Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wolfman Owes Me An Apology

I've had my Netflix copy of The Wolfman (2010) sitting in a pile of unread mail for nearly two months now. I know that it got some pretty bad reviews, but, I figured that a movie about a werewolf that doesn't sparkle in the Sun can't be TOO bad, right? Right? Wrong!

I can't even begin to describe what is wrong with this dreck. It's not scary, it's not even remotely well acted by anyone who isn't Anthony Hopkins and the wolfman himself is so badly costumed as to be comical. I wasn't sure if I watching a horror movie or a horror movie spoof. Benecio del Toro is supposed to be a man tortured by his inner demons and the tone should be layered in subtexts of sexual repression, alpha-male dominance, sexual repression and compulsive. The thing is, del Toro seems to piss his pants and run away from all of this.

So, what do I do about this? I can't very well ask to for those two hours of my life back. I do, however, demand that Benecio del Toro travel to my home and issue me a personal apology for The Wolfman, this abomination of a film. He can get in line right behind George Lucas who owes me for Howard the Duck and the Star Wars prequels.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Scooter Store Calls

Looks like Otto Von Hurensohn has become a pretty popular guy. The folks at The Scooter Store must have known about his displeasure with the rep from Hoveround because a very pleasant rep from The Scooter Store called to help Otto in his quest to achieve freedom and mobility. Otto was, of course, thrilled at the prospect of finally leaving his home.

About 10 minutes into the call, the rep's supervisor breaks in and tells her that she needs to see her in the office as soon as she finishes the call. I was a little concerned that the poor rep was going to get busted for something related to the call, so I actually called The Scooter Store back and was ready to apologize and rise to Melissa's defense, if need be. I was told, however, that the rep was being talked to due to an issue not related to her conversation with Otto.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Bought A Nook Color

I had been wanting to buy some sort of tablet device for a few months now. I had been looking at the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Motorola Xoom and, while they are both impressive devices, I have little desire to drop a ton of cash on a device that does things my phone and iPod already do for me. What I have really been wanting is something to read ebooks on. So, on a whim, I went with the Barnes & Noble nook color. 

The nook color is powered by a  TI OMAP 3621 800MHz CPU backed by 512MB of RAM and 8GB of flash storage. If 8GB doesn't cut it for you, you can add up to 32GB of additional storage via a microSD drive. The nook color boasts a 1024x600 resolution multi touch touchscreen which uses an LCD display rather than e-ink. It's running a custom build of Android 2.1,  but, you'd never know it because the devs have re-skinned it and locked it down to the point where it looks almost nothing like Android. Still, it's a nice interface and it does a great job of organizing your reading materials. The Library section is organized by a subset of tabs for books, magazines and newspapers, but also allows you to create sets of content in a section called "my shelves", which allows you to work with PDFs and other documents (DOC, DOCX, XLS, PPT, TXT), music (mp3, acc, mp4), images (JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP), and M4V video.

The nook color has a number of extra perks included with it. One of the coolest is that, while you're at a Barnes & Noble store, you can use your device to read any ebook from the Barnes & Noble store for free. There's also a sweet "LendMe" feature that allows you to lend books to friends, but, sadly, I have yet to add any friends on my device.

Overall, I'm thrilled with the nook color. I wish it had a more open interface and I find that it's web browser (a flavor of Google Chrome) is a little persnickety (I tried doing a blog entry from it: no dice), but it gets the job done. I like the wide variety of offerings available at the Barnes & Noble ebook store although wish they'd carry an electronic version of U.S. News & World Report (I settled for Newsweek).

For $250, it's very well worth the money.

Monday, March 21, 2011

No, We Are Not Twins

JohnMac and I are brothers. We were born just over three years apart. From our mannerisms to our vocabulary to our general appearance, it's easy to tell that we're related. For some odd reason, however, everyone in Georgia seemed to think that we were twins.

We took our kids roller-skating and JohnMac's wife took on the task of helping the kids navigate the rink while JohnMac and I spent time in the adjacent arcade. In the middle of being resoundingly beaten on yet another racing game by my older brother, another parent tapped me on the shoulder. Was I complaining too loudly again? I turned to look at her and face her wrath.

"Y'all are brothers?" she asked, pointing and me and JohnMac.

I laughed a little to myself, relieved that she didn't seem to care that I had been rather loud about constantly losing against JohnMac. "Yep.", I said as I tried to get somehow escape from the hell of 8th place.  "He's older,  but I'm more fun!", I added.

The lady looked us both over again and then asked me "How many minutes older is he?"

I slammed my virtual car into a virtual wall. "Just over one point five million, I'd guess".

I could see the wheels turning in her head.  "So...y'all aren't twins?".

JohnMac and I certainly share similar facial features, but the hair lines and styles are substantially different and he's a solid four inches taller than me. Okay, maybe it was the bad lighting and the fact that we were both sitting down. We went over to the concession stand to get the kids some drinks. The logistics of finding out what the kids wanted along with navigating the line of teens who were anxious for their orders meant that JohnMac and I were switching places a lot. The concession girl kept on trying to give me JohnMac's stuff. The third time it happened, I gave her my "WTF??" look.

"I'm sorry.", she said. "I've never had to handle twins ordering before".

I wanted to smack my head against the table. Instead, I merely looked over at my brother, then back and the concession girl and said "What the hell? I've never seen this guy before in my life!"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Visit To The Georgia Aquarium

I had made a promise to myself that, while I was on vacation, I'd restrict my internet and phone usage to a bare minimum. Viewing this as a strictly personal vacation, I also decided to refrain from posting any details of the trip aside from flight experiences. Our trip to the Georgia Aquarium today was so amazing that I felt it would be a good idea to break the rule just this one time.

The Georgia Aquarium is the world's largest aquarium with more than 8.5 million gallons of marine and fresh water housing for more than 120,000 animals of 500 different species. Of particular interest are the 4 whale sharks, 4 manta rays and 4 beluga whales. This place is huge, but it's so well laid out that we were able to start at one end and make our way around within the span of about 3 hours despite the massive crowd. There's a lot to do and see and there are even petting tanks where the kids can touch various aquatic species.

Below you'll find a video I shot at the large viewing tank at the Georgia Aquarium. You'll see a manta ray doing underwater flips and a whale shark buzzing eerily close to the divers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You've Been Selected For Additional Screening!

My 8-year-old daughter and I are going on vacation today. I booked our outbound flight at a regional airport in order to avoid having to make a choice between going through the backscatter x-ray machines or getting a freedom fondle. I was looking forward to being able to zip through security in less than 10 minutes. However, upon going through the metal detectors, my daughter set it off. I had her empty her pockets before going through, so when it alarmed, she froze in confusion. She told the agent nearby that she didn't have any metal on her.

The agent told me that my daughter had been randomly selected by the metal detector for additional screening. The thought of some glorified mall cop patting down my daughter made me want to vomit, so I told the agent that it was unacceptable. The agent looked to her supervisor who looked at my daughter, then back at me and said "Swab HIM".

An additional agent ran a cloth over my hands. I don't think he even ran the cloth through a detector. Before anybody could say anything, I picked up our stuff and walked. I figured that if they detected anything, they'd stop me. Nobody did.

I found the whole incident strange. Do metal detectors at airports really go off at random like that for the intended purpose of pulling some random person out for additional screening? I've heard rumors that they might be programmed to behave that way, but I'm surprised a TSA agent would actually confirm it to me. In the end, I guess I feel confident that the TSA is doing a great job of catching terrorists who don't wash their hands.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vacation Time

I'm told by my coworkers that, over the last several months, I've become much more cantankerous. I'm more argumentative, more aggressive and much more sarcastic than usual. Part of me wonders if the ghost of the grumpy old mathematician who occupied my desk before me hasn't somehow imbued me with his sardonicism. More likely, I'm burned out. I've been working my usual 9-to-5 nerd job along with teaching a class two nights a week. When you add to that a number of social pressures that I'm enduring, you've got a formula for a man who's about to get tipped off his rocker. Moreover, I'm convinced that my recent mega-brainfart was a result of being over-worked and stressed out. After all, stress can impair the function of the hippocampus, which is crucial for the acquisition of new information, such as names, facts, passwords and appointment times.

It's time for a break. It's time to get away. It's time to get a little crazy with family and friends. The kiddo and I are hopping a flight tomorrow. I'm going to let my problems sit out of sight and ferment for a few days while I concentrate on having a little fun. I'm going to leave the work to the monkeys with the full confidence that they can manage until I get back. I'm ready to get away for a while.

At the very least, it'll be cool to watch TV in a different time zone for a few days.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Where's My Hoveround Wheelchair?

The fine folks at Hoveround Personal Wheelchairs called me recently. I'm sure you've seen the commercials where Hoveround claims that, by working with your insurance, they can provide you with a personal mobility chair at little or no cost to yourself. I posed at Otto Von Hurensohn, a very large man prone to mobility issues and digestive problems.

The Hoveround rep who called me obviously wanted to get off the phone and transfer me to a scheduler as soon as possible, either because of all the disgusting noises I was making or because she had long ago lost all passion for her job. Perhaps both. Anyway, I was able to keep her on the phone for about five minutes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Call Of Duty: Black Ops - My Lamest Deaths

No matter how good I get at Call Of Duty: Black Ops, I always seem to make some very stupid mistakes which end up getting me killed. In the video below, you'll see some of my lamest mistakes such as:

  • Walking right over a grenade
  • Getting ambushed by three enemy players
  • Getting cut down from behind by a helicopter mounted gun.
  • Emptying my clip trying to hit an enemy only to be killed while I'm reloading
  • Dropping a grenade on myself
  • Shooting at an enemy from behind a car and ending up blowing up the car because my stray fire hit the engine.
  • Being shot from behind way too many times
  • Jumping away from an enemy grenade only to be killed by the fall
  • Fending off a pack of dogs only to get blown up by an enemy grenade
  • The inevitable knifing from behind

Seems like I am always getting pwned on Call Of Duty: Black Ops.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Giant Yellow Crane

Giant Yellow Crane by The Virtual SinkMy neighborhood is pretty boring. Aside from myself and my daughter, it's populated by old people who are so elderly that I fear that they might burst into flames should they exit their houses during daylight hours. Aside from the occasional wellness checks and ambulance runs, very little excitement occurs in my neighborhood. So, when a giant yellow crane appeared across the street from my block, I had to take notice.

It looks like they're building a new apartment complex. I don't know, and, frankly, I don't care. The mere addition of a giant yellow crane to the neighborhood skyline was cool enough to get a few jaws flapping and to give me an excuse to take my daughter on a little walk to check it out.

You can see it for yourself. For a larger version of this picture just double click on it, stare in awe for a few seconds and ponder your place in the Universe

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Much Worse Than A Brain Fart

I'm jokingly referred to as "The Absent Minded Professor" among my students and the faculty where I teach. I have a tendency to go off on tangents when teaching and have been known to focus so much on the more interesting aspects of the material that I completely forget about the less interesting stuff. What happened to me in class on Monday, however, veered far away from mere absentmindedness and swerved full on into a forgetfulness so astounding that I was convinced that I'd had my first "senior" moment.

I arrived to class on Monday to find a completely empty room. I found it odd, as usually there are a few students there when I arrive. I looked at the clock. It was just a little before 5pm. I organized my notes. At 5pm, there was still nobody there. Strange. By 5:15, I was starting to get concerned. I went downstairs, talked to one of the advisers, and asked if there was a day off or a field trip I was not aware of. I was told that there wasn't anything unusual going on and that the disappearance of my students did indeed seem strange.

I returned to my classroom and waited. By 5:30 I was in the middle of writing an angry missive to my students in the form of a carefully worded e-mail that would properly convey my bitter disappointment that they hadn't bothered to show up. I looked up from my e-mail at the clock. It was 5:45. I had to pick my daughter up from her grandmother's at 6pm. I felt odd, though. Class usually lasts two hours, but I felt like I had only been in class for an hour. Slowly, the wheels in my brain started to turn. I had gotten to class at about 5pm. It was now nearly an hour later. I teach a two hour class. I was missing an hour. Why was I missing an hour? It was then that I realized that my class starts at 4pm, not 5pm. I had shown up to class an hour late.

After picking my daughter up and arriving home, I called my mother to explain the situation. I was worried that I might have thrown a clot or had a minor cerebral hemorrhage or something. My mother, an RN and Professor of Nursing assured me that I was probably fine and just had a minor brain fart.

"No, Mom." I said, "A brain fart would be if I realized the situation ten minutes into it. What I had was the mental equivalent of shitting my pants!"

Thankfully, I arrived to class on time yesterday and found that my students had assumed that, due to the severe storm that hit the area Sunday night, they figured I didn't come in because of the excess flooding. No harm done, but, from now on, I'm setting an alarm every Monday and Wednesday before class.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Call Of Duty: Black Ops - A Bunch Of Lucky Kills

I'm still very inexperienced on Call Of Duty: Black Ops, so I'm always surprised when I'm able to kill players who are several levels above me. I've compiled a video of a bunch of lucky kills I made while playing over the past two weeks. Most of these people could have had me dead to rights before I snatched victory from their hands. In the video, you'll find some kills from randomly thrown grenades, a few knifing kills, some claymore kills and one scalping.

This video is not to be taken as evidence that I am any good at Call Of Duty: Black Ops. I'm a mediocre player at best.