Monday, June 30, 2008

Pixar 4 Life

Saturday morning as intended, Jennifer and I went to see "Wall-E" at the Hacienda Regal Cinemas in Dublin with their digital projector. And we were not disappointed.

This movie could possibly be better than the "Toy Story"s. I might approach being as good as "The Incredibles". It is amazing.

The jokes are funny, the blending of effects are wonderful, and the story is engrossing.

I can say nothing about it without spoiling it.

So go see it. I'm probably going to have to see it again.

And then buy it when it comes out. And watch it a lot.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Many apologies... again

I had no idea I had not updated all week.

Tonight, Jennifer and I are going to Beckett's because she is craving prime rib. Not that she'll have a whole steak, but my description of the meal I had last week with John has her wanting it. I don't know if she'll be getting her own meal, but she says she just wants a few bites of the steak, potatoes, and asparagus. Plus we had a big lunch together today at Fresh Choice.

Then we have fun plans for Saturday. First we're going to see Wall-E at the Hacienda Crossings Regal Cinemas in Dublin. They have a 9:35 showing on their digital projector. We're hoping that will be too early for the chilluns. Then we're going to get the hibiscus charm that Jennifer got for her charm bracelet put on at Cardinal Jewelers in Pleasanton. They have a great selection of things, and we like checking them out every few months. Then we'll get my comics in Livermore.

Then we're planning on going to Vacaville to put a deposit down on my next tattoo(s). I'm ready for the flaming and bleeding "S"s. I'll get the black outlines and shading done first, then after that heals I get the color in a few months.

After that who knows?

I finished Magic Burns Wednesday night. it was really fun, and even better than Magic Bites. Now I'm reading Zorro by Isabell Allende. I've been a Zorro fan since seeing "Zorro - The Gay Blade" with George Hamilton, and that only grew as I learned more about Zorro. I really like the Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power (which is the version Bruce Wayne and his parents were seeing at the cinema the night his parents were shot and killed). I can see elements that the writers in the 90s added to the Batman mythos. And I've been getting the Zorro comic book by Dynamite Entertainment which is really fun so far.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All is well, all is well...

So Jennifer came home from Portland/Yamhill yesterday... and almost immediately left again. This Isagenix thing is really doing well. But she's home tonight. And now we're sitting across from each other online. She's catching up on her LOLcats and LOLdogs, and reading the captions making me laugh.

Pom is so frustrated with us laughing loudly out loud (yes, LOLing at teh LOldigs and LOLcats) that she has left the room now.

Of course the driving factor of the laughter is an imperial-pint size Bloody Mary for her and a Screwdriver for me. I've followed it up with a Petite Syrah, dark chocolate truffle from Lava Cap Winery, and a small port from Single Leaf Winery.

Now I has a happy.

Magic Burns - Quote

Page 7: "Why no, I won't drink your mysterious love potion."

It's a good start.

New books, new books, new books...

I tried, I swear I tried, but I just could not get through either The Botany of Desire or The Ominvore's Dilemma both by Michael Pollan. I made it through the section on corn in The Ominvore's Dilemma, but I couldn't handle his writing style anymore. So I stopped. Then when I tried to read the apple section in The Botany of Desire, it seemed a replay of a recent "Suppressed Transmissions" by Kenneth Hite in the online 'zine Pyramid. So I quit.

So since since then I've read Nancy Cartwright's autobiography My Life as a Ten Year Old Boy. It has some neat things in it like her first time meeting Phil Hartman to the ridiculousness of Elizabeth Taylor and "directing" Kirk Douglas.

Then I got William Shatner's autobiography Up Till Now. That was great. I read it in a day and a half, getting it Saturday morning and finishing it Sunday night. The thing that makes it so easy is that its like he's talking to you. You can hear his voice. And not just the... pauses. It's so conversational. The best sections are the ones covering his three big television series, but it's amazing the parts he played in TV and movies, and even on Broadway. The part that was the funniest was the charity paintball tournament. It made me laugh out loud it was so funny (Oh, wait. This is the Internet. "It made me LOL!"). If any out there reads it, let me know when you get to that point. My overall favorite part was him describing how he came to be with his fourth (and present) wife.

He made a list. He became incredibly lonely after his third wife had died from drowning in their swimming pool while drunk and home alone. So he decided he would make a list of everything he would want in a woman. And very quickly, he found her. I found this extremely touching because when I was in Kentucky for graduate school, I was feeling lonely, and I felt I needed to really define what I was looking for in a woman.

So I made a list. And within a year I was dating Jennifer. And she is everything that I had put down. I think that's why we liked "Practical Magic" so much because as a little girl Sally Owens makes a list of what kind of boy she wants to marry. And even though she made the list to be impossible to match, that is who she ends up with at the end.

Oh, just in case... Spoiler Warning. Sorry.

And so as you can see, I am now on to Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews. And of course interspersed are my basic comic books.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

Monday, June 23, 2008

And it's Monday... again.

Thursday, Jennifer went to Oregon to help her parents move to their new place in Yamhill. And I kept myself busy reading William Shatner's autobiography Up Till Now. It was really fun to read, and I ended up finishing it last night.

Friday night, I went to Beckett's in Berkeley and had dinner with John. I had nice pints of beer and their Friday Prime Rib special. Afterwards we walked to Games of Berkeley and I bought too many lead miniatures. Then we went to Thalassa and played four games of pool.

I BARTed, and got caught up in the 25 minute delay switching from the SF line to the Richmond line. But the ride home was fine, and I listened to my iPod the whole way there and back. When I got home it was cool. Not comfortably cool, but cooler than the day had been. The air conditioner seemed to be running when I got in but the thermostat measured 80 degrees. I went to check outside, and (after killing black widow number 3 of the week) found that the AC was not running, just the inside fan, and apparently the fuse had blown. I ended up sleeping with the hall fan, and the ceiling fan going and the windows open to try to cool the house down. I ended up getting it down to 75 degrees by 8:00 AM.

The AC system at the house is part of the old wiring system that caused problems earlier this year. The AC has two ways of protecting itself. First is a double circuit breaker on the main board in the garage. The second is a fuse box (yes, fuses) that is outside near the AC unit itself. It was under this that the black widow had made her home. I pulled the fuses panel out, and could see nothing wrong. We had had this problem last summer, but didn't know about the fuses, and got a lesson in how to fix the situation from an AC serviceman. He had replaced the fuses, but we had no way of knowing which one went bad because they didn't have a window to show.

So early Saturday, I went to Home Depot and bought two 30 amp fuses. I replaced the one that looked older, plugged the panel back in, flipped the circuit breaker, and the AC started right back up.

The rest of Saturday was relaxing. I went to Livermore and got my comics. I had a Philly Cheese Steak and sat in a hot restaurant because their AC was out too.

Then I went home and painted miniatures while not watching "The Fifth Element", "The Princess Bride", and "Bug's Life".

Sunday I read Shatner's biography, had dinner with my parents, and then came home and finished the biography.

Jennifer got in this morning, and I am looking forward to seeing her when I get home.

Friday, June 20, 2008

This is (almost) a triumph...

Last night I got past the smasher/pistons room in Portal, and made it through all the rest of the game to end up facing off with GlaDOS.

And I ran out of time.

Again with the jumping games... And a timer!

It's fun, but man is it frustrating.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reading issues


I tried to read The Omivore's Dilemma, and I got through about a third of it. The first section on corn was good, but I think I just got tired of the author writing style. The narrative of things stopped carrying me through the book and instead frustrated me.


So now I'm reading My Life As a 10 Year Old Boy by Nancy Cartwright. It's been fun, and is interspersed with stories from her journal while she's been recording. There's her first meeting with Phil Hartman; how she met Jonathon Winters; everyone's reaction to Elizabeth Taylor when she recorded Maggie's first word. All in all lots of fun little bits.


My next book in my stack is The Botany of Desire which is by the same author as Omnivore's Dilemma. It's smaller, so I hope I can get through it.


Then I've got the next Ilona Andrews book Magic Burns from John.


And on a Fucking Finally note, I got over the fire in Portal, and am now dodging the smashers. I'm in the room where they are going in all kinds of horizontal directions above me, and I have to find a way up. (See Picture at Top) Have I mentioned before how much I hate jumping games? And they do kind of remind me of the bit in "Galaxy Quest" where Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver have to go through the smashers room. Again in Portal, they serve no purpose whatsoever.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pain!

This weekend was a fun weekend over all. Saturday i got my comics, and then had a fun RPG day at John's. We're finishing up the adventure in e-mail (with hopefully little to no fighting), and then I take over in July. It seems that no matter how it resolves we'll segue into my territory.

And for those who play in the group and are reading this that means a woods adventure. But for now, which forest we'll be entering shall remain a mystery.

Then Sunday mom, dad, Jennifer, and I went to the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park to see the Chihuly exhibit which was free thanks to Target for the weekend. We got there and walked around, and then had lunch. That's when I thought I was getting a caffeine withdrawal headache. I hadn't had any since around noonish on Saturday, so I figured I was due. I had a Pepsi with lunch, but the headache never faded.

Jennifer and I ended up becoming members of the museum and after seeing most of the museum we went the through the Chihuly exhibit. It was fun, but it loses a little of its magic when you know how it's done. When I'm watching dad and Randy do their stuff I pick up a bit. Plus what dad has taught me, and the one demo I got to do with Randy a few years ago.

And the headache kept growing.

After the museum, we went back to mom and dad's for dinner, and while mom was preparing food, the pain had becoming my world. I was sitting in the chair with a dark expression and my arms crossed when Jennifer asked if I was angry, and I said, "No, I'm in pain." She walked me to the couch, and I laid down while they continued with meal prep.

Now, I started getting migraines my freshman year of high school. I got the halo effect and tunnel vision. At the time, I became one of the youngest people the nurse had done a CAT scan on. And during the EEG the nurse could actually tell just by looking at the reading if I was moving my eyes.

The doctor said it was closer to being a migraine on the migraine-stroke continuum, and primarily, we and the doctors decided the pain was a bad reaction to the combined use of decongestants and antihistamines, both of which contract blood vessels. Looking back, I've added in the general stress of school and such, but anyway...

I hadn't had one in a while. I can look back at some mornings that seemed like alcohol-free hangovers and such that probably fall into the category. And I had a day last year where I worked in the dark with my sunglasses on because everything was way too bright, and I didn't want to instigate a migraine.

So Sunday got worse. We put ice on it, and that just had it cold and painful. Finally, I started to smell food, and that really didn't help. I told Jennifer, and she took me home. I slept fitfully from 8 to midnight when it faded to just the right side of my forehead. I finally got into a real sleep by about 1:30 and woke up feeling drained, but mostly pain free. Except if I moved my eyes too far in my head.

So I took Monday off. I rested most of the day, did a little reading, and relaxed.

Now, I'm at work, and I just had to turn my lights off, because I had a faint throbbing. I'll get some orange juice on our 7-11 run. That usually makes me feel better.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fuego!

So the San Francisco Bay Area is burning. Kind of.

Apparently there are two ways of looking at this.
  1. We only do things half ass compared to southern California.
  2. We know how to fight fires as opposed to southern California.
Either way the smell of brush fires has been around the Bay Area off and no for the past few weeks.

The Friday before we went to Key West, the hills above Santa Cruz were burning. Earlier this week there was a medium sized fire near Martinez. And this afternoon I got a bit of a scare when John told me about a fire in the Oakland hills. Fortunately it was near Hiller Highlands, and while it would have been scary for my parents when they lived off of Marlborough Terrace in Berkeley, they are safe down off of 13 in Oakland.

For an idea of how close this fire got to buildings, you can check out this blog.

According to my mom, this is pretty close to where the big bad fire started in the hills in October 1991. However, all is well and the fire is contained.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Guilty Pleasure

A lot of people know that my favorite movie is "The Princess Bride". It came out my freshman year of college, and I saw it in the now defunct theater in Sun Valley Mall.

Close behind this singular movie are the Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings movies. And then after there are the Jersey Chronicles - the movies of Kevin Smith.

I am a big fan of Kevin. I remember watching "Clerks" on video for the first time in Kentucky while at graduate school. Then I rented "Mallrats", which while it was not as good as "Clerks", was entertaining. Then "Chasing Amy" came out and I caught it in theaters. And at that point I was hooked. So of course, I've seen "Dogma", "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back", and "Clerks 2".

Kevin Smith and his producer Scott Mosier are continuity geeks. Things in the movies overlap and intertwine, and while I am not any one of the characters in the movies, I can relate to many of them.

Other than the Jersey Chronicles, I've watched Kevin's one-on-one interview with Stan Lee, which was really a fun watch. And then for a real thrill there are "An Evening with Kevin Smith" and "An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder" where Kevin's talks at colleges around the country and Canada were recorded. There will soon be a third one which was filmed on his 37th birthday (yes, 37th), and hopefully will be released soon.

Two other movies which are so-so are "Jersey Girl" which is not as bad as it was made out to be, and "Catch and Release" which has Kevin in a role playing someone more like himself. It's all right, but not knee slapping funny.

And he is working on two new movies: "Zach and Miri Make a Porno" and "Red State". Zach and Miri is, obviously, comedy about an independent porno and stars Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks. "Red State" is a horror movie that I'm not very familiar with yet.

And I learn about all of the new stuff from Smodcast. Smodcast (Smith and Mosier Podcast) is usually Kevin and Scott rapping and joking about their lives and the movies, but once and a while Kevin's wife is there, or Jason Mewes, or some of Kevin's friends who work the two stores of Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. It's been a fun addition to my music for the gym. Or like I did today, walking to Target.

Monday, June 09, 2008

With Ookla the Mock...

As I said, Saturday and Sunday, Jennifer and I went shopping, and I started some comparison shopping for a new gas grill. The one I have now is a hand me down from my dad. It's the second hand me down, and is the second grill they bought. My first had been their first. Now I would like to buy my own.

So we were looking at Lowes and found this Charbroil grill. Now let me preface that the Lowes is in Dublin, California, which is right next to Livermore. As in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. And this company (aside from the ridiculousness of having the word "quantum" in its name) has the idiocy to advertise that this grill cooks with infrared.

Let me give you a quick physics lesson. The sun produces a spectrum of wavelengths of light. The little bit we can see (call "visible light") is a very small percentage. It extends from the relatively low energy red wavelengths through orange, yellow, green, and blue, up to the higher energy violet wavelength. It also produces other shorter (and higher energy) wavelengths in ultraviolet, x-ray and gamma rays.

I've always said that the way you can tell the difference between ultraviolet and x-rays are when you stop getting a tan and you start seeing your bones.

Now there are other longer (lower energy) wavelengths. The lowest is radio waves, moving into microwaves (yes, those microwaves) and infrared. Infrared is slightly less energetic than red and is invisible to human sight. We can sense it on our skin though as the warmth of the sun...

And everything else that generates heat. That's what heat is: infrared light.

Yes, everything that generates heat, radiates infrared light. That means humans, other hot-blooded animals, heating elements, and yes, one of the oldest inventions of man... FIRE.

What the marketing assholes at Charbroil are doing is preying in the non-science educated population for the country. We have not discovered a new form of cooking, all they have done is put metal plates in the grill to block the fire, absorbing it heat, and radiating it up at whatever you are cooking.

That's all.

In summary, ever since the first piece of fish fell in the fire, mastodon was turned over a spit, or bread was baked in an oven man has cooked using infrared.

All right, I'm done.

Various and Sundry Details

Friday Jennifer and I went to my parents' for dinner with my aunt and uncle from Kentucky, and two other friends of my parents. It was kind of a pre-party dinner because...

Saturday night was my mom 's 65th birthday party. Jennifer and I were on hand to celebrate and help out as needed. As it turned out we helped most in the clean-up.

Both nights were fun if a bit loud. My parents' house is mostly hardwood floors with oriental rugs (should they be called Asian rigs now?) and it's echoey. Add to that my mom's tendency to be loud and my strange sensitivity to sound Friday night, and Friday was not happy for me. Saturday was better as I talked with friends of mom's who were much quieter people. Jennifer helped me through it, and Saturday went better. Although Saturday the party started with a spike of a headache for me, but again, Jennifer helped me through it.

Aside from the party, Jennifer and did some fun shopping on Saturday and Sunday, and I might soon get a new gas grill.

We're both looking forward to this weekend. Friday we're going to try to see Evil Dead: The Musical, and then Saturday we spilt up. I have a role-playing game session at John's and she has a gallery opening for a friend and then a part afterwards.

Busy busy busy.

Oh yeah, and then of course there's that bothersome "work" we seem to have to use to fill in our week.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Favorite Things - Birds

Then there were the birds.

The first thing you'll notice of the bird pictures are the chickens. They are everywhere. Not underfoot everywhere, just everywhere in general. You'll be walking down the street, and hear a rooster crow during any time of day. The chickens are out wandering as well and it being the end of spring, they had some medium sized chicks following them.

Of course, a few times we actually saw a chicken cross the road. We asked why, but got response. However, one time it was obviously one roosters desire to get away from another larger rooster.

Then down at Fort Zachary Taylor we caught sight of a Great Egret in the trees at one end of the moat around the fort. If you've seen a Great Blue Heron or a Tri-Colored Heron, then you know the size of this bird. It was magnificent just sitting in the tree, and I got as close as I could on the walls of the fort, and then we walked around the fort and I was able to get closer from another angle. It finally flew away, but I wasn't able to get a picture of it.

There were other small birds that we watched dive for fish in the fort's moat, and they were really fun to watch.

A great part was that the pigeon population has not yet exploded yet like it seems to have everywhere else in the country. They were there, but they were few and far between. Surprisingly the same holds true for sea gulls. They were there, but we didn't see them swarming like they do around here.

With a little help from my friend

Work - That annoying distraction that provides money and fills the time inbetween webcomic and blog updates.

Strange Letters

So I got this link to a very strange letter through Mental Floss, but here's the direct link.

This is something that I could see lots of my friends doing. Especially the last line.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Slight Shuffling

I've played around with the sidebar a bit. There's a new feature that reads RSS feeds, so I re-entered all of my links, and added in some new ones that I either hadn't put in before, or hadn't updated. I didn't do the title of the latest update because I thought it made it too long. I do think the site icon beside those with RSS is cool though.

I finished Wintersmith tonight, and will try reading Prom Dates from Hell. It has a Kim Harrison story in it, but her site notes that it is not a tale from the Hollows unfortunately, and is a whole new world (fuck you Aladdin, get out of my head!). We'll see.

After that I've got some non-fiction books (the horror!), and I'll be interspersing some graphic novels. I'm working through Y: The Last Man by Brian Vaughan as they come in from the library. I'm halfway through, and while it is a worthy read, I don't think I'll be purchasing it. It's kind of like Akira; people who read comics should read it, but I don't see the need to revisit it.

Favorite Things - Sunsets

Now taking over 100 pictures of sunsets may seem a bit
excessive. But you weren't there, and it's the primary reason for
going.

I quote "Running Scared"


Ray: Why are we in Key West?

Danny: It's as far south as we could get without having to speak Spanish.

Ray: What's goin' on? What happened?

Danny: I don't know. Maybe a ship sank.

Ray: Maybe somebody drowned.

Blond: We're watching the sunset.

Ray: Yeah, right. Really, what happened?

Blond: The sun is setting. Can't you see it?

Ray: Don't give us that. It sets every night.

Blond: Yeah, and we come out every night to watch it. Isn't it
beautiful?

Danny: Maybe we should check this out.

Ray: Yeah, well, it better be good.


And so every night we went out to Mallory Square and watched the sunset. That is except for two nights. Wednesday night we were on the catamaran for snorkeling and watched the sunset from the boat as we came back in to port. And Sunday night we were starving, and too far from the water to make it back in time, so instead we found the best pub in Key West, and I had the best fish and chips ever. We did however get to watch CNN for the Phoenix lander touching down on Mars though.

Four other nights we did watch the sunset though. And each night it was different. Different clouds, different colors, and different entertainers. Because every night there are street performers out doing show before the sunset, and people are selling drinks and conch fritters, and everyone is looking west.

The island that the sun is setting over is (appropriately) Sunset Key. I think there are resorts out there, and you can take a boat over there. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Favorite Things - Butterflies

So in an attempt to explain some of the pictures from our vacation, I thought I would go into some detail on what we did.

First off, the Butterfly Conservatory.

You enter into a gift shop, then buy your tickets and go into a room describing the unique characteristics of Lepidoptera (which means "scaly wing"). In the room is a movie playing that reminded me of the films made in the mid- to late-sixties that we watched growing up in the seventies. Also in the room are some terrariums with various other tropical animals like the Red Eye Tree Frog (which we couldn't photograph because it was hiding). Then you go through some heavy doors and enter the butterfly room.

The first thing to hit you is the heat. Now I have to admit that this is more intense in Vallejo at the park formerly known as Marine World, because there is also the high humidity. It's probably kept close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and I'd bet 80 to 90% humidity. And flying through this atmospheric soup are butterflies.

Hundreds of them.

Groups of large, bright-blue ones with plain brown outer wings chasing each other around. Small black ones with red slashes. Large black ones with a small streak of yellow and a yellow body. Even the occasional orange and black monarch or the yellow and black swallow-tail. There are even several giant sphinx moths.

You wander through a sinuous path watching where you step, and then you hear the bird song. They are mostly little finch-like looking birds, but we so one with two long tail feathers, and two little birds like white/gray partridges. And then there was the little green bird with a slightly curved beak.

There is a pond with koi and cichlids and plecostomus. The koi are good sized, and in among them swim the jeweled blue cichlids. The plants were lush and several were related to one I keep in my office. The one in my office is maybe a foot tall from the ground and seems happy in the window. The ones in the conservatory (and later out and about on the island) were almost three feet tall, but kept the spindly trunks like mine has. Others plants are like ones I'd seen for landscaping, but never so large and happy.

As I think I've said, we spent two hours with the butterflies on our first visit, and then another hour our second visit. Jennifer had a rider almost immediately on her right shoulder. It stayed with her for at least half an hour. Later when she decided to sit down and just experience, one with very tattered wings landed on her lap.

We finally moved on and saw the hatching room where they place any chrysalis they find and wait for the new butterflies and moths to come out, and then release them into the butterfly room the next day once their winds have hardened.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

All the Pictures

All right, I'm trying out Photobucket now. I haven't come up against any limitations yet, so things are looking good. Below are are all the pictures that are fit for public viewing that we took while in Key West.

Animals - Various animals we saw while on the key.

Beach - Pictures of the beach and us while on it.

Boats - The catamaran we were on for snorkeling, a big cruise ship that came in while we were there, and the boat we almost got to go on.

Butterfly Conservatory - The 180 pictures we took during our two visits to the butterflies.

Plants - Various flowers and plants around the key.

Sunsets - Five days worth of sunsets; four from the pier and one from the snorkeling catamaran.

Tourist Bits - Various touristy locations and pictures.

Photo story

So when I posted my pictures from Key West, I had to leave out about 2/3 of the pictures (specifically the sunsets and butterflies) because Flickr only allows 100 MB. I'm going to have to find another place to post those. A co-worker (Holly the biologist and part-time catsitter) suggested Photobucket and Imageshack, so I'll go looking there tonight.

I will write more on our specific favorites later.

Now, on the plane to Florida, I read two weeks worth of comic books. Once there and on the way home, I read the first two books of the Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett. It was subtly at first and now solidly set in the Discworld. Now, I'm reading the third book.

Hopefully, I'll get to the library today and pick up some of my requests.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Vacation Summary

All right, we're back.

We got in yesterday, and did a little unpacking, ordered a pizza, and went to bed.

Today not much more, just catching up on things at home, and getting ready for Monday.

I'll go into detail on things in the future, but until them here is a collection of about one third of the pictures I took.

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