calling after business hours, they just put you on hold until you go away. I was less than pleased.

Saturday, June 22, 2002
9:20a - Decided to attempt to call State Farm again to see what they think I should do now that the weekend was upon us. I spoke to a representative from their "Good Neighbor" service who was, unfortunately, unqualified to give me the aforementioned advice. I left a message there for a more qualified representative to call me.

9:45a - Got a call back from a "more qualified representative" at State Farm who was also unable to provide me with advice. The best she could offer was to leave a message for my agent to call me on Monday, which, I explained, would be a little late.

6:15p - Went to my friend Aaron's graduation party. While I was there, I spoke with a friend of my parents that I have known for a looooong time now. He is a building contractor and owns apartments, so I asked him for his take on things.

Now, here's where the tables start turning, in my opinion.

He said that the ultimate responsibility for my losses and ensuring that the apartment is in a livable condition resides with the property owner. My understanding of how it works is this: The property owner contracts with a property management company to take care of the paperwork and dealing directly with tenants. The management company then subcontracts out certain maintenance tasks, like the cleaning of fireplaces, to other firms. I, the tenant, have no direct agreement with any of these subcontractors, so I should never have to deal with them. Besides which, I have no authority as a tenant to authorize repairs or restoration on any facilities-related items (walls, carpets, ceilings, appliances). If the property owner designates the management company as an authority that can deal with problems, then I deal with the management company. If not, I deal with the owner. Never do I need to deal with any maintenance firms.

That put things in a new perspective. What that boiled down to for me was that, once I established my position with the management company, I could get the ball rolling regardless of what Zurich insurance had to say, and it was the job of the management company to chase down All-Ways Warm Inc. and Zurich. Much, much better.

My parents' friend recommended that Jenn and I write a letter stating our position and our requests, then send it to the property owner, the management company, and Meg. After that, start calling and get things running.

Sunday, June 23, 2002
Jenn and I sat down over the course of Sunday and wrote the letter asking for a restoration firm to come in and deal with things. We also asked to be reimbursed for meals because we couldn't cook in the kitchen; a bath and medical inspection for the cat to make sure she's okay after ingesting all this grime by cleaning herself; reimbursement for any expenses in the event we have to move out of our apartment temporarily while the cleaning crew is working; and reimbursement for any time we would have to miss from work because all this happened.

Monday, June 24, 2002
9:20a - I called Meg and told her about the letter and our new position on things - that the management company should deal with Zurich and that we would deal with the management company directly. She was very adamant that Jenn and I "chose to deal with the insurance company rather than get a cleaning service in." I agreed that we had chosen that option, being the better of the two options provided to us at the time, but a third option should have been presented that wasn't - that was the option I was now choosing. I asked her for the main address for HSC Real Estate, the property management company in charge of my apartment complex, but she claimed not to have that information. I also asked for her boss's name and number but she refused to give me that. I finally asked for the name and contact information for the apartment complex proper, and she said she didn't have that information either. I faxed her the letter and began the research.

Many phone calls later, between 9:20a and 11:00a... - I called several different title companies in the area to find out the owner of record for the apartment complex. One place gives me the name "Garden Park Associates," but the address provided turns out to be for the IT department of a local Kaiser Permanente building. Weird. Another place actually ends up researching the taxes on the apartments and it goes to Citicorp Vendor Finance Inc., which makes more sense to me anyway. I fixed the address on the letter to be directed to both "Garden Park Associates" (just in case) and Citicorp. Fine.

11:40a - Called HSC Real Estate myself, since things are just not moving along fast enough for me. Left a message for Joe Adrian, the asset manager in charge of my complex, to find out what his fax number was and see what his thoughts on the situation were.

12:26p - Jenn called Zurich and spoke with Jonnie, an agent there. Apparently, Zurich had a claim filed but did not have any of Jenn or my contact information. How convenient. Jenn provided all the phone numbers and addresses they needed and Jonnie said they would call us back.

2:30p - Called HSC Real Estate again because no one had called me back. Got ahold of Joe and told him about our letter. He already had a copy, faxed to him by Meg. Fine. He, like Meg, was fairly adamant that Jenn and I had "chosen to deal with Zurich." I pointed out that there was no way a standard cleaning service would do the job we needed done, and he would have to agree that were he in my position, he would insist on full restoration as well. I also insisted that this process was moving far too slowly for my liking, and put forth the points that I don't have the authority to deal with any of the facilities-related restoration, nor did I ever have any contract or contact with All-Ways Warm Inc. to begin with. I have a contract with HSC, so HSC has to make good on things. After struggling with this for what I felt was far too long, Joe finally agreed to have Meg schedule Horizon Restoration, another local smoke and water damage restoration firm, to come in and look at the damage. I agreed that this was, finally, an acceptable solution.

3:15p - Meg called and told me that Horizon Restoration would be at my apartment at 4:00p. I told her that, yes, someone would be home to greet them. I quickly called Jenn, who was able to leave work to go speak with them.

4:00p - Kitty from Horizon Restoration shows up at the apartment. Meg wasn't in the office when they stopped by, so they came up to the apartment by themselves. Fine. After around 45 minutes of inspection, they explained the depth of the damage to Jenn:

We have to get rid of all of the food we have in cardboard boxes - cereal, Jell-O, Rice-A-Roni, etc. The soot-dust stuff goes through cardboard. The lamp shades may or may not be able to be restored. The pictures and frames will all have to be detailed, though, thankfully, the dust most likely didn't get behind the glass. All the electronics in the room will have to be sent out for sonic cleaning. Everything's got to come down from the walls and moved out of the room and the whole room has to be dealt with. Everything has to come out of the kitchen cupboards and be cleaned.

Kitty seemed surprised we were still staying in the apartment, too, in the condition it was in. When Jenn told me about all that, I felt so... vindicated. Finally, someone who sees the damage that was done for what it is! Jenn asked Kitty why other apartments hadn't reported such problems. The answer: "Not many people live as clean as you do." Wow. I can't even imagine. This stuff is pretty darn gross. Living in it is not even an option to me.

Kitty left and said that she could get a cleaning crew in the apartment cleaning as soon as 8:30a the next day as long as they got approval from the apartment complex. She left and headed back down to the office to speak with Meg about getting things under way.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002
9:45a - (Now.) That's where it sits. I'm still waiting to hear back from either Horizon Restoration or Meg to see when the cleaning company will be getting to work. I'm going to leave it until noon today. If I haven't heard anything, I'm gonna start making calls. Things need to get moving, and they need to get moving now.

Wasted Time

I got to thinking this morning in the car on my way to work that I commute probably 30 to 60 minutes each way to work and that's sort of a waste of time. I'm starting to consider getting some sort of "Learn Language X on Tape (or CD)" package so I can maybe learn something while I'm wasting time getting to work.

I mentioned this to a couple of the guys at work and they claimed that music was enough for them. I thought about that, and I guess I like listening to music on my way to work, but I need a big variety and I always want something new. I love all the CDs I have now (and I have quite a few) but I always crave something new and different.

That led me to think maybe one of those CD clubs like Columbia House or BMG might be an idea. The problem with clubs, though, is twofold: First, I will never remember to return the stupid card every month in the mail that tells them not to send the damn "CD Of The Month" to me; Second, the selection there is lacking. Searching for "Kylie Minogue," for example, on either of the two aforementioned clubs yields no results. Not so hot, especially considering that my taste in music is usually not as mainstream as they offer. Are there any better clubs out there?

So for now, I'm still pondering what to do. Something has to be done since my commute is the lamest part of my day, hands down. And, no, I'm not moving closer to work. Not if I can help it. I hate it in Hillsboro.

posted @ Thursday, June 20, 2002 2:49 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Media ]

On the Frontline

I started playing Medal of Honor: Frontline last night, and let me say, thus far it's everything I could have hoped for. The stuff I had issues with on the demo disc I played was all dealt with. The menu interface is cool, the missions are cool, the whole thing is just... cool. I need to show my dad; he's into the WWII period stuff and I think he'd dig it, too.

The more I listen to the Kylie CD I bought, the more I like it. And, again, it doesn't hurt that she's a hottie. I played it for Jenn and she likes it, too, but she thinks the Kylie pix inside look trashy. I dunno... a little bit of trashy is always welcome in my book. (Jenn has a Zero-Trashy Policy that is a little disappointing at times, but that's just the way she is. Maybe I can wear her down...?)

Not to be insensitive, but is anyone else tired of hearing about the two missing Oregon City girls? Really, I'm sorry that they're gone, and if there was something I could do about it, I would. But since there's not, can you stop inundating me with it? I suppose the same feeling goes for the whole September 11th thing - I'm really sorry that it happened; it was very tragic. But it's over now and it's time to move on. Watching a "feature" story on the news about "how America's coping since September 11th" every month is not helping. Maybe that's just me.

I guess some idiot stole like $12,000 worth of Cirque du Soleil costumes a couple of days ago from their tent here in Portland. That's just wonderful promotion for the arts, right there. I don't know this person, but I think I hate them. Just irritating. Besides, where do they think they're going to sell these stolen costumes? It's not like the corner shop makes them; anyone who sees these things are going to know exactly where they came from. What a dumbass.

Medal of Kylie

Yesterday I went on a mission to find Medal of Honor: Frontline for the PS2. I went to two different Fred Meyer stores and neither had it.

They did, however, have the Kylie Minogue album, Fever.

I bought it, and I dig it thoroughly.

I don't think there's really a bad song on there. I definitely have my favorites, but I don't out-and-out dislike any of them. Never really having listened to her before, I am very pleasantly surprised. I may have to pick up some of her other albums.

Anyway, back to the Medal of Honor discussion.

So I went to two different stores yesterday with no luck. I called another one once I got home, though, and they said they were getting a shipment in overnight and they should be on the shelves by morning.

I stopped in this morning and they weren't on the damn shelves.

They were, however, in the freight boxes, still unpacked. I got one fresh out of the box and bought it immediately. Hopefully it will prove to be vastly less frustrating than Devil May Cry was.

For the techies out there: The project I'm working on at work has taken a downward turn. It turns out there's a memory leak in the PKMCDO object library somewhere that causes the program I wrote to just eat up memory like nothing else. So the code is getting a significant overhaul to lower my reliance on the problem library while we look into getting Microsoft to fix the memory leak (or tell us how to work around it).

Cirque Rocks!

Jenn and I saw the Cirque du Soleil show, Dralion, on Friday night and it was fantastic. The music was beautiful, the stage effects were great, and the performers were wonderful.

Thinking about it, though, I really don't know how to describe it. If you've never seen a Cirque show, you really won't understand what it's like. Sort of like saying something tastes like chicken - if a person's never had chicken, what does chicken taste like?

For the people who have seen a Cirque show, this will make more sense.

The feel of Dralion is very Asian. While the other Cirque shows I've seen have a distinct French feel to them, the art, costumes, and music on this one have a very Oriental spin, and it was a Good Thing. There were also several acts in Dralion that I haven't seen in the other shows, like the Ballet On Lights and the Aerial Pas de Deux. The clowns in the other shows I've seen were not "clowns" so much as "funny creatures;" the clowns in Dralion were actually human, resembling... well, Drunk Italians. I'm not sure how that fit in, exactly, but they were very funny.

Anyway, it was an excellent show, and anyone interested in a wonderful night out should definitely consider this show. Beauty beyond description.

We also saw The Bourne Identity this weekend and it was very cool. I'll try to fix up a review on it a little later.

I got my copy of Real Genius this weekend - finally - and got to watch it on Sunday afternoon. It was just as good as I remembered it, but I was disappointed by the lack of any special features. The sound was just Dolby Surround, not Dolby Digital or anything like that; there were trailers on the disc but not for the movie; and there was no commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, or any other special features. You get the movie, trailers to Hook and Jumanji, and that's it. I suppose for what it is, that's okay, but it would have been nice to see more to it.

I redid our hallway and it now contains all of my Fifth Element posters and merchandise. It looks nice in there. So that's one more area of the place down. Next stop, the dining room. It's totally a holding area for our extra stuff, and it needs to be cleaned out and redecorated. We're going with a Buffy theme in there.

Finally got a chance to listen to the new Dirty Vegas album and I was honestly less than impressed. It was okay, but it didn't really stick in my head like the song normally does from the Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial. I did, however, find that the Kylie Minogue album, Fever, does stick in my head, so I may pick that up. Doesn't hurt that she's a little hottie.

Oh, and I got way too pissed off at the PS2 game Devil May Cry. WAY too pissed off. There's something that doesn't click between my brain, my fingers, and the way the camera moves in that game. Try as I might, it was just too damn difficult. So I packed it up, strategy guide and all, and have sold it to a guy here at work for $25. Maybe I got ripped off; maybe I just wanted free of it. It looked brilliant, the idea was great, I just sucked at the game and couldn't take it anymore. I'm gonna take the $25 and reinvest it in Medal of Honor: Frontline. I played the demo of that this weekend and loved every second of it. Of course, the demo had a time limit on it, so I would get like halfway through the first mission and it would time out on me... so now it's time to play for real.

Dralion!

Cirque du Soleil eTicketGuess where I'll be tonight! That's right, Jenn and I have tickets for the 9:00p showing of Cirque du Soleil's traveling show, Dralion. I saw them last time they were in town with their Saltimbanco show and also twice in Vegas I saw their Mystere show. All of them were brilliance, and I look forward to tonight's performance. Jenn's never seen them, so she's excited, too. We have pretty good seats, too, which makes it all that much better.

My copy of Real Genius didn't come yesterday, so I have to assume today's the day. I was all excited to see it, and now I've gotta wait until this weekend.

Speaking of this weekend, my friend Aarron's coming into town and I think I'm going to try to convince him that we need to go see The Bourne Identity. It looks too cool, and it's got Franka Potente in it, which makes it all that much better. She was great in Run Lola Run, so I expect she'll be great here, too. (Oh, and Run Lola Run had a pretty bitchin' soundtrack, to boot.) So we might check that out. Jenn wants to see it, too.

Aside from that, I'm hoping to take it easy. After painting our living room, our place is in a shambles, so I'm sure there will be cleaning up to do, but the weather's supposed to be nice, so maybe I'll try to take advantage of it. Somehow. Not sure on how yet, but I'll figure it out when I get there.

West End Traffic

I will never understand the traffic on the west side of Portland. It seems that no matter what time of day it is, it's rush hour on the West Side. I'd blame it on the weather, but that wouldn't make any sense because the thought pattern of the average West Side driver would be "Oh, my, it's raining out! Better slow down!" and "Oh, my, it's sunny out! Better slow down!" It makes no sense. I could go further with a discussion of how to merge onto the freeway, but I've already done that once before, so I don't think I need to go into it again.

The reason I bring it up is because yesterday it took me well over an hour to get home and I only live 15 miles from work. That means that, basically, I travelled an average of 15 miles per hour. I could technically have driven home in first fucking gear and it would have gotten me there in the same amount of time. No sense whatsoever.

I'm starting to think the West Side city planners don't actually reside on the West Side. They screwed everything up as a big joke on the poor souls who have to commute that direction every day. It used to be where the traffic going into Portland in the morning and leaving at night was way worse than the traffic travelling in the opposite direction. Not so anymore; now it's all just terrible.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has a series of traffic cameras that allow you to see what's going on. Here's the series that defines my commute. Check it out in the morning and the evening; you'll see what I mean.

On another note, my copy of Real Genius should be here today, or maybe tomorrow. That shipped with Lexx Series 3 Vol. 1, Lexx Series 3 Vol. 2, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2. I'm stoked for that stuff to get here. I haven't seen Real Genius forever. I'll have to bring it and play it at work.

Speaking of DVDs, I'm a little irritated that they haven't put the movie Electric Dreams out on DVD yet. It's out of print on video, too (you can buy it for like $75 in some places, but give me a break). The soundtrack was good on that one, too. Highly recommendable.

Jenn's a little pissed that the new Grand Theft Auto: Vice City game is coming out. Sorry, baby. Some things just have to happen, you know? :)

Content Relevance

While waiting for this program I'm writing to run a few test iterations, I started to sort of re-read a few of the blog entries that I've got up here and began to think - you know, unless you're related to me or know me in some form, this stuff won't really matter to you. The context is lacking.

That's pretty much what it says in the Libertarian Blog Manifesto. (Granted, it's got a little more politically-related propaganda strewn about in there, but, pretty much, that's the sum of it.) I tend to agree - if you don't know me, you probably won't care for what's going on around here, as is evidenced by the negative "karma" rating that most of my entries get.

Unless you decide to take the time to read up on this stuff and get to know me. Then it'll all make hella more sense and you might enjoy it.

At the same time, the whole reason I've got this thing going on is so I can keep folks updated about me without having to write 30,000 emails every day with the same thing in every one of them. And, frankly, if you don't like it, tough crap.

Now, that said, if y'all wanna hear about something, I'd be more than happy to write somethin' up. But no one leaves comments or anything saying one way or the other, so I'll just plod along and do my thang until such time arises.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Gaming News

Grand Theft Auto: Vice CityI'm noticing that there are a lot of cool games out, or coming out, that I'm going to have to get. First and foremost, the latest and greatest installment of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I got an email notification that it'll be out on October 22, 2002. Woohoo! There's not a whole lot of info on it, but you can read the news release on it. I'll definitely be picking that one up, if it's even half as good as GTA3.

Let's see... Last night I finished Spy Hunter, which was quite the ordeal. I'd been playing it off and on for several months, and not being terribly great at games in general, this one gave me some trouble. But I've been getting better lately, so I was finally able to finish all the missions on this thing. I highly recommend it - it's everything Spy Hunter should be.

Next on the list to work on is Devil May Cry. That's another one that's pretty difficult for the less than coordinated moi, so I anticipate spending some "quality time" working with it.

Other games that I'm going to have to pick up for my PS2 soon/when they come out:


And, last but not least, for the XBox at work, the next must-buy is Dead or Alive Extreme Volleyball. Featuring your favorite ladies from the fighting games DOA2: Hardcore and DOA3, you get to play a bit of beach volleyball and enjoy the high kicks. I've only seen the intro trailer for it, but it looks so cheesy (with just the right T&A factor) that I can't NOT get it.

In other news...

Jenn and I watched that American Idol show last night, and... wow. I mean, some of the people were legitimately good, but others were so utterly horrible that I wonder why they would even bother showing up on the thing. Did they actually think they could make it? Watching these people is like watching a train wreck - horrible, yet you can't take your eyes off it. And one of the judges, Simon Cowell (who I'd never heard of before in my life), is sort of like Judge Judy - brutal, yet totally right.

Long Row to Hoe

After a long, long, LONG week, Jenn and I have finally finished redoing the living room, at least as best we can without buying all new furniture. The room seems so much bigger since we moved things around, and it has a lot more personality with the paint. Moving the TV and stereo equipment paid off in that it's a lot cleaner looking (and the cord management behind it is way better) but it was a huge pain in the ass.

Today is having trouble getting started for me. I woke up and totally just drug ass out of bed. Normally I wake up in the shower; today I nearly fell asleep. I'm still pretty tired. I went out to get my monthly Cup Of Coffee from the air pots outside my cube... and they were empty. That's pretty much a microcosm for my day thus far.

On the other hand, the project I'm working on at work is coming along splendidly (it's a content replication service for Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server, if you care), especially since I just got in touch with developer support over there to answer some questions that don't get answered in the all-too-meager SDK documentation.

I have to go to Fred Meyer today to get a couple of new frames for pictures that go in our new living room. The frames we have, well, suck. So new frames will fix the fact that the old, sucky frames don't go well in the "Children Of The Revolution" French theme we have going.

While I'm there, I may listen to the new self-titled Dirty Vegas album. CDNow (who sucks; don't ever buy anything from them) said it would have "appeal [to] the musically unadventurous," which is probably me, but then, I never seem to like the stuff they say is all revolutionary and shit.

Speaking of "revolutionary" music I don't dig, I watched the MTV Movie Awards last night and saw The White Stripes perform. I'll be damned if I could understand a single word from the song they played. It had sort of a British punk feel to it, at least I thought so, and I could see that if they cleaned it up just a tad I might be into it given the right mood. The simple, retro-ish style they had sort of appealed to me. I dunno.

On the other hand, I thought that Kelly Osbourne's musical debut singing "Papa Don't Preach" was pretty decent. She has an okay voice, but no real stage presence to speak of. I think if she worked at it a bit more, she could go somewhere. That'll be on the Osbourne Family Album, coming out June 11. Yes, I'll probably end up getting that.

Double-Wide Shine on the Boothills of Your Prime

Quite the weekend.

Saturday was errand day. The usual vacuuming, shopping, and so forth. Lame.

I did, however, buy the Cake album, Comfort Eagle. Something about Cake just rules; the way the lyrics have a certain cadence and a... deliberate meaning. Very cool. Besides, I heard the title track on 94.7 FM on Friday on the way home, and couldn't get it out of my head.

So that was Saturday.

Sunday, however, was another issue entirely.

Woke up Sunday really too early. I think it was like 6:30a. Took a shower and decided that it was time to rearrange the living room.

After Jenn and I really started looking at it, we realized that simply moving the furniture around was not going to suffice. We wanted the room to have a sort of French feel to it, to go along with the Moulin Rouge! posters we have in there. After checking with the apartment manager, we decided we needed to paint the front room. (The manager was actually pretty stoked to see what it was going to look like when we finished. She likes the art in there already.)

Hit the local Home Depot and found some beautiful Ralph Lauren paint (and, of course, tinted primer) in "Cobalt" (blue) and "Donegal Tweed" (pale yellow). Got all the brushes and crap to paint with, borrowed the rest of the stuff from my mom, and home we went, ready to paint.

Started moving things around, getting them out of the way, and taping things off around, oh, 2:00p. By 9:00p we had finished the yellow wall (two coats) and had covered the blue wall (which is about twice the size of the yellow wall) in the blue primer. After that, it was time to quit for the night. It bothers me that it's not done yet, but we'll hopefully finish it up tonight and do any little touch-up work on the corners and stuff. Then we can start putting the room back together. It's starting to really take shape, though, and I love the dimension that the blue gives the room.

Now we have to find a decent bookcase to store all the DVDs and videos in and some nicer endtables. Then the room will be pretty well done and we can start the next one.