Saturday, December 30, 2006
Everyone is telling me that it will not stick on the ground and will be gone by morning, though. But at least I finally got to see some snow!
Thursday, December 28, 2006
At least I'm with M, even if I'm not the best company right now.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Today I woke up feeling a bit under the weather. Been coughing and sneezing a bit; stuffy headed and a bit lethargic. Headachy and having some digestive issues. Took some Zicam and need to take some more. Hopefully I have caught it early and can get beyond it quickly.
No snow here. Which I'm a bit disappointed. I enjoyed my first White Christmas last year. There was a chance of snow today, but it did not appear although a little bit of frozen rain has fallen off and on.
M and I went to see Rocky Balboa yesterday. Good movie. Definitely the movie that Sly Stallone wants to go out on with this character. Harkened back to the first two, which were good movies. Didn't avoid the age question.
My suggestions to get to the payoff sooner for the movie, however are this:
- Get rid of the "love interest" and her son. While I have nothing against the two actors and they did a good job with what they are given, it is not needed for the story being told.
- Since I am getting rid of the love interest, beef up the role of the son. Make the hurt caused by living in his father's shadow more real.
- Give Rocky a couple of true lead-up exhibition fights. The start is slow and has too many soliloquies -- get to some action sooner.
- Beef up the "villain" a bit-- give him an opportunity to show that he overclasses his opponents and does not have any true competition rather than constantly telling us this. Make him more villainous and/or show that he is not so much a villain as someone who is without heart or soul.
Will be taking M's grandfather to the doctor's office tomorrow. Don't know my way around the town, so should be interesting. Hopefully he can get me there and back again.
All in all a good vacation so far. Disappointing that M does not have more vacation that she can spend with me, but that is just the way it goes sometimes. Plus, she is IT-- that leads to even working during vacation a lot of the time-- price you pay for that sort of job.
Anyway, M should be home in about 40 minutes or so. Guess I should start looking around for something to eat for us tonight.
Friday, December 22, 2006
However, I always have a tale to tell and this is no exception:
- My Super Shuttle driver arrived a bit early. Rather than being the last person on the van, I was the first person. The driver was wearing the thickest, most cloying, and strongly applied cologne you can imagine! It took almost an hour to go the 6-7 miles up the 5 freeway to Disneyland (around which we were picking up the other 6 passengers at various hotels) and by that time my eyes were watering, I had a headache, and my stomach was a bit upset. I guess my Scents & Sensibilities article was a premonition, eh?
- Same driver decided the 5 freeway was too crowded (although we would be getting over to the carpool lane) so he took the 91 freeway route to get to LAX. Just as crowded. So, the typically hour-long trek from my apartment to LAX wound up taking almost 2.5 hours due to traffic and the additional pick-ups.
Still, I was there by about 7:20pm, well in advance of the 10 pm boarding and 10:30 flight time of my plane.
- As I had performed web check-in and already had my boarding passes, I went straight to security. Got through that pretty easily, even though the idiot in front of me tried to "sneak" two gallons of wine and mineral water through security. He made enough of a scene over it that the security guys took him, his three "personal items" (yes, you are only allowed 2 these days), and a very large guy in a uniform to the "back room" to "discuss" it further. Can you say body-cavity search? I knew you could.
- My gate out was immediately beyond the security area, but the glass enclosure was locked shut. At about 8:30pm they opened the door and propped it on the door-stop. So, me and another gentleman waiting for that flight entered. We were promptly told we could not enter. We asked why. We were told they were not ready for us-- even though the area only had 5 total people in it, 3 Air Canada workers and the two of us! We asked why they opened the doors then, if they were not ready. At this point we were helped out and they closed and re-locked the door behind us. Did not re-open the door until about 10 pm, and only then because a bunch of people were deplaning from the arriving plane!
- Made it to Toronto just fine, although the gentleman next to me on the plane replied with "Shut up" when I asked a simple, introductory question. Now, I am not the talkative type, but I do try to be personable to my immediate neighbors on a plane. Didn't really expect the comment I received.
- Customs in Toronto was easy-- I pretty much walked up to the agent the moment I got there and was through in about a minute. One nice thing about the red-eye, I am usually one of the first planes to arrive at the airport due to their noise reduction policy.
- After changing terminals and finding my gate on the board, I went to the proper gate. The person running the gate, however, had to deal with about 50 of us asking if we were in the right area because she refused to update the board from the previous flight. If she had just updated it, she would not have become irritated by all of us asking if our flight had changed gates. However, she apparently wanted to be in a bad mood, so she told each of us in turn, "I am working the gate from the previous flight. I do not know what the next flight will be. Please wait for the next desk operator and they will update everything for you." She then left in a huff. Whatever!
- Toronto to SJ plane was fine. Had a jet this time, which surprised me. Sat next to a pleasant woman named Leslie who is a Professor of Computer Engineering in Vancouver at a college/university. She made it very clear that she was NOT a teacher as "they have lecturers who do THAT sort of thing." Being as she is in the same age range as M and her friends, and went to high school at SJ High School, it is likely that M or a friend may know this woman. Of course, that is not unusual, as it appears everyone here knows everyone else. For having 130,000 people, SJ is fairly close-nit community with a small-town feel.
- M took me home from the airport and I actually took a nap. Then had a very long, comfy sleep over night. However, I was STARTLED awake by the alarm going off at 7:30 (or whatever) time this morning. Even with all the rest, it still felt more like 4:30 am to me. But I am much more coherent than I was last time.
- No snow since I got here, which I find strangely disappointing. However, it has been between -5 and 0 degrees celsius (23 to 32 F), so it is plenty cold enough. Not at all used to the air I breathe actually hurting my lungs. Just not used to this kind of cold. But I have my toque with me at all times, so my head is warm otherwise. Very important.
Anyway, being here, with my loved one, reminds me just how much I miss and need this woman in my life. And being at house where I am allowed, and even encouraged, to make fire is even better still! But I am trying to keep it more sane this time; doesn't need to be 90 F in the house. ;-)
I have wrapped M's main gifts and put them under the tree, but need a box for one other gift. Of course, she has been using the other "Xmas" gift I got her-- my old TiVo-- for a few weeks now. That's the gift that really keeps on giving!! Once you go TiVo, you never want to go back to "regular" TV again!
With the frown that M gave me today at the tie I brought with me, I may need to go do a little tie-shopping one of these days. I think I'd like to get a pair of black colored jeans, as well. Maybe the official SJ "Personal Shopper" would have some time? (hint, hint)
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
On Monday morning, I awoke with a start at 5:30 am, an hour prior to my alarm clock’s set time. On Tuesday morning, I awoke at 5:00 am. This morning, I awoke at 4:00 am. I have also been getting tired earlier in the evenings and finding myself falling asleep in my chair or heading to bed much earlier than usual.
M thinks it is because I have a strange habit of “preparing” for my trips back east and the 4 hour time difference. Which is as plausible as anything I can come up with!
What that hopefully means is that I will sleep on the LAX to
I have about an hour to go before I head home. A couple of things to do at home, most importantly packing my cell phone charger and the PBJ I made this morning, and then the Shuttle will be arriving to pick me up and whisk me away for my 10:30 pm flight.
Which, by the way, is another irritant—
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
As I walked from my cube to the back stairs to grab a Pepsi for the afternoon haul, I was instantly struck by a heavy, sweet scent that gave me an instant headache and made my sinus areas flare. I cannot tell it if it is someone's lotion, the many flowers, pointsettas, and wreaths around the office, or someone's perfume that triggered it, but the reaction was swift and the effects are lingering.
Like many things, once I sense it I cannot get it out of my head. I am now hypersensitive to everything around me with a smell. My boss just made her popcorn, another scent I don't care for, and it is causing me discomfort. The guy next to me has shoes with an oddly rubbery smell (like they have been wet too long) that is bothering me. I can smell the soil in Fred's (my cubicle plant) pot! Even the dirty chemical smell from the recently cleaned carpet is suddenly annoying me.
Hopefully this reaction will ease back in a few minutes as the headache passes and my senses come under control.
When you are living in cubicle land every day, people must try to be cognizant of those around them. Perfume, oils, flowers, plants, the food they eat, smoking, and even natural body odors can be pervasive and annoying to those around you. It is important to listen for reactions, or to ask your fellow cube-huggers, if the scents you use often are bad for those around you. If you don't, you may find yourself in the middle of a biological war with everyone's noses the primary victims!
Monday, December 18, 2006
However, I do have one issue: the required, minimum 18% gratuity. A gratuity is supposed to be something extra, a bonus for doing the job well or above and beyond the call of duty. Enforcing a mandatory gratuity, and one that high, does not allow me to make that judgment.
A gratuity is defined as "something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service" (Merriam Webster Online dictionary). As it relates to these types of services, it usually implies some sort of extraordinary services performed by the one receiving the gratuity. The fact that Super Shuttle makes this an obligatory amount defeats the purpose and is contrary to the meaning of the word. At that point it is a tax, not a gratuity.
Overall, I have not had an issue with this gratuity and it was close to what I would likely have paid the person in a tip. However, on one Super Shuttle trip that we booked for M from LAX to my place, she had to call me, get directions, and relay them to the driver! He had no clue how to get to my place, even with his navigation system and the notes I had provided. That was a case where an 18% gratuity was not warranted.
I have also had drivers who couldn't find my apartment in the complex. And ones who have thrown my luggage even after I mentioned not to due to fragile contents. In both cases, I should have had the right to mentally downgrade their gratuity to show my displeasure at their job.
If the cost of the services, including the "gratuity," ever becomes what I feel is not valuable for the type of services performed, I will look elsewhere. Until then, it is worth the cost as long as you remember the added gratuity amount.
1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate. Egg nog is gross.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Some of each. I like white outside, in icicle style, because it makes me think of snow and ice. Hey, I come from the desert-- that's a happy thought, there!
4. Do you hang mistletoe?
5. When do you put your decorations up?
When I get to it, if ever.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Ham. Turkey. I enjoyed the year mom and I had grilled steak.
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child:
The year we did the marathon Xmas trek. We had Xmas in home town, then drove to mom's parent's house and had Xmas there. Then packed into the car and continued north to dad's parent's house and celebrated there. I didn't like all that driving at the time, but looking back it was fun and we got to see a lot of relatives.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
9. Do you open a gift on christmas eve?
In order to alleviate some of the tension, parents would allow us to open one gift on the Eve. I don't do that any more, but would likely try to institute that with any children.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
I don't generally have a tree. If I do, I like a minimalist approach-- and a theme. Say "blue and silver" for this Xmas, using only those colors and in a tasteful amount. Trees that are overloaded and have no theme tend to look crowded and busy to me. One area where M and I have a decidedly different view of things. ;-)
11. Snow! love it or dread it?
Love it! (see desert comment above)
12. Can you ice skate?
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I have always received gifts from my list of things I wanted, so generally all of my gifts were favorites at that time.
14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Just being calm, happy, and thoughtful.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
A bowl of chocolate ice cream while I read (or now watch) The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Watching Miracle on 34th Street. One Xmas, I made a point of watching it every time it was on the TV. Managed to see it 23 times. Great movie, in all versions, but the original is the best.
A new one is going to SJ to see fiancee. ;-)
17. What tops your tree?
18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Neither. Giving frustrates me and receiving often embarrasses me.
19. What is your favorite christmas song?
White Christmas (or, really, anything by Bing) and Last Christmas by George Michael.
20. Candy canes:
Ok. Sometimes nice to have a little peppermint. Good as a stirrer for hot chocolate, btw.
21. Favorite Christmas movie?
Toss up: Miracle on 34th Street and Die Hard.
22. What do you leave for Santa?
Milk and cookies (usually choco chip or sugar)-- soft).
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
First, you have a woman of highly questionable ethics and a very scant story accusing an entire group of people of a heinous crime with little evidence except her word. The scant amount of physical evidence the police could find on the woman all pointed away from those who the woman accused of the crime. And then witness after witness, including the woman’s friend and fellow performer for the evening, all stepped up to say that the accuser was not alone, that she was never seen with the particular people accused, and that after the alleged rape she was acting “normally.”
Then the initial DNA evidence came back—none was a match to any of the Lacrosse players. And the forensics indicated nothing more than the woman had sex; there were none of the physical signs of rape (tearing of tissues, trauma, bruising), especially none of an alleged “gang” rape.
Now, well after the fact, the prosecution releases their full DNA findings and it turns out that the woman did have multiple DNA donors in her underwear but none of it matched to any of those accused. And this evidence is in direct conflict with the information the accuser provided police; she said she had not had consensual sex for over a week prior to the alleged attack and that none of her attackers used condoms and they all ejaculated. So how do you explain the accuser having DNA evidence to multiple partners in her panties and none of it a match to any Lacrosse players?
Either this woman was raped but not by these players or she has been lying this entire time. It seems likely, from comments her co-performer is on record as saying, that this woman saw an opportunity to make what she hoped was a quick buck by accusing some Duke studs of rape and having them pay her off to be quiet and go away.
And here is the thing that continues to surprise me—the prosecutors STILL MOVE FORWARD with this absurd case.
If there was even one other person who could even partially corroborate this woman’s story, if even some of the physical or DNA evidence matched in the least bit, I would say continue with it. But none of it does, anywhere down the line. These prosecutors have forever besmirched these young men’s lives with this woman’s accusations of rape without a shred of evidence. This woman has now wasted how much time and energy on what appears to be an entirely fabricated story when these cops and prosecutors could have been tracking real rapists and other criminals. This is a shameful misuse of time and money better spent elsewhere.
In addition, this accuser has set back the strides that woman have made in making people understand how sensitive and important and delicate rape cases and rape victims are.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
At just that spot there was a small white vehicle stopped in the lane I need to be in. As I am busy accellerating to join the traffic on MacArthur, and am glancing over my shoulder to make sure I have a clear lane to merge into, there is a car stopped with no lights flashing, no brake lights shining-- just stopped.
I learned something as I slammed on my brakes and steered to avoid killing the occupants of the car-- actually, two somethings: 1. the stupidity of people knows no boundaries and 2. a stopped car that has no other traffic around it nor anything to indicate distress or being stopped (like lights flashing) can fool your brain into thinking it is moving.
As I swerved and screeched my way around the stopped car, I had time to note that two young women were in it and they just appeared to be stopped. As I skidded by them, the driver started forward and drove off, like nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. Since they were in a small, 2-door coupe, low to the ground, and I drive a bigger, heavier SUV-style vehicle, had I hit them they would have had an inkling of there being something wrong right before my car crushed the life out of them. But, since I managed to avoid them, they are happily on their merry way.
It was sort of funny, too, how my brain responded. As I merged and glanced ahead and then behind me to make sure the way was clear, my brain said to itself, "There is something odd up ahead." It just did not recognize the threat the stopped car presented at that time. When I then secured the merge into the lane and had my full attention in front of me again, my brain still didn't quite see the issue; it just repeated itself and added, "... with that car in front of us." It took a couple of seconds for it to work out that the car was stopped but that I could not see any reason for it. Had their brake lights been engaged, my brain would have had a swifter reaction. Had their warning lights been flashing, it would have yelled a warning to me. Having nothing, not even other traffic against which to judge the other car's speed (or lack thereof), made it very hard to recognize and react to the danger.
Suddenly, reworking the document I deleted doesn't seem so bad.
Realized that I had created two folders on the network drive on which we work. So I said to myself, "I better delete that other folder right now while I'm thinking about it or else I'll forget and confuse myself later."
I then promptly clicked on the folder, clicked Delete, and clicked Yes to the warning message without thinking. I renamed the remaining folder, then opened it to finish what I was doing-- and was staring at an empty folder.
Yes, you guessed it-- I deleted the folder I had worked on for over an hour.
Just contacted IT and they don't have any way of recovering that folder for me, as I created it, worked on it, and deleted it all today. Our backups only run overnight.
I did offer them a suggestion: I asked the current IT guy to pass on this thought-- is there a way to set up our systems so that, when deleting a network file or folder, the deletion goes into our own (laptop or PC) Recycle Bin. In this way, when other people have the same bone-headed moment I just experienced, we would have a way to recover from it. The IT guy noted that when we ran Novell servers, we had basically that set up, but since moving to Windows he is unaware of anything like that. He said he would forward the idea to the right IT people and see.
So, now, I am going to go grab some lunch and then come back and recreate everything I just lost. Yay. I love doing work multiple times.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Note: All previous posts and comments have been saved and converted to this new template.
I am not sure what it is about Sunday mornings, but it seems like a lot of men go. And they are all, generally, getting about two plastic bags worth of groceries. Also, there tends to be many employees roaming around, restocking, etc. This allows us men to ask questions and find our items.
However, there were a few women this time around. And, to my honey, just wanted to let you know: an Asian woman was in the bread aisle, sniffing a loaf. Unless the previous one got an extreme hair cut, this was a new one.
Why do Asian women sniff the bread in the bread aisle? Don't they know I find it rather disturbing that they open the loaf right there in the aisle and snort bread like it is cocaine? I sure hope they do not put it back when they are done and select a different loaf!
Sunday, December 03, 2006
However, I was more than willing to put my reservations on hold until I saw some clips, reviews, etc. If the clips and reviews were unfavorable to me, I would be reticent to see the movie even though I am a big fan of the Bond movies in general.
When I started seeing the initial reviews, pictures, and then the first clips from the production, my mind started to change. The new, harder, simpler direction seemed perfectly suited to Craig's acting skills and his "look." Further, they wrote the movie around his talents, taking advantage of his more rugged looks, his ability to explode into action, and his way of smoldering under the surface.
The fact that they did away with Q and the gadgets (for the most part), as well as the more cartoonish violence of the most recent Bond films (as well as the Moore Bond), aided this approach.
I left the theatre very impressed with the movie and Craig as Bond. It worked. I hope that this more low-tech approach and strong character and story-driven plot will continue in his further adventures as Bond. This same approach helped revitalized the Batman movie franchise to great affect (see Batman Begins).
This being said, I did not like everything about the movie. I guessed very early on that one of the "good guys" would turn bad; I just wasn't sure how bad that character would turn out (the actual villain or somehow duped into helping the villains). Also, I felt the Texas Hold'em sequence went on far too long. They definitely could have cut about 10 minutes out of that-- we got the point that it was going to come down to Bond and the bad guy. It had to. I was also surprised when they mentioned that it only took two confirmed kills to become a double-O. That seems awfully low to me.
This was not enough to mar my overall enjoyment of the film or the new direction of the Bond franchise. I definitely recommend the current movie to fans of action movies in general, and to James Bond specifically.
As a side note, here are my favorite Bonds:
- Sean Connery. The first and the one to whom all others will always be compared.
- Daniel Craig. This is provisional on the movies he stars in continuing to use his talents and stay down to earth. QoS wasn't great entry, but Craig was good in it. And Skyfall is quite good, solidifying Craig's place as "1b" to Connery's "1a".
- Pierce Brosnan. I thought he was #2 until Craig came along. His first two Bond movies were quite good, I thought, and he played the the suave side of Bond without equal.
- Timothy Dalton. On rewatching his movies, they were well ahead of their time. Dalton plays Bond with a sense of anger that those before him didn't have. They did some of the same things when Brosnan and Craig took over.
- Roger Moore. I always thought he was too old for the role, that his movies were too cartoonish, and relied too much on the gadgets. However, they were fun and I was always entertained.
- George Lazenby. I liked the movie itself, but I thought Lazenby was dull.
- All others, including Woody Allen. Um, no. Just... no.
However, the fact that they only have one other loss by more than a TD (a loss vs. Minnesota by 9) show they have been tough all year. They have been up in many of those games, too! In their most recent loss, Detroit was beating New England, doing all the right things, until about 8 minutes to go in the game. Then NE got their act in gear, tied the game, and the Lions frittered away the game with some very late turnovers.
In the first game of the season, versus a Championship-calibre Seahawks team, they dominated. Only a bad coach's decision late in the game (punting rather than trying for the FG) allowed the 'Hawks to hold on for a 9-6 win.
I think this new coach is getting the team to believe. They have a decent offense. Where they fail is on the defense and special teams. They need a better QB, of course, (Kitna is a serviceable guy to fill in, but they need a franchise guy), but this team is losing these games on defense. They need much better DBs and at least one more solid linebacker to really shore up this defense. They also need to spend more money on the O-line; Jones can only run so far and whomever the QB is can only do so much as long as the team is letting the defense into the backfield. But you can shore that up through free agency and better coaching. They also have some unused talent that they can likely trade for some upgrades at certain positions.
And, of course, they MUST fire Matt Millen. He is an abject failure at GM who is sporting the worst record of ANY team during his tenure. Yes, of ANY team; even the perennial bad teams, like Arizona and Cleveland, have better records during the last 6 seasons (including this one). It is imperative that he be fired and someone with at least some experience at the job is hired to replace him.
At this point, I almost hope they lose out and have a lock on the first pick in the draft. Brady Quinn has some good press about him, and this coming draft looks to have some good overall talent. Of course, if Millen is still in charge it won't matter-- the Lions will pick yet another WR. *sarcasm However, if Millen is gone, any GM worth his salt will go with the absolute best talent available and the Lions should get a good QB, defensive player, or other position.
Yes, I'm a fan. I'm eternally optimistic that THIS will be The Year for My Team. However, their competitiveness and overall quality play and change in attitude this season does indicate some positives for the next season.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Let's have a Woot for the home town!