personal, media comments edit

Lots of stuff happened this weekend, culminating in my loss of a hefty chunk of change to the Gods of Technology. But, as usual, let’s start at the beginning, as that’s a very good place to start.

Friday night Jenn and I went to the Hawks game versus Spokane where Spokane promptly thrashed us, five to three. I wasn’t really disappointed, though, since the Hawks really played their asses off. It was a very exciting game, and I congratulate them on a game well played.

Saturday afternoon we went to a wedding reception for one of Jenn’s friends, Connie. Connie’s cool, but I’ve really only met her, uh, twice now, and the only other person I knew there, Derek, another of Jenn’s friends, left almost as soon as we got there. So I really didn’t know anyone at this thing, it was outside during the drizzle, and it was just slightly cold. But the food was really good - which is not something you can usually claim at a wedding reception - so I can’t call it a loss. I filled up my plate like three times with various and sundry goodies. Unfortunately, we were unable to stay for cake (and I did want cake) because we had been there for two hours already and the cake wasn’t going to be cut for another hour after that. Might have been good cake, but I’m not sticking around for hours on end just to have cake.

Saturday night we hung out with my friend Gerb, who is currently attending Western Oregon University to get his degree in Theater Arts. I hadn’t seen him in quite a while, so it was good to have him over to meet the new kitty, visit, and generally hang out. Good times.

Sunday we were going to get done all the crappy housework that we hadn’t finished all week long. I was planning on washing and waxing my car, shopping, finishing up the laundry, and maybe sitting down to watch Monsters, Inc. That is almost, but not completely, exactly unlike what happened Sunday.

Got up, cleaned the shower and the toilet in our bathroom, took a shower, got dressed. So far, so good. Cleaned up the living room a bit, then took a break to play a little Dynasty Warriors 3.

Finished up a couple of levels in the game, then went to my parents’ house to visit and wash/wax my car. My parents decided to go to Ethan Allen prior to us getting there, so I didn’t get to see them, but I did wash my car. I waxed the front end prior to the sun coming out and making the car too hot to finish waxing. I got the front end, which I think is the important part. I can see why people pay other people to wax their cars. That job sucks ass.

While I was finishing up the front end wax job, I got a call from the sales guy (Rod) at Magnolia Hi-Fi. He said that my TV was in, but because of the stupid Port of Portland strike/lockout/whatever that’s going on, they only have three of the sets until the end of the month. Needless to say, I headed down to Magnolia.

Got to Magnolia and waited - seriously - about an hour for Rod to finish up with some other customers who, it looked to me, didn’t actually buy anything. Maybe they did, and I didn’t see it. They did sit up talking by the cash register for quite a while.

When Rod finally got to me, it was probably the easiest sale he made all week. He knew I wanted it, I knew I wanted it, so we worked out a deal where I got the four-year extended warranty for pretty cheap, the TV, and a component video cable so I can see the progressive scan output from my new DVD player.

A lot of people have asked me questions about the TV, so I thought I’d answer them.

Travis’s TV FAQ:

  1. Q: How much did you pay for your TV? I heard it was expensive. A: It seems a lot of folks are genuinely concerned for my budgetary needs, and I have to thank them for that concern. Contrary to popular belief, I do not have any credit problems or any difficulties in planning out my budget to make ends meet. But, since you asked, it broke down like this: $2835 - Sony KV40XBR800 TV, with stand $200 - Magnolia Four-Year Performance Guarantee $47 - Middle-tier component video cables $3082 - TOTAL
  2. Q: Why would you spend that much on a TV? A: I like TV. I like my PS2. I like DVDs. Maybe you just bought a computer for $3000. Maybe you just bought a car stereo for $3000. I bought a TV. I like TV.
  3. Q: Why wouldn’t you just buy a rear projection TV like everyone else? A: If you look dead-on at a rear projection TV, it looks great. You ever stand up while trying to watch it? It fades out. Maybe not too much, but it fades. Now start walking toward the side of the TV. The closer you get, the darker the picture gets. That bugs me. There are only three TV types that don’t really do that - LCD, plasma, and tube. LCD is way too expensive. Plasma… I almost did that, but they aren’t quite to the point where the price justifies the performance. Which leaves tube TVs. The Sony KV40XBR800 is the largest tube TV made.
  4. Q: That thing must be huge A: It is, thanks.
  5. Q: What does a TV like that do? A: Lots of stuff. Check out the Sony page on it and read up. You’ll want one, too.

So anyway, I bought the TV and signed up for delivery between 11a and 2p today. I told ‘em that Jenn won’t be there until 12:30p, but Rod said not to worry about it. Fine.

The stand that the TV comes with isn’t big enough to hold all my shit. I have the whole home theater thing - amp/tuner, DVD player, CD player, VCR, digital cable box, PS2, turntable, tape deck… There are two shelves on the TV stand, and for such an immense TV, the stand shelves are two sizes - small and extra-small. I think I can put the cable box and the PS2 on each shelf, respectively, and the rest… uh…

With that thought in mind, Jenn and I went to Fred Meyer, where we found a pretty bitchin’ Sauder home theater system that had all the racks and stuff to hold our crap. Of course, they were out of them at the store we were at, so we ended up going to BFE to pick it up, but it all paid off. They loaded both boxes (it came in two boxes) into my car, and I was homeward bound.

I got home and… shit, that thing was 200 pounds per box if it was an ounce. I don’t know who at Sauder thought it would be a good idea to make it that heavy, but I can envision the conversation going something like this:

Designer: We’ve got this new product that will work wonderfully for folks with larger televisions. It’s got a couple of nice cabinets and a shelf over the top.

Boss: Great! Quality wood?

Designer: Only the best. Inch-thick finished particle board.

Boss: That’s perfect. Package it up.

Designer: I recommend putting this in five boxes - the pieces are too heavy to put in just two boxes. Most folks can’t just heave 200 pounds over their shoulders.

Boss: Fuck that! You’re fucking fired! Two box maximum. Americans are a bunch of pussies anyway. If people were in shape, we’d be able to put it all in ONE box. Just for that, I’m going to make all the pre-drilled screw holes just slightly too small so people won’t get any weaker than they are.

I ended up opening the boxes in the car and taking it upstairs piece by piece. That was, oh, 6:00p. By 10:00p my hands were feeling arthritic and my arms couldn’t move, but all of the stuff was out of the old entertainment center and into the new one. Not hooked up - hey, no TV - but sitting in there so the cats can’t get to it.

We thusly loaded up Jenn’s sister’s truck with the old entertainment center and hauled it over to her place. Merry Christmas, Danelle. :)

I woke up this morning, got in the shower, and am starting to think that my cat has opposable thumbs, and she’s using them to oppose me. The temperature in the shower fluctuated wildly between lukewarm and freezing cold, and the only explanation I have for it is that someone was in the other bathroom turning the hot water on and off. Since we lock her in the bathroom at night (otherwise she cries outside our bedroom door and tears things up - actually destroys stuff - because she’s lonely and won’t play with the other cat), that’s the only thing I can think of. She’s doing it to punish me.

Anyway, that was the weekend. Now I’m just waiting for the TV to be delivered and I will have completed the ordeal that started so long ago with a trip to Issaquah. Tonight, we party!

media, personal, sharepoint comments edit

Wednesday was a loooong day for me. I got up at 6:15a, got to work at 7:30a, started doing after-hours server patches at 5:00p, and finally left work at 1:30a Thursday. I was going to skip out on work Thursday, but I had a lunch appointment with the CTO, so I came in just in time for that and worked a half day after lunch.

Let me tell you, I was dragging Thursday.

I found a new thing I need to get: The Lego Star Wars Star Destroyer. Over 3,000 pieces, this thing is three feet long and two feet wide. I must have it.

The sales guy from Magnolia called me today and told me that the floor model of my TV will be in on Sunday, so I should come by then to check it out. It took long enough, but I’m glad it’s finally here. I’ll go in and check it then, and if all looks good (and I can work out a deal for a stand, too

  • the stand it comes with is too small to hold all my stuff), I’ll get it. Hell, yeah. Big screen, here I come.

I can’t begin to count how many people have sent me this World’s Funniest Joke article, but let me tell you: The joke itself really isn’t the world’s funniest joke. Maybe humor is one of those things that can’t be gained by committee or something. It’s a decent joke and whatnot, but it didn’t have me busting a gut or anything. And now you certainly can’t tell the sonofabitch at a party because everyone’s heard it. I wonder if, by declaring the joke “World’s Funniest,” they’ve somehow destroyed the funny part of the joke, thus making it not the World’s Funniest Joke.

I’ve got like six different support incidents open with Microsoft right now, and for some reason, I feel like either Microsoft has a bunch of blockheaded morons working in its support department or they have a bunch of support personnel who need some training in comprehension skills. My favorite current issue is this:

Installing Internet Explorer 6.0 Service Pack 1 on a SharePoint Portal Server will break certain SharePoint Portal Server functionality.

I know this to be true, just as the sun rises in the east. Tell me if you think I’m off-base in my thinking. Here’s what I did:

I had a perfectly functional SharePoint Portal Server development box. It had all the latest patches on Windows Update except for Internet Explorer 6.0 Service Pack 1. (It had IE6, just not the service pack.) I put IE6 SP1 on the machine. After I did that, the server wouldn’t let me edit items on it that were over a certain length. I got mad and tried to uninstall the service pack, but that didn’t fix it.

I formatted the machine and installed Windows 2000 Server from scratch. I brought it fully up to date on Windows patches. I installed SharePoint Portal Server and all of its respective patches. I got everything back up to snuff - except IE6 SP1 - and it worked. I then installed IE6 SP1 on it and the server stopped working again. “No way,” I thought, “could this be so.” I did it again.

I formatted the machine again and put Windows 2000 Server and SharePoint Portal Server on it, yadda, yadda, yadda. Got it all together and it worked fine. Installed IE6 SP1 on the machine - it stopped working.

Finally rebuilt the box one last time and this time I’ve not put IE6 SP1 on it. It’s working fine.

That feels like pretty conclusive evidence to me that IE6 SP1 breaks SharePoint Portal Server.

What do I get from Microsoft? “Check and see if all of your servers have the same hotfixes.” Yes, you moron, all of my servers are fully up-to-date on everything except IE6 SP1. “Is it my understanding that you have servers on which you don’t see this problem?” Look, numbnuts, I didn’t install it on any other servers because it fucking breaks them. So, no, I don’t see the problem on any of my servers because I didn’t install the damn patch. And, before you ask, NO, I’m not going to “test it out” on my production machines. You have servers over there, you replicate the motherfucker. I did it twice. I swear to you on all you believe holy that IE6 SP1 fucks up SharePoint Portal Server. Take that as gospel and go with it, okay?

I’m getting worked up just thinking about it.

I watched Survivor last night. Eh. I’m glad they got rid of that Jed guy and all, but I am really hoping they get rid of Ghandia pretty soon. She’s got some issues she needs to go home and deal with. At first, I thought she and Ted were going to deal with their little “chemistry” thing on a mature level, and Ted seemed prepared to do that, but then she went too far and started a huge rumor mill, blowing the whole thing out of proportion. No psycho chicks, thank you very much. Vote her ass off.

More than that, though, I want Robb voted off. Just because he’s a cocky asshole. Enough said on that issue.

I have to say that I’ll be slightly disappointed if and when they vote Erin off, though. She’s got quite the rack, if I do say so myself. (Even though she really doesn’t stand out in any other way; she doesn’t talk on the camera, she doesn’t create controversy… she just sort of fades into the background. Hey, maybe that’s her strategy.)

The Hawks are playing Kootenay tonight. Should be a good game. I’ve got my jersey on and I’m ready to go.

music, tv comments edit

I picked up the American Idol Greatest Moments CD this morning after my allergy shots and I’m reasonably pleased. Besides the fact that Fred Meyer had it on sale for $12.97, it’s got some pretty good stuff on it. But I do have a tiny gripe.

The music itself seems somehow… underprocessed. Or something. Have you ever heard a low-budget Christian album? Or maybe someone singing a song along with the demo on a Casio keyboard? The songs sound like that. Like the music in the background is slightly overproduced while the singer got a $10 microphone and a maximum of two takes in the studio. Maybe the mixing is off or something. But it’s bugging me like nobody’s business.

And to top it off, AJ Gil is on this motherfucker, and I can’t stand his nasal Backstreet-wannabe voice. He destroys a perfectly good Stevie Wonder tune. I’m getting worked up just thinking about it.

I’ve been playing a lot of Dynasty Warriors 3 lately with Jenn and it’s been pretty fun. I’ve been building up my character’s strength so I can better defeat some of the single-player levels. We’ve played all the multiplayer levels several times, so now it’s time to play some more of the single-player levels so I can unlock more of the multipayer ones. Lucky for me, she’s got a meeting tonight, so I’ll hammer away at that so next time we play we can try some new stuff.

Jenn is having a similar problem to me in finding a good Alice costume. The only decent one comes in satin, which isn’t even right - I’m pretty sure Alice didn’t run around in Wonderland wearing all satin. Also, I haven’t seen any Alice costumes that have the proper petticoat with them - Alice had a petticoat.

Anyway, that whole thing is a problem. I’m leaning toward the ninja costume more and more, but it would be cool if Jenn could go as Alice. Alice is a hottie.

I exercised extreme willpower yesterday while shopping. The new Harry Potter Legos are in Fred Meyer for 20% off. With Mom’s employee discount, that makes them right affordable. But I had to abstain from purchase, following my new mantra: I’m saving for my TV… I’m saving for my TV… I’m saving for my TV…

Speaking of TV, I found out there’s some sort of strike or lockout or something going on at the Port of Portland and there’s a bunch of stuff just sitting at the dock not being delivered to the stores. Now, normally I’d just pass it off with a “that sucks” and call it good, but I started thinking… Magnolia Hi-Fi is waiting for the TV to come in, and the shipment’s been delayed… My TV is probably sitting on the fucking dock, waiting for some stupid contract negotiation or something to complete. I have a mind to go down there and start something. Deliver my TV already. Damn.

costumes comments edit

While listening to an online seminar about .NET application deployment and sipping water from my Fuck Off mug, I was doing a little searching for Mad Hatter hats.

Now, I’m particular about exactly what color, etc., a Mad Hatter hat should be if it wants to rest atop my hallowed head. It must be green with a dark green band. It must look absolutely identical to the Mad Hatter’s hat in the Walt Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. Not “American McGee’s” Alice. Not some psychedelic wannabe Alice. Walt Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland. Accept no substitutes.

I can’t find any that fit the description.

I know I saw them when I was at Disneyland umpteen years ago. They were there, and they were perfect. I just can’t find them now.

I found many, many sites selling these psychedelic pot smoker druggie hats that are generally shaped like the Mad Hatter’s hat, but none of them actually is the One True Hat.

I did see one on auction at eBay, but it’s already sold and I don’t even know if it’d fit me.

I looked for a pattern online (could the McCall’s site be any slower?), but no luck.

I did find this costume from that is under the “Officially Licensed Disney” section, but… “one size fits most” sort of rules it out for tall, long-armed folks. $49 isn’t a bad price, though. (They also have an Alice costume, by the way. Did I not tell you Alice is a hottie?) I’m not big on the satin thing, but it’s an option. (BadPlanet also has a “spicy women” section in their “Adult Costumes” category. Well worth a look.)

What that amounts to is that it may be easier (and cheaper) to go ninja than it will be to go Mad Hatter for Halloween. Somewhat disappointing, but not surprising.

Something I forgot to mention earlier: The Alias premiere was last night and it rocked. I can only hope they keep up the good work.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Jennifer Garner is hot.

personal, hockey, costumes, movies comments edit

First things first: Kristy Swanson is in this month’s Playboy, and she is so fine. I’ve always had a thing for her, so this day has been a long time coming.

Now that’s out of the way…

I did a little woodworking this weekend. I am making a frame to put my latest art project in. It has to be deep, almost like a shadow box, and 8.5” by 11”, so after looking around, I figured it would be better to just make the stupid thing than it would be to try to find one that size or have one made.

Basically, what I’ve got going on is that I’ve scanned this piece of Mucha art, took it into Photoshop, separated it out into layers, and printed the whole thing out on transparencies. Then I took the transparencies, mounted them 0.5” apart (there are three transparencies, for a total of 1” of depth - one sheet on the bottom, one sheet 0.5” above that, and one sheet 0.5” above that), and got glass and backing board to finish it off with. All told, I need about 1.5” of depth to work with.

Anyway, I routed out these poplar boards that I bought at Home Depot to make the frame proper, then took them over to my parents’ house to cut the 45° angles on my dad’s table saw.

I am not a carpenter by any means. I can do little stuff - like with a Dremel tool - but I can’t make, like, furniture or anything. Not that I don’t think I ever could, I just don’t have any experience.

That said, I got my dad to come out and show me how the saw works, and maybe do the cuts so that next time I’d know how to do it myself. There were only eight cuts to make, so I figured it’d take us like 20 minutes tops to cut all that out.

I forgot how perfectionistic my dad is.

It took us probably a good two hours to get those cuts made. The big problem was that the wood I bought wasn’t perfectly square (I paid like $3 a pop for it; I didn’t expect precision furniture-quality), and even though I told him so, I think it bugged him that the final cuts didn’t fit precisely together like a machined product. It’s good enough for me, but he puzzled over that forever, trying to make it square.

Don’t get me wrong - I totally appreciate what he was doing, and had I purchased better wood, it would have come out squared up and perfect down to the nanometer. But I bought shitty wood, so it didn’t. Anyway, it was entertaining to watch, if maybe just a tiny bit frustrating.

Jenn and I went to the Winter Hawks games on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night we lost to Kelowna 2 to 1, but Saturday we wasted Vancouver 4 to 1. I was slightly disappointed by Friday’s game, except one of our players, Matt Fetzner, got into this terrific fight and totally just drilled this Kelowna guy in the face. No great fights on Saturday, but I was proud of our goalie, Lanny Ramage, who seemed to be off his game most of last season. Hopefully he can return to his previous glory this season.

During the game on Saturday night, I thought of a cool idea. (Yes, another idea like my Venetian Blinds Idea from a while back.) You know how you watch a hockey game on TV and they put a little light or something on the puck so it’s sort of outlined against the background and you can see it better? Okay, hold that thought for a sec.

Now, you know how they have access cards to get into buildings where you just sort of move the card in front of the sensor and it reads the card? Right.

Well, you put whatever is in those cards inside the puck and you put sensors under the ice. When the puck slides around on the ice, have whatever sensors detect the puck light up and it should simulate the “light” on the puck that you see on TV. Take it a step further and you could do that with the blades on the skates, too, to have a disco-style effect. Throw in some black lights or whatever and you’ve got a much more entertaining environment in which to skate.

Taking that back a notch, back to the original puck-light idea… I think that could work. It might not be allowed in regulation play, but for beginners or for recreational games, it would be great.

I’m going to a costume party at my friends Jason and Tracy’s house for Halloween, but that means I have to come up with a costume. Jenn is thinking of going as Alice from Alice in Wonderland (hey, Alice is a total hottie), but I’m not sure what I should be. I thought maybe I could be The Mad Hatter, but I’d need to find the hat and a suit like that. I also thought I might be a ninja, since I’ve actually always wanted a ninja costume, but then I wouldn’t match Jenn. I’m still thinking about it.

The American Idol Greatest Moments CD comes out tomorrow. For some reason I thought it was next month. Hmmm. Guess I’ll be hitting the store for that one in the morning.

A while ago I applied for a volunteer movie reviewer position at I didn’t get it. I’ve read some of the latest reviews, presumedly from the guy who did get the position, and I can’t stand them. It’s not that the new guy can’t write, it’s that he writes reviews from that “greater-than-thou” platform that other movie critics write from, expecting high art and ultimate innovation from any movie they go to see. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say they go see films, not movies. I disagree with nearly every movie critic out there specifically for that reason. I go see movies to be entertained, to have fun, to enjoy myself. If I came out smiling or feeling justified in spending the money to see it, I consider it good.

In fact, I have a sort of different five-star scale by which I rate movies:

  • 5 Stars: See it for full price in the theater
  • 4 Stars: See it during the matinee price in the theater; it’s good, but not worth full price
  • 3 Stars: Rent it when it’s a new release; it’s not good enough for the theater, but you’ll want to see it when it’s out on video
  • 2 Stars: Rent it once it’s off “new release” status; you might want to see it, but it’s worth closer to $0.99/week than $3.49/day
  • 1 Star: Don’t bother. Not even worth the rental.

Most movies fit into the 3- or 4-Star range if I bother to see them. But the movies I put into the 5 Star range are never the movies that critics rate highly. Know why? Because I enjoy movies for the entertainment value regardless of whether they have any artistic value to them. Art’s good, but hey, sometimes a good formula shoot-em-up is just as fun.

The only critic I really agree with (and less these days than I used to) is The Self-Made Critic. Usually he likes the movies I like and doesn’t like the ones I don’t like. Lately he’s gotten a little more on the high-critic scale than he used to be. I wonder if that comes with having seen so many movies? I dunno; I’ve seen more movies than the average person, I’m sure, and I still enjoy them for the entertainment value. When I become too art-oriented and stop enjoying them for what they are - entertainment - someone just come over and shoot me.