Tonight I Have to Leave It

Posted in Life, Music, Nerd, Work on December 31st, 2007 by Tom

So, I promised no more omnibus posts.
And I did pretty good this year, until now. I have a lot of stuff to run through, and less than 24 hours left in 2007 to say it. So here goes!

First I’m going to start off with what’s happened since school was over. Basically, I’ve been hanging with Lizz and my family, mostly, and going to work. I’ve been working at Prairie Village, which is a complete and total zoo every day, but so goes it. The money’s decent, and so lo and behold, I’ve come out of Dry Cleaning Retirement once more.

I’ve also been modding my Longshot Nerf gun, which has been a lot of fun, and only slightly frustrating. If you care for the full details, I posted my full write-up on Nerf Haven early yesterday. It’s a little technical, but has lots of pictures, for those who are interested.

Next up, what happened for the holiday?! We had Christmas Eve at my house with my mother’s family, and spent the Christmas Day with my father’s family at my grandmother’s condo. So that was neat. Short of that, I recieved a plethora of awesome stuff:

New Headphones
These are super-slick, in that they’re over-the-ear (earbuds kill hurt my ears after about half an hour, plus the never fit correctly because my right ear canal is smaller than the left… which is messed up, but whatever), very comfortable, and they have retractable cords! I’ve been looking for excuses to use them, because they’re a delight.
New Watch
If we’ve ever met, you’ve probably seen my watch. Maybe you never noticed, but it’s been literally the same style since like… probably second grade. [I got it for my birthday that year with Polar Claw, the polar bear BeastWars transformer…] Since then, whenever a watch breaks, dies, or gets too nasty, I just would go out and buy the same one again. I could usually squeeze about 2 or 3 years out of each one, which isn’t bad. Sadly, that era is at an end.

But it’s OK, because the new one has a digital compass build into it. I push a button, and it tells me which direction I’m facing! That’s SO amazing. Plus it’s way easier to use, and the buttons are bigger and easier to push and so on. It’s going to take some getting used to, but I think I’ll warm up to it fully in time.

Weapons for EVAs
They sell a type of “expansion set” for my Evangelion toys that consists of a gigantic (7+ inches) rile, and a huge shield that stands the height of the EVAs. I set them up Christmas day, but I’ve yet to play very hard with either. Hopefully I’ll get the time to put them through their paces before break dies on me.
The X-Files
Seasons 5 and 6! I’m so excited. Lizz and I have already knocked out a significant chunk of Season 5, and it’s really good. These are the two seasons which bookend the X-Files film, which is essentially my favorite episode ever, and the crescendo and diminuendo do not disappoint. Among my favorite moments so far: Scully and Mulder get sidetracked on their way to a team-building conference. Towards the end of the episode, they’re stuck in a cave filled with bodies. They start to build a tower out of the bodies in order to escape. Reveling in the irony of the exercise, Mulder comments, “If they could only see us now!”
Gamecube Games
“Why?” You may be asking. Because I still play Gamecube because I’m not yet game for shelling out 300+ bucks to go “next gen”. Especially when Ethan’s got a 360, Lizz will most likely acquire a Wii, and I don’t have a lot of time for games in the first place. So I still rock out, Gamecube style. I got Metroid Prime 2, which has been a lot of fun so far, and Resident Evil, which is mostly for Ian’s benefit, because he’s never played it, and it’s freaking amazing.
Nerf Darts
Erin knows that I use these, and also lose these. So she got me more! How thoughtful!
The Rock
Erin also knows how much I love the part where Sean Connery goes, “Womac!” and so she got me this too. Although it’s kindof a bad idea, given that I already quote this movie a lot, and having the DVD can only make that worse…
The Science of His Dark Materials

I got all excited about my favorite book getting turned into a film (The Golden Compass), and so Lizz got me a book that talks about all the science behind it. It’s a neat book, but occasionally I get irritated at the audience they were forced to write for. EG: “This is an atom. It has a nucleus, and electrons.” […]
X-Files Guide/Trivia Book

This book, also courtesy of Lizz, covers the first three seasons of the X-Files with summaries, trivia, and quizzes! I’m gonna hone my mad x-skillz. And join the FBI and be all ‘Spooky’. Just you wait.
The Cryptogram Challenge
Apparently, Lizz thought I didn’t read enough. She also thought I was very smart and very bored, because she got me a book full of codes to crack. …Wow. I’ve only browsed it, but it seems hard. I haven’t had the guile to be insutled by one of the “easier” ones yet, but I’ll probably take a stab at it tomorrow while Kathryn and I are working Prairie Village on New Years Eve.
His Dark Materials Collection
The Esfelds must have unionized… becuase Lizz’s parents got me a book too. Granted, it was one I’ve already read, but I really like having the entire trilogy in one volume.
Also from Lizz’s parentals: apparently I appear in need of warmth, because they got me a really nice… thing. I call them sweaters, but I was recently informed they are in fact “long sleeve t-shirts”. But this ones thicker and more sweater-like… so I’ve no clue. It is green and it keeps me warm.
Awwww yeah! Jedi Starfighter with Booster Ring, which is huge, and awesome. I’m trying to modify the other Jedi Starfighters I have so they can “use” the Booster Ring as well. More on that later. Also: Lizz’s mom had an old set of Legos from when they were Episode I themed lying around. It had two battle droids in it in colors I’ve never seen before, which was cool.
They are both Achewood-themed! One features Roast Beef on it, wearing headphones, with the phrase “What We Need More Of, Is SCIENCE” around his head. The other simply has the words “Philippe is standing on it”, which I’ll probably be explaining for the next ten years I wear that shirt.
Gift Cards
Got some of these. I can’t decide whether it’s better to burn these all at once, so they’re still in the slew of Christmas junk I got… OR is it better to keep them for a few months from now, and have it be one of those “finding five dollars in an old coat, which it just so happens can only be spent at or barnes and noble” type things. Thoughts?

Did I get too much stuff? Probably. I don’t really care. I did a good job giving people good gifts, and I’ve been, in general, not a total jerk to everyone, so it’s not entirely unwarranted. Or so I tell myself. But yeah, great haul this year. A very special thanks goes out to all those who made it possible.

Next order of business, is the yearly compilation of all the songs I used for title entries! They’re now conveniently all located in one place, so if you’re looking for a specific one, you can browse just the music!

Speaking of music, I listened to a lot of it this year. Like… a ton. Probably more than I ever have. That’s due largely in part to Ian for supplying a good chunk of it, but I worked pretty hard at finding new stuff myself. Thus, I present to you my Top 5 Albums of 2007, complete with full audio clips of selected tracks from my favorite albums of the past year!

I mentioned that I was putting that together to Ian, and he also sent in his Top Albums of 2007 (though currently without audio for the moment), which is just as good of a list as my own, with some interesting overlap!

A final thing to recount: Tonight I did reindeer-surgery. Wire-frame-holiday-lighting-plastered-reindeer-surgery. One had a strand out, and my mom was so sad about it, so I told her I’d fix it. Because I know science, and I can fix things. So I tramped outside and started to take a look at it. After about… maybe 5 minutes, I began to get grumpy that I was out in the snow, the dark, and the lack of gloves, trying to fix something which was broken for an unknown reason.

So I pulled off the head (the only part with a non-working string of lights) and brought it inside. My mom made a pretty good face when she saw what I’d done, but it was easily reattached once I fixed the strand. We even put some red electrical tape over the nose, so it would look like Rudolf… something Lizz had been giving me trouble about ever since she saw we had those reindeer.

So that was that.
All was well in our front year’s lighting arrangement once more.

And so another year ends. No party at my place this year, which is kinda sad. Things are just all kinds of crazy with people though, and there are other parties that were organized far earlier than mine would have been, so it’s not like people will go party-less. I promise here and now that I’ll have my act together next year, and I’ll make it epic. So epic that I might have to call it the Most Epic New Year’s Party Ever. At my house at least.

In any case, I won’t see hardly any of you for the holiday, so do be careful while you’re undoubtedly enjoying yourselves.

It’s been a good year for blogging, and I’m excited to keep you posted on the next one!

[This final entry title/song is probably the best song on my favorite album of the year, plus it has some bearing on the holiday, so enjoy!]

Death of an Interior Decorator

Posted in Life, Maintenance, Work on July 12th, 2007 by Tom

To begin with, two crazy stories:

A woman came into the cleaners (Brookside, not Foxhill) the other day to pick up a lot of her winter things so she could put them in storage. To thank us for such a good job, she gave us a box of strawberries! How nice (plus, they were delicious). Then she asked to use the phone to call a cab. OK, awesome.

So we wait for a while, no cab. Finally one comes by, but it’s not the right company. Then it comes by again. The lady figures that maybe she was just confused, and maybe that really is her cab. So she goes out there, and the cab stops. Then, in a weird twist of fate, two people get out of the back of the cab! The lady kinda freaks out, and starts backing towards the Cleaner’s building. The two young women that got out start following her!

Suddenly, she’s back inside, telling them she just doesn’t feel comfortable with it all, and they’re giving her trouble, yelling back out to the driver that “she say she ain’t interested.” To which the woman replies, “that sounds terrible! That’s not what I mean, it’s just…” But these two women will not leaver her alone. So? So I lay down the smack. I go out in front of my little counter that separates employees from customers, and I tell the women that it’s fine, and they should leave. “Really, it’s OK. We’ll take care of it.”

They left. I felt slightly useful and assertive.
The old woman then clarified to Chris (the other person working at the time) and I that when she went outside, the man said the two young ladies were his daughters, and he was just taking them home from school [At 5 PM in July, shyeah, RIGHT]. They then offered to “wait at the cleaners, so you can ride alone with our dad.” Which just sounds like all kinds of wrong.

I was surprised at the woman’s unwillingness to get into the cab. She trusted her gut, and it paid off. We called the cab company back, and they said they hadn’t even sent anyone yet. So that whole dad-daughter combo was just trying to scam a fare! Gryah. Creepy. Eventually the lady’s REAL cab did come, and Chris and I each got a dollar tip, which never happens ever.

It was exciting.
About as exciting as dry cleaning gets, honestly.
[Some other guy came in and made a big fuss, but it’s not that great a story, so I digress.]

The other story comes from directly after Ethan and I saw Live Free or Die Hard, two nights ago. Let me preface this by saying that this movie is terrific. The story is really solid, and I actually enjoyed the way the characters were formed throughout. You got a little bit of an idea as to why John McClane is the way he is, as well as what’s been going on since he was a big ol’ mess in Die Hard, With a Vengeance.

Struby and I were at a 9 PM showing of the film. Factor in 16 minutes of previews to a 2 hour, 15 minute movie, plus a bit of the credits, and we were getting out somewhere around 11:34. We come out and all of a sudden, there’s like, some kindof mob. The hallway was jam-packed with people. Ethan voiced his bemusement at what they were all doing there. I told him (albeit with a dash of profanity) that it was because of Harry Potter. We slowly started to work our way through the giant crowd.

Only then did I understand the gravity of the situation. The crowd went way far back, an insane amount; it was going to take FOREVER to get out of the theater. Plus that meant working our way through a myriad of robe-clad pre-teens and their disgruntled “muggle” parents. It was here that I remembered that they normally have exit only doors near the furthest theaters, like the one we were in. I spun around, beginning to panic, and I saw that glowing EXIT sign back where we came out.

“Ethan, exit!” I shouted. We both turned around and quickly started to back track. However, the space that was open when we exited was quickly closing up with a mass of Potter-ites. I began to run, dreading becoming trapped by the crowd. Ethan frantically yelled after me, “Run Tom, run!”

And run I did.
But something was wrong.
The Potter-ites were getting angry, even hostile-looking.

“Heeeeeey! No cutting!” I heard from behind us.
Oh dear god, I thought. It’s like coming between a mother grizzly and her cubs. Except the cub is a highly anticipated blockbuster sequel wizard film, and the grizzly is its teeming mass/mob of fans. I knew we didn’t have long. I ran faster.

*slam* We threw the exit door open and slammed it shut behind us. After which we preceded to laughed the entire way to the car. It was that funny. And so I’ll always remember that as the time I almost saw Harry Potter 5 at the midnight showing.

I ate an entire box of macaroni and cheese this afternoon.
The immense feeling of regret concerning that decision is indistinguishable from the weird feeling I have in my tummy right now. I hope I’m going to be alright.

[Author/Editor’s Note: Here, I pushed the ‘post’ button. The browser hung, so I copied the text you see above, and closed the window. Upon re-logging in, I tried to edit my posts. Greymatter tersely informed me that “there [were] are no posts to edit yet!” I preceded to freak out for about five minutes before booting up my FTP to assess the damage, which turned out to be localized to the core of GM, but quite extensive in its destruction!

The following post is what I used for a temporary index from the 13th to the 14th:]

Tragedy struck yesterday. In a terrible accident resulting in some crazy mis-posting, I effectively killed GreyMatter. AGAIN. Please recall this previously happening sometime in the past. It escapes me when, but I assuredly remember the feeling. It’s crucial to remember that the software’s pretty dated. The last official release was sometime in 2001 if I’m reading the literature correctly. Noah Grey stopped supporting it the next year. Just this past year the official forums went offline in an attempt to kill the project. A dedicated few of us solidered on, and tried to keep the project alive. Alas, this is where we part, sweet Greymatter.

You are too easy to break, and I know next to zilch about PERL, so fixing you is just not an option. In the end, everything’s still here, all the old entries that is, but it’s just a shell for what it once was. I assure you the inside is quite dead, and I cannot fix it, nor update anything new at all. And thus, we enter into another one of these delightful intermediaries whereby I do not post not becuase I am lazy (as per usual) but becasue I’m fixing the site.

I’ll be attempting a bold switch-over to the much newer, much fancier, much more popular WordPress. It comes well recommended, and has the ONE feature I need: timestamp editing. This way I’ll be able to load in the guts of the old entires, and change the timestamps to the correct date and time. Once this is all said and done, I should be able to pick up where I left off. You’ll even get to see the entry that served as the final nail in Greymatter’s coffin.

How entirely morbid.
In any case, I’ll be coding for most of the next few days, with classical music being pumped into my ears to keep me from having intermediate freak-out-sessions. We’ll see how it goes!