Friday, May 31, 2002

Las Vegas scares me. It's as garish and skanky as I thought it would be. At least the people are that way. The casinos in our hotel are just loud and annoying, but the people are amazing. Apparently all the ugly people of the world come here to park their asses in front of the slot machines and wait for the sweet release of death. But hey, our hotel has the Star Trek Experience! We were hassled by a Klingon today. We're actually going on the ride itself tomorrow and eating in the restaurant (which serves Romulan Ale and dishes like the "Wrap of Khan"). After that, we're going to check out the Strip and see what other hotels/casinos have to offer in terms of the dregs of humanity. I'm having a great time so far. Seriously, I am.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

A quick update. Liz and I are off to Las Vegas tomorrow morning. She's working at a conference there and I get to tag along and help her set up and presumably tear down. In between I'm free to explore the city and get myself into trouble. I've re-read the ESPN Sports Guy's columns on Las Vegas and I'm a little scared of the place. For certain I won't be doing any gambling. I only know how to play blackjack, I haven't played in 10 years (probably at a "casino night" event during my freshman orientation at Georgetown), and I'm not any good at it. Plus, I don't see the point in throwing my money away, or trying to compete recreationally with people who gamble for a living. But I am looking forward to seeing the Star Trek Experience (at my hotel, the Hilton), the pirate ships at Treasure Island, the Bellagio fountains, and the general 24/7 party atmosphere. I'm sure it will be an unforgettable few days. I'll have to update the blog from there and keep you all informed.

This evening, I joined my first blog list, at Maybe this will drive a little more traffic to my pages. And now I have some other blogs I can check out, in the limited few minutes I have each day for additional web surfing.

If you're not watching the NHL Western Conference final between Detroit and Colorado, you're missing one hell of a series. Unfortunately, I'll probably miss Game 7 on Friday, since Liz has already said we're not spending our free time in Vegas watching sports. But the sports books! I can watch the game there with the career gamblers! We'll just see about this.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Just making sure I don't post my last entry twice.
Am I the only one who saw this news story yesterday? MLB - Rangers owner frustrated about losing games, money
It seems the owner of the Texas Rangers, Tom Hicks, is upset that his team stinks and is losing money. Gee whiz, Tom, did you ever think that the reason behind both problems is that you spend too much money on your players? Alex Rodriguez: $252 million over 10 years. Need I go on? One player is paid what half the Pirates roster is paid this season. Maybe a start toward respectability would be to trim your overblown payroll and get your expenses under control. Too bad you can't trade any of your players, since only the Yankees and a few other teams could afford those gargantuan salaries. You want to know why your team is in trouble? Look in the mirror, you dumbass.
I can't believe how baseball owners have run their sport into the ground. I really want to see a strike this year just so the few remaining baseball fans will finally give it up. I gave up on it years ago. At least the NFL has a working system for financial parity.
I don't usually rant much about sports (at least not here) but this story really irked me.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Lots of news to report. I saw AOTC last night and overall, I liked it. It met my expectations, exceeded them in a few places, and disappointed me in others. I think I was way too excited for it, despite all the advance reviews I read. My impressions of it echoed what most of the reviewers had said, and that's taught me that for Episode III I will have to avoid the advance reviews. That goes for the reviewers' opinions, which definitely end up influencing mine, as well as for spoilers, which were all over the reviews I read. I'm looking forward to seeing it again on Sunday afternoon. Now that I know the story, I'll be in a better position to evaluate the actors' performances and see what I missed in the special effects.

Yesterday at work, while counting the hours until I could leave and go wait in line for AOTC, I lost one of my contact lenses at my desk. I wear the hard lenses. Yes, I'm a dinosaur, or at least I was. I was rubbing my eyes, as I usually did since they were always drying out from the lenses, and the right lens slipped off my iris. It was still in my eye, but one of my co-workers came over to ask me a question, and while I was talking to him it must have fallen out. I looked for it for about an hour, but it just disappeared. Gone forever. I was reminded of the time my father lost one of his contacts in his car, and never found it. So I called my optometrist to get a replacement and he had an appointment available later that day for a fitting. When I got there, once again he asked me why I still wore the RGP lenses, and I asked him what was involved in switching. The next thing I know, I'm wearing a pair of soft contacts and wondering what I was ever thinking in wearing the hard lenses. So instead of waiting until next week to wear my contacts again, I walked out of there wearing a new pair of soft lenses and $220 lighter for having ordered a year's supply of soft contacts. I can't believe the difference with these lenses. My eyes don't itch, the lenses don't move around on my irises like the hard ones did, and there's no "halo" around my field of vision where the lens borders were. Just an amazing change. I wish I'd done this years ago.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

It's been a busy week. The foreign office network administrators were in town for a series of meetings with the NY IT staff, and with them came the requisite evenings out on the town. So I was busy trying not to get too drunk on a "school" night and not thinking about my thoughts on any particular subjects.

Liz and I saw Spider-Man on Friday night. It was a hell of a movie. I have to say that I'm making the inevitable comparisons between it and AOTC, before the latter even opens. I've already read some advance reviews, both good and bad, and from what I've seen, AOTC leaves something to be desired in the story and acting departments. Spider-Man had a great script, excellent performances from everyone in the cast, not to mention the fantastic special effects that gave me chills. I know what I have to look forward to on Thursday night, but I'm already thinking that Spider-Man is going to be the superior movie. Not that it matters much; I'll end up seeing AOTC several times in the theater and buying it on DVD, while I might see Spider-Man one more time in the theater or on DVD. As good as it was, I'm still a Star Wars fan from way back.

Spider-Man did get me to think about the key problem of being a superhero, which came up in the movie. Namely, a superhero can't save everyone all the time. Eventually someone is going to wonder why they or their loved ones couldn't be saved by the superhero when they needed saving. And there's no way out of that conundrum. I'm sure that's been explored by many comics over the years, and I'm not all that interested in reading more about it. But it was an idea that I haven't yet encountered in a comic book movie. I don't remember anything like this in any of the Superman or Batman movies. I'm already looking forward to the sequel.

Sunday, May 05, 2002

I rode the Bike New York 5 Boro Bike Tour this morning. It was my second year in the ride, which starts in Manhattan and follows a route through all five city boroughs along highways like the FDR and BQE, plus the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, before finishing on Staten Island. More info at the official web site. Last year I rode down to the start near the World Trade Center, where I got stuck behind most of the other 30000 riders, missed most of Queens, and finished the ride over seven hours after it started. While I had fun, the many choke points along the route that forced me and my fellow riders to walk our bikes went beyond annoying. So this year, rather than ride to the start line, I waited at home until the riders started passing my apartment (I live about a mile from the start line on Sixth Avenue) and jumped in. It worked better than I had hoped. I made it to the Astoria Park rest stop by 9:45, before they had even opened the route beyond the park. After a 20-minute wait, I passed two more rest stops and rode almost twenty miles without stopping. I was able to keep the pace that I wanted, instead of having to slow down to match the rest of the pack. I crossed the VNB around 11:30 AM (three hours earlier than last year) and was at the finish line festival before noon. I still had a long wait for the ferry ride back to Manhattan, so I didn't get home until 2 PM, but that was OK since I'd completed the ride proper in less than four hours, which is excellent time for me for 40 miles. After this athletic accomplishment, I'm going to have to push myself harder on my regular weekend rides. I can't wait until my friend (and erstwhile riding buddy) James moves up here next month.

I bought some new books today. Two more William Gibson novels (Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive), Rogue Planet by Greg Bear (a Star Wars novel), and an impulse buy, Mario Puzo's The Godfather. I love the movie, even though I've only seen it a few times (and what a crime, since I own the DVD), so I figured the book has to be excellent. I enjoyed Nick Hornby's High Fidelity even more than the movie, so we'll see how it goes with this one. I really want to read Dune: House Corrino and Alan Dean Foster's new Star Wars prequel novel, The Approaching Storm, but they're both still in hardback and way out of my budget. I can't stand to be without a book for more than a few days, so I was going crazy without any new reading material. It kills me to pay full-price for all these books, but there aren't any decent used book stores in New York that sell the books I read. I miss Second Story in DC. It was like a lending library where you don't have to return the books on a set date, and when you do return them, they give you money back. What a system. I checked out the Strand bookstore on Broadway, but they didn't have any of the sci-fi authors I read. I ended up buying Arthur C. Clarke's 3001: Final Odyssey, which was a great book, but I couldn't believe it was the only thing I could find there. It's all for the best, I suppose. The authors don't benefit from used book sales, so at least I have the moral high ground now (not that I ever felt any guilt for my previous book buying habits).

Friday, May 03, 2002

To my surprise, when I got up this morning and checked the web for any news on Internet sales for AotC tickets, I saw that had started selling tickets around 2 AM. At 9 AM, I was able to get two tickets, one for me and one for my friend Jess (my wife hates Star Wars), for the 10:30 PM show on May 16 at the Ziegfield Theater in Manhattan. Apparently this is one of the best movie theaters in the city, though I've never had a chance to go there. I'm surprised that it was so quick and easy, and that only one show was sold out by that point (the 7 PM show). I should have bought more. I want to see it again soon after the first time, but I'm not sure yet when or where. Now I can't get onto the ticket sites; they're swamped with geeks like me clicking away furiously buying up all the shows they can. Anyway, now I'm way too excited about this for someone my age. By the time Episode III opens three years from now, I'll be way too old to be such a fanboy. I'll be pushing into "Comic Book Guy" territory.

Speaking of AotC (not much else on my mind today), I've got one of the tracks from the soundtrack on my PC at home. It's the main theme you hear in some of the commercials, possibly the "love theme." It's got a grand, sweeping quality to it, but it's in a minor key, hinting at the conflicts in the film. The trouble is that I can't figure out what meter it's in. I'm fairly certain the first bar is in 7/4, but the next few bars seem to be 6/4 or even 4/4. I listened to it a few times this morning but I couldn't work it out. Maybe it's in 9/4 or 12/4. It's really a tough one. I'll have to send the file to my brother and see if he can figure it out. Of the two of us, he's definitely got more natural musical talent.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Wow, that last entry really rambled. What was I on? I need an editor.

I'm back from my trip to VA, and back in the office. I get a comp day for my efforts there, which should dovetail with my plans to see Attack of the Clones the weekend it opens. I'm planning to see it either May 16 or 17, depending on when I can get tickets. In 1999, I lined up with several friends and saw The Phantom Menace at a midnight show. If I can pull that off again, I'll take my comp day the day after. Going to work the day after the midnight show was torture, though I remember having dinner and drinks with some of Liz's work friends later that day and enjoying rehashing the movie. A better option might be to get tickets for a matinee on May 16 or 17 and take the day off to see the movie. No matter what happens, I'm budgeting $50 to see the movie at least four or five times this summer. Maybe more, if it's as good as the previews indicate. I saw TPM four times in the theater, and by the fourth viewing I was nearly asleep in the long talky sections. This one shouldn't be as bad.

I had hoped to see Spider-man tomorrow but I think that will fall through. Liz wants to do something special, since I've been away for a few days. We did that last Friday and went out for an expensive dinner. I hope that's not what she wants this time; I don't think my wallet could take it. I can be so cheap sometimes.