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It’s 2006 now, a new year and a new opportunity to, um, make resolutions we won’t keep and lose weight that we’ll gain back over the end of year holiday season.

New Year’s Eve found us at Jason and Tracy’s house, as usual, though with a significantly smaller crowd than we normally see over there. Not to worry, much fun was still had by all with a rousing round of Catch Phrase played in a sort of teamless, group way that we made up on the fly. Lots of fun and I hope to repeat that with an even larger group.

Stu and Tif were there to enjoy the festivities, and when the ball dropped in New York (adjusted, of course, for west coast time) at midnight, we called Stu’s parents in England to wake them up and yell “Happy New Year” in a sort of eight-hour-delayed fashion.

The party wound down at about 3:30a and we were home in bed by 4:00a. A late night (I’m surprised Jenn made it) but a fun one.

The next morning, Stu, Tiff, Jenn, and I went to breakfast at Shari’s (at noon). That seems to be a regular thing after a party night - all of us getting up and going to breakfast. It puts a nice cap on the festivities, setting you off on the right foot again. We were IHOP people, but it seems that the IHOP near us is really busy whenever we want to go and Shari’s gets us in a little quicker, so Shari’s it is.

I made the most of the day by putting up some shelves in this closet in the spare room. We keep our board games in the top of the closet and it was getting a bit unruly with them all being stacked on top of each other - if you wanted the game on the bottom, you had a task ahead of you. Instead of fighting that, I figured we should put some shelves in. So I went to Home Depot and bought all of the stuff to put modular closet organizer shelves into the top of the closet. Here’s how it turned out:

The shelving in the game room goes

Not bad, huh? I thought it would go up a little faster than it did (it took a couple of hours instead of the half hour I originally estimated) but I had drill problems (battery charger’s dead) as well as incorrect length wall anchors (I needed 4” anchors; I had 2” anchors). No biggie, though, and the shelves are great. Not cheap, but great. I may have to put some more shelves in that closet for the rest of the crap in there.

Today is clean-up day around the house. Last day of vacation before heading back to work tomorrow, too. Best make the most of it.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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I called iRobot customer support today regarding the charger issue I’ve had for the last couple of days. I’ve had to contact iRobot customer support before when my Roomba was doing some weird things and they sent me a whole new Roomba, no problem. This time they’re sending me a whole new charger and home base for the Roomba. The guy I spoke with, Chris, was totally nice and easy going, not condescending or annoying like many support folks you talk to. The fact that they’re just sending me a replacement unit speaks volumes, too. (Besides the fact that it sort of tells you how much profit margin must be built into these things, it also tells you that they really want their products to succeed and be used.)

Right on, iRobot. Thanks for doing support right.

One thing: If you’re going to contact them, contact them via phone. They can’t solve much via email and most times they just tell you to call them. Just so you know.

Of course, now my cordless drill battery charger is dead. I’m just having bad luck with battery chargers lately, I guess. It’d cost me $30 to replace the charger, but that’s how much the drill cost me, and since I can get a new, better drill (with two batteries included!) for $70, I guess I’ll be donating this one and getting me a new one.

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Enjoyed a great Christmas this year. Christmas Eve was spent in recovery, it being the day after the 24: Season 4 marathon. Did end up going out to try to get some last minute stocking stuffers, but after an hour just to get to the mall 15 minutes away and another 20 minutes in the parking lot not finding a spot, we decided to just go to Fred Meyer and load up there.

Of course, that turned into an unintended shopping spree for me. See, I got Jenn some tickets to see Cirque du Soleil (which weren’t cheap) and I was going to do the “fewer, more expensive gifts” thing, but Jenn loves quantity (she could open 100 empty boxes and that would just rock) so I thought I’d pick up some smaller things for her stocking so she’d have stuff to open. Like I said, though, that turned into an unintended shopping spree as I found all sorts of neat things I knew she’d like, so I just got them all anyway. Love the credit card.

Christmas morning we went to Jenn’s parents’ house for breakfast and a little gift exchange. The big one here was a AAA Plus membership for both Jenn and I, which is fantastic, especially because I’m sick to death of changing Jenn’s stupid flat tires. She’s like a flat tire machine. Now she can call some other poor schmuck to come do it.

After that, we moved on to my parents’ house for a late lunch and some more gift exchanging. Stu and Tif joined us there, which was cool since we had so much fun together on Thanksgiving. Played some games, laughed, and generally had a good time.

Some of the things I came out with: Soul Calibur III

We Love Katamari

Super Mario Sunshine

Nintendo Gamecube Wavebird wireless controller (after a couple of returns/exchanges)

Some bookends that my grandfather brought back from the Philippines when he was over there in WWII (that might not sound cool to you, but there’s sentimental value, so it’s cool to me)

A crapload of candy

House: Season 1

Lost: Season 1 and the companion guide

One of The Cubes (Joe)

A “Joss Whedon Is My Master Now” t-shirt

A set of Tantrix

Serenity Role Playing Game

In all, a pretty good haul. Lots of stuff to entertain me for a while, and a lot of games to play, so I’d best get cracking on the ones I’m in the middle of.

To that end, I finished up Prince of Persia: Warrior Within on Tuesday. I ended up starting the whole thing over on “Easy” mode because it was too damn difficult on “Normal.” I never said I was a master gamer, right? That said, I read a lot of reviews saying how other folks found it pretty difficult, and since I’m in it for the fun of the game and the feeling of success, well… once I got stuck in “Normal” mode, I just figured it’d be better to start over in “Easy.” I figure, it’s cool to have to fight the boss character three or four times before you get it, but when you’re only halfway through the game and fighting the boss for the 15th time doesn’t get you through, it needs to be easier.

Having finished that, and having worked through the stuff in Soul Calibur II with Stu, I went on to work on finishing the original Katamari Damacy (that is, collecting the Royal Presents and finishing the levels I hadn’t finished yet). What I’m trying to do is finish these prior halfway-done games so I can cleanly move on to the new ones I got without going, “Oh, yeah… I guess I never really finished the first one, huh?” Gotta have that closure.

So during this week while I’m off, that’s what I’m doing - finishing games I haven’t finished, just taking it easy. Only two bumps in the road.

First, I had planned to have lunch with an old friend of mine a couple days ago, but after waiting for 15 minutes, he never showed up. Got home later that day to find messages on my home phone saying how he was having trouble finding the place (that was at 15 minutes past when he was supposed to be there) and then how he finally found it but I wasn’t there (that was at 30 minutes late). Guess we’ll have to reschedule, but I was hoping to have lunch with him and meet his new girlfriend. Oh well.

Second, I looked at my work email. Jenn has warned me about doing this and I know better, but I did it anyway. Without going into it, I’ll just say this: I hate people who wait until you’re on vacation so they can enact poor decisions simply because you’re not there to contest them. Folks wonder why I don’t go on vacation often, and that’s why - two steps forward, one step back. Fan-fucking-tastic.

A couple of Mike’s and I was doing a little better. Makes me think drinking at work should be allowed because I might be a little more laid back and easy-going. That said, I don’t think I get paid to be laid back… someone has to actively care about what’s going on.

Well, the cat’s shoving toy mice under the office door, indicating she wants to play, so I’d best go take care of that. (I’m a sucker for that tiny cat. One of the myriad reasons I don’t work at home as often as my teammates - distractions!)

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Yesterday was the yearly 24 extravaganza, this time a marathon of Season 4. Jenn was there, Dad brought the DVDs, and Stu and Tif came and brought a substantial amount of food. Along with the food Jenn and I brought and a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts contributed by Dad, we had more crappy junk food than five people should consume in a lifetime.

But, you know, that’s what it’s all about.

Season 4 was about some terrorists trying to wreak havoc on the US nuclear-style, and the only man who can stop them is (of course) Jack Bauer. As always, the entire effort was well put together - acting, effects, story - enough that I really don’t know what I would suggest. There was only one loose end that bugged me (what ever happened to Behrooz Araz?) but not enough to make me dislike the season. There are also a couple of really annoying characters (“Chloe O’Brian,” who always seems either pouty or smug, and “Edgar Stiles,” who has zero self-confidence), but the actors who played them did so perfectly - you hate the characters because the actors make you hate them. Excellent.

I loved the previous seasons we watched marathon-style, and this was no exception. Non-stop action, great characters, and an awesome storyline added up to a 17-hour marathon (from 8:00a Friday to 1:00a Saturday) that went a lot faster than you’d have expected it to. Before we knew it, the show was already over and it was time to go.

Stu, Dad, and I made it through just fine, but the ladies were struggling toward the end. Jenn’s eyelids seemed to be getting heavy (and she later commented to me that she was surprised she made it) and Tiff sort of lost the ability to walk or talk coherently.

It rocked, though, and it’s the only way to watch that show. The surreal feeling of being immersed in such an exciting world for so long at a single sitting isn’t like anything I can explain. Your suspension of disbelief transforms into acceptance that whatever you’re seeing is really part of the world and when it’s over you wonder what the characters are up to the next day because it’d be nice to get together with them for lunch or something since you’ve spent so much time with them already. I noticed this during the first marathon we did (Season 2) and it’s just amazing every time.

If you haven’t seen 24, you’re missing out. I can’t recommend any particular season since I like all of them, but if you really haven’t seen it, start with one of the earlier seasons and work from there. While you don’t have to have seen the previous seasons to understand what’s going on in later seasons, the long term viewer is rewarded with recurring characters and inside jokes that the newbie isn’t going to get.

I look forward to next year’s Season 5 marathon. If it’s anything like this one was, it’s going to be a total blast.

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Serenity came out on DVD yesterday. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, why not?

I got mine, but only after a bit of a struggle. I went to Target at lunch and they had already sold out. Granted, they were selling it for $16.99, which is a pretty good deal on a new movie, so I can’t argue it. Plus, it was an awesome movie, so I’m glad to see it went well… but that doesn’t get a copy in my grubby little hands, does it?

Luckily Jenn went to Costco and was able to pick up a copy there for $18.99. That’s fine; I’ll eat the $2. That bad boy’s getting watched this weekend.