Friday, December 29, 2006

How to watch American Gothic

Liz got me the boxed set of American Gothic for Christmas. I watched this years ago in mid to late 90s in Australia, and it wasn't until recently that I found out why the series seemed so disjointed when I watched it.

Both CBS here in the U.S. and whichever station aired it in Australia showed the episodes out of order. When Universal released the boxed set they arranged the episodes on the discs according to CBS's airing date, so if you watch the discs from 1 thru 6 you're doing yourself a disservice, because Disc 6 (or Disc 3) contains unaired episodes which need to be seen partway through the series at certain points, and in one episode one of the major characters leaves the series (for good) but returns in the very next episode, at least he did if you watched the original series or will if you watch the discs from start to finish.

Here's how to watch American Gothic. Note that it involves a lot of disc changing and flipping.

1 - "Pilot" Disc 1, Side A:Episode 1
2 - "A tree grows in Trinity" 1A:2
3 - "Eye of the Beholder" 1A:3 (so far, so good, right? Now flip Disc 1 to side B to watch...)

4 - "Damned if you don't" 1B:1 (now change to Disc 3, side A to watch...)

5 - "Potato Boy" 3A:4 (missing episode, never aired. Now, back to Disc 1, Side B for...)

6 - "Dead to the World" 1B:2
7 - "Meet the Beetles" 1B:3
8 - "Strong Arm of the Law" 1B:4

9 - "To Hell and back" 2B:3 (Yes, Disc 2, Side B:Episode 3)
10 - "The Beast Within" 2B:2 (Yes, Episode 2, the one before the one you just watched. Now flip Disc 2 to Side A.)

11 - "Rebirth" 2A:1 (then change to Disc 3, Side B)

12 - "Ring of Fire" 3B:1 (another mid-season episode that was never aired. Now back to Disc 2, Side A.)

13 - "Resurrector" 2A:2
14 - "Inhumanitas" 2A:3
15 - "The Plague Sower" 2A:4

16 - "Doctor Death takes a holiday" 2B:1
17 - "Learning to crawl" 2B:4

18 - "Echo of your last goodbye" 3B:2 (never aired)
19 - "Strangler" 3B:3 (that's two episodes in a row that were never aired)

20 - "Triangle" 3A:1
21 - "The Buck stops here" 3A:2
22 - "Requiem" 3A:2

So you had 6 discs (or three double-sided discs), but you needed to change/flip them 10 times to watch the series in the correct chronological order. I'm still going to do that when I watch them, because even now, almost a decade later, I can remember things didn't quite make sense when I originally watched American Gothic.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dinner at Todai

Liz and I had dinner at Todai, a Japanese Noodle House & Sushi Bar. I think this was the second time I've been to Todai. The first time I was not overly impressed. We paid around $20 or so for our meal and I ate hardly anything. This is because at the time I was not overly keen on sushi. I think I ate some Chicken Teriyaki and that was about it.

Liz said me not eating sushi would have been grounds for divorce (irreconcilable differences?) so it's a good thing I eat it now ;)

She said this time when I returned to the table with a plate full of raw fish the people at a nearby table were apparently going nuts that a Kwai Lo (Gaijin) was voluntarily eating sushi.

Midway through our meal a young Chinese man and his female friend (also a Kwai Lo) were shown to the table next to us and they promkptly hit the buffet. When the young lady returned with a plate full of glass noodles and some teriyaki (as opposed to sushi) her male companion seemed flabbergasted that she would come to Todai and not dine on raw fish. When the young man returned to the sushi bar for his second plate the young lady also stood, leaving almost her entire plate of noodles untouched. Seeing someone who needed rescuing (sort of) when she promptly came back to pick up her purse I told her that at the very end of the buffet she'd find the fruit, desserts, and a chef making crepes to order.

The young lady was gone for a long time.

Liz and I were wondering if she'd left (stood up) her "friend", and judging by the concerned way he was looking around I think he was having the same thought. Liz thought it was hilarious and said she'd blog about if she'd left. I said it wasn't funny (not really ;) but sad if she had. But then Liz saw the young lady all the way down at the end of the buffet, where the crepes were being made; the young lady's friend had his view blocked by a pillar and endured several more minutes wondering where his dinner companion was.

Finally she returned with a crepe and plate full of fruit, and once more the young man's eyes bugged out his head. Fruit! Not raw fish! You could see him wondering just why they'd come to Todai if she wasn't going to eat sushi.

As we left and walked past their table the young lady made eye contact with me and I saw her silently mouth Thank You. I smiled at her and nodded my head, You're Welcome.

When my mum and her friend were here a couple of months back they also tried sushi. We gave them the easy stuff though. California Rolls & Philadelphia Rolls. They tried it but weren't too keen on it. Sushi is definitely an acquired taste, and if you don't like it then Todai is not the place for you.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ironic?

I just closed Firefox, but as I clicked the X to close the last window Firefox decided to crash and shut down, which prompted the QC Prog to boot up, and I just had to send Mozilla the Error Report. I couldn't resist. Because one of the questions the QC Prog asks you is "What were you doing when Firefox stopped working?" Well, I was closing Firefox...so...if Firefox feels the urge to shut down when I tell it to shut down, is that really a problem?

Friday, December 22, 2006

I knew it!

I should have slept in and come in late today. The Boss just came around and said we all can leave at 2:30 today. Which just happens to be the time I am scheduled to leave on Fridays. Typical. At least I'm off next Friday, Dec. 29th when they'd pull the same stunt...and Monday is the New Year's Day Holiday. A 3-day weekend about to begin, a 3-day work week coming up and a 4-day weekend just around the corner. Life is good.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Vegas revisited

Now it wasn't all doom & gloom in Vegas.

Liz got a lot of shopping done at an outlet mall near some place called Whisky Pete's. We actually dropped her there then drove on into Vegas and checked into Circus Circus. Later Liz caught a coach into Vegas and met us at the Bellagio for the buffet dinner. Then we walked The Strip and ended up riding the Monorail north to the end of the line where we turned around and rode it all the way back south. It was pretty late but we got to see all of the lights of the city from the Monorail, so that was cool. We also watched the Bellagio's water & lights show in the artificial lake which fronts their hotel.

Saturday we rode the bus down The Strip for $5 each for a 24 hour pass. JE was free so that was a bonus. We stopped at some mall near Treasure Island, then jumped back on board the bus and rode it down to Mandalay Bay where we toured the Shark Reef. They have handheld units not unlike chunky old cell phones that you can listen to as you walk around the aquarium. The sad thing was the almost constant reminder to turn in your "wand" as Mandalay Bay called them. It would seem as though Vegas is not Sin City but Souvenir City. The wake up call was when we got up Saturday morning and the Do Not Disturb sign was missing from our hotel door. Actually prior to that was the conspicuously absent TV Remote Control. Then again, a previous occupant of the hotel we stayed at in San Diego had stolen the batteries from the TV Remote Control...but at least they left us the remote.

Saturday afternoon we wound up in a mall near Aladdin. It was an amazing mall. The ceiling was painted to resemble the sky, with fluffy white clouds, and as you walked along looking at the stores your eyes tried to tell you that the clouds themselves were moving. It was very realistic. One part of that mall was made out to look like an Italian village complete with a fountain, and every half-hour on Friday, Saturday & Sunday there is a rainstorm in that section of the mall complete with thunder and flashes of light(ning). For the next five minutes the "rain" pours from sprinklers in the ceiling into the fountain accompanied by real rain sounds. Very cool.

Afterwards we rode the bus back up to our hotel where we caught the 9pm Circus performance. I was a bit disappointed that it was nothing more than a 5-min solo trapeze artist/aerial dance act. I would have thought there would be more of a show, at least something for 15 minutes or so. We grabbed a late dinner from the McDonalds located inside the Hotel and took it back to our room where we watched a movie then fell asleep.

Sunday was a lazy buffet breakfast, then a mad dash to get the hell out of Vegas before the traffic. Well you can't beat the traffic (unless you leave the day before) because a lot of people have the same idea and leave early on Sunday, but obviously the later you leave the longer it will take you to get back home. We made it back to L.A. in around 3 hours or so. A respectable time.

We'll go back one day, when the kids are older...maybe when they're old enough to look after themselves for a day or two ;)

People unclear on the concept

My Union somehow created an email list of work email addys and has been sending out propaganda about upcoming activities, slow-downs, stoppages and strike actions. Today someone finally responded and asked to be removed from the "hate mail" list. I know they responded because they sent their request to every single person who'd received the email. That of course inspired several other people to ask to be removed as well, with a few Techies chiming in and telling people if they wanted to be removed to reply to the original sender, not to do a Reply All.

So far three IT people have requested people do a Reply to Sender, and eight TI people have sent a Reply All email. TI would be the Technologically Inept :P

*Update* Five more TIs just asked everyone to remove them from the mailing list, and two more IT just asked why are people continuing to do a Reply All. You have to be amused by TI people, otherwise you'd get arrested for choking the living shit out of them :D

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Vegas, and back

After more than eight years here in the U.S. I finally made it to Las Vegas. Liz and I had planned Vegas trips before in the past, but something always came up that required us to cancel. This time around we made it with JE tagging along; Amber stayed home with the grandparents. In retrospect, JE should have stayed behind too, as after eight years in the making this was just a ho-hum kind of trip, and JE added very little to the Wow! factor.

We'd booked into Circus Circus, which is sort of a good place for the kids, but this is Las Vegas, NV. Nowhere is really for the kids. JE wanted to play the games, and there's games everywhere, but 99% of the games require you to be 21 or older. There's also the smoking. We've been spoiled, living here in the people's republic of Kalifornia, and so people passing us in the hotel corridor with cigarettes in their hands or mouths doesn't make for a great vacation, but then is Vegas.

La Reve at the Wynn was also not playing this weekend, and that was The Show I wanted to see. The Pirate show at Treasure Island was also under going maintenance, resuming next weekend. Did I mention JE wanted to play games? That was also all he wanted to do. I know he's six, and every parent the world over has had to (or will have to) deal with a six year old on vacation, but man, this kid just wanted to whine about playing. Sure, we didn't spend money gambling so we spent $25 playing video games for two hours, and as soon as we left the arcade JE started complaining about wanting to go back to the Hotel to play more games.

The buffets I could take or leave. We had dinner the first night at the Bellagio. Now I love this double standard Vegas has. How old is your child? Six? I see. You can't enter the casinos, but to make it up to you we'll charge you the full price for the buffet. JE then proceeded to eat three croissants and several chocolate chip cookies, for which we paid almost $40, for him that is. It was close to $120 for dinner for the three of us. Lovely. At least Liz and I ate our fill.

Eight years in the making. Las Vegas. I could care less if I never go there again. Maybe for one night if just Liz and I go. We can enjoy a buffet without stressing over a $40 croissant, and we can enjoy a show without listening to whining kids wanting to play video games...at least they won't be our own. Speaking of which, it was amazing how many kids we passed sitting on the benches outside the casinos, obviously waiting for mum and/or dad who were inside gambling their money away.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hooray!

My Kris Kringle/Secret Santa came through today. In fact I actually wound up with two gifts. I got a small potted plant and this 4.5" Globe by Replogle, which is actually kind of cool. You don't have a lot of desk space in a cubicle, so I appreciate it's smaller size :)

Survival Tip #1

Yeah, this is a sad story, but guess what? James Kim was obviously not prepared for the trip he and his family were taking. This was not just a simple road trip from LA to SF. This was a 600+ mile Road Trip. Yeah, capitalized, because this was a big trip. Maybe it's just me being a Boy Scout (and an Australian, and a Survivalist) but I have little sympathy for this guy because he absolutely 100% did the Wrong Thing.

Driving from Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA may look like a walk in the park at Google Maps, but that's a serious drive through serious wilderness, and the Kim family undertook that drive in inclement weather.

James and his family apparently survived for a week (on very limited supplies) before James made the fatal decision to go for help. His family were found within 24 hours of his leaving them. Now James had no way of knowing that rescue was literally hours away, so he's not at fault there. James is at fault for not staying put. He apparently went out into freezing conditions wearing the same clothes he'd wear for a trip to the corner store. Street clothes, he was described as wearing. He had F'ing tennis shoes on his feet. The man was wearing jeans, a light jacket, and tennis shoes, and he set out into blizzard conditions to go for help. Wrong thing to do, James.

WWJD? What would John do? If dressed like James was, John would stay with his family. No, I would not go for help. I would not leave my family behind. Even if I was dressed appropriately I still wouldn't go for help. Even if my family were dressed appropriately we still wouldn't go for help. Of course we also have blankets in our car, including reflective, thermal blankets. We have water, first aid kit, and on long trips I always carry our 2-way radios which have a 20-mile range (probably less in hilly conditions though).

The first rule when you are lost (in the Wilderness, that is) is stay where you are. Set up camp right where you are and DO NOT MOVE! People love you. People will miss you. If you've done the right thing you will have let people know where you're going and when you expect to get there...or get back. If your loved ones do not receive a phone call from you saying you got there (or back) they will alert the authorities, and a search will be conducted, and you will be found. If you're smart you'll be prepared. You'll have provisions in your car or your backpack. You'll have a tent or emergency clothing to keep you warm. Maybe even a sleeping bag. You'll have the ability to make fire. If you have fresh water and you can stay warm and dry, you can survive for at least 2 weeks. If people are missing you and looking for you, they will find you within a week or so. Believe it or not but there are people in this world who when they start looking for a lost person, they do not give up. They may not even know the person they're looking for, but they refuse to give up. If the search is called off it's this person who will find you, and they will find you, but if you wander off, if you move around, you're making their job a damn sight harder. The search will take longer, and you've just increased your chances of being found...dead, like James.

It's (morbidly) amusing how the media are trying to make out James was some sort of superman, that he walked 15 miles through the snow and cold...in a circle...to be found (dead) barely miles from his family car. What kind of effort would that take, people ask. A superhuman effort, is the typical response. No, this is just a guy who wandered off, unprepared and improperly clothed for the conditions, and whose mind probably shut down while his body kept on walking aimlessly. Yeah, he walked 15 miles in the freezing cold in jeans and a jacket, but he's still dead, and if he'd stayed with his family he'd be alive.

You NEVER leave your family. I read stories all the time of the father who leaves his family to go for help. He dies and the family gets rescued because the searchers are looking in the area where the family got lost. Not 10 miles way where the father now is.

If you only take one thing away from this, don't be like James. When you're lost stay where you are. Set up camp, dig in and prepare to be there for a while, and survive.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A day at Sea World

Liz has come down with a cold and went to bed early last night, after telling me she wouldn't be coming to Sea World today. That meant I went with JE, his school-chum W, and W's mom C. C is a CBA, or a Chinese-born American, who speaks very little english, but her english is still better than my chinese.

When I got up this morning I was not feeling too good either, nose was running and I had a tickle in my throat. Maybe Trader Joe's Airborne came through because I'm feeling pretty good now. I decided the kids had been told they were going to Sea World, and so were looking forward to it, so I might as well tough it out and take them. I'd already popped an allergy tablet when I got up (& taken the Airborne) but before leaving I took a couple of Dayquil as well. That might not have been such a wise move because halfway to San Diego I noticed I was having trouble keeping my eyes open. When I found myself drifting towards the left of the lane, and realized I'd just had my eyes closed for a good couple of seconds, I decided it was time to pull over. We pulled into a gas station, had a bit of a stretch, and one Snickers bar & one Full Throttle later we were back on our way and I was feeling good!

The day was kind of interesting. C and I had a bit of chat, as much as the language barrier would let us. JE & W were like the proverbial Odd Couple. Best of friends one minute, trying to kill each other the next. It was a strange day. We went on the Wild Arctic ride, one of those gyroscope rides that tricks you into thinking you're doing something you're not. In Wild Arctic's case it makes you think you're on a helicopter flying over the Arctic, spying on animals, dodging falling rocks and avoiding a blizzard. JE is not too fond of roller coasters, but Wild Arctic is not a roller coaster and I knew he'd like it once it started. I explained to C what the deal was with Wild Arctic, or at least I think I did, so she had no problems going in. I forgot all about W and his mild case of motion sickness (sans the vomiting) on the way down watching JE play Gameboy & DS. As soon as the ride started up W leaned his head on C's shoulder and closed his eyes, opening them occasionally and almost immediately closing them again. But as we were exiting the ride once it was over W was the first to shout "That was cool!"

We saw pretty much everything there is to see at Sea World, that would be of interest to 6-year old boys. We didn't do the log plume ride, or any of the roller coasters (except for Wild Arctic, which isn't a roller coaster), but we saw all of the shows except for the Dolphin Show (which I figured was practically the same as Shamu, just with smaller mammals.) The Dolphin Show also started at about the same time as the Sea Lion & Otter show, so that was the one we saw instead. We also didn't watch R.L. Stine's "Haunted Lighthouse (in 3D)" because the boys vetoed that as soon as I asked if they wanted to see a scary movie. It's not that scary unless you're six years old ;)

The drive home was horrible. Traffic was bumper to bumper almost all 130 miles of the trip, and when we hit the rain in Los Angeles it only made it worse. I think it took us close to three hours to get home (maybe longer). Highlight of the return trip was JE asking W if he'd watched "Grandma got run over by a Reindeer", which was on the TV last night. W said he hadn't. JE said "I did, and guess what? The Grandma got run over by a Reindeer!"

Now I'm home, and I think it's time for coffee.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Net down!

We had no internet last night so I watched the Backlash 2003 DVD from Netflix. There was an excellent match between Goldberg and The Rock. The Rock changed his persona for this match to a less than confident wrestler, and I didn't like it anywhere near as much as the cocksure, arrogant Rock of yesteryear, but it worked very well for the match. Goldberg was clearly the aggressor and the crowd favorite while The Rock's whimpy but still somewhat confident persona made him an excellent Heel.

The Rock spent most of the match trying to avoid Goldberg until he dodged a Spear and unable to check his momentum Goldberg flew through the ropes and into the corner post. Goldberg appeared to legitimately hurt his right arm & shoulder and blood was clearly visible on his right bicep. It was not running like the blood from a traditional wrestling head wound, so it was most likely a scrape, albeit a large one, but it was definitely a Hard Way injury. The Rock capitalized on this for a while (the injury was probably in the script, just not to that degree), and focused on Goldberg's right arm but despite this neither man was able to gain the upper hand. The match was in a similar vein to Wrestlemania VI's Main Event between The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan.

When the Rock set him up for a Rock Bottom, Goldberg countered with a Spear and went for the Pin, but The Rock kicked out at the 2-count. When the Rock later landed the Rock Bottom then hit Goldberg with the People's Elbow it was the big man's turn to kick out, and The Rock looked shaken and stirred. The Rock is one of wrestling's best mat actors. Shortly after that Goldberg took The Rock down with a Spear and then quickly ran to the opposite corner and assumed the position. No, not a mating position :P

With Goldberg poised in the far corner, The Rock slowly got to his feet and touched his arms and his legs as if to assure himself they were all there. With a pleasantly surprised look on his face that everything was intact and he was still alive, The Rock brushed himself off and turned around just in time to receive a third Spear! Goldberg then hoisted The Rock up onto his shoulder before driving him into the mat with his signature finishing move, the Jackhammer. 1-2-3 went the Ref and Goldberg was declared the winner.

With the wrestling over and nothing to watch on TV, I hopped on my computer and bemoaned the lack of the internet. I played some Single-Player Quake III Arena, I played a few levels of Neighbors from Hell, but shooting robots and playing practical jokes on a balding, perverted slob of a neighbor was just not that amusing. I couldn't even be bothered trying to string every joke together for the ultimate 100% Super Joke.

Finally I called it quits and went to bed early for a change. This morning I looked at the Cable Modem and sure enough, we had a solid internet connection. Typical.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rate my Response

I got in to work this morning and found the following email from Boss#1

- - - - -
John, I can't seem to find our October 2006 report. Did we do one? Just a reminder we need the November as well. Thanks!
- - - - -

I was a little irked by this because I used to have a boss back in Australia who required us all to have Diaries, and at the end of the day, after we'd left work, he'd come around to our work stations and write us little notes telling us what he wanted us to do the next day, and he wasn't always polite about it. We had an altercation in writing where he accused me of screwing up and lying to cover my ass, but the computer inventory system (which he'd personally hired me to install) saved me that day and provided me with evidence to back me up. I left my old boss a note in my diary that the next time he wanted to call me a liar he do so to my face, and I never got any nasty notes after that. Ever since then I'm very edgy when I receive missives from supervisors.

So my reply was as follows, amended slightly to once again cover my ass.

- - - - -
Boss#1, exactly which report are you after?

I've attached the three reports I prepared for the month of October.

Report1 is located on the server in folder1
Report2 is also located on the server in folder2
& Report3 is located in folder3

November's Report1 was emailed to you & Boss#2 on November 30 with the subject line BigBossDoc. Because you'd requested we use the format provided by Big Boss I revised the document you sent me, hence the name BigBossDoc, but it's essentially November Report1 (which I've just now saved in folder1 under that name).

I'll be working on Report2 and Report3 this week and they will be ready for the Meeting next Tuesday, Dec. 12.

As far as I'm aware these are all of the monthly reports I'm responsible for preparing and we're completely up-to-date with them, or will be by the end of the week.

Thanks,
John.
- - - - -

As Boss#1 had cc'd Boss#2, I sent my reply to both Boss#1 & Boss#2

I think I contained myself fairly well, but that's my opinion. What does everyone else think? And how would you have handled this situation? Pertinent information is that work on Report2 and Report3 could not begin until this week, because we need month-end figures from November.