Friday, May 26, 2006

X-men 3, the review

B and I left work early so we could catch the 5pm show of "X-men III: The Last Stand" with K. I had read a brief uncomplimentary review of the movie last night. Did the review have merrit?

OK. What do I want from an X-men movie? I want cool action. I want conflict. I want a believeable plot. What do I not expect from an X-men movie? I do not expect TONS of character development. I do not expect all loose ends to be tied up. I do not expect an easy happy ending. If you have read the comics you have expectations similar to my own. I don't know if you want the same thing out of the movies, but you know what to expect.

Do critics want all loose ends tied up? Do they want complex characters with reasonable development? Do they want full resolution when they walk out of the theater? Sure they do.

Was I satisfied with X-men 3? Well... No, darn it, I want more, More... MORE! I enjoyed it. I am unhappy where we left things. I want another installment.

Is it 'true' to the comics? Um ... well ... not really. Do I care? NOPE! It was a fun ride.

Could it have been better? Probably. Do I care? NOPE!

There are two more X-men(-ish) movies in the pipeline. "Wolverine" and "Magneto". Neither will resolve any of the issues left lying on the table this go around. I doubt that they'll actually be able to make an X-men 4 though. Halle Berry has already said she's not interested. (Though everyone's gotta pay the rent, right? And Catwoman and Gothika did not do well.) And a couple of other major characters were seemingly killed off. (Though, there are ALWAYS ways around that.) The only way they could make an X-men 4 is if this one did reasonably well in the theater. My showing was pretty full. However, the critics did slam it pretty well before opening day, so it's future is dim.

I am already mentally signed up for "Magneto" and "Wolverine". If Marvel & Co. want to do any more X-men related movies of ANY KIND I am so there. Are you listening, guys? I've got $10 in my hand for each and every one of this franchise you are willing to pursue. Hopefully, there are enough idiots out there like me to keep the feed going.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cross your fingers for me ... again

OK, folks. Here we go again. I had an interview about two weeks ago with a research outfit. Things went pretty well. Friday, they called at least one of my references, to good report. They then called me to say that they would be making me an offer.

I told them what I was currently making and how low I would be willing to go. Cross your fingers that they heard me. Light a candle that it might actually be more than my bare minimum. Then throw some salt over your shoulder that I can actually rise to the ocassion and meet their expectations, especially when I was definitely at the high end of their price range.

This would be a fantastic opportunity. The benefits are mixed in comparison to where I am now. Health insurance is more, but everything else is MUCH better. The commute would add another 20-30 minutes each way to my day. But, I knew that was coming with my next job one way or another. (Note how this adds to my gas cost, though I'm willing to jump ship for less hard salary than I'm getting now.)

I really do know that it is LONG PAST time for me to jump ship. However, jumping ship from the familiar, if phenomenonly frustrating, is extremely scary. I just hope that my luck holds and that I can wow my next employer in short order.

The actual, number-bearing, offer should come through in the next couple of days. Keep those fingers crossed.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another sign of a sick society

I just read on Yahoo news that car enthusiasts are investing in condos for their cars. These condos are enclosed, environmentally regulated, spaces where they can keep their investments secure from thieves, vandals, and the inconsiderate neighbor, as well as protecting them from the assaults of the weather. These folks are spending upwards of $200k to keep their vehicle collections safe and pristine.

This irresponsible extravagance makes me ill.

Millions of our fellow citizens suffer from inadequate food, housing, and health care. My ire is about more than how these people squander their personal fortunes. While I have leftist leanings, I am not so far left of center that I don't have a healthy respect for personal property. However, none of us are own this planet alone.

Every pile of wealth acquired by individuals was not earned solely by the sweat of their single brow, regardless of how bright or hard working or self-centered that individual might be. Wealth is merely one kind of measure of relative position. In order to have a "relative" to anyone there have to be other "someones" to be measured against. And, no one changes position by their own actions alone, whether they go up or down relative to the others whose position they are being compared to.

A large part of my ire is borne out of this fascinating book I am currently reading: The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler. Like many others before it, the book focuses on the imminent depletion of fossil fuels and the radical, and I mean RADICAL, change in the nature of human existence that will result. The author puts the current crisis in historical context, examining the role of fossil fuels in many major historical events over the last 150 years. He also makes convincing arguments against every major alternative energy source and the pure fantasies that any or all of them will ride in like some white knight and save our collective industrialized bacon.

The book is quite sobering and frightening. Even if he's only partially right, I probably won't have to worry about Social Security running out before I get old. There probably won't be enough food to buy to feed our teaming billions, regardless of how much money anyone has. And, there definitely won't be enough fuel to keep me warm in the wintertime, if I continue to live in NH.

I'm only about half way through the book, and it has massively changed my perspective. I am now embarrassed by the fact that I drive a six cylinder SUV (a mere 21mpg). I am in the process of swapping out every incandescent bulb in our house for energy saving bulbs (about half were, any way). I turn off things that don't need to be on. And, most importantly, I'm paying attention and thinking about ways to conserve. My efforts and yours won't really save us. And, I don't think a huge swell in conservation will buy us enough time to come up with viable alternative energy sources. I've pretty much accepted that we've jumped out of a plane without a parachute. However, for as long as I have a working light above my bathroom mirror, I want to be able to look myself in the face and know that I tried at least a little to stave it all off.

Sorry to get morose and preachy. I'll try not to bring it up again. But, I couldn't help the rant after reading about the car condos.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Childless and childish

So, my son is away until Friday afternoon. He's on a school trip to a YMCA overnight camp. There was a chance that the trip wasn't going to come off, or that it would come off under miserable conditions, due to the massive flooding in New Hampshire the last few days. But, all seems to have turned out as good as can be expected.

On our first child-less evening, Ben and I watched another episode of "Lost". Yes, we are utterly addicted to this strange show. Tomorrow night we're planning an actual "dinner out". Hopefully, we'll get around to watching one of the movies that we've had out from Blockbuster for the last three weeks. I have a coupon to go to the local Blockbuster, so I can rent the last set of season one Lost episodes. But, I plan to resist. There is more to life than "Lost"!!! (really ... um ... I know there is.)

For those checking in on the carerr front: Work still sucks, and will continue to suck until I can extricate myself from my current situation. I hope to hear something from my latest "life preserver" interview next week. I may be overpriced for the position, but I remain hopeful. From a non-financial standpoint, the skills and personality match were pretty much "spot on".

On the school front: School is HARD! OK. Just because a class is "online" doesn't mean you don't have to work your bum off for it. I have really just started a massive research paper effort. I am in the process of looking at note-taking software. Anyone have any recommendations. I've kind of looked a bit at Citation and Endnote. Anyone having any opinions on either's ability to organize note-taking and citation organization, feel free to chime in.

Monday, May 15, 2006

More than "Lost" in TV land

Ben and I have been watching a lot of TV lately, but not really "TV". We've long been fans of TiVo, where you get to watch TV shows you like on your schedule. Then we started buying TV shows on DVD. The biggest hit in this department was Joss Whedon's "Firefly". Then, we joined Blockbuster Online, where they mail you DVDs. I put a bunch of movies in our mail queue, but also a lot of TV shows that we've heard good things about. First up was "Lost".

"Lost" is a well done, if very strange show. While the show is ostensibly about a group of people who survived an air crash just to find themselves stranded on an island, it's much more than that. There is a lot of mystery to the island itself: Who are the Others? What is the Hatch? What caused the plane crash? But, also, each episode delves a bit more into the past of one of the survivors. And, often times, we find out there was some sort of slight crossing of fates in the passengers before they ever got on the plane.

Ben likes "weird" shows. He was a huge fan of Twin Peaks. Last year he got me into watching HBO's "Carnivale" (also very strange, but well done). So, "Lost" is right up his alley.

Once we get "Lost" out of our system, we may start watching "CSI" or possibly "Desperate Housewives". Don't get me wrong, I love movies. But TV shows on DVD are much easier during the work week. I can easily commit to watching one episode. If it was really good, I can sometimes muster the energy to watch a second one. However, I have a hard time committing to the full 90-120+ minute viewing experience that watching a movie requires.

Yet another sign of what a spoiled, media-enthralled, American I am.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

School called due to lack of arks

We live in New Hampshire, so we are used to schools being closed due to massive snow fall. Tonight we received an email message from a school mailing list letting us know that there is no school on Monday because of rain. Over the last couple of days, parts of the state have received over TEN INCHES of rain. Most of the state's numerous rivers are at flood stage. The govener declared a state of emergency and activated the national guard.

This is the second time in the last six months that the state has experienced serious flooding.

We're fine. Our development is up on a hill. The commute to work tomorrow could be interesting for both of us. The rain is not supposed to let up until mid day on Monday. K is supposed to be going to an over night camp from Wednesday through Friday. I hope the situation abates before then. He and his classmates have been looking forward to this trip for weeks.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rainy Painy Saturday

I decided to spend today trying to catch up on school work. I did the most important thing, which was get my statement of intent done for my final paper for my Ethics class. It was the most arduous thing I had to take care, so I decided I'd better do it first. But, after I finished it, I didn't feel like doing J**k Sh*t productively speaking. (See the Sweet Potato Queens books for the pleasures of doing J**k Sh*t)

I also had the joy of getting just over eight hours of sleep last night, which is both good news and bad news. While my psyche craves eight hours of sleep, my spine and hips simply can't stand being in bed that long. Then I spent a boatload of time sitting at my computer, or other location, working on school work. This is all VERY BAD for my chronic pain issues.

It's been raining non-stop for about four days here. We haven't quite reached flood conditions, but it is way ugly outside. A little bit of raininess is a good thing for my mood. Four days is pushing it, big time.

I haven't been out of the house all day, and I'm not about to go out this late in the day in massive weather. Then there's the fact that I'm in massive pain. It's definitely time for a cocktail or three.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Attention Deficit Life

My life is way to busy. I have too many commitments and too many interests. But still, I hear of other things that I could be doing and my initial reaction is to figure out how I can do that TOO. I am not alone in this affliction. Everyone I know is over-committed and utterly exhausted.

I am thinking about designating a "no commitment/no tech" night at my house. The evening would be unavailable for commitments of any kind. In addition, we would all agree not to watch TV or fritter away our time with any other electronic distractions (ex. computers & game systems). We could then play games as a family, or read, or do other things that we never seem to have time or energy for.

If I can't get my family to agree to it, maybe I'll just make the agreement with myself.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A less-weighty matter

So, I had hoped to get down to below 200lbs before our vacation, but didn't quite make it. Then, I had hoped to only gain 5lbs while we were on vacation and ended up gaining 9lbs when I checked on the Saturday following our return. But, I got back into the full diet and exercise swing, and The Fates took pity on me. I lost all that I gained over vacation in a week's time. I'm still not under 200lbs, but VERY close.

My clothes are all too big for me, including clothes that I bought a month ago. So, I decided that I deserved two new pairs of interview-appropriate pants. The Fates again rewarded me. I purchased two pairs of size 16 trousers today and two size 14-16 tops to go with them. While this is still larger than I would like to be, size 16 clothing has been a stranger to my body for nearly a decade.

Now, to resist the tempation to indulge in a celebratory eating binge! ;)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Payback is a ... well, you know

While I had a great vacation, it's been a tough week trying to play catch up with work and with school. I'm still not caught up with either, really. The killing blow is that I am working Sunday. "Not a half day." (for fans of Office Space) I am working on a project to upgrade our entire install base, and it can really only be done on a Sunday when it will have the least impact to our customer base. I spent a lot of this week paving the way for the smoothest execution of my Sunday project plan. Today, I barely even touched my regular work. I figure I can catch up on Sunday while a bunch of scripts and such run.

The good news is that I have an interview on Tuesday morning. It's for a network security position, of sorts, in a major egghead facility (read DoD + prestigious university). I'm slightly uncomfortable with the DoD aspect of the place, but not enough to ignore a really great opportunity to do something I really want to do in a place with great benefits and a new workplace cultural environment for me. I definitely need something VERY different right now, or I might as well get over it and go work at the post office so I can have me psychotic break where it won't seem too out of place.

I plan to take the rest of Tuesday to catch up on my school work. I hate being this far behind.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Vacation state of mind

Our vacation to the DC area was great, minus the whole flying thing, mind you. We got to spend time with lots of friends and family who we haven't seen in a while (some, not since we moved to New England 5.5 years ago). Plus, I got to meet two wonderful relatively new human beings: my niece A and R "No Fly List" W (the famous son of two of my dearest friends).

The highlight of our tourist activities was the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center out in Chantilly, VA. Well worth the drive out to Dulles Airport. And remember, this recommendation is coming from someone who despises air travel.

The biggest problem with coming back from vacation, aside from the mounds of laundry, is having to readjust to your mundane life. Because of vacation, I'm a week behind in school. Also, there are things at work that only I'm capable of doing, apparently.

We got home on Friday evening in time for dinner. We extended the vacation state of mind somewhat by watching DVDs on Saturday and Sunday night. Adrian Brody's "The Jacket" was an intriguing drama about a Gulf War veteran who was undergoing an experimental treatment at an institution for the criminally insane, after being wrongly convicted of killing a police officer. The treatment resulted in his being able to time travel to a specific point in the future. Very engaging film.

The other movie was the antithesis of the first. K picked "The Wedding Crashers". The two main characters, the "crashers", was loathesome exploitive sex-seekers. The situations in the movie were sometimes painful to watch. However, I find myself laughing out loud a great deal. By the end, both characters redeem themselves. If you rent it, get the "uncorked" edition, if for no other reason, so you can read the "rules of wedding crashing" in the bonus features section. Read it after the movie or else you really won't see the full humor of it.

Any way, I've got a ton of school work and work-work to deal with. So, of course, I'll probably post more this week than I have in a long time. Can you say "procrastination"? I knew you could.