4 posts from March 2005

Oldies: Sunday, March 20 - Saturday, March 26, 2005...

Saturday, 26 March 2005: Does basketball get any better than tonight's game between Illinois and Arizona? Holy hell, that was a spectacular game and I can't say that I've ever seen a better one be it high school, college, or pro level. Basketball at its finest. Down 15 with 4 minutes to go and the Illini come back to tie it and take it into overtime to win by one point.

One word... WOW.

And I've got a friend who had floor seats for that game. Greg, you bastard.

Friday, 25 March 2005: Michigan State Spartans... you're my heroes.

The Big Green Machine won my eternal gratitude by defeating the loathed Duke Blue Schmucks today and taking away their chances of dominating their way through to the NCAA Championship.

Thank you... thank you... thank you... thank you.


Thursday, 24 March 2005: Let the cross marketing blitz begin!

About a month or so ago, the marketing machine that is Star Wars began to churn its wheels with the first round of Episode III preview figures. I picked up two out of the four. Not bad, but not great.

However, I just spoke with Katie on the phone and her store, Walgreen's, just received one of its first shipments of cross marketed products. They received a shipment of the oversize PEZ dispensers — Yoda, Darth Vader, and C3PO. These are the huge ones that PEZ has been releasing lately that give out entire packs of PEZ candy at a time instead of just the individual pieces of candy. They're running $25 each. The PEZ website calls them PEZ Crystals because part of the unit is transparent so you can see the dispensing mechanism. Not a bad idea. Pretty cool, in fact. But to use that as an impetus to bump the price from $15 for the regular oversize PEZ dispenser to $25 for the PEZ Crystals is not cool at all. More like extortion, but people will likely pay it. It may even be me, or Katie buying me a gift. Who knows? I do love my PEZ dispensers, though.

They also received Light Side/Dark Side packages of M&Ms. According to StarWars.com, "lighter colors around milk chocolate represent the light side-following Jedi, and darker colors with dark chocolate centers represent the dark side-loving Sith." Nice touch.

Wonder what else we'll see. I can't wait. I'm geeking out already.

Wednesday, 23 March 2005: From one of my favorite movies, Office Space...

Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door - that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh - after that I sorta space out for an hour.

Um... "space out"?

Yeah, I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

I've been so overloaded at work lately that I would kill for any one given workday to be like this. Please, God.

Tuesday, 22 March 2005: I have to give my "Hero of the Day" Award to one very special man, U.S. District Judge James Whittemore. This is the man responsible for saying no to having Terry Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted. Despite pressure from the fact that most of Congress and the President were pushing to save her life, he stood firm and said no.

I'm not being sarcastic. I'm really proud of the guy. 15 years of this woman in a persistent vegetative state and her parents really think she's going to be able to wake up and be happy? If she wakes up at all, she's going to be living with such pervasive brain damage and be in physical and emotional therapy for the rest of her life. What kind of life is that? And you want to subject the daughter you love to this kind of existence? Apparently, only her husband and all kinds of judges that have heard the case and its subsequent appeals really have any sort of true concern for her well being.

Let her die. It's the best thing for her right now. The government should not be getting involved in such legislation anyway. Shouldn't they be more worried about all the troops being killed overseas? Get your priorities straight, ladies and gentlemen. 1,500 U.S. troops dead and the rest over there without an exit plan in place and you're worried about a woman who's been a vegetable for a decade and a half?

Sunday, 20 March 2005: I still didn't get to sleep in today either. Instead, we woke up early to go up to Crystal Lake for breakfast. Gah! When will I get to sleep. Probably not until next weekend. This is terrible.

Well, our other reason for heading up there was because this was the weekend for the Adams Family Easter Celebration. No, I did not take any photos this year. I felt like I'd been carrying around the camera long enough as it was.

Even though I was a bit grumpy from lack of sleep, we still had fun. I even took part in the Easter Egg Hunt with Katie. Some of the normal participants were sick with the flu so we had a ton of eggs to find and not nearly as many people as usual to find them. So, despite us being the ones who hid them all, Katie and I collected as well.

Oldies: Sunday, March 13 - Saturday, March 19, 2005...

Saturday, 19 March 2005: Despite wanting sleep more than anything, I had to wake up for class this morning. I don't like this whole Saturday class doohickey. It's really cutting into my beauty sleep. And, if you know me, you know I need as much beauty sleep as possible. Heh.

Friday, 18 March 2005: The part I always dread about a vacation... going home. I don't like it. I wanna stay. Or catch a different flight to some other place instead. Anywhere but home. I love our townhome, but returning to it means we must further endure the cold weather and going back to work. Hell, I'd rather be in Boise than at work.

We had a stopover in Pittsburgh which was not nearly as impressive an airport as Charlotte, but they did have a Lids hat store, so Katie and I purchased a Pirates hat (me) and a Red Sox hat (her). The salesman was really cool and was impressed by the fact I was already wearing a Red Sox hat and that Katie was buying one. Guess it helped that he was wearing one as well, eh? Well, he's a big Pittsburgh and Boston fan so we were able to talk sports with the guy for nearly a half hour while trying on hats. And, no, it was not just a two-way conversation between him and me as Katie can talk sports with the best of them.

When we got back to Illinois, Katie's dad picked us up and we ran out to Woodfield Mall to pick up a gift for her brother Steven's birthday. Then we made our way back to Geneva and had dinner at our fave pub Old Towne. It was our first time partaking in their fish and chips and they were well worth the wait. When we finally got back to our home, we just crashed. And hard. Sleep, beautiful sleep.

Thursday, 17 March 2005: It was raining yet again today (I must've jinxed us by talking about how perfect it was on the first day), so we went on a tour with Nano. She showed us this new town called The Villages which is a retirement community that is actually its own city. It started as two trailer homes in 1981 and is now well over 150,000 people and still growing. The city is just like Naperville, IL, in that it seems to swallow up more and more surrounding land and won't be sated until it runs out of places to grow. And I think both will still find a way to grow despite this minor speedbump.

It's kind of a weird place. Nearly a dozen golf courses and little "town squares" littered throughout that serve as shopping centers. They try to make them all look like port towns with faux piers and lighthouses and the like scattered around the squares and the shops are very high end. All we could really afford to do was catch a movie, so we saw The Aviator. Damn fine flick and one of Martin Scorsese's best in my opinion. And, if this were released in any other year than the same one that Ray came out, Leonardo DiCaprio would have run away with the Best Actor Oscar, no question.

That night was dedicated to a our last vacation dinner with Nano and more card playing and talking. Good times.

Wednesday, 16 March 2005: Katie and I woke up today fully intending to go to Clearwater and hang out on the beach. So we woke up early and snuck into the living room to turn on the TV and check out the Weather Channel. There wasn't a single spot on their map of Florida that was immune to the little thunderstorm icon. Even the Gulf was becoming a bit oversaturated. Yeah, so much for the beach.

So we started to do some homework. Yes, despite being on vacation, we both had homework to do. Heck, Katie had to work on a take-home test that is due this coming Tuesday. Sick and wrong, I know. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

When Nano finally woke up, we went out to do some shopping and pick up the photos of our townhome that we took to show her the new place (and, yes, these photos are now posted). We came home and went for a walk around the Country Club where she lives and she took us out to this lake at the end of her street which is very popular with fishermen including Pop Pop. Apparently, on an island across this thin strip of a canal, there is a fourteen-foot alligator. Few people have actually seen it because it prefers to hide. I found it. I could only really see the trunk of its body at first, but, as I moved around, I could see its legs and its tail slithering up and over some tree roots.

On our way home, it began to sprinkle again. As soon as we set foot on Nano's front porch, it downpoured. And it really never let up the rest of the night. So much for the "ideal" weather, eh?

That night we just talked and played cards and dominos for hours. It was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, 15 March 2005: Today was Katie's and my day to visit Universal Studios. Katie has been there before, but it's been a while. And I've only been to Universal Hollywood. Well, we bought the Express Pass that they now offer and, let me tell you, it was worth the extra $20 per ticket. We skipped past all the lines on all the major rides (except Shrek 4D which doesn't allow use of the Express Pass presumably because it's brand new) and saved so much time. We had all the major rides and exhibits done by 1:30 and we got there at 10:30. We did the E.T. ride, Back to the Future, T2 in 3D (blech), The Mummy, Twister, Men In Black: Alien Attack, Jaws, Earthquake, and even had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe all in three hours' time. Pretty nice.

While we were there, we called our friends Chris ("Mojo") and Gabriela who live in Orlando and they agreed to meet us out on the Universal City Walk at 7:30 for drinks and dinner. So we took in some more of the sights, went shopping, and rode The Mummy one more time (it was that good). When all that was said and done, it was still only 4:30. so we went to see Robots. Not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination. Cute, I suppose. But it just goes to show that any animation studio out there pales in comparison to Pixar in terms of having quality animation and scripting. Pixar can do no wrong.

When we came out of the theater, it was pouring rain. And I mean pouring. We bought a golf umbrella at Margaritaville (works out nice since I need a new umbrella for my golf bag) and waited for Chris and Gabriela. When they arrived, I was relieved to see that Chris' hairline has receded a little bit as well. Sweet vindication is mine! Seriously, though, we went to Pat O'Briens for dinner and had to contend with the overpoweringly loud piano playing of two wannabes who kept belting out popular piano tunes and making us long for sweet silence. Afterwards, we went to City Jazz and watched Herb Williams and his band play. They were much better.

We didn't get back to Nano's place until nearly midnight and she was still awake. Night owls.

Monday, 14 March 2005: Today, we had no idea what to do. So Nano (my grandmother as I've always referred to her) suggested we go to the flea market with her. This is something my family does almost everytime we go down to Florida. Sometimes you find some good stuff, sometimes you find nothing but crap. Perhaps I've become a bit more discerning in my (relatively) old age, but it all seemed like crap. Nano warned us. But we still had fun.

And a tip for any law enforcement officers out there... if you want to make a big bust, go to these flea markets. You'd be amazed how many copyright violations I saw on sale there. Copies of Diary of a Mad Black Woman and The Pacifier available on DVD already? I don't think so. They've only been in theaters a couple weeks each. There were many others as well.

Oh, and it started raining on the way there. Let up while we were there. And then picked up again towards the end of our visit.

After the flea market, we went to the Florida National Cemetery where Pop Pop (my grandfather as I've always referred to him) is buried. Like any National Cemetery, it's absolutely stunning in terms of how it looks, how it's laid out, and how it's maintained. I find it difficult to get weepy in National Cemeteries. I dunno if it has something to do with the feeling of national pride you get from seeing all these veterans in one place or maybe it's just because I become overwhelmed by the aesthetic beauty of the place. I've always loved the symmetry of how the headstones are laid out. All in perfect rows no matter which direction you look in. Of course I took some pictures. Go fig. Me on a vacation without a camera? Yeah, right.

Thankfully it didn't rain while we were at the Cemetery.

Sunday, 13 March 2005: If it weren't for the fact that we were leaving for Florida today, I'd be bitching and moaning about the fact that I'm not being given the opportunity to sleep in on my one and only day that I have available just for that purpose. Early flights, bah!

Our flight for Florida departed at 10 a.m. today out of O'Hare Airport and we had a stopover in Charlotte, N.C. One heckuva stopover, too. Nearly three hours. Thankfully, Charlotte International Airport is gorgeous inside. Yeah, I said "gorgeous" and "Airport" in the same breath, and meant it. When did airports become shopping malls? I can find more stuff here than at Charlestown Mall. It's great! I love it!

When we finally got to Orlando, we got our rental car (a fully loaded Ford Taurus... hey! Don't laugh. It's a pretty nice car) and drove our way up to Wildwood. It's a drive we should be familiar with by now, but it still seems so foreign. It's amazing how much an area can change in such a short time. But we did get there and with little to no problems.

Man, did we pick the right time of year to come down here. This is my kind of weather. Sunny, slight breeze, low humidity, mid 70s temperatures. This is the life. And we get to visit Nano. We've missed her.

Oldies: Sunday, March 6 - Saturday, March 12, 2005...

Saturday, 12 March 2005: Sad to say, but you won't see any updates on here for a little over a week. Katie and I are leaving for sunnier climes tomorrow. Yep, Florida, here we come. Don't worry, once we get back, I will update each day in between with what happened on that day so, eventually, it will look like I never missed an update. 'Til then, though...

Friday, 11 March 2005: I seem to recall a time when, if the big three gas stations (Shell, Mobil, and BP Amoco) were really overpriced, we car owners could hit up a certain lower-priced gas station known as Speedway.

My question is, what the hell happened to Speedway? For the last two years, they have been just as expensive, if not moreso, than the big chains. When and why did this happen? I don't even consider the local Speedway as a viable fueling source anymore because it is consistently more expensive than the other stations. I refuel regularly at BP Amoco these days.

The other thing that I've noticed is that Speedway is very quick to jump the gun on fuel price increases. They usually bump their prices up over the smallest thing that their corporate headquarters feel will result in a crude oil increase from OPEC nations. A U.S. contractor is kidnapped in Iraq, gas prices go up. A U.S. soldier is shot in Iraq, gas prices go up. Bush says something stupid about the Middle East, gas prices go up. And not just some piddly little increase either. I remember one time they increased the price 25 cents per gallon in one hour's time. Then, by the end of the day, it settled back down to a level where it was only 10 cents higher per gallon. However, the other three stations didn't budge their prices at all. It's pretty ridiculous.

Go BP.

Thursday, 10 March 2005: Ah, more good news for us TV buffs. And this one I regard even higher than my previous coo-worthy announcement for American Choppers.

It is ABC's Lost. And I love this show with a passion.

It's been years since a TV show attracted as wide a cult following and elicited more fan speculation as to what is truly going on as this show. In fact, I think the last show to do so was probably The X-Files. However, I don't think X ever had as wide ranging a viewership as Lost. This show truly has it all and keeps you wanting more.

And the complete first season will be released on DVD on September 6. I'm all over it.

For those of you into some of ABC's new shows this season, Desperate Housewives, season 1, is coming out two weeks later on September 20. That'll be a rent and rip for me. Lost is a purchase.

Tuesday, 8 March 2005: It's the time of the year (well, one of two) in which my allergies start to flare up a bit. My prescription of Flonase has come pretty close to running out, so I asked Katie to refill it for me. Great having a pharmacy technician for a wife, but that's another story.

When I got home tonight from the gym, I asked if she had refilled it. She said she did, but forgot to pick it up. No big deal. I just wanted to check because I had gotten e-mail confirmation from Walgreen's that the refill had been completed.

Then Katie tells me that "$43 later, your allergies will be better" or something to that degree.

Forty-three dollars!?!? My Flonase has never cost more than $25 in the past! Then Katie reveals that Blue Cross/Blue Shield is on some three-tiered prescription plan now and that this one is part of the upper tier. Flonase, without insurance, costs about $80 per bottle. How long until insurance coverage brings the cost up to the same as the friggin' cost without coverage?

Geez. I know we're still saving money, but it has gotten so much worse in recent years and exponentially so. This is painful. I need an aspirin. How much will that cost via insurance?

Monday, 7 March 2005: After a few months of looking at some horribly generic cover art accompanying the advertising for the new Harry Potter book (to be entitled "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince") scheduled for release in July, the actual cover art has finally been revealed. And it's pretty cool.

It continues the downward spiral trend of cover art into darker territory. And it's very stunningly simple.

So this is book six of seven. It's hard to believe that the series is almost over. J.K. Rowling is really going to have to end it with a bang, that's for sure. Maybe literally.

Oldies: Sunday, February 27 - Saturday, March 5, 2005...

Saturday, 5 March 2005: Well, it's over. Finally. Thankfully. [Insert any other emphatic adverb here]. Yes, that's right, I took my final exam in Managerial Accounting today.

How did I do, you might ask? Let's just say it's over and leave it at that.

Friday, 4 March 2005: I just realized that it has been one helluva long time since I've done an overhaul of the Recommendations box on the right of this screen. Well, today's that day. In addition to the new "Play Me" section that I added yesterday, I'm adding a new movie, new CD, and, well, not-so-new book. It's actually a book I read about six years ago. But I'm still in the midst of reading a book right now and it's taking me an awfully long time simply because I'm not in a reading zone right now. It's a good book, don't get me wrong. But finding the time to actually read has not proven to be an easy task.

So after nearly three months of the same old/same old recommendations in the "Read Me" and the "Watch Me" boxes, you are finally getting something new. Sorry it took so long.

Thursday, 3 March 2005: I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but FOX just saved my a$$. I forgot to tape the episode of The O.C. last week for Katie and I to watch. Just completely forgot to set the VCR. C'est la vie, eh?

Well, in a moment of grace and charity, FOX decided to rebroadcast that episode tonight. Yay!

So, I taped it while Katie and I went to the gym and we came home with what has become our new Thursday night tradition — salads from Applebee's — and watched our show. And all was good.

Before we went to the gym, though, Katie was napping and I decided to finally break out the new GameCube and play it. I am so hooked on Mario Kart: Double Dash. It's going to be a very dangerous thing. Too much fun for it to be entirely healthy.

Hmm... that gives me an idea. I'm gonna add a box for video games over in the Recommendations list.

Tuesday, 1 March 2005: And, since I seem to be on a bit of a tool kick right now, this is the perfect opportunity to announce the perfect gift for the man in your family. On May 10, the Discovery Channel and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will be releasing seasons 1 and 2 of their hit show American Chopper on DVD.

This may not seem like such a big deal to all of you considering the fact that, if you watch the show, you are offered the opportunity to purchase the complete seasons on DVD. And this option has been available for some months now. Well get this. The sets offered up at the end of the show run $75 to $100 for the first and second seasons, respectively. That's pretty damn steep in my opinion. These new sets, which will be available wherever you buy DVDs, will each be priced at $29.96.

How can you say no? I can't. Me want. I love this show and would likely watch it regularly considering I still tune in even to the repeat episodes.

For more information about the DVD release, check out TVShowsOnDVD.com.

Or, if you want to just go ahead and order it — and for only $20.97 each set, to boot — check out Amazon.com: Season 1 | Season 2. If you order $25 or more from Amazon (that would be covered by both of these sets), shipping is free. I'm all over this.

Monday, 28 February 2005: Katie and I welcomed a new toy to the family yesterday.

A few weeks ago, Katie decided that she wanted to start a "Tool of the Month" thing for me where I get a new tool, duh, each month. The purpose is so that we can start a good workbench and I can really learn how to use all this crap and get some work done around the house. Yesterday, we made our first purchase. It was a Ryobi starter set that includes a drill, reciprocal saw, circular saw, hand vacuum, flashlight, two rechargeable 18-volt batteries, and a charger. All this comes packaged in one big carry-along kit (why someone would want to actually "carry" it is beyond me as it weighs more than you really want to carry for any extended period of time.

We've already started having fun with this set as we had to rehang the shelves in our office. We decided to shift them all down about five inches because we're using a different unit as a TV stand and it made the old placement of the shelves quite awkward.

I really can't wait to get some more toys and use them to create something really nice. However, since this was a multi-tool kit, I think we may abstain for the next couple months from buying any new ones. But this set more than makes up for it.

Now we just need to tear down the shelving unit in our bedroom and...

Sunday, 27 February 2005: Random thoughts on tonight's Oscar ceremony...

Chris Rock... awesome. I have not laughed that hard ever during the Oscars. I'm glad the Academy stuck to their guns with regard to him hosting. Yes, he was quite vitriolic. No question about it. But would it be Chris Rock otherwise? Katie and I both hope he comes back.

Beyonce... I think there was only one song she didn't sing. But she was great. Even in French.

Sean Penn... I love ya as an actor, man; but lighten up.

Million Dollar Baby... way to go, Clint! And, no, Katie and I still haven't seen it. Aye aye aye.

Best Documentary Feature... no Super Size Me!?!? That was my biggest upset of the night.

Different awarding style for the not-so-prominent awards... definitely necessary. Yes, it may seem like these winners are having the wind sucked out of their sails, but, are the majority of TV viewers watching for them or for the people they know? That's what I thought. This is a TV program and should be treated as such. If you feel like you're being slighted, just talk to the Sci-Tech winners who get nothing more than a three-minute nod to their entire Oscar ceremony. Here's your McFlurry, now keep the line moving.

Laura Linney... what the hell was up with your hair? You looked like Pink on a bad-hair day. Yikes.

Commercials... oddly enough, they were better than Super Bowl ads.

Show length... three hours and ten minutes... not too bad. Isn't it usually about four hours? I like it better this way. I could handle it being even shorter to be honest with you.

My choices... no I didn't really think Thomas Haden Church would win, but if there was to be an upset in any acting category, it would have been that one. The other three acting categories were locks. However, I was right about Director, Actor, Actress, and Supporting Actress. I did terribly in the screenplay category. 0 for 2. I usually do pretty well with these.