activities comments edit

Jenn and I are confirmed for the long-needed Vegas trip. Four days and three nights in the Paris Las Vegas, courtesy of Southwest Airlines Vacations. A big tip of the hat to SWA - they are by far the most affordable way to go. Plus, the flight attendants have always had good senses of humor when I’ve flown and that makes the trip that much more enjoyable. If you’re gonna go, check with them first.

I can hardly wait. I’ve already got the time off approved, I’ve got the plane, hotel, and rental car booked, and I’m counting down the days until May 14, when we leave first thing in the morning.

Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

media, movies, activities comments edit

This was an eventful weekend for me in the Land of Movies. I rented a couple and went to one. Here’s the rundown…

Training Day: This is the Denzel Washington vehicle to the Oscars. Long story short, Denzel’s a corrupt narcotics cop and has to train rookie Ethan Hawke on the ways of Street Justice. You end up hating Denzel by the end of the movie because he’s a bad, bad man, and you’re happy he gets the Street Justice he deserves.

I liked this movie because it’s not the standard fare for Denzel - normally he’s the “good cop,” but this time he’s the “bad cop.” It was good to see him change. Not sure if he deserved an Oscar or not for it, but I can’t say he wasn’t good.

The Last Castle: Robert Redford is a court-martialled General in the US Army who gets sent to prison because he disobeyed an order from the President. While in there, he finds out that the warden is a jerk who abuses his power and treats the prisoners poorly. Redford takes over the prison in an attempt to get the warden ousted.

This was a pretty good one, too, though a bit predictable. You can guess exactly what’s going to happen, who’s going to die, etc., before the first ten minutes is through. However, if you’re looking for something just generally good and fun to watch, I recommend it. Jenn and I both had a good time with it.

Ice Age: This is the animated feature about animals in the (you guessed it) Ice Age from 20th Century Fox. It was very clever and fun with some pretty darn good animation. There’s a little recurring character (the “Scrat”) who has nothing to do with the story really, but cracks you up. The voices they chose for the characters fit well and were well done.

Before you go see this, though (and I do recommend you see it), know two things: First, it’s short. 81 minutes isn’t the longest movie in the world. Second, you can’t compare it to Shrek. Just don’t. Shrek was a lot deeper as far as plot development, characters, and the level of humor they stuck in there. Ice Age is inherently a kid’s movie and is pretty shallow as far as all of that’s concerned. It is well done, though, which is why I recommend it.

Saw my friend Gerb for the first time since, like, Christmas and we went to Starbucks to hang out and talk (though why he couldn’t have driven the extra, like, half mile and just come over to my apartment is utterly beyond me). Guess what I ordered while I was there…

I’ve been fighting with this stupid broken turntable I’ve got for a while now. The extra turntable I bought to scavenge parts from supposedly worked when I bought it from the guy, but it sure as hell doesn’t work now (and, no, I didn’t break it; it never worked while in my possession). My dad fixed the part that was broken on the original turntable I was trying to fix, but then when I plugged it in, I discovered a new problem - the turntable gets power now (yay!) but once you start a record playing, the turntable never stops. It finishes playing, the needle lifts up and returns to its resting position, but the record keeps spinning.

I traced it down to this stupid lever/arm thing underneath it that’s supposed to move back and forth to engage/disengage the power to the turntable. It pushes forward to turn the thing on, but it never pulls back to turn it off. Not being mechanically inclined, I’m about ready to go buy a new one. I guess I never realized how stinking Rube Goldberg record players are.

Now I’ve got a query in to Fred’s Sound of Music (where the thing was bought, like, 20+ years ago or something) to see if they can fix it. Here’s hoping.

In other news, Jenn and I are working on a trip to Las Vegas. I want to stay at the Paris Las Vegas since I’ve been there a couple of times and it was really nice, but it’s gone way up in price since last time. I suppose I’ll just bite the bullet and stay there anyway.

Speaking of Paris Las Vegas, last time I stayed there I bought a ceramic balloon mug from the gift shop before I left. Took extra special care of it on the plane to try to get it home in one piece - and succeeded. Used it once, stuck it in the dishwasher. Destroyed it. It wasn’t dishwasher-safe. Of course, there were no labels or anything that would indicate it wasn’t safe for the dishwasher, so I called ‘em. They very kindly sent me a new one for free. And, of course, it had a label on the bottom - “Not Dishwasher Safe.” So if you see these balloon mugs and they have that label on them, it’s my fault. Heh.

So, Vegas. It’ll be a lot of fun. And, to the people who we said we’d try to coordinate with if we went to Vegas (you know who you are), sorry. I’ll try to get in touch with you to personally apologize. Jenn and I just felt that since we haven’t ever actually been on a vacation with just the two of us, we didn’t want to try to coordinate with other people - we want to be able to do what we want, when we want, and not have to try to make time to hang with other folks or meet up anywhere. Next time, okay?

food, music, toys comments edit

Ah, the beauty and inherent magic of the Ventitm Mocha Frappuccino®. So tasty. In fact, I don’t think I even know how to order anything else at Starbucks. I went in today and thought I might try something new, maybe one of those fruity tea-based things, but the only words I could speak when I reached the register were, “Venti Mocha Frappuccino.”

And then, before I could think twice about it, there it was, in all its splendor. Mmmm.

I’m feeling a little nostalgic today, streaming my mix of 80’s MP3s on my ShoutCast server at work. (No, it’s not available outside our firewall. Sorry.) The Poison song Talk Dirty To Me just came on. Bad hair band? Of course. Remind me of a pleasant time gone by? Hell, yeah. Sometimes you just need a little hair band music to put things right.

I took a test on today that supposedly was going to tell me what my ultimate career would be. It told me my ideal job would allow me to be “Analytical and Creative.” No shit. But to tell me actual careers that fit the profile, they wanted $15. I think not. Besides, my current job lets me be analytical and creative aplenty, even if it is programming. I think I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

I set up my Tron light cycles today in a cool action-oriented way on my desk. A pack-and-a-half of the small Post-It® notes works great to prop them up so they don’t fall over. Now as long as the cleaning lady doesn’t mess it up, it’ll stay cool.

The Winter Hawks lost last night to stupid Seattle. I can’t say I didn’t expect it, but I sort of did. Our guys are good, and they did get some crappy circumstances thrown at them that probably put them out of whack, but I think if they had really gone for it (and if Lanny hadn’t let the stupid puck get in the net), they could have beaten those Seattle bastards.

In the end, it’s all going to be okay, though, since Seattle’s going to get their asses wasted by Kootenay (just like the Hawks were going to) anyway. This just means I have a bigger deposit on my season tickets for next year.

To Jerry, Deona, Suze, Tim, Barb, Keith, Greg (hope you’re not on swing shift), and Brandon (aka Miss Cleo), Jenn and I will see you all in September. I hope you have the same seats, ‘cuz we will.

A couple of follow-ups to yesterday’s Public Safety Announcement on how to merge:

First, from the comments, it looks like the damn Californians are coming out to defend themselves. I have mixed feelings on that. On one hand, I’m stoked that I’ve got comments because it means more than just Jenn reads this thing. On the other hand, I think the Californians had better think things through before attempting to defend themselves. The quote from the comments I’m talking about says, “Until the Californians showed up no one in Oregon drived like that.” No shit, man. Things were great until the Californians invaded. Of course, I’m sure things would have eventually degraded to what they are today, but we’ve all got to admit - the rapid advance of the Californian Driver had sped up the process.

Second, a bit of an addition to the Public Safety Announcement: If you don’t have a STOP sign (or other traffic signal indicating you need to stop) and the people waiting to turn onto the street you’re on do have a STOP sign, that means that they have to stop for you, not the other way around. What this implies is that rush hour is not the time to decide that you need to “take turns” letting folks at the STOP sign into the road. All this does is fuck things up. The traffic signals were designed the way they are for a reason - let them do their job, and get about doing yours: driving.

Before y’all get on me: I’m not defending the city planners. Whoever took on the job of designing Hillsboro obviously needs to be unemployed right now - making every light function via sensors and not timing creates more traffic issues over there than I can comprehend… and the intersection at 185th and Evergreen Parkway is the worst ever.

I’m just saying that folks need to drive, in a decent defensive manner, and be a lot less concerned with being “nice.” You worry about you and your immediate surroundings. Let the guy in the car at the stop sign deal with getting on the road.

On an entirely different note… I haven’t played GTA3 for a couple of days now and I miss it terribly. I may have to dedicate a little time to it tonight. Sorry, Jenn.

traffic comments edit

For a while I thought this could be filed in the “unwritten rules that should be written somewhere” category, but then I realized they are written somewhere and people just choose to blatantly disregard them.

What the hell am I talking about?

People don’t know how to merge onto the freeway.

No, no they don’t. This probably includes you. I tell people I’m riding with about these rules and they don’t believe me, but they’re there. I think the rules are pretty clear, so I’ll let them speak for themselves. I’ve pulled the appropriate text from the Oregon Driver Manual, published by the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. They even have a Spanish version there, if you don’t understand what is written there in English.

What rules? Well, let’s see. How about this one:

If you use an acceleration or merging lane to enter a freeway or other highway, you must give the right of way to vehicles already on the freeway or road. (p. 36)

Or, under the section marked Entering a Freeway (I’ll highlight the good parts, just for you)…

In most driving situations, you slow down or stop before you enter a busy road, but when entering a freeway you do the opposite. Use the merging or acceleration lane to speed up and merge with fast-moving traffic already on the road. Try to reach freeway speed by the time you start merging. Keep moving if at all possible. A stop might mean a slow and dangerous start into fast traffic. Even slowing down as you approach an entrance can result in a rear end collision with a driver behind who expected you to pick up speed, not slow down.

If a freeway has an entry ramp with a red-and-green signal to regulate traffic entering the freeway, obey the signal. Stop and go with the light. Then speed up in the acceleration lane to merge with traffic on the freeway.

If you are entering a freeway from a merging lane, you must yield to traffic already on the freeway. If you already are on the freeway, you are obligated to help merging traffic. Adjust your speed to permit a safe, smooth merge. (p. 57-58)

Now, it does say there that you are obligated to help merging traffic. That part is true. But what it implies is that if you see someone coming onto the freeway, not only do you (as the traffic already on the freeway) have the right of way, but you shouldn’t change speeds erratically and confuse the person merging. Which boils down to this: Just because someone is merging into your lane does not mean you have to fucking stop.

That is directed at all the idiots who migrate up here from California or come down from Washington and decide that traffic here needs to be as bad as it is in LA or Seattle. Learn to merge. It’s in the driver’s manual.

To drive home that point:

A slowpoke on a freeway can be as dangerous as a speeder. Remember, if you drive at a speed below the flow of traffic, you must use the right lane.

Freeways often have several lanes in each direction. On these roads, you should leave the extreme left lane for faster traffic. If you drive at an even speed, you will have less need to change lanes. Remember, lane-hopping any time is dangerous, annoys other drivers, increases the risk of collision and seldom saves time. Sudden bursts of speed also waste gasoline. If you are traveling in the left lane and someone comes up behind you at a faster speed, move one lane to your right. Do not tie up traffic in the left lane. (p. 58)

Slow people - get the hell out of the damn fast lane. If you’re not going to drive the speed limit, get over.

I think Paul Reiser said it best in one of his stand-up routines: “The only reason we have traffic is your failure to go.”

While we’re on the subject, here’s a little anecdote from yesterday:

I’m driving down the street near my house on the way home and make a right turn behind this Ford Taurus. Whatever, right? Well, the speed limit on this street is 25 miles per hour. It’s fairly light out, there are no other cars on the street, and there are no people walking around. And yet the chick driving the Taurus decides to go 15 mph the whole way. Of course, it’s a no-passing zone, so I’m screwed.

Folks, if the speed limit’s 25 and there’s not even another car on the road, go the whole damn 25 miles per hour. If you want to know why road rage exists, it’s because fucking idiots like that drive around among the rest of us.

I hope everyone has learned something valuable today. That is, how to merge onto the freeway correctly. Maybe at some point in the future I’ll put forth another public safety announcement on how to properly use the left-hand-turn lanes that run down the center of some streets.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program.