5 posts from October 2004

Oldies: Sunday, October 24 - Saturday, October 30, 2004...

Saturday, 30 October 2004: Sometimes the youth of today just disappoint me so. I was driving around today running some errands and I saw some kids doing kick flips with their skateboards. I have always liked skateboarders. It was something I always wanted to try to become but never had the coordination, threshold for pain, nor the suicidial tendencies required to perform these stunts.

So I was watching them a little bit as I passed. And then I saw it, all these kids were talking on cellphones while practicing their stunts.

Oh man. How discouraging. Even the former anti-establishment known as skating has gone yuppie.

Wednesday, 27 October 2004: The Boston Red Sox have just defied 86 years of bad luck and won the World Series. By a sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals, no less.

I know that I desperately wanted it to happen, but did I truly think it would? Well, yeah. The Sox were on fire. Did I think it would happen in a sweep? Not really. Not even as much as I wanted it to happen that way did I think it actually would. This is just incredible and I'm so happy for all Boston fans. They deserve it so much.

I like the picture at right. I was telling my wife last night how I have always loved that the first two people who you see celebrating a World Series or playoff win are the pitcher and the catcher. And it's almost always the catcher with all his heavy equipment jumping up into the pitcher's tired arms. Like the poor pitcher hasn't endured enough already, here's a 225 pound man laden with catcher's gear jumping into your arms. Heh heh, hope your shoulders survive, sucker.

Just bear in mind that you will no longer have the curse to blame for any streaks of bad luck you might have in the future. Nyah nyah.

So, is it the Cubbies' turn now?

Oh, and here's one more image for you. As a note, I own the same exact hat. Twins Enterprises Boston Red Sox Franchise fitted cap (I lovingly call them "rag" hats).

Tuesday, 26 October 2004: Just as a follow up to my Thursday post, here's a picture of that house with the stop light in the yard. It's one of those "you've got to see it to believe it" sorts of situations.

Sorry about the glare over the top of the house. That's what happens when you take the picture through the window of your car. But you get the point of what I'm talking about regarding the light. I just wish it was lit for the photo.

Monday, 25 October 2004: I like these kinds of e-mails.

After signing up with Netflix this past March at a cost of $19.95 per month, sometime over the summer, all us subscribers were hit with the news that the service would be upping the charge to $21.99 a month. That was fine to me because I was still saving money overall from going to Schlockbuster.

Today, however, I opened my e-mail to discover that Netflix sent notice they would be dropping their monthly cost to $17.99. Yes! I can definitely handle that. Take it and run.

Oldies: Sunday, October 17 - Saturday, October 23, 2004...

Thursday, 21 October 2004: To be filed under "something you don't see everyday"...

I was coming back to work today from my lunch break at Subway and I saw something quite odd in the side yard of one of the houses near the university. It was a stop light. Yep, a good old three-light jobber on a 10-foot metal post looming over the yard. It was just like what you might see on the corner of an intersection, but there were no roads. It was just... sitting there. It looked like a basketball hoop should have been attached to it. I have no idea if it was operable or not, but I would assume that it would be capable of working or there would be no real purpose to having such a unique, er, "lawn decoration." Or maybe it's just there to make people look on in wonderment. Much like what I was doing. Who knows?

Some people have garden gnomes. Some have pink flamingos. This family has... a stop light.

Uh, yeah... okay.

And since we're on the subject of odd sights, I shall leave you now with another little oddity that a friend at originaltrilogy.com provided to me (thanks, Reg!).

I truly don't think any other words are necessary.

Wednesday, 20 October 2004: I think I now know what it will take to make a team that I am rooting for win. I must be absolutely negative about their chances. I have to publicly declare that this team's chances are nil.

It worked for the Boston Red Sox.

After that horrific game three, at which point the New York Yankees moved up three games to zero in the NLCS, I said that it's all over for the Red Sox. I said we may as well chalk up another World Series win for the Yankees.

What happens?

I'll tell you what happened. David Ortiz happened, that's what.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the Red Sox became the first team in professional baseball history to come back and win the next four games and take a playoff series after being on the verge of elimination. Wow. And they were incredible games as well. Katie and I watched a lot of it, even those two extra-innings performances. Baseball hasn't been any better in recent years. Here I was saying that it seemed as though the Sox just didn't want it enough. That certainly came back to bite me in the ass, didn't it?

Okay, here and now... the Cubs are gonna finish in the cellar next season. Got that? They have no hope whatsoever of going anywhere.

Tuesday, 19 October 2004: I was watching Today this morning and they were talking about the flu vaccine shortage here in the States. And it's amazing the lengths some people will go to get their vaccination. There have been lines the likes of which you don't even see for concerts or celebrity meetings. People have stolen cases of vaccine. And, some people are going to Canada to get vaccinated.

You see, Canada was smart. They were buying flu vaccine from companies in Britain and France while the U.S. was buying only from Britain. When over half of the Brit supply went bad, we were screwed. Canada, on the other hand, has a surplus. And they will part with it for a price. One place, right across the lake from Buffalo, is charging CAD $50 per vaccination (approximately US $40 after conversion) and all the profit goes directly to their clinic as they purchased the vaccine themselves. No insurance, for obvious reasons. Dems is smart Canucks, ain't dey?

I can just see a reprisal of "Blame Canada!" coming, can't you?

Monday, 18 October 2004: I have already finished one class for this semester. Yep, rather short, wasn't it? Only an eight-week course for my Business Law.

I'm not sure how I feel about the eight-week course format. And what sucks is that the MBA program is thinking of fully adopting this format throughout all courses. However, I only get to take courses for free up to 9 or 10 credit hours (after that point, I have passed into a netherworld that the IRS will tax me on — grad school is a fringe benefit to the IRS). That means I can only take three classes per year and will either have to find some BS undergraduate course outside the program to take or spend the time not taking a course. Man, that sucks.

Sunday, 17 October 2004: I was finally able to see the new Soldier Field today, both from the outside and the inside. Katie and I went to the Bears game against the Washington Redskins with her brother, Scott; his girlfriend, Liz; our friend, Tim (who got us the tickets); among others.

Okay, despite the pitiful 13-10 loss the Bears incurred, it was still a pretty fun day. The Stadium is massive and so odd looking from the outside. But, once inside, it's rather pretty to put it nicely. None of the forced blending of architectural styles like when you first see it from the outside.

I took plenty of pictures and will post a new album a little later on.

The day came to a rather bad close when we came back to our vehicles at the Pace bus stop in Schaumburg (we took a bus to Soldier from outside Woodfield Mall for $5 roundtrip). Scott's front driver-side window was bashed in. Nothing was stolen or damaged other than the window so it was likely to have just been some drunken idiot. But it sucks all the same.

Oldies: Sunday, October 10 - Saturday, October 16, 2004...

Wednesday, 13 October 2004: Yes, today is the day. Katie's and my third year anniversary. Wow. That's all I can say. Wow.

If you were to have said to me back in 1997 or early 1998, before I met Katie, that I would be on my third anniversary only six or seven years down the road, I would have seen to it that you were locked up in a nice padded room. But alas, the unthinkable happened. Somebody loves me for who I am and I love her and I couldn't imagine being happier.

And, as promised some time ago, here is a picture of both of us with our new "looks". Mine is a bit more pronounced considering the lack of lip fuzz. Katie was trying out a new hairstyle here where it's turned out. So now you all can finally see us both.

Happy anniversary, hon. I love you.

Tuesday, 12 October 2004: If the first radio release is any indication, the new U2 album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," is gonna be a good one. I am digging the song "Vertigo" in ways that I haven't dug a U2 song in quite a while.

And, to boot, I love the "Vertigo" iPod video commercial. Have any of you seen it? I'm not sure how long it's been out now, but I just saw it tonight for the first time either during Scrubs or NYPD Blue. I'm not sure which it was. It's just like all the past iPod and iTunes commercials with the silhouetted characters against bright monochromatic backgrounds. This time around, though, they've stepped up the highlighting of features on the silhouettes so you can clearly see the four bandmembers from U2. I think my favorite part of the video comes when, after the first time that Bono utters "Hello hello," drummer Larry Mullen Jr. looks at the camera and mouths "Hola." Don't ask me why, but I just love that bit.

If you have iTunes, you can view the extended cut of the commercial and it is very cool.

Monday, 11 October 2004: I stayed home today for no other reason than to start burning off some of the vacation days I have to take before the end of the calendar year. It was nice because, on Mondays, Katie doesn't have to go in to work until 1 p.m. So we were able to spend the morning together.

One thing we did, that is part of her normal routine, is watch some of Oprah. I'm not a big Oprah fan. Yes, I've been to a couple tapings of her show some years back, but she's really lost her luster. I'm actually a bit tired of her. And I think she realizes that many people do think that about her.

Today's show was the mass baby shower down at Fort Campbell, KY (that's Kentucky... get your mind out of the gutter), at which she gave away tens of thousands of dollars in free baby stuff to the 160 or so soon-to-be moms on the base. Nice gesture? No doubt. A pathetic attempt at grabbing ratings? Again, no doubt.

I think it's pretty obvious that Oprah's feeling the strain from some upstart daytime talk shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show and this, in my mind, is why she keeps pulling these pathetic ratings stunts. First she gives away a new car to each member of her studio audience. Now she pulls this. What's next? Nobody knows and that's why this is such an effective ratings grab. Everyone wants to know what will happen next and they tune it (or try to get tickets to be in the studio audience if they're smart). Instant ratings bonanza.

Is Oprah really being a great person? No, not really, in my humble opinion. All this stuff was donated by the manufacturer for Oprah to just dish out. Yes, it's great that Oprah has the clout to be able to do this sort of thing and it only helps those she gives the items to (unless they are being served up with a $7,000 tax bill by the IRS like all those people who got the car). But to say that Oprah is some spectacular person because of these stunts is going a bit far. Praise the manufacturers of the products, praise the promotions department at Harpo Studios. Oprah is just in it for the ratings and, subsequently, the money.

Sunday, 10 October 2004: I am still slightly in shock that Christopher Reeve has died. Superman is not allowed to be defeated. Especially when he has gone through as much in his real life as Reeve did. Anybody who can emotionally overcome his accident and subsequent suicidal feelings to become one of the biggest advocates for spinal cord and stem cell research should be allowed to continue his work for as long as it takes and, at the very least, be allowed to see some of his tireless work come to fruition in the form of a cure.

Rest in peace, Christopher Reeve. You will always be the one and only Superman to me.

Oldies: Sunday, October 3 - Saturday, October 9, 2004...

Thursday, 7 October 2004: Either kids and teens are becoming masters of the art of B.S. (and I don't mean Bachelor of Science here) or there are just some severely naive parents out there. Get a load of this...

I was reading an article in the Kane County Chronicle today entitled "A $5,564 shocker" right on the front page. It concerns a 17-year-old girl from Batavia and her mother who were shocked to receive cellphone bills from a two-month period totalling, yes, $5,564. These bills were assessed in late 2003 and early 2004 because the daughter had been using the cellphone to call her boyfriend in Germany who is a U.S. soldier (he's now in Iraq).

What kills me is that the mom isn't mad at the daughter (she was grounded for a month and must repay her mom), but she is more mad at the cellphone company for a few reasons.

  1. The cellphone company did not warn the family about overseas calls
  2. The company was unable to tell them the total of the bill until the billing cycle ended
  3. The company refused to give them more than a single billing cycle to make the payment
  4. The company threatened to use a collection agency if they did not pay in full
  5. The company refused to give them a break because the calls were to a serviceman

Yes, there is some good reason to be angry with the cellphone company. I wholeheartedly agree with #1, 2, and 3 above. I think cellular carriers need to figure out a system where billing can be determined in the middle of a cycle (especially in cases of unauthorized use — someone using without permission like this instance, a stolen cellphone, or a cloned cellular identity). It should be no more than a matter of reprogramming just a little bit so your computer system can read files in the middle of a cycle. Hell, if a regular phone company can do it, why not a cellular company?

The only reason they discovered this is because the daughter was also using the landline phone to call him and, when those calls racked up, AT&T shut down their phone service until they were able to speak directly to one of the homeowners. The parents became suspicious and tried to check their cellphone bills as well (why #2 above is a concern).

However, I'm still miffed about the mom's disavowal of her daughter's own responsibility in the matter. The girl is 17 for God's sake! The quote from the mom was, "Now I know that these kids had no idea what kid [sic] of bill they were creating. They were just being young and naive, just assuming they could talk on the phone like they did at home."

What, you regularly have to dial in intercontinental access codes when you make calls at home? That's part of your "just like at home" phone-use routine?

Or, how about this gem from mom, "My husband and I knew nothing about these calls in the middle of the night." Now, I could argue that the daughter was trying to hide her calls by making them in the middle of the night, but that is negated by time zone differences. Germany is, I believe, eight hours ahead of the Central Time Zone. She's just calling when it's a reasonable hour in Germany. Yet, wouldn't a parent be suspicious if their daughter was up that late on a phone? Cellphone reception, especially overseas, would be spotty and I can't imagine that whispering would work well. Wouldn't you ask a question or two about what was going on? Or wouldn't you want to know, after having a full charge on your phone the night before, why the battery meter now reads a lot lower?

Younger people are more aware of technology than older people, for the most part. I'm amazed by some of the computer work I've seen from 12 year olds. Kids' and teens' levels of tech savvy never ceases to impress me.

Even I knew better than to try to make long-distance phone calls without permission from my parents from about the age of 6. If the girl did not know any better, I would say that's the parents' fault.

My advice, put a lock on the phone. An access code for anything that is not local (landlines can do this) and a password on your cellphone would work wonders.

I'm ranting. I'm sorry.

Soapbox dismounted.

Wednesday, 6 October 2004: My money says the FCC is quaking in their boots right about now.

Howard Stern has signed a deal to take his talk show to Sirius Satellite Radio. Why? Because he will be able to truly speak his mind as Sirius (and other satellite radio providers like XM) are not censored at all. Yikes, now that is a scary thought. We all thought Stern was off color as it was. I can't imagine what he's gonna be like now.

The deal was for five years and $500 million. DANG! That's a ton of dough for anyone, even an athlete, and it's being paid to an on-air personality.

My question is, where is Sirius getting the money? They don't have sponsors as satellite radio is supposed to be commercial free. Yes, there is a subscriber fee. But, in the five years that Sirius has been around (yes, that number struck me as odd, too), they have yet to make a profit considering their subscriber base is only 600,000 strong. Analysts say that just to come close to turning even a tiny profit, Sirius would need at least 1.3 million subscribers. What happens if the listener base doesn't make the switch to Sirius like the execs are hoping? Sure, some will. But will it be enough? And what happens if they don't and Sirius goes under?

Oh, the possibilities.

Tuesday, 5 October 2004: Ask and ye shall receive.

One of the most oft-requested (read: two people have e-mailed me) additions to this site is a page that cross lists some of my movie reviews by my rating. Some people have asked to be able to see what movies have been ranked by yours truly as the creme de la creme. Well, now you have it. The Best of the Best page is now up and lists all the movies in my Movie Critique that have received four-and-a-half and five star ratings.

Just a note, the page only lists the movies by title, not by review. Just click on the title to read the review.

I've been contemplating a Worst of the Worst page as well, but that's another project, another day. We shall see.

Don't say I never did anything for all of you.

Monday, 4 October 2004: I am having a really tough time dealing with the fact that we are already in October. This year has just been unreal in terms of how fast it has passed by. Hell, we're already starting up week 5 of the NFL season and the regular season for baseball is done and gone (as are the Cubs' chances). It's just sick how quickly it has all gone by.

I would also like to wish a farewell to Chip Caray, one of the Cubs principle broadcasters. He is leaving Chicago to join his dad, Skip, as a broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves. I wish him well and will miss his voice as I watch the Cubs play.

Sunday, 3 October 2004: I hate when this kind of crap is pulled. Today, the Sunday sale ads came out and everybody is advertising the DVD release of special and limited editions of Shawshank Redemption and The Untouchables. Both have already been released in regular editions and I own both. Studios do this all the time. Heck, some movies out there, like Army of Darkness, have three or four versions available on DVD.

Usually, I refuse to buy into these special editions once I already own a copy, but Shawshank Redemption is my all-time favorite movie and I am pretty sure I would actually watch the bonus features and listen to the commentary unlike all my other DVD sets. You see, I'm not a big fan of many of the extras that are available on DVDs. Save for deleted scenes, alternate endings, and blooper/gag reels, I just don't like to watch the additional garbage. There's just not enough time in the day. Shawshank, on the other hand...


Oldies: Sunday, September 26 - Saturday, October 2, 2004...

Saturday, 2 October 2004: I think that next year I am going to have to announce that I hate the Cubs and think they will do lousy. Maybe that will get the job done.

Yep, the Cubs choked. Shouldn't be a surprise to any longtime Cubhead. But it still hurts nonetheless. Especially since they showed signs of actually being able to play well. Not that this entire season was great. Heck, compared to last year, this one sucked horribly, but you can still hope and those glimmers of inspired play really do get you going.

Oh well, go Bosox and Twins!

Friday, 1 October 2004: After months of getting progressively more fed up with Cingular cellphone service, Katie and I have officially jumped ship. As of this coming Monday, when our new phones come in the mail, we will be customers of Nextel. Everybody we have talked to with Nextel service has raved about it. Not a single bad word to be heard.

Ever since Cingular's attempt to transfer over to a GSM service, it has all gone to hell in a handbasket. Our number of dropped calls has increased tenfold, our sound quality is for crap, our blackout zones have increased, yeah, you name it.

The other thing that has ticked us off is that for the last six months, they have not been able to get our billing statements correct. They've been consistently billing us for roam calls even though we've been on a nationwide plan the whole time. I've had to call them up each time we get a bill to have it adjusted. Our bill is anywhere from $70-250 over each month. How much of this sheer annoyance can they really expect us to put up with?

Bye bye, Cingular.

Hello, Nextel.

Tuesday, 28 September 2004: Things have gotten ugly in fantasy football this season. We're only three weeks in and, already, I've had to pick up far too many new players. Two new wide receivers, three new tight ends, a new defensive back, a new backup quarterback... when's it going to end?

I swear so many NFL players have fallen victim to the disabled list. It's really pathetic. And, as always it seems, the Bears have it worse than any other team. Hell, we just lost Rex Grossman for the season after already losing our stud d-back Mike Brown.

I guess we can at least say we beat the Packers before it all went to hell in a handbasket. We have that much.

Sunday, 26 September 2004: Yes, God forbid I should actually take the time for a public service announcement. But, here is a list of tips I have compiled for people suffering from lower back injuries.

  • See a doctor. Get some drugs. They make you feel better. Muuuucccccchhhhh better.
  • Do not sneeze. Don't ask why; just don't do it. You'll thank me later.
  • Get a friend or loved one to help you put on your socks and shoes. This was one of the toughest things I had to do.
  • Lay down on the floor whenever possible. Here's hoping you have a nice comfy carpet.
  • If someone offers you a backrub, accept it. Do not say stupid things like, "oh, you don't have to." If someone cares enough to offer, accept it you moron.
  • Do not watch anything on TV in which you have a vested emotional interest. I watched the Bears game today. Luckily, most of my pain was already gone or I would have likely made matters much worse during my fits of screaming and ranting.

Thank you all for your attention. You can pay the receptionist at the door on your way out. No, I do not accept any major insurance carriers. Oh, and cash only.