Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thank You

Dear Unsolicited Email Sender,

Thank you for your interest in me. Your desire to tell me, a complete stranger, about my (physical shortcomings, monetary needs, love life, spiritual needs, product needs) and offer me an unsolicited solution is incredible. Many of my closest friends have not mentioned it to me; so hearing it from you is very important. However, at this time, I do not feel I need (a larger penis, a harder penis, pornography, a new mortgage lender, debt consolidation, my home’s equity checked, a date, a “date,” to make 10% of the billions left behind in [Zimbabwe, Congo, Liberia, Senegal, Niger], a car loan, a new religion, a miracle weight loss drug, to earn money through eBay, to make millions through real estate ventures, a new internet service provider, a new cell phone, a new cell phone company, student loan assistance, to investigate someone). While I appreciate you informing me of this (product, service, opportunity), I am content right now in this area in my life.

If my need for (a larger penis, a harder penis, pornography, a new mortgage lender, debt consolidation, my home’s equity checked, a date, a “date,” to make 10% of the billions left behind in [Zimbabwe, Congo, Liberia, Senegal, Niger], a car loan, a new religion, a miracle weight loss drug, to earn money through eBay, to make millions through real estate ventures, a new internet service provider, a new cell phone, a new cell phone company, student loan assistance, to investigate someone) changes in the near future, I will contact you immediately. Rest assured that I understand you are the expert in this area and have nothing but my best interest at heart. Once I do contact you, we can discuss in detail the wonderful (product, service, opportunity) that I have neglected.

Being the conscientious person that you are, and now that I have informed you of my position on (a larger penis, a harder penis, pornography, a new mortgage lender, debt consolidation, my home’s equity checked, a date, a “date,” to make 10% of the billions left behind in [Zimbabwe, Congo, Liberia, Senegal, Niger], a car loan, a new religion, a miracle weight loss drug, to earn money through eBay, to make millions through real estate ventures, a new internet service provider, a new cell phone, a new cell phone company, student loan assistance, to investigate someone), I have no doubt you will stop emailing me immediately.

Thank you for your time and frequent emails on this matter. I want you to know that I have moved each and every one of those thoughtful and well-written emails immediately into the most appropriate folder in my email box.


Respectfully,

Unsolicited Email Recipient

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Moon is Made of ... Creamy Filling!

I finished the last of my stash of "Looney Moons" (1/2 Moons) tonight.

Fiance got me a box of the strawberry moons, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I like fruit flavors, so having the strawberry was even better than the other types I've had so far (original, chocolate, caramel). I finished those a few days ago.

Mare got me a box of the large, original flavored moons. Mmmm... creamy goodness. Those lasted until tonight.

These things kick Twinkies ass! I still like Twinkies, don't get me wrong, but the Looney Moons are softer and have tastier filling.

I'm a sad, sad boy now.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Curse Lives

For anyone who doesn't believe that my last name carries a curse, I give you the following evidence:

My mother is flying back to Pennsylvania to visit my sister and her family. She is currently stuck, on board the plane but delayed just after the doors closed on the plane, at the Dallas airport. She just called to tell me that the airline announced a "20-30 minute delay, you should get a snack before getting on" but the delay is currently at well-over an hour with no apparent end in sight.

Ah, I love a good curse.

Good luck mom!

Amusing Article from England

Worth a read:

Pirates/Movie article from The Independent

I do not like or agree with the opinions of the "friend" in the article, but I like both how he expresses them and that he says them at all.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pirates and Superman

The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is a nice sequel, but it has some problems:
  • The new Pirates movie is clever... but not as clever as the original.
  • It has good effects and action... but all are a bit overdone and too lengthy.
  • The acting is engaging... but feels a bit forced.
  • All your favorite characters are back... plus a whole bunch that shouldn't be.
So, all in all, I don't particularly understand why the movie is steamrolling the competition like it is. It is a good film, and entertaining, but it is too long and too overdone.

One of the keys to the first Pirates film was the engaging way the three main characters interacted. But in PotC:DMC, it takes too long to get the three characters together and then they act and speak like they didn't learn anything about each other from the first film. For example, in the first film, Will and Elizabeth learn that Captain Jack has a pretty good heart and is a fairly honorable man, he just has a rather eccentric and enigmatic way of getting there. However, in this film, all their dialogue is about how he has no honor and is only out for himself. What? After all they went through with him on their previous adventure, they still think that? Doesn't make sense.

Also, the real charm is those three characters and the silly but clever problems they got themselve into and out of. The rest of the cast were there to move the plot along. In PotC:DMC, many of the bit players have much larger, expanded roles. It got so that there were so many people and stories on the screen, that I started to lose interest.

The action felt forced and overly long. The first film hit the right mix of story and action. This PotC:DMC felt like the story was almost an excuse for newer, bigger, more overblown effects. And each of these action shots felt way, way, WAY too long. For example, the scene on the broken water wheel: we had already, in essence, seen this shot with the ball of bones early in the film. On top of this, the three way fight scene just kept going and going. I found I was squirming in my seat and wishing it was over and we could move on.

The motivations of some of the characters seemed pretty thin at best. It got so that I was actually getting confused and forgetting why certain characters were in this film. Jack was the only one with clearly defined motivations. Elizabeth kept flip-flopping what she wanted and why, Will seemed to be a totally different character who had amnesia to everything that happened in the first film, and the former Commodore seemed like he was sort of added in at the tail end when the writers couldn't figure out how certain plot points were going to happen.

Lastly, this film ends abruptly. It is more of a middle film than even Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back is. It is along the lines of Back to the Future 2. They tell half of a ful story and just end in the middle. I prefer each movie to stand, basically, on its own even if they tell a story that is continued in other films.

- - - - - -

Superman Returns was a good, entertaining film. However, I think they actually hurt themselves by making it a sequel to the first two Christopher Reeve movies. This provided the film with some constraints that seemed to hold it back.

For example, Kevin Spacey ate up the scenery as Lex Luthor. He was wonderful to watch. However, the fact that he needed to be the land-mogol and somewhat comic evil genius that we saw in the first two films really hindered what he could do as Lex. I can only imagine how entertaining he could have been as the real evil genius and general business (and political) leader that Lex has been in the comics (or has been in the Justice League cartoons over the last few years).

Brandon Routh was very good as both Superman and Clark Kent. I think he could have been even better if he wasn't acting like Christopher Reeve. He gave me a vibe that he could have been more of a John Byrne "Man of Steel" style Clark Kent, one who isn't a fumbling clutz. His Superman was a good balance of power and grace.

The story itself was decent, but the entire land-scheme of Lex left a lot to be desired. Up until the "big reveal" by Lex of what his plan actually is, the movie strikes a decent balance and is a fun ride. The scene where Superman saves the day with the space shuttle and plane is worth the price of admission alone. It is thrilling and you get a true sense of the power and nobility of Superman. The effects are incredible. However, the last 45 minutes of the story could have been trimmed and cut down to around 20 minutes.

Spoiler ahead, read at your own risk (highlight paragraph to read):
Lastly, one story area that I had a great deal of trouble with was the entire Lois Lane with child and that child being "super" plot-line. It was an unneeded and distracting subplot that added time and complications to the story that just weren't needed. If Bryan Singer had done away with that twist, he would have cut about 30 minutes out of the film, it would have required some more action scenes with Superman saving the day (which would have been good), and would have allowed Superman to remain unique.
End Spoiler

All in all, I was entertained and enjoyed that Superman returned. I was just a little disappointed Bryan Singer didn't stretch and expand the universe like he did with the X-Men franchise. I was expecting more from him as a director and storyteller.

- - - - - -

All in all, I was entertained by both films. I was also a bit disappointed in both. I think both are deservedly $200-$250 million dollar movies. I do not understand why Pirates is likely going to shoot way past that figure, and I don't understand why Superman is struggling to reach that mark.

Both films could have been at least 30 minutes shorter, easily, and could have simplified and tightened the respective stories to make them even more thrilling and entertaining.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

And Back....

Well, John had another fine adventure in his Omniverse today.

The plan was to leave Saint John at 11:30am, get to Montreal with 1.5 hrs to navigate customs and get to my next plane. Arrive in Chicago with similar amount of time to find plane to So Cal and head home. Arrive here just before 7:30-- Super Shuttle to drive me home by 8ish. Relaxing evening of unpacking and tidying up, as I am now on Atlantic Time (+4 hrs) and 8 will feel like midnight to me.

Here's the reality. Saint John to Montreal goes without too much incident, however, leaving M yet again was just as painful as always. Gotta get moving already!

I got a little confused in Montreal, but was immediately set on the right path after asking a worker and had no problems reaching the plane.

And then the fun began-- because the captain of the Montreal to Chicago flight didn't want for his crew and himself to go through customs, they had to "begin the taxi" away from the gate. However, some mysterious something (which they never described adequately) meant we had to sit on the runway waiting for an hour. Yay. Go United. And then the captain has the audacity to come on and say that the tower is "fitting us in" and we are leaving "5 minutes ahead of schedule!" As the girl behind me, who apparently had an even rougher time with traveling today, said, "Whooppee-fucking-dooo." Amen, sister!

Long story short, I made it to my connecting flight while the plane was on the ground but after United closed the doors-- and they cannot make any exceptions to let me on the plane, of course. So, after hurrying from one end of the concourse to the other, I then needed to hurry most of the way back to where I started to queue into the line to try for a boarding pass on any other available flights. I got one with a departure of 8:15-- yay, a 3.5 hr layover.

I called M and left a message so she knew and I started the long walk through the 80's style Art Deco tunnel to concourse B and to my gate. M calls me back and we chat for about half an hour-- during which time she logs onto United's website and notes that, after a total of about an hour, the plane I could have been on finally takes off. *sigh

She also passes on some information that my gate-- although there has been no general announcement or an announcement at the gate at which I am sitting-- for my flight has been changed... back to concourse C. I hang up with M, go double-check the information she has relayed to me on a flight display (which involves traveling way down the concourse because, of course, Chicago O'Hare doesn't need to let you know where to go to catch flights), and sure enough, it has changed. I now high-tail it back over to concourse C and arrive nearly back where I started.

I call M back to thank her for the information, and then I break out the PBJ that she also very thoughtfully suggested I take with me.

Now, normally my stories end there. With delays and mad dashes to/through customs, etc. But not this time.

As I was sitting at concourse C, gate 16, eating my sandwich, a gentleman walked by. This guy was pretty old, but, beyond that, something about him made me say to myself, "Boy, he doesn't look so hot." He looked a little confused, and very pale. But not knowing him from Adam, I had to assume he always looked like that.

Well, on the tail end of our flight to Santa Ana, the stewardess came over the intercomm asking if any medical doctors were on board the flight. Not really a good sign. When we landed, we were delayed about 20-25 minutes while paramedics and sheriffs made their way onto the plane, resuscitated the same man I was worried about in Chicago, and took him off the plane on a gurney. I hope he's okay, and I wish I had spoken up when I first noticed him.

So, now it is midnight, I am home, have a very, very happy cat sitting next to me meowing and purring and asking for attention. I feel like it is 4 am, because I finally transitioned to Altantic Time about 3 days before needing to leave. And I have to go to bed because I'm scheduled to be at work tomorrow.

So, for those of you keeping track and who made it through this probably long-winded and digression-filled post (two things that happen a lot when I'm tired), that makes 6 total travels, three there and three back. And 8 problems with those flights (6 delays/rushes, 1 customs incident, and one medical incident).

So, basically, what I'm saying is this-- if you need to travel, find out if I'm on the same flight. And book a different one.

"Whooppeee-fucking-dooo."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Porch is Done!

The porch is done! Yay!

So if anyone stops by today, DO NOT walk up to the porch!

Let me back up a second. Last night M's grill went kaput and some time was spent figuring out what failed. Turns out the plastic connection that attaches the gas line to the gas tank was failing and that gas was not making it to the machine. Easy, right? Well, not quite. The grill's existing line was tightly clipped onto the grill using solid brass clips. A safety feature, except if something happens and you need to replace the mechanism. I finally managed to cut through the brass fitting and we ran down to Canadian Tire for some replacement parts. A solid hour (or more) later, I managed to get the grill back up and running. And this time, the fitting is a screw-on style, so if something like this happens again, we can just unscrew that from the grill and replace it.

So, instead of grilling last night, we had Taco Night. I think M quite liked it. MMmmmm... tacos.

Okay, now for today:
I got out of bed early (8 am) and got right out there and finished the one section of railing that was needed. That took about 1.5 hours. Then, M awake and "rar'in" to go, we tackled the porch floor and sides.

It took us the majority of the day to do, but it is finished. Looks pretty good, too. M chose Jack Pine as the color for that section, a more greenish shade than the previous painting in that area. It better matches the shutters on the windows and really looks good, if I do say so myself.

I think it is safe to say that neither one of us wants to see paint or a brush for a long time!

After the porch, M weeded and I tried mowing the front lawn. Bad idea on my part. I was already very, very tired and mowing up and down that hill was a killer. However, the majority of her front yard is finished and looks okay. Hopefully I can finish the rest tomorrow and give M a small break from mowing.

We were so exhausted that we barely were able to make dinner. We grilled some steaks and garlic potatoes on the newly fixed grill (works great, but now maybe TOO good-- it was way too hot at first and we had to turn it down a lot). Again, very tasty, but our level of tired made it hard to finish the meal.

Now we are lounging around the house and preparing to watch a little TV, a movie, or do something else that is not a problem if we fall asleep during.

So, on my last full day here for a while I need to:
  • Do a little paint touch-up once everything is dry and we can see what (if anything) we missed or goobered up.
  • Finish mowing.
  • I'm hoping to get down to Dom's and have him shave my head and face for me.
  • And lots and lots of cuddling, I hope. ;-)
I hope to have some good news when I get back to CA. Hopefully I can get myself back here and living with this wonderful woman shortly!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Progress

So far I have managed to do many, but not all, of the chores on my Honey Do list. As today is the first day waking up without fog, I can get a good start on the painting and, hopefully, make a lot of progress on that task. It looks like I won't get to the deck this trip.

The porch wouldn't be taking so long except for all the spindles on the railing. They are placed very close together, are hard to paint into, and I have to be sitting down to reach them, which is an awkward position for me. I imagine the floor of the porch will seem like a breeze once I get to it!

I also discovered that I am horrible at hanging doors. I used a level and took my time but the door I hanged did not jibe with the lintle into which I was putting it. And then the next day the door didn't close so well (as though the house shifted slightly-- or like my door settled somehow). *sigh

M's dad is coming by to drop off a weed whacker for those areas we couldn't mow. Hopefully he'll have some time to offer suggestions on the door as well. He's an incredibly capable person-- he should be able to point out what I did wrong and offer suggestions to fix/improve it.

Anyway, enough stalling-- time to get out there and start painting. If you are in Canada, in this area, and have some free time and enjoy painting, feel free to stop by! :-D

Monday, July 03, 2006

How It Really Went

On the previous post, I mentioned what my expected itinerary was. Now, here's how it really went:
  • Alarm set for 5am.
  • Super Shuttle here at 5:45-6:00 am for ride to airport (I am scheduled as last pickup for that shuttle).
  • Plane departs 8:35 am.
  • Arrive in Chicago at 2:30 pm.
  • Leave Chicago at 3:45 pm.
  • Arrive in Montreal at 6:50 pm.
  • Customs in Montreal.
  • Leave Montreal at 8:25 pm.
  • Arrive in Saint John at 11:00 pm.
  • Got up at about 4:30 am because I was amped to leave for vacation.
  • Super Shuttle arrives about 6:05am
  • Plane is delayed due to FAA regulations about crew rest times-- I leave SNA at 9:35 am.
  • Arrive in Chicago at 3:22. Takes 15 minutes to deplane, as I am in seat 33F (out of 34 rows) instead 11B like I thought I had asked for online.
  • Make it to Montreal flight at 3:43pm-- luckily the gate for this is very close to gate I exit from first flight. They are about to sell my seat to standby people when I arrive.
  • Rest of trip goes without incident, and I arrive in Saint John at 11:03 as scheduled. Was some concern that fog may route us to Fredericton, but Dash 8s can land in fog. Yay.

With what went on with that delay, the best decision I made was to pack only my carry on. That allowed me to bypass the long United line for check in at SNA, it allowed me to rush out and make the Montreal flight in Chicago (if I had to wait for my checked baggaged, I would never have made it), and allowed me to breeze through customs so that, when I got a little lost in Montreal airport, I had plenty of time to right the ship and make it to the correct gate.

But, I am here!

As to how it is going so far-- well, great. I love my time here and with my fiance. If I didn't, I wouldn't have asked her to marry me! She's incredible.

And, of course, she had a "Honey-do" list waiting for me. So she's keeping me busy.

So far I have:
  • Mowed back lawn. Wow-- she's got a big yard! Was exhausted when I got done. Will probably need to mow whole thing (front and back) before I go. Will have to look into getting a self-propelled mower when I move permanently.
  • Celebrated Canada Day with M and Friends. Go Canada! Wore a white shirt with large red maple leaf on chest... I was Canada Man!™ for a day!
  • Met M's Mom over lunch. I think it went pretty well. She seemed to relax as the lunch continued and appeared to get comfortable with me. I guess we won't know until the inevitable call to talk about it happens. ;-)
  • Have accomplished a cursory wash of porch in preparation for painting. May take Mare up on her offer to help! Damn big porch.
  • Have touched up some painting around the house. Have also worked on M's bedroom door, which was sticking.
Well, M is getting out the American flags for July 4th tomorrow. Gotta run out and help. We're going to have a nice celebration and probably go see Superman Returns tomorrow, after she gets back from a half day at work.

Just took a quick break. M has already decorated. The place looks down-right American! There are flags everywhere. How wonderful is that?

It is 9:17 pm and the sun is finally setting. Time to head out for some quality time with the lady in my life. I'll try to post more later.