food comments edit

We have beverage dispensing machines here at work allowing us to freely partake in carbonated caffeinated goodness on a whim. I don’t drink as much as I used to because, frankly, I’m getting fucking fat and I don’t need the extra calories. That said, I really don’t like diet beverages either. They’re just not the same.

Either way, I got myself a little bit of Diet Coke a second ago.

Now, when you get stuff out of the dispenser, the drink usually produces a bit of foam on top that dies down to reveal that you didn’t fill the cup up as much as you thought you did. Mountain Dew foam is very light green. Root beer foam is a white/brown color.

Diet Coke foam is this shitty dank brown color.

For some reason, that doesn’t really entice me to drink up, as it were. Mmmmm. Just one calorie.

personal, movies comments edit

A good time was had by all this past weekend… or at least I did. There is nothing better than a three-day weekend. Better still is a three-day weekend when your significant other has to get up early to go to work (or school) so you get the entire bed to yourself and you can sleep diagonal.

Diagonal makes me happy.

Lots of movies were had over the course of the three days.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding was picked up at Costco and enjoyed just as much the second time around. I am looking forward to see what they do with the spin-off show, My Big Fat Greek Life. I hope they can maintain the writing and quirkiness of the whole thing, but somehow I doubt it. There’s something in the genuineness (yes, that’s a word) that gets lost when a movie gets translated to the small screen. The only exception to that I can think of off hand is Buffy. Let’s hope these guys can pull it off.

Simone was decent, too, but really hit home with me on another level. The whole story is that this down-and-out director gets ahold of some computer software that allows him to insert a computer-generated perfect actress into his movies. The story goes about how he dupes the public and they all love her, how he keeps up the appearance that she’s real, etc. All in all, a good show.

The thing about that one is that my friend Gerb and I had been having a similar discussion about this a while back. He’s trying to get into the film industry and he brought up the idea that we will eventually get to this point where people can invent computer-generated actors and you would stop seeing actual people in movies. His point was that people would always know the difference between a real person on screen and a computerized person and the public would demand real people. I made the counterpoint that you would eventually not even be able to tell just by looking, you’d have to watch the actor’s actions to determine his/her nature… but until artificial intelligence is sufficiently developed enough to emulate human behavior (and that’s going to be a long time), it’s moot - there will always be a real human behind the scenes controlling the computerized actor anyway. Wouldn’t that be the same thing? It’d just be like wearing a more complex level of makeup, to a point where you’re actually emoting through an entirely different body.

Taking that one step further, that would actually open up the acting field to people who, in real life, don’t meet the “standards” for what an actor/actress should look like but who can actually act very well. That might even provide a broader selection of talent to choose from. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

After seeing Simone, I’ll have to pick up that debate with him.

We also rented Formula 51, which was a decent if shallow action/gangster film. It was fun, but definitely a rental. I enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson, though I could have done without his bare ass at the end.

So. Valentine’s Day (Friday) Jenn and I went to get Chinese food at a local restaurant. After standing in the lobby for 30 minutes, crammed in like a Crayola 48-pack, we got our to-go order and returned home.

Chinese food rocks. I love the deep fried prawns. Lots of deep, extra fried, with a smathering of prawn. It doesn’t get much better than that.

While eating our Chinese, we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding as described above. We also gave each other our gifts. I got her Orchestra level seats for Mamma Mia! when it comes to Portland in July, and she got me a PS2 game that I’ve been longing for, The Getaway (more on that later). That was Valentine’s Day.

Saturday and Sunday not much happened. I stopped in at my comic store to pick up the latest issues of the crap I subscribe to and we cleaned up the apartment a bit. Oh, and I played a lot of The Getaway.

Monday (President’s Day) I had the day off while Jenn had to go to school, so I was alone for the first half of the day or thereabouts. During that time, I got to stretch out and sleep in my beloved diagonal position. One would think such things would provide little joy, but when you hang over the edge of the bed regardless of what you do, diagonal is a Good Thing.

Monday afternoon my dad, Jenn, and I all went to see Daredevil. I liked it, but I feel that I’m probably biased because there were a lot of comic book in-jokes that only the people who read the comics will get. My dad and Jenn, neither of whom read the books, also liked it though, so take that for what it’s worth. If you liked Spider-Man or Batman, you’ll probably like Daredevil. It’s got the action and coolness of Spider-Man with the darkness in Batman. Plus, Jennifer Garner.

Anyway, The Getaway. This game rules. It’s an accurate scale re-creation of 40 square kilometers of London. Within this world, you play a gangster named Mark Hammond who’s child has been kidnapped by a gangster named Charlie Jolson. Your object is to run missions for Jolson while trying to find where he’s got your kid.

The game plays like a British gangster movie, a la Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. They’ve taken it to the next stage, though, and the whole game is in widescreen, and there are no “gaming indicators” on screen - if you want to know your health level, you look at how badly your character is limping; if you want to know which direction to turn while driving, watch the car’s turn signals. That rocks because you’re never sucked out of the idea that the thing is a movie. The controls are simple and intuitive, too - there’s an “action” button that allows you to crouch, hide, roll, etc., all based on the context the character is in; there’s an “attack” button that shoots your gun, pistol whips people, etc. It’s all very simple, allowing you to do more complex things without having to remember loads of button combos. And it’s not so difficult that you can’t beat a mission. You may have to try several times, but it’s not impossible the way some games are. I’m loving it. If you have a PS2, check this thing out.

(An interesting item of note - Formula 51 takes place in London, and as I was watching, certain places looked familiar, probably due to my exposure via The Getaway. Or maybe all of Britain looks the same…)

personal comments edit

Due to our tendency to atrophy rather than move, Jenn and I have searched long and hard to find a workout solution that not only provides the activity we need, but does so in a fun way that isn’t the lame repetition of lifting weights or riding an exercise bike.

To that end we have gotten a couple of those large inflatable yoga balls.

(This may sound familiar; I wrote about it before once.)

Anyway, we got a lower body workout video and an upper body workout video (Jenn picked ‘em out; apparently they don’t have a single workout that does the whole thing… I suppose you could play them back-to-back, though, and call it a day). We did the lower body workout and I had no issues. It didn’t seem too difficult or anything. Then we did the upper body workout.

My armpits are killing me. And that was two days ago.

I’m not sure if the pain is in, like, my pecs, or what, but whatever muscle it is that’s in your armpit, that’s what’s hurting.

It’s not like a bad pain; it’s an “I’m a big pussy and finally exercised” pain. I assume if I did this sort of thing enough I’d get used to it and actually strengthen up. That’s the point, isn’t it? I’ll keep at it and see what happens.

If we really like it, I think I’ll get the DVD version that has all of the workouts on one disc. That’ll save time rewinding, too.

The only real problem I have with it is the way the instructor lady is all new-agey and shit. It sort of irritates me that she’s telling me to do stuff like “create space within myself” - what the hell is that supposed to mean? I suppose when you’re doing yoga stuff that’s to be expected. I guess I’ll just ignore it.

personal comments edit

Well, more “taxes” than “death,” but I think the two are roughly equivalent.

Sunday was eventful in the tax realm.

For the last two or three years I’ve filed both my federal and state income taxes using TurboTax.com. I don’t have to pay for the tax software, yet I still get the benefits of filing electronically and using the helpful wizards the software provides.

In prior years, I have normally gotten quite a bit back at the end of the year because I overpaid over the course of that year. Often the amount is between $100 and $500.

Last year, I got about $50 total back. Not great, but at least I didn’t owe.

Now, keeping that in mind, I went to the mall this weekend. I thought, hey, I normally get a little something back, so maybe I can treat myself to a prize. I went to Toys R Us and bought the Lord of the Rings version of the game Risk. (I didn’t already have a Risk game, and this looked cool.) That cost me $25. I then went to the GameStop store and put $25 down towards the pre-order of a Game Boy Advance SP. (Total purchase price will be $100, but I don’t have to cough the rest up until March.)

$50 - that was my limit, and that’s what I spent.

This year I owe $336 in taxes.

Okay, so that’s not going to bankrupt me or anything, but looking at it very roughly, it looks like I’m getting hit with about a 30% tax rate on my gross income. Maybe a little more or less, but about 30%. Then after contributions to my 401(k) - nothing astronomical, just enough to make it so I won’t retire and live in a cardboard box - I net enough to pay the rent, pay off my car and credit card bills, and maybe do something fun once a week or so.

No, I didn’t do anything with the stock market - I didn’t sell, didn’t exercise any stock options. I could probably have filled out the “EZ” form with the amount of stuff going on.

How are people supposed to be able to move up in the world?

I’d eventually like to move out of the apartment and into a house. I can’t save a damn dime at the rate the money’s flying out the door. I guess that’s the poor economy, hitting me square in the ass.

Then I look at the actual amount of money they’re taking from me for the federal and state governments. Somehow I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Not to mention the whole Social Security debacle. Let me tell you who’s tired of paying Social Security to the wealthy retired people. (People who need the benefits, fine. But my grandparents sure as hell don’t need it, and they get a check every month.)

So, anyway, the money’s tight and I’m really starting to feel the pressure of that. Jenn and I were hoping to go on vacation somewhere this year, like we went to Vegas last year, but I’m sort of doubting if that’s going to happen.

Season hockey tickets next year? Not if they keep raising the prices like they have been.

It’s amazing how the cost of living keeps going up yet my salary stays somehow rock-fucking-solid.

personal comments edit

I’m in a reasonably good mood today, though I’m not sure why. I’ve got a dentist appointment later on which makes me irritated just thinking about it, so I won’t. Of course, now that I’ve said out loud that I’m in a good mood, I’m sure it’ll disintegrate like that much cotton candy. I can feel it leaving me now.

On the way in to work today, I was thinking about stuff that puts me in a good mood. There are lots of things, but here are a few (…these are a few of my favorite things…):

  • Great 80’s music (including, but not limited to):
    • The Outfield - Your Love
    • Hall & Oates - Out of Touch
    • Laura Branigan - Self Control
  • A stereo with great clarity and better bass
  • Alphonse Mucha artwork
  • Acquiring new technology
  • New CDs and DVDs
  • Going to the movies
  • Biting my tiny Xev cat (just little ones; she purrs when you bite her… but she purrs when you give her any attention at all)
  • Las Vegas

Then I started thinking about things that piss me off, and realized that the list of things that irritate me is much longer than the list of things that make me happy. Stuff that pisses me off to no end (again, including, but not limited to):

  • The font MS Comic Sans
  • People who just can’t figure out how to drive
  • People with no bathroom etiquette
  • Stupid people
  • Improper use (and, more importantly, overt abuse) of apostrophes
  • People who tell you they’ll be somewhere and then don’t show up
  • People who are consistently late
  • Bumper stickers
  • Industrial carpet
  • People who, when you send them an email that’s high priority and the first line is bold red caps that say PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE EMAIL, don’t read the email and then send you questions about stuff you answered two lines into the note
  • Users
  • Professional sales people - not retail sales, just the ones you refer to when you say “I’m having a vendor stop in today”

And the list goes on, but that’s a decent start.

Saturday Jenn and I went to LaserPort to play laser tag with our friends Jason and Tracy, along with Tracy’s sister, Crystal, and her friends Erin and Wayne. At least, I think the guy’s name was Wayne. I never really heard it properly.

That was a lot of fun, though I’m way out of shape. My legs are a bit stiff today (yes, two days later) which just further indicates that I need to be in better shape.

Sunday we went to see Shanghai Knights (which was fun, though I think I liked the first one just slightly better). We were supposed to see it with my friend Torin, who decided not to show up. I still don’t know where he was or anything, but I can’t say I wasn’t a bit pissed.

The thing is, like 90% of my friends are like that. They say they’ll be somewhere and then they show up really late, if at all. There’s always an excuse generally along the lines of “something suddenly came up” or “I was doing something else and lost track of time.” You know what? I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being the guy who shows up on time and then has to save seats in the theater for everyone else. I’m tired of being the guy who organizes everything at everyone else’s request only to have no one show up.

Here’s a little anecdote about that: The last place I worked, FatEarth (a startup that no longer exists), I was there with several people in my general age group and we were all pretty good friends. People would have parties at their houses/apartments, and we’d all get together and go. The whole time, they’d bug me about when I was going to have a party at my place. After enough harping, I agreed to have a party. I figured out when everyone was available, sent out invites, got the drinks and food together, cleaned the place up, and waited for people to show.

No one did. People responded and said they’d be there, but no one showed.

So now I have a new rule - no fucking parties. Hey, if people won’t bother showing up - even after they said they would - then I won’t bother having parties. Less trouble for me.

Jenn and I talk about that a lot, actually. Who we want to go do stuff with, who’s fun to hang out with… then we realize that most of our friends, even if we plan something, won’t show up. It’s a little disheartening. I mean, sure, there are definitely those who do make it, and we do hang out with those folks. But it’s hard to be excited about getting together with someone who can’t be counted on to show up on time, if at all.

Hey, great. There goes my good mood.