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December 31, 2007

Annual Movie Review

So, here are the movie stubs in my eye glasses case, which is going through its annual clean out at the end of the calendar year:

Rocky Balboa, Dec 26 (SJ) - Enjoyed this, had a great feel-good feeling while not being a great movie. Not sure how this one survived last year's annual clean up.

Ghost Rider, Feb 19 (Ir) - Decent comic-book movie, but nothing special or great. I won't be buying this on DVD any time soon, but it was fun to watch.

300, Mar 18 (SJ) - This movie rocked. Very stylized, and I respect those who didn't care for the style, but I found it fun to watch. I wish they hadn't added all the extra stuff with his wife and the senate at home.

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Jun 24 (Ir) - Okay comic-book movie. As with GR above, not one I need to own, but I generally enjoyed watching it.

Live Free or Die Hard, Jul 15 (SJ) - Enjoyable Die Hard movie. I enjoyed it overall, but the scene with the jet was just... too much. And why does every Asian computer-geek woman know kung fu?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Jul 20 (SJ) - I think this is one of the two best HP movies. Really enjoyed it.

Transformers, Jul 24 (SJ) - Really fun popcorn movie. Some of the plot didn't make a lot of sense, and there were way too many human beings in it, but it was fun.

The Bourne Ultimatum, Aug 5 (SJ) - This movie rocked! Great ending to a great series. One of the best action trilogies made.

3:10 to Yuma, Sep 30 (Ir) - Very surprising movie. Well-acted, strong story. Could have been edited down to be even more taut and to the point, but otherwise an excellent movie.

30 Days of Night, Oct 20 (Ir) - Good horror movie, and faithful to the comic book.

No Country for Old Men, Dec 30 (Ir) - Very surprising film. Well-acted, very well directed. The ending did leave me a little cold. I understand what the Coen's were trying for, but I felt it went against what had been presented for the characters up to that point. I understand the Oscar buzz, however.

Juno, Dec 31 (Ir) - Incredible film. Very funny, touching, honest, and well-acted. I really liked this film.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Dec 31 (Ir) - Fun film. Popcorn, and a little over-done with the mom/father subplot, but otherwise fun. Right up there with the first one. I don't find Nic Cage annoying in these films, which is saying something.

Not in my case for some reason:

Star Trek: The Menagerie-- M and I got our money back on this one due to the poor presentation.

I watched a movie with my mom while M was at her conference in Indian Wells. Can't remember what it was and I don't have the stub.

December 27, 2007

Would You Like Cheese with That?

M wanted a cheeseburger, as I proposed them on the trip home from SoCal when we were trying to determine what we wanted to do once we got home. We stopped at In N Out, and were waiting in the drive thru line for our turn. When I pulled up to the nice girl running the drive thru, I said, "We would like three cheeseburgers, one with ketchup only and the other two with lettuce only and an order of fries."

"Would you like cheese with that?" she asked.

"Uh.... yes?" I responded, with an obviously incredulous look on my face and the start of a smile.

"I have to ask. Some people order a cheeseburger with lettuce only and expect a plain burger with lettuce-- no cheese," she explained.

"If I didn't want cheese, I would order a hamburger with lettuce only," I said.

"Well, you have common sense," was her reply.

She read back the order, told us the total, and we pulled forward. M then laughed and reiterated, "Would you like cheese with that?" and we had a renewed moment of laughter over the incident.

But, the girl is right-- I'm certain there are at least a few people every day who order a cheeseburger, hold the cheese. And, if I was In N Out, I would charge them the slightly higher cheeseburger rates for it, too!! If you're that dumb, you deserve to pay more for your dining experience, too.

December 22, 2007

And That's A Wrap

I'm glad that there is Christmas just to keep me humble.

I have always had good spatial recognitions, decent hand-eye coordination, and been generally good with agility/dexterity. However, for whatever reason, I absolutely suck at wrapping gifts.

Luckily, this year, I purchased the vast majority of my gifts online. So, for all of them, I only had to click the "gift options" and be done with it. However, my wife is adamant that I must wrap the gifts I get her. She gets very serious and firm on this point. It doesn't matter how awful the wrapping is, I must do it.

So, here I sit and struggle. This year I managed to find some decent-sized boxes to put things in to make the wrapping easier. But there are always those few gifts that you can't put in a box, or can't do anything with. Oh well!

She also hates that I buy generic wrapping paper so that I can use it for every gift option that comes along for the year (or more) that it lasts. *sigh

Okay, one more to go. *deep breath ... And go!

December 21, 2007

Not Blogging Much

A couple of people have noted and asked me why I haven't been posting as often. The truth is, since returning from Canada this last time, I have been averaging between 2-4 hours sleep. I have been exhausted and, because of that, a little brain numb and cotton-y. This leads to not feeling well (it is funny how a lack of sleep over a prolonged time can make you feel like you're sick, when really it is only the sleeplessness).

Some of the issues were work-related; it is a struggle at work these days, and the mood there is poor. A lot of people claim to "know" that our part of the overall business is being sold or is on the chopping block. This may be true, but since the company was bought right before I joined, and then bought out again shortly after I joined, I don't understand why these people are so afraid of this. But, it still affects you.

Caly has been unwell. She has been throwing up sometimes up to a couple of times a day. And frequently between 3:30 and 5 am. Which, of course, wakes me up if I was asleep and I have to deal with. She's fine now, but that was a week of not knowing and being awakened if I did manage to fall asleep.

And then, of course, there is the fact I am one who suffers yearly or semi-annual bouts of sleep issues. Most often insomnia. With all the travel to the east coast, the time differences, the changes in climate, etc., it is no wonder that I slipped into a round of insomnia.

Last night, however, I got a really good night's rest. I went to bed about 10:30pm, fell asleep slightly after 11pm, and was startled awake by the arm clock at 6:30am. My "feeling sick" feelings are pretty much gone and my mind feels sharper. I don't feel as grouchy or full of ennui as I have been, and the color has returned to my cheeks.

Now, here's hoping I can get one or two more nights of a good rest, so I can be as much in the Christmas spirit as possible when M arrives Sunday afternoon!

December 4, 2007

End Result

Back yard... well over a foot.

Front yard... the guy in the yellow truck is spinning his tires. For those who have been here, I have circled the area in the front yard where M has three large rocks in a grouping. Notice that the snow is smooth and no rocks can be seen.

Oh and it is still snowing this morning. Lighter and not as hard, but definitely still falling.

December 3, 2007

Snow Update 2

Front yard, a few hours later. You can't quite make it out from this picture (the flash only goes so far) but the snow on the street has basically reached and filled in up to the level of the curb (so about 4+").

Back yard, a few hours later... yes that railing has about 5 inches on it at the high point, all accumulated today.


No, not the musical.

I set up auto-debit with my apartment management because I was spending more time in Canada and it tended to be around the end or beginning of the month-- right when rent is due. For the months I had it set up, everything was fine. I did not have to worry about my rent while away.

At the end of September I needed to sign a new lease for the apartment. I was informed that I had to re-sign up for the auto-debit procedure. For some reason, whether it be how they set up the system or their procedures for it, they could not just inform the IT department of the new rent number and keep the existing auto-debit working as it had been for many months prior to October.

So, I paid rent by check, took in the appropriate information in mid-October, and waited for my confirm letter so I didn't have to worry about the issue when I came to Canada at the end of November/beginning of December.

I did not receive that letter after 1 month of waiting and prior to the time I had to go for my next trip. So, I kept that thought in the back of my head and decided to check before I left Canada to see if a debit was in my account. No. Since the weather delay meant I wasn't in SoCal to check in person on the first Monday of the month (today), which also happens to be the third and the last day on which you can pay your rent without owing a $50 late fee or getting a really nasty notice from the management about how they are kicking you out of your apartment by the 7th if you don't pay, I call as soon as they opened at 8:30 am PST. Spoke with Tiba, who happened to be the exact right person to talk with.

She informed me that I was not on the auto-debit list. I explained my circumstance and how disappointed I was that, after over 6 weeks of having the paperwork, my auto-debit wasn't set up. She agreed and said she would do some checking. Meanwhile, was there any way I could get a check to her before the 7th for rent so that it wouldn't get kicked out of her hands and into the Irvine Company's collection agency. Luckily, my bank has the option to send paper checks via certified next-day mail at a small fee, so I did that. She should have it tomorrow, or Wednesday at the latest.

Meanwhile, I had to deal with all the previous mentioned snow and rebooking issues with Air Canada. I called Tiba back when it was confirmed I was going to be in Canada another day. She had already checked into it and found that no one ever turned in my paperwork for the auto-debit process. I told her, and she once again agreed with me, that this was totally unacceptable. She waived any fees for me and told me to fill out the paperwork and bring it to her personally when I get back in town and she would see that it was taken care of for next month's rent. I also got the woman to whom I gave the paperwork in trouble (I'm assuming) when I described her (didn't remember her name, but remember a decent enough description of her).

I'm really confused and concerned with how that woman (not Tiba, the one to whom I gave the paperwork) handled the situation. This is important, personal, confidential, and potentially damaging information that she did not pass on to the appropriate people/departments to take care of. Luckily, I have not seen any untoward debits from my account or anything, but who knows what could have happened. I am also still concerned over why I had to sign up as though it was the first time just to change my debit amount (providing a new voided check, etc.). Whatever service or system the Irvine Company uses may not be programmed or set up appropriately if they had to do anything more than get an official update that says "for account X, change billed amount from Y to Z." I should not have to sign up fresh every year.

I got the email with the appropriate form from Tiba. I just need to fill that out and turn it in once I make it back to SoCal and it should be done.

Snow Update

Well, I'm here another day. Just got the call that my flight today (Monday) from Saint John is canceled. I'm on the phone waiting on hold to speak with a representative to reschedule/book my flights home.


M is very happy I'm still here and get to stay. I'm pleased, too, of course, but I do have responsibilities back in So Cal that I'm having to juggle from here as best as I can. That makes it hard. But, I'm also sitting and watching the snow fall in raptured glee. For the boy who has rarely seen it, it is special and unique. Remind me of this blog post in 3 years when I've seen enough snow to last me the rest of my life. ;-)

Front yard


Usually when I am visiting and it snows, it happens overnight and I awaken to a world blanketed in white. Which is fine and I love, but I have wondered what it looks like when it actually snows. Today I got my answer.

It is snowing a nice, steady amount. Small flakes, few of which are bigger than the tip of my pinky finger. However, there are so many of the flakes falling and swirling and dancing on the breezes that they are quickly coating everything in a fine dusting of the powder.

What I am surprised at the most is how the snow falls. Rain always falls in pretty steady sheets where I'm from. It is either raining or not and the rain falls straight down unless there is wind. If there is wind, all of the rain falls in pretty much the same slant based on the strength of that wind.

The snow falls in eddies and whirls. As I look out the window, the snow right outside it may be falling straight down, but in the near distance I can see snow falling the opposite direction, some more swirling a little farther away, and still more falling in other directions or even being gusted upwards. Occasionally I see the snow make a "snow devil," or at least something roughly equivalent to the dust devils I'm used to seeing out in the desert.

I am also surprised at the quiet. Again, I'm used to rain. When it rains, it tends to pour. So there is the rat-atat-tat of the rain drops on the windows, metal surfaces, roof, etc. around me. The splashing sounds as it makes pools and then splashes into them. But the snow, excepting the occasional gust of wind that I can hear, falls nearly noiselessly.

It is fun to watch, here in the office with a fire burning and some hot cocoa warming my belly.

December 2, 2007

Bound To Happen

Well, I'm still in Saint John. Was supposed to leave for SoCal today. As we were sitting there, waiting for the plane, I wondered aloud if I would make my connection in Toronto because the flight in was delayed due to weather and I remembered that I had a tight connection time. I asked the girl at the counter and she said, "With the delay, you still have 45 minutes to make your connection, so you're still legal."

Great, I thought.

We said our goodbyes and M drove home while I went through security. The flight out was delayed from 5:45 to 6:12 pm. When it reached 6:22 pm and there still was no sign of even beginning to board the plane, I decided to ask again. The older flight personnel came out just then and announced that they were delaying the flight until 7:15 pm due to weather. Well, since I was on the last flight out of Toronto to LAX, and that delay meant I was going to be arriving about 30 minutes after that flight took off (unless it, too, was delayed), I was stuck.

I had, she told me, two options: they could get me to Toronto where I would be on my own for the night and then I could rebook in the morning to get to LAX or I could rebook the entire flight for tomorrow.

Duh; not really a choice-- be with my wife where I am happy for another 24 hours or pay for my own hotel or sleep in Toronto airport over night? Gee, I wonder. *sarcasm

(We checked some options and, while they could get me to either Montreal or Toronto relatively early, I would have to take either of the two late flights out of Toronto to make it to LAX anyway, so I'd rather be here instead.)

So, I am currently booked on the exact same flights on Monday evening as I was scheduled for today.

Of course, with that storm system heading here rapidly and a lot of snow on the way, I may be doing this again!