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Showing posts from March, 2009

The Road Back... To Work

It looks like I will be starting my first Canadian job tomorrow. Coast Tire has offered a three-month contract position for me to help them write a bunch of how-to sheets, update and proof their existing manuals, and help with some other items, as needed (like possibly their website).

I'm sure it will be good work and, as a contractor and working hourly, I'll have the flexibility to work from home and work odd hours if needed (I do have some medical appointments coming up and may need to interview for a full-time position if some irons heat up in the fire, etc.).

It will likely be awkward working with my wife, however. There is a certain separation between your work life and your personal life that most people desire, and having your spouse intrude into one can be difficult. I'm hopeful it won't be an issue as I won't be right with her, will work with other people on their documentation needs, and won't press too hard. Plus, it is a part-time job; I'll be the…

Spring Sprung

Since moving here I have consistently been excited by my first winter. I haven't seen this much snow, well, ever, and, although I dislike some of what that brings (the bad driving conditions, shoveling, falling on head due to ice, etc.), I have really enjoyed watching it fall and coat the ground with a clean white slate.

However, this week is my first where I'm having difficulty. In Southern California, Spring ... springs! By the end of March and beginning of April, temperatures are rising, the winds start to die down, the rains come, and the entire area starts blooming and the animals and birds return. The world begins to look alive.

And, well, that is what I've been used to for 37 of my years.

So, to find it snowing after the first day of Spring has been a disappointment. Not that I don't like the snow -- as I said, I still enjoy watching it -- but more because my internal clock is set to "temps rise, things bloom, life returns" at this point of the year.

My wi…

Universal IM

I have a few friends or family on each of the big four IM clients; MSN, Yahoo, Google Chat, and AIM. Since these companies are, apparently, patently stupid and refuse to work together to come up with one universal IM protocol, I have been once again searching for a third-party universal chat client that I can use.

Pidgin is pretty good. It allows you to connect to all the main and a few of the smaller chat protocols pretty easily. However, some of them require a bit of effort. You don't have a lot of leeway in fonts, styles, windows, or emoticons, and the transfer files feature is a little hit or miss. However, I used the product from this group before they renamed it to Pidgin, and the Pidgin version is much better, easier, and simpler. Note that Adium is the Mac OS X client built on the same client as this app.

I like the Trillian IM client. It is fast, nice to look at, and fairly simple to set up. However, the free client doesn't allow Jabber, which is the protocol used to co…

Through Rain and Snow... But Not Directly!

I ordered some items from ThinkGeek. The shipment was in prior to 1 pm EST, so the order was cleared that day and the next day it shipped. The warehouse the order shipped from is in Edison, NJ. I'm following the UPS Tracking on the order as it is being shipped to ME and I will need to run down to get it (plus some groceries and such).

Here is, so far, the route this one 3.7 lb package has taken:
Departed Edison, NJ 3/14 and arrived in Parsippany, NJ 3/14 (about 40 miles).
Departed Parsippany, NJ 3/14 and arrived in Hartford, CT 3/14 (about 145 miles).Departed Hartford, CT 3/16 and arrived in Chelmsford, MA 3/16 (about 105 miles).The package still has about 330 miles to go from Chelmsford, MA to Calais, ME, and I expect it to make at least one more stop along the way. And, of course, the extra 75 miles that I get to drive (one way) to get it from there to here.

My question: is this the best route this package could take? There isn't a way to ship it straight to, say, Portland or Ba…

ER Closure

Here's what indicates to me that it is good that the once-great show ER is finally closing its doors after this season-- the episode this week with Noah Wyle, Eriq LaSalle, George Clooney, and Julianna Margulies had me caring more about the show than any time in the last 2-3 years. Having those characters back made me interested and involved in the show again.

Neela used to be a decent character, but now she's just the whore of the ER. The annoying prick from Australia is a waste of space. Angela Bassett's character is one-note at best (which is too bad for such a great actress), and John Stamos' character is just, well, a combo of Carter and Greene redux.

As I said to my wife as we watched this week's episode, "It is like putting on a comfortable old pair of shoes" in reference to having Carter, Ross, Hathaway, and Benton back on the show. I want to know what they are doing and what has gone on since they all left the ER. As for the new cast, I had to st…

De Pain!

Well over a week ago (probably closer to two weeks, now), I did something to cause my lower back to give me pain. Now, due to RA, I'm in pain a lot-- but usually low throbbing/swelling pain that I can handle, but which affects my desire to do certain activities. This was sharp, acute pain that became "gasp-worthy" if I leaned forward at about a 10% angle or more and jars me badly as I go up and down the stairs to the basement.

Since then, I have taken long, hot showers and baths. I have used a heating pad. I have alternated hot and cold. I have upped my prednisone intake and tried supplementing with Advil. Nothing has really helped it.

Yesterday, the pain was at manageable levels for the first time in a while. By the end of the day, it seemed like it was improving and the kink or whatever it was would be gone soon. I took another very hot bath in the mid-afternoon, and that also seemed to help relax things and bring the pain under control.

However, last night, wife and I wa…

Chicken or Egg?

A recent responder to one of my posts thought that the talent in a league getting 60% of the revenue for that league seemed low. His/her argument was that the talent brings in the audience and, without talent, the league fails.

Yet, without the league, there is no recourse for the talent to shine and bring in ad revenue and gate. Most of the professional leagues were created well before there was a "talent pool" from which to pull to increase the gate.

It becomes something of a chicken and egg argument-- if there is no league, the talent can't shine and without the talent, the league doesn't shine.

I fall on the side of the league. If you have a venue, a certain core audience is going to find you and pay attention. By doing this, the audience allows the league to make a certain amount of money. Now, if spent wisely, the league can go after talent (possibly from other sports or from college ranks, etc.) that may be unique and interesting enough to expand the audience, wh…

Ad Woes?

I was a bit surprised that Slumdog Millionaire had no previews at all. Then The Wrestler only had one.

One of the reasons that production companies show previews before movies is because they have a rapt audience. There is only one thing to do/look at and everyone's attention is focused. To have 1 total ad prior to two movies was... odd.

Note: Wife and I have discussed this, and we agree that there should be a small pamphlet with the previewed movies available at theaters. We watched one movie that had something like 8 previews (which is a bit excessive-- 3-4 at most, guys!), and we couldn't remember the first three by the time the last one was playing. However, a couple were intriguing to us but, since we couldn't remember the titles, we had to just move on. If there had been a pamphlet outside the theater that showed the previews shown for that movie, we could have picked it up and had the movie title and main relevant info for it right in hand.

Two Great Movies

I recently watched both Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler, and I have to say I was impressed by both of them.

Slumdog has a great soundtrack, an inspiring story, and a fine ensemble cast that makes the story work. While I do not generally like flashbacks, this story used them to great effect and as what they are meant to be-- a storytelling device (rather than what so many movies try to use them for-- a device to create tension). You see the "slumdog," a poor boy from the dregs of society, answering questions posed to him by the host of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire show in India. After each question, but usually prior to his giving an answer, you flash back to his hard life and how he learned the answers. The story is about what motivates him to do everything he does.

The direction on this is fast, frenetic, and colorful, but avoids the usual pitfalls of "shaky cam" and too many quick cuts. The movie's silent costar is India itself; the locations, colors,…