personal comments edit

I had planned a nice evening at home last night but instead got sucked into going to Denny’s to eat with Jenn and her Job’s Daughters group. I can’t say it was a complete loss, though. I’m never one to scorn cheese fries.

Plus, Brittany, the Laura San Giacomo look-alike, was there, which was cool ‘cuz she’s hot. Not that anything’s going on there, but she’s a good looking girl and that never hurts. So there’s that.

While we were sitting there I realized that all of my good party stories are not family-appropriate. That is, I could tell them, but they’re sort of anti-climactic and unfunny if I don’t throw a “shit” or a “fuck” in there. Drew Carey’s mentioned a similar issue regarding jokes in his book. Which meant I was unnaturally quiet and way less entertaining than normal. Maybe I should learn some clean jokes. (Except that they’re usually not funny.)

Yesterday was Jenn’s last day of working for free at the VA Hospital, which means I got to sleep in until 6:15a this morning. That extra half hour does make a difference, believe it or not.

Oh, and I also got my copy of the Buffy Season 4 DVD set from Amazon, but the case was sort of munched due to poor packaging and the second disc was “floating” (not attached to the spindle in the case, just sliding around), which resulted in some minor abrasions on the surface. I downloaded a utility to verify it can still be read properly, and it seems to check out okay, so I guess I’ll call it good. I’m really not ready to watch six hours of TV just to check.

Looks like the poop knife thing isn’t uncommon. That’s messed up. I wonder why people think that’s necessary.

personal comments edit

I just got an email from my mom regarding a story my sister was telling her. This is just too much.

A little background: My sister is currently rooming with a friend of hers, a girl with Down Syndrome, and a girl who is taking care of the girl with Down Syndrome (that’s a total of four girls). Part of the deal my sister and her friend get is that they take part in helping out with the Down Syndrome girl.

An example of one of the things they’ve dealt with: The girl with Down Syndrome has four ice cube trays in the freezer, laid out side-by-side. My sister’s friend moved them to make room for food in the freezer, and Down Syndrome girl went berzerk because you can’t stack the ice trays. That problem has since been solved.

Now I get word there’s a new problem to deal with.

My sister’s friend went into the bathroom and on the back of the toilet sits a basket. In the basket she noticed there was a table knife. She took the knife out of the basket and put it in the dishwasher, thinking nothing of it. Nobody really knew why it was there or said anything about it. Regardless, the knife went to the dishwasher. (The dishwasher wasn’t full, though, so it wasn’t run.)

Then a while later (a day or two?), the Down Syndrome girl comes out and asks, “Where is my POOP KNIFE?

Yeah. You’re thinking the same thing right about now that I was when I heard this story.

Apparently, the Down Syndrome girl cuts her poop before she flushes so it will go down easier. She’s been doing this forever, and normally she puts the knife in the dishwasher but this time she forgot.

Oh. My. God.

My sister and her friend have been spreading butter on their toast with a poop knife for a couple of months now.

I’m taking my own silverware if I ever visit.

personal comments edit

Jenn and I got off our collective lazy ass last night and went to an open house at a technical contracting firm that I work with.

After quite the fight with traffic, we kicked and scratched our way into a parking spot downtown and moved to the party.

Got there and saw my friends Kristen and Sharon (who work at the firm) and chowed down on the fairly decent spread of food.

Sharon had her s/o there who had written “Shaft!” on his name tag. I laughed about that and popped out a “Shut yo mouth!” at him, but now that I look back on the whole situation, I never really got the guy’s name. I guess I’ll just call him Shaft from now on.

Kristen’s mom and sister were also at this shindig. Her sister was generally quiet, but her mom is quite the character. I don’t think I can count on all my protruding appendages the number of times she mentioned that Kristen needs a boyfriend. Ah, parents. Ever the source of embarrassment.

Anyway, we hung out there for a while talking to Kristen, Sharon, and Shaft, then packed up and went home.

That whole story admittedly sounds pretty lame, but you have to understand - I wasn’t at home, I was out socializing, so you have to give me points for that.

Actually I’m not too bad with the social thing, but it’s difficult for me to mix business and pleasure. It may be a “party at work,” but I’m still sort of thinking, “Hey, I’m at work” rather than, “Paaaaaartaaaaay!” Maybe that’s just me. I think if Jenn, Sharon, Shaft, Kristen, and myself were in some other [more socially-oriented] setting, I might think less of the work aspect of things. After all, we were in their office.

I got the impression while talking with them all that “their group” (i.e., everyone not Jenn or myself) was into the social/clubbing sort of scene. I was sort of into that “social thing” for a while, but I think I may just be getting bitter in my old age or something. Large quantities of people I don’t know + cigarette smoke clouds + expensive cover charge = irritated Travis. I suppose if my group of friends did that stuff I’d be into it, too, just to hang out with them. Maybe. Either way, interesting to see how the “other side” lives sometimes.

Jenn’s out at her niece’s pre-school (or is it kindergarten?) graduation tonight so I’m popping my new Mr. Bean collection in the DVD player and kicking back. Jenn doesn’t like Mr. Bean, so… more fun for me.

Yeah, that’s a lame Friday night. But it’s cheap, which fits my budget, and it’s stress-free, which is even better. Oh, yeah.

movies comments edit

After discussing my thoughts on The Matrix Reloaded at length with friends/coworkers of mine yesterday, I figured I should probably post them up here so folks could see what the goings-on were all about.

For those living in a cave or sans pop culture influence, The Matrix Reloaded is the highly anticipated sequel to the ever popular 1999 film, The Matrix. To understand what The Matrix Reloaded is about, you really need to have seen The Matrix. But I understand that not everyone has, so let me give you the quick and dirty on The Matrix:

Keanu Reeves plays a computer geek, Neo, who starts waxing philosophic and questioning the concept of reality. Suddenly weird things start to happen - he gets odd messages mysteriously appearing on his monitor, he gets arrested by the police… and eventually you see that he gets taken in by some apparent superbeings who are somehow notorious in the computer hacker world named Trinity (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne).

As it turns out, Neo’s questioning was correct - the world we live in is actually a computer simulation called “The Matrix;” the real world is a place where machines have taken over and use humans as a power source (the heat, right?). Morpheus and Trinity want to free all the humans from The Matrix and take the world back from the machines. There’s a city of people (Zion) who have already been freed and are working on this effort as well.

Not only that, but Neo is “The Chosen One” and has the ability to manipulate the physical laws of The Matrix to suit his own needs. The other freed individuals can do some tremendous stuff this way (which is why they appear superhuman), but Neo’s a whole other story.

Okay, so while these characters are trying to free other humans, The Matrix itself has got these “defense mechanisms” - sort of like anti-virus software - called “agents” (picture the men in black that you see on X-Files or some such) that hunt down and kill freed humans running around in The Matrix. Hugo Weaving (“Agent Smith”) has a final showdown with Neo and Neo gains control of his newfound power at the last moment, defeating Agent Smith and realizing that he is the one who’s going to have to free all the humans.

There’s a lot more in the way of plot details and whatnot, but that’s the long and the short of it. I highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t.

Now, that’s the plot of the original Matrix, but what made it so spectacular?

First, the cinematography was brilliance. The whole thing was filmed like a comic book - very dramatic lighting, color filtering, and camera angles. You could hold storyboards up next to the finished product and every scene matches up perfectly. Put the storyboards in a book and you’ve got yourself a graphic novel.

Second, the philosophy. The whole thing was a discussion about the concept of reality - which is a whole other book (actually, a bunch of books). What makes something real? Is it something you hear, see, or feel? But that’s just electrical brain impulses - is that what real is? It also touched on a bit of religion with the Neo thing - they imply that there was “another man” who could shape The Matrix the way he saw fit. Jesus maybe? They never say. Regardless, they discussed the whole thing without getting too “preachy” or annoying with it. Good stuff.

So, now that we’ve talked about the first Matrix, how was Reloaded?

I wish I could say it was as good as the first one, but it really wasn’t. The story continues in this one with Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity returning to Zion (which is good, since we haven’t really seen that aspect of things yet) to find out that the machines are tunneling toward the underground city and will be there to destroy the human resistance very soon. It’s Neo’s job to figure out how to stop it. Basically.

I won’t go too much into the whole plot because frankly, I didn’t see much of one there. It was a light, fluffy, sci-fi/action film with two utterly superfluous love stories attached to it. Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity have to figure out how to stop the machines from destroying the humans. Obstacles get in the way. Panic ensues. Stuff happens. Roll credits.

Oh, and of course, this is a cliffhanger because the next Matrix film is coming in November.

So what did they do right, and where did they go wrong?

First, what they did right:

Continuing in the vein of philosophy, this movie was a discussion about free will versus destiny. Do we actually make our own choices, or does it only seem that way? If there’s a such thing as destiny, then it doesn’t matter what “choices” we make because in the end, everything’s already preordained to happen. But if it’s all destiny, then what about our own free will? That was the aim of this one, and I think they did a good job of getting that together again without being too preachy about it.

They also throw in a bit of feeling on the human “tribal mind.” People all getting together for a common purpose, feeling raw emotion together and harnessing that power. That was good.

But that’s about it. The rest was all wrong:

They didn’t maintain the same cinematography. The first Matrix was comic-book-on-film, and that was good. This one was a standard action movie. The innovation of the dramatic camera angles and whatnot just didn’t exist in this one.

The love stories were ridiculous. One (Neo and Trinity, established in the first film) was necessary but seemed a little more… animal… than it needed to be. The other, which I won’t go into, didn’t even really have a place in the story. If you had left it out, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the plot.

That’s actually how a lot of the characters were - if you left them out, it wouldn’t make a difference to the plot. Sort of like they were “placeholders” or something. There were some very interesting characters, but they just didn’t play any role. For example, the Monica Bellucci character

  • beautiful lady, but really didn’t serve any purpose. There was a German guy, Monica Bellucci’s husband, who was so extraneous that not only do I not remember his name, but the only thing I can classify him as is “an obstacle.” That’s all he was - something like a wall, just standing in the way. In the way of Neo… and in the way of the plot.

Finally, the fight choreography. All the fights in the first movie seemed fast and furious, yet still controlled. In this one… all the fights felt like they were in slow motion. There was no challenge for any character in any fight because everyone seemed to anticipate everyone else’s moves, making it less like a fight and more like a dance. Now, I thought about the fact that the moral of this movie was free will versus destiny and that the fights, with everyone anticipating the - dare I say it - destined move of their opponents, was just a way to further that idea… but then, I may be giving them too much credit, and the fights may just have been kind of bad.

All in all, I didn’t think it was as bad as people have told me it was. I’d heard enough bad reviews that my hopes had been lowered sufficiently to enjoy it for what it was. I do hope they pick it up for the third movie in the fall. What I am disappointed about is something that my friend Tim at work brought up when I was talking with him about this - that this is now a great idea that’s been done, and it was wasted on a poor execution. Very unfortunate.

sql comments edit

I’ll post about the weekend shortly, but I thought I’d get the entries from my class last Wednesday and Thursday posted up here since people might be interested.

This is, of course, the typical way-too-long play-by-play entry, so if you want the whole skinny… Wednesday, May 28

8:53a

Okay… so I’m in course “MS-2071B: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2000 With Transact-SQL.” So far, so good. Instructor’s nice. This being a smaller, two-day course, I’m expecting a fairly easy time. Here we go…

9:02a

I’m realizing I didn’t brush my teeth this morning. Icky. On top of that, I’m wearing my last pair of clean underwear. I’ll have to go digging in the clean laundry bin to see if I’ve got some that are floating in there.

10:10a

Just got back from my first break. Standing up, I realized these chairs suck donkey balls. They’re TOTALLY not adjustable - not height, not tilt… nothing. My back’s starting to kill me because they were obviously made for a midget office. I think the chairs in Barbie’s Dream House are bigger than this.

10:41a

The first lab was… how to read the online help file. A lab on RTFM. That’s too funny.

11:01a

Not being at work and drinking altogether too much Vanilla Coke so far today has put me in a good mood. One of my rarer moments to be sure, but not entirely disagreeable. Maybe I should try out this good mood thing more often. If only there weren’t so many people out there to piss me off…

11:38a

Time for lunch. So far this hasn’t been too much of a stretch for me, but I have learned a couple of new tricks for editing and re-using SQL scripts. So - easy, but still worthwhile. I like that.

12:47p

Back from lunch… but the class is empty. Huh. Good thing I’ve got my book.

Went to Fred Meyer for some deli food for lunch. Cheap and tasty. Love it. While I was there I found the legs that go to these little modular cabinet things I bought the other day (on sale, of course).

Talked for a little while to the admin and one of the instructors, just hanging out. That’s cool. I like them both, and it doesn’t hurt that the admin’s a little hottie.

1:09p

Starting class again. Woohoo!

1:33p

My morning buzz is wearing off. I’ve hit that post-lunch-naptime phase of my day. Eyes… closing… losing… consciousness…

1:42p

Found this salary survey from Visual Studio Magazine (sitting in the lunch room) that confirms that I’m getting underpaid. Not that I didn’t already know that, but it’s nice to see the statistics confirm it.

2:01p

Lab time!

2:31p

Lab’s done. Still pretty well cruising through this class, but it is definitely serving to reinforce existing knowledge and fill in the gaps to round the whole thing out. Very cool.

2:57p

…and back to work…

My afternoon drag is still here. Not sure what to do about it. Maybe not getting up so damn early.

4:07p

Finished another lab. This one was really good and talked about a LOAD of stuff I didn’t know. Stuff like aggregate functions (getting totals and averages of information) and how to interpret the results and get exactly the results you’re looking for. SQL Server can do a lot of the computational work for you so you don’t have to write a program to do it later. Lots of things that are really helpful.

I guess the instructor’s gung-ho, since we’re at the end of a chapter and he’s wanting to start the next one already. We’ll end up in the middle of a chapter, which isn’t the greatest, but I suppose to keep on schedule one does what one must do.

I’ve moved from Vanilla Coke to Sprite because the Coke was making me just crave more Coke… but the Sprite is giving me heartburn, so I guess I can’t win for losing on this drink thing.

4:36p

Joining a table to ITSELF?! My head hurts…

4:38p

And that’s that. Time to go home!

Thursday, May 29

9:10a

Well, I finished the lab that we didn’t do yesterday and I’m ready for action. While waiting for the other guy in the class to finish, I’ll fill you in on last night.

Got home about my usual time because we stayed pretty late in the class (we were supposed to be out by 4:30p and usually you get out by around 4:00p, but not this time). Jenn wanted to go to the mall to get her nails done (little pleasures - besides, they were looking pretty bad), so I went to the mall, too, just to get out of the house.

While she was in the salon, I went to almost every cool shop in the mall. That’s not to say she took a long time; it was more a case of nothing really interesting me. I almost felt guilty going to the mall and not seeing anything I wanted, but I don’t know if that was a subconscious budgetary restriction or if nothing really did catch my attention.

I did notice that American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Abercrombie & Fitch, and, well, pretty much every other “trendy” clothing store all sell approximately the same thing. “Screen print tees” and unkempt looking pants and drawstring-oriented shit… It makes me wonder where fashion ever went. Even The Gap, which is more of a Nazi uniform sales store than a clothing shop, is starting to sell this “shabby chic” shit. And here I thought I could count on good old Gap to remain the cookie cutter style it is known for. So much for that.

Watched the new Fame show on TV and thought the competition was way stiffer than for American Idol. The singers were generally better and these folks could dance. It got kind of irritating when they repeated the phrase “triple-threat” over and over and over. I think that’s their big slogan or trademark or something. Don’t be surprised if you see triple-threatTM somewhere in the media soon.

This probably crosses the TMI boundary but tough noogies:

Yesterday I mentioned I was wearing my last pair of clean underwear. Well, normally I wear lo-rise briefs because they just seem to fit better (and I can’t stand that “going Commando” feeling that boxers provide - there’s no control there and I just can’t abide by it). The last pair of underwear in my drawer was a full-rise brief that I had bought because the package was mismarked. Anyway, I always wear them last since they don’t fit as well as my other underwear.

So I’m standing in my underwear, brushing my teeth before going to bed, and I’m looking at myself in the mirror realizing that I look like a two-year-old on a Huggies commercial for “big boy pants.” It was really pathetic. Not to mention that my other briefs are reasonably form fitting - you can see that I do have an ass, and the, uh, unit up front is doing okay, too. These briefs… no ass, baggy everything, and the front looked like I had taken a marble and dropped it into a hanky. Really fucking lame. Well, just one more reason not to wear those sons-of-bitches. I should probably pitch them out so I don’t catch myself in them again.

Luckily there was clean underwear in the clean laundry bin so I pulled some out and wore those today. Everything down under is back to normal. Crisis averted.

9:35a

Well, we HAD started class again, but then the video projector went all wonky so we’re working on that now.

Oh, here we go. We’re going to skip the projector and use paper. Whatever.

10:00a

Break and lab time!

10:54a

Well, I’m officially slightly behind. The lab just now on subqueries is a tough one. I even had to cheat a bit and look at the answers because I got slightly stumped - I got the right answer for the question, but I got the answer a different way than they did.

It’s a good thing there’s more than one way to do things. I’m screwed otherwise.

11:51a

Lunch! Plus, I have to poop, so good times.

12:45p

Back from lunch, and I think we have about 15 minutes until we resume. I’m hoping to get out of here by 3:00p or so because I have a haircut scheduled at 6:00p that I can go and get done early, then I can be ready for The Italian Job at 7:00p (I’ll need to be to the theater an hour early or thereabouts because I really want into this one.)

1:03p

Still haven’t started class. I’m reeeeeeeeeeaaaaadddyyyyyyyyy…..

1:15p

Class is underway. Apparently we’re going to do the next (last) two modules back to back, then the last is labs. Cool. It’s looking like I’ll get out of here early, which matches my evil plans perfectly. It’s all coming together.

1:41p

Last module…

2:37p

I’m outta here! Time for my haircut!