General Ramblings comments edit

First, out with it: I’m getting laser hair removal on my face.

“Seriously?”

Yes.  Interesting that’s the first reaction people have when they hear that.  But figure it this way: I can’t actually allow my facial hair to grow.  If I do, I have all sorts of skin complications ranging from pretty bad ingrowns to severe acne and everything in between.  Talking to multiple dermatologists, I’m not ever supposed to let it grow.  Ever.  So I get the exciting fun of shaving for, well, ever.  No point in that, now, is there?  Laser hair removal to the rescue.

I went in on Saturday for my first treatment.  When I scheduled the appointment, I was told there were two different lasers that could be used: The MeDioStar or the Dermo Flash.  (Okay, the Dermo Flash is technically a Non-Contact Pulse Light, not a laser, but whatever.)  The MeDioStar removes hair by zapping each individual follicle; the Dermo Flash is more of a broad-spectrum thing that can cover several hairs at once.  The MeDioStar was described to me to feel “like having a tattoo.”  I don’t have any tattoos, so that didn’t help me.  The Dermo Flash was described as more of a “heat” oriented thing.

I have like zero pain tolerance, so I specifically requested the Dermo Flash.

When I went in on Saturday, the technician told me that the Dermo Flash was pretty new so they didn’t know how well it would work on coarse hair like the stuff on my face, but hypothetically it should work.  (According to the company, it should work.)  On the other hand, the MeDioStar is more of a “guaranteed results” thing… but it hurts. “No pain, no gain in hair removal,” said the technician, Jessica.  “The Dermo Flash is pretty new and we haven’t really tried it out on some of the more coarse-haired folks.  It’s supposed to work, but we haven’t really tried it out much.  The MeDioStar always works.  Why don’t we just start you on the MeDioStar and see how it goes?”

“Okay,” I said.  “I’ll have to take your recommendation on this.  I don’t know much about it.”

“I’ve got to warn you, though,” said Jessica.  “It hurts.  Bad.  The only time I’ve really ever made guys cry is with this thing.  It’s far worse for coarse, dark hair than it is for light hair, so it’s not like if your wife was to have her legs done or something.  This is 100 times worse than that.  My boyfriend has had some work done with the MeDioStar and he said he’d rather sit through a five hour tattoo session than have this again.”

“Oh, well, now that you’ve sold me on it, let’s hit it.  I’m looking damn well forward to it.  Bring it on.  Seriously, though, if this is the way to go, I guess let’s try it and we’ll see.”

Jessica put some eye protection (sort of sunglasses) on me and handed me a rubber glove full of ice and told me to ice up the area.  I did, held it on as long as I could stand it, and then she brought out the MeDioStar and started dragging it across my lower neck, from my adam’s apple to just under my ear.  “There are only a few hairs here,” she said, “so you’ll get a feel for what it’s like.”

Oh.

My.

God.

Seriously.  I’ve been hit in the nuts before and a good punch to the junk has nothing on MeDioStar hair removal.  It was about this time when I realized that ice really doesn’t do shit for pain.  The thing only zapped me three or four times and I was pretty much hurting.  “Can you handle it?” she asked.

“Um… uh… well, it does hurt, yeah.  I guess try another section,” I said, thinking that maybe it was just tender right there.  I mean, it’s your neck, right?  It’s gotta be pretty tender there.

She ran the thing along the next area just above the first.  This time it zapped maybe eight times.  The goggles she put on me started fogging up and my toes were curled in my shoes.  I crushed all the ice in that stupid rubber glove.  I was pretty much ready to die.  “There’s this cooling plate here, see, that cools the skin way down before it zaps you,” she said, like that helped.  “Oh, and if you want to curse at me or something, that’s okay.  I’m used to that.  By the way, it gets a little worse along the jaw line.”  She started in on the next area up… at my jawline.

This time it shot me maybe 12 times.  That was pretty much all I could stand.  “Jesus, are you sure you can’t just give me something for this?  Like the dentist gas or something?  Seriously, I’ll pay for it.  A lot.  Anything.  Just give me something because I swear I’m going to pass out in a minute.  This is the worst.  Ever.”

“Yeah,” she said, “a lot of a our patients would like the gas.  I’ve been working on the doctor to see if we can get some but he hasn’t yet.”

“Well, I don’t think I can do this thing anymore.  This is just too much.”

“Do you want to try the Dermo Flash?”

“Oh, hell yes.  I’ll be your experiment.  You can verify whether the machine does what the company claims or not.”

“That’s not a bad idea.  And if it doesn’t work, we’ll comp you this treatment.”

“Fair enough.”

The Dermo Flash is a walk in the park compared to the MeDioStar.  This nozzle-looking thing gets put on your skin and then bam! it shoots you with this hot beam.  It sort of feels like a rubber band snapping you and it leaves a warm sensation.

I could do Dermo Flash all day long.  I almost wondered if Jessica pulled the MeDioStar out on me specifically so my pain expectation would be heightened to the point that the Dermo Flash almost feels good in comparison.

When you’re done with Dermo Flash, your face feels like you’ve got a low-grade sunburn, but that goes away after a day.  You’re not supposed to go out in the sun for a few days afterword because your skin is light-sensitive.  On the other hand, the MeDioStar section of my neck is still red and irritated looking and sore.

I am praying - and you should pray for me, too - that Dermo Flash works.  I’m finishing this thing, but if it’s gotta be MeDioStar, they’re going to have to give me some serious drugs.

UPDATE 8/30/07: In case it isn’t clear - Jessica is cool and really easy-going and the place I’m going is also very cool with lots of cool people.  I’m happy with the service so far.  I just wasn’t really ready for the MeDioStar and I don’t think there’s anything that could have been done to make me ready.  We tried it, it hurt too bad, and I’m hoping against hope that Dermo Flash does the job.  We’ll see in a week or so!

General Ramblings comments edit

This weekend was pretty crazy with all the running around, but the major goings-on included…

My mom got me a copy of The Simpsons Handbook through her work, but she was also able to get it slightly personalized for me on the inside…

Matt Groening personalized drawing of Bart
Simpson

That’s right - she got Matt Groening himself to sketch Bart on the inside!  Far, far too cool.

While we were with them on Saturday, we went shopping for bicycles, too.  Mom and Dad bought them for us as belated wedding gifts - far better than a toaster!  Jenn and I have been wanting bikes for a while, so we were pretty stoked.  Jenn ended up getting a Giant Sedona and I got a Giant Cypress.  Jenn was able to bring hers home on Saturday, but mine’s still getting put together and should be done today.  I’ll have to go in and pick it up tonight or maybe tomorrow, pending on my schedule, from the local Bike n’ Hike.

We’re all geared up with helmets and bells and everything, ready to take a ride.  The only things we really haven’t gotten yet are locks and racks (so, yes, we’ll have to put my bike in the back of the car for now).  We want the Yakima KingJoe 2 but we haven’t been able to find it anywhere around here.  Maybe we’ll have to order it online.  Anyway, I’ll post pictures of the first ride when it happens.  I’m excited.

My dad’s brother and family were up here this weekend visiting from California, so we got together with them, too.  It was nice to see them again and demonstrate how thoroughly I trounce Dad at Xbox 360.

gaming, xbox comments edit

I’ve tried out a bunch of game demos over the last few days on Xbox Live Marketplace and thought I’d share some feedback and maybe save you some time.

The Good Ones…

Bioshock Gamestop Limited
EditionBioshock:  Possibly the richest first-person shooter environment I’ve ever seen, this game takes you to the underwater city of “Rapture,” an exquisite art deco masterpiece, where you take on a society of genetically modified citizens in an effort to uncover the mysteries of the city and escape.  I couldn’t put it down, my dad couldn’t put it down… it’s amazing and compelling.  I found a Barnes & Noble gift certificate I had and just now pre-ordered the Gamestop Limited Edition of this for the additional $10, which comes with a soundtrack CD, behind the scenes DVD, and action figure.

UPDATE 9/5/07: The availability of the limited edition changes so the links to it are flaky.  If you want to see more on Bioshock, check out the regular version or try finding one new/used at Amazon.

Overlord:  Tired of being the good guy in games?  Be the bad guy!  This game lets you “construct your evil empire” by ordering your minions about to carry out your nefarious deeds.  You run around in third-person as the “overlord” and send your minions to fight, overcome obstacles, etc.  I was struck by the humor in this one and had a blast with the demo.  Not sure I’ll pay a full $60 for it, but if I find it used for cheaper, I’ll certainly look twice.

John Woo’s Stranglehold:  I like John Woo, and while I wasn’t overwhelmed by the awesomeness of Hard Boiled, this game was definitely a lot of fun and very stylish.  You play Tequila, the Chow Yun-Fat character, a cop trying to track down some cop killers.  Running around shooting the bad guys is fun, and the special powers you get and the interactions with the environment make it cool to watch and play.  Even Jenn was commenting on how cool it looked as I showed her the demo.  Very easy to pick up and play and even comes with a “Casual” difficulty so you can just have fun with it.  Again, maybe not $60, but definitely on the list.

The Not-So-Good Ones…

Hexic 2:  I played the first one because it came for free with the Xbox 360.  This one adds an incomprehensible “battle mode” and removes the easy-to-see colors of the original interface with a washed-out set of colors that makes the whole thing just confusing and hard to play.  Deleted.

Fatal Inertia:  Spaceship racing with weapons thrown in - hey, never seen that before.  Oh, and if you could make it more difficult to control and basically cause me to lose the race if I mess up one turn, that’d be great, too.  Deleted.

The Darkness:  I collect comics, and I read The Darkness, so I was actually hoping for some serious coolness here.  It was sort of neat, but generally I just ran around confused and disoriented, not really knowing where to go or what to do.  I got to a point in the demo where I was running around outside some sort of compound and ended up just quitting the demo because I couldn’t figure out what to do next.  The idea was neat, but the execution… not so much.  I think if I saw it for like $20 I’d consider it because when I was able to figure out what to do, it was fun.  Can’t imagine putting myself through that torture for $60, though.

Track and Field:  Message to Konami - please stop porting crappy games to the Xbox Live Arcade.  Seriously.  Just quit.

Ecco the Dolphin:  Didn’t this suck when it came out the first time?  I, uh, swam around aimlessly for a while, basically not getting it, dying a few times, and called it a day.

media, movies comments edit

I really need to get past the fact that the Bourne movies have no relation whatsoever to the books with the exception of general character naming.  Ever since the first movie, they’ve gone on such a diverging path as to make the two almost incomparable.

That said, if you let all that go, The Bourne Ultimatum is a pretty cool movie.

I re-watched the first two this week in preparation.  In The Bourne Identity, we find that Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a black ops assassin trained by the government during an operation called “Treadstone.”  In The Bourne Supremacy, some people in on the “Treadstone” operation try to frame Bourne for some evil doings in an attempt to use Bourne’s reputation as a cover-up.  Each of those movies ends with Bourne basically going off into the sunset to try and live his life in peace, but realizing that the government is still after him so he’ll always be on the run.

The Bourne Ultimatum is Bourne trying to find out more about his past and stumbling upon a larger operation - apparently “Treadstone” was just the beginning.

The movie was an action-fest, and none of us left the theater disappointed.  Great stunts, lots of fun, and very entertaining.  I didn’t feel like my entertainment dollar was wasted.

That said, you really couldn’t analyze it too closely because the plot starts looking like Swiss cheese with all the holes.  Normally I can let a lot of that stuff go by virtue of the fact it’s an action movie and generally implausible anyway, so a couple of details this way or that way don’t matter.  There were two details that bugged me about The Bourne Supremacy that I’m having trouble getting past.

First, by the end of the second movie we see that Bourne has kind of made peace with things and has accepted that he’ll only know just so much about his past.  He goes off to live happily ever after.  At the beginning of the third movie, he’s back in full gunslinging action, apparently on a search for… his past again?  I thought he was over that.  Eh, fine, they needed something for him to get worked up over.

Second, in the end of the first movie when Bourne confronts his old CIA handler, Conklin (Chris Cooper - a man who always plays the best corrupt government agents), about his identity, Conklin does a little disclosure monologue saying how Bourne was supposed to kill some guy, yadda yadda yadda, and that Bourne picked the place it would happen, picked the time it would happen, and picked his cover for the hit - Bourne picked the name “Jason Bourne.”  In Ultimatum, they contradict that statement by saying Bourne was given that name during training.  Huh?  I hope I’m just remembering the end of Identity wrong, but I just watched it and I swear that’s what happened.  So that stuck in my craw a bit, but I guess I can let that go, too.

Anyway, The Bourne Ultimatum was pretty cool.  I liked it better than The Bourne Supremacy, and there was a lot less of that shaky-cam crap that The Bourne Supremacy overused.  Check it out, you’ll like it.

General Ramblings comments edit

Even using Akismet for anti-blog-spam (which seems to work pretty well), I’ve noticed that as far as trackbacks/pingbacks are concerned, I only get two types:

  1. One of my own articles tracking back to itself for cross-referencing.
  2. Spam that slips through Akismet.

So I’ve disabled trackbacks because they’re just a pain in my ass to moderate.  If anyone can provide a decent argument why I should re-enable them, I’m all ears.  Comment away.  (Comments are still enabled.)