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


Wrapping Up 2010

Since I've not been posting nearly as much as usual in the past 3-4 months (including several movies I've seen that I've not mentioned), I thought I'd do a year-in-review posting.  I'm wide awake (it's 2am on a Tuesday morning right now) and just had a very long, emotional-rollercoaster phone call with someone very special (more on her later).

So at the beginning of the year, life found Tony (uh oh, third person...) doing the daily grind.  Working, living, participating in band events at the high school.  I remember getting sick (was it a sinus infection?  I don't remember) and being out of work for 3-4 days.

The day I came "back" to work (February 17, 2010 if memory serves), I was let go, laid off, fired, whatever.  This was after 12.5 years of what I consider to be a highly successful run (considering I created the department and just about every mechanism in it from scratch during that time, and considering what I know is now happening in that 'department' after my departure).  I was bitter initially, but frankly, since I was the fourth highest paid non-president at the Corporate office at that point (unfortunately this company's IT department did nothing to secure files of a sensitive nature, and I'd be willing to be to this day, such files are STILL publicly viewable by anyone who knows how to look), I can only look back and say "a successful run, time to move on".  Maybe someone should tell Zoty about the backups that are in multiple locations that are publicly usable, the files that are on shares on people's personal computers that are publicly accessible, or perhaps the passwords that STILL WORK after over THIRTEEN YEARS in certain places (well, when I left anyway).  It's truly amazing.   I also imagine that FTP server that was used randomly for Warez purposes is probably running.  Not going to check, myself.  Nothing to gain from it.  (shrug)

So then I applied for the typical benefits, started applying for jobs, and found that the local (as in, 25 mile radius) job market was pretty dismal (not a shock, but frustrating to find first-hand).  I expanded, and also started looking in key geographical areas that I'd be interested in moving to, AFTER discussing the possibility with my son, which was of primary importance.  Jobs were out there, but given that the recession has caused a huge swing in how much an employer can demand from someone, and the income level they can now get away with offering them in many cases, I had to make the decision to wait it out and live on minimal monies while repeatedly refining my resume.

I ended up lethargic for a few weeks, meaning I was laying on the couch a lot, waking up at 4am to get my emails from Monster, CareerBuilder and the State of Florida so I could apply for things "ASAP".  Made a LOT of applications to Disney (still getting replies to this very month on that) which would have been a big commute, but the idea of working there in an IT-related capacity held great promise.  As I had just lost over 40 pounds (later 50) by then, and was inactive, I actually ended up in the hospital for a couple days (a combination of "minor" factors that all hit at once).   Wow.

I worked with Bank of America on an "Obama Plan mortgage restructuring" which never happened (a horrific waste of time of over 6 months) and ended up handling that situation with an arbitrator so BofA could "save face" basically.   Dumb.

My oldest daughter "officially" moved out on her own, which was both exciting and sad.   She probably thinks I was elated that she left.  In truth, it was emotional for me, though it was quickly replaced with the return of my younger Daughter who found living with the former wife/mother was not what it was cracked up to be in her eyes.   She's getting married next September.  My older son is in Afghanastan for the US Army.  That's both scary, exciting and bizarre to consider.  My youngest son is finishing up his Senior year and is going into the US Army as well and will become an M.P.  He's excited about that.

There was an incident involving one of my kids, their friends, and some golf carts at a nearby residential community.  That's still being finalized.  Yay.

There was my decision to re-enter the dating community.  That's had an odd series of effects, ultimately leading to what I can only call *the* best relationship I've *ever* had.  I'm not even going to qualify that with a "so far" because I'm not allowing for such possibilities.   The progression was as follows (those who I dated "more than once" - single dates just don't qualify in my book).

Regina.  Met her on  Username "SailTowardSunXXX".  Very nice, smart person.  Very TALL (6'1").  Likes SciFi.  Hard worker (3 jobs).  Had musical and other ambitions that I could appreciate.  After a couple months, I started to cut things off due to some perceived control issues.  That's when she told me she was born a man.   So, yeah.  That ended.  Very bizarre.  And very disturbing to be fooled like that.  (sigh)

Maureen.  Met her on  Username "Gingerrr4XX".  Very sensual, mother of two young girls.  Had just kicked her 9 year boyfriend (father of second child) out.  Spent time becoming very engrossed in both her kids and her situation (lost job, home approaching foreclosure), and also pulled in by her sexual nature.  One Sunday, her daughter (who started calling me daddy by that point) blew up at her (Maureen) for having gotten involved with a man "so quickly" after "Richie" left (this is what I was told).  The next day, I'm dumped via email, after being told that the father of the FIRST daughter (who was calling me daddy) had come back that same day via Facebook.  They apparently are going to pursue a relationship after 10 years apart.  I wish Maureen's kids the very best and, hopefully, a stabilized life.  They desperately need it.

And then...

Jaime.  The woman I am currently dating, "in a relationship" with (my kids call it "Facebook semi-official").  She thinks and reacts to situations very much like me.  She speaks her mind, yet knows how to not be impolite or talk down to people.  She communicates at my level (let the smart alec remarks commence).  We have a very natural connection that feels "too good to be true" at times.  There are no expectations other than free time we have is spent together, because our kids are at the end of child-rearing status, we're not going to have any more, and we have very simple desires.  To say I'm excited about the prospects with Jaime is to put it mildly.  After (1) the cheater, (2) the crazy woman, (3) the man and (4) the dumper, I've ended up in a relationship that so far has given me great hope for the future and a connection I've not had before.  I really have high hopes for what we've had so far.  There is a simple, open honesty and mode of communication that has just made things awesome.  I look forward to 2011 with Jaime.  And beyond...

 Christmas this year was pretty subdued.  My income is currently lower than I'm used to, so I did not do much this year.  Those around me surely understand.  The new year is about to begin, and I get to go with the high school band to do pics and video of them marching in the new Governor's inaugural parade on January 4th -- that's cool.  Work is going well in general (have enough to do to last me months right now, then I can perhaps do the daily grind at that point).  Everyone seems generally healthy (though I've not been to the "Y" in 3 months -- need to rectify that).

So that seems to be my year-in-review.   Hopefully I didn't forget anything noteworthy.  A large part of the year was spent unemployed and figuring out what I was going to do with myself.  And then dating began again.  Overall, a year of transition.  Might be time to start a "fresh journal".  Hmm....

Have a great 2011, everyone.


Sony Noise Canceling Headphones (MDR-NC7)

I was surprised to be given a pair of these headphones by one of the people I answer to at work yesterday.  Merry Christmas!  Give the environment I work in (loud-talking and music-playing phone reps everywhere) and the kind of work I do, this was a welcome gift.  I love 'em!   They work quite well.


Cereal - Mouth Closed - Really

If God meant for cereal to be crunched with one's mouth open, I think he wouldn't have bothered giving us lips... (sigh)


Hello, Jaime!

A new beginning with a great new friend.  Had a great outing this past weekend with Jaime at Chili's, then Takeya, then The Ocean Deck, the Steak 'n Shake (one outing long enough to span two days, so...).

Great precursor to a week at work that is destined to be very stressful.  Future's bright, wearin' shades.


Barely Posting Lately - Maureen, Kids, Movies, Life

I had noticed tonight that I had barely posted anything in three months to my online Journal (which gets shared out to Facebook as well).  I've seen several movies and had some noteworthy events happen, but I've been very preoccupied in the past two of those three months with Maureen Falvey, someone who I've fallen head over heels for and have been spending a lot of time (on the weekends at least) with (though I have been posting pictures to my Picasa Web Albums which is normally linked to from my family website).  As of this weekend, we're in a weird place (I'm not sure what is going to happen in the near future, but I'm hopeful).

I'm not sure what direction I am going right now.  I've been working for the past two months at a new company in Lake Mary, Florida, handling data- and email-related duties.  My younger son is over a proverbial "final hurdle" to get his job of choice in the Army which he leaves for in July 2011 right after high school (and is getting rather buff lately I might add).  My younger daughter is home for the time being while she plans the final preperations of her marriage in September of 2011.  My older daughter officially moved out a few months back and is doing the work-and-pay-bills routine those of us with responsibilities are familiar with.  And my oldest song is serving in Afghanastan for the US Army.

I've stayed stagnant on my weight since losing quite a bit LAST year.  I'd like to lose a LITTLE more, but more importantly, I'd like to tone up a bit.  The YMCA was hit and miss, and has been miss in the past 2-3 months.

Of the movies recently seen, I can surely warn anyone of any interest level AWAY from seeing Harry Pothead Part 1, because they literally wasted everyone's money with a half-hour flick that should have remained a SINGLE movie, not split into two for money-greed purposes.   "Red" was funny (never read the comic).  Still love "Scott Pilgrim" which I now have at home (HILARIOUS/AWESOME).  I'm actually anticipating the Twilight Series finale(s) (hopefully Part 1 is not as bad as HP's part 1).

My mind is heavily on Maureen, and Grace, and Emma, right now.  We had a very odd event this morning, and there was a sudden shift in the romantic winds that took ME completely by surprise.  I'm still hopeful, and wanting, so we'll see.   The mind of a woman is a place that men sometimes THINK they know their way around, but they're usually wrong.  :-/ 

Back to work tomorrow after a four day weekend.  Woo hoo. 


GAME: Star Wars - The Force Unleashed II (promo videos)

I'm really looking forward to the sequel to Star Wars - The Force Unleashed, which was such an awesome idea for LucasArts ... to produce a game situation which takes place in an alternate timeline of the Star Wars Universe.  Now we've got clones of Sith/Jedi in the mix.  Cool stuff.


A Loss Of Spontaneity

I find this example of modern day chat online very fascinating.  I wonder how accurate this is with people in general?  I definitely do NOT fit this mold, but I'm a long term, old school computer geek...


Excel 2007 Is Broken - Not

It's amazing how important placement is in a formula.

    =IF( MAX( RAW!$Q:$Q > 365 ) , 365 , MAX( RAW!$Q:$Q ) )

The above formula is perfectly fine.  If it's what you want.  What you probably wanted was:

    =IF( MAX( RAW!$Q:$Q ) > 365 , 365 , MAX( RAW!$Q:$Q ) )

Sadly, this is one of those quirks (in my case at least) where the proper value is returned if the formula exists on any row EXCEPT ROW A.  I had three people looking at this formula (first one above) and none of us figured it out... until I typed the formula from scratch and asked myself "Why is my evaluation INSIDE the MAX?".

Duh.  Fun fun.  Not.  I was so proud that I though I'd found an actual fault in Excel, too...  (and for those curious, the data being checked sometimes has less than a year of rows -- I need to show one year, or less if needed)


MOVIE: Predators

Another movie I saw at the  local cheap-o theater.  Another movie that Chris told me was not that good ("it had no story" and "the cop-character from Predator 2 was in it").  Well, I had to disagree with him on both counts.

I did not like the attempt at a twist they introduced where (supposedly) there are (at least) two clans of Predators and the bigger ones were being mean to the smaller ones (or the fact that a human who had no clue would even come up with that idea).  The character Chris thought was the cop from P2 was NOT that character.

The movie served it's purpose, however.  It was a decent story with new twists about Predators abducting people and tossing them (literally) onto a "game perserve planet" to hunt them (instead of hunting them on their own planet).  It had "enough story" to keep me entertained.  The ending was as many movies do these days... a setup for more movies.  I thought it worth even regular movie prices to see, personally.  I'd definitely recommend it to people who enjoy the Predator (or Alien) movies (there was a vague indirect reference to Alien with a victim who had a chest hole representative of the Alien franchise).

MOVIE: Prince Of Persia - The Sands Of Time

Went to see this Disney flick with Chris at the local cheap-o theater.  Chris has told me it was not that good, but went with me anyway.

It certainly was not anything that evoked thoughts of "accuracy" (I almost expected to find Eddie Murphy playing a talking Jackal or Seth Rogen selling goods at a Bazaar).  However, this is a movie based on a video game franchise, and for that, it was pretty decent.  It was certainly better than that loss-of-time called Clash Of The Titans.  I can't really comment much on story, as it was not Oscar material.

I am not a Prince Of Persia game purist, so the complaints I recall people having about the movie versus the game series are lost on me.  I enjoyed the movie... it had a predictable ending... it had a (fairly) pretty lady in it... it had some good special effects (again, better than that loss called "Clash"). 

Rent the DVD if you get the chance.  It's fun.


The Google Picasa / Band Photographer Pitfall

Google Picasa is an awesome photo management system, combined with their photo hosting (free, or pay insanely cheap money for tons of extra storage), making it a great way to store photos, tag faces, edit pictures and more.

However, BE WARNED.  If you photograph large groups of people frequently (as I do for Spruce Creek High School's music program) you may NEVER get all your faces "tagged or ignored".  I have yet to put a dent into my collection, because every time I photograph an event, hundreds, if not thousands, more faces end up  in the queue to be tagged.   I'm once again back down to 47,000+ faces to be handled.  Ugh.

But it's all good.  :-)


MOVIE: Inception

I was not interested in seeing this movie beyond perhaps a matinee or it moving to the cheapo theater, as the commercials just didn't do anything for me.  My girlfriend had other intentions as she repeatedly mentioned it as something she wanted to see... so, we went to see it last night.  I ended up happy that we did, as it was a very interesting and "fairly unique" story (minor spoilers ahead).

The basic story is not new, and the beginning-of-movie reveal of the end of the movie plot is done to death any more.

But besides these points, the story was actually very interesting in the depth which they went and the detail given.  I found myself analyzing every scene looking for hints as to what was to come.  That alone told me it was an engrossing movie.  The "final scene" was no surprise (to me at least) as the movie blatantly made it clear something would happen in regards to Leonardo's character and his "totem".  This wasn't disappointing, just a little predictable.  It does make you rethink the entire movie and what really happened, though.  So I have to give this movie a thumbs-up.  Good stuff.


The Beginning Of The End -- Band, High School, Etc.

This week marked the "final Band camp" for my youngest "child" Chris... and for me.  Chris is a senior and will be going in the Army if current plans stay as-is in July of 2011.  I look forward to his immersion in the adult world, the opportunities he will have, while at the same time being apprehensive about the last of the Mighty Four going the way all children must go.  (sigh)

I attended three days of Band Camp for brief periods (several hours on the final day), taking pictures and shooting video as is my norm for the band.  I'm in the middle of producing the "Football Program" which is a huge fundraiser for the band, as well.  It's odd to consider that I've been officially a part of the band program for the past six years (and been "around" the year before that) and that it's coming to an end.

I consider the possibility that maybe I will get involved again in 15+ years, whenever my kids start having their own kids.  But that's too far to really take seriously at this point.  I do have hopes, though.  :-)

MOVIE: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Chris and I attended an evening showing of this movie tonight, with hope that it would be as good as the commercials tried to make it look (I was a bit fearful it was going to be a bit too childish).   I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the movie, the intelligence that went into the off-kilter "video gamey" effects, and how much I simply laughed out loud during the whole movie.  I know I'm a geek, and that I have some childish tendencies (which I happen to like about myself), and given that I've been a lifelong comic collector, I probably would have enjoyed this movie even if it were not that good, but it really was fun and enjoyable!

I would highly recommend this movie to most people.  It's a blast, and there are quite a few little "easter eggs" (inside jokes, what have you...) to be found (Flash Gordon among them).  :-)  Check it out!!


Illegals Crossing Sign

Wow.  I've truly been away from home (California) for far too long.  I just discovered this sign for the first time recently (on it just so happens).   It really bring a lot of different thoughts to mind.  Anger, laughter, frustration, annoyance... but wow.  They really have a sign for this to warn drivers to help avoid these people now?  *shakes head*  I'm actually not clear if this is California or Arizona, but either way...

UPDATE:   Never mind.  I found references that make it clear it's in California.


BBS (and Text Adventure) Documentaries

Those of us over the age of (let's say) 24 may have possibly enjoyed the fun of the online world before the Internet become prevalent... the world of the BBS.  A super-brief history of the Bulletin Board System universe follows:

Back when MODEMS were the rage (not those things the phone company now CALL modems, the devices used to connect to DSL services), people like you and I could setup a computer at home with some software and allow others to dial into it.  They could leave messages in public forums, private emails, play games (one player at a time originally) and eventually chat with other users when some people would install more phone lines to the same computer.

Later, bigger BBS systems, with multiple phone lines, and advanced software that actually allowed these multiple users to interact with each other in games and teleconferences, started to emerge.  Some of them later connected to OTHER BBS systems for a few hours at a time, allowing users from all over the city/nation/world to chat and play games.   Then of course some of these systems started connecting to the Internet.  I ran one that was pretty successful for many years here in Volusia County called Orbiter Online, which is now a webhost for various schools and not-for-profit entities such as the Lakeside Jazz Festival here in Port Orange, Florida.

Eventually, the internet all but completely replaced these "dialup" systems (while some of them completely migrated to internet "portals").  The BBS (including the term itself) is pretty much gone now.  But the people behind came up with the idea to do a documentary on BBS history.  I purchased this DVD set and was very happy with it.  I'd highly suggest it to anyone interested in the history of home-brew dialup services and the unique history (including ASCII and ANSI art, the many communities that emerged from the BBS scene, many forms of music and other media that could only have come from those of us who grew up this originally "geeks only" world, and much more.

Now, I see that they're coming up with a new documentary on the original "RPG", the original "adventure games", the one and only TEXT ADVENTURES.  If the titles Zork, Suspended, Adventure, Dungeon, or even things like Dungeons and Dragons don't ring a bell, you may not find an interest here.  But these are the types of games that required true imagination and the ability to hit more than a couple buttons on a pad to run around a virtual environment and battle monsters.  I'm really looking forward to this new documentary.  I love a good game of Halo (I/II/III/ODST) and most recently Mass Effect (I/II), but I still occasionally pull out Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy or Suspended, or even "Begin" (a simplistic "Star Trek" based battle simulator using simple ASCII "graphics") to get a feel for "original gaming".  :-)   The name of the documentary is, amusingly enough, "Get Lamp".

MOVIE: City Island

Regina and I went to see this movie a few days ago.  It seems to be something you'd see at a film festival or something, though it had some upper-echelon stars in it (Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies and also Steven Strait).  It's a "family comedy" basically.  Not something a teenager is likely to care about.  But we found it to be entertaining and a good story in general.  I'd suggest it to those who enjoy good stories and can stand not having high tech CGI graphics anywhere in the movie.  :-)


Man Wants To Donate Organs While Alive

My father died in February of 2009. The way he died was starvation. Before anyone thinks that something dumb happened, it was planned and "normal" for someone who has multiple symptoms of Lou Gherig's Disease, a tiny spot of cancer on his lung, advanced diabetes and perhaps more. He was not able to feed himself or be fed, and as it was well known and established that he did not want machines powering an otherwise useless body, he literally starved to death. I was there at the time of death.

Now, I read that a man who has Lou Gherig's wants to donate organs (heart, lungs, etc) before they deteriorate so that they can benefit someone, instead of letting them go bad in his body. In essence, he would be committing suicide. My emotional response on this teetered back and forth. He's trying to help others. He's giving up on life because "it's over anyway". Ultimately, I happen to believe (as with other non-related topics) that people should be able to make this decision as it is "their life and body". But that little touch of "what if something improved later" or "what if a cure for his problems came later" still bugs me. My religious upbringing yells "this is wrong" of course. (sigh)

LINK: Man Wants to Donate Organs Before He Dies


MOVIE: Twilight Eclipse

Chris and I had joked about seeing this movie, because the first movie was "okay", and the second movie we suffered through (a ton of middle-aged and preteen females sighing through the entire movie, no joke).

However, I had good reason to go see it as it ended up being a "first date" with someone I've met (better discussed some other time).  As well, there were only about 3-4 other couples (all mature) in the audience and no sighing.

The movie was decent.  Considering it was not "built" for a 42 year old man by any means, I guess that's saying something.  I was able  to sit quietly (though distracted as I was being on a "first date") and enjoy the movie.  The storyline was not rocket science, nor even the most wonderous romance conceived, but it fit the series (I know nothing of the books) and the action sequences were enjoyable.. in fact, I liked that they did not go overboard with the action, in that if happened and that was it... no instant repeats, no overkill slow-mo "watch THIS gory scene" type sequences.  Just matter-of-factly action.  I liked that.

Did she kiss both wolfboy and vampguy?  Of course.  Does she apparently love both?  Of course.  Do I think she'll end up with either one (again, I know nothing about these books)?   I was always assuming she'd NOT END UP with EITHER ONE.. and my date DID happen to spout something out at the end that seems to confirm that.  It doesn't ruin anything for me.  But it does intrigue me "how" it will happen.  Hmm.

So, it was a decent movie.  I'm sure women of most ages, especially with daughters, will love it for the most part.  I definitely would not assume seeing a male sitting in an audience NOT accompanied by at least one female.  That would look... odd, probably.  :-)



July has brought about the process of "re-entering the dating world".  Two days into "looking" and ... wow.  There are people out there who want to go on dates.  Apparently I had fooled myself (as usual) into thinking I was alone in the multiverse.  Hmph.  This should be an interesting journey.  Even after linking up with two FAKE people via the online service I'm with, the many others I've already chatted with multiple times have raised my spirits, just have adult conversations with like-minded people.  How would'a thought..?


MOVIE: Toy Story 3

It's been a loooooong time since I watched a Toy Story movie, and I am not entirely sure I saw the second movie at all.  So it was with a great surprise that watching this movie, I was highly  moved and very happy to have spent the cash on a 3d flick.

It had a lot of tie-ins for me for real life.  Moving one, loved ones taking new avenues and leaving others behind... it was almost overwhelming at times.  But then again, I'm a high emotional person (much to the shock of some since I only show my emotions in very closed quarters).   I was sooo happy to have seen this movie, I may go see it again.  I'm glad I did not cry in public at some parts.  It was close.  No joke.

I'm just getting soft at 42, right?  (sigh)


TV: Glee

Wow.  How did I *not* ever watch this show?

Oh wait.  I still haven't seen a single episode...  but I stumbled upon "Dream On" by the Glee Cast (featuring Neil Patrick Harris) and was dumbfounded that I had not ever heard these songs yet to date.

Well, I've fixed that.  Huge memories of being in chorus back in church and later in high school (though not singing secular songs, of course) come back when I hear this type of music, chorus with simple accompaniment.

Now I just need to catch an episode of the series.  The music is awesome.  No wonder there are several titles on the Top 40 every week.  It's cool stuff!

Not Replaced Yet?

(original posting removed for the purpose of courtesy to those still surviving at a former employer of mine)

Sorry to hear that my former department is having so many woes, after talking to one third party, and then one first party, witness to the debacle.  :-(


MOVIE: Grown Ups

I was really looking forward to this movie, since I'm in the age group it's aimed at (the ever-lusted 25-49 male demo).  I would give this movie 3 out of 5 stars.

The reason such a "LOW" rating?  Well, if it only had starred Sandler and James, I would have liked it a lot more.  The other three (Rock, Schneider and Spade) were simply dumb, most especially the Schneider relationship with the much-older woman.  It didn't do "it" for me.  It was just terrible in that regard.  But the two main stars were hilarious!

See it, but try to hit a matinee price if you can.  Otherwise, you may grumble for having paid full  price for this.


Be Careful.. The Pork People May Come Get You

A news story I first read on Slashdot sounded like an April Fool's joke hitting two months too late... until I realized it was about an April Fool's joke.

The people who own the slogan "the other white meat" sent a Cease and Desist letter to, a website dedicated to Geeks the world over with great products that only they could appreciate. For what? Selling (and advertising) Unicorn meat as "the new white meat". Keep in mind that the listing was a joke on April Fool's day.

It's no joke. Click here for the story because (a) it will make you laugh, and (b) it shows how ridiculous the American trademark/copyright/image-protection laws have become. They even showed how they (ThinkGeek that is) are promoting pork with their many pork-flavored products (popcorn, envelopes, etc).

Read the link. They even called the pork people to apologize for the confusion between pig and unicorn meat.

Sad. But really funny. ;-)


Give Me Your Personal Information

Please, tell me that it's a SMALL MINORITY of human beings that would actually give out information blindly to someone who calls them as seen in the transcript below. Please! It's insane... and yes, the transcript below is accurate.

    Phone rings. I answer it. "Hello?"

    PHONE PERSON:   "Hello, is this Mr. Anthony Malena?"

    ME:   "May I ask who is calling?"

    PHONE PERSON:   "I'm calling about a business matter."

          I decide to verify. "This is he. How may I help you?"

    PHONE PERSON:   "Would you please verify your address?"

          I wait. About 10 seconds later...

    PHONE PERSON:   "Sir? I need to verify your address."

    ME: nbsp; "Sure."

          Another 5 seconds.

    PHONE PERSON:   "Could you please tell me your address so I can verify that I have the correct person?"

    ME:   "Oh. Apparently you want me to give out personal information to someone who called me, who I have no way of verifying what company they're with, and who might next ask me for my Social Security Number or Birthdate or something else. Is that what's going to happen? I am not aware of any company I do business with that would blindly call me, not identify themselves, and ask for personal information. For all I know, you're a serial killer who blindly called me.. or an ex-girlfriend.. or a special ops agent sent to kill me..."

    PHONE PERSON:   "Okay, sir. We will mail you a letter. Thanks for your time."

    ME:   "That might work. Hopefully the letter being sent will be clear on who you are and what your company is trying to sell to or buy from me. Thanks!"


I really want to know:   Would anyone reading this post actually give out something as "simple" as their address to someone who called you and you are clueless as to who they are? EVEN IF they had said "I'm with Reader's Digest," would you do it?? I could call someone, from a friend's phone, work phone, public phone, etc, do the same thing.


Infiltration BAD!

I'm currently having an IV at the hospital to get medicine in me for a problem I'm getting resolved (horrific back pain, among other things). Tonight, at 10:50pm, I woke up and came very close to screaming.

The IV had apparently slipped out of the vein, but stayed in my skin, and the two drugs being fed into me were going there (instead of into the bloodstream as is needed). My left arm was very firm to the touch, and felt like it would literally pop if I had a pin to do so.

Needless to say, I freaked out.

First thought:   I was having an allergic reaction, but I'd had this drug before years ago. So I moved on to...

Second thought:   I was having a heart attack. Left arm, seemingly numb, vague memories of being told that numbness in the left arm is what precedes a heart attack.

I hit the nurse button. I continue to escalate my concern verbally ("someone please come here quickly," a bit loudly)... and a CNA shows up asking who I needed. "The nurse, please.. hurry.." while I'm holding my arm. Having your arm feel like an over inflated balloon is not at all "comfortable".

I'm told that the IV has infiltrated and what that means (link here for Wikipedia). I begin calming down. Whoa. That was NOT FUN. Jiminy christmas!!! So I'm laying here finishing this post, and will then hold my arm up in the air (per the Wikipedia article on this).

Hey, Seinfeld's on. Something to distract me...


Hit Zero

I dial the 866 number. Voice menu gives me options 1, 2, 3, and 4. I try the logical, then all, options. I am never sent to a live person - only to a "all operators are busy, try again later". This went on for almost a month (2-3 times a week at least).

I find a "local" number. I call them. I get to a voice. They tell me I have to call this number in Jacksonville and ask them to help me.

I call Jacksonville. I leave voice mail. Again the next day. A couple days later, they call me back, and when I give my request, they tell me they have nothing to do with this and cannot help me.

I try the 866 number a couple times (no one available), then the local number again. They tell me that I have to call the 866 number to do this. I explain that I can never get a live person, ever. They ask if I (appx) hit zero, then waited, then hit zero again to get to someone. I ask them to explain to me in simple terms. They do. The voice menu, which has no zero option, I should hit zero on. But then, it tells you it does not understand. Then it gives you the same voice menu with a zero option added to the end. Hit zero again... wow! It tells me there are no operators available and to call back later.

I'm quite familiar with the idea that a hidden zero "operator" button exists on these voice menus many times. But to hide it, then give a response that it is not understood when you hit it, and then to know you're to hit it again...

I do not break anything at this point in frustration...

I call local again, explain it to them, and give them my own version of how I'm going to "work around the system" due to the incompetence of what they've setup. She gets a supervisor, prints out the information needed to help me... and gives it to an "on call" person who is supposed to call me back.

Here's to hoping!!


Mass Effect - The Movie

No shock here. MASS EFFECT has been picked up (by Legendary Pictures it seems) for movie-treatment. Cool beans. (official announcement by Bioware at this link) Let's hope it doesn't just look like a Machinima video. :-P

TV: Lost (finale)

I have the "honor" of not having watched Lost much at all until the final season. I caught up on the various bizarre stories and such, and watched as the show wound down to it's end...

The finale was pretty cool, in my opinion. It was a given that those who "worshipped" the show would never be fully happy with it ending (as far as wrapping up "every plot") and the producers kept their promise that it did NOT answer "all questions" (and even brought more up actually). It was a very *touching* finale to say the least (I fully admit being teary-eyed at various points, including the absolute ending). It was a very emotional wrap-up. posted a video of "unanswered questions" which is absolutely hilarious. Click here for the video. It really is hilarious (if you know Lost at all)!

The dog's final appearance at the end was simply priceless and put the emotional investment over the top, to me. :-) You have to take the finale to this show as you did Battlestar Galactica (the second version, not the 1980's version). You are left with questions, but ultimately, got to have a "cool sendoff" for the characters you invested years of your life getting to know.

MOVIE: Shutter Island

I went to see this with Chris at the cheap-o theater. It was a decent movie (though highly predictable - not like some commercials that made you think you'd be shocked at the end). Not much to say about it beyond that. Worth a matinee price, I'd say.


Did I Say 42 Pounds? I Meant...

At the YMCA yesterday, I noticed that I've dropped another 10.  I'm in the same range as my weight when I was married in 1988.  This is getting freaky.  Most of my pants are not even remotely "properly wearable" now (just more money I have to spend - yay!).  I really.. really hate shopping.. for anyone, any time, anywhere.  I could be a millionaire and ... well, wait.. let's not go THAT far.

Anyway.  It's really weird being at this weight.  I truly never thought I'd go below 250 as I got older.  6'4", 228 pounds (still need to "sculpt things around" so to speak).


What I'm Doing

I thought I'd take inventory of my media-type interests today.

Current DVR recording list:
  • Smallville
  • Chuck
  • Undercover Boss
  • Survivor
  • Amazing Race
  • The Biggest Loser
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Stargate Universe
  • Man v Food
  • Food Wars
  • Caprica
  • Law & Order
  • V
  • FlashForward
  • Doctor Who
  • Tosh.0
  • Robot Chicken
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Ninja Warrior
  • Deadliest Warrior
  • Iron Chef America
  • Baggage
Current video games played:
  • Mass Effect 2 (X360)
  • Halo Reach (public beta) (X360)
  • Mario Kart (Wii)
  • World Of Goo (PC)
  • M.U.L.E. (C64 emu)
  • (currently waiting for Starcraft II and Mario Galaxy II)
Music - it's too close to DVD production time to give a list as I just finished creating a few hours of slideshow and video content with background music spanning the past 2-3 decades.  :-P

  • Still reading Stephen King's "Lisey's Story" and "Just After Sunset".


Forgiveness, Depression, Suicide... or Hope? (a confession of sorts)

My friend Marty was replying to a thread about forgiveness, which caught my eye:
    Martin Atencio: If you have trouble forgiving, lots of people ask God to help them forgive. But God is not going to just blast you with forgiving power. You have to practice little bits of it. Once you do that a lot, you will find that you can forgive the person. So in your case, if you want to be free of the prision of these memories so that they won't bother... See More you as much, take 5 seconds out of your day and just bless the person or, if you prefer, ask God to bless the person. Do these little steps every day, and you will find that you can forgive and only then, will you be free.
I feel like I've been decent, above average, perhaps even good at forgiving people (Lord only knows I've needed it time and time again - mainly from those number 1 in my life - my kids). The greatest relationship on this Earth I had the brief fortune to enjoy was ended due to a lack of forgiveness. It really hurt (and was made to hurt yet again just in the past few days). The person in question will never, ever, forgive me for a stupid decision I made, whether the decision was forced by that person or not which is now moot. I should have "defied them" and done the opposite of what was demanded. Now, when it's thrown in my face over and over (and augmented by new events of an unnatural origin), all I can do is go quiet, because nothing I say can ever fix it. I did not "do something", as was demanded repeatedly I not do, and now a marriage is ended, two people ended up unhappy, and one of them rushed into a mistaken elopement (I believe there is a marriage license now). It's frustrating as he77, because various factors allowed me to make a decision that was demanded by that person, and then that person gets to spend the rest of their life smacking me verbally for it.

The levels of true DEPRESSION I've been in over my own loss in this situation know no bottom. I actually sent out a "goodbye/suicide" email to many people quite a few months ago. My kids are truly the only reason I wasn't stupid enough to do something to myself. This is why I'm truly scared for when the last of my children ends up on their own. I could end up one of two ways (and tend to think I'm going to teeter back and forth). Superproductive and active, or literally waste away.

I apologize, to my kids mainly, for ever getting that bad.  I've been through some frustrating physical problems in the last few weeks during my non-insured period (trying to rectify that).  Back pain, the worse insomnia ever and (grr) constipation on occasion.  I know... yum.   In any case, as bad as I've felt then, I can honestly look back on my life and say that the depression involved with the gain and loss of Love of an overly truly wonderful woman has really hit me bad.  I thought I wanted to die months ago, partly because the kids were in the process of moving on, but mainly because I was doing everything in my power to AVOID the woman that I truly Love with all my heart, and who eventually jumped without looking into a relaionship that (by her description) effectively ended a month later, but which she'll continue to fight for.

To say I've been "unlucky in love" is probably inaccurate.  I met a great woman (Jamie Lienberger), went through the ups and downs of my "first girlfriend" who I married, then divorced 16 years later because we'd grown too far apart (affairs along the way did not help, both physical and emotional).  The kids and I continued to live, and a few years later I tried it again (Vesta Lee Henderson Maloy).  We married quickly.  We moved in at the time of the wedding.  We were not prepared as much as we thought for the melding of six children.   Those were three huge mistakes.  The life events made it worse.  She left (within 4 months) and I took the lifelong trained mode of pushing her away at all costs to isolate myself - a pattern/method that I despise about myself.  So eventually, when I was starting to soften up about her, she eloped.  And here we are.  I'm alone, definitely depressed, and under the guise of acting as a friend, got involved with "my ex" for one evening, to be summarily thrown to the curb over the following week.   I understand, to some degree.  I have been the one continuously telling her to work with "the other guy" unless she is prepared to complete end it and move back into working on our relationship.

I feel like I'm living on Days Of Our Lives any more, and that just makes me want to isolate myself even more.  But I don't have the comfortable blanket of my kids all living at home.  It could be as little as 15 months before I'm completely alone (all dependent on kids' plans).  I'm not looking forward to this time in my life.  As I continue the career-change path that was thrust upon me this year (which will hopefully end up being the best thing ever to happen in my financial and work-life), I really am hopeful to find something (or someone??) to make the journey better.  I've invested my adult life on family and being around people familiar to me.  I've heard "Empty Nest Syndrome" thrown at me (a tag I prefer to ignore).  I've been told I should start counseling with someone now (sure, I'll start spending that money on top of everything else).  I have a relative who basically avoided close family contact for two decades who suddenly wants to be 110% involved in *my* life while they are in the process of making major changes in theirs.   But it's all really simple, and has never changed.

I do not want to be alone.  I want a wife to spend my time with.  I don't drink.  I don't smoke.  I play video games occasionally and collect comics (i.e., I have a cheap hobby that does not rule me, and I have over thirty years of investment in something that might someday buy me another new home).  I'm a geek and slightly a dork in an age where people have finally realized that's a really cool thing to be.  I will never be built like these python-muscled stars you see, but 230 is pretty average for 6'4", yes?  I've got an ex who says I need the goatee to stop looking like I'm 20, but I hate the maintenance of the hair.

I just want my wife.  I'd like it to be Vesta, but I cannot sit and obsess and hope.  I did that in the previous decade during another lifetime.

I just want my wife, my friend, my buddy, my personal sextoy and debater.   I've been lucky twice.  Is three times too many?  :-(


MOVIE: Iron Man 2

Went to see Iron Man 2 at midnight with Chris and his friend Kevin this morning. Here are my thoughts. Definitely a fun movie to go see. I was very happy with the length, the content, and the multitude of concepts from the comics that were instituted. Certainly worth most of the hype surrounding it's release.

Without further adieu, and with air warning...


In a nutshell, I'd say this movie overall was "as good as" the first. A very different movie in many ways, but I was happy with it, and the various "easter eggs" (the most visible to the average Joe will be a certain red-white-and-blue-with-start visual reference).

There were scenes where I would swear they made sure Robert Downey looked exactly like Stark from the comics -- it was eerie as heck! The underlying storyline of Tony's impending "end", but not by alcoholism, was a decent basic plotline (was that Vibranium?). The adjustment of duties for Pepper and Tony, also interesting.

Natalie/Natasha: Wow. Er... yum. Er... yeah. I'm single, and can occasionally delve into the superficial, so.. yeah.

Tons of comedic relief in the movie (thanks mainly to Downey, of course). If you thought he was born to be Tony Stark in the first movie, you'll think he was actually BORN Stark and renamed himself to Downey later in life after this movie.

Subplot involving Rhodey and 'that other armor': That was done pretty clumsily (or at least, not thoroughly). There were some story points around all of this that were frustrating to me (but I'm a lifetime collector and have many versions of Iron Man in my head -- i.e., I'm tainted). I would have better believed that Rhodes would have ended up finding a RECORDING giving him a heads up that it was PLANNED versus how it happened in this flick. Oh well.

Russian physics son-of-genius (unofficially as) Whiplash and other characters: This worked out decently. I actually enjoyed the forced-fight between "War Machine" and Iron Man. The director's chance to slowly beat up one man whil the Widow took on 20 others was classic. Nick Fury was of course completely reinvented to fit the actor and movie -- barely even recognizable as the "Ultimate Marvel" version of the character, much less the classic (about as similar as Hugh Jackman's Wolverine to the comic book... in other words, NOT). But Fury's still "cool", right? (yawn)

Odds and Ends: Baaaaaad replacement for the Rhodey character (needed a manly man, not an accountant-type). I'd swear Tony's father was Walt Disney. I'd swear that the "secret" was a map of Disneyland. Despite great CGI through most of the film, the "garage scenes" seemed very cheap to me (a video with graphics thrown on top). Yes, I'd bet it was Vibranium that was "created".. maybe.. Red and Silver was always my favorite (and possibly all Black). She should have worn actual leather, not that spandex-looking crap (yum). Was Hammer's speech based loosely on Microsoft's Balmer and his renowned outlandish public speaking habits? Software problems... next time don't use OS X (hah - kidding).

Ending: Actually ended up very rushed(!) to me. "Duck!" *whizzzz* "Done!" What?? First movie actually had a better final battle, I feel.

The expected post-credits video: Cool, but... I expected the item found to be bigger, not classic. Interesting.


Paintball Phun

Today, Chris and his friend Kevin went paintballing in New Smyrna Beach. I went along for a bit to photograph them from inside the field. Thankfully no one got me in the crossfire (two close calls though).


MOVIE: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

Well, since I'm old school (i.e., saw the original movie "back in the day"), I'll keep my comments simple.

Freddie: Wow, that's the best they could do? He looked SO pathetically "simple", and his mouth-to-speech alignment was like watching a Muppet. This was just stupid.

Teeny-bopper actors: Nothing special here.

Scariness factor: I'm 42, and I guess I'm just to weathered. I did not jump once. I'm sure to the 15-23 year old crowd, it was probably "scary".

Nice twist: Freddie's history, and how it evolved over the course of the film. Well done.

Big finale: "Adequate".

I wasn't exactly moved or thrilled with the flick. Chris and I went to see it at the midnight showing, and between the alcoholics we could smell, the snotty-nosed college dipstick we could hear breathing throughout the movie, and ending up boxed in between two sets of people, it was still a surprisingly decent theater experience (at least I got to sit next to the pretty girl - Chris got noisy-nose).

I'm sure younger audiences will enjoy it. It had several younger actors I recognized by face only (including the star of the "Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles" series). Yawn.


Daniella Finishes CNA Coursework

Today, Daniella finished her CNA coursework and graduated. Next step will be to pass the state exam, then get a job! She blazed through the course with flying colors, and I'm very proud of her. ;-)


MOVIE: The Crazies

Chris and I went to see "The Crazies" a few days ago (now showing at the cheap-o theater). It's basically a low budget horror movie, not really anything story-wise. Town gets infected by some odd virus, making people go crazy and kill other people. Key players survive at the end (with the requisite ironic ending inclusive - they're still being monitored by "someone" when they escape). It has the annoying modern method of showing you the "ending" at the beginning of the movie. (sigh) It was about 2 out of 4 stars, maybe worth renting on DVD if you're bored, I'd say.


Back Pain Is Not Fun

I've been having some lower back pain since Friday of last week, which came and went at seemingly random times. I then obtained a floor model (i.e. cheap) massager (it is soooooooo good) that does rolling and shiatsu methods moving up and down the back, plus heat (thank you, Sharper Image via Bed, Bath and Beyond). It never seemed to work on my pain (but felt soooooooo good).

This morning the pain was just too much. I had reason to believe it my be related to constipation (that had happened to me before) but no remedy for that helped. So I popped three Tylenol PMs to try and sleep at 1:00am this morning, then at 3:30am I took a hot shower, then at 6:00am went to the local Emergency Room. I have never, ever spent only 25 minutes in an ER, START TO FINISH, until today. The "doctor" decided based on my report of what lead to the pain that it was due to the back muscles, nothing else. One shot and one prescription later.

At 11:00am I went back, as the pain never changed and I felt that about four hours was enough to "test" this drug. Second visit, they "obliged me" and took sixteen x-rays of my mid-section. They found nothing blocking me (so to speak), so... two more injections (owwww, I hate liquids being injected that sting inside the body) and two more prescriptions on top of the original one. Relief started within an hour, but happened slowly so that at around 9:00pm, I was finally not suffering. Yay.

By my recall, I have had four occasions in the past 10 years where my lower back ended up like this. Pinched nerve one time, and I had what I thought was the best and coolest therapy ever. The therapist laid me on a "table" which was slightly curved downward, so my lags and head were basically hugging the outside of a circle. The middle of the table had a long open slot... about the size of a car tire... and the car tire hidden underneath then proceeded to come up under my buttocks, roll up my body (lifting me in the process) and then go back down under my shoulders, repeating for about 20 minutes. I loooooooved going to get that done.

I just hope I don't end up having constant back problems as I get older. Ugh.


Texting While Driving - Go Ahead, Be Stupid!!

If you can watch this video, and still come up with any excuse whatsoever to be texting while driving, or even to be TALKING on your phone for anything other than a highly urgent matter, you're a moron, plain and simple. I'm even reminded recently that I was idiotic enough to take a picture of myself while driving (which means I took three to see which one was best - thankfully I did not actually address and send it while driving). :-(

Please watch this video.  Please pass it on to others.  Please make sure your children watch it.

Please. I'm making my vow right now to be even smarter. Watch the ENTIRE FOUR MINUTES OF VIDEO. You're human. I'm sure it will have the right effect on you.

MOVIE: Kick-Ass

Truly a very funny movie, but also truly not for all audiences (in fact, I'd actually recommend that you not take "your kids" to this movie).  If you haven't read the comic series, it's basically about real people becoming "super" heroes (with no abilities out of the ordinary, for the most part).

It has the unenviable honor of having a very young (in her early teens) character as the run-away role... mainly because she is very,  very vulgar (yet you are compelled to really like her, whether it's due to her unfortunate birth, her loss of father for several years, or because she truly kick's butt).  Like most movies aimed at the 18-25 crowd these days, it's sprinkled with vulgarity, sexual inuendo, and violence.

I really liked the movie.  It's just unfortunate, as usual, that these traits, more especially being exhibited by under age characters, are what will make this movie a success.  :-/

And yes, I took Chris and Dani to see the movie, for what it's worth.


MOVIE: Clash Of The Titans (2010)

Clash Of The Titans (the orignal) was a campy, stop-motion animated "epic" that was enjoyable, even if it was hokey (especially the "robotic owl").

Clash Of The Titans (2010) was an attempt to make a serious version of the movie.  But in all honesty, the story (specifically, the screenplay) was horribly prepared.  There were gaps, but more especially, highly convenient occurrences throughout the film (where something was needed, so it just suddenly happened with little or no good reason).  I found myself making mental commentaries to myself through most of the movie.  It just was NOT good.  I really wouldn't even suggest it as a matinee showing barring a case of severe boredom, in hindsight.

Maybe they SHOULD have used the robot owl again.  :-/

MOVIE: Date Night

Okay, without sounding (hopefully) too much like a 17 year old boy (especially given that she's in my age group), Tina Fey is quite hot.  So I took Chris and went to see this flick expecting it to be at least "3 out of 5 stars".

It ended up 1.5 out of 5 stars, in all honesty.  I mean, these are two comedic powerhouses (Fey and Steve Carell).  I was glad to see that, at least, they were not responsible for writing it or directing it.  It was just boring, and the pauses between "funny bits" were far too long.

The whole "KILL SHOT!!" scene from the commercials was probably one of the funniest "moments".  It was just weak and long and the parts that were supposed to be funny... frequently were not.  Oh well.  Thank God for matinee pricing.


The Search Goes Nationwide

I've decided that I will no longer limit myself to the "local 60 mile radius" in my search for opportunities.  Home (California) will be my number one search area, by far.  Besides that, the rest of the country in general.

Deleting MySpace was a good start.  Reading text messages was the second.  Apparently my circle of "being the fool" is now 100% complete.  I now need to be my own number own number one concern.  :-(  Putting (almost) everyone before me is no longer the priority.  I've lost too many possibilities due to this method of living.

Job.  Relationship.  Future.  Not sure of the order, but those are the priorities now.


TV: Doctor Who - The Eleventh Hour

Season 31 (aka Season 5 by the new numbering) has begun in the UK, and I've just finished watching the premiere episode, "The Eleventh Hour" featuring the new Doctor, portrayed by Matt Smith, and his companion Amy Pond (portrayed by Karen Gillan).  This hour-plus episode was the first of the latest era of the Doctor (and since he is supposed to only have thirteen lives, inching closer to some sort of major event, I suppose).


It's not fair to try and judge the latest season ("series") by this first episode (good OR bad), so all I can say is... a nice start.  I am attempting to judge it on it's own merits, since each time they rejuvenate the series with a new actor as the Doctor, "everything changes" in any case.  The story has already begun to plant bits of information on some future story line, the final bit being the wedding dress and the Doctor promising to bring Amy back by "the next morning" (for her wedding, apparently).  I think it would be good if they do not rely too much on (human) characters created during the past few seasons much, if at all.  The the cracks in time-space, comments by Prisoner Zero about events coming up, and that dress, make it seem that they may already be planning crossover traffic with old characters.  We'll have to wait and see.

The new Tardis (though we didn't see it much at all) looks to be interesting with the new multi-level design (and apparently a pool, among other amenities).  The introduction of a slow "curing process" by which the Doctor's body and the Tardis had to "complete" over the course of (brief) time added slight suspense to the story, and a quick video journey from Doctor's 1 through 11 during the finale was quite cool.

I am a true Who lover, so I'll be here for the journey.  I'm not going to fret like some over repeated previews showing the Doctor (GASP) firing a gun.  I'm not going to cry foul if they do reintroduce old human characters (it *is* a time travel show, after all).  I'm going to sit back and enjoy the ride.  It's one of, if not the, best TV exports from the UK (I got quickly tired of Survivors already).  It's their "Star Trek".

(loved the typewriter)  ;-) 


Facebook - Defining The Internet Their Own Way

This story amazed me, as it shows how when a company becomes big on the 'net, that they can decide to redefine standards to their own needs.  An especially telling fact is at the end of the article (how much work Google would have to do if what happened to the author were to  happen to them).  Read this article for the story. It's pretty amazing.  Facebook seems to think they're in the same position Microsoft put themselves in when they wiped out Netscape... redefining how things work regardless of nationwide (worldwide!) standards.


Collisions At The LHC

So they're finally smashing protons at 99% of the speed of light, successfully now.  Let's hope the doomsday people aren't right.  We don't need a black hole sucking up Earth as happened to Vulcan and Romulus in Star Trek (well, Star Trek 11 that is).

Science Friday Archives: Collisions at the LHC


TV: Face Of Jesus (History Channel)

During my ongoing Insomnia situation, recently, I watched the History Channel's special on revealing the face of Jesus Christ via computer-assisted reconstruction from the Shroud Of Turin (I only knew about this from Martin Atencio who mentioned wanting to see it).  It was a fascinating documentary showing how scientists can extrapolate just about anything they want with evidence that they do *not* know the end result of (as opposed to proving and re-proving "facts" as they already know them).

Brought up several times was the fact that the Shroud in question has been "carbon dated" previously as only being a few hundred years old.  Then "facts" surrounding the pattern of the weave in the Shroud, drawings made in other countries that have to do with the Shroud supposedly, and most interestingly to me, how Man's Bible documents the opening of Jesus' tomb, Mary and the Disciples' interpretations of what they say, and best of all, analysis of how light and/or radiation could (by man's definitions) produce the infamous imprints of what they believe to be Jesus onto the cloth.

I don't have a real opinion either way as to whether this really is the burial cloth of Jesus.  I see no reason for it to be important, personally.  It's *fascinating* from a scientific view, which was the point of this TV special, certainly.  Scientists constantly make discoveries which constantly get debunked as "better methods" come about (was the carbon dating wrong?).  Historians connect the dots of things that could very well be unrelated, or could be misinuterpreted (drawings of someone in a shroud found in other countries).  And then there's the Catholic Church, which many believe to be manipulators of historical fact to promote their own agenda (or other denominations which paint the Catholic Church in a highly negative light - including the one I was raised in).

In any case, the scientific methods and "proofs" presented in this special were fascinating, as well as the end result - a full-body representation of what they believe Jesus Christ looked like.  I guess if He had been portrayed in a way vastly different than the many paintings/drawing already seen for two centuries, maybe this would have been "even more fascinating".  Comments on the eye brows and lashes were funny (to me).  The extra "rag" possibly used to wrap the face of the person in the Shroud also presented interesting ideas (though I felt that it was not explored fully - how could his face be so clear in the head-area of the Shroud if it was double-wrapped, yet the rest of his body was not, and was less-visible in the Shroud?).

Anyway.  An interesting show.  I agree completely with the gentleman who repeatedly stated that we will "never know" (at least on this plane of existence) whether this is truly the Shroud that He was wrapped in after death.  Barring time-travel (oops, many people think that's impossible - oh well).


Too Many Things Happening At Once

This must be the year for everything to hit me.  The only thing not happening this year is the graduation from high school of my youngest child, Chris.  It's been really hard not being depressed over the lost of my job of 12.5 years, and the departure of two of my kids to real life, one of them now scheduled to be going to Germany later this year, the other possibly being back in the local area in several months.  I've made a commitment to do everything in my power to stay in the local area so Chris does not have to change schools so late (as happened to me) but the job prospects here are just not great versus the monies needed to survive where we are.

I just need something to lift my spirits.  I really do.  The hits just keep on coming and I feel like I have no one to really confide in any longer outside of the kids.. and they don't need that baggage; they have their own lives to handle.  I don't know what else to say.  Even posting this is just me babbling, but I don't know what else to do.  I feel utterly alone now.  :-(


MOVIE: How To Train Your Dragon (in 3D)

I had been really looking forward to this children's book turned movie for a few months now, and it did not disappoint.  It's very obviously aimed at kids around the 9-15 age range (by my estimation), but can certainly be enjoyed by all.

Above average animation (for today's standards), good quality 3D, a great storyline, lot's of funny moments, and a pretty solid script overall.  I really enjoyed this movie!  Go see it!!

MOVIE: She's Out Of My League

I saw this flick when it first came out.  It wasn't stellar.  It was a decent matinee movie to check out.  Not rocket-science material.  Can't really say much about it since it's been a few weeks.  Oh well.

Roundworm = Bad

Boomer ended up with a case of roundworm.  I can imagine very little that could be more disgusting than finding a worm twisting and turning while sticking out of your cat's... anus.  Sick.

Medicine seems to be quickly helping.  He had been throwing up after every meal, and his stomach was very firm.  In two days since the administration of medicine, he's been "going" regularly.  Kosh is also grooming him more frequently for some odd reason (perhaps sensing that Boomer is "recovering" or something).  We seem to have caught it early as I've not found any further evidence in his stool since the initial medication (he gets another dose in 8 days).

Apparently humans can get this from the animal as well.  So, yeah... no cuddling with Boomer for at least a couple weeks.  Bleargh!!


Computer Storage - Then And Now

I came across this graphic yesterday and found it interesting, showing how far we've come in electronic storage since I was in high school.   Wow.

There's also news that Commodore USA is  bringing "back" the Commodore 64  (this link sometimes has a hard time loading)  using a quad-core Intel processor.  However, it appears all it is will be that the computer will be in a similar case (it will apparently run Windows and Linux).

I'm imagining that if they were to include C64 emulation via hardware (tons of software emulators exist already), that would at least give it a small niche market.  Otherwise, it's just a computer in an all-in-one keyboard (been done already, but mainly for industrial purposes).


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Unemployment Levels - An Eye Opening Animation

I stumbled upon some interesting statistics for the US during a "class" I attended today (part of a set of "classes" I'm required to take for aid during my unemployment which began February 17th, 2010).

It shows, by months, the unemployment levels in the US starting in January 2007 and moving forward. It's obviously an "overview" and does not give any detail by job type, ethnicity, gender, etc... but it does give a sobering look at what's been happening for the past few years.

The original Flash animation is found here, while there is a YouTube link to a copy that is faster to load and watch, but at the time of this posting, is only through December of 2009.

I've been theorizing for years that, as technology advances, and as population increases, we will need less and less employed individuals to service "everyone".  I wonder what the "final unemployment numbers" will be once everything has settled.  Will they be even higher than they are now?  Lower?  Hmm.


Time To Delete MySpace?

A story today on Slashdot makes me think it's finally time to just shut down the MySpace account that I have (plus those that I host for local schools).  The story links to more information about the fact that MySpace is now planning on selling data on it's users to agencies that want it.  It's not exactly a new practice, but it's enough for me to think I may be done checking for messages that I very rarely get there any more.

I'm far more interested in William Shatner's new website anyway.


Daniella Turns 21

March 14, 1989.  My first child is born.  She's about six weeks early (all of my kids were early to varying degrees).  She's barely a football in my arms.  I'm about 10 minutes late to her birth thanks to traffic on the 10 Freeway as I race from Pomona to Monterey Park.

She's the first born Malena child, "One of Four" for those who are Borg-inclined.  One of the "Mighty Four".  She is also a fast learner, and even at an early age, starts establishing patterns of behaviour that you can see in her for many years to come.  She loves swinging, to skate, and helping her sister and brothers like a big sister should.

Her every accomplishment is something she proudly displays and shares.  She knows she can do just about anything, and she's ready to prove it at any time.  Teachers love her.  She spends her early years in one bedroom with her siblings in "those bunk beds".  She tends to feel like she has to take control to make sure some things get done right (not sure where she got that from....).

Middle school comes and she's playing the trombone.  She smiles a lot and is coming into her own, becoming a true band-geek and doing well in school.  She has a few pet peeves, and could do without a couple teachers, but she survives 6th, 7th and 8th grade and a brand new middle school, not to mention two moves of the family (to our first house, then to our own home)

Boys start catching her eye.  You'd never be able to find consistency in those she ends up liking, so I gave up trying to figure out what "her type" was.  She doesn't really date until she meets a young man who she is still very close to even today.  She's an uber band geek while at Spruce Creek High.  She finished high school, and life after high school hits like a brick.  Some time is spent away from home briefly.  She starts working, eventually making her way to management at local restaurants.  A car, another car, lots of rims, stereos, and eventually a car wreck (as a passenger) that comes very close to killing my baby girl (19 years old, almost 6 feet tall, very mature looking... my baby girl).

Now she's 21.  "Legal".  She's an adult "in every way" as far as the law is concerned.  How can that be?  She was just born a little while ago... wasn't she?

My little girl is all grown up.  She's becoming a CNA.  She has her own money and her own plans with her own friends.  I love her, she loves me.. but she's moving on.  It's very... hard to take.  But at the same time, it's what happens, and as much as I will miss her when she ends up on her own (soon, too soon?), I also can be happy that I have a lifetime of memories with her.  The good, the odd, the weird, the uncomfortable, and even the "bad".  It's all been a learning journey.  She'll always be my first-born, my little football, Danigurrrl, Mighty 1 of 4, that wench, that beautiful woman, the "male version of me", the entity who stole my heart on March 14, 1989.

I love you, Dani.


Religious Zealots Promoting "God's Hate"


Why would any church want to promote such a thing? How can any group feel that promoting such horrific ideas will either (a) uplift a benevolent God, (b) unify people for a "good cause", or (c) allow families to grieve for their dead children who are defending "the American ideal"?

Please note the well-informed,highly intelligent, proud CHILDREN holding the signs in this particular case.  Thank goodness they have the right to choose to be part of this "noble cause", eh?   (somebody smack their parents, very hard, please...)   Sad.

I'm shocked we haven't heard that this "church" has been destroyed, burned down or otherwise obliterated from the face of the planet. I know that some feel that America and/or the Catholic Church and/or any number of other labeled groups are "the great Whore" or "Babylon" or whatever other hateful names people have come up with, whether through a book that people claim is "without error" (the bible), through appointed pastors and priests, or just through hear-say that gets blown out of proportion. And of course, we have "freedom of speech" here in America (which I'm enjoying right now by posting rhis, right?). But just as bad as any Nazi proclaiming "purity reasons" for murdering untold numbers of people is repugnant, this makes me utterly sick.

It's no better than racism, hating "homos", or even something as simple as southerners versus westerners or blonds and brunettes. This is a good example of why I choose to be labeled an "Agnostic Theist" (and one I think my father probably would have shared if he'd cared enough to label himself while he was alive). I have never felt "organized" (hah) religion was a good thing. And though I will certainly not hold "all religions" responsible for this one idiotic Baptist group, I am thoroughly disgusted as a Christian and a person who chose to be "Baptist" in my formative years to have any association, present or past, with a group promoting this. Perhaps someone should show up at their loved ones' funerals and hold up signs that will upset them, cause them more pain, and generally promote hate and disdain. It's free speech, after all... right?

When did God start *hating*?  Someone's verrrrry confused.  No wonder so many people hate "organized religion".  :-(   How can we spread any message of God's love when things like this are happening?  This is surely a more public display, but it's something that happens everywhere.   It's not just "an opinion".  It's the active spreading of ideas that get planted into people's heads, especially impressionable young people, which cause ongoing strife and intolerance.   (oops, I used a word that I know many religious leaders hate - "tolerance")

I look forward to the day when we are enlightened.  Unfortunately, we have to wait until we "pass on" (go to the next plane of existence, or as it's known more simply... DIE) to gain this knowledge.  Right?  (sigh)  And, if I need to say it... I'm not a homosexual (or black, or Jewish, or handicapped, or part of an organized religion any longer - just an average Sicilian-American).

Tron Legacy Trailer Released

For some, it's geek nirvana revisited from the early 1980's.

Watch the trailer.  It's pretty cool.


"More" by Mark Osborne (revisited)

I was bored enough last night (it's now early the next morning) to be watching the Oscars on TV (apparently "The Hurt Locker" is a movie I need to see) that my mind was drawn back to a short film from the late 1990's called "More". 

If you have not watched this short video yet, you need to do so ASAP.  It is one of, if not the, best short story/film I have ever seen.  To this day, I can watch it and still get goosebumps.  It has no dialogue.  It is simple and to the point, yet every time you watch it, I challenge you not to come away with just a little more than the last time you watched it.  Do so without distractions or a cluttered mind.  If it does not move you, I don't know what would...

Watch it here at this link.  Then share it with those you love, like, or barely know.  It's truly a work of art that should be enjoyed by all.


MOVIE: It's Complicated

If you're a teenage guy, you're very likely not interested in this movie.  It's certainly a "romantic chick-flick" type picture, meant for the 30+ crowd.

That being said, I loved it.  Sure, I'm 42.  Sure, I've got a sappy side.  Sure, I'm divorced.  So perhaps I'm conditioned to be receptive to the story line.  Whatever the case, I thought it was good (and quite funny).

I'd say,  if you're 30+, or divorced with children(?), or are into Romantic Comedies, this movie is a good bet.   I may even go see it again at the cheap-o theater, who knows.


MOVIE: Legion

I went to see Legion at the local "cheap-o" theater.  The storyline wasn't really thought out very well, or even complete.  The basis of it (biblical Armageddon) was poorly scripted in my opinion.  I did enjoy a few vague references that you'd only know if you had ever read Revelation in the bible (such as the horn, and other references), but really.  Angel comes down, rips off his wings, becomes Rambo to save a pregnant woman's bastard child and teach God a lesson of what He wanted versus what He needed...  *yawn*.   It had a couple decent action sequences, but really it was barely worth $3 to see.  It was on par with another recent semi-flop, "Daybreakers".


It's not Life, The Universe, And Everything (that's 42, anyway), but it still helps clarify things for me.  :-P


Driver's License Photos Do Not Lie (unfortunately)

Knowing I had lost some weight was one thing. Getting my new driver's license was quite another. Wow. Scary different from a few years ago...

It's hard to believe that's me.   :-/


Surprised, Not Surprised, And Confused

The title says it all, as far as the last few days are concerned.

One of your surprised me. One of you did not surprise me, and one of you has thoroughly confused me (leading me to believe I've been fooling myself).

Three songs come to mind... each unique to each of you. Each, now, ultimately bringing me a bizarre mixture of frustration, sadness, reminiscence, comfort of a sorts, but ultimately the knowledge that I've just never "gotten it", and probably never will.

Birthday Number 42

Chris took me to dinner at Outback along with Daniella. Mmmmmm. Steak and Shrimp = Good. I had wanted to spend my birthday with a pretty lady, so it was good that Dani joined us, because otherwise that part would have been an Epic Fail.

Thanks, Chris. ;-) And Dani. :-P


42 Pounds Later

I had been resting "comfortably" at a weight of 270 for quite a while (as low as 260, as high as 275) - maybe for over a year or so? I'm not really sure.

I started lowering my food intake around September/October of 2009. Went on vacation (a week-long cruise with Chris, where I ate a lot of protein, but was also more ACTIVE than I'd been in YEARS). Came back and was sick with the flu and then a cold, where I ate even less.

Now I find myself in an odd position:   I'm within range of my marriage weight (which was 220) at 238. I certainly need to tone up, but when you consider I immediately gained a *lot* of weight right after I was married back in '88, it's a bit odd to know I'm back around my pre-marital range again.

Given the other life changes happening right now (employment, family, friends), this is certainly a good thing overall (with the exception of the anticipated "toning up" I need to do). 2010 is certainly going to be a year for major changes (some forced, some by choice, and some by random chance). Anthony's in the Army, Amanda's working with her grandfather and getting married in a year-plus, Daniella is taking classes for a possible major career change, Chris is finishing up high school and preparing for his currently-desired profession, Dad's gone, Mom's dating, friends have moved, or are moving, jobs are changing (especially for me) and I'm looking at having a life again after a very insane 2008 and a subdued 2009. I really like the idea of a "life" again.

42 pounds at the age of 42 (just in time, too). Yes, it's going to be an interesting year.


Preview Of The Movie "Kick Ass" (red-band version)

Wow. This movie is going to be pretty true to the original comic, it seems. Definitely meant for mature audiences (very strong language, very violent, and I'd be willing to bet will do well at the box office).

Visit this link to see the video if you're at least 17 and not offended by the above type of material.

If you're not familiar with the comic or story:   regular every day teenager decides to be a Bat-Man type vigilante, spawning others to do the same.



... also sucks (especially when taking a FREAKING prescription for it). 'nuff said.

- Posted from my iPod Touch


GAME: Mass Effect 2 - Continued...

After some trial and error, I finally figured out how to make Mass Effect 2 recognize my completed characters from Mass Effect. To summarize:

MASS EFFECT PLATINUM HITS EDITION - a poorly planned, poorly executed way of pulling people into the Mass Effect universe. Why? You could not properly play the second addon (ME PHE included the first addon free) without uninstalling the first addon and starting a brand new character.

This ended up being my problem.

Once I reinstalled the first addon ("Bring Down The Sky") and re-entered Mass Effect with one of my four completed characters, then COMPLETING the final scenarios, that character became visible in Mass Effect 2's import utility.

Frustrating, but at LEAST there is a not-too-insane workaround. Yay.

Now I can play the game the way it was meant to be... so far, it's pretty awesome.

Major BOOs go to:

1. Electronic Arts (EA): They have still to this very day, ignored my open service ticket on their support website, which I've updated about every other day. No acknowledgment that the ticket even exists!

2. BioWare Forum Moderators: I've been complaining about this since day 2 on their forums. I also contacted a moderator directly to get access to one forum which I had no posting access to - no reply.

Major YAYs go to:

1. Me. When I took the time to pull out my camera and photo-document everything I was trying, that pushed me to try EVERYTHING... and ended up giving me the solution.

2. Dani (my daughter): For being patient when I took the XBox from her to do my photo-documentary.

Time to save the universe.


Mass Effect 2 - Preliminary Review

It sucks.


Because it will not show, therefore load, any of the characters from Mass Effect 1 (a huge feature that those of us loyal to the game series looked forward to).

If I had been one of those to get the game at 12:01am, I'd be insanely pissed. Instead, I'm mildly pissed. I just can't *wait* to hear that "oh, you have THAT version of ME1, so there is a known issue, that we released the game with, just to piss you off".

Utter bull. I am NOT starting a game from scratch. I will sit on this box, and not play this game, until this is fixed... and will return it if it does not happen within a week (and then be told I can't because it's open).

I'm getting more pissed, so I'll stop typing now.


Mandi Making The Most Of It

Mandi is taking off this morning for a job opportunity with her grandfather. We went to Vince Carter's (a new restaurant by the basketball star of the same name - nice place, pretty good food.. they have some kinks to work out) as a farewell dinner with her last night. This morning, she and I went to Flapjacks for breakfast, and then visited Chick-fil-A one last time, before I gave her a final hug and went to work. I hate seeing her go, and yet I am happy for the opportunity that she's been given. And then.. she can come back home when she's done stretching her legs. :-/ Right? That's the plan, right?

Love you, Mandi. :-*

MOVIE: The Lovely Bones

I knew just about nothing about this movie or it's originating book. I figured it may end up being a kid-movie possibly. I was sort of confused by the time it was over on how to classify it...

1/3 of the movie is spent in limbo/ purgatory/ between heaven and hell... but in a teenage girls version of that place.

The rest of the movie, filmed with a distinct 1970's color scheme, is spent involved in an odd story involving a murderer, possible pedophile, who is made to look too much like the part (if someone looked and acted like that in real life, no one would ever trust or go near him, I mean, c'mon).

The story culminates in a mix of ironic (how the antagonist ends up) and sad-but-happy (I think? The dead lead actress moving on to heaven?) feelings. Perhaps if the movie had a real soundtrack (I have NO recall of any music, but I'm sure it was there - everyone knows that music makes the movie, right?), it might have been better. I can't say it was a *bad* movie. I can only say it wasn't a "good" movie. I'd suggest to people they not bother seeing it, personally. If it was some author's attempt to make a murder-mystery for teens.. well, I dunno. I'm not a teen anymore. Was this a successful book??

I just found myself thinking at the end: "okay, that was interesting". Was anyone else thinking that the safe should have been opened at some point and "bones" revealed? Maybe I was reading into the title too much. Oh well.

MOVIE: Daybreakers

I didn't expect a lot from this movie based on the commercials, and went to see it with Chris thinking it would be at least a nice diversion. I wasn't disappointed by it. It was not Oscar-material, but it did have a fairly unique storyline on the vampire mythology (especially on "how to cure someone" of being a vamp). The ending was sort of hokey, almost seemed like they didn't know *how* to end it, so they did the equivalent of a song trailing off at the end instead of clearly *ending*. The acting was nothing to write home about.. even Willem DeFoe was only so-so. All in all, it's a matinee show for sure... or wait-for-DVD material. Yawn.


Sick, Sicker, Sickest and then Me

We come back from a nice Caribbean cruise, and then...

Chris gets sick (flu). I get sick (flu). Amanda gets sick (apparent cold). Daniella gets sick (flu plus severe pharyngitis). Then, I start to notice my face is in constant pain (assumed to be sinuses, but no apparent infection). As of today, it appears I'm finally on the other side of the mountain heading toward normality (for me, at least). Yay.

Then there was the snow. In Daytona Beach, Florida. Did anyone hear any horns sounding off from the heavens while I was incapacitated? Sheesh.