July 2003 Blog Posts

Stacy's Mom

Man, it's been a couple of days since I poked my head in here, but lots has happened since Monday.

Well, let me think about that for a sec...

Maybe not lots so much as stuff.

First, I went out and bought the Fountains of Wayne album Welcome Interstate Managers. It's got a song called "Stacy's Mom" that rocks. Besides which, it's pretty funny, so all the better. That was, uh... Monday night. Yeah. Maybe I should tell this all chronologically instead of just the order in which I remember things.

Monday night Jenn took me out to Olive Garden for a nice Italian dinner because I passed my test. After that, I headed over to the music store where I picked up the Fountains of Wayne album, simply because I couldn't get the song out of my head. That pretty much capped off that night.

Tuesday I went to the store to get a Firewire card so I can sync my iPod faster. Installed that, and realized after installing it that my whole laptop was sort of screwed up anyway so I decided it would need to be rebuilt... but not right then. Installed ephPod because Musicmatch Jukebox (the software that comes with iPod for Windows) is total crap. The only reason I left it on the computer was because the Apple "iPod Manager" software - which should allow you to connect and disconnect the iPod from your compute - doesn't really work too well, while the MusicMatch thing works a little better.

Wednesday I couldn't handle all the errors on the laptop anymore so I got a new hard drive for the laptop (faster and twice the size) and reinstalled everything from the ground up. By the end of the day I had almost, but not quite, everything back up and running.

Wednesday night, Jenn and I watched a movie called 15 Minutes about some murderers who videotape their crimes so they can sell the tapes to the media. Eh. I'm glad I didn't see it in the theater. Love the digital cable.

Which brings us to today, Thursday. I got the iPod working this morning and I'm noticing that the "mount" and "unmount" functions are not terribly reliable. "What," the technically challenged might ask, "precisely does that mean?" Well, when you connect your iPod to the computer, the computer "recognizes" it and then "attaches" to it so that you can put your music on it. That process is referred to as "mounting" the iPod. The thing is, when it's done synchronizing, you can't just jerk it off the computer - you have to "unmount" it, or, more simply put, you have to tell the computer you're done so it will let go of the iPod (otherwise you could corrupt stuff - sort of like shutting off your computer without using the "shut down" function). This process of "mounting" and "unmounting" is not the fastest or most reliable thing in the world. It can take like 10 or 20 seconds to "mount" the iPod, and then pending on what you do, it may never successfully "unmount," at which point you have to disconnect it and do a little reset operation (which isn't bad per se, but it's a pain).

Regardless, I'm still digging the iPod, and will have to put more stuff on it.

I've been studying for my next Microsoft exam, which will be on Programming Windows Applications in C#. Looking at the practice test questions, I'm already feeling pretty comfortable. I'm going to talk to a friend of mine who has used the same practice test company (different test, same manufacturer) to see how close the practice test is to the real thing. If it's really close, I'll schedule this next one up. It's pretty common sense stuff.

Finally, my friend Marty has potentially offered me some server space to move to, so I may be able to expand my offerings to you fine folks out there. Maybe post pictures and things more often, and who knows what else? I'm going to talk to him and see what that's all about. In the meantime, go check out MildPeril and see what he has to say.

Database Mastah!

For those who ever doubted (including myself) and those who ever wondered, let it be proclaimed throughout the land that I AM THE DATABASE MASTAH!!! We gots the tools, we gots the talent. Maaaaad skillz, I tell you.

[Translation: I passed my test, MS070-229 - Designing and Implementing Databases with Microsoft® SQL ServerTM 2000 Enterprise Edition.]

I studied all last week, I studied this weekend, and I studied this morning before heading into the test center. I was still pretty nervous during the test (I'm glad I didn't eat anything because I would have launched right onto the test machine) but as the thing went on, I realized that I knew the answers to the questions. They were the same questions in the practice tests. No problem.

Finished the 44 questions on the test in about an hour. Considering they give you two hours for the test, I think that's pretty good. In the end, I got a PASS score. They used to give you actual scores to tell you how many you got wrong, but now it's just PASS/FAIL. No problem for me, PASS is PASS, baby.

So. One down, four to go. I think the next test I'll take will probably be the Windows Apps in C# test. I'd best get cracking on that.

The Late Show

Got home after work last night and planned on just sitting around as I usually do (oh so motivated am I) and maybe studying a little, but stuff happened.

First, a good friend of mine stopped by who I haven't seen for a while and gave me a belated birthday gift that was far above and beyond anything I could have asked for, and it was very hard for me to accept (but, hey, twist my arm...): A 15GB Apple iPod MP3 Player.

Needless to say, I was shocked, but I thanked him for it several times, and I still don't think that's enough. That's, like, the coolest thing ever.

Then later on, my friend (and boss) Greg called and we ended up going to see the late showing of Terminator 3.

You gotta love T3. The first one was a classic, and the second was great but took itself pretty seriously. In this one, you could tell they had fun with it. The director (or writer, or both, or maybe just everyone on board) was all, "Hey! This may be a story about the destruction of humanity, but it's also an action film, so what say we blow some shit up? Get the SWAT team in here, God dammit! Where are those bazookas? They were supposed to be here hours ago!" I think this was probably my favorite of the three, just because it was all about the fun of the action movie and not about teaching us a lesson. Deep? No. Fun? You better believe it.

Oh, and my sister Tori in Utah called and left me a happy birthday voicemail yesterday. Better late than never(?).

So, a day after my birthday (well, two days, if you count today) and maybe things aren't so bad. I mean, I guess sometimes it just takes people a while to "catch up" or whatever. Heh.

Birthday Aftermath

Being 27, I've found, is not terribly different from being 26.

Before we wax too philosophic, let's review the acknowledgements for the day yesterday. I got email greetings from:
  • Douglas, a friend of mine in Texas
  • Gerb, a friend I've had since high school
  • Jenni, my cousin
  • Tanya, regular blog reader (via comments)
  • Kristin, a friend I haven't heard from for a loooong time
  • An automated mail system from a forum I'm a member of
Personal acknowledgements from about half of my department (there are nine people in my department) came in about half an hour before I left, when one of the guys was peeking over my shoulder and saw my calendar with my birthday clearly marked.

That's about it.

I wasn't, like, expecting a party, but I guess I feel a little gypped since everyone else's birthday around here gets remembered.

So, anyway, that was the day. That evening, my mom, dad, sister Tai and husband Dan, and grandfather (on Mom's side) came over and we had a little cheesecake. Gifts were the following:
  • Stevie Wonder: The Definitive Collection (from Jenn)
  • A Bug's Life two-disc collector's edition DVD (from Jenn)
  • La Femme Nikita DVD (from Jenn)
  • A 7.0 amp Shop Vac (from Jenn)
  • A 12-pack of Shasta Tiki Punch (from Mom's cat)
  • Xena: Warrior Princess Season One DVD set (from Mom and Dad)
  • A gift certificate to Michael's (from Tai and Dan)
I liked all the stuff I got, and it was good to see everyone over. My grandparents on my dad's side and my sister Tori in Utah were sort of MIA as far as birthday greetings, though, which I think is kinda crappy.

But oh well. It's not like I expected anything in particular, but I'm feeling a little disappointed nonetheless. I guess that's just how things go the longer time goes by.

Happy Birthday To Me

I woke up on this fine birthday morning, 27 years old and tired as all hell.

My shower was nothing spectacular, but when I got out, I found I had a little present from Jenn waiting for me, which is nice - I do enjoy prizes.

The trip to work sucked ass. I can't tell you why everyone needed to go five miles an hour under the limit, but they all did.

Got to work, and... well, that's pretty self-explanatory. I got to work. 'Nuff said.

Actually accomplished some good stuff at work. Got a bunch of things set up that needed to get set up, rolled out a press release on the web site. I felt pretty accomplished.

Thought about halfway through the day about the fact that my hair's feeling pretty shaggy and I should have a haircut coming up. Flipped through my calendar and saw that the appointment was scheduled for yesterday. Well, shit. I suppose I should call the hairdresser (who's been doing my hair for 14 years now) and apologize. I totally spaced it, and I do need a haircut. I could have sworn I looked at the calendar yesterday and didn't see it.

But now it's the end of the day, and no one remembered my birthday until one guy was looking over my shoulder and saw it marked on my calendar. Word trickled out and I'm getting a few "happy birthdays" from people. Some folks never knew, so I can't blame them, but still. I guess I feel a little disappointed; I mean, we take everyone else out for lunch on their birthdays, and everyone seems to remember the other birthdays.

My boss came over and was all, "Oh, today's your birthday? I thought it was yesterday." Yeah, man. That makes it better. :) He says he owes me lunch. He owes me about four lunches that never seem to get scheduled, so I'm not holding my breath. He's a good guy, and busy, so I understand. But still.

Now I'm packing up to go home, where I'll hang out with Jenn, my parents, my sister and her husband, and maybe my grandfather, eat some Chinese food and some cheesecake, and just enjoy the evening. It doesn't sound like the most happening party, I know, but I have bad luck scheduling parties, so I just don't.

Besides - deep fried prawns and a hunk of cheesecake all at the same time is like a tiny party in-and-of-itself.

One other note: Last night I took a practice certification test and got 92% on it, which is the best I've done yet. If I can do that well on the real thing this Monday, I'll be good.

Scheduled Attempt

At the recommendation of a co-worker, I purchased the TestKing practice test questions. According to him, the questions he had on his test were darn close - if not identical - to the ones on the TestKing exam.

After reading through most of them, I've come to the conclusion that the self test questions from Self Test Software are almost identical to TestKing's questions, so it's all the same. I like the TestKing explanations better than Self Test Software's, but for $40 extra, I may not do TestKing for the next one. I guess it all depends on how I do.

Regardless, I took a "certification readiness" practice test, which means they don't tell you your score until the end and you are under a time limit, and I finished an hour early with an 80% (which, I think, is a passing score on the real thing). And since I've done that, and I'm looking over the TestKing questions and feeling pretty confident and comfortable with them, I did it.

I bit the bullet and scheduled the exam.

I'll go in for my attempt (and hopefully pass) on Monday, July 28, at 9:00a. I figured, take this weekend to really study my ass off, then with all the info fresh in my mind, go in early Monday morning, do a last minute quick-review, and hopefully pass. At $125 a whack, I'm hoping not to have to make a second try. My hands were shaking with the adrenaline as I scheduled it. I mean, that was just the scheduling of the test. I can only imagine how I'm going to be the morning of the test itself. But I'm feeling good about it now that I've seen the TestKing stuff and got the decent score on the "certification readiness" test.

They said on the "certification readiness" test that 80% was a fail. Considering the other stuff I've seen from that practice test software, anything less than 100% is fail, too, so I don't think I'm doing that bad.

So... here goes. Send good luck vibes my way. If I can pass this test, then I only have four more to pass and I get my certification. I haven't planned that far yet, but it's coming, so any help I can get, I'm taking.

Still Slightly Panicky

I'm still a little panicky about my certification tests. I know I sound like a broken record, but at $125 a pop, pass or fail, it's pretty important that I pass the first time.

I went to the bookstore to check out some books in a series called Exam Cram, since a friend of mine at work recommended them, but they didn't have any of the ones I needed. I looked at the ones they did have, to get a feel for how they are laid out, and they look pretty decent, but it's like 300 pages of information that I don't want to have to pick through to figure out the important parts. I mean, isn't that what the self test software is for? To show me what I need to know and drill me via flash cards? So I think I may just try the first test using the self test software and the knowledge in my head, as useless as that may be.

Time to go download brain dumps...

Programming with the .NET Framework, Part 5

8:14a

I've loaded up the car, checked out of the hotel, and I'm in my last day of class (which won't start for another 45 minutes.

Last night I went back to the hotel after class and decided I needed to take a short break from learning, so I sat down with the GBA SP and played Metroid Fusion for a bit. After that, I fired up the computer, which promptly gave me a load of errors - something about being "unable to read instruction at memory address 0x7somethingorother" - which meant disk issues, after a little investigation.

So I started a disk check and went back to the Game Boy.

I'm not sure if it's my frustration with the upcoming exams or just my general lack of patience... or maybe even a distinct lack of hand-eye coordination when it comes to video games... but I got playing Metroid again and I quickly got to a boss that I just can't beat. I got reasonably far into beating him several times (I think) but I just couldn't pull it off. So I switched to Yoshi's Island, which is a Mario-style game, and I couldn't beat the level I was on.

By this time I was so fed up that I didn't want to try some other game, I just wanted the GBA away from me so I packed it up and got out some comics I brought along with me.

The disk check, of course, was still not done.

I read a couple of comics, checked on the disk check progress (almost done), read a couple more, and saw that the check had finally finished. Not the quickest process in the world, but it did find a couple of errors, which it fixed, and I subsequently have not seen the weird errors that I was seeing.

I did notice, however, that there's some other weird error involving "ACPI BIOS" that's been happening for a while now, so I should probably investigate that when I get back to work.

It was around 8:00p by then and I still had four modules' worth of labs to finish up from my Programming Windows Apps in C# class (the whole reason I brought the computer along, really, was to finish these labs and understand the concepts we didn't have time to go over in class). I moved through them at a pretty decent speed (so I thought) and ended up finishing them up around 9:30p. I'm pretty comfortable with the stuff they taught now (I wasn't before), but I still don't think I could do them without a little bit of help in the way of documentation.

I figured I should probably call Jenn before it got any later, since I still needed to eat and pack my stuff up for check out, so I called. We had about 15 minutes of what I like to call "bad phone" (where nobody really has anything interesting to say, so it ends up being something like: "How was your day?" "Fine, how was yours?" "Fine." "Oh. Okay." "Right." "So what's new?" "Nothing. You?" "Nothing.") and I hung up so I could eat.

After a fine meal of Lean Cuisine, during which I watched some more Broken Saints, I got some stuff packed up. Not all, mind you, but some.

And then sleep.

10:25a

We're on break, and I remembered that I have a dentist appointment coming up that I need to reschedule for the following week, so I figured no time like the present - I stepped out of the classroom and phoned them up.

They're closed Fridays.

Apparently, the "regular business hours" are 8:00a - 4:30p Monday - Thursday. What ever happened to work, people? Dammit! I suppose I'll call them on Monday, but not being open Friday is pretty frickin' ridiculous.

11:08a

Two more words that have lost meaning: pointer and marshaling.

11:34a

We're getting pizza in class so we can work through lunch and maybe I can get out at a reasonable time. That'd be nice.

Can diabetics eat pizza? This guy in class is diabetic but he's getting a salad. I wonder if it's that, or if it's just that he doesn't like pizza.

There's a car alarm outside that goes off about every 20 minutes. I wonder if it's mine.

<1>1:27p

I just finished the last lab, and now there are several "optional" modules of varying interest. I'm interested in the Threading module, but I've seen the ADO.NET intro module more times than are useful (I've got the in-depth course next month).

Pending on what they decide to go over, I may end up leaving soon.

We had pizza in class for lunch, so we worked through lunch and made up some time. Let's see if we can put that to use.

2:03p

Here's an interesting blast from the past...

3:04p

We've gotten past the ineresting stuff and now we're neck deep in technical garbage that doesn't mean really anything to me. I suppose if I ever had to get into this stuff it might, but I don't, and it's Friday afternoon after a long week of class, so I'm tuned out.

Besides which, I should be getting on the road pretty soon.

3:16p

That's that. I'm packing up and taking the traffic-laden trip home.

Programming with the .NET Framework, Part 4

9:31a

I've entirely lost track of my concept of time. I had to look at the calendar today to figure out it's Thursday.

It being Thursday means that I only have one more night here and then I go home tomorrow after class. It'll be nice to get home, to sleep in my own bed, to see Jenn and my kitties again. I will admit I'm a little lonely sitting in my hotel room at night, but the flipside is that I don't have any distractions while I study.

Speaking of studying, I took a practice test on SQL Server last night. It took about two hours to go through 50 questions (I was in "learning" mode, so I was reading about WHY certain answers were right or wrong). When all was said and done, I got around 60% correct.

I was pretty confident about my SQL Server skills before I took that practice test. Taking the test showed me that I don't know jack squat. Now I'm feeling pretty disheartened about my whole learning experience because I thought these classes I was taking would prepare me, or at least better prepare me, for the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer tests. I'm not so sure about it anymore. I mean, I'm learning a lot of stuff. The problem I'm having is that tests are not real-world. When will I ever be programming when I don't have access to the help docs?

So, needless to say, I'm a little down today. I told Jenn about it and she was all, "Doesn't it make you happy that not everything comes easy?" No, I'm not. It's about the unrealistic nature of the tests. It's about the fact that everything I do anymore is an uphill battle - work and school. It's that this is exactly everything I hated about high school and college. It's all of this pressure and all of this "challenge" all coming crashing back on me and inducing fits of anxiety, stressing me out.

I feel like I'm a good programmer. I think there are people out there who would agree with that. I also think that I'm really going to have problems with these tests, and at $125 a pop, I really can't afford to fail.

10:52a

I went cruising Amazon to see what sorts of study aids they have in print. There are all sorts of books, priced $25 - $40, none of which looked like they were "foolproof" or "all-inclusive." I then see random boot camps and schools that promise certification "in 8 days - guaranteed." It makes me wonder if that would have been a better investment. But then, I think I'm probably getting some better, more well-rounded knowledge out of these classes.

I'm just wondering if it'll help me pass these tests.

11:04a

Have you ever said a word over and over enough times that it starts sounding funny and you don't remember what it means? The word of the day is "dispose."

11:33a

I was thinking about this (while sitting in class)... my job has made me a programming Sisyphus.

12:23p

I just went through a lab on memory management (making sure your program doesn't eat all of your computer's memory) and while I understood it, and I think I could implement it myself, I didn't like the lab very much. The way things were written/phrased, it was really difficult to figure out what they were trying to get you to do. I ended up having to refer to the solution, and I haven't had to do that for any of the class labs I've had yet.

It reminds me of that game where you give a friend a pencil and a piece of paper and you have a picture of something that you're looking at (and your friend can't see). The object is to describe to your friend what they need to draw on their paper so they come up with a picture that looks like the one you're holding. If you've never done that, try it. It's harder than you might think. For simple stuff (a house, a flag, a can of cola), it's not too bad - you can sort of refer to simple shapes ("draw a circle, then draw a couple parallel lines coming from the sides of the circle..."). If you have something more complex, like an office chair, it gets a heck of a lot harder. This lab was like someone trying to describe to me how to draw a Picasso piece. Crazy.

2:02p

Still panicking about the exams and my lack of preparation. I went looking to see what Microsoft offers as far as test preparation material - lists of what they're asking questions on, suggested preparation materials, etc. - and there's nothing I can see that would help me. The lists of question topics are sufficiently vague that they may as well say, "We're just, you know, testing you." Thanks.

You're probably tired of reading about my study anxiety. I'm tired of thinking about it. It's just sort of sitting at the front of my mind, though, and it's hard to get away from.

3:04p

Finally, an old person who realizes that sometimes you do get too old to drive. And one who didn't figure it out soon enough. My 80+ year old neighbors who drive these gigantic antique Cadillacs should read these articles.

5:06p

That's the end of today. We just did an interesting lab where we created a simple server app that can accept connections from clients and sends information. Just a little thing, but it demonstrates that you can do some powerful stuff in a simple way with .NET.

Just watch - I get this, but it won't be on the test. The stuff I don't get will be there.

Programming with the .NET Framework, Part 3

9:38a

I'm back in class again, which means I'm back to waiting for the rest of class to get their shit together while I surf the web.

I'm learning some good stuff, details that I wasn't aware of, which is a Good Thing. After going through a few more flash cards last night in preparation for the tests I've got to take, I found that I don't know crap. That said, I still need to run through a full practice test because, while flash cards are good, I think I'll know the answer if I get to see it in a multiple choice context (which is how the tests work). At least that's what I'm hoping.

I was going to do a practice test last night, but when I clicked the "start" button, it came up with a surprise "Activate This Product Now!" screen, telling me that if I want to do the test I need to connect online to their web site and get a code. Of course, I don't have Internet access from the hotel, so I was hosed. I tried to get my cell phone working as a modem via infrared, but that didn't work so well.

I went to the web site this morning and entered one code, then got another code that I've written down that should, when I return to the room, successfully activate the test so I can make use of it.

Here's something I'm wondering: How come coffee foams up like pee bubbles? That whole idea disturbs me.

9:56p

I've been trying, for the last 10 minutes, to reply to a message via webmail. But the stupid "compose message" screen will not come up and I'm pretty much ready to beat the crap out of it... in a, uh, virtual sort of way.

The rest of the class is still working on their labs, and I'm boooooored. I think I may play a little Game Boy, since I finished my book last night and I don't have anything here to read.

10:06a

Hold on to your seats, folks, we've finally started class.

10:24a

I thought of a cool idea for a program (for the .NET developers out there). A full-featured configuration file editor. Windows/console applications have pretty extensive configuration files that allow you to govern how they link to different library versions, which paths they search, etc. Web apps have different security settings, handlers specified, etc. Microsoft provides the "mscorcfg.msc" tool that does some of the Windows/console app configuration for you, but it's not all-inclusive and it doesn't do web apps. I've seen a semi-functional web app config file editor, but it didn't do Windows/console apps. A full config editor would be a Cool Thing, and I think it might give me some good experience developing applications for Windows in .NET.

Not to mention making it easier for everyone to work with configuration files.

I'm thinking if you wrote your classes write, wired them up with XmlSerializer attributes, you could just deserialize the configuration file directly, make changes to the classes, then just serialize it all back into your config file.

Hmmm...

11:32a

Check this out - 128MB USB drive for $37, and it's smaller than other USB drives. I may have to splurge on this.

11:56a

Lab time.

I have to say, I'm feeling a little oppressed in this overly geeky environment. I mean, sure, I work in a software development company, but the terrible, terrible geek humor isn't remotely as prevalent as it seems to be here.

I sit in class here and people say things like, "I can't tell you how many times I was burned by not having a copy constructor" and then snicker at the... humor? Riiiight. You're so funny! You should be a comedian!

2:11p

Well, I've had lunch (sandwich) and finished the lab work, and now we're moving on. I'm glad we're sticking to the schedule; we might be able to move right along.

2:40p

Webmail is working again, so I was able to reply to a couple of messages. That's cool.

3:45p

I think we're on the last lab of the day. We get to write simple chat server applications. Should be interesting.

I noticed the bathroom here smells like the one at my dentist's office. Sort of a mixture of urinal cakes and Scope mouthwash.

4:41p

That's the end of lab. I'm outta here.

Programming with the .NET Framework, Part 2

10:49a

There's some road work down the street and someone cut the power to the classroom (and, conveniently, the bathrooms). Not all the classrooms, mind you, just a couple, which includes the one I'm in.

We've got some big orange extension cords running in here from another room now so we can work. It's pretty crazy.

I worked last night on some of the lab work I missed from my Programming Windows Apps class and a bunch of concepts came clear. After that, I decided to try some of the flash cards that came with my practice test for Programming Windows Apps - you know, just to see how I'd do.

There are three difficulty levels on the cards - Easy, Medium, and Hard. I was able to answer almost all of the Medium and Hard questions but the Easy ones stumped me. I wonder what that means...

11:27a

The air conditioner's off and it's getting hot so they just brought us popsicles. I got grape.

Now I'm craving Otter Pops.

1:22p

Well, it seems that the extra extension cords they've run to get our computers up and running are now blowing transformers because they can't keep up with the increased power drain, so now we have to turn off our computers. Not so great, since that's how we do labs. Unbelievable.

So I'm going to save this and turn off the computer, and if I can I'll post later today or, I guess, tomorrow if we don't get back up.

Bah.

Programming with the .NET Framework, Part 1

9:22a

Second week of training is now underway. This time it's MS-2349: Programming with the Microsoft .NET Framework (Microsoft C# .NET). It's actually more of the introductory "here's how to write programs" sort of class, and you might ask yourself why I didn't start out by taking this class.

I'm asking myself that same question.

Actually, it wasn't offered until now, so it wasn't possible. It would have been nice, but now that I'm in it, I'm hoping it fills in gaps in the knowledge I already have. That's what it's looking like to me so far.

11:16a

The time's flying by, but mostly because this is total review so far and I'm working on other things, like typing up the outcome of my ten-year class reunion.

In fact, a lot of this class, I feel, is going to be review, but the stuff that isn't is going to be very valuable indeed. I'm hoping that I'll solidify my knowledge of the C# language - finally get a good understanding of the stuff that's a little foggy. We'll see, right?

12:41p

We have an hour and a half (starting at noon) to do lunch and a lab, but I decided I was going to do the lab first and then just eat until everyone else finished up.

Of course, then I got talking to the instructor and now it's 41 minutes into the time and I'm not even close to done with the lab. Maybe I should go get something to eat, eh?

2:25p

I'm still doing review stuff in my class, but I've found yet another pet peeve as I'm sitting here. Actually, two.

First, I can't stand people who talk to you when you're trying to read your book. Look, buddy, not only is it obvious that I'm reading (and, hence, busy), but my reading implicitly indicates I have nothing to say to you. Shut up and turn around.

Second, I can't stand people who pretentiously sit back in a class and act like they know everything about anything already and refuse to listen to you. For example, I work extensively with SharePoint Portal Server. I'd like to think I'm pretty up to speed on it. If you ask me a question and I actually have an answer for you, don't instantly assume that I'm wrong, especially if you've never used the motherfucker. You don't know, so you shut up. Besides, if you're so smart, why are you asking me?

Anyway, that's where I'm at here.

3:29p

I should check out Broken Saints when I've got a computer with sound enabled and a decent connection. It's supposed to be some pretty cool animation.

I noticed my first review is up on YouBored.com. Yay, me! It had two votes on it, with an average rating of 2.5 out of 5 (which means someone voted it as "2" and someone gave it a "3"), so I chipped in a five-vote to raise my score. Hey, man - I like my review. The thing is, I actually meant it to be a two-part review: the first half explains the way I review and the rating scale, the second half is the movie proper. It got posted as a single item, though, so it looks like I'm not really paying attention to the movie and just running off at the mouth. If I ever get access to post/edit the site directly, I'll be fixing that.

I actually got a note for another review job from them, but unfortunately (as you are all aware) I'm in Bellevue through the rest of the week and the movie's tomorrow night... so I'm not going to be able to do it. I'd like to, though. Sort of sucks that it's this week and not next week. Bah. Oh well. Hopefully there will be a "next time."

4:01p

We're going on, like, 40 minutes for a 30 minute lab. Not so great. Admittedly, it's a lab involving web clients (ASP.NET) which no one else here seems to be familiar with, but this is pretty ridiculous.

4:17p

The class seems to thrive on bad geek humor. Which means uncalled for, ridiculous puns; utterly unrelated sidetracks and tangents; and jokes with long buildups and no punchline.

I am ready to kill someone.

4:38p

Aw, shit. Sidetrack. Well, not really sidetrack so much as the know-it-all guy just not getting it. What's he not getting? IT. Does it matter? The simple fact is that this guy's all hot shit and now he's holding up the class.

5:02p

Well, that's the end of the day. Tomorrow morning we start with lab. Let's see how this goes tomorrow. Time to get back to the hotel, maybe do some of the lab work there.

CSS Conversion Complete!

Well, I think I've got this thing converted over to CSS pretty much so I'm not using tabular formatting for anything but forms. It's looking pretty good, and my average entry size is down by around 2KB each, which just goes to show you how bloated old HTML can be.

I'd figure out my actual space savings, but I can't SSH out of here - they conveniently use non-SOCKS proxy servers to get onto the web - so I can't connect to anything on a console level. Or FTP, for that matter, since their proxy is HTTP only.

Regardless, I'm pleased, because now I can apply color changes and whatnot in a much easier fashion. No biggie to you guys, but huge stuff for me.

My High School Reunion

The weekend was uneventful except for Saturday. I mean, I spent some decent time Friday night and Saturday morning applying Zaino car polish to my car. As far as that's concerned, while uneventful, I was very pleased with the results. No buffing, very easy, and my car looks great. Highly recommendable.

But Saturday was the "day of happenings" for this weekend.

Saturday afternoon Jenn and I went to a pool party/barbecue that her Job's Daughters group had going on. It was held at this guy's house who is some sort of adult leader... or something. Anyway, the guy's got like an acre of property and the house is something like the Winchester Mystery House. You don't see it from the street, but when you go into the back it's a whole other story.

The guy has two guest houses - both he built himself. He's got a kidney shaped pool. There's a garage the size of a plane hangar that has so much stuff... I counted nine pairs of antlers; seven or eight microwaves; a concrete form (basically a cardboard tube) about 12 feet high and five feet in diameter; an old-style Winnebago whose windows were crammed with blankets and pillows; the ceiling had rows of old tools hanging from it (scythe blades, drill bits, saws); three potato mashers... The list just goes on and on. The guy had like six trashed out cars in the back yard (at least).

Random shit, man. Next time we go I'm taking a camera. It's not anything I can even describe accurately.

Plus, you know, teenage girls frolicking in bikinis. Can't complain about that, can ya?

But that's not the big thing from Saturday. Saturday evening was my ten-year high school reunion.

It was at a Mexican restaurant known for parties and such, so I figured it'd be a nice setup for mingling, saying hi to old acquaintances, etc.

Man, was I wrong.

I got there (with Jenn) and there were no signs to show where the reunion was happening. There were also no restaurant employees at the front desk to direct us. After tracking one down, we were directed to this area in the back which was not really private; it was more just a separate area in the back, albeit with no real walls or anything. It was sort of hard to tell where the restaurant ended and the reunion began.

I tracked down the "organizer" (since I have known her for years I did recognize her) to get my refund (enough people responded that I only had to pay $25 per person instead of $35 per person). It was good to see her - she looked drastically different, though good - and I said hi as I got my money back from her.

The general layout was such that there was no way to mingle or mill about and talk. They really packed in the chairs and tables - banquet style - and you couldn't very well walk around and talk to people.

I looked around and... didn't recognize a single person other than the organizer. Jenn and I took a place at a table that sort of overlooked the rest of the group and also had a view of people coming in. I watched as people continued filtering in and didn't really see anyone I recognized.

Eventually a girl and her friend came over and sat down. I totally didn't recognize her until she introduced herself, but it was a friend of mine - Rebecca - who lived just around the corner from my parents. She became a personal trainer (who'd have guessed?) and totally transformed herself. She looked great, and it was good to see her again. Another girl and her friend also sat down at our table. It was Pam, a girl I remember from school but who wasn't really in my "circle of friends" or anything. Regardless, it was good to see her, too, and it sounded to me like she was pretty successful as a manager at the local sporting arena.

The room filled up, and as people came in Rebecca pointed out people and their faces finally clicked for me. I did end up starting to recognize people, but what I started to discover was that the people who were showing up to this thing... they weren't the people I hung out with. These were the people who decided I was a "nerd" and didn't want to associate with me. These were the people who made life difficult.

The other thing I noticed was that everyone out there made attempts to talk to each other, but nobody came up to our table.

Except one.

Sarah, a girl who was in the drama group with me, who was always very nice to me, came over to say hi. It was really great to see her again, to find out she's in PR now, happily married and living not too far from where I'm living now. I told her what I've been up to (and maybe she's checking out the site right now) and it was really great to catch up with her.

Beyond that, it was a difficult time. Over there's the class president, who should have been the organizer of the event but decided it wasn't worth his time (that's the kind of class president he was, too). There's the girl I would have died to go to prom with but who declined by laughing at me with her friends. That table there is the current embodiment of the popular crowd.

As I sat there, I couldn't help but have several "what-if" sorts of things flow through my head. What if I wasn't a nerd? What if I could have gone to prom with that girl? What if I had been popular?

I dunno. I'm sure everyone has these little reflective moments every once in a while, but it just went further to remind me that I'm a computer programmer and I never wanted to be. That there's so much I could have done so far with my life but now that I'm on a path I don't know how I could ever change. That I'm a creative individual in a profession that requires creativity but generates entirely intangible assets.

After two hours of sitting there and not seeing anyone else I really wanted to talk to, Jenn and I decided to leave. I found out as I was leaving that the group was planning on going "clubbing" later on... not really my thing, but it makes sense because that's how my class was.

So my reunion was vastly lamer than Jenn's was, and she's sort of inwardly pleased with that, but I think the fact that my reunion sucked so bad was okay for one reason - it shows me that I never need to go back to another, and the effort that I've spent in trying to forget those years has not necessarily been in vain.

Programming SQL Server, Part 5

10:47a

I got in to class just as it was starting at 8:30a because I had to stop in and get my allergy shots today. I hate not getting in a little early, but it couldn't be helped.

Jenn and I watched this movie on... uh... some cable mystery movie channel... last night called B. Monkey. It was described as "A shy schoolteacher gets pushed into the dangerous London criminal underground when he gets involved with a sexy jewel thief." It sounded interesting. It should have been described as "A sexy jewel thief gets pushed into the average everyday life of human beings when she gets involved with a shy schoolteacher." There really wasn't any "London criminal underground" going on there. Maybe a robbery and a couple of guns. That's not a gangster movie, that's a love story.

That said, it had Asia Argento in it, who is hot like nothing else, and there was more than the requisite amount of nudity involving her (full frontal, baby!), so while the plot and other characters were generally weak, I couldn't complain entirely about the movie proper. Anything with lots of Asia Argento is well worth my time.

11:10a

Lunchtime already, but I didn't bring a book with me because I didn't want to start something new and get sucked in - I need to focus on studying for my tests.

Speaking of books, I bought two books yesterday for my trip (though, again, I'm not going to start them until I've done some of the studying for my tests): Jennifer Government by Max Barry and Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. I will probably start reading the Barry book first, since I am more sucked in by its premise, but the Colfer book looks pretty good, too.

I'm pleased with how my blog is turning out using the CSS formatting instead of the table and hard-coded styles, but the conversion is a big pain in the ass. I'm finding that there are lots of things that I still need to make styles for that are hard-coded in the templates, and some things that I forgot were in the templates that I need to clean up. The worst/biggest pain is going to be the comments portion of things - making sure the forms all work properly, still look decent, and all that... eh. What a bitch.

12:28p

Okay, well, I didn't really go to lunch because I wasn't really hungry, so instead I hung out with Kate (the receptionist) and Jerry (the instructor), who, coincidentally, also did not go to lunch. It was cool to just hang out and talk with folks on a social basis since I haven't had time to go hang out with friends or anything for a while. Plus, they're really cool, so good times.

I'm still hoping to get out of here early so I can go wash my car. Rumor has it we'll be done by 2:00p.

1:08p

Last lab...

1:34p

That's it! I'm gonna pack up and go wash/wax the ol' car.

CSS Conversion Has Begun!

You may notice a few changes and potentially errors in the formatting of the site. That's because I've started converting the layout and color scheme over to use Cascading Style Sheets instead of tables. To the uninitiated, what that means is that I'll be able to more easily change the colors, look, and feel of my site at a later time. What it also means is that I'm starting to save a little more space on my server, which prolongs the inevitable move to a hosted environment. I'm not even done with the reformat on the templates and I've already saved about 2MB - just from removing some static HTML that didn't need to be there.

Anyway, I'm going to continue reformatting this thing, but it'll be a bit before it's totally complete (maybe several days) so bear with me. I've gotten the majority of the stuff worked out all right.

Oh, and check out your Print Preview - if your browser supports CSS properly, you should see the page reformatted to work better on your printer!

Programming SQL Server, Part 4

9:35a

Well, I didn't win the lottery (obviously), so I'm in class again.

9:47a

I'm finding that, since there are only two of us in class, it's difficult to type things up during the lesson because if I'm typing and the other guy in class (who always has this look like he has no clue what's going on around him) is doing... whatever he's doing... then the teacher starts thinking no one is paying attention. Having been in that situation, I know where he's coming from.

I'm almost done with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 765 pages in the book (I've got the UK edition) and I've only got like 30 pages left. This is going much faster than my last book, and I hope the next book I read is this interesting.

That said, I'm glad to be getting through this because I really need to start focusing on test preparation and it's difficult when I just want to sit and read my book rather than buckling down and doing what I need to do. I should have the book done today sometime and tonight I'll maybe work on some of the labwork from the Programming Windows class I took a while back.

I ordered, for $3.75 shipping, the BMWFilms DVD. Good stuff there. If you haven't seen the films, check them out.

I got my Zaino car polish products in the mail yesterday so now I'm anxious to try them out, but I'm going to have to find some good time to do that. I'm thinking if I can get out of here early tomorrow, I can go straight over to my parents' house to wash the car down and maybe get the first coat of polish on. I will probably be able to do a second coat, then, in the morning on Saturday, which would be good because my class reunion's that night and I'd like to have a spiffy car for the occasion. Not that my car's not already spiffy, but a nice coat of polish would do it well.

My parents went to Mamma Mia! last night and they liked it a lot, though they agreed that a couple of the actors were a little wooden. I did have a good time with it, it just wasn't quite what I expected. Anyway, Mom took the shirt Jenn bought at the show on Tuesday back to the show when she went on Wednesday and the concessions guy traded it in for a different model shirt that would fit. That's cool, so Jenn will get her Mamma Mia! shirt. It's not the one she wanted, but it's a shirt. Sucks that the one she wanted didn't fit. (The other girls' shirts there also only came in "fitted large" size, which I think is crazy - in today's society, "one size fits all" is not a valid way to fly. Jenn ended up getting the "generic t-shirt" style shirt, which is not nearly as cute as the one she wanted.)

10:43a

The teacher has said that if he lets us go to fast and we get out too early, he'll be in trouble, so I guess we're taking more breaks to fill the time. That's okay. During the downtimes I'm catching bits of Harry Potter. Getting closer to done...

11:25a

Lunchtime! I'd best go to the store and get me another book; I'm really close to done here!

12:22p

I finished Harry Potter at lunch and I think this is the best one yet. I liked how you get to see more of his internal feelings of growing up, becoming interested in girls, etc. It makes him a much richer character. Not to mention a darn good story and a lot more of the workings of the wizarding society - more information on the Ministry of Magic and so forth. I think this will make a spectacular movie when the time comes.

Of course, if you haven't read the first four books, I don't know that this fifth book is the place to start. Newbies aren't going to get all the references to the previous books and will miss several subtle yet significant points. That doesn't mean "go see the movies and skip the books" - you need to read the books to get all the subtle stuff and then read this latest. It'll be worth your effort.

1:15p

We're already done with the stuff for today, but the teacher's going to get in trouble if we get out too early, so we're going to look at some other advanced topics that aren't really covered in the class (like some of the XML stuff that SQL Server can do).

I'm all for leaving right now, since I could go over to my parents' house and start cleaning up my car or maybe go home and do some of the labs for the Programming Windows Apps class. But I don't want the guy to get into trouble, so I'll hang out.

2:27p

Well, class is done, but I'm in the process of reformatting my blog to use CSS (why not, right?) so I'll be here for a little longer.

Programming SQL Server, Part 3

9:24a

I'm glad I don't have to do anything tonight, because after last night's Mamma Mia! outing and the Jet Lag outing the night before, to be honest, I'm beat and would just like to stay home and read my book.

The class continues to go well, and I think we're back on easy street after yesterday's lesson. I still feel pretty good about all this, so I'm kind of pumped to start working with the practice tests and see how I do. I hope the practice tests are accurate representations of the real thing.

I've informed my instructor that if I'm not here tomorrow it's because I won the Powerball jackpot. I've got my ticket and now it's time for them to draw my numbers. Can't win if you don't play, right?

10:00a

I've figured out how to get the web server log from the web server I'm hosted on, but it seems they only record errors (i.e., file not found) in their log, not successes. So I can see that some folks still try to hit images and things that don't reside on my site, but I can't see what my traffic level is.

Which just fucking figures.

So. I guess I have the option of putting stupid page counters on my pages or... Or I don't know what else.

1:27p

Breaktime.

I'm feeling pretty confident the further we go into this stuff. It's really feeling like a bit of review, which I hope is a good sign come test-time. Not having taken any of the Microsoft tests yet, I'm still a little wary that there will be a multiple choice question with a wrong answer, a right answer, and a Microsoft answer. I feel good that I could probably pick the right answer, but no promises that it'll be the Microsoft answer.

Jenn got a shirt at Mamma Mia! last night that, unfortunately, is not the right size (they only had one size, so we figured we'd give it a go), but luckily my mom is going to see the show tonight and is going to pick up a different shirt (if they have a better size) so Jenn does not go shirtless.

Not that I complain when Jenn goes shirtless, but... well, you get the point. Heh.

It's looking like I'm going to have to go with something like eXTeMe Tracking to get site stats. Blarg.

2:03p

Aw, shucks. We're getting out early. Well, I guess that's it for me!

Programming SQL Server, Part 2

I forgot to post yesterday's class log, but there wasn't much, so I'll just throw it up here and call it good.

9:40a

I went to see Jet Lag last night as my first assignment as a movie reviewer for YouBored.com. All in all, I thought it was pretty good, but you'll have to wait for the formal review to show up on YouBored. If it never shows, well, I'll post 'er here so the effort's not lost. One thing I will say: Juliette Binoche... MMMMMMM.....

Something I need to bring out in the open, here, since it's bothering me...

How come fat and/or old men have to breathe very, very loudly out of their mouths while they're taking a leak? I mean, these guys could be doing a 500 pound clean-and-jerk for all the huffing and puffing they're doing. Does pissing really require that much noise? Get that shit under control. I was just in the bathroom with this guy who walks about three feet an hour, probably a good hundred pounds overweight, and this guy sounds like he's running a marathon while he's doing his business. I couldn't pee fast enough and get out of there.

11:41a

Class is heavy, sort of like the last class, but I'm not feeling as swamped because we're getting the time to do the labs. Plus, since a lot of this is feeling familiar (which I think is a Good Thing), it's a lot easier than the last class.

I got my self testing software yesterday so I can start to take practice tests and quiz myself in getting ready for the actual tests. I think after this class is over, I'll spend next week prepping myself for the test (in the evenings) and get that scheduled. I'd like to get these things behind me so my nerves aren't piqued.

1:17p

Two-person class + No questions = Short days, which is just fine with me.

I've continued working on and off with the revised CSS layout of the site and I think it's pretty much done, but I'm too much of a chicken to put it up. Because that means going through and doing these major changes, and if it doesn't fix everything then it's going to be a big pain in the ass. Of course, if I don't put the stupid thing up, I'm never going to figure out what I've left out, so maybe I should just do it.

I think I'll back up the site first, though. At least the templates.

Review: Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia! is a musical production that tells the story of a girl getting married who has never met her father. She finds out that there are three men who potentially could be her father, so she invites them all to her wedding and proceeds to try to figure out which one is going to walk her down the aisle.

The thing about Mamma Mia!, though, is that the music is all ABBA music - so when you go in, you already know the words to the songs, and you can't help but tap your toe.

Now, I've seen several Broadway-style productions including Jesus Christ Superstar and Phantom of the Opera. I've seen almost every Cirque du Soleil show out there. So going into Mamma Mia!, I had a certain level of expectation for the showmanship that they were going to present to me.

And... eh. See, I love the music, but I expected to see huge singing and dancing numbers, right? Choreography and lights and music and action! But what I got was more like... four people or thereabouts, max, on stage during any given song (with a couple exceptions), and several of the songs delivered in a "soliloquy" format, where the stage goes dark except for one spotlight on the singer, who stands stock-still (no arm or head movement), delivers the song over the audience's head, then returns to position and the action continues. A lot of the time I felt like whispering, "Psst! Pssssst! ACT!"

That said, there were some great laughs and it was a nice story they told, so I wasn't disappointed, it just wasn't what I expected. Jenn, on the other hand, came out totally wowed and loved every second. Expectations can definitely influence your view of a thing.

posted @ Wednesday, July 09, 2003 9:46 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Media ]

Programming SQL Server, Part 1

8:53a

The instructor made a Starbucks run before class and got me a VentiTM Mocha Frappuccino®. I'm feeling pretty good and ready to learn. Amazing, the power of Starbucks.

9:20a

We're on break.

Things are starting to come together. We're doing a review of some of the database server stuff, and I actually do recognize the stuff we're talking about, so I think that's a good thing. It's been a long time since I've taken a test of any nature, so the idea of taking these Microsoft certification tests sort of freaks me out, almost like I've forgotten how to study or learn.

I think the real problem I have with testing, especially when it comes to computer-related stuff, is that there really isn't a time when I'll be programming or doing something and I won't have access to help documentation or books. You don't have to memorize things. You use the facilities that are available. But in tests, you don't get the books... so you have to do the memorization. It's been a long time since I've had to do that. I hope I do well.

This is the last SQL Server class I've got scheduled, so I'm going to try to get the self-test software, study up a bit, and schedule the test. I only get reimbursed the $125 for the test if I pass... I'd best pass.

Thank God they're multiple choice tests.

Okay, back to class.

12:29p

I did my standard Fred Meyer deli lunch, having a "jalapeño cheese stick" and two "pizza sticks" because they were out of burritos. I also looked around in the photo/electronics section (as is my wont) and didn't see anything I needed.

During lunch I continued reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the UK edition, which I started this weekend. Compared to the Tom Clancy book I finished, this is a walk in the park. I'm glad to finally get into a book that I can enjoy and read quickly - I have a better time with it and don't feel like there's a whole lot of work for very little payoff. I'm already like 200 pages into it, and I haven't even really dedicated a lot of time to it.

2:17p

I've not written a lot about the class because, frankly, it's not the most interesting material, and for those non-technical folks out there, it's even worse. Basically, what I'm finding out here is that there's a lot for me to learn, especially in light of the fact I need to take some tests on this stuff and actually pass without using the manuals that I am accustomed to using.

I was able to get my hands on the self test software that goes along with the courses, so I'm hoping that I can take some time and study that maybe next week while I'm in Bellevue sitting bored. I also need to do some of the labs from the class I took a couple of weeks ago (that I didn't get the chance to do labs in).

I wish I had a CD burner on my laptop. I've been downloading this self test software and whatnot to my USB drive (thank goodness I've got that!) but they're pretty large files and I need to offload some of that to CD - if anything, for archival purposes. I may have to go in to work sometime this week, maybe during lunch, and burn off this stuff to CD. Gotta do it at least by next week, since I'll be in Bellevue.

I should hook myself up with wwwstat so I can see how many people are checking out my site. I'm starting to gather that I have a lot of you lurkers out there who read me but don't leave comments (shame on you!).

3:06p

That's it! I just finished the lab, so I'm outta here. If I get home in time, maybe I'll work on some of the labs I missed out on...

... or maybe I'll just read Harry Potter. :)

WarGames

Friday night, the Fourth of July, Jenn and I went down to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes baseball game and took part in the fireworks show after the game.

Now, when I say "took part in," what I mean is, "we actually hand-lit the professional fireworks show."

My boss, Greg, is a licensed pyro and was hired to do the show down there. He needed some help, so a couple of the guys in my department and I stepped up. Hey, it's fireworks - up close and personal.

Jenn and I got down there about 3:00p, just after Greg. Greg brought Mike, a guy who used to be in my department but defected to go to the Security department (bastard). We sat around for a little while to wait for the rest of the guys to show up. Eventually, Eddie, Justin, and Brad arrived and we started setting up.

We dug out a trench (thank goodness the thing was already dug from last year; all we had to do was clear it out a bit), set up the boxes of fireworks, and then... waited.

A lot.

At some point around the 6:00p timeframe, Justin's wife showed up with food - oh, yeah. Eddie also made a burger run, so there was no shortage of chow.

Around 9:00p or thereabouts, Justin, Brad, Mike, and I all got into our fire gear (fireman coats and helmets with face shields). Around 10:00p, the baseball game ended and Greg fired up the first "fusee" (basically a road flare that you use to light the fireworks with)... and we waited while the baseball people got their crap together.

Shortly after, Greg lit a second fusee (they took too long and the first got put out), handed it to Brad (my fireworks lighting partner) and we lit the first box.

It's like a damn war zone when you're lighting these things. You have to stay on your knees, crouched down (so your head doesn't get blown off by one of the mortars), carrying this road flare that's dripping molten plastic, and paying attention to Greg, who tells you when to light the next box. You've got earplugs that help out, but you can feel the impact of each mortar as it fires off. Burned (and burning) particles come raining down on your head and back (that's why you've got helmets and coats) and your lighting partner has to brush them off of you so you don't get burned.

Scary shit, man, but fun like nothing else.

I mean, it's dangerous stuff, but we were all being totally safe and careful, and I think what made the whole thing fun was knowing that we were able to blow stuff up in a fun, yet reasonably controlled, environment. It's that rush you get when you're blowing things up with M-80s when you're a kid... but way bigger, and way better.

So, that was my Independence Day. Good times.

Saturday and Sunday I didn't really do anything of note. Jenn and I did our usual household chores, shopping, etc. Rented a couple of movies (Tears Of The Sun and Save the Last Dance), bought xXx in Superbit format. Got me a nose/ear hair trimmer. That's it.

This morning Jenn's cell phone rang at 4:46a and I never did get back to sleep. I'd kill her, but I'm too tired. And now I'm in training, getting ready for class to start.

Real Customer Service

A while ago I was talking about how I was going to order some Zaino car wax because I had heard some good things about it and it was reasonably affordable.

Well, I placed my order (I did snail-mail, since at the time that's all they offered, but they just recently put up a web-based ordering system, so next time...). But I thought of a question that I wanted to find out the answer to - they mention on the site that they have applied the polish "in the Arizona sun," so I started wondering if that was in direct sunlight or what - I mean, you can really mess up your finish if you do that with normal polish, right?

Thus, I emailed the company's support contact and asked my question.

The president of the company wrote me back and answered. (You can apply it in direct sunlight, but you will use up more product than if you don't. He recommends against, but it doesn't mess you up like regular polish/wax will.)

That's customer service.

Connecting

I finished reading that damn Tom Clancy book last night. After fighting through 1067 odd pages and reaching the conclusion, I feel pretty cheated. I'm of a mind to write Mr. Clancy and tell him that if he wants me to work that hard to get through a book, he really needs to make the payoff worthwhile. As it is, I'm having a tough time justifying the $6.98 bargain table price on that one.

I was thinking a couple of days ago about friends moving in and out of your life... and no sooner did I say that, then all these people started sending me emails. My man Gerb, he and I are like best buds, I hadn't heard from him for, like, ever. Got an email from him to say he's moving into my neighborhood, which is cool because we can get together and hang out. Another friend of mine, Brent, fell off the face of the world about a year or so ago, leaving no contact information at all, and he just dropped me a line. Even Jenn is getting into the mix - she got in contact with her old roommate from a couple of years ago. Jenn hasn't talked to her since they moved out, so that's good.

The Fourth of July weekend approaches at an altogether too rapid pace. I've got two weeks of training coming up, and I'm not even close to finished with the stuff I need to get done here in the office. I suppose it'll all be here when I get back.

Friday (the fourth) I'll be setting up a professional fireworks shoot with my boss (a licensed pyro) and a couple of the guys from my department. That should be fun, and with any luck I'll actually get to light one or two of them off between taking turns manning the fire extinguishers.

Beyond that, there's nothing on the schedule, but there are still the standard household maintenance jobs to perform, so before I know it, the weekend's going to be gone (again). Hopefully I'll get in a little time to start the new Harry Potter book. I've had it sitting here for a while but needed to finish that Tom Clancy bomb before I started a new book. Now's my chance.

Review: Legally Blonde 2

I went to Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde yesterday.

Eh.

If you've seen the first one, then you'll find that this is such a total re-hash of the original's jokes that you wonder if they didn't just take the first movie's script and massage it a little. And the thing about that is the first one felt sort of fresh and fun; it's not fresh anymore because it's a sequel.

Not to mention in the first one I could suspend my disbelief enough to say, "Yeah, okay, maybe she's a big dork, but she somehow was able to make her way through law school. I'll buy it." I'm sure it could never have happened in real life, but it was acceptable in the movie. In this latest adventure, they take the valley girl into Washington DC where she proceeds to throw out every bit of protocol that 200 years of government has worked to establish and somehow, magically, it all seems to work out for her. Representatives who would normally have considered the financial impacts of certain bills and voted the way that would make the economy (and their own pocketbooks) work somehow decide that it's time to "do the right thing." Sorry, folks. Welcome to the land of the pork-barrel project. Doing the "right thing" is a gray area, and rarely is it what you and I would consider "right."

Anyway, all of that pretty much shot my suspended disbelief in the head. I sat there, checking my watch, wondering when they were going to get anywhere or maybe do something funny or original... and it never happened. So, if you've seen the first one, cherish it, and maybe consider renting this one on a night you feel like getting drunk.

If you haven't seen the first one, rent that and call it a day.

Can I say anything positive about it?

Hmmm.

Well, I always like Reese Witherspoon, and her Elle Woods character is reasonably entertaining to watch. She's fun and quirky, and watching the stuff she and her dog get into is funny.

I just think that next time (and, at this rate, let's hope there is no next time) they need to start with only the idea of Elle Woods, from scratch, and write from there. Unless you're Mike Myers, rehashing the same thing is probably not going to work for you.

posted @ Thursday, July 03, 2003 2:28 PM | Feedback (1) | Filed Under [ Media ]

Post-Lunch Update

I went to lunch with my friend Liz over at Red Robin and had a nice chat with her (it'd been a loooong time since I'd last seen her) over a Baja Chicken Burger (no tomato).

It was good to see Liz again and hear all the latest that had gone on with her. Plus, she keeps in contact with an old friend of mine, Kristin, who I haven't seen or talked to in... I can't even remember how long.

You ever have that feeling where you just miss your friends that you haven't seen forever? Sometimes I miss Liz and Kristin. I used to see them both every day at work; now we all work in different places and I only see Liz every once in a great while, and Kristin I see never. I guess peoples' lives and schedules change and you just can't keep up with everything. It's a shame.

I did get my movie back from the guy in my department who kept forgetting it. Maybe I was a little hard on him, but I think the general principle still stands. I talked to Liz about it and she seems to agree - Dogs and cats living together... Mass hysteria!

Oh, and I discovered another pet peeve I've got - people who shuffle their feet when they walk. Pick up your fucking feet, people!

Loaner

I'm about 100 pages from the end of The Bear and The Dragon, and let me tell you Tom Clancy fans out there - this is not the book to recommend to a Clancy newbie. It's been the hardest read I've had in a long time, and not because of anything to do with the language. I mean, I like how Clancy pays attention to the political side of battle in his books because it adds a verisimilitude that other war novels don't have. That said, this one was almost entirely political and I spent more time wondering when the SEAL team was going to show up than I did enjoying the heavy politics and behind-the-scenes.

So, as some of you know, I have a pretty hefty CD and DVD collection at home. What can I say? I'm a media whore.

Anyway, I normally don't loan these things out because I typically have bad luck getting people to return things, much less return them in the pristine condition that I keep them in. See, when I borrow stuff, I return it within a week because I figure if I'm going to borrow anything I should probably get around to looking at it in a timely fashion and return it in a timely fashion as well.

I went against my better judgment and brought a couple of movies in for some guys in my department to borrow. I figured I would get them all back in a week or thereabouts, pending on the schedules of the guys in question and when they would be able to check these things out. I was even out of town in training the following week (last week), so that's a good two weeks to get things back to me.

I got all but one of my movies back in my allotted "patience period."

I asked the guy who didn't return my movie if I could get it back. "Oh, yeah, I'll bring it tomorrow."

Tomorrow came. Where's my movie? "Oh, I, uh, forgot it at home." Hmmm. Okay, I guess. Well, it's Friday, so bring it Monday.

Monday arrived. Where's my movie? "I was at a friend's house all weekend." And how, precisely, does that affect you returning my God damn movie?

And now it's today. I've been told the movie was once again forgotten at home but this time he's going home at lunch to get it. Here's hoping.

Where am I going with this? Well, basically, my point is that I guess some people have a certain inherent level of responsibility and some folks don't. Now, I'm not at all saying this guy is irresponsible, just that some people don't "forget it at home." He's a younger guy, and what I begin to wonder is if all young people today are the same way, where certain levels of responsibility (or respect?) don't exist (or don't matter?), whereas my generation has a more inherent sense of such things. Then I wonder whether it isn't the same way between my parents' generation and mine - do they think we lack responsibility and/or discipline? Probably so.

And that sort of worries me, because if the trend continues then what I see on the horizon is anarchy rather than salvation. Maybe too much freedom and not enough discipline is not necessarily the best way to bring kids up. Or maybe I'm extrapolating too much from a single isolated case.

Finally, I got a message a bit ago from the guy in charge of YouBored.com, a site where I have entered contests before and won free movie passes. Remember my Malibu incident? Well, they've since updated the look, feel, and quality of their site and they seem interested in enhancing that quality further by recruiting yours truly to become a volunteer staff writer. I'm waiting to hear back on the details, but it could be a cool thing. I'll keep you posted.