Saturday, December 31, 2011

What A Difference Three Years Makes

Remember this?



I shot this video on New Year's Eve 2008. As you can see, despite my denial in the video, I'm quite drunk and just about to open another bottle of champagne. I'm in my little matchbox house in Lake Mary and I'm about 40 pounds heavier than now.

Though I spoke in the video about my hopes for health and prosperity in the coming year of 2009, as we know, it was not to be. I delved deeper into the abyss, or, to stick with an analogy I referenced in this clip, I went farther through the event horizon.

But things are good now, or at least much better. They're still far from perfect, but I'm not shooting for that. I learned long ago to stop battling windmills.

I do have high hopes that this new year will be as good and hopefully even better than this past one. I sit at my laptop, at my comfortable and stress-free job, sober and looking at this new "event horizon" with logical optimism.

Wishing you all a great new year as well!

Cave Of Forgotten Dreams...WTF?!


So I streamed this documentary via Netflix which had an amazing 96% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.5 stars rank on IMDB and I thought: "Oh this should be rather good, no?"

Um...no.

On both sites mentioned above and Netflix's own review page, post after post spewed nothing but crazy uber-adoration for what they called an absolutely stunning film. They spoke in terms of such Holy Reverence for the director Werner Herzog. It all reminded me of Roger Ebert's over-the-top, creaming-in-his-pants review of Kirosawa's "Ran" in the '80s that my bud Michelle and I would mock endlessly.

A documentary this popular isn't right, right?

The movie starts off like any other documentary. The narrator describes the setting and the focus...a rare filming opportunity of a recently (sometime in the 1990s) discovered cave in southern France which has a number of cave paintings dating back some 25,000 years.

Now I agree this is a great find and the paintings are amazing considering they were drawn by human beings who were in the proto-stages of development of what we'd call early civilization. Neanderthals, mammoths, cave bears and the like walked among them.  Fascinating.

But the director makes it out to be like this cave was the greatest discovery of all mankind. He says it's the earliest known cave paintings (not true according to another website) and points to all sorts of "evidence" of a spirituality of the cave people. Hmmm...

The director takes great effort in describing the sacrifices he's had to make in order to film in the cave. He shows that they use cool temperature lights to illuminate the scenery and a small non-professional camera (assumably due to size contraints). They mention that they cannot deviate from the metal, slightly elevated path which has been installed (assumably well before this shoot) lest anything fragile (like rocks? That's all I see...) be destroyed forever. (Makes you wonder how workmen avoided stepping on the cave floor when they first installed the walkway.)

The director suddenly calls for everyone to be quiet and observe a moment of silence. Silence so deep that we could hear our own heartbeats. And the implication here is that he wants the group to somehow imagine themselves mentally reaching out to the spirits of the 25,000 year old ghosts of the cave painters and convey a message of connectivity...for we too are human as you were, oh great ancestors! Oh brother!

The music throughout the film is supposed to evoke a spirital connection to our shared humanity I guess with its lilting violin strains, flute solos and eerie female chorus trilling. Over-the-top dramatic shit with a new age spirituality bent.

This "expert" (expert at what? IDK, maybe bullshit) who's a dead-ringer for Einstein is interviewed by the director in the midst of a vineyard. Talking about the cavemen's weaponry, it sounds like he says that he suspects at some time they used "phasers". "Okay, I will show you how to kill a horse." He attempts to demonstrate but uses the atlatl very poorly. He goes to retrieve the spear but the director/narrator says "Stay there. I suspect that Paleolitic man was better at it than you."

Here towards the end of the film we are "treated" to about 15 minutes of that irritatingly discordant score and what amounts to just a slideshow of the various cave images. Frame after frame fading one into another with the icy lighting purposely moving around to emphasise the contors (it's a 3-D movie and I suppose this looks better in 3-D) and evoke, perhaps, flickering of ancient torchlight.

Now this guy is sniffing the ground saying that he tries to use his sense of smell to detect ancient hidden cave systems since they would be exhasting air through unseen vents. He should know, he's a professional perfumer. Oh man, only in France. Once in the cave, he admits that he can't really smell anything, but he uses his imagination to sense the odor of all the animals like cave bears, lions and even rhinos that had been there.

The director mentions that one could see a footprint of an 8 year old boy and a cave bear paw print next to each other. He wondered if they were friends walking together, or if the cave bear was stalking the boy as prey, or, if the impressions were made a thousand years apart from one another. Noone knows.

In the "Postscript" the film shows nearby albino crocodiles (clearly in a containment area) which have prospered in a false eco-system created by the nuclear-power-plant-generated water outflow heated as it is used to cool the plant's fuel rods. The director wonders what they (the crocs) will make of the paintings in the cave when they eventually reach it.

Ugh!

Give me a more science-based un-biased documentary style like those of PBS or National Geographic Channel. This stuff was way too schlocky for me.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Fortune Teller

Gaze into my crystal ball...

I can't see anything.

Look deeper. DEEPER!

Oh I see something now...

I see a military parade, all in red. Goosestepping Asian warriors...and...is that a huge nuclear missile?

I see a huge glacier calving off enormous chunks. Chunks the size of Rhode Island.

I see rioting and buildings burning. There are angry mobs running around committing the most atrocious crimes. Wait...is that Manhattan?

I see a great tsunami, bigger than any before. I see an entire city engulfed in water demolishing all in its path. Wait...is that San Francisco?

I see bearded men in white coats. Is this a vast laboratory? They push a button and a missile is launched. A crowd outside burns a make-shift American flag.

I see forests and jungles devastated by drought. Millions of African tribal children die of starvation.

I see a new leader in Russia. The people are not happy. This man has seized power and is backed by a war thirsty military. I see secret missile bases being refurbished. New submarines are launched in the dark of night.

I see a new flu, never seen before. It's a super flu, resistant to all known medicines. It starts its march through the population slowly at first but once it reaches a modern airport...

I see a secret room with old men in dark robes around a huge table. These are the secret men in control of the world finances. There is a problem...

I see stock exchange floors the world over...Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, London, New York...everything crashes. Much wailing...much wailing. Money is no more.

I see a world in de facto anarchy. Without money, governments collapse. Warlords rise to power. Killing is rampant but it solves little.

I see once affluent cities teeming with disease and starvation. The previous impoverished areas of the world have already been wiped out.

I see desperate factions gain control of the nuclear launch codes...

I see great red glowing mushroom clouds filling the skies.

Oh Madame, this is too much to bear! I can't look any longer!

Look, my child....LOOK!

Oh wait...it's getting better...

I see people at the UN coming together to stop the wars.

I see there's a new sense of positiveness in the air.

I see the few remaining wealthy nations open their hoarded cache to all and there is a great sharing among all people of the world.

I see a little girl in the arms of her mother, happily gazing up to the clouds, thanking God.

But suddenly, the crystal is dark. I can see nothing more, Madame. Why?

Well, you see my child...

The little girl wasn't looking at puffy white clouds. She was staring at an enormous asteroid glowing red hot as it entered the atmosphere.

Then it struck the Earth and blew it to pieces.

Eh, whatcha gonna do...

That'll be $20 please.

Friday, December 16, 2011

SIMS CREATION: TV Memories Series "The Addams Family"

Not to be outdone by the Munsters, here's another creepy, kooky family from the weird sitcoms of the '60s. I know you're humming the theme song right now!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SCRAPBOOK: New Apartment Pics

Taken tonight with the same old camera so the photos aren't that great. Note the lit candles...the extent of my "holiday" decoration.;)








Sunday, December 11, 2011

Going From A To Z

Even a cursory glance at many of my posts here indicate I've had a multi-decade issue regarding the use of alcohol. The effects (and after-effects) of it and my many struggles with it are legendary, believe me.

Well the good news is that in the past few months, I've actually reduced my usage considerably and the sneaky cravings have pretty much faded. Now, I'm not so naive to think it is forever.

I'm not sure what exactly initiated it other than the fact that the after-effects like hangovers, heart palpitations, panic attacks and gout flare-ups were finally getting to the point of intolerance. I'd reached my limit of the amount of suffering my body could endure and even moderate amounts of beer or wine would cost a too painful physical price.

But beginning a couple weeks ago, I started getting comfortable with a new drug. And now, after what amounts to just a handful of days it seems to have a grip on my acting much more like an addiction than alcohol ever did. I've replaced drug A: Alcohol with Drug Z: Zolpidem aka Ambien.

Attesting to my doctor that my work schedule causes difficulties in regulating a proper sleep pattern as it's flipped upside. I need to stay up all night and sleep well in the daytime. The rest of the world (people phoning you, neighbors milling about, auto traffic on the street, even the natural things like birds chirping and the sun shining) all seem to want to keep me up.

So I asked for Ambien and she quickly wrote me a script.

I filled the script upon leaving her office and started using it immediately.

I used to take either Benedryls or some alcohol if I couldn't get to sleep before. Bennys would envelop your brain in wave after successive wave of drowsiness until you finally relented and went to sleep. It also seemed to coat your skin with a slight numbing tingliness that made it easier for you to find a comfortable sleep position in bed. But unfortunately, that drowsiness could and often did stay with you well after you've had 8 hours of sleep. It also seemed to work erratically. Sometimes the onset would hit you right after taking it, other times it felt like no effect at all.

Alcohol wasn't a really good sleep aid because, for me anyway, I wanted to push it to experience the buzz a while before essentially passing out. The sleep was tortured, tossing and turning, having cold and hot flashes and feeling my heartbeats racing fiercely. Not the way to get a restful sleep.

Now with Ambien, I start to feel the effects about 20 or 30 minutes after taking it (depends if my stomach is full or not) and instead of the sometimes harsh feeling of a Benedryl drowsiness, Ambien just simply seems to be like Dave unplugging those brightly lit circuit panels from Hal's mainframe.

"Daisy, Daisy give me you're answer,do,"
"I'm half crazy all for the love for you."

By 45 minutes, you notice the things that were worrying you: faded away. The actions you were doing: slowly being forgotten. Try playing Jeopardy on it. I must look and sound like that wheel-chair kid on South Park, Timmy!

The dreams are complex and interesting, yet not overly busy or worrisome. The body finds a comfortable sleep position and tends to stick with it. Once your ready to wake up you can feel a normal cortisol cascade flooding your neuro-pathways and even before you partake of caffeine, you're alert and refreshed.

But then the next day, you try just fall asleep naturally with out the drug. You lay for hours on the pillow, your eyes tightly shut behind the obscuring sleep mask and just think. Think, think, think, about anything that comes into your mind. You toss and turn and try to block out the noised from outside the apartment. Oh man, is that a car radio? Sniff, sniff, cough, why do they chose now to grill steak? Is the neighbors dog barking again? Ughh!

And before you know it, you succumb to the lure of the little amber-colored vial on your nightstand. The little white diamond-shaped pills are so tiny they can be dry-swallowed effortlessly.

So despite your best efforts you reach for it again. You use again. I'ts now your drug of choice.

Your dance card's full up. You've gone from Dashing Demon A to Dastardly Demon Z.

And you like the way he takes you into his big, strong arms and gently carries you, gracefully dancing across the ballroom under the pale moonlight. Or, in my case, the window-blind blocked and diffused muted sunlight.

STILL KICKIN'?: Phyllis Diller

A while back I posted about one of my fav ol' skool comedians, Jonathan Winters and remarked how amazing it was that he was still alive. When you think of the life of a mid-20th century comedian, you can only imagine the drinking, smoking and other bad things they'd done during their career shleppin' from one ratty nightclub venue to the next. How are they still kickin'?

I remember Phyllis Diller looked like an old hag even back in the '70s when she made her frequent "Tonight Show" appearances.  I guess the iconic cigarette holder was for affect since she hasn't dropped dead from lung cancer yet.

Good for you, Phyllis! Keep Joe Black at bay, no matter how hot he looks.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Er, Mission Accomplished...I Guess?

Well like our ol' buddy "W", I'm gonna go ahead and take the steer by the horns and declare victory in the two wars I've been fighting.

Though like the real life situation which the original version of this Photo-shopped pic hearkens back to...we're sure to expect some, ahem, continued insurgency.

First off, lets put this workplace conflagration out. The status is the same as the last post yet now, by way of my silky-sweet talkin' skills and some subtle wordplay shell-gamin' I think I've convinced the "enemy" that I'm actually on their side and that the whole controversy sprung from the redneck maintenance man...an oh-so-easy fall guy.

Katherine has gone back, albeit cautiously, to her snoozing and Susan sleeps with her phone by her bedside, ready to interrupt her carpet cleaning efforts on her girlfriend the minute she gets my call. "Munch on, Susan, munch heartily on, for that call will never be a-comin'!" (Though your girlfriend might be...)

The second which has been on going for months now is another Critter War in my home. Yes, in this place too. Well I knew it really. The signs were there despite the wonderful cleaning job the prior tenent had done. And the negative reviews on apartment ratings sites...can't ignore that, especially when there were so many.

Good thing: They weren't Palmettos. As you know, I really HATE Palmettos. No, these were your garden variety German roaches. Bad enough indeed, And the fact they multiply so rapidly had me in a quandary all summer. Coinciding with a management change and two neighbors moving, the pests got intermittent visits from pest control personnel and were forced to rummage around a lot.

My solution was to complain to the office several times 'till they finally came out to lay down some bait gel compound in strategic areas. I followed that up with my own, almost literal "carpet bombing" campaign utilizing boric acid powder, Combat baits, two variants of RAID and some highly recommended Ortho dust.

Finally, in the past week or so, I've only seen a couple dead bodies, and dead nymphs too which could imply even the most recent generations have been wiped out.

'Course I'll probably get lung cancer now with my apartment riddled with poison.

But fuck it, I call it MISSION ACCOMPLISHED on both fronts.

Legal Disclaimer: Michael's opinion is entirely speculative. It may well be he's dead wrong. If in a couple of weeks we find his roach-covered body having died from suicide brought on by being fired from his job, then, well...there you go. Lesson learned.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Stormy Weather We Are Having

Ironically, I'm watching the Redford/Pitt movie "Spy Game" on AMC right now and I'm reminded of (though they didn't use it in this film) the old spy movie cliche of a spy meeting their contact and determining they had the right person by engaging in cheesy coded "small talk".

"Good day to you."
"Stormy weather we are having today."
"They say it is mild and sunny in Vladivostok."
"I prefer my tea with lemon."

This somewhat describes the atmosphere at work now.

The Helen/Susan godhead is all in a tizzy since I revealed to them a glaring lapse of security in our email system which may or may not have been utilized by members of the Junta. All the passwords that were automatically issued to each employee on hire were simply the names of different colors. I know for a fact June knew of this since we talked about it when we got our passwords several months ago.

Me: "My password is just the name of a color."
Her: "Mine too."
Me: "Magenta"
Her: "Violet"

So the assumption is that June found out about the email I sent to Susan about Katherine sleeping by elicitly hacking into either mine or Susan's email account.

And I may have contributed a tad to this perception.

But in truth, I really don't see June as THAT devious. She simply doesn't seem that intricately concerned about the office politics and such. She's mentioned frequently that this is just a means to get by for her...to help pay bills and school tuition. Her mind and her heart is not at all devoted to this workplace.

I think she found out the simple, old-fashioned way. Someone overhead something and then they started the ol' rumor mill wheels a-spinning. The walls of the place echo voices very well and staff who happen to be around during the golden hours of the mid-afternoon when so much chatter among numerous people, all in open door rooms goes on, can hear a lot indeed.

Also, June is acting very unsure about me. She asked me why it is that Charmaine said I was "making statements against her and Katherine" and I answered, cautiously, "I don't know why Charmaine would say that?"

My answer is truthful. Even if I believed Charmaine would say something to June in the first place, I really wouldn't know why she would inform June of anything of a confidential discussion between management and me. I didn't deny making any "statements", since I have no reason for covering up my actions. I'm just not saying more to her since it really isn't about her. It's about Katherine. If June wants to stand by her friend and be dragged down with her...well that's her choice.

Of course if it comes down to both of them getting burned in all this, the Junta will play the race card and imply that was my motive for "starting it all".

And before that "day" ever comes, will it be a mental Mexican standoff each shift? Who can you trust, we're all no doubt thinking. Who can you trust, indeed.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Double Agents?

It appears there has been some sort of leak in the security of Top Secret information among the Fascist faction.

Yes, that's right, I'm talking about the Lakewood War.

As I mentioned before, I assumed that I had the upper-hand since I had made my allegiance to Helen and Susan known to them by finking on my co-worker. What's more, it seemed that I'd not feel the heat of a Junta counter-attack right away since I was given free reign in the decision on when, if ever, to pull the trigger to get that person fired.

Well, this morning Katherine got her double chair make-shift bed all set up, and cozied up in it right after rounds. Before long she was snoring away in Sleepy Sleepy Land. I sat there contemplating the use of my secret trump card but decided that the current situation, with an informed yet inactive Gestapo was probably best and I continued to watch my Netflix-streamed movie and ignored her sleeping. If I really felt slighted, I said to myself, I could always act on it another day.

Then the oddest thing...

The office phone rang on Line 4. This line is rarely used. I've only seen it used by a friend of Katherine's who would occasionally call her on it. (Why not her cell phone? I don't know.) I woke Katherine up joking saying she had a call on her "private" line since I thought it was her friend. She answered it and she said "It's June!", kinda surprised. She listened for a bit then gave June her cell phone number. A minute later she answered her cell phone and left the room.

She was away a few minutes and when she came back she put the second chair back in the other room, sat upright in her chair and called up who I assumed was her friend. (Her friend, BTW, is, I think, a former co-worker from another residential facility who works overnights, thus the availability to talk at 3:00 am) Katherine started talking about how she had to be on-guard now and was pissed that her job was in jeopardy.

Was she talking about my communication to Susan?

If so, how the fuck did she find out?

I certainly didn't mention anything to June and I would doubt Susan would say anything to anyone "unloyal".

But afterwards Katherine was still nice to me and her actions didn't seem at all indicative of someone cautious or vindictive so it may not be me she was warned about, if that's what the whole thing was.

It remains a mystery...

What does Katherine know? Who is she mad at? Why did June call her? If June warned her, how did June come to know? Is she able to hack my private email? Maybe she reads this blog? Does Susan confide stuff to a Junta supporter? Am I the only one saying Katherine sleeps? Is it about sleeping or something else? Will she sleep again? If not, have I lost my football? If I don't have the football, who does? The Grand Duchy of Finwick?

(Cue the cheesy dramatic "Ton Ton TAAAAAAAA" cliffhanger music!)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Notch vs. Yogscast Controversy

Oh there's a flame war goin' on between the creator of Minecraft and one of the biggest Minecraft-themed YouTube channels, but it may all be over a simple misunderstanding.

It all started a few days ago when Notch, the creator of Minecraft and founder of Mojang, an indie video game developer seems to have "drunk tweeted" (or sleep-deprived tweeted) deprecating remarks about the Yogscast. The Yogscast are mainly two guys from England who, although already-established gaming video makers on YouTube, hit YouTube fame and "fortune" when they started doing Minecraft playthrough videos.

Mojang had just hosted last week's Minecon, a convention celebrating Minecraft, in Las Vegas and Simon and Lewis (aka The Yogscast) were also there as presenters. Though they prepared video material and agreed to a Q&A panel as well as autograph signings, they apparently were only compensated by getting free rooms from Mojang. (And, though it's never been stated as being the case, we Americans know how Vegas works...because of the business the convention was going to bring to the hosting Mandalay Bay, they [Mojang] likely were given a free bank of rooms from the hotel) so it probably didn't cost Notch (who's made millions from Minecraft's incredible success) a penny.

But Notch, for whatever reason, said via Twitter, that he felt Simon and Lewis were inappropriately rude and not indicative of the Minecraft community. He mentioned they'd "dropped the F-bomb" in front of and directly to kids. He also called them egomaniacs and implied they tried to mooch from him some kind of payment for being in attendance.

Well before you could say "Diggy Diggy Hole" the "Minecraft community" was up in arms, splitting into two camps like Twilight fans and it soon became an internet-wide war between Team Notch and Team Yogscast.

The boys made a very brief video response to Notch's statement and a professionally-written post about it on Reddit. If you ask me, the Yogscast showed their maturity and have definately deflated Notch's rants to that of misunderstanding or out right lies.

I fully support Simon and Lewis. Having watched enough of their videos, you can tell they're not mean or spiteful. They do have a bawdy sense of humor though and I could see that some could get the wrong idea.

For instance, I found this on Simon's Facebook, apparently submitted by a tweenaged-looking Minecon attendee asking "Y U do this?":


I get the satire, obviously poking fun at the whole idea of fandom and autograph seeking, but you can see where a kid might not "get it" and take it literally. And their parents might not have found the joke very funny either. Especially when they just paid hundreds of dollars for their kid to attend a convention they themselves probably didn't see the value in.

EDIT: A few days after posting this I happened to rent the absolutely hilarious comedy film "Paul" and saw yet another connection to the "Fuck Off" remarks at autograph signings. In the movie, a fictional "famous" (famous to Sci-Fi geeks, anyway) science fiction novelist is begrudgingly enduring a book signing. He is hostile and rude and when one fan asks for an autograph yet has not purchased a copy of his book he tells them to "fuck off". Now this character was an over-the-top pompous jerk but one could imagine spoofing his actions for inside joke comic effect that would more-fully be appreciated by viewers of this film...and I'm sure a lot of Yognaughts had seen the movie and "got it".

Whatever. I for one hope this blows over soon. The boys need to move on. Notch has already made some conciliatory remarks on Twitter regarding this ordeal. 'Nuff said about it.

I hope it doesn't mean the Yogscast is going to self-censor their videos and make them G-rated just to placate a few overly-sensitive types. And Notch better not make good on his initial threat to never work with them again. Minecraft on its own is a cute game but it looses its lure rapidly since it can be too unstructured. Simon and Lewis add spirit to Minecraft that is otherwise lacking.

And besides, like I posted about when I first discovered their videos, it really is more fun watching them play than playing it myself.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Mouse That Roared?

After receiving my email, Susan called me Monday morning and said she was very appreciative of the information. She was planning on notifying June and asking her to call her when on-shift if Katherine fell asleep so that Susan could do a "surprise" visit, catching her in the act.

But I told Susan that that might not work out so well since I believed June was complicit if not engaging in the same behavior as Katherine. This didn't seem to surprise Susan, I guess she suspected it. She said she'd make an unannounced visit that night and I suggested around 2:00 am.

But the next day (yesterday) when I arrived on campus for a scheduled in-service, Susan caught up with me and mentioned how she didn't do a spot check and would wait 'till I was on-shift so I could call her when Katherine pulls her sleepy-time mode again.

So no fireworks or drama, this week. No one knows about this Pearl Harbor email except Susan (and Helen, I would guess) and me. As I see it, though, it works out sweetly because now I have the best of both worlds...

I can elect whether or not to call Susan in whenever I feel it is needed. Kinda like having the "football" and the power of deciding when to launch the nuclear missiles. Until then, I can continue to enjoy the subtle corruption of a shift filled with 90% leisure time while enjoying the security of a boss who now thinks I'm totally loyal to her.

And if Susan or Helen ever do pop in to inspect, and they find folks doin' what they're not supposed to be doin', at least I can't be assumed culpable. I gave them warning.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Like Google Earth

But it's real!

Check out this awesome footage taken as a series of photos from the ISS.



Really makes you feel special and lucky to be living on such a beautiful and precious planet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

She's Here!

Oh my new baby has finally arrived. The stork (aka Fed Ex) just delivered her yesterday afternoon and I've been losing sleep messing around with her ever since.

She's a little different than the item I'd ordered originally. That one was cancelled rudely by Dell when they couldn't confirm my financing. Turned out I was approved but it still showed pending on their end. No matter, I cleared it up with the financial folks and then I got transferred to sales to reorder my rig.

The sales guy hooked me up with a bigger hard drive but he pulled a Slim Shady on me and reduced my graphics card from a 6770 to a 6670. Still a nice card but I didn't catch it otherwise I would have held firm on getting my original choice especially as the 6670 is about 500 points less than the 6770 in Passmark's benchmark comparisons. Also, Edmer (the sales guys name) threw in a ton of bloatware which I found a little irritating but I know he's just trying to inflate his commission. With a terabyte hard drive I guess it won't chew up too much space. Just gotta make sure the crap doesn't bug me with registration pop-ups and stuff or a-deleted they will be. Oh and the "savings"? Ten whole bucks...big fuckin' deal.

But all's well. She's hooked up and though I'm still loading and tweaking, she is a fine specimen, let me tell you. The fastest computer I've ever had! And really not a bad price...just over $900 with tax. Figuring the buck and a half I forked over for the monitor, it all came up to just over a grand.

Oh, and what's one of the first things I got to test out her power? SKYRIM!

I bought it on Steam last night and played a few hours through to today. It's maxed out on Ultra High graphics and it looks and behaves like butter! So fast and smooth and gorgeous!

Just thought I'd share. I'm off to work tonight, having to deal with my now comparatively ancient and creaky old Toshiba laptop.

But I'll be thinking about my new love every minute, waiting anxiously to ride again through the forests and mountains of Skyrim with my red hot mama!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

WAR!

So it has begun.

I knew I'd have to be the one to fire the first shot and just a few minutes ago I did.

The workplace war has begun!

What's weird is the enemy doesn't even know I started it. Not yet, anyway. They'll find out soon enough, I'm certain.

The factions are basically loosely divided as such. My placement among the troops was cemented just now as I fired off my scathing email.

The Fascists:
Helen and Susan

The Fascist Informers:
Charmaine, Theresa and now, I guess, me.

The Fascist-leaning Independents:
Aurea, Stephanie and Chris

The Junta:
Phyllis, Evelisse, June, Katherine, Mikisha

The Junta-leaning Independents:
Josh, Marquis, Enjoli and Alma

The Clueless Newbies:
Ryan, Jeremy and David

Here's a reprint of my email. Surely a declaration if I've ever seen one. We'll soon see where it takes us. BONSAI!!!:

Susan,

I have to let you know that it's gotten quite uncomfortable for me working with Katherine. I've spoken to her on several occasions about sleeping on shift but she continues to do so regardless. It started a while ago when she began getting in the habit of kicking off her shoes and propping her feet up on another chair she pulls over from the other room. She then started to nod off and I'd have to call out to her to not fall asleep. Now, it seems almost every time I'm on shift with her she gets into position and proceeds to fall asleep, even to the point of snoring. Last night she actually went into the break room, turned on the TV, shut the light and slept there. When I needed her help, I had to shout out to wake her. She's again snoring in her double chair set up as I type this.

I'm at wits end. I hate to communicate this to you and if it were just a one time thing it might be understandable but I pride myself on trying to do a good job and I have, though it can be difficult, made all necessary adjustments to my personal life even before I started here in order to accommodate an overnight work routine.

If you feel this behavior of Katherine's can be corrected by some action on your part I'd look forward to it since as it is it's like I'm working alone and I'm concerned for the safety of the residents.

Sincerely,

Michael

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MINECRAFT MANIA: Minecraft 1.0

After what I'd say was the longest and most prolifically-distributed alpha and beta releases of a video game I can think of, Minecraft 1.0 has finally arrived.

So that means after two and a half years of "testing" the game should be bug free, right? Well...


Here's my fabulous "We Built This City". Seems the same as beta 1.8 but we're facing towards what I used to think was the north. And now the sun sets here. So basically, the Minecraft planet (which as proven in the "Moon" mod is indeed a cube, or maybe a flat square...the jury's out on that one) has flipped 90 degrees on its "axis". Oh well, no bother to me. We all know this isn't Earth after all, so strange positioning of the sun and moon is no biggie.

I've also noticed grass has different shades now, making my fields of greenery look a bit odd. Trees have variation of green which does look nice. Water looks darker and very different. Of course all this could also be due to either my re-installation of the graphics drivers (which were giving me an irritating error message each start-up) or the fact I've begun using my new 24" monitor which arrived a couple days ago.

Sounds are a little different too. There's a "clink" when you wear out a tool and there's a bone-crushing thud when you fall; no more "ohhph!".

But my city survives. And when I get the new 'puter with her blazing specs, there'll be no limit to how magnificent she'll shine. Even if it is in the blare of a southern sunrise.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hey World! Look At Me!

I love it! This is exactly what I'd do in the same situation!

I happened to be looking something up on Google Maps near this location and as I was "virtually cruising" down the road in StreetView, I spotted this:


This kid obviously saw the Google car and struck a pose for his 15 minutes of internet fame.

Check it out yourself here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Banks Deserve To Burn In Hell

In. Out. In. Out. Ahhhh.

Oh, excuse me, I'm doing some deep breathing exercises to calm myself down.

I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!

Alright, Howard Beale's rant aside, I just realized I'd been swindled by one of my credit cards and the worse thing is I WAS TRAINED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS!

As I so memorably mentioned here on this blog many times during the months I worked at Chase, I was taught to screw people and was expected to keep a Disney-esque smile on my face while doing it.

One of the biggest scams the bank had was the ol' residual finance charge computation scheme.

It works like this:

You as the unwitiing customer pays off your credit card (or at least you THINK you do...more about that scam in a second) but because you paid it down to what seemed to be zero after the start of the next billing cycle (of course it is since you don't get your statement until the commencement of the new cycle) you are going to be assessed a finance charge on the average daily balance of the entire billing cycle, including the few days you had a balance on the card prior to your payoff. So, you are understandably confused when you get your next statement and it has a finance charge on there.

But wait, now for the real mind fuck...

If you are like me and just pay the amount on your end of statement balance online you are still going to get another finance charge based on the tiny fraction that was on your account as of the payment date in addition to the amount on the statement. For this amount, you need to call the bank and ask for the total amount to pay in order to "pay off the account in full". Say it like quoted lest the rep pretend to misinterpret you and give you only the statement balance. They're not the same!

Like some shim-sham sleazy telemarketer who tries to get you to agree to something without you even knowing it by either twisting your words or acknowledgments or requiring you to utter phrases in a rigid context, these banks are running a freakin' shell game on you.

My bank in question...let me call them out: Credit One Bank (I know, I know, one of those cards. But I had a poor credit score back in '06 so what was I to do?) They actually, it would seem from the conversations I've had today with 2 reps, train their customer service personnel to tell the customer that they are charged a finance charge on the annual fee which is broken down into monthly payments.

Now, of course that's not actually accurate. If it were it would be a total violation of the Credit CARD Act of 2009.

But wait a minute...

I just checked Wikipedia's article on the Credit CARD Act and it says even though it's law currently, it cannot be applied retroactively. That is, if I agreed to the Terms and Conditions of my credit card PRIOR to the new law's effective date of February 2010 (which is the case for me since I signed the agreement back in 2006) I could be victim to practices that are currently illegal!

Now I'm pissed at the government!

How can a law not apply across the board?

Why are there so many fucking loopholes and why is it the little guy gets screwed by all of them?!

Excuse me, I have to go now and find out where the nearest "Occupy" protest is going to be held so I can join my downtrodden, unwashed masses.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

There's Gonna Be A New Girl In Town

Eh...so I have faith in the brand, ok!
As you may recall, I purchased an iPad last month and owned it for just a few days before I hemmed and hawed but finally caved into my buyer's remorse and returned it.

About 4 months ago, I bought a new desktop computer for an amazingly low, budget-friendly price, only to return it a day later since, after checking it out, it seemed to be not even worth the $400 I'd paid for it in quality and potential. What a let down.

Well, like they say, third times a charm so maybe this time, it's gonna work out...

That's right, I bought another computer.

This one cost more than the prior two combined.

But it should be worth it, check out her specs:

Dell XPS 8300
Intel® Core i7-2600 processor (8MB Cache, 3.4GHz)
Windows 7 Home Premium, 64Bit
8GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
750GB HDD- 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
AMD Radeon HD 6770
and separately:
AOC 24" Widescreen LCD Monitor, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz, 5ms, Piano Black - 2436VW

Yes, it'll replace Mildred 11 who is quite obsolete and showing her age. She served me well these past 5 years though...

...or has she?

Remember this, and this, and this? And those posts focus on only one of the THREE reformats I've had to do on her over the years.

The virus whore! Good riddance! ;)

Friday, November 11, 2011

SIMS CREATION: TV Memories Series "The Munsters"

Oh my goodness, what a pain it was to get this one shot.

I decided to use Sims 2 since I wanted the special architectural features in the Mansions and Gardens pack to create the Munsters mansion. But I realized not long into it that my beautiful home wouldn't be photographed well since I had to get so close up to capture the characters features.

The resolution is high since it's Sims 2 and even my under-powered laptop can handle that old game well. Well it makes things harder to see since everything is so tiny on my 15 inch laptop screen.

Next I hadn't played Sims 2 in quite a while so I forgot that even with self determination off these guys are still antsy, needing to pee, shower, eat, play and complaining every three seconds if they don't get it. Not like Sims 3 where if you take them off self control they are much easier robotic-like subjects for your photo session.

Also, pesky neighbors would get in the shot and it seemed I lost daylight awfully quickly (and I couldn't remember if you could turn off time like I think you can in Sims 3). So, I went with a nighttime pic which actually works out well since I was able to set up lighting to give the photo a more scary look.

Other than Marilyn looking a little perturbed (which she shouldn't, she was always so sweet and innocent, if not sad since she thought she was the ugly one, remember?) I guess it came out alright.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Those Were The Days

Well, maybe not THIS long ago...
Like the sentiment behind the lyrics to the song Archie and Edith used to belt out together every week, I think I too am getting to that middle-aged melancholy state where the current just doesn't live up to the past.

For all the so-called advancements in technology and all, I'm surely not the only one of my generation or older who feels that we've not progressed in our standard of living, as an American society, but have quite considerably regressed in many ways.

Here are just a few of the subtle downgrades in our quality-of-life we've come to endure in recent times, in my humble opinion...

Parking lot and gas station lighting: Used to be good ol' sodium arc and metal halide lights flooded these wide areas with a bright, safe illumination keeping the scary night at bay. Now with low-level LEDs and induction lighting you can barely see a thing! I always feel there are nefarious people taking advantage of the deeper, darker shadows. But, in the name of cost-savings and "going green", the bright lights of our 20th century past are surely becoming the murkey havens for crime and malfeasance like our gas-lit 19th century. Welcome back Jack the Ripper!

Switched digital video: Like I was ranting about in the previous post, cable providers are getting mighty neglectful of doing just that...PROVIDING a quality service. Since it costs them more to flood cable nodes with all channels a subscriber should have access to, they've devised a way to rig the system to allocate signal for any given channel on an ad hoc "on demand" basis. And, since it's a way to cut corners and probably cook the books in some way, they pay cable distributors less, bill the customer the same and only allow the most popular channels access to the broadband at any given time. Sorry Granny, I know you want to watch "Murder She Wrote" on TVLand...well you live in an area where they're isn't enough old fogies like you watching it so your screwed! Hey Black Girl, you want to check out "Mo' Nique" on BET but you live in Pocatelo, Idaho...guess what, you're screwed! Hey closeted Gay Guy attending Robert Welch University, ready for an afternoon marathon of "RuPaul's Drag Race" on LOGO...you're screwed! Talk about red lining!

Cellphones: Another of my recent rants involved these supposed vital tools of our modern lifestyles. Not for me. I see it as a degradation of the very thing it was designed for: communication. Once upon a time, you could potentially hope to meet new friends or maybe even that "special soul-mate" while shopping for melons in your local grocery. Not anymore. Everyone's mesmerised by their freakin' cellphones. They have invisible tethers binding them and the people they already know, encompassing them all in a mysterious bubble shield that allows no interlopers. Another restriction on "happenstance" communication is the fact that cellphones are, usually, in the possession of the owner only. No chance chats with the roommate of your friend you wanted to get to know better.

Red Light Cameras: Oh but they can cut down on auto accidents and serve as a cost-effective deterrent freeing up law enforcement from mundane lurking duties and allowing them to go after the real bad guys. Huh? Oh Sweetie, what world do you live in? Poor thing. No, my dear, those cameras are not only for the obvious: to escalate the gross dollar amount of traffic ticket revenue by automation. They're there as a more sinister revenue generator for city and state coffers (and politico's pockets, of course)...data mining. Many companies would pay dearly for information about a person's whereabouts any time of day and wherever they went. What stores do they shop at? What billboards do they pass by? What kind of cars do they drive? What kind of clothes do they wear? Yes Darlin', it's Big Brother to the corporate database's rescue! "To Protect and Serve?"...sure, for these guys.

Oh I got lots more to gripe about, believe you me. I may have to make this a series. Meanwhile I'll just sit in my little room and reminisce about my bygone civilization that slipped away quietly in the name of "progress".

Friday, October 28, 2011

More Bright House Bullshit

Last month I finally ditched my old tube TV and got a Samsung LED HDTV. The TV works great but Bright House's HD service sucks, to say the least.

First, when I traded in my regular digital box for an HD converter, I was given a banged up used unit. Sure enough, I had problems right away.

Every few days or so I'd go to turn on the TV and the picture would show up with no sound. Then some text appeared saying that the HDMI couldn't be read and it suggested I use another hook-up configuration. Calling customer service was, like in the past, a waste of time. They told me what their support pages on their horribly-designed website told me: unplug the box, plug it back in, and let it reboot.

Another problem that frequently occurred was that when clicking over to certain channels the show wouldn't be there. Instead it would be a graphic that just said: This channel is currently unavailable. Please try again later. And it indicated that I could press the yellow triangle "A" on the remote to "Try Again", and, of course, it would just keep displaying the same message. Again, customer service gave me directions to reboot. They also managed to click on something to do a "more powerful" reboot from their end. All that failing, they sent out a tech.

The tech replaced my converter box with a brand new one. But now the picture quality looks more washed out than before. Could the box affect that?

And the previous problems?

Still there.

I just love paying for crappy cable service.

Too bad I'm in a north-facing apartment. Otherwise DirectTV might look pretty tempting.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beer And Board Games Fan

There's a lot of stupid ass shit on YouTube, of course, but so many amateur comedy skit things really come across as either a.) TOO amateur, b.) poorly written or c.) poorly acted. What's more, good comic humor can be written and directed well but unless the actors have natural comedic timing and sensibility, they can easily suck. This is even more vital when it's a comic duo or a group and essential when the material is mainly improv.

I present to you one of the best comedy video series, IMHO, on YouTube today...Beer and Board Games.

The premise is quite simple. Four guys get together and play a board game together while drinking exotic beers (chosen by viewers who have donated money) and film it all for YouTube.

Now, truth be told, it's not quite totally amateur. The guys are members and contributors of Blame Society Productions and are responsible for a few already successful YouTube video comedy series (Dr. Moley and Chad Vader to name a couple). Matt and Aaron (and perhaps others) also have at least some "real" professional bullet point accomplishments (ie. real jobs) they could include on their resumes.

The good buddy rapport these guys have seems so entirely genuine. Whether it's the four we see in the video example included below or it's a group swapping out Dylan and Jason for equally funny alternates (especially Aaron's brother Andrew), the way-too-short sub-10 minute clip is sure to have you literally pissing your pants laughing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

You Know I Wanted It

After many hours of research, in the end I decided to go with what I knew I'd regret not getting had I chosen anything else.

That's right, I got an iPad.

It really looks and feels like a work of art.

I find there are a few things I have to learn to get over like the subtly different way apps work as compared to the way programs work on "bigger" computers. And though I don't miss most Flash scripting on websites since they're often utilized as irritating ads, it takes getting used to. (Although the iPad does a great job at replacing Flash applications that are integral to the proper utilization of key site features like YouTube videos.)

While it's simply gorgeous and futuristic and handy as a quick-reference guide, I doubt I'll ever again use this to post again. It's tedious, I can't use "compose",and it sometimes uses predictive text to complete what it think's I'm trying to write, it gets it wrong frequently.

I actually don't have too much in the way of buyer's remorse despite the way this post is tending to sound...I really do like it, and, like I said, I really do think that I would have constantly wondered if I was "settling" had I gone with even a fine competitor like a Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Well I do have many things to do with my new toy today so I guess stop tapping these virtual keys now.

UPDATE: Well within 2 days of this post, buyer's remorse had indeed gotten the best of me and I returned the iPad. It was beautiful, as I mentioned, but $500 less in debt sound even more beautiful.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Best Bargain Portable PCs?

So I get this email from Amazon today boasting about their soon-to-be-released restyled Kindle selections including the Kindle Fire which looks like it's not just an e-book reader but a pretty functional full color touchscreen Android tablet. At $199 it looks like a really fine option.



Hmmm, but could I do better, I wondered?

I surfed around and found there are a few tablets for just $100 out there. Here's one:



Hmmm, but then I noticed on the side bar one going for just $35!!! What?!!!



BUT WAIT...HERE'S ONE FOR JUST 10 FREAKIN' DOLLARS!!!!



Makes me wonder how much this one would go for...maybe A PENNY?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Reality Bites

Suspicious Minds

We're caught in a trap
I can't walk out...

Suspicious Minds - Elvis

The Junta faction, the Free-Thinkers and the Gestapo are all gearing up for an all-out war.

"Where?" you may ask..."some video game or a novel you're reading?"

No, it'd be less scary if it were just fiction, but it's real life...

It's my workplace.

The rumor mill is grinding its wheels in high speed lately and there have already been victims...

The Clinical Assistant reportedly "chose" to not return to her position she'd held for several years once she delivered her newborn baby. Yes, very understandable, but I think there may be more to the story. She never mentioned this intention until just before delivery due date. Very odd.

A much-beloved and long-term member of the kitchen staff was fired suddenly. And now her replacement has been let go after only a month or so on the job. Failed background check, so we've heard. BS, I say. This place wouldn't let me or June start our first minute on the job until all checks came back crystal clean. Now kitchen staff aren't direct care so they may have different background checks done but I doubt it. They still have very close contact with the residents and I'm sure they vet them as fully before they start their first day as well.

And now Scott's been fired. Why? No one knows and even the most specious of rumor threads can only speculate it was something recently that was simply the last straw on the camel's back. He was a bit of a Free Thinker and that may not be the best party to be on in the eyes of the Gestapo.

Speaking of eyes, Chris W., a trusted Free Thinker pool person and also long-time employee has seen a lot over the years. He confided in me he has reason to believe there may be credibility to a rumor that the Gestapo (headed by Helen, of course) is asking residents to spy on staff.

Huh? If this is true, how inappropriate...no, actually, how criminal is that! Asking mentally ill people to spy on their caregivers and presumably report back to administration? How could any professional in this field knowingly plant seeds of suspicion and fear into the minds of people who have a long and arduous history of struggles discerning reality from fiction?

Many of these folks believe the Mafia is out to get them, for cryin' out loud! One lady even props a tambourine behind her front door each night so she'll hear it in case Vito "No Nose" Gambini comes a callin' with his silenced snub-nosed .38 special!

And this morning, one resident tells me that she feels embarrassed that I saw her naked one night while I did rounds. She said she never saw me since she was asleep, but Helen told her about it.

With so many stories flying around, it really makes me wonder if I work at a place where the really crazy people are the ones running it all!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Goodbye Steve

You will be missed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

VIDEO SCRAPBOOK: '70s Robots On TV

Here are some memorable, and not-so-memorable TV show clips from the '70s and early '80s featuring robots:











Monday, October 03, 2011

EPCOT: The World In My Belly

The 2011 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is now underway and I had a wonderful afternoon sampling what the world (or at least the parts of the world represented) had to offer me as I strolled through the World Showcase in search of tasty culinary delights. And alcohol, of course.

I arrived at Epcot around noon today and first made my way to Spaceship Earth. Hard to believe that I hadn't been on this iconic ride since before it was refurbished in early 2008. It seems smoother now (not so much clickity-clack as before, and no more old machinery/burning oil smell) and much more up-to-date. (It was a little sad before the refurb, as late as the mid-2000's, seeing the "future" diorama showing people with cell phones as big as toasters LOL!)

Next I went to my favorite ride here, Mission: Space. More Intense Orange queue of course! A lady in my pod feared she'd get sick and had the sickness bag at the ready before the ride even got under way. Whew, luckily, she didn't need it. She said she'd never go on it again though. Ah yes, I remember years ago being a bit intimidated by this ride. The g-forces are a bit intense at times but that's the fun of it!

By now my tummy was growling and as I made my way toward the World Showcase (moving in the traditional clockwise pattern) I could smell the wonderful array of grilled and steamed foods filling the warm air.

Speaking of the air, the weather could not have been more ideal today, high in the low 80's, low humidity, a gentle breeze and not a cloud in the sky! Fall seems to have arrived here in Central Florida, and I'm lovin' it! I was able to soak up lots of luscious rays today; much needed for my Vitamin D deprived, night-dweller self.

My first festival stop was Argentina (What? Where's Argentina? Some of you who've been to Epcot may say this...well during the Food and Wine Festival they have lots of nationalities in kiosks that don't have a permanent showcase "land" here...doesn't that fact alone make the Festival more appealing? "Not a paid spokesperson for Disney, just a fan:)").

Here I had the Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée paired with Terrazas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon. Yummy! The sauce on the beef was like a pesto with lots of garlic. It sat on top of a dollop of what tasted just like scrumptious mashed potatoes. The wine was bold but smooth. I kinda expected they'd have a nice Shiraz. I associate that variety as being especially good from South American vineyards.

Next was Mexico. Here I sampled the Rib Eye Taco with Chipotle Sauce in a flour tortilla and a Strawberry Lime Margarita on the rocks. The taco was tasty, but runny and I forgot a napkin, LOL! And the margarita, very weak on the tequila. Ugh!

I passed over Scandinavia and China since the items I would have wanted to try there would be available either at IKEA or any local Chinese buffet respectively. Instead, I made a B-Line for South Korea.

Here I tried Boolgogi BBQ Beef with Steamed Rice and Kimchi and a Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw. I have never tried Korean food before but I'd read about it and was very curious. Now that I've had it I can honestly say...FABULOUS! Oh, I need to find a Korean restaurant now! I loved the Kimchi!

But now it was time to commence the beer drinking. Fortunately Germany was right around the bend. I remember years ago the Epcot food and Wine festival really focused on the wine and relegated the beers to afterthoughts. No longer. Beer is available at almost every kiosk and it's fresh and good. I expect they'll rename it to the Food and Beverages Festival sometime in the near future, eh? Anyway, I digress, back to the day's events...

In the German "land" they had a kiosk that was entirely devoted to just beer. No food, no wine, just beer. But about 12 varieties of beer! I chose the Radeberger Pilsner (German Pilsner) 22 oz. in a plastic collector's mug with the Food and Wine logo embossed on it. This beer tasted VERY fresh. It reminded me when I visited Germany...the real one...and drank fresh-brewed beer. I was feeling a little buzzed after this.

I went to the food kiosk for Germany and got a Nuernberger Sausage in a Pretzel Roll. It came with a dab of mustard on the paper plate. Ah, it reminded me of street kiosks selling bratwurst sandwiches in the real Nuremberg. Absolutely delicious!

Next I strolled over to the nearby Poland kiosk. Here I ordered Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream; Golabki (pork-stuffed cabbage). It was like I was a child enjoying Christmas Eve dinner again. Oh, this was good stuff!

I sat at an Italy area table to eat my Polish food and sip the remainder of my German beer. Once finished, I meandered over to Singapore. Here I sampled Shrimp Cake on a Sugarcane Skewer with Singapore Noodles paired with a Tiger Beer. I was surprised the noodles were cold but they were very tasty. (The cold noodles were on purpose, BTW...I have to say, the folks at Epcot were tremendous...I watched as workers ferried battery-electrified carts to the various kiosks, insuring the food would be kept hot...and it was!)

I sat for a while, soaking up some much needed sun, then, after I finished my Tiger Beer, I went to Japan and got a 16 oz. Kirin beer. I sat and watched a Japanese drummer presentation.

Afterwards I walked sipping my beer. I was feeling too full to try anything else but after a while I found just enough room for dessert.

I got a chocolate covered cannoli at a permanent Italy kiosk and after eagerly munching it down I sat near the Piazza San Marco and watched a mime show. After that there was a troupe of Italian women belting out traditional Italian favorites. They also put on a show incorporating members of the viewing audience. Guess who was called up to participate? Yup, me!

I was wrangled up to play a part in a simple play and I loved it. I was told to pretend to be crying as a "parent of the bride" in the play we were preforming and I did so with relish. I was asked to stay to assist in the next skit as well. It was really a lot of fun!

It was getting close to the concert time so I grabbed a Sam Adams 16th Anniversary Boston Lager from the American kiosk and sipped on it as I waited at the American Adventure Stage for .38 Special.

The band was great! Classic Southern-rock standards from the mid-80's!

After the show, as the sun closed in on the horizon, I made my way out of the park and headed home. A belly full of world foods and drinks. Now, yes, it did cost more than $75 for this feast (that's just the food and drinks, of course, we're not counting the park admission since I have the annual pass) but it was well worth it!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Smartphone Stupid

I admit it. I'm smartphone stupid.

I purposely avoid getting one, learning about its features and using one. I really don't see the need.

I think, like Twitter and Facebook, it's just a fad. Yep, that's right, I think they're all pretty useless fascinations that are extremely popular right now, but, in time, I see their usage dwindling.

Unless you're a celebrity or otherwise have a very interesting life, your Twitter and Facebook readers are either already good friends and loving family, or they're just hoping you "return the love" and read their equally mundane and worthless posts. And as for that so-called smartphone in your pocket...

It costs thousands of dollars, and provides mediocre to bad service for the applications it was designed to handle. Let's face it, as a telephony device it's prone to all sorts of problems: sound distortion, poor amplification, static or feedback, call dropping, you name it. And for any of the other uses, I have 3 words. Two inch screen. Better have tiny fingers and really good eyes.

But it seems everyone has one nowadays. And they rudely use them everywhere. At the supermarket, in restaurants, at the movie theater, walking down the street, even driving.

Last week I witnessed the most inappropriate usage of texting and emailing on cell phones yet...of all places, where would you think would be the worst place to be distracted, zoning out everything else around you while you squint at and tap on a tiny little LCD screen? Church, you say? Fuck that, I'm glad for their sane mind if they're more interested in sexting their screw pal than listening to some idiot spewing lies on a pulpit.

No, much worse. It's the one place you would think would be a sanctuary from the banality and drone-like behavior of mindlessly using a smartphone. I'm talking about Disney World.

That's right, with the kids spazzing out beside you with glee that they're actually in the most magical place on Earth, you're a heartless bastard checking your email. And it's probably work email at that, making it even more unforgivable.

How dare all of you who I saw zombified by the icy glow of your tiny viewscreens while all the splendors of the Magic Kingdom danced and sang there for your enjoyment!

And even worse still were the families where all members, parents and kids alike were all on their phones, tapping and squinting, ignoring everything and everyone else around them.

What level of Hades are you consigned to where you can't escape, if even for one day, to a fantastic world where your boring and dreary normal life is left temporarily forgotten?

So who's the real stupid one here?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MINECRAFT MANIA: Did 1.8 Ruin Minecraft?

A few months ago when they did that 'Wolves" update I tried out the new feature by adopting a wolf as my pet, but, as I suspected, I immediately hated it. I like to do things alone in Minecraft and I hated the dog constantly following me and getting underfoot, barking for no reason and all. Kinda why I wouldn't get a pet in RL, too needy, sloppy and noisy.

Thankfully, though, you could avoid the whole mess by simply ignoring the wolves altogether. If you never feed them that bone, they don't become your dog. Easy enough solution to a new feature that otherwise would have turned me off big time.

Now with the recent 1.8 update, there are a slew of new features which can also be a hassle. Unfortunately, with these, they don't seem to be optional.

Take the Enderman mobs. They look awesome and creepy. But in fact they're just a nuisance. They die way too easily and I haven't yet experienced for a minute the fear that a gang of creepers will instill in you.

Or, I should say, used to. Ya, it seems that since 1.8 the other mobs are nerfed significantly. Nightime only mobs seem to be in short supply, comparatively, and they don't seem to be swarming to me as they did before. Is it my imagination?

Another thing is the new abandoned mines and villages. These are great in thought but in practice they seem to be providing too many advantages, dumbing down the whole experience.

Bringing back Creative Mode may seem like another great thing but after months of building grand structures the "hard" way (my mining and crafting everything) it seems too sandboxy, and gets boring fast. Maybe it's just me.

Not a fan of the new style of eating, and the difference in the health bar system either. Kinda reminds me of Fallout 3. It kinda irritates me in that game too, the way your health recovers gradually after you eat...give me an instant gratification stimpak any day.

A few other changes have me scratching my head as well, so indeed, the jury is still out on this update. It really has changed so much it feels like an expansion pack to me.

And let's not forget, this game is still in BETA for cryin' out loud.

We'll see how it all works out. Notch and his gang will no doubt be tweaking a few more things here and there.

I just know I have virtually abandoned playing it altogether now.

Maybe it was just its time anyway.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Is It So Wrong?

Earlier today I stumbled across this image of Cody Simpson, a Beiber-esque pop star and I thought...Why do I think he's so adorable? And huggable... And kissable.... And....

What!!!??

No, it's wrong! Got to get that out of your mind! HE'S ONLY 14!!!!

But.... No "buts" (especially not his), it's wrong! So says contemporary society anyway.

Once upon a time, there was the philosophy of pederasty and it was an accepted way of mentoring budding young men to be pillars of their communities:


Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged relationship between an adult and a younger male usually in his teens.[1] It was characteristic of the Archaic and Classical periods.[2] Some scholars locate its origin in initiation ritual, particularly rites of passage on Crete, where it was associated with entrance into military life and the religion of Zeus.[3]
The social custom called paiderastia by the Greeks was both idealized and criticized in ancient literature and philosophy;[4] it has no formal existence in the Homeric epics, and seems to have developed in the late 7th century BC as an aspect of Greekhomosocial culture,[5] which was characterized also by athletic and artistic nudity, delayed marriage for aristocrats, symposia, and the social seclusion of women.[6] The influence of pederasty was so pervasive that it has been called "the principal cultural model for free relationships between citizens."[7]
Scholars have debated the role or extent of sexual activity, which is likely to have varied according to local custom and individual inclination.[8] The English word "pederasty" in present-day usage implies the abuse of minors, but Athenian law, for instance, does not recognize consent and age as factors in regulating sexual behavior.[9] As classical historian Robin Osborne has pointed out, historical discussion of paiderastia is complicated by 21st-century moral standards:
It is the historian's job to draw attention to the personal, social, political and indeed moral issues behind the literary and artistic representations of the Greek world. The historian's job is to present pederasty and all, to make sure that … we come face to face with the way the glory that was Greece was part of a world in which many of our own core values find themselves challenged rather than reinforced.