Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ok, so maybe I'm a little permissive ;)

Don't get me wrong, I'm a disciplinarian...I just get undermined by those around me, in-laws, etc.

But I also want my kids to enjoy life, to enjoy their time as kids. Life is tough enough as it is, when you're an adult, you accept that you won't get everything you want, but kids have a hard time dealing with that.

We hit the Santa Anita Mall today after picking up JE from school. This Mall is one of our favourite places, and it's not because we love shopping. It's because when Santa Anita expanded they added on a Dave & Busters. For the last year or so JE and I have spent some good quality time there, playing the games, winning some prizes, etc. Technically you earn prizes by redeeming tickets, you don't really win them, but that's a technicality we don't need to address here. JE likes Chuck E. Cheese; Liz & I don't. The pizza sucks, the games suck, the prizes suck, but the kids love it. D&B on the other hand has awesome games and the bestest prizes in the whole entire world! You can't "win" an X-Box 360 at Chuck E. Cheese, but if you're dedicated to the cause you sure can get one from D&Bs.

So we've been spending our time and money and saving our tickets (you convert them to credits which get saved to your D&B game card) and saving our tickets, and saving our tickets...then the X-Box 360 came out (we were saving up for an X-Box) and the redemption price jumped from 35,000 credits to 80,000. 35,000 seemed achievable, given that after several months of playing, which included getting JE some decent prizes, we'd accrued 15,000+ credits. 80,000 credits was a number we couldn't even comprehend. But we kept playing over the months and getting JE small prizes, and saving our credits, and I knew I had close to 20,000 today when we entered the prize area and saw a 10:1 scale, radio controlled version of Michael Schumacher's Formula 1 Ferrari.

JE and I ooh'd and ahh'd over it as we handed the cashier my game cards. He scanned them (I have 3) and tallied up the credits, and we were 800 short. So I put the car back and we got JE a snapping monkey on a stick for just 50 credits. That's another reason I love D&Bs, you get cool prizes for just a few credits. At CEC you spend a small fortune then get a cheap plastic car (like a Hotwheels car, but cheap) that falls apart almost before you get out to your real car.

As we were heading outside I looked down at JE and I could tell right away, without even seeing his face, that he was heartbroken, devestated. He'd wanted the Ferrari, and it had looked like Dad was getting it for him, and we'd left the store and all he had was a snapping monkey on a stick.

Side story: when I was just a wee, young lad, barely knee high to a grasshopper (and no, I don't mean David Carradine) my Dad was a Scout Master, and he took our family to a Jamboree. That's where thousands of Scouts from not just all over Australia but all over the world gather together and mess around and have a great old time, camping out, hiking, swimming, etc.

Now at this particular Jamboree there was a Scout Shop where you could buy all sorts of Scout-related things; Badges, belt buckles, books, knives, etc. One of the books was a graphic novel about Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout movement. I was in there with a couple of the other Scout leaders' kids (all of us still too young to be Scouts) and they were buying some badges while I read this book, and I was enthralled with Baden-Powell's adventures in Africa during the time of the Boer War. But I didn't have any money with me at the time so I left empty handed. In the manner of young boys the world over I vowed to return before the Jamboree was over, with some money, and buy that book. But in the manner of young boys the world over I forgot all about it and spent the last few days of the Jamboree just messing around with my friends.

It was only on the last day that I remembered the book, so I got some money from my Mum and headed off to the Scout Store...but I'd left it too late. When I got to the camp site where the Scout Store had been set up it was empty; the Scout Store tent was gone. The owner had packed up his inventory and headed back to the Big City and his brick & stone store, taking, quite naturally, my Baden-Powell book with him. Words cannot describe how heartbroken I was that day but I remember walking back to our camp, head down, sobbing quietly to myself as I plodded along.

And that was how my father found me. I'm sure the sight of me in that state affected my father that day much as it did me today when I looked down at my son. I don't remember seeing Dad that day. I didn't even know he was there until he picked me up and asked me what was wrong.

The wheel turns, and I looked down at my son and told him that we could get the car next time. He never said a thing, he just kept walking, but I could see the tears had already started to flow. So I took his hand and we walked back to the prize area and I asked the cashier if we could make up the credit difference in cash. We couldn't. But I still had game credits on my card (as opposed to prize credits. Game credits allow you to play the games, prize credits are redeemed for prizes). Now it was almost right on 1pm by this time and Liz and I had agreed that we'd meet at 1pm to head home...but I was committed now to winning the car for my son and we only needed 800 tickets which I knew wouldn't take long to accrue. It didn't take long. In about 15 minutes we were leaving D&Bs with the car tucked under my arm and a happy son snapping his snapping monkey on a stick walking beside me.

I got told off a little bit by Liz when I met her outside the D&Bs, but she understood when I explained that we had not been able to leave without the car. And now she understands even more why she had to wait for us today.

Of course when we got home we still had to put the car together, and the battery needed to be charged, and JE is not the most patient of young men (anyone know any 5-year olds that are patient?), so he played outside for a bit, blowing bubbles, and quickly grew bored, and found a new game in the garage, and when Liz came down he made her get it out for him and begin setting it up, and he lost patience when she took too long to put everything together. A ton of little plastic men, and two dragons, and scenery, etc. can take a fair bit of assembling. Finally, almost 1 1/2 hours after I'd opened the box, I had the Ferrari assembled. In my defense a lot of that time was spent sticking the 12 stickers onto Schuey's helmet just so. I'm a little anal when it comes to putting stickers on things. They have to go exactly where they're meant to be or I'll spend hours removing them, adjusting them, replacing them, etc. You should see me in McD's with their toys when they only have 3 or 4 stickers that need applying. Liz and the kids will have finished eating by the time I finally get those 4 stickers on the toy exactly where they're meant to be.

Now the instruction manual recommended charging the battery for 4 to 5 hours. And it said it came from the factory with no charge. But I'd just spent 90 minutes putting stickers on this car, then putting the whole thing together. I'm as impatient as my son sometimes so the battery came off the charger, went into the car, and a quick test showed us that we had power!!! So it was out to the driveway where we raced the car up and down until the battery was flat again.

This is not a cheap radio controlled car. I just did a web search, and I would not have bought this thing for JE if I'd had to pay real money for it. Sure, I spent money at D&Bs earning tickets & credits to redeem for the car, but that's different, that was money spent on quality time with my son. The RRP for this car when Nikko first released it was $200. They're selling now for around $140 to $150. Out in the driveway for our complex, a nice long driveway, we got this car up to speed and it moves! Nikko have clocked it at 40kph, or 25mph for you Imperialists, and I don't think they exaggerated. I also don't think we should be driving it in the long driveway. Not because I'm concerned about a car coming, we can see the garage doors as they open, but because there's enough room for the car to turn around and that's pretty much it. At 40kph the car travels from one end of the complex to the other within seconds and it travels from one side of the driveway to the other in a heartbeat. At top speed it is all too easy to slam the car into the kerb on one side of the driveway or a garage door on the other. It's a lot of fun to drive the car at top speed but I'm not sure how strong it is. I doubt it's built to withstand repeating ramming of solid objects at 40kph. It is good, however, for JE to develop very fine motor skills, because the controller is digital, meaning you squeeze the trigger a little bit and the car travels at a moderate speed. Squeeze the trigger a little more and it works essentially the same as the accelerator pedal in your car; the more you depress it, the faster your car goes. Turn the tyre shaped steering wheel on the car's controller a little bit, and the car turns just a little bit, naturally turning sharper the more you turn the wheel, just like a real car.

This is not a cheap toy. It's not an X-Box 360 but it's still a hell of a lot of fun. We just need to find a nice, wide open area for us to drive the car around without worrying about running into other objects, people, cars, etc., and without acquiring a small group of kiddies looking on, as usually happens when one drives really fast radio control cars in public places. The kids looking on is not the problem. It's the kid on the bike who thinks it's fun, especially when encouraged by his friends, to attempt to race the car, or even drive around it as you drive around, and inevitably he's going to run over the car, breaking it, then he'll just ride off, leaving you with $150 worth of trash.

I don't want that to happen so for now, we'll settle for just carefully driving around in the driveway :)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On a completely unrelated topic, I have begun waging war on the snails in the fish tank. Originally there was just one snail that hitchhiked in on the plant, and he/she/it grew bit by bit as the weeks passed from a small snail that I thought was a bit of crud, into the small snail that I looked for around the tank and was glad he was there because he was eating the algae that grew on the inside of the glass and helped keep the tank clean.

Then a while back we noticed a tiny snail crawling along, by coincidence, behind the first snail. Then there were several small snails, all around the tank...and that was when I noticed the big snail (well, still small for a snail, but bigger than all the rest, the original snail, if you will) chowing down on the leaves of the plant. I'd noticed the plant looking a little ratty lately, with several of the leaves no longer leaf shaped but just a web/vein structure. Now I'd caught the culprit red...well...not red-handed per se...kind of hard to catch something red-handed when it doesn't have hands, but he was guilty nonetheless. Maybe he was keeping the algae levels down, but if he was also eating the hell out of the plant, and if he was having baby snails (don't ask me how a single snail managed to have children, I don't know...maybe he adopted) if he was having baby snails that would also eat the hell out of the plant, well, keeping the algae down was something I could do myself so the snails were going to have to go. Yesterday I disposed of the big snail and several smaller snails. Today, I nailed four more snails (heh, nailing snails ;). I'm gonna keep an eye on the tank and every time a snail pops up, he's getting squished. And to think I'd found an eco-friendly way of keeping the algae levels down, too. Well, I'm part of the ecosystem, so if I have to clean the tank myself, that's still eco-friendly. So there. Take that, baby snail!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

I am a Nine (out of Ten?)

Ganked from Loki. I pretty much agree with all of this, except for the very last statement under Parenting.
The Peacemaker
(Blessed are the Cheesemakers)
You are BX Enneagram type NINE

"I am at peace"

Peacemakers are receptive, good-natured, and supportive. They seek union with others and the world around them.

How to Get Along with Me

  • If you want me to do something, how you ask is important. I especially don't like expectations or pressure.

  • I like to listen and to be of service, but don't take advatage of this.

  • Listen until I finish speaking, even though I meander a bit.

  • Give me time to finish things and make decisions. It's OK to nudge me gently and nonjudgmentally.

  • Ask me questions to help me get clear.

  • Tell me when you like how I look. I'm not averse to flattery.

  • Hug me, show physical affection. It opens me up to my feelings.

  • I like a good discussion but not a confrontation.

  • Let me know you like what I've done or said.

  • Laugh with me and share in my enjoyment of life.

What I Like About Being a Nine

  • being nonjudgmental and accepting

  • caring for and being concerned about others

  • being able to relax and have a good time

  • knowing that most people enjoy my company; I'm easy to be around

  • my ability to see many different sides of an issue and to be a good mediator and facilitator

  • my heightened awareness of sensations, aesthetics, and the here and now

  • being able to go with the flow and feel one with the universe

What's Hard About Being a Nine

  • being judged and misunderstood for being placid and/or indecisive

  • being critical of myself for lacking initiative and discipline

  • being too sensitive to criticism; taking every raised eyebrow and twitch of the mouth personally

  • being confused about what I really want

  • caring too much about what others will think of me

  • not being listened to or taken seriously

Nines as Children Often

  • feel ignored and that their wants, opinions, and feelings are unimportant

  • tune out a lot, especially when others argue

  • are "good" children: deny anger or keep it to themselves

Nines as Parents

  • are supportive, kind, and warm

  • are sometimes overly permissive or nondirective

My Haiku Smackdown entry

Blatantly ganked from Eccythump!
For Xinher's Haiku Smackdown #42

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Two nights in a row

Not the same dream (although I have had dreams repeat themselves, feelings of deja vu when dreaming are common) but a dream in a similar vein.

I was staying in a cabin in the forest with several other families and two nights in a row (yes, time passed in this dream) a pack of wild dogs slipped into the cabin and dragged away some small children (maybe a dingo ate your bay-bee).

I took my dog for a walk yesterday and a couple of the houses we passed have pitbull-variety dogs in the yards so this could have influenced last nights dream.

So we devised a plan (which wasn't much of a plan) to wait for the dogs and kill them when they attacked...but it was pointed out by my brother-in-law (who was in the dream) that the dogs just dragged away the small children so we wouldn't know they were there until it was too late.

See why everyone always dies in my dreams; I'm a terrible planner.

We then decided that all the women and children would sleep in one room and the men would all sleep in the room near the front door, which is where everyone had been sleeping the last two nights when the wild dogs attacked. In our quest for weapons one of the Inspectors from my work (real Inspector from real work) said he had a flame thrower, and he did, but we decided not to use it because the dogs would catch on fire then run out into the forest and set all the trees on fire and that would be bad. Setting trees on fire, not good; setting wild dogs on fire, that's ok.

But we ended up using the flame thrower anyway and killed two of the dogs that night and didn't set fire to the forest. The rest of the dogs ran away and we didn't suffer any more casualties.

Hooray for flame throwers!

Monday, February 20, 2006

I hate dreams like that

I was being hunted by the "Tailies" from Lost, but I've never even seen a single episode.

I think it was related to a quest I was doing on WoW before I went to bed. I had to kill a bunch of pigmen and collect their tusks, 60 of them, for an Orc whose wife they'd killed. The pigmen were about 4 to 5 levels higher than my character, which doesn't sound like much, but in WoW 4 to 5 levels makes a big difference. They also respawned very quickly, meaning the time it took for the game to replace them after I'd killed them was very short, meaning I was sometimes getting ambushed by pigmen appearing out of thin air, and because the pigmen were 4 to 5 levels higher than me that usually ended with my character dying.

So I think that contributed to my "being hunted by Tailies" dream.

What was bizarre about the dream was that the small group of people I was with were taking refuge in the river, usually hiding under lily pads as they floated down the river. The Tailies eventually caught up with us at a wier at the end of the river which was next to a Zoo. I don't know what a Zoo was doing there, but it had been abandoned, although the animals were still alive. We found instructions to feed them, and if you think the dream has been wierd so far, here is where it took not just one but several jumps to the left.

The instuctions indicated that the animals ate Chihuahua puppies, and sure enough, we found an enclosure full of thousands of Chihuahua puppies. So I grabbed a handful of these puppies...and threw some to the wolves, who looked particularly hungry, and they gobbled those Chihuahua puppies right up.

That was when the Tailies saw us but they had to go through the wolf enclosure to get to us, so we had some time to slip down into the river and hide next to the wier. I think at this point there was just me and one other guy left, but I think the Tailies got him, leaving just me.

That's usually the way these dreams of mine end, me and a group of people against another group of people, demons, monsters, etc. Everyone dies but me. You'd think that would be comforting, hey, at least I survived, right? But I don't like the message it sends me. One day everyone is going to depend on me, and they're all going to die. I think when that day comes in real life I'm going to turn to everyone and say "Trust me on this; if you stick with me you're all going to die."

If any of you are with me when that day comes, feel free to back me up by calling out, "He's right, you know. He's going to get us all killed!"

I won't hold it against you at all.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Jackasses, Smartasses, and just plain Asses

I just got back to work after taking the last week off sick to find the coffee cup full of change. I'm in charge of the coffee club funds, which operates on an honor system. If you take a cup of coffee you throw in 60c, or you throw in $1 and get your change. Then I'd take all the coins, roll them up, change them at the 5th floor cafeteria, order coffee supplies and pay the bill, etc. Because of this, I usually have change at my desk so people come by when they need to break a $20, etc.

This morning one of my coworkers, R, comes by and asks if I can make change. Two weeks ago I got wiped out by such requests so all I have are $1 bills, and I doubt R wants twenty $1 for his $20 bill.

One of my other coworkers, C, has apparently collected all the bills from the coffee cup all last week (he likes to help out when I'm not here), but C is not in yet so I can't make change for R. I tell R that as soon as C is in I can make change, and normally C is in almost as early as I am so he can't be far away. R leaves.

I've worked closely with both C & R and almost consider them good friends, and C & R have known each other for a long time (they went to college together) so what happens next surprises me.

My cell phone rings and I see it's an incoming call from R. I answer. R tells me he is downstairs at the cafeteria and that they need change, because R has just bought a breakfast burrito (a $2.50 purchase) and wiped them out...because he paid with a $100 bill.

While I couldn't have broken R's $20 without lumping him with 20 $1 bills, I could have totally changed his $100 into five $20's.

I quickly went into the break room and start rolling the coins. R had mentioned to me that I probably had a $10 roll of quarters in the cup, thus hinting that he'd like the roll if I did. No way was he getting a roll of quarters after pulling that shit.


I'm a bit of a smart ass, I'll admit it, and the following further confirms that we dislike most in other people the negative trait we exhibit ourselves.

I'm counting and rolling the coins and another coworker comes in and asks me if I just got paid. Yeah, funny.

I keep counting and rolling and a second coworker comes in and starts laying out some pastries she's selling for a fund raiser.

Another coworker enters the room and asks what the pastries are for. Seeing me counting the change this coworker asks if I'm buying pastries for everyone.

I get this kind of shit all the time when I'm counting the change.


My name is John, I'm a smart ass, and I hate smart asses. Yeah, I hate myself sometimes, too.

Finally, an amusing clip from Australia. It's a community announcement asking Aussie beer drinkers to not steal the glasses their beer is served in.

You can see it here...or you should be able to.

Now the slogan to the clip, as you'll see if you visit the website, is "You steal the glass, we'll nail your ass." I actually emailed the company and complained because ass is not Australian, it's American. Aussies use the British variant arse. Now admittedly arse doesn't rhyme with glass, well, not when written down; it does when you say it, regardless of your accent, but I wanted to know why an Aussie beer company was using the American variant of arse, and I got response.
It's because ass got by the editors/censors, whereas arse did not. A fair enough explanation.

You steal the glass, they'll nail your arse...to the wall.
Nice one, girls. Keep up the good work.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The little one is being cheeky

She can walk now, she chooses not to.

I think she's just lacking confidence, although I think she loves the attention she's getting right now more than anything. Once the novelty of "Look at me! I'm standing! I'm taking a few steps! Now I'm dropping to my knees!" wears off, she'll be running around and we'll be in big trouble.

Earlier she took a couple of steps away from the sofa and just stood there, bouncing & bobbing a little as she watched TV. JE and I got all excited (which she just loves, little attention seeker that she is) and she grinned at us and stood there for several more seconds before dropping to her knees in an "Oh yeah, I'm not supposed to be doing this yet" kind of way.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Saved by the skin of his shell

Remember last time when we got home and the Tetras had all died...coz I changed the water and we suspect it was the dechlorinating chemical was old.

We just got back from dinner and visiting a friend, and I glanced in the fish tank, and no, it wasn't full of belly up Tetras, but the snail that hijacked a ride on the plant and who has been doing such a good job of keeping the algae levels down...well...he was floating in the middle of the tank. Like halfway between surface and bottom, and out in the middle of the water, which is not like him at all. Normally he's stuck like a limpet to the tank wall, I know, I tried to pull him off the first time we met thinking he was a bit of crud (he was just a small snail then) when I realized he was a snail.

So he was out in the middle of the tank and he was just hanging out of his shell, and things didn't look too good. JE was on the verge of tears (I think), "I liked the snail", he said.

At that very moment a Tetra dived in and made a grab for Mr. Snail and he quickly withdrew into his shell.

That was a good thing. That meant there was life in the old snail yet!

Quickly I grabbed the fish net and scooped him up, then looked at the tank wondering where on earth I could put him. There were no convenient ledges to pop him on, and I feared if I put him into the tank he'd only end up bobbing around in the middle again, and the air I'm sure he stores inside his shell can only last so long. I'm surprised he hadn't drowned while we were gone, unless he has gills...interesting thought.

Fortunately I have a heater in the tank, and the top of the heater protrudes above the surface of the water, so I dropped Mr. Snail on top of the heater...and he bounced off and into the tank. I quickly scooped him up, but as the water ran out of my hand Mr. Snail was carried away with it, and I lost him again. I grabbed for him a second time, and lost him a second time, and for the next ten seconds I was bobbing for snails...well...one snail.

Finally I got him again and managed to place him on top of the heater where he sat, all tucked away inside his shell.

After several minutes his shell gave a little shrug as he grabbed the top of the heater and made himself more secure.

Another good sign.

Just like The Simpson's Daredevil "Captain" Lance Murdock, "He's okay, folks!"

Now, nothing more to see here, move along, move along.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A few random rants

Inspired by my good friend Spyfor I am encouraged to rant, just for a bit ;)
This is guaranteed to have me on someone's list of "blogs to review".

Patriots are true to their country; the government is not the country.
The second Amendment gives the people of this country the right to own and bear arms; the National Guard are not the militia.
Take away their means to fight back, and you control the people.
Control the media, and you control the people.
It has never been proven that removing guns from society makes us safer; if anything, it makes us defenseless against a greater evil.
The United States of America was created because "the people" rebelled and fought an oppressive government. The United States of America was also created by forcefully removing, through strength of arms, the land from the current occupants.
When all is said and done, those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don't.
Guns are not evil. A gun in the hands of an evil person is not evil. It is dangerous, but it was dangerous before it came into his possession because that is how it was designed; that does not make it evil. Cars are also dangerous, but they have better P.R Managers than guns.
Tyrants and bullies never win until you let them.

End Rant.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cold, cold man

Ganked from Xinh.

You scored 61% Cold and 58% Level-Headed!
You can kill. But the question "Why would you?" arises.

Out of safety or cruelty?

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 81% on Cold
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 33% on Level-Headed
Link: The Can You Kill a Man? Test written by notmarkflynn on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test