Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'm Leaving, On a Jet Plane

Well, my flight leaves from Rochester here this morning at 11:30 am. I'm just getting myself packed up now as I wanted to put off doing it until the absolute last minute possible. I hope Wilton, Conneticut isn't too boring and I hope my meetings are actually worthwhile, but I have a nagging feeling this is all just going to be one big waste of my time, especially since I won't have time to actually go out and do anything while in Wilton.

I'll be back late Friday night, but if I get bored or meetings get too utterly ridiculous for me to care about, expect some very frustrated and venomous posts to trickle in... unless they take away internet access during the meetings. That would suck a ton.

Wish me luck, this is my first ever plane ride. Kind of sad that I'm 24 and never been on a plane, huh? It's kind of weird losing my flight virginity so late in life, but I'll finally be taking that step. I'm out!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Leeroy!!!

Since it was pointed out to me that my last post was a little depressing, I found something fun (as well as freakin' hilarious) for you. Check out this World of Warcraft video. Go ahead, download it, unzip it, and watch it.

If you've never played video games, it will be moderately funny.

If you've played some video games but never online or fantasy games, it'll be pretty funny.

If you've played a lot of video games but never any MMORPGs, it'll be awesomely funny.

If you've played a lot of video games, including MMORPGs but not World of Warcraft, you will urinate yourself while literally laughing out loud.

If you've played a ton of World of Warcraft... well, be prepared for your head to explode from the comedic genius of the video.

I fell into the third category and I seriously could not keep myself from laughing here at work. My coworkers were probably wondering what the hell was wrong with me considering I haven't been the most fun person to deal with at work lately with all of the stress I've been under. Considering that I have to fly to Conneticut tomorrow for three days, I'm still the only BA on my team which means I have no help and a deadline that is basically today (since it is Friday but I'll be out on business the next three days), I'm not getting enough sleep, I'm not getting enough exercise, my social life is pretty anemic (partially because of lack of time for it and partially because I'm so focused on certain other projects right now), and I'm just a big ball of negative energy I needed something really funny to brighten up my day and fortunately this did it. So enjoy. I hope it is as theraputic for you as it is for me.

As a corollary to this finding, is it sad that it took a video of some goofball playing a video game cheer me up?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Things I Hate

--People who go around asking people for the answers to questions that could easily be answered with a little work (for example, asking me what a sentence in a document means when it is explained in the next paragraph--all they had to do was read).
--iPods. They're so overpriced in comparison to other equivalent mp3 players. That and iTunes is such a crappy media player.
--Really cold days when there's no snow. What's the point of having cold weather if there's no snow?
--Loading time between levels on video games. We have kick ass graphics, sound, and cinematics, but why the hell are the load times so long still?
--Working as much as we do in the US. Why do we have to give up 8+ hours of every day doing something we don't want to do? How the hell did that happen?
--Women comedians. They just aren't as funny as male stand-ups.
--Vegetables served raw. They're just so icky if they're not cooked (other than carrots which are icky cooked).
--All the music that is on the radio here in Rochester (and in general). It's all so soulless.
--Most of the time lately, myself.
--Planes, but I'll be forced to deal with them come Wednesday. Frankly, I used to be afraid of them, but now I just hate them.
--How you say things that you know you really need to say, but you know right after you say them that it would have been 10 times better if you would have just shut the hell up and dealt with the internal stife.
--Being grown up. It's no fun wondering where the hell your life is going, why it has no clear direction, and when it'll be when you get what you want.
--The Christmas holiday season. I used to love it, and I still do some of the time, but now I just want it all to be over. There's too much stress to be someone you're really not.
--Most of the time lately, the decisions I make and the life I lead.
--Mike Vanderjagt for kicking so many damn field goals tonight which made me lose my fantasy football game, potentially knocking me out of the playoffs for this season.
--The past. It ruins the present and taints the future.
--George Bush. But that's nothing very original, now is it?
--Having to sleep at all. I don't do much of it as it is, but still I'd rather not do it at all.
--The lack of time I have for writing.
--The lack of time I have for exercising.
--Having to be patient. Screw that, I want what I want and deserve right now.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Turkey Day

Ahh, Thanksgiving... the laziest of all holidays, at least for me and my family. We don't travel anywhere, we do make a nice Thanksgiving lunch (but don't go overboard on it), we sit and watch football if there's no good movies playing, we nap, and we let ourselves relax.

It's really nice to be able to simply spend one holiday not worrying about anything. There's no being fake, trying to keep up appearances around relatives. You don't have to perform any unneeded cleaning, even though we ended up cleaning out our lazy susan this morning as we were looking for turkey cooking items. Heck, I haven't even bothered showering yet. I'm still lounging here in front of my laptop in the living room in flannels, Scooby Doo slippers, and an old SJU basketball t-shirt.

Soon enough we'll be gorging ourselves on food, watching football, and indulging in weeks or months of pent up slothness. Then tomorrow... we shop!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Always a Groomsman, Never a Groom

As I was watching Scrubs tonight, it happened to be the episode where Carla agrees to marry Turk.  The end scene so perfectly illustrated exactly how I’ve been feeling over the last six months to a year.

At the beginning of the scene Turk comes running through the park to a bench where Carla was sitting and waiting for him. Turk, as is tradition, gets down on one knee to propose.  As he does, Carla initially says no, as that had been the running gag of the episode, but quickly lets a wry smile come across her face as she says yes.

After she says yes, the two of them embrace as the camera pulls back.  Entering the scene is JD, Turk’s best friend, with sparklers in each hand, running around the joyous couple, living vicariously in the aura of their good fortune.

It’s JD that I find myself most identifying with.  In the past year or so it seems like just about everyone I know is either married, engaged, or pretty damn close to getting engaged.  Heck, one of my friends and coworkers just got engaged himself a couple of weeks ago, much to my surprise.  

Being almost 25, having friends in the same age range and somewhat older, and living in a very conservative area, this is definitely the age at which most people are getting married.  Since I’m not, I’ve felt a lot like JD—surrounded by other’s good fortune and basking in the glow of their joys.

There’s definitely a lot of pressure with just about everyone in my circle of friends being hitched, getting hitched, or being practically hitched, that sometimes I feel like I’m the odd man out.  At times, this is actually the case.

With most of my friends being married, there obviously comes compromises in the scope of those friendships. No longer am I always the first choice to go do things with.  Time spent with “the gang” is less and less as the other half requires more and more of their attention.  I’m not criticizing that at all as I’m sure I’ll be the same way, but sometimes it’s hard to be the one left in the cold, all alone, while your friends are off with their families.

In dealing with these changing priorities in friendships, I have become deeper in touch with myself.  I no longer feel afraid to be by myself, alone with only my company to keep my occupied.  Sure, I still would rather be with people most of the time, but I’m also more comfortable in my own skin.  The only problem with that is I’ve come to the realization that a lot of the time I’d like to trade in this skin for someone else’s.  

Rotting My Teeth

It’s been almost three years since I’ve been to a dentist.  It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but when I actually thought about it, sure enough, it’s been almost that long.  I guess I really haven’t noticed because my mouth hasn’t experienced any unbearable, prolonged pain in the last three years.  That’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I probably should have visited the dentist at least once in that time if not at least just for a regular cleaning.

Thoughts of dentistry have recently arisen in my thoughts with the onset of the availability of free pop at work.  No longer do we have to buy every can or 20 oz. or liter or whatever that we want, but instead we can just mosey on over to the fridge and grab a can of our favorite refreshment at no charge to me. Of course energy drinks aren’t stocked, but I’ll gladly give up drinking my daily Monster in favor of having a free Diet Coke or two.

With all of this free pop, I can feel my teeth already starting to scream out at me that I’m doing them wrong.  The elevated influx of cola acids is definitely not going to strengthen my tooth enamel, but will obviously do the opposite.  Considering I’ve never had a cavity, I’m not as leery as someone whose mouth is a gold repository might be, but I’m still concerned that now my teeth might be a little more susceptible to harm.

Armed with that knowledge and concern, common sense would see me making an appointment with a local dentist, one which ironically has an office right next door to where I work.  Common sense would be wrong.  I don’t like dentists.  

Every time I go to the dentist, I start out with my mouth feeling fine and by the time he’s done it’s in total agony from all of the pushing, prodding, pulling, and pinching that his assistants do to the insides of my mouth in the name of cleanliness.  And for the next couple of days, my jaw will feel like I started a fight with ultimate fighter and decided not to defend myself.

On top of the addition of pop (free pop!) to the office, one of my co-workers has always had a candy dish in her office and I’ve found myself visiting that a lot lately as well, which is doubly bad since it hurts my teeth and contributes to my lack of physical fitness.  I need to be especially careful with what I eat now because it’s winter time and since I don’t have a gym membership yet, I don’t have many options for exercise other than running, which I refuse to do when it’s glass cutter nipples cold out.

I guess I could suck it up and just go next door and visit the dentist, but I just wish they could clean my teeth and look around without being so obnoxious about it and letting me leave in a buttload of pain.  Hasn’t technology made it possible to do a good teeth cleaning without it feeling like some form of ancient Mongolian jaw torture?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Will There Really Be Shortages?

So tomorrow is the big day--the Xbox 360 will be dropping into stores for all the people in the US to go buy. They've been saying for weeks now that they're already sold out because of all the pre-orders and such, but I think that there will still be at least a few to pick up at Target or Shopko or whereever you might go to pick one up. Everyone thinks of going to their local Gamestop or Best Buy to buy video game hardware, but department stores and such will also be carrying them.

I remember all the hulabaloo when the PSP was coming out and all the online gaming sites and such said that there wouldn't be enough to go around because there were so many pre-orders and so many people would want to buy them, but the day it came out there were tons to be had at department stores (and even Best Buys) all over the place. I bet it'll be the same with the 360... or at least I hope so because I didn't pre-order one and I don't plan on standing in line for one.

I'll show up at Target tomorrow morning on my way into work and if they have 360's for sale still, I'll buy one. If they don't I'll stop by Gamestop and see if they have any. If not, I'll just wait until there are more available. I'm not that geeky that I need a 360 right away tomorrow. Heck, I'm not even going to buy any 360 games initially. I just can't justify spending $50 - $60 on a game and I have a few Xbox games I need to finish yet.

So... in conclusion, I want a 360, hopefully there will be some available tomorrow, and I plan on using it more for it's other neat capabilities than just gaming initially. The end.

[Update: I guess there really are shortages. Every store here in Rochester was sold out by 8 or 9 am and probably won't be getting any more units in for at least a couple weeks. And, no, I didn't get one. Oh well.]

Friday, November 18, 2005

Humans Make Decent Aliens



I’m kind of a big sci-fi fan. I’ll watch any sci-fi that’s on tv… most of the time and any big budget sci-fi movie that comes out, I’ll give it a watch. That being said, I bought the Earth 2 DVD set because I remembered the show being interesting back when it was originally aired in the 90’s during my early teen years. After watching it again, I realize that it was more the concept that interested me than it was the actual show because after about the first half of the series run, the show went downhill somewhat quickly.

The concept of a group of humans being the aliens on a foreign planet is something that really interested me, which is also what prompted me to throw down the $40 to buy the set to re-watch the episodes. How many sci-fi shows come along that have concepts that actually sound interesting? Not too often. Heck, I’d usually kill just to get more sci-fi on television period, so when a concept tickles my fancy I’m all over it.

What sucks about sci-fi shows, though, are all of the concepts that get used and re-used and re-re-used, sometimes within the same series. This happened to Earth 2 in the second half of its run. For example, I recently watched an episode where nightmares that are being had by numerous crew members are used as a MacGuffin to further the plot onward. This isn’t exactly something new, but I was willing to let it go… then they used the exact same concept in a subsequent episode. There was not even a 5 episode gap between the two. It’s like the writers weren’t even trying.

The alien species to be found on the planet were initially very interesting, but the further into the series you get the more the writers try to explain them and their nature, and the explanations given for many things are often quite eye-rollingly bad. For instance, the planet they’re living on is said to be a living being which has teleportation holes in the ground that act as a “circulation” system. These teleportation ducts are powered by spiders that possess two different energy charges, one for each end of the circulation tunnel… yeah, I’m not making this up, which is not good if you’re trying to write a good, serious sci-fi show.

Another thing is that whenever a hard to explain topic is broached, they don’t actually attempt to explain it… they just chalk it up to the planet or the Terrians (the aliens) operating on a strong metaphysical plane. A strong metaphysical plane? Seriously? That’s not an explanation, that’s an appeal to a gigantic, generalized conceptual notion that actually creates more ambiguity.

One other annoyance is that for supposedly being the first group of settlers sent to this new planet, they sure run across a lot of other humans—penal colonists, space hippie radicals, and other people that had been secretly sent there for some reason or another. It kind of takes away from the whole feeling that this group is all alone on a new planet, cut off from all other human contact.

It’s really unfortunate that this series had to go downhill so quickly after the initial 10 or so episodes. There were so many things that could be done with the conceptual framework they had to work within, but the writers were too lazy or coached to heavily by tv execs or just didn’t know how to do sci-fi. I suppose it might have worked better in today’s environment where meta-arcs are not frowned upon, whereas in the 90’s the networks wanted every episode to be as close to stand alone as possible, but if they had the same writers I think the same problems would persist.

Anyways, if you’re hard up for some sci-fi, this is not a bad DVD set to buy, but it’s nothing groundbreaking or too deep. Basically I’d recommend it to sci-fi fans that don’t take their sci-fi too seriously.

Lazy Start to the Weekend

It's Friday. The weekend is here. I'm almost done with work and I'll have the rest of the day to myself with no worries about having to be up for work tomorrow. It's the day of the week that most people just can't wait for. The day that your weekend starts. So... what do I have on tap for the night?

For the most part, nothing. I might hang out with some friends from the news station when they get off work late tonight, but up until then my schedule is completely open. Now the task is to figure out something to do.

--First I might take a quick 20 minute power nap to refresh myself.
--Since it's not totally freezing out, I'll probably go for a run.
--After that if I still feel ambitious, possibly do a little lifting.
--Shower and get into some comfortable clothes.
--Watch an episode or two of Scrubs.
--Have some supper, most likely a warmed up steak from last night.
--Play some Doom III.
--Do some reading (of the book variety and the comic book variety).
--Lounge and space out.
--Either go out or if I don't feel like it, head off to bed for an early night.
--The end.

How's your Friday stacking up?

Boy Sets Fire - Before the Eulogy CD Review



There are both good things and bad things about having a band you dig get popular in their scene. A few of the good things are that they get more exposure, they get on better tours, and they often get to release more than one cd (with better budgets, the more popular they get). On the other hand, when bands start moving up the ranks they’ll get accused of “selling out” if their sound ever changes, they are more likely to collapse in upon themselves, and labels will try to cash in on their success by releasing utterly horrible rarities compilations.

What we have here presented before us is one of those utterly terrible rarities compilations. Boy Sets Fire were pioneers of the hardcore scene and were also one of the more politically aware bands in the scene. As they became more popular, their sound shifted to encompass more melody and maturity, which led to many fans’ disappointment, but if you really think about it and give their newer material a genuine listen, it feels like a natural progression for the band. In the hopes of appealing to those fans that missed the edgier version of BSF, along with the BSF completists, Eulogy has put together a disc full of demos and early rarities, most of which should have remained in the deep, dank closet that they were no doubt dredged up from.

Most people, oddly enough, don’t realize that when a band starts out, they’re a hell of a lot less talented than later on in their career. Usually a band’s first demos or EP’s are pretty rough and not exactly the best representation of the band or what came later on in their career. The first seven tracks on this cd are very early and REALLY rough demos of BSF songs. The recording quality on most of these sounds worse than a cassette tape that has been copied from a copy that was copied from a copy that was copied from a copy that was copied from a mangled original that was recorded off of the radio. Seriously, these songs are hard on the ears, even the ears of the biggest BSF fans.

Tracks 8 and 9 are from the Consider 7” and sound just as terrible as the demos, which means you’ll be trying to rip your ears from the sides of your head as the disc is spinning. Once you finally get to track 10, if your ears are still attached to your head, you’ll notice a distinct change in the recording quality. Tracks 10 through 14 are from BSF’s Chrysalis EP and are actually pretty ace. These songs are very aggressive and sound like they could have easily been recorded at the same time as After the Eulogy. These four tracks are probably the best songs on this release and they showcase the reason why Victory eventually signed them—they do melodic hardcore with an attitude extremely well, all the while making it also easily digestable.

Tracks 15 and 16 come from the Suckerpunch Training EP. These are also two very solid tracks, showing off some of the mellower elements that would later be showcased on Tomorrow Come Today. It’s too bad, however, that the last four tracks are more assorted demos. Thankfully the recording quality is a slight bit better than the demos at the beginning of the album, but the songs still aren’t all that great and definitely lack the maturity that BSF’s later works had. Sure, you can tell it’s Boy Sets Fire, but these songs are far from being of the same quality of anything else that BSF, or almost any other average melodic hardcore band, recorded.

It’s too bad that this compilation had to be of such low quality because I’m sure there are a lot of BSF fans that would kill for any new material for them, and what they get here are about six good songs and fourteen average to below average songs with atrocious recording quality. It’s really not worth it to buy this disc, even if you are a big BSF fan. Go listen to After the Eulogy a few more times instead, you’ll be less disappointed and have $12 you can spend on something else that deserves your hard earned money.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Game Number Two

The outcome for this week's game wasn't quite as good as last week's. All around I think our team didn't play as well. As the final buzzer rang, the score read 56-37. Not a good score if you ask me, especially since we were on the losing end. It didn't help that we let ourselves dig a hole in the first half by getting down 30-22.

I had a pretty off game myself. A few turnovers, only a couple rebounds, an assist or two, and 6 points doesn't do much to help win a game. Yeah, I realize a game can't be won by a single person, but I always like to make a solid contribution to the team. The game started it's scoring with a 3 pointer by me, but after that I was pretty damn quiet in the scoring category. I couldn't have bought a bucket if I wanted to.

So we're sitting at 1-1 right now, and we won't have a game next week because it's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Maybe by then I'll have my game somewhat pulled together. After tonight's I stayed for another half hour or so to work on my shot, my dribbling, and doing some sprints. Sure, you can't get better only working a half hour at a time, but I really don't have many options since I don't have a membership to a gym and it's a little bit too cold out to use the outdoor courts. At least I've got something to do. That's what matters most to me.

One Drawback of the Xbox 360

Yes, I will be one of those uber nerds that goes out and buys an Xbox 360 when it comes out on the 22nd. No, I didn't pre-order it and no, I don't plan on waiting in line for one. I plan on going to Best Buy or Target and if they have one, I'll but it. If they're sold out, well, I can wait. No big deal. I don't really plan on buying any 360 games initially anyways because I don't want to pay $50 or $60 per game right off the bat, I'll have already thrown down $400 for the console itself, and I have plenty of Xbox games to play.

So I had a plan--buy a 360 when one's available (hopefully on the 22nd), play the games I already have, give my Xbox to my mom & brother, and everything would be peachy. I was a little bit wrong in thinking I'd get to play all of my current games on the 360, though. The 360 was said to be able to play Xbox games, but apparently it will only play certain ones. They had made note that some games would not work on the 360, but I didn't know they meant around 300 games.

Looking at that list, I came up with 23 games that I won't be able to play on the 360 initially (I'm going to hope that they release ongoing patches to make more games work). Those games are:

*Bloodwake
*Burnout 3: Takedown
*Crazy Taxi 3
*Dance Dance Revolution
*Dead to Rights
*Deus Ex: Invisible War
*Full Spectrum Warrior
*Guilty Gear X2
*Mad Dash Racing
*Midnight Club II
*Midtown Madness 3
*NBA Street Vol. 2
*Need for Speed Underground
*Second Sight
*Sega GT Online
*Simpsons: Road Rage
*Splinter Cell
*Star Wars: Battlefront
*Tenchu
*Unreal Championship
*X2: Wolverine's Revenge
*X-Men Legends
*X-Men: Next Dimension

I can't believe I won't be able to play all of those games. That's over half of all the games I own. Some of these I haven't even started yet but picked them up because Gamestop had a buy 2 get 1 free deal or something. I've been looking forward to playing Deus Ex, Dead to Rights, and Full Spectrum Warrior but won't have the chance.

I will still probably pick up a 360. This won't change things, but it sure does leave me feeling like that promise of backwards compatibility is pretty hollow. I'll have to either sell a bunch of these games, hold on to them in the hopes that someday they'll be playable, or give them to someone with an Xbox. Lame.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Please Don't Crash

Remember the first part of Final Destination where, as the kids get on the plane to fly to France (or wherever they’re going), one of the kids has a premonition that the plane is going to explode?  He gets off along with some of his classmates, who are pretty damn pissed at him, but while they’re bickering the plane they were on, which had just taken off, explodes.  Remember?

I do.  Whenever I think about flying, I remember that scene as well as Die Hard 2, the events of 9/11, and every plane crash that the news has covered and I’ve watched.  I think about the episode of The Twilight Zone when the gremlin was messing with the wing of the plane.  I think about the potentiality for errors when creating and maintaining the planes of our national airlines.  I think about the survival odds of a plane crash.  And then I freak out.

And right now I’m freaking out just a little bit.  I’ve never actually been on a plane in my entire life.  That’s right, in my 24+ years of life I have never been on a plane.  I’ve known that with my line of work I would probably have to fly somewhere sometime, but I kind of just ignored that thought.  Well, time has come for me to lose my flying virginity.

I have meetings with a client in Connecticut on the 1st and 2nd of December and will be flying out there the night of the 30th.  I know you’re all thinking, “Stop being such a pansy-ass wuss, flying is the safest form of travel there is today.”  I realize this.  Really, I do, but it’s the survival percentage of plane crashes that gets to me.  In stark opposition to, say, car crashes the fatality rate of a plane crash is pretty damn close to 100% for the big airliners where you have a pretty decent chance of surviving a car crash.  

I also have issues of trust when it comes to flying.  The reason I like driving or riding in a car with someone I know is that I am responsible for my safety (or the person I know is).  I have the ability to attempt to avoid accidents.  I can also choose who I ride with if I don’t want to drive so that I can ride with someone I trust.  I don’t know plane pilots.  For all I know they could be drunk circus clowns that eat kittens for breakfast and build voodoo dolls of their least favorite NASCAR drivers.  I’ve never had a chance to talk to them in person.

So I have about 15 days until I have to confront one of my biggest fears.  I’m going to try to ignore the fact that I have no choice and will be flying up until the point where I have to start packing for the trip.  Man wasn’t meant to fly, you know.  That’s why we don’t have wings… or rocket feet.

Monday, November 14, 2005

No Diving!

Don't Dive

I saw this urinal in a Davanni's in St. Paul when I was up for the Johnnie/Tommie football game this past weekend. Oh, for those who don't know, the Johnnie/Tommie game is the MIAC division III equivalent of Iowa/Iowa State--the private college MIAC division rivalry to end all rivalries. It's been going on for what seems like forever and every year it is the most attended game of the year, only ocassionaly being outattended by Homecoming.

Anyhow, back to the urinal. The sticker was put on so perfectly that it actually looked like it was manufactured with it on there. On top of that, I was partially amazed and partially glad that the staff at Davanni's was cool enough to leave it on there instead of taking it off. I'm sure there's been plenty of people other than me that have had a good chuckle over it, and I'm also sure that there's probably been other crazy people like me who have taken a picture of it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Best Christmas Present Ever

Sometimes you run across certain things that you know would just be perfect for someone as a Christmas present. Maybe you see the perfect snowman centerpiece for your grandmother, or the next great powertool for your dad, or that extremely tasteful picture of yourself in the nude for your next door neighbor. You know what I'm talking about.

Well, while wasting time browsing the internet this morning in an attempt to keep my mind from turning into work related mush, I found the perfect Christmas present that you could give to anyone you know -- five pounds of silly putty.

I used to play with this stuff all the time at my grandma and grandpa's place when I was a kid. There was just so much you could do with it. Stretch it out and press it against a newspaper to get the mirror image of something and then you could distort it to your heart's delight. When you get sick of that, you could roll it into a ball and bounce it off the walls. If that starts to lack fun, roll it out into a long, hot dog shaped cord and use it to whip your siblings. Once the novelty of that wears off, or once your siblings run away crying, you can... uhh... start all over again!

Now remember, I was having all this fun with a little nugget of silly putty. Imagine all the fun you could have with FIVE POUNDS of it. You could copy an entire newspaper and still have room to spare. You could make a ball big enough to break through walls instead of bouncing off of them. And you could probably break your siblings' legs with a five pound cord.

So if you can't think of something to get someone for Christmas, just go get them a big ol' piece of silly putty. They'll love you forever. I mean, come on, look at it!!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I Hate Myself

As I was out for my evening run (to help stave off the fatness that has started growing throughout my lazy ass body), I got to thinking about why I exercise.  It’s gotten to be so much of a regular thing I wonder why I keep up with it.  Some days… well, a lot of days, I really don’t feel like going for a run or lifting or anything else physical, but I still do it.

And I do it because when I look in the mirror in the mornings, I hate what I see.  Now I can already hear a bunch of you thinking, “You really need to learn to like yourself.  It’s not healthy to dislike how you look.  That isn’t a good thing.”  To you naysayers, I say you are wrong.

When I think about it, if I were to look at myself in the mirror and love what I see, where would the motivation to better myself be?  Sure, I might still want to improve my looks a little or keep myself looking like I currently do, but there wouldn’t be that drive to strive for more, to dig deep and run that extra mile, to do that extra set of push ups, or to actually get off your ass to exercise in the first place.

I know that if I liked how I looked I’d be way too complacent in my exercise schedule.  It’s the hate that drives me.  It’s looking in the mirror and seeing that I don’t have a six pack any more.  It’s catching a glance of ass and thinking it’s too round and jiggly.  It’s touching my arms and feeling that they’re not rock hard.  These things make me angry and my anger fuels the fire of self improvement.

The only problem that I’ve experienced lately is that I have the fire.  I have the hate.  I just don’t have the fortitude to do anything about it.  To say that my life has been a jumbled up ball of stress would be like saying Carrot Top is only kind of annoying or that Tara Reid is only a little bit of a whore.  As I try to deal with that stress, I often find that I let myself fume and/or sulk instead of applying the stresses of my life to pushing myself even harder.

Along with the above problem, I also find that I eat a heck of a lot more when I get stressed out.  It’s always been that way for me.  Finals week in college I could always expect to put on about 5-10 pounds because I’d dive into my studies so hard that I’d not exercise and then the added stress would lead me to constantly eat and eat and eat and eat… and then eat some more.

With basketball starting this week, I’m trying to make an active effort to be even better about exercising and trying to eat normal portions of good food.  The hate that I feel for my looks has grown and grown over the last few weeks and it’s starting to reach a point where I won’t even want to look in the mirror any more.  

It’s time to run that extra mile, put down that bag of jalapeƱo chips, and let the hate fuel me.  It’s time to look good again.  It’s time for me to get motivated and give the finger to the fat that so expertly infests my body.  It’s on.

Game Number One

And the season has started!  My winter basketball league is now underway. Our first game was last night and we closely pulled out a win.  The final score was 38-37 and it could have gone either way at the end.  Thankfully we managed to hold off a late surge from the opposing team.

Just by watching, you’d be able to tell that we’re all pretty rusty.  Shots were off, dribbling was sometimes sloppy, and our team dynamics definitely were not in sync, but part of the reason for that is we’ve never played together as a team before.  We’ve all played in the past, just not as a team.

Anyways, the first 5 minutes of the game were really rough.  I think there was a total of 3 points scored in that amount of time.  Things eventually got rolling, however, and we came into halftime with a 20-16 lead.  We had a strong showing coming out of halftime and put ourselves up by 6 when there was under a minute left to go.  A combination of our sloppy offense (I was responsible for one turnover) and a couple of good shots from the opponents let them slide back into the game.  It also didn’t help that we couldn’t make a free throw to save our lives.

In the end, though, we still won.  38 was a pretty low score, though.  Even high school girls basketball games sometimes score higher.  Personally I had an ok game.  There’s definitely room for improvement as I had a couple of turnovers and some dumb fouls, but I was surprised by the parts of my game that were still there.  I had 9 points, which isn’t exactly lighting up the scorebook, but if not for a couple of offensive rebounds and a steal, I’d have only had 3.  

I fired up 3 shots from behind the arc and hit 1.  Not terrible, but I should be hitting 2 out of every 3.  One basket I got from a steal that I took in for a layup.  The other four points came from two offensive rebounds I put back.  The odd part about that is I’m not even close to being the tallest guy on our team and the guys on the other team were at least as tall as me.  A little bit of luck to be in the right place at the right time always helps.

Well, let’s hope that the rest of the year gets better as we get going.  I know I have a lot of improving that I want to do and I’d like to get up into averaging double digit scoring every game.  I also wish that gym memberships around here weren’t so damn expensive so I could practice somewhere other than the outdoor court at the park in our subdivision.  It’s going to be snowed over pretty soon…  

What really matters is that I finally got back to playing some competitive sports here in Rochester.  Softball this last summer, basketball now, and hopefully volleyball in the winter/spring.  Man, I love sports.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

It's the Ads!

I’m a bit of a nerd and dork at heart.  Right now I’m watching Earth 2 in my spare time (an underground sci-fi favorite), playing Doom III on Xbox, and every night before I go to bed I read a few comic books.  I sound more like a college or high school kid instead of the grown-up mid-20’s business person that I am.

Every month I throw down around $75 on comics.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  I’ve recently started moving more to reading original graphic novels and indie comics as opposed to comics that come from Marvel, the #1 comics publisher in the game right now, which I used to get most of my comics from. Part of me is doing this because I get a real kick out of the varied types of stories that indie publishers put out.  Another part is that I enjoy having an entire story in one volume instead of waiting for multiple issues to get the entire thing.  Lastly, I’m giving up on a lot of mainstream comics because of the ads.

That’s right, it’s the ads.  They’re getting to the point where they’re just utterly obnoxious and there are more pages of ads then story in your average Marvel comic.  David Hine points out in this month’s iteration of his Yakkity Yak column.  For a regular 22 page story, there is 27 pages of ads.  That’s just not acceptable.  And it’s also pretty damn hard to ignore.

I hate reading current Marvel comics because the flow is so scattershot and you’re constantly being bombarded with ads that it’s pretty hard to stay into the story.  At times it feels like you bought a catalog that has a small story in it to make your browsing for stuff “fun”.  

What’s really attractive about Image and many of the smaller indie publishers is that they have the story printed on 22 or so straight pages and then have advertisements at the end of the comic.  This way the story flows like the writers and artists intended and a reader feels like they’re getting a full story without having to suffer through ad after ad just to get to the next page of the story.

So in the end, I guess what I’m trying to say is that advertisements are fine and I know they are essential to keeping the price of comics reasonable, but it’s unacceptable to have more pages of ads than story, and to have stories so broken up by ads that they’re almost unreadable.  And Marvel wonders why people are switching over to reading trade paperbacks instead of the monthlies… they don’t have to deal with all the damn ads.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Shenoah - Bleeding in the Red CD Review



Upon initially listening to this five song EP, Bleeding in the Red you might not notice it, but Shenoah manage to cover a lot of rock and metal bases. I’m sure instead, when you first listen to this EP, you’ll probably let your ears go lax, focus on whatever thing you’re doing while listening to it, and inadvertently play these guys off as another wannabe radio friendly metal band. Don’t. Actually listen to them and you’ll find a band that could potentially go in any one of bunch of different directions.

Truth be told the first song is pretty basic. It follows your melodic radio rock template, but in the middle of it, to give the listener something a little different and slightly out of left field, the vocals change from singing to spoken word (much in the vein of MewithoutYou). It’s a bit jarring and doesn’t exactly feel like it fits, but at least they’re trying to do something different, unlike most of their peer group.

“Bullets and Numbers” and “Ashes to Ashes”, crazily enough, have an interesting Spineshank tone to them. Not the speedy, uptempo Spineshank that you’ll initially think of mind you, but instead the more slowed down, yet aggressive Spineshank that only showed up on a couple of songs on each of their releases. The songs have both energy and melody, combined in a natural manner, which comes in stark contrast to the majority of the bands in today’s melodic metal scene. Come to think of it, “Ashes to Ashes” would probably tear up on the radio if given the chance since it’s just that damn catchy and well crafted.

“Scent of a Dead Rose” is easily the most aggressive song on this release with its crunchy and punchy guitars and guttural screams. There’s still plenty of melody in the choruses, which is not a bad thing as a straight up, full on scream fest would feel pretty damn out of place on this record.

The final song “Telephone Bruises” has a punky pace, some hardcore inspired gang vocals, more screams, a lot of melodic vocals, and thick yet smooth guitars. This is the most diverse song of the disc and serves as the perfect closer to the EP. Basically it rolls together all of the elements that were on display throughout the first four songs and crams them into four minutes.

I’d be hard pressed to say that Shenoah are going to break the melodic nu-metal genre wide open again, but I’d also be speaking a complete fallacy if I told you that this isn’t one hell of a fun EP to listen to. In fact, it does exactly what an EP is supposed to do—it makes you want to hear more.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Working Remotely

Everyone hates to go in to work, unless you're one of the very few people who love their job, in which case you must be either a professional athlete or porn star (watch as my site hits now go through the roof just for mentioning porn). I know I usually dread having to make my way into the office every day of the week, even though it's only an 8 minute drive.

I would much rather still be on the college style of schedule. Only a couple of hours of set class time (these could be my client meetings and conference calls) and then the rest of the time is yours to use however you see fit, as long as you get your crap done. I really enjoyed that freedom and I wish I still had it.

With a job such as mine where most of what I do is not something that has to be done from the hours of 8 to 5, I would love to be able to just work whenever I want and from whereever I want. I love being able to just go to Panera or Caribou, order coffee, and work in an environment filled with people. Then I have other days where I'd like to work completely alone in the comfort of my basement with either death metal or punk blaring.

The office, in my opinion, is becoming an outdated concept. It is still needed for some things, such as meetings and team projects, but for the day to day stuff I really don't have a reason I need to be chained to my cubicle. Hell, I'd like to travel across the midwest and work from a new location every day. Can you imagine how awesome that would be? With internet hotspots just about everywhere it's not like this would be impossible.

I wonder what most managers would think of that idea--of working remotely from different locations. I wouldn't think it would matter as long as the employee still got what they needed to have done done, but I'm also guessing it's too progressive of an idea for most managers to actually contemplate, especially if they don't truly trust that said employee will be capable of getting their workload finished. It's a thought, though, one that hopefully I might actually be able to make a reality some day.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Alien Ant Farm Sucks. This is Truth.

I always get a big kick out of message board antics, especially since I'm a moderator and admin for Decoy's message board. There are always those people who use message boards to blindly perpetuate their point of view without even examining it, like the religious or political zealots that do nothing more than spew their opinions out at the viewing masses and put down anyone who has a sane and rational point of view.

I've found that over time, as I've moderated a music message board, that instead of religious and political zealots, you get the indie/obscure zealot and the mainstream zealot. They are two very distinct types of people that will clash at every turn, like two beta fish in the same bowl.

The first, the indie/obscure zealot thinks that anything that is even moderately popular is not good. It can't be good because the uneducated masses enjoy it and the indie zealot has such impeccable taste in comparison to the masses that it is then wrong to like music that is popular. I tend to tolerate these types of people more than the mainstream zealots because, for the most part, what is mainstream is usually watered down, manufactured donkey poop, but at times there is some good stuff that is popular.

The second, the mainstream zealot, is usually the most annoying persona on a music message board. They are the ones who openly digest all of the crap that is fed to them on the radio without exploring other musical sources. They're the Clear Channel zombies that buy into the ideas that are forced down their throats.

Since we're a rock/indie/punk/metal based music site, this means that we usually get the radio rock mainstream zealots. You know the type, the backwater hick who cranks Nickelback, Limp Bizkit, and Kid Rock from the factory speakers of their 1987 Ford F150. Either that or upper class, spoiled brats who think they've got the best taste in the known world if they pick up the latest feature band at Hot Topic because, man, that store is just so edgy.

Recently on Decoy we posted a track from the latest Alien Ant Farm cd. Needless to say, it was pretty bad. If you've never heard of them, let's just say that Alien Ant Farm are cut from the same cookie cutter mold as 9 out of every 10 bands on modern rock radio--rock just hard enough so that your grandparents will think you're a rebel, but catchy enough to be able to be listened to by your Abercrombie friends as you drive to the mall.

When we posted that track, most of the regulars on the site gave their thoughts on the song, which ranged from "this is pretty bad" to "oh my God, I'd rather listen to a cat hacking up a hairball". Lo and behold, though, eventually some Alien Ant Farm zealots found out we were ripping up their idols, and that could not stand.

So they started posting about how Alien Ant Farm is one of the most talented bands out there which, I can guarantee you, is undeniably false. They even got their undies in so much of a bunch that they started a thread on their fan board about how Decoy and, more specifically, yours truly had no taste in music, as well as just straight up insulting me because they lack the intelligence to actual tell anyone why Alien Ant Farm is supposedly so good.

I sure got a good laugh out of how much they got so uptight as soon as their favorite band of the moment got insulted, or more accurately, got adequately described. So, in conclusion, some people are just really, really dumb and will defend even the stupidest crap at times... like that sorry excuse for a band Alien Ant Farm.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Masters of Horror -- The CD, The Nightmare



So I’m in Target this morning picking up some Diet Coke to restock the work fridge with so that when I get sick of drinking coffee I have another caffeine source to turn to. While I’m there I walk by the electronics section of the store and see the Masters of Horror soundtrack on sale for $10. I had totally forgotten it came out this week. As I took a look at it and thought about it, 2 cds that contains 30 unreleased or new tracks from 30 pretty kick ass bands sounded like one hell of a deal, so without a further thought I grabbed a copy and put it in my basket.

Once I got to work I popped the first disc in, very interested to hear the new Norma Jean, Funeral for a Friend, Armor for Sleep, Bloodsimple, and Shadows Fall tracks, as well at It Dies Today’s cover of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence”. After the cd was put into my computer, QCD tried to play it, but all of the tracks were garbled. Did I get a defective cd? Only then did I notice a little popup that had appeared telling me about the copy protection this disc uses. It turns out you can only listen to the cd using the proprietary player that’s included on the cd. Lame.

So I started listening to it using the media player it provided, which they tried to make cool, but in reality it isn’t. There’s no way to move it around on your screen—it’s stuck right in the middle of screen. I wanted to move it so that the now playing list could be in the lower left hand part of my screen, but that was impossible. Because of the stupid copy protection I also couldn’t rip the cd to my computer to put on my mp3 player. After looking through the options of the media player, I did find an option to copy the songs to your hard drive. Sweet, maybe they realized that people are going to want to play it on their iPods or other mp3 players.

I was wrong. It will only rip the songs to your computer in a copy protected version of Windows Media Audio (WMA) files. No MP3 option or AAC option or OGG option. Nope, just crappy DRM filled WMA. What also kicks you in the nuts is it tells you specifically on the help page for ripping the cd to your hard drive that the WMA files WILL NOT play on iPods. Do they not realize how many people use iPods to listen to music? It also says that standard mp3 players WILL NOT play the ripped files. Only “Windows Media Audio Protected Content Devices” will play the files that are created on your computer.

So in the end, the only way I can listen to this cd is if I use the lame ass media player that’s included on the cd while it’s in my computer (which has no shuffle or repeat options, I might add) or put it in my car stereo. I can’t listen to it anywhere else because those are the only two places I have cd players.

Now I don’t care how awesome of a lineup of bands and unreleased tracks you may have, this type of copy protection is just ridiculous. I feel like I got ripped off and I want my $10 back. Right now I’m seriously considering going back to Target and telling them the cd is defective so I can get my money back because, essentially, this is a defective cd since I can’t use it how I would a normal cd. I don’t want Immortal Records getting my money for a cd that I can’t do what I want to with and can’t listen to in many of the ways/forms that I listen to music, and you shouldn’t have to put up with that crap either.

What makes this really, really shady though, is that there is absolutely no warning on the package that this cd has crazy, crippling copy protection measures installed on it. If I would have known this, I sure as hell wouldn’t have bought it.

In the end, after listening to the two discs through using the crappy ass media player that you have to use, I found that there are some good songs on here, but it sure isn’t worth it to spend your money on a release that regulates how you can listen to it. Don’t buy this cd. Wait for the copy protection to get broke, the cd to get ripped, and then to get uploaded onto the vastness of the internet somewhere. Once that happens, download the hell out of it. If these two cds somehow never get ripped, then just pretend they don’t exist. It’s not worth it to put up with Immortal’s games to get to listen to the new tracks on this release.

[Note: This was also posted at Decoy Music and is causing a little bit of a stir... probably because most of the people responding don't actually buy cds. Check out the conversation here.]

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Guild Wars Halloween

I've never been one to smoke from the massively multiplayer role playing game crack pipe since I really can't justify spending money monthly to play a game that I might only play for a few hours in that month. Also, I'll be at a total disadvantage against all of the uber-nerds that spend 8 hours a day running the game's level treadmill.

Games like Diablo, World of Warcraft, Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies and the like just never impressed me simply because the concepts of the games are basically make a character, level up to get better stuff, get better stuff to level up, level up to get better stuff, get better stuff to level up, and so forth on and on and on. It just seems so boring to me.

Then, sometimes, a MMRPG does something sweet like Guild Wars did for Halloween that really impresses me and makes me think that playing it might not be so bad, assuming they'd do similar things on a semi-frequent basis. For Halloween Guild Wars totally revamped a ton of different aspects of the game from environments to enemies to NPC's to the background music. I was seriously impressed with some of the screenshots a friend of mine showed me.

If I knew that Guild Wars would somehow keep changing its content and modifying the game like that every so often I think it might just be the thing to get me to start playing and actually keep playing. If the content never changed I'm pretty sure that I'd get pretty damn bored just leveling up over and over again for no real reason. Sure, new content wouldn't alleviate that problem, but at least it would make for some nice scenery changes while I was on the level treadmill.

What Does My MP3 Collection Think of Me?

So I really never do blog memes, but I saw this one over on Jared's blog and thought I'd do it myself since I sit here and listen to music all day at work anyways... well, when I'm not in meetings, on the phone, or traveling.

So for this meme, you load up your mp3 collection or a subset of it, whatever you feel like loading, into your mp3 playing program of choice. Turn on shuffle. Press play. Each song that is played is the answer to each subsequent question (shown below with my answers and responses). It's interesting to see how a song could possibly relate to a question. Some don't at all, but I guess that's only expected. Anyways, below is what I got when I consulted my mp3 collection. Feel free to click on the names of the bands and check them out. They're all good.

1. What do you think of me, QCD?
"Anarchy OK" by Cog
--I don't know how to take this exactly. I'm guessing it means that QCD thinks that my haphazard ways of listening to music are just fine by it.

2. Will I have a happy life?
"This Sitcom Really Really Isn't All That Real" by Weerd Science
--So if my life were a tv show, a sitcom to be exact, my life would basically be fake. It gets even worse when I listen to the lyrics of the song in which a kid's life is described... and let's just say his life doesn't sound very appealing.

3. What do my friends really think of me?
"Pour Me Another" by Atmosphere
--My friends think I'm too uptight? Think I need a drink? Well, fine, I'll just have to start being a drunk!

4. Do people secretly lust after me?
"Long Coming" by Sunset Black
--Hmmm... this is interesting. So if I wait long enough people will? That's fine by me, I guess.

5. What does that one hot girl I know think of me?
"What You Need" by Self Scientific
--YES! A hot girl thinks I'm just what she needs. I know I'm somewhat twisting how the grammar of the song relates to the question, but who cares! Some hot girl thinks I'm what she needs!

6. How can I make myself happy?
"To Live and Die by Fire" by Still Remains
--Great, apparently the only way I can make myself happy is by playing with fire and getting hurt. Go me.

7. What should I do with my life?
"Jacques Molay Is Avenged!" by The Lucky Nine
--Be a bounty hunter maybe? Write really cheesy revenge novels? I don't know, but I need to go do some avenging. I'll make your life my motivation, Jacques Molay...

8. Why must life be so full of pain?
"Through Waiting" by Greeley Estates
--I don't really see the connection here. Maybe my life is full of pain because I never wait for things long enough? Or maybe because I wait too long? I must meditate further on this.

9. How can I maximize my pleasure during sex?
"Complicated" by Face to Face
--Hahahahahaha... that's really funny. Thanks for basically dodging the question, QCD.

10. Will I ever have children?
"War Profiteering is Killing Us All" by The Suicide Machines
--I'll take that as a no?

11. Will I die happy?
"This Feels Right" by Life Long Tragedy
--This sounds promising... at least from the song title. If I look at the band name, well, that's another story. It'll probably be a mix of the two and I'll just die ambivalent.

12. Can you give me some good advice?
"Something New" by Professional Murder Music
--Time to start buying myself stuff or finding new things to do or new people to hang out with, I guess.

13. Do you know where your children will be (if you have them)?
"Communion" by Killing Joke
--I must marry a really religious woman if my kids are always at communion. Either that or I actually find a church and/or religion that I actually feel confident and comfortable in.

14. What do you think happiness is?
"God Knows I Love You Kid" by Lorene Drive
--Knowing that someone loves me is definitely something that makes me happy, so knowing that people love me will hopefully bring me much happiness.