The ongoing prattlings of a lifelong geek and his random luck with love, work, children and rediscovering himself.


MOVIE: Alien vs Predator - Requiem

Good movie if you like the Alien or Predator series. Can't really say much more than that. Nothing really made it stand out - just good old fashioned alien butt kicking. It had a gratuitous ending blatantly hinting at a sequel, with clear ripoff-reference to the ending of Alien 3 (the "Company" and it's involvement).


Dani Gets T-Boned On Christmas Day

So as we're sitting around wondering when Dani and her boyfriend are going to arrive (it was about time for it to happen), I get a phone call from Halifax Medical Center. Daniella Malena is there and I need to come down to be briefed on her condition. Not exactly what you are wanting to hear on Christmas Day.

Upon arrival and being told she's not there, I then gain access and see her. She's (forcibly) unconscious and has been "tubed" to assist with breathing "just in case" (she was breathing on her own just fine, thankfully). She had been air-lifted to the hospital from the site of the accident.

It's certainly disturbing to see your eighteen year old daughter asleep, tubes in both arms and her throat, a catheter, and her eyes half open...

We talked to her, held her hand, but really could do nothing but ask questions of the nurses. I was given basic details on her boyfriend (the crash took place on Dani's side of the car, and what little I was told made it clear he was not in as bad a condition as Dani was. Thankfully she appeared to only have a concussion (no broken bones, no hurt organs based on scans done).

Today, we have visited twice and will be going back soon as they prepare to move her to a less secure area (the tubes are almost all gone now). Her boyfriend had dropped off a couple nice stuffed animal-items. We brought some goodies but are keeping them until she is in the less secure room. She has had so much sleep-medicine pumped into her that she's barely able to keep her eyes open. Helplessness is still the norm for the rest of us as we try and comfort her.

All seems to be well "otherwise". She's recovering in a timely manner and should be out in a day or two. Being that she was in the process of recovering from her hurt ankle after being mugged, I feel like she's getting the hardcore lesson in real-life lately.

I was happy to have Vesta with me Christmas Day (she happens to be a registered nurse) so I was able to get a voice-of-reason follow-up to facts that were fed to me.

There shouldn't be any more "bad news" if all continues on course, just recovery and full healing. Her nana and mother both have called her job to let them know she's out for a few days.

Christmas 2007

Ahh, Christmas. A cool time of year (no pun intended).

Family came, family went. Food was eaten. Gifts were exchanged. Nothing really 'special' (is that bad to expect such things and therefore not think of it as special?). I got a lot of clothing. Bonus.

Vesta came to join us. That was special.   ;-) We went out and bought slurpees again. That's always fun. We like slurpees.

Funnily enough, I actually logged on shortly after midnight and did a tiny bit of work (it was to make up for my own forgotten promise over the weekend... due to.. buying slurpees).

Chris got an electronic keyboard and other stuff. Anthony got some cookware to cultivate his latent chef-dome. Mandi got her cell phone, a bath robe and more.

Dani... was in a car accident.


My (first) date with Vesta

For some reason, I'm awake at 7:45am in the morning writing this. Considering I did not get home until about 3:00am today after one hell of a night (and morning) with Vesta, I have no clue why I woke up 45 minutes ago ready for the way. Mr. Analytical has no idea how to translate that...

Vesta and I met at neutral ground (Lonestar Steakhouse in Daytona Beach). It was our first time meeting in person and we figured it better that way. I was nervous, she was nervous. I wore my glasses, she wore her glasses. She was tall, I was tall(er).   ;-)

Dinner and a lot of talk (both historical and otherwise) went by over a two and a half our period. She is definitely (my view) more often a glass-half-full person (this is one of MANY references that only she and I will understand, so nyah-nyah to the rest of you) than not. She has a great smile. She's beautiful. She's engaging (something I am lacking in if I'm at a loss for words) and complimentary (dare I say, so much that I was almost concerned before we met). I had decided within five minutes of meeting her that I was "quite happy", shall I say, with my decision to meet her...

We went to Ormond together to see Sweeney Todd at the Regal Theater. Good flick (despite occasional noise from the usual idiot-patrons who think it's a great place to chit-chat or text-message from their phone with it's bright-screen shining for everyone to notice). Despite the gore and her subsequent eye-hiding routines, she seemed to enjoy the movie as much as I.

I drove us back to Daytona and we 'parked' (sort of) by her vehicle. Somehow over two hours disappeared. To be honest (and this is the part I was not sure how I was going to post considering my kids, her kids, Vesta herself, and whoever else may read this) it was somewhere between the conversation and the kiss(ing) that time seemed to be lost. (one pandora's box opened with that comment...) Hopefully I'm not posting something that will be a problem for her. I don't believe so...

We ended the night suddenly deciding to go to 7-Eleven to buy slurpees. We continued to end the night by doing some more of the aforementioned kiss(ing). We finally ended the night with a kiss(ing) after which we kiss(ing)ed one last time before our final kiss(ing) goodbye.

I think we had a good time (gratuitous understatement of the decade). I know beyond any doubt that there was a lot of frustration. Good lord, the frustration.

So, around three hours after the movie ended, sitting in a parking lot (the parking lot cleaner certainly got an eyefull) we parted ways. My recall is that we may be spending some part(?) of next weekend together. I've heard my phone right twice now so I better go grab it from the living room. It might be her... and I like that idea...

I think it obvious to us both that "a good time was had by all." (hahaha) Hopefully I've not said anything here that is a problem - based on what I learned, I don't think so... just make sure your daughter and friends know I was a gentleman, despite... well...

MOVIE: I Am Legend

I week ago I saw the Will Smith movie "I Am Legend" (I forgot to post something so I thought I was due)...

I figured this movie was going to be a blatant attempt to milk some easy money out of Smith's stardom. I was right. However, it was still an "above average" flick that I wouldn't mind seeing again.

The commercials I had seen made it seem like it would literally be Will Smith from beginning to end, with cameos by CGI monster-zombies-humans. They actually used cut-scenes to tell the back story 'as needed' about why he was the only one left 'in the world'. Annoyingly, the movie trailers included at least one scene that did NOT appear in the movie (DVD fodder? probably). That is so frustrating. :-P

In any case, the movie works and comes off well (SPOILER ALERT) when Will saves the day at the expense of his own life (/SPOILER ALERT). There is one death in the movie that will make many people cry. I didn't like it (in the sense that it involved hurting an animal) but the emotional impact was obvious and I have to admit, very well placed. Poor doggy. ;-(

Good flick. Go see it. You have to give credit for a disaster movie that starts with everyday life and one minute later let's you know "it's now several years later and everyone's dead except Will". Nice and to the point. (hah)

MOVIE: Sweeney Todd

(this movie was part of a date I went on, so I'm posting this entry first to get it 'out of the way')

I had never seen, read or known anything about "Sweeney Todd" before seeing Tim Burton's rendition of it, starring his love child Johnny Depp. The movie began with me wondering if it would be one of those "out of beat" musicals where whatever words needed to be said to get the story across were said, regardless of them not being to any specific beat or rhyme. I hate that (creative license aside, it seems like laziness and/or creative assumption that people will ACCEPT that this was the actual intention of a real composer/author).

I persevered and watched intently as the story of the Barber was laid out. By the end of this (very gory) movie, I was actually quite happy with it. Johnny Burton-Depp is certainly no aspiring singer, but played the part very well, along side his landlady-cohort-would-be-lover (played by, I finally know, Helena Bonham Carter). She, in my opinion via her co-starring role, made the movie. My first thought was "oh, so this is a cast member of the Addams Family that was stolen for this movie" but in truth, I thought she stole the show in many ways.

Be warned. It really is gory! My friend Vesta was constantly hiding her eyes when it was apparent Sweeney was going to "mete out his vengeance yet again". The bloody scenes were filmed with an "amusing afterthought" motif (basically "oh, by the way, he's killing this man as he sings merrily along").

I was truly amazed at how well the story came across. :-)

Please note that all references to Tim Burton's love child Johnny Depp are strictly tongue-in-cheek. I have no proof that Tim Burton actually loves Johnny, or that he is Johnny's father...


Wii... Wheeee!

I brought out the Nintendo Wii that I purchased on Black Friday today. It didn't seem worth it to save it for Christmas Day. It's been a huge hit for all, even my parents. They came over and bowled and golfed (with only a little arguing - a minor miracle).

It's definitely as fun a system as people and magazines report. I could see this thing being almost as helpful health-wise as DDR is.


Final Episode - Journeyman - Die NBC Die


Good Lord, I get so sick of good shows being canceled.

I really enjoyed Journeyman. And of course the final episode ends with Dan disappearing, in front of his wife for the first time. Another shade of Quantum Leap all over again...

Hey, NBC. Cancel something useless, like the nightly news, okay?



So my older daughter calls me to inform me she's in the emergency room, having her ankle checked, after having submitted a police report for being mugged by two "men".

It would be interesting to be given five minutes alone with these men. I think I would enjoy myself with them, doing things to them to satisfy my want for the "do unto others as they do unto you and yours" philosophy. It's unfortunate we don't live in a society where the victim can have their five minutes with a tethered offender to do with as they wish...


Parent Organizations

You just have to LOVE it when a special event is being planned by adult members of a school and the planned dates for said event are during standard business hours on weekdays. Let's see, that works for... retirees... people who do not work... people who work odd hours... perhaps some self-employed people... housewives... but not for 75% or more of us.

Thanks! I didn't need to be part of it anyway, I guess. (ambigious enough for the rest of you?)


WarDriving Luminarias

So what does a geek like me do to pass the time while carting high school students around town to sell Luminarias? Why, WarDrive of course! So many unsecured networks, so little time... Do you hear me, Ashton Lakes?

MOVIE: Awake

I went to see this movie primarly because Jessica Alba was in it (I didn't realize Darth Vader himself was, also) and found it to be a decent flick. It basically took the short story that's been retold multiple times about someone either being dead or (in this case) under anesthesia and showing what happens when they're actually awake and aware of what's being done to their inert body). It was a bit long given that it's usually a short story, but it was a nice diversion.


Black Friday 2007

Success (of course).

Got the three items I went for (being fourth in line didn't hurt).

Seeing over 100 people hovering around the entrance, thinking they could show up when Target opened and just "merge into" the line, and being rejected by local law enforcement = priceless.

MOVIE: Enchanted

What a totally awesome movie this was! I expected it to be funny, entertaining, a good flick for me and my daughter to see.. but I wasn't expecting such a great movie! I really enjoyed it! Lots of takeoffs from various Disney "princess" movies. I sort of wish I brought the boys along now (maybe a second trip to the theater).


MOVIE: Beowulf

This movie was "good". I have never read or seen anything about "Beowulf" before seeing this movie, so I was virgin to the whole thing. The story itself was fascinating. The animation was "okay" (for so much promotion and such, I would have expected more realistic looking faces). Good ending. Good in general. Didn't knock my socks off, but I enjoyed it.


Wedding - Fred and Amanda Weston

Today's the big day. I get to be one of Fred's groomsmen as he weds 'Manda at Grace Episcopal Church here in Port Orange.

The wedding rehearsal yesterday was basically "YAWN" (as can be expected from the male perspective). Manda's got everything lined up nicely, and Fred's putting up a good show of non-nervousness (I recall that myself). I met several family members on both sides of the fence. Fred's birth mother was present for the rehearsal dinner afterward (I had met her at a brief lunch with Fred years earlier). Manda's family was there in force of course.

I am designated to be walking with Fred's older sister (seems nice, but I don't really know her at all). I'm "last" (or "far right") as we're lined up in height order - yay, tall people. :-P

The bachelor's party a week ago was... a night to remember, I guess you could say. A night filled with activities that I would normally never be involved with (uptight me = true). Apparently Manda's night had something to do with a train and fear of electricity...

So in about 3 hours, the ceremony will begin, then we're off to a pavilion to eat, drink and be merry.

Congratulations, Fred and Amanda!
November 17, 2007


THEATER: The Wedding Singer

Wow, talk about an Eighties overload! This musical was a BLAST!! Drawn directly from the original Adam Sandler movie by the same name, The Wedding Singer had great music, funny moments galore, and that totally awesome song from the original screenplay, "Grow Old With You". I truly enjoyed this trip to Orlando. Going to go find the original cast recording if it exists... Go see this musical if it's available to you!


The movie was a little too short. As well, I actually did not understand the ending (!) which bothered me. Apparently it was tied to Saw II and possibly Saw III, but in any case, I was confused. Very frustrating...


Cunningham, revisited

So Friday, Carolyn at work decided to arrange a Ten Year anniversary cake and desk-calculator with an engraved "10 Year Anniversary" message for me. And then of course, several employees came in and allowed me to be embarassed in front of them.



Ten Years With Cunningham Research

So today I silently celebrated ten years to the day at Cunningham (tomorrow's the official day, but I don't work tomorrow, so nyah).

I still recall not wanting to take the job, because my position at I-CARE Children's Advocacy Center was "comfortable". Heh.

And now I'm one of the five longest tenured employees at the Corporate office of   Cunningham Field And Research Service   Cunningham Research Services   Cunningham Datatelligence CRG Global, Inc. I think I missed some names, but you get the idea.

I started in the IT Department as a basic helpdesk employee. My friend Mark Robb saw my name as one of the potential employees and mentioned that I was a "fellow computer geek" (in so many words). I remember Paul, in his golf shorts and knit shirt, telling me that they were not really looking to pay for someone like me (the income was slightly better than I was making at I-CARE at the time, but that Mark said I was some kind of computer guru and that I would be worth being brought on staff).

A year later, they had hired a gentleman fresh out of college to head up the new Data Processing department, where computerized surveys would be programmed, as well as being where data entry and data cleaning processes would be handled. This gentleman, who I only called "the piano guy" because, at the time, I found it amusing that someone with a degree in music was being hired for the position, came to me about two weeks into his time at the company, and told me that he didn't know if he could take the stress (I could understand - to this very day - CRG is a litmus test for how much you can take and still be able to do your job, in many ways). He said he didn't know if he wanted to come back from lunch. I suggested he take a long lunch if needed. He did. He hasn't come back yet. That was late 1998, by my recall.

I was helping Diane with an Excel spreadsheet one day after my normal working hours, and Mary Cunningham caught wind of what I did and how "proficient I was" with such things. I was suddenly working in Data Processing (I "was" DP, though we quickly obtained a couple more employees to help out, along with the data entry staff I managed. I was the Data Processing Supervisor. I rocked. (cough)

A couple years and several data entry staff members (including my being ordered to fire Carly, our fastest clerk and a very "nice person" - God, I hated that day), Mary Ann came onboard as the Data Processing Manager. She had (by my recall) 20 years experience in Tabulations and Data Processing environments. She lasted about 9 months. She did not like "how things operated" at Cunningham. She asked me, immediately before letting the powers that be know that she was quitting, if I wanted to be in charge. I said "of course" as I had always assumed I would be totally in charge of DP (and possibly IT). The rest is history. I became DP Manager and have been ever since.

We've had a variable staff size. We've had employees of almost every basic type. We've had a couple of... dependent employees (who needed special care from a doctor, let's say)... a loose-goose who I later found out had encounters with other employees "in the bedroom" (she was not missed either way)... a couple who never really belonged... a couple who I truly miss if not at least for their work ethic...

Right now, my staff is comprised of all long-term experienced Market Research Data Processing professionals. This has been very helpful, as we now also outsource a minority of our work to India (which has it's own challenges - language, expectations, etc).

So... ten years. Wow. I can honestly say that DP is "my baby". The various employees over the years have helped shape the department, but there is very little in the department that I did not either create, or take something and completely customize it to our needs. We've gone through (officially) four software packages for computerized interviewing (started with Quancept CAPI, then tried out GMI NetMR, which we never ran one single survey in after a year of prep work, then use a Norwegian product, MI Pro, which was "good" but was very much a work-in-progress). Now we use Confirmit, which is a "very good" product. It has some shortcomings (from the view of me and my staff who are used to quite a few functional options that they do not apparently use much in the internet/panel world, but which we in market research, especially for personal interviewing, use daily). It also has a lot of power that we're learning to harness and expand on every week.

We still clean data using Quantum. Nothing beats it so far. We have to produce data in so many formats for so many different clients. No "gui package" or "user-friendly" package has ever come close to having what we need to handle all our clients' various needs. Quantum is like a nice warm blanket for our cold-data-nights.

David Prather is my long-term partner in DP. He's a good friend, and a great worker. Without him, I would be doing nothing but the everyday programming and data prep, and never have time to handle the special needs brought to my attention, or to make the various "data generators" we use, templates we program with, functions we employ daily, etc etc etc... And Michael Britton, another experiended data handler who's recently come onboard, has proven to be a reliable and self-sufficient programmer and data cleaner. We are, for all intents and purposes, "Carolyn's Angels" (inverting the idea of the classic "Charlie's Angels"). We make it happen.

Ten years. I wonder if I'm going to be tied to CRG longer than I was Jamie? Five more years...

Mark Robb's long gone. Keith's moved on. Fred's gone and getting married very soon. Tammy (thank God) is gone after "subtly sabotaging" the department in her own pathetic way (I hope you've grown up). Mary's sister is gone (thank God - sorry Mary...). So many people have come and gone. And... 25% of my life has been spent at this company.




Pet Peeves, updated

A loooooong time ago, I started a "Pet Peeves" document, because I wanted to document those things that really bug me. I just added a new one today.

#10   People who make you repeat things, and then cut you off before you've barely even begun to repeat it. Example:

  • A: "Do you think the survey will require us to use the new Active-X control?"

  • B: "What?"

  • A: "Do you think *" (interrupted)

  • B: "Yeah, I think maybe we'll have to when the time comes"

In other words, if they'd taken a half-second to think about what was said, instead of wasting the other person's time starting to repeat what they said, it would be less frustrating. For this reason, I always wait at least 1-2 seconds before replying to "What" to people like this. I also force myself to think about what people say to me (imagine that!) so that I'm not guilty of the same thing.



Playing as part of the Broadway Across America series (held in Orlando at the Bob Carr), this production was about what you'd expect from Annie. I was not overly impressed with the acting, per se, but the sets and music were absolutely awesome.

Various versions of Annie over the years have tainted me, obviously, as I kept wondering why certain things happened the way they did. This did not "ruin it" for me, though. Annie was one of the least-important musicals in our BAA subscription, so there was no expectation for anything more than what was seen. Perhaps I'm being cryptic, oh well.


Halo 3

I can honestly say, I was impressed and happy with Halo 3.

Having just finished the Campaign (on Heroic - I did not want to get in a horrible mood playing scenes over and over and over for days trying to finish it raw on Legendary), I must say the story ties up very nicely.

I also LOVE the fact that they pulled the same AWESOME move that many good MOVIES pull.

What move?

The ending. AFTER the credits, more specifically. ;-)

SPOILER ALERT - Click here to hear what I really have to say, including details about the storyline and game. It will expand over time. DO NOT CLICK IT if you do not wish to know about the game's story and ending before playing it!


Band "Football Program" Ads

With the "Football Program" season finally over, I've produced this year's program with all the same quality and effort as last year's (biggest program yet as far as I can tell). I was able to get several ads for the girls, since this is their Senior year, into the program from various parties.

Click the thumbnails to see the ads.



Family Tree

What the hell is it about males, their bloodlines and allowing stupidity to split up a family??

At this moment, I cannot think of a single healthy relationship involving adult males inside of my family's recent 50-year history other than that of my father and I.

My mother's father was (reportedly) a drunk and generally a "bad husband and father" and left his family.

My dad and his brother have had no relationship for at least 15-20 years. My uncle Joe is now on his literal death bed, and if his wife is to be believed, does not wish to have anything to do with his brother... or me, the kid he last saw at the age of approximately 10 or so. So he's going to die in the next 3-4 months apparently and I do not get to see him. His daughter met me once a few years ago (she was working) and she has refused contact with me (multiple phone calls to the phone number she gave me, which ended up being her parent's house).

Interestingly, the tiny bit I know of my dad's father, who died when dad was still in high school, makes him SOUND like he was all about FAMILY.

I have vague information even about my ex-wife's family, plus first-hand experience with her paternal grandmother and her racist, hateful views. This came out while we visited her with our firstborn daughter and many sickening comments came out of her mouth (we actually left her home in the middle of the night on the first day visiting and stayed in one of Jamie's friends mobile homes for the rest of that trip). Information I gleaned on this later made it seem like she obtained this attitude partly (or more?) from her then-deceased husband. "Old world attitudes" was what one member of that family told me. Inability to evolve is what I call it.

What is it?! Why are men so freaking STUPID? I have sought, off and on, to reunite the Malena Family (at my father's level, since there are two branches, his and his brother's) since I got married, and now I find that I'm refused access... so far as I can tell, by my "Aunt" Loretta.

I know that my father and uncle have had their falling out. If they choose not to fix it, that's between them. But now I actually have my uncle in "sight", and the only way I can go visit him is to DEFY his wife. Maybe he really doesn't want to see me and my children. Maybe she's just being overprotective. My head tells me that she is not to be a factor in this (if he dies and I COULD have gotten to know him again, do I hold it against her?). And about about my cousins, Latisha and Joseph Malena? Do we never become family, friends, whatever, because of the stupidity of our parents??

I absolutely hate this situation. I already have a strained "relationship" with my oldest daughter. I always wanted to have a big, united family where you would find cousins, uncles and the like coming and going freely, but that's denied me... and my kids. :-(


School Is Starting

So begins SENIOR YEAR for my daughters, and the one year that ALL FOUR of the Mighty 4 are in High School together. Should be fun. ;-)

THEATER: Peter Pan

Seaside Music Theater's production of Peter Pan was "okay". I wasn't that thrilled with it.

1. The introduction was waaaaaay too long.

2. The first Indian dance number was... dumb.

Captain Hook was very enjoyable. Peter was just as "okay" as the musical itself. I think they spent so much time getting the flying-by-wires routines done that they must not have realized that it just wasn't that good. I hate to say such things, because I really love the work that Seaside does in general, but it's how I see it.

Next up for the Malena family: Broadway Across America in Orlando!!


THEATER: Snapshots

By the man who brought us "Wicked", this play/musical was VERY GOOD! It was a great story of love and life, from teenage angst to post-children decision time -- it really is a well assembled story of a couple who's life goes through various twists and turns, ending with a bittersweet finale mixed with just a drop of hope. "Snapshots" encompasses childhood, college, life lessons, humor and a healthy dose of reality for those young enough not to have experienced most of it yet... I was pleasantly surprised that this was such a good production (what I considered to be a "filler play" during this Summer Season at Seaside Music Theater).

Mentos, The... Death Maker

I happened upon this video, and I was ROLLING...


Throwing Away Your Childhood

So my firstborn has decided that it's simpler to just throw away the majority of her belongings, in the process of living with her boyfriend's mommy and still being in high school. This is yet another disturbing turn of events in her life. After paying her money to help her get the vehicle she has running and licensed, and subsequently using it as an offroad playtoy, she's now said goodbye to band, memories of family (pictures, music, books, momentos) and basically thumbed her nose (figuratively) at me (yet again).

It's very frustrating to watch a loved one make "bad decisions". It's even worse having to sit back and wait (weeks, months, perhaps years) to see if she will make her life even worse as the decision making process continues downhill. I've tried to "be there" for her... but I'm the one she was "fleeing from" so I guess it was foolish to believe she'd come around. Foolish, or the hope of a father who wants her to have everything in life she deserves... not what she's currently headed for. :-(

MOVIE: I Know Who Killed Me

Lindsay Lohan is a slut. She likes to cuss. Lots of people took their young (very) kids to see this movie in the showing I went to with Amanda. I felt dirty being there with my 17 year old. I can't imagine having a 7 year old there. This movie was a dud, overall. Dumb plot, really. If it had handled better, and had an actress leading the movie, it might have been decent... like a low-grade Stephen King short story. But alas, it's not worth more than a matinee showing.

MOVIE: The Simpsons Movie

This was a longer-than-usual episode of the Simpsons, with slightly better animation. I don't think that should be a shock to anyone. *yawn* Oh, and it offered nude underage children. That's great...


Miami and the Florida Keys

The kids and I (and (Mandi's friend Laura) went to the Florida Keys, with a stopover in Miami.

Miami was a bit of a bust, as this was an impromptu trip, and we couldn't really find much to do (planning would have been good, for Miami).

The Keys, however, was (were?) a great time. We went all the way to "mile zero" in Key West, then spent the day boating, jet skiing, snorkeling, and wondering if the lightening later in the day was going to electrocute us.

It was a great quickie vacation!

MOVIE: I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry

Amusing movie. That's about it.



Off we go, to Miami and the Keys. Fun stuff, those impromptu vacations. ;-)


MOVIE: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

Something told me to wait for a matinee showing of this movie. But the midnight showing came on opening day, and I decided to go with Anthony. It was "okay". Definitely a "bridge" movie that if you are not a watcher of the OTHER movies, you will be lost.

Really. It was just "okay".


MOVIE: Transformers

I was actually amazed.

I set myself up to believe this movie was going to be so-so. Good effects and adismal plotline.

I was actually amazed.

I believed that the hype for this movie was overdone. I was certain it would fall short of expectations, so I set them low.

I was actually amazed.

I REALLY ENJOYED this movie! It had a great blend of humor and special effects. Yes, it's a bunch of robots from the eighties animated series brought to life, but I'll be darned if I did not decide I want to go see it again! And I'm going to!

The use of "shaky cam" was probably done for more often than I liked in general, but it was an effective way of integrating CGI and live action and to hide any "problems" they likely had keeping the two aligned "perfectly" throughout the movie.

Go be amazed. I am now anxious for the sequel (I counted four storylines minimum that could be spread to the sequel(s)).


TV: Doctor Who (season 29)

(aka Season 3)

Just finished off the season, and definitely enjoyed it. Had a rather "typical" ending, which was a little frustrating, but it worked. It would be nice if the US got episodes of the Doctor at the same time as the BBC, but as long as I can get them when I want, I guess I don't care.

The effects are very impressive. I can't imagine that the creators of Doctor Who back in "the day" would ever imagine the technology that would go into it, twenty eight seasons later! ;-)


MOVIE: Live Free Or Die Hard

If you liked the other Die Hard movies, you'll enjoy this one as well. Over two hours long, to boot. Lots of fun, and mildly entertaining technophile references (if you are one, you may find yourself searching the various computer screens for legitimate references versus Hollywood-ized versions.

Oh, and the good guys win. Hope I didn't spoil it for you!


The Mighty... Four?

I spent this evening with my oldest daughter Daniella, having dinner and talking. I did much more talking than she did, but that was fine (I know when I get started, sometimes you can't stop me).

I'm hopeful that we mended some bridges and that we're going to continue as Father-Daughter despite recent events. Time will tell. The ball is still in her court as it has been for several weeks now.

I love all of my children, and she needs to remember that. No matter what.

So at the moment, life is looking up a bit for me, personally. :-)


ParaSailing On Father's Day

I took my dad and I ParaSailing on Daytona Beach today. It was a blast! Video footage from in the air will be online shortly. I'll post a reply to this posting with the URL when it's ready.


MOVIE: DOA - Dead Of Alive

Got bored. Decided to watch this movie. Basically your "alternative Mortal Kombat". Lots of beautiful, unrealistic women fighting impossible battles. Yay. I mean, yawn. Good movie if you're bored like I am while my kids are out of town.


MOVIE: Fantastic Four - Rise Of The Silver Surfer


This was a good movie. However, the ending was very, VERY abrupt. I was highly disappointed when suddenly they wrapped it all up in about 90 seconds.

The Silver Surfer was well played/animated. The storyline was "good" (especially Johnny emulating the "Super Skrull", for those who have any clue what I mean by that). I half expected the Frankie Raye character to go the way of her counterpart in the comic book from back in the John Byrne days (hey, there are sequels for that, right?).

One thing that just bugged the heck out of me throughout the movie: The contact lenses Jessica Alba wore must have been the THICKEST lenses possible! Good lord...

In any case, a good movie. I'm a lifetime comic collector, so I'm going to be critical of such treasures as the Fantastic Four and their treatment by Hollywood.

Now, about that ROM Spaceknight movie...


Too Kid-Centric

I knew that I was centering my life around my kids and their activities, and that my own wants and needs were taking a back seat to that, but... I have three weeks to myself, and I've found it hard to do much at all.

It's a bit depressing. I mean, I am a person of means; I'm not wanting for very much as far as personal possessions are concerned (then again, I don't want a lot really). I know that I would like to be in a relationship, with a female, ongoing, but that's not worked out yet. This, despite my oldest daughter's recent decision to leave our home "badly", has been really bugging me. I wish I could turn such desires off like a damn light switch. Really.

I've not exactly tried HARD to rectify the situation.

C.T., a great woman who happens to be part computer-geek (even runs her own application development business and hosts some websites). We've just never hit it off the way I'd hoped. She's got goals that definitely to not gel with what I'd want (including her plan to move in about a year to the mid-west).

M.K., who works at a Japanese steakhouse locally that I go to many times a year. She's beautiful, has a sweet personality, and we've shared phone numbers, talked on the phone, and of course I see her at work (I call ahead to make sure she's working on the nights I go to eat there). However, after talking on the phone, she revealed she had a boyfriend, and I immediately backed off. I'm not built that way. Sometimes it sucks not to be built that way...

B.E., the long-time person who haunted my dreams after, my marriage crumbling due to infidelity and associated rifts between my then-wife and I, we spent time talking, discussing possibilities, sharing more than we should have, spending a couple brief times together alone, a kiss that should-have-did-not-missed-out, and eventually the decision by us both to stop communication for both our sakes (only briefly rescinded a couple times). She knows I'd do anything for her. She also knows she's married the exact same person I was -- a lying cheating whoremonger. Fortunately for him, she is the type to stay and make it work, or at least stay and tolerate (funny, just like I did).

Then there were a couple of people at work whom I have never dated, never asked out, and in both cases, if I am to believe co-workers, it was probably a good thing (one with various issues and a bit younger than me, the other actually dating, but for good reason it was not clear she was).

Jessica is dating (of course) and we rarely talk simply due to the distance and the fact that I don't need to keep open the wound of my brief time with her while in California a few years ago. She's awesome, smart and almost too fast paced for me (but that was a good thing...).

I even got briefly infatuated (BADLY) with a fellow classmate from high school who I saw in person at the 20th reunion. I have no clue how it happened. Perhaps it was just the combination of her very, very hot pictures, her proximity to my hometown, and my own "needy" nature. She's great. We're friends (more than in high school, as we were not in the same circle other than being in band/color guard).

My co-worker and friend David and his girlfriend tried to set me up (to some degree) with their neighbor. I asked them not to. Just like Jessica, there is no use in being in a relationship with someone who lives on the other side of the state. She was not the type of person I was looking for, in any case.

Funnily enough, I met my ex-wife by virtue of my PASTOR and my MOTHER causing us to meet. She asked me out on a date, the rest is history. As I shared with my dad, I remember him saying that I'd "be with" the first woman to show me some attention (or have sex with me, or something like that). BINGO. strange as it may sound, I do not regret the marriage. At all. I loved her (still do, as an ex-husband and an almost-friend). And I got the one thing in life I looked forward to more than almost anything... children. FOUR of them.

They're my life. My joy. My sorrow. My happiness. My worry. My insanity. And the only change I'd make is to have had more.

But there's still time. And methods to expand the family even if I did not marry again. They're in my head, they're bookmarked in my Web Browser, and if it comes to it, I will look into adopting, mentoring, perhaps even a major job change later in life (another topic that's been hitting me more and more lately).

Ahh. Being home alone with the stereo going and nothing but my thoughts can be very eye opening.

ADDENDUM: I am SO GLAD that both of my sons are dating. The chance of them going through what I have is so much lower. Thank you, God...


MOVIE: Pirates Of The Caribbean - At World's End

My kids saw this movie before I did. They thought it was "okay" but not "great". Definitely not better than the last two.

I am not sure if I think it's better than the first two, but I do agree that the first half of the movie was largely a waste of time. The second half of the movie made it worthwhile, however. Four out of five stars, based on the second half of the movie.

The post-credits ending was cute, too. I'm sure 94% of those attending the movie have no clue. YouTube has it off and on (Disney keeps filing complaints to have it removed, but it keeps reappearing, recorded by some soul(s) via cell phone no doubt).


Message to "BE"

If I keep seeing you online as much as I do, I'm eventually going to do the worst thing possible for me, and perhaps for you....




What did we just watch?!

This movie was a cross between brilliant psychological thriller and, as my father put it, the ramblings of some film producer on acid.

I left the theater half thinking it was a cool trip, with a non-Hollywood ending (y'know, where they wrap everything up nicely?) and also thinking that it was just dumb.

I'm stumped.


Time To Continue Life

The events of the past two weeks are just about finalized (just have some boxes to move to storage, basically).

Time to get on with living, as many present- and past-family members have told me repeatedly in one form or another I should do.


MOVIE: Shrek The Third

I was really, REALLY bored last night. I had to choose between Pirates Of The Carribean: At World's End and Shrek. Since the kids mostly said POTC was "okay, not better than the other two", I opted for Shrek.

I would normally not bother with a movie that has Eddie Murphy doing voices, since he is almost always a horrible choice for something aimed at kids.. but I'm sure some will say Shrek "isn't for kids". Riiiiiight.

The movie was "okay". I laughed a bit, but in general, it was nothing to shout about. I was not "impressed".

I should have bought the popcorn...



It's time I said my peace.

On Friday May 18th at approximately 11:45pm, my 18 year old daughter Daniella Malena elected to run away from home. The State of Florida defines her as an Adult, therefore in their eyes, my high school junior "left of her own accord".

That night, after discovering that yet again she has not been where she claimed she would be that day (and later, verifying that the two cell phone numbers she gave me for a "group of friends" she would be with were actually to her boyfriend and her boyfriend's mother). Other recent lies came to life as well.

I took the rough approach with Dani. I got in her face, gave her some verbal thrusts meant to instill fear in her. I took away her key to my Van which she had been driving while saving up for her own vehicle. I followed up in her bedroom about 20 minutes later with some kinder talk, though it did not go over well at all.

The boyfriend's mom came by with a policeman to "keep the peace", and Daniella left with them after telling her sister "I'm moving out, I'm leaving". I was not aware this was happening (I was working as usual on something). About five minutes later, her sister told me that she left.

I went to the police station and talked with Officer Scaccia (spelling questionable) for over two hours about Daniella, the situation, and the fact that since she is an adult, she gets to make this decision. He gave me some advice, which is likely why I've been able to cope to date... and some sobering facts about what he sees daily as an officer in Port Orange. I left "hopeful" but cautious.

That (next) day was pretty calm around the house. We prepared for my younger son's birthday party. I believe we may have seen a movie. That particular day is a blur. I really just shut down emotionally.

Sunday, we hosted the birthday party (very low attendance, due in whole to the honoree who purposely sabotaged the party - go figure).

By 8pm that night, my other daughter and I decided to go try and talk to Daniella at the boyfriend-and-mom's mobile home. Amanda knocked on the door for several minutes to no avail. Neither the mom, Julie Ann Luttrell, nor the boyfriend, Emmett Luttrell, came to the door (we knew Emmett was not there as we passed him on the street, and he was headed south on Spruce Creek Road at 8:15pm on his "chopper bicycle").

About 25 minutes later, I received a very hateful one-way conversation from Julie Ann, stating that I was never to step foot on her property again (she ignored the fact that I never did), and that I was not entitled to talk to Daniella (in so many hateful words). I kept the conversation polite on my end, and simply stated that "apparently my kids were right" (in regards to what little they knew about her) and hung up. She also made some silly comments on how I was not allowed on her tax-payer supported city street and that her (cousin? brother?) relative on the police force told her this and that about her rights. I simply wanted to talk to Dani. Julie Ann is now referred to as "Ms. Damaged Goods". It's simpler to remember.

Monday morning I went to work. Two hours later I went home. I slept the majority of the day. I then started collecting information. The facts collected so far, starting with Volusia County records on the property (and the co-owners thereof) down to other records obtained through public document sites have given me a general overview of who Daniella has ended up with. That, combined with Damaged's bizarre conversation "at me" on the phone make it clear that Daniella is completely manipulated by her current surroundings. But I can do nothing.

Tuesday, I did not bother with work at all. More information collecting, a couple of drives to certain locations to make some observations, some food (I've lost 8 pounds since Saturday morning) and to be truthful, I can't remember much more.

My other three kids, at this point, were probably thinking "wow, all this effort about Daniella...what about us...". This realization made me feel even worse. "I drove" Daniella away, and now I felt like making my other three love-of-my-lifes feel less important than a daughter driving by lust for a boy who has yet to find manhood and is dominated by a woman with extreme emotional issues by my observation.

Wednesday, I did go to work, but shortly, I received a phone call from home that Daniella had walked in the front door. As I was told this, Daniella, in typical fashion, stated over and over that "I'm just here to get a couple things", until I instructed the caller to repeat what I said out loud to Dani. I could not risk what Dani's intentions of anyone else who may have been with her - there was no time to even consider such things.


...then I heard the door slam very loudly. I was told that Daniella told my other child "F*ck you" as she left. I came home immediately.

Talking to the police yet again for another hour that day (different officer) I learn that my wife sent the police to Damaged's home in an effort to ascertain Daniella was safe. There was no answer on two visits. I have not followed up with it again, since it was not my call to do this (but what a great idea it was).

The previous day, during a brief phone call, Daniella told her mother in California that she was going to stop by my house Wednesday night and talk to me. She never showed up. Was it because of the visit earlier that day and the threat of police intervention (simply due to my want to protect my children from Daniella) or did she ever intend to come by and talk? I have no clue. She has already skipped school repeatedly, skipped the Graduation band performance which for normal students means they have failed Band (but perhaps the email I sent to the directors will avoid that), and she has made a copy of the key to the Van (easily proven by virtue of the personal items she took from it Wednesday morning, but then left sitting on the driveway after she came in the house only to get rebuffed). So now I have to get the van rekeyed.

Today, I was on my way home from being at work for a few hours, I tried to call Dani for probably the 20th time at Emmett's cell number (I don't bother with Damaged's number anymore, but my other daughter sometimes tries it). After two failed attempts at reaching anyone, I received a text message about 3 minutes later. It read, verbatim:

"Look whos in control now... U threaten to talk to my mommy and call the cops oh man scary. But look whose on my side my mom and the cops oh and ur lucky as hell that im a nice guy or i would have told the cops bout u hittin ur daughter. How u like them apples?"

So if I am to believe Emmett, Daniella is now (probably when Damaged escorted her out Friday night) telling Emmett and mom that I abuse her.

This is the last straw for me, as it's high time I concentrate on my three children, not a pseudo-adult who thinks she knows what's best for herself. Her belongings are mostly packed, ready for her to pickup. Her financial obligations (some of which she is not even aware of yet since she only became a self-sustaining adult six days ago) await her. Her trip to California this summer has been "cancelled" in favor of an open-end ticket so she can visit her mother at a later time -- this way, my children can visit their mother and grandparents in peace without Daniella present. She knows none of this. Maybe she'll read it here or hear about it from someone. I don't know.

I have not seen Daniella, nor heard her voice, since approximately 11:30pm on Friday, May 18th. I've left her voice mails where she is staying. I've sent text messages. I've tried to visit her. She is making it clear that she does not wish to see me "right now". She is living with her boyfriend, who I still believe to be a "good kid" but who is under two unfortunate influences:
  • Damaged Goods

  • Daniella

Emmett has potential, despite the fact that I cannot currently trust him due to recent events (by Daniella's report, so I cannot be sure now). Odd to me.. Daniella herself caused me to mistrust Emmett, and I'm beginning to second-guess that mistrust.

So, I have this off of my chest. My firstborn daughter has run away from home, a junior in high school, loved by her family and friends, talking to very few. I have several of her friends trying to talk to her. Multiple family members besides me have tried to get hold of her, but her calls are screened. She has her own cell phone now (something she's had since before she left, based on the information received from one very good friend of hers).

If anyone would like to try and talk reason to Daniella and help her out in some way, she can be reached as follows:
  • 5419 Landis Avenue
    Port Orange, Florida

    (386)679-2832 her boyfriend's cell phone
    (386)747-3752 her boyfriend's mom's her cell phone (never revealed to me; had to find out via third parties)

As for me, I have three children and a home to take care of. And protect. I will do so.

And to those mentioned in this message above: You are responsible for Daniella's well-being. Believe it.


Wanted: Alive

So, I'm back (a lot sooner than I planned to be).

What's happening, purposely in random order:

Christopher has turned 14 - today we celebrate his birthday with friends coming over for the afternoon to do the food, cake and Guitar Hero II thing. He already received a Nintendo DS plus a couple of games for it, among other items. I anticipate a lot of guitar, dance and possibly Arcade (MAME) action today.

Amanda has been doing several IB Program Finals this past week and next as school winds down. I don't envy the workload she has. I really did not enjoy school, myself. Rushed through it. She is much more Academic than I am (or anyone else within the immediate family, by far).

Daniella, on Friday night, decided that she did not want to be part of my household anymore, so she has left. We have no clue where she is, unfortunately. Messages left with her boyfriend have hopefully made it to her. We'd like her to come home; we love her dearly; the choice is completely hers as an "adult" 18 year old person. I personally hate how it's happening since I have no clue if she's safe. She is being completely selfish in this regard. Heaven only knows what I'll do if that is NOT the case, as those who "were involved" in her leaving are now fully responsible for her well being in my eyes.

Anthony's rocket, launched with other student's rockets recently, made the second highest height (which gave us pause to discuss basic Geometry, right triangles and the like) which is awesome. He's also (apparently, by my view) enjoying his work at Chick-fil-A here in Port Orange. Hopefully he'll get his Drug/Alcohol Test done so he can get his permit this summer and start preparing for the world of driving.

We just finished bathing all animals, fogging the house, related "fun" work. I've been burning DVDs as time permits this weekend (orders still being taken for last and this year's DVDs for Spruce Creek High School Musical Performing Arts Program).

That's about it right now. Summer's here, and with luck, we're going to the Keys some weekend to do some snorkeling, either before or after the kids' trip to California to visit their grandparents and mother.


Wanted: Dead

It's a sad state of affairs when you are worth more to someone DEAD than you are ALIVE.

I think I'll be laying off the Journal for a bit. Unless certain things get straightened out soon, I won't have much reason to bother with it, or much else.



I may have a potentially, slightly, unhealthy obsession.

With Avril Lavigne.

(sigh) I'm beginning to think mid-life events are around the corner. Hmm. Maybe by admitting this "issue" here in public, it will go away....


MOVIE: Grindhouse (double feature)

Quentin Tarantino is obviously a genius. I loved this double feature, collectively titled Grindhouse. The second feature started slow (way too much "back story"), that's my one and only complaint. SEE THIS. It's 3.5 hours, so be forewarned now. There are some scenes of upper body nudity (faked movie ads) and a LOT of zombie-like violence (body parts being pierced, obliterated and eaten) so if you're taking a kid, know this now.


Web 2.0 Video

This video was mentioned in one of the weekly tech mags I read, and I have to say, it was very telling. Especially the end. The constructs we currently understand for Privacy, Sharing and Ownership are all evolving. Either we're going to have two distinct groups, or culture as a whole will move ahead with this bold new era...


Static Electricity monkey balls. Literally.

If you turn my laptop to the side so that sunlight shines on it at an angle, you'd think it's been sitting in a dusty field for 3 months. It's sickening. I wipe it down constantly.

I guess I'll be investing in anti-static cleaner/spray now.


Vista Upgrading, The Hard Way

I purchased a laptop late last year. A nice system, with dual core AMD technology. It included a free upgrade to Windows Vista Home Premium (if I remember the title correctly, since there are so many of them).

So I started the process of ordering my free upgrade recently. Initially it went smoothly enough, entering my 25-character code for Windows XP Media Center into their website. I even received an email with more info.

I was told to mail, fax or scan-and-email my receipt to them. I chose the latter. I asked that they reply back to verify it was received and nothing was going to delay things (since they needed "weeks" to ship it anyway).

No reply (not a shock really). So I sent a follow-up email, altering the subject line a bit to try and get around any automated system. No reply. I checked the website, which has a status tracker. I was "accepted, awaiting proof of purchase" it said. Hmm.

So I had an idea: I emailed the website using a brand new email with a friendly "Hello, are you still in business?" message, nothing more. I got a reply later that day. So, I've now replied to THAT email with "Great! Then you can answer my questions below so that my Vista upgrade goes smoothly. I await your reply."

I then pasted in the original exchanges and sent it off. I wonder if I'll get a reply, now that they revealed they ARE able to actually handle emails?

Idiots. I work with some people like this (and unfortunately, several of them work in our IT Department, which I've thankfully not been part of for years - I run the Data Processing department).

Oh well. As long as I get my Vista upgrade.

(oh, and I did try calling - that was useless, you CANNOT get a live person using any of the logical options - everything tells you about a website URL you can visit - I may try again one day and just go through every option, maybe find a SALES line, that many times works...)


There Is A Hole In Your Mind

(ten points to those who recognize the quote)

Today, my younger daughter Amanda decided it would be cool to fly up in the air, and then, falling backward, land on her head, while roller skating.

So, we rushed her to the ER to have the large bump, with the hole where blood was coming out, checked. The doctor seemed to think the hole in her head was fine, so no stitches or medicine of any kind. Just a $300+ bill for 147 seconds of verbal advice while sitting on one of their beds.

Nift. Really.


To Mr. Fred Amoroso (Macrovision)

(actual email I sent in response to recent information posted at

In response to your letter addressing
Apple's position on DRM, and your own
company's, I can only clarify some
facts for you.

  Black is black.
  White is white.
  Up is up.
  Down is down.

I truly believe you are having
trouble with these concepts. Or,
you're simply concerned that your
company's primary (if not only)
business will disappear if Mr.
Jobs idea were to go into effect.

Good day.

Anthony Malena


Adopting A Valentine

Since I do not have a "significant other" at this time, and was feeling like I wanted to bring some happiness to the world in some form, I decided to adopt.

So, I have brought home a beautiful girl. She's five years old, and the kids all love her. Rumble (the dog) is interested in possibly hurting her (by virtue of his poorly trained nature) so we're keeping him aware from her.

Her name is Kira, which is perfect as it's just the type of name I would have given her. I love her to death! She was given up for adoption because her family could not care for her anymore. So we've bought her some nice bedding and are secure, private place to call home.

And so, our new Ferret, Kira, came into our lives this Valentine's season.



So apparently I have Iritis (may have had it for a long time since I've been light sensitive for as long as I can remember). Interesting.


SlikStik Classic = Arcade Goodness

So with this year's taxes, I decided to make "smaller" purchase that is for the family, though the girls may not use it as much as "we boys".

I purchased a SlikStik Classic for the computer setup on our TV. Now games are a blast, using a real arcade panel with joysticks, trackball, spinner and pinball buttons. It's totally awesome!


Ninth Wheel

So now, I'm the ninth wheel in the family.

Christopher has a girlfriend (or more).
Anthony has a girlfriend.
Amanda has a boyfriend.
And now, Daniella has a boyfriend.

I suddenly feel lonely again. But hey, I was productive this weekend. The boys and I built a dog house from scratch. I took inventory of all my computers laying around and in the process, found an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro video card (which has a DVI port on it). This became the TV computer's new video card (performance increase was phenomenal). And now we have truly HD connectivity. In a few days, something is showing up (this year's "personal tax purchase") that will make the TV computer very.. very.. fun..


Family Time

This weekend we celebrated Amanda (and her friend Laura's) 17th birthday party at our home. Lots of pictures online per the norm...

I discovered, while offloading the pics from my camera, that the videos Amanda and Chris made a few weeks ago were still in my camera. They only posted a couple to YouTube that I recall, but there were several MORE, which I now have and can use to extort favors later... one in particular was where Chris was "The Crocodile Hunter", and... hunted... me. In my chair. Using my laptop. I was not aware they had filmed this, so it was very funny to me. ;-)

Daniella has been electing to work extremely long hours lately, so I barely get to see her anymore (and when she is not working, she opts to go out with friends, so parental warning bells are going off...). Hopefully she hasn't given up on us totally yet.

It's amusing to watch "who" is viewing the webcam here at Malena central. Sort of reverse-voyeuristic. :-)


Starcraft 2? Hmm...

I'd really like to believe that this article implies that Starcraft 2 will see the light of day, but I'm weary that it may mean the first-person game (Ghost I think it was called) may be what's hinted at. Starcraft was fun!


Wikipedia Antics

Holy heck. I participate in maintaining multiple articles on Wikipedia, and until now had no problems.

Now that I'm formally posting an entry that I know more about than anyone on this planet... the history of Orbiter Online, my BBS and ISP, I'm sudden getting friction from "the powers that be" who very quickly removed my entry as a "possible advertisement".

So now I'm reading through pages and pages of Wikipedia guidelines to try and iron this out. I've emailed several Orbiter users, in the hopes that some of them will help me out, though the links I've sent them both are now bad thanks to those manipulating the situation at Wiki's site, and if the users in question are not familiar with Wikipedia, they're not going to be able to do much to help me.

One person stated that since Orbiter has no ranking on Alexa (a "very recent" web ranking mechanism in the timeline of the internet, especially considering that Orbiter it over 12 years old) that this is part of the reason why Orbiter should not be included. So, by that guideline, if you do not rank on Alexa, don't bother posting your site or web page to Wikipedia because "it's not worth it". I am especially disturbed that something that is dictated by AMAZON.COM is causing me this grief.