Posted by Thomas Fri, 30 Jun 2006 01:29:10 +0000

Poo on two hours of sleep tonight, er, this morning… :(

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Family Reunion

Posted by Thomas Tue, 27 Jun 2006 00:51:20 +0000

I took all of Friday off to head down to DFW to see the fam. I didn’t have any trouble getting up this time, especially since my flight was at 1pm… The flight was uneventful, as usual. My parents picked me up and we headed to see some family that wouldn’t be able to make it to the real reunion. We stayed for a bit and headed to Abuelos (which I had been craving for quite some time). We then went to see some friends of my parents for the balance of the night. Saturday we headed to Duncanville mid-afternoon, when the reunion offically started. It ran until brunch on Sunday, when my parents and my sister took me back to the airport. Both getting to see my immediate family and the extended family was good. Got to see lots of people who I hadn’t seen in a long time, plus some family who I’d never met before. There was a bigger turnout than I was expecting, so that was good. Plus, there were a lot who would have normally come but didn’t due to a family emergency. So perhaps next year will be really big. I think that’d be cool. The weekend seemed to sort of end abruptly, but I’m not sure why. Just not much closure, I guess.

But, since I wanted to have a flight out late, as to not have my parents take me to the airport before they were ready to leave, I booked a flight at 6pm. My parents wanted to get out of dodge by 2pm, I’m guessing to make it home before dark. So, I got to the airport around 1:30pm and had a good 4+ hours to kill. I didn’t want to shell out the $10 for internet, so I watched some CNN, ate some chicken at TGI Fridays, and then dozed in and out while watching 1:15 hours of “Garden State”. Very relaxing. Flights without movies are boring to me now. Maybe I should just start watching them on my laptop, but it’s a hassle. I’d prefer to sleep, but I’m not usually tired enough. I bet Friday I will be though, with my early, early flight.

I’ll be in College Station starting Friday morning, through early, early Wednesday morning. I’m definitely craving some Wings ‘n’ More, Layne’s, and Freebirds, so I might treat you to dinner, if you’re nice. :)

I would speak some more to the car, but I really just want to drop it, so…

I’m still pondering the coffee table. I might make it my fee for DJ’ing the reception…

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What do you mean my car isn’t ready yet?!? — Part Deux

Posted by Thomas Wed, 21 Jun 2006 01:00:43 +0000

And, of course it was the latter. My car was ready on Saturday. Hrumph. $908 later I have my car back. Also, of course, it still has pulsating while breaking (~$300), a broken driver’s side door lock (~$250), a broken catch on the right rear cargo door (~$150), and my third brake light above the cargo doors is out (~$160). So that totals another almost $900 at their exagerated prices. :( Why does it cost so much to make things right?

Honestly, why can’t I go a day without feeling like I’m getting screwed with my pants on? Has the American dream so warped our society that we cannot do business without trying to take our customers to the cleaners? How is it that the market cannot seem to produce a sustainable business model where I receive a quality good or service at a reasonable price? I would even pay more for such a luxury. Yes, I would pay a premium for a mechanic who I know has my best interests in mind, making reasonable repair decisions and using quality parts. I would gladly do this for a home as well. I have heard horror stories of builders who will gouge you, esp if they learn that you work for Google. These are sad times indeed. :( </rant>

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California highlights

Posted by Thomas Mon, 19 Jun 2006 22:28:45 +0000

I also wanted to go ahead and post about the highights of my trip. The plane rides weren’t as bad as I was expecting. They even played a double feature on the way back, showing both “Firewall” and “Failure to Launch”. Both were mediocre, but I thought that the writing of “Failure to Launch” was really good. The story was lackluster, but there were these asides of dialogue that were absolutely hilarious, e.g. “I’ll give you a Canadian goose”. The food at corp was gourmet and free, so that was good. Thursday night we drove to Santa Cruz. We had some Thai (I got the spicy lamb), I got a Santa Cruz t-shirt to add to my collection, and we headed out to try and find a beach. We drove along the coast and finally found some state park beach. It was closed, but we headed down to the shoreline. I have felt the Pacific ocean now. I wasn’t paying attention and the surf lapped at my shoes, so they got wet, though. :( Well, I should have known and I should have put on sandles, but hey, you live, you learn. Since our flight back was at 2pm, we headed back to San Fransisco early to see if we could get to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Which we did. Driving up 101 and through downtown, getting lost a couple of times, we finally drove across it. Well, I drove across it. We pulled a u-y and drove back, at which time we incurred the $5 toll. Unfortunately as I was driving, I wasn’t in a good place to take any pictures. Next time I’ll plan better. Also, why didn’t tell me that California was mountainous and dry? I always pictured California as hilly. Hilly like College Station, or the Hill Country, or Atlanta, but not mountains visible in the distance. Also, since California is near the ocean and the temperature is, I’m told, is very nice (perhaps I’m thinking of San Diego), I would have expected a bunch of rain and not a whole lot of heat. The combination of these things would, in my mind, produce ample green vegetation. Anyhoo, those were my highlights.

Why don’t they pour liquid nitrogen into the fountains instead of soap?

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What do you mean my car isn’t ready yet?!?

Posted by Thomas Sun, 18 Jun 2006 13:33:14 +0000

I finally got around to walking to the dealership Saturday afternoon around 12:30. I walked mostly, but jogged for a bit, so it took me a little under 45 minutes.

The lady behind the service counter: How can I help you?
me: My name is Thomas Garner and I’m here to pick up my car.
(Since I am now indoors, I begin sweating pretty good as it was likely in the upper 80s to 90s outside…)
The lady: I’m sorry, Mr. Garner, but your car isn’t ready yet.
(Well, I didn’t scream at her, but I wanted to.)
She looked at the computer screen and rattled off the work that wasn’t completed yet, and even included some work that we had agreed we wouldn’t do. I took the car in Monday morning early, like 7am. Since I was three timezones away, I wasn’t perfectly on the ball for calling them and keeping tabs on what was going on. But, on Monday, they looked at the tires and brakes. On Tuesday they looked at everything for the 100,000 mile checkup. I don’t know exactly when I talked to the dealer. But what I do know is that on Wednesday I had my auto tech teacher Uncle call them and tell them what should and shouldn’t be done. So, by the latest on Wednesday, they should have known what they needed to do. I even called back on Thursday to confirm that there wasn’t anything on my end that they were waiting for, any go-ahead needed by me. They said that they were good to go. During this call, I mentioned to him that I would be flying in late on Friday and wouldn’t be able to pick up the car then and would pick it up on Saturday morning. That means they had at least two full days to fix whatever it is that needed to be fixed. Three if you now count Saturday. Monday will mark 7 damn days at the shop. He said OK and that he wouldn’t be there on Saturday, leading me to believe that the work would be completed by then. I said that was fine and that was that. It never crossed my mind that I should confirm that my car was actually ready before I made the trek down to the dealership. It was very convenient that neither the technician working on the car wasn’t there, the service point guy who I had been talking to wasn’t there, and neither one of them apparently talk to the lady who was there on Saturday, because she had no real idea about the current status of my vehicle. Joy. So, I walked back to my apartment, taking another 45 minutes of my life. I wasn’t livid, but I was pissed. She said to call Mike first thing Monday morning. Well, great, that just means that I won’t have a car for the weekend — my sole form of transportation. And that’s not a problem because I have 2 months worth of food at my apartment.

It better not really be ready for me to pickup on Monday, them having simply a communication error and Mike being a dumbass to not put into the computer the work that has already been done.

So, until next time…

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I’m Back!

Posted by Thomas Sat, 17 Jun 2006 01:31:12 +0000

Cali was good, but it’s very good to be back home (or as close to home as home gets nowadays). Plane flew in late tonight. The time difference really gets you on the way back. Since I am car-less and mostly food-less, I am scrounging around. I walked to get my mail and stopped by the office to get a cold beverage, as I have no DP at the house. They had no DP, I went with Coke. I’m sure that everybody wanted to know that. I guess that I’ll just walk the ways to the dealership in the morning to plunk down more than I was probably planning on spending. I don’t think that I’ve gotten the final cost yet. :( I left the air conditioning off while I was gone, and the apt was sweltering when I got in. Didn’t see much to take pictures of, so I don’t think that I have any. We did drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and the guy that I was with snapped some, but I haven’t looked at them.

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Posted by Thomas Sun, 11 Jun 2006 20:42:30 +0000

So I did see the new Poseidon this afternoon. It was not as bad as I once thought. But, it did cement for me this: I swear that the art of story telling in Hollywood is dead. Honestly, how hard can it be to remake this movie? It was pretty frickin’ good as it was. You just have to update it a bit, work some perhaps on the dialog to punch up and clarify some things that I consider confusing, and use all of the new technology available developed in the 34 years since the original. The cgi in the new one was very good. It helped tell the story and wasn’t over the top, a quality often remiss in modern action / adventure / drama / thriller movies. Most, if not all, of the qualities that I liked about the original were lost in the remake. The preacher was now a firefighter. This killed an entire understory. There was virtually no character development or exposition at the beginning of the movie. I got lost a couple of times in regard to where they were going/doing. There was very little expository dialog. This would have helped immensely to keep the audience abridged of what was going on. If the American cinema go-er no longer has the ability to cope with a movie ending that isn’t happy, then why can’t they treat the audience like the little kids they are and stopped to have some expository dialog? The pacing can wait. The story can wait two seconds for someone to say “ok, everyone’s going to go one-by-one across this big piece of steel; the kid goes first”. There was no real team building at the beginning. There were no hot pants. I didn’t really care that Alena died. The little kid didn’t steal the show and know more than the adults. The captain wasn’t Leslie Neilsen. I didn’t really realize that the captain was the captain (until much later). Where were the romantic overtones of the original? Why was it 20 minutes shorter than the original? Honestly I felt that the original went very quickly. And what was up with the sound? Maybe I was in a bad spot in theater (in the very middle, high up — exactly where I wanted to sit), but it sounded awful to me. Maybe the theater’s audio wasn’t setup properly… I should have been right there with them as stuff was exploding and creaking, but I wasn’t. So, I got over the “rogue wave” and my expectations were pretty low, so it pretty much met those low expectations. So there you go.

What does this mean for me?

I am looking at probably plopping down $500–600 on my car next week at the dealer. I’m confident that I can keep myself from being screwed by them, but we will see. If after I see how much the real cost of the Yukon will be, and when I get back, I will look into getting myself a new $275 coffee table. KB wants me to get it, so I will put more serious thought into it.

I will be in California Monday through Friday, fyi.

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The Poseidon Adventure

Posted by Thomas Sun, 11 Jun 2006 01:00:13 +0000

Due to popular demand, I put “The Poseidon Adventure” in my Netflix queue. I just got done watching it all the way through, and then again with commentary from Pamela Sue Martin, Stella Stevens, and Carol Lynley. I found it to be a pretty decent movie. For whatever reason it really reminded me of the Indiana Jones movies, although I’m not sure why. And now that I’ve seen this one, I am curious to see what they changed in the new one. I doubt that the new one would ruin the old one for me, so it could be a nice little exercise of my piqued interest to see how the story changed, how they thought that they could make it better, to see if anyone different dies, etc. It was a pretty good movie, but not a great and epic one. Did you notice that the music was done by John Williams? To me it leaves something to be desired. It was just one of those movies that I felt had an enormous amount of potential, but in particular the writing and soundtrack seemed like they could have used a little more polish. Enough of my commentary for now. Like mitcheaven, I would recommend that people see the original.

Also, since I’m sure that everyone is wondering, I did go and see the Shane and Shane concert last night. It was pretty good. I fell into some old habits. I arrived about 15 ’til 8, when the concert was supposed to begin. The doors opened at 7:15, so the best seating was already taken and I was left to fend for myself. Now, this santuary had a balcony and immediately I chastized the folks sitting under it (but with a good view of the front of the band) that they had chosen poorly, as balconies are very badTM for sound. The balcony didn’t wrap all the way around, so I chose my seat in the wings, with no overhead balcony, and where I figured I could still see the main guys pretty well. By the end of the concert, I was happy with my seating choice.

Although I will say this, that power diversity is key. The band who opened for them got a minute or so into their first song and they must have flipped some breakers. Tsk, tsk. Got to watch out for putting stuff all on the same circuits… especially the subs, they draw a lot. And, I was also pretty critical of the sound of the opening act as well, so there inlies the old habit. But, it really did make me wish that I could just drop everything and be a roadie/sound guy and tour all the time with some awesome band…

I am very sleepy, but I do not want to go to bed. Why is that?

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The tip of your brain

Posted by Thomas Tue, 06 Jun 2006 01:04:45 +0000

Don’t you hate it when you have something on the tip of your brain, but you can’t quite make it materialize? Like something you were supposed to remember, like something that you were supposed to do. Most likely something that I was supposed to remember to do.

I need to remember to get a tech talk going at work, try to remember a friend’s birthday, try to remember to call a friend or two, try to remember that I’m travelling three times in the next month, try to remember when I’m travelling, try to remember to get up on time on those early days, try to remember that it would be a good idea to put my car in the shop while I’m gone, and try to remember to pay my sister, trying to remember that if I don’t get 4 AA batteries, my calculator will die, try to remember that I also need batteries for my alarm clock and my atomic clock (batteries which I’ve needed for literally weeks).

I know, I know. I should make a list. But not making a list and writing about it on your blog is so much more fun.

Well, I think that’s everything. I’ve just had to re-write this post from memory, which really made me mad. Why doesn’t have WordPress have auto-save? They were so proud of their new ajax-y interface, but really, it’s no more usable, and I would say less usable than it was before… :(

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Slashdot and Weddings

Posted by Thomas Mon, 05 Jun 2006 00:56:18 +0000

Slashdot finally cut over to the winner of their redesign contest. I like the design a lot, but I do have a suggestion or two for them. Right below the title of the article is the submitter, date, and department. I noticed in the runner up that they de-emphasised these little bits of information by either keeping the background color of the title, or making the text color very similar to the background color. For me, these combinations push my eye below them, where I can immediately begin reading the meat and skip over the fluff. By keeping the text black, having the background change color, and having the new background color be close to the article snippet’s background, my eye tends to think that it is important, and I want read it. Also, the left sidebar is nice on the eye but seems like it’s a feature without a need. I’m all for nifty looking javascript, but when it comes down to it, the javascript needs to serve a purpose. I would be very curious to see if being able to collapse sections is really of any use to anyone. And it looks like there’s a bug with the “Section” section. It has a link, but doesn’t do anything for me in Firefox on Linux. If I open the link in a new tab, it goes to my preferences, but it doesn’t work otherwise. Also, having the links change on hover is cute, but honestly worthless. I would imagine that Jakob Nielsen wouldn’t approve. Also, in the collapsable part, my cursor doesn’t change. I would probably expect it to change to a hand to show users that clicking will do something.

So, I’ve been trying to remember who all is getting married this summer (or has already gotten married), but I am having some issues coming up with a complete list. So far I can remember:
Sommer, May 20
Claire, July 1
Eran, June 24

Wow, that’s all that I can recall at the moment. There are a bunch of upcoming wedding people that come to mind, but none that I’m sure will be tying the knot in the next couple of months. Please feel free to fill in the blanks in my memory via your comments.

Update: I added dates for my own future reference.

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Pool and Travel

Posted by Thomas Thu, 01 Jun 2006 01:21:56 +0000

I jumped in my apartment complex’s pool for the first time tonight. I’ve lived here for like 14 months and not once did I partake. I never really have been one much for using the ammenities of an apt complex. We also have a tennis court and sand volleyball that I’ve never set foot on. Anyway, I went out pretty late, around 9.30 and pruned up for maybe 25 or 30 minutes. It was pretty relaxing.

Well, I’ll be travelling a bunch starting the middle of June. I’ll be in the Metroplex for a family reunion the weekend of June 23. I took a day off and I’ll fly in Friday afternoon and fly out Sunday afternoon. Then the next weekend I’ll fly back to Texas for Claire’s wedding and stay in CS for the 4th of July holiday. So, if you plan on being in either the Metroplex or CS when I am, and want to see me, then be sure to give me a call and we’ll see if we can hook up. I am definitely looking forward to a little time off and will be really glad to see the fam and plenty of old friends.

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