Saturday, December 8, 2007

California vacation, Day 4: Wednesday November 21

For the entry on Wednesday, and the ones after, I got lazy. Rather than write out like a journal, I wrote down "keywords" to help me remember the events of the day. The original idea was to finish it right when I got back, but it's now been almost two weeks since we've been back. I've been slackin, and now all I have is some keywords. But I do remember most of it; had it not been for what I did write down, I wouldn't remember some of it. So here goes:

Wednesday morning was the first morning I was not the first to rise. I think Mom woke up first, then some other people, but I do know I was up before Jen. That's almost always a given when there's something to do. (On the other hand, on a day we both have off, she's always the first one up.) We had a very important task for a little later, but first things first - Mom made her famous biscuits and gravy. Nothing beats some real Southern biscuits and gravy, but Mom's are good too.

When we were done, we took a little trip up to Safeway - yep, the very same one we stopped at the night before on our own. Mom drove her car and Jen and I took the rental, because while Mom was coming right back, we were not. Mom was getting a dozen roses, and I picked up some allergy medicine. Then we were back on the road, headed north.

Most folks either bury or cremate their fallen. We (my mom's family) cremate, but we do it a little differently. The ashes are scattered somewhere in nature as decided by the individual or as assumed by the family. My mom's real dad was scattered at the ocean. My mom's stepdad was left at the river, and this is where we were leaving my grandmother. I had never taken part in such a ceremony before (I was too young) but I specifically requested this honor, and Mom agreed to wait until our visit. This was also new to Jen - her family is Catholic, so they bury. (Interestingly enough, at a wake for a family friend, I saw my first "body" and it was creepy as hell. I'm still a little creeped out by that.) I should note that the legality of this is questionable, but I don't question family traditions.

The ceremony was simple. We all said a little something about my grandmother, except Jen, who really didn't know her. Then my mom and I took turns pouring the ashes into the water. We then each lay or tossed a rose into the midst of it all, and then laid the remainder in the middle, close to the shore. As for what it looked like, it's hard to describe. If you've ever poured milk into coffee and didn't stir it, just watched it, it was kind of like that. Just beautiful. But then, while I don't claim any particular religion, I don't believe the body makes a person; after death, the physical remains are just that, and what made the person has either gone onto another place (as per Christianity) or has simply died (athiesm). Likewise my impression of seeing a body in a casket, it was like a very intricate mannequin, very disturbing in its realism.

This is where we parted ways with Mom. She headed straight home. This all took place at a spot at the Russian River just north of Cloverdale, a town where I spent a year and a half of hell in the early 90s when my dad had married this religious nut (and by nut I mean, for example, had literally put me on bread and water until I produced a 10-page report on my mother's "sinful ways" - I am sure she still has this and prizes it to this day). So even though there were some painful memories, it was a part of my past, and I wanted to show Jen where I come from. So I took her by the house (which by itself really is a nice place), showed her where my old friend Rodney (who we'd see Saturday) stayed, I showed her the schools and the hangouts and the burger place I discovered later, although we didn't stop anywhere. Once we were done, we got back on the freeway and headed back.

We tried to see my old friend Myles and his wife, Marie, but I couldn't find their place. I thought I had the right road, and I thought I spotted their place, but Myles' Suburban wasn't there. Someone could have been home, but I wasn't sure I had the right place (it HAS been over 2 years) so we kept going.

Our next stop on the tour of my past was Santa Rosa's preppy mall, Coddingtown, once owned by businessman/politician Hugh Codding. I was greatly surprised to see that SIMON now owned the mall - they also currently own the main mall as well - so I wonder what happened with the Codding family, but never bothered to ask anybody. I know Hugh unsuccessfully ran for mayor shortly before I left California, I dunno, maybe he lost a lot of money in that. Anyway, we stopped at the Sbarro, which was now "L.A. Italian Kitchen" - same thing, different name, higher prices. (Oddly enough Jen says if a mall loses its Sbarro, it's doomed to fail - Coddingtown lost its and came under new ownership, probably around the same time, but I know Coddingtown isn't going anywhere.) I also formally introduced Jen to See's Candy, a chocolate/candy brand on the West coast. Good stuff. We stopped in an old favorite gift shop of mine, International Imports. Same Indian (as in Middle East, not Native American) couple running it - real nice people. The Waldenbooks was now a Borders or something, so that's three brand changes I noticed. (Thursday's entry will have some focus on brand changes.)

After Cottontown (a slang name we gave it back in the day), it was onto the "Real" mall. The Santa Rosa Plaza kicks unholy amounts of ass - for a mall. Two stories. Brick all the way around. Three-level parking garage along the whole western side of it - the eastern side is basically downtown, north of it is old (but not the original, far from it) Santa Rosa, and south of it... a school and neighborhood, not a good part of town really. Anyway, Third Street actually goes UNDER the mall (the Food Court overlooks this, facing downtown (east)) and comes up in the old Downtown, now called Railroad Square, which Jen only saw a little of. Also, there's this cool hand sculpture outside the main entrance to the Plaza at Fourth Street (basically the heart of downtown is Fourth Street where Mendocino Avenue becomes Santa Rosa Avenue, and that's just a block east of the main entrance). Inside, the mall is two stories, with Macy's at the north end, Sears at the south end, Mervyns in the middle, and all three of them occupying both levels. Aside from that, the mall has about everything. Real cool place. I mean, it's a good excuse to walk - I circle both levels and that's probably a mile - yeah, the mall's gotta be at least a quarter mile long, if not more. We stopped at Burger King (had to show Jen the view) so she could get a vanilla shake, and I stopped at Surf City for a smoothie.

We had parked in the mall's parking garage, Macy's side. (My mom always parks on the Sears side and considers that the "front" or "start" of the mall, but since when I first went, we lived north of it, I always thought of the north side as the "front" or "start", so unless I actually have business in Sears, I'll park on the Macy's end, even though I don't shop at Macy's itself and actually prefer Sears and the shops that way.) So we left the mall via the main entrance, headed down Fourth Street. I pointed out all the downtown shops I knew about, and I thought I was on the wrong street when finally, almost to the library (three blocks from the mall) I found it: A blown-glass gift shop with a huge aquarium and some real unique gifts. They used to have a bulldog patrolling the store, but he wasn't there that day. They also have a glass-blowing station right there and do custom work. (If alarm bells went off in your head when you read "blown glass", yes they have smoking stuff there, and of course we looked at that - and we were there purely to admire, we bought nothing.) Jen had business at the bank, so we stopped by there, and then came back through the "park" that is the south corners of the aforementioned "heart of downtown".

We were sort of on a time schedule. See, this was a night I was looking forward to, because though I had been talking about Jambalaya, my favorite food, for a couple years, Mom never tried it. Well, I brought two boxes of it (good thing, I couldn't find it out there) and was planning on making it Wednesday night. So we did - and everybody loved it. We even watched a movie Mom wouldn't have thought to get on her own (on account of the WWE's involvement), The Condemned, starring former champion "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Everyone agreed that it was pretty good.

So all in all it was a good day. Jen got to see a lot of my history. We ate good food. And we watched a good movie. So the happiness eclipsed the sadness, which is always a plus. Only real bump in the road, the air mattress' pump wouldn't work. Turns out it doesn't run on AC power, but rather must charge, so we had to let it charge an hour or so before pumping up the bed. And of course the inevitable sleep.

...So yeah, I would say the "keyword" method works better for the blogging, since I went into much greater detail here than I have for the previous days, for which I simply copied the entry over and corrected a couple things.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

California vacation, Day 3: Tuesday November 20

Here I am, it's 10 to 7am here on the west coast, and Mother is snoring like a bear. I got up at 4:45am to write and go #2, and I was hoping people woulld be up as my writing is caught up and it has been 10 hours since we went to bed. I got my 8 or so and I'm good, about tempted to go look for breakfast or something.

But I didn't, as it's now Thursday/Thanksgiving morning as I write this, and I am once again looking back a couple of days.

So... Tuesday morning. Mom gets up, makes some coffee, by now we're all getting up and getting ready. There are a couple tacos left over from last night; Jen and I each have one. Our nephew has part of one of those apple treats they have now.

First things first: take the kid home. He stays with his other grandparents - his mother's parents. We don't stay too long, though as we're all pretty hungry.

On the way back - which in total is about a 4 hour drive/ride, but rather early in the trip, we stop at this place called 50's Roadhouse, expecting breakfast but finding they only do that on the weekends! So it's burgers and fries and shakes around the table. Good stuff. Then we continue the long drive.

Jen and I are so happy to be back in Santa Rosa, as the back seat of a 2000 Honda Accord isn't nearly roomy enough for us. But it was cool, because it was like a trip within a trip. Which we will actually be doing again, when Friday we go see my favorite cousins in Fresno - although that time, I will be driving.

So we're back, and we go to see my brother. He's staying near where we used to live, so it's real easy to find his place. We pretty much checked out the place, the computer, and some Xbox 360 games. Stayed there for a couple hours, then Jen and I went for dinner.

We ate at a "real" Mexican taqeria, one that my mother had been going to for years. It had been redecorated and all the prices had about doubled, but oh was it worth it. I got a chicken burrito and Jen played it safe, got the nachos. About $35 to eat there, but again, it was really good.

After that, we went up to Safeway for chips and salsa, chicken and sausage. I had been telling Jen about Safeway's awesome store brand salsa, she wanted proof, so I made it happen.

We got home a little later than Mother would have liked, and went to sleep.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

California vacation, Day 2: Monday November 19

As would prove to be a trend, I was the first one awake. So I took my DS to the recliner, and continued writing Sunday's blog. (In fact, as I write this, it is Tuesday morning and I am doing the same, writing Monday's blog.)

Once people started getting up, I found a coffee cup, and made me some hot cocoa. I'm talking Nestle cocoa, holiday-themed marshmallows, and a splash of milk for good measure. Too good. Then I got Jen up and made her some, too. She loved it, everyone who had some did. We left early in the morning yet on time with our plan, to drive near Sonora, CA (4 hours away) to pick up Dan's 5 year old son to spend a day together. It was a long drive, stopping only once to stretch and get coffee or other drinks. We passed the hotel we'd stay at, and about a half hour later we were up in the mountains, picked my nephew up at his other grandparents' place.

We went into town, and started at this lame park, but that wasn't working out, so we moved on to some antique stores. Antique stores used to bore me, but I mind less and less the older I get. I found some Star Trek trading cards; Jen got a sewing book for her mother and some postcards. In another store, I got some coffee.

We got a hotel room for the night, and went to the park. This was a real nice park, too. Palm trees (new to Jen), a memorial to the ends of four major wars, and a huge play area. A local girl of about 4 showed up with her dad, and my nephew about fell in love, wouldn't leave her alone for a minute, nor she him. As usual I got a bunch of pictures.

Dinner was Taco Bell. Out here on the west coast, the chili was discontinued in the 90s, so they didn't have the chili nachos they advertise at home, so I got the current special and a taco. We ate back at the room, and watched TV for a bit. Judge Judy, Law & Order CI, and Law & Order SVU. Lights went out at 9, just before RAW started. And as I said before, once again I was up before anyone, in a comfy chair, writing my vacation memoirs on a PDA modified Nintendo DS.

Monday, November 26, 2007

California vacation, Day 1: Sunday November 18

A quick foreword: I've been on vacation this past week, in Northern California, mostly in my hometown of Santa Rosa, CA but other places as well. This particular post was actually written on my Nintendo DS. If there are any typos, sorry. I'll try to catch some manually, but I don't mess with spellcheck. I started writing it on the plane, I think, but it got written over a 2-3 day period.

Unlike a lot of people, I love to fly. The takeoff which scares many, as well as the landing, I find exhilirating. The change in altitude and pressure does not bother me in the least. I don't even mind turbulence.

I used to associate air travel with sadness. In fact the last time I left Raleigh-Durham International, it was the first time I had to say goodbye to Jennifer; even though it was the first time we told one another out loud that we loved each other, it was also the end to perhaps the best week of my life.

So anyway, my story of the hectic day of the 18th of November 2007 started a few hours before the day itself, on Sarurday. I woke up around 10pm, having slept all day. I'd tried to stay up until 3:30, when Jen would get home from work, but by 2:15 I was pretty dizzy with exhaustion, having been up since Friday around 1pm. (Of course, at this point, times are all Eastern.)

As you might imagine, neither of us had packed. Oh, we had been planning. I made the checklist, got the USB flash drive set up, and was/had burning/ed a bunch of data discs with stuff like our digital photo collection. (3 DVD+R discs for 3.5 years of pictures and video - minus the naughty stuff of course.

So we packed. Boring stuff, you know. I found it interesting that we took an hour long break to watch Law & Order SVU. Mom even called near the end - I told her I'd call her right back... I never do that! Funny thing, these crime dramas. Even though it's about a guy with MPD who rapes 11-year old girls who remind him of his sister, who he watched get gangraped when she was that age. Stuff like that really pisses me off, but hell, I can't look away from a crime drama if I'm watching it.

Jen's sister and her boyfriend get there around 3am. We're both showered, cleaned up and fed, and we were... mostly packed. We got our asses in gear and got stuff done in about 15 minutes. We get about 4 miles away - almost to NC Hwy. 33 - when I realized I'd forgotten the itinirary, which has confirmation codes we later realized we needed as both the airline and the car rental place would have just needed our names and drivers' license. But we went back and got it.

Besides stopping for gas, coffee, and Benadryl (I could not stop sneezing), the trip to RDU was mostly uneventful. We arrived after only asking for directions once (and all three of us, including Jen's sister, went to the bathroom in the mens' room in less time than Jen spent in the ladies' room).

They dropped us off at the Delta terminal and took off. We got our tickets printed there (yay for Yahoo! Travel) and were on our way. Airport security was tighter than ever. We had to take off our shoes in addition to thee usual stuff, and on top of that had to dig tthrough our suitcase and check for explosives (drugs too?) because the X-ray detected ceramics (gifts we had, like a coffee cup). But I don't complain. I arrive 90 minutes to 2 hours early when I fly.

Before we boarded the first flight, to Salt Lake City (SLC), I called my brother-in-law to see how things were going. They were lost! Raleigh is infamous for bad signage and getting folks lost. If RDU weren't the closest international airport by far... but it is. Anyway, they were just getting right when I called.

The long flight was just that. But it was OK. Jen watched the in-flight movie, Transformers (2007). Well, slept through most of it. I just played a whole lotta Castlevania on my DS (Portrait of Ruin and Dawn of Sorrow are two of the DS's best games and I brought both). They served two snacks, the first being a snack pack including raisins, rosemary crackers, a kinnd of garlic cream cheese spread, and a shortbread cookie. We both chose water to drink with both snacks, a cute little Daisani bottle, all of 8.5 ounces. The second snack was these ginger/maple cookies that were just awesome.

The shorter flight however, SLC to SFO, got delayed; apparently they had a faulty generator. So we had to taxi back to the gate while they put another one in. An hour or so later, we took off. I remember a woman behind us hadd this to say about the plane: "First there was the Wright brothers, then there's this plane." At least it was a jet. I've flown in a propeller-driven plane, if you want to talk about "roughing it".

We arrived at SFO late, good thing nobody was waiting for us. We took a few turns,, went up an elevator, across a bridge over the road and up another elevator to a train station, which we took to the car rental place. Long story short we drove off in a fully insured 2008 Nissan Versa hatchback. It's a gutless 4-banger, but it drives nice and I bet it gets good gas mileage.

So we're out, in a new car, in South San Francisco, which is NOT San Francisco, as I found out when 19th Street wasn't the one CA 280 from San Jose becomes - and we were lost. But hey, I was back in California and loving it. I found the Golden Gate Bridge and we were good to go.

In Petaluma (about halfway home), we stopped so I could show Jen where I worked when we first started talking on the phone. I knew they had changed their name, but the building wasn't even theirs now! The shipping company DHL is there now. Well, we continued north.

I cannot put into words what I felt driving through my old hometown. I was only gone 26 months but so much had changed. And yet a lot was the same. It was good to be back but still no longer my home. Mom had gotten two pizzas, and we visited for a couple hours when we decided to go see Dan, my youngest brother. He works as a bouncer at a club downtown. Talked to him for a few, then left for a drive around town.

We got back, blew up the inflatable mattress, and went to sleep.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The latest and last update on the puppies

Well, the last of the puppies - the last of the dogs, as a matter of fact - has just left with her new owner. A brief history:

Jen had a dog before, Mojo, who had contracted mange, possibly from a snake bite, and had to be put to sleep shortly after I moved out here. Then Mojo's mother had another litter, and Jen and I picked out Sammy. A few days later, her mom brought Sammy out, and the stuff to build a pen. We put the pen up, and Sammy had a home outside.

A year or so later, we felt Sammy had outgrown the pen. We bought a chain so she could run around, but still reach her doghouse, though she never used it, even in the rain. (Please don't misunderstand, for some reason she loved the rain.)

In mid-August 2007, our friends, online and off, convinced us that it was wrong to keep Sammy on the chain. We decided that it would be in her best interest to find her a better home, but nobody would take her. We put an ad on Craigslist, a free personals/classifieds site, but nobody there was interested, either.

On September 14, I was crippled by a plantar wart and in bed under doctor's orders, when Jen reported that Sammy was pregnant. That night, we heard howling, and Sammy had given birth to eight puppies. Four of each gender.

We lost one puppy in the first week. All we know is that one got stuck in the fence and might have been hurt. We broke our shovel trying to bury him, so we put him far out in the field.

A friend from work got the first puppy, but had to bring him back the next day, unable to keep him.

We put ads on the Craigslist and Freecycle sites for the puppies, and for one week in the Carolina Bargain Trader. We got a few calls, but once they learned the puppies weren't pure Rottweiler, they lost interest (even though we said in the ads that they were mixed). One guy even came out, drove an hour, saw them, and decided he didn't want any. We updated the Craigslist posting with the urgency that the dogs had to go by mid-November, or we would have to take the remaining dogs to a shelter (we had looked up no-kill shelters on the ASPCA website and said as much).

Within an hour of updating the Craigslist ad, I was contacted by a woman in Raleigh, 2 hours away. She wanted two males - one for her and one for a co-worker. We agreed to meet her halfway, in the town of Wilson. She told us if we had problems getting rid of any of the puppies, to let her know.

We were contacted via email by a lady from the Outer Banks (a few hours away, right on the coast) who wanted one, said she was going to a wedding on Saturday and would be passing through on Sunday, and would like the last male. We said we couldn't promise anything, so she said she has a brother-in-law in Blackjack (about 10 minutes away) who could take one and hold it for her. I told her I'd meet him at the Blackjack Store (where I occasionally shoot pool) any time and give him the puppy.

A few days later, we were contacted by a couple in Kinston, 45 minutes away, who wanted the last remaining male. I gave them directions and they said they'd be on their way and would call us when they got close. A few minutes later I got another call, this time from a couple on the road, who happened to be real close by, wanting the last male. I told them he was being picked up, so they said they'd look at the females.

While waiting for these two couples to come, I heard someone at the front door. I was still getting dressed, so I didn't make it there right away, but got there perhaps a minute or two later. Someone from Animal Control had stuck a note on the door, saying Sammy had bitten a neighbor's dog. I tried to call, but of course they were already closed.

The "closer" couple got here first. I put the male in the pen and let them choose from the four females. They fell in love with one almost immediately and took her. As they were leaving, the Kinston couple called, and couldn't find our driveway! I directed them to where a minivan (the other couple) was leaving. They took the male, and seemed happy with him. That brought us to three females.

On Monday, I called Animal Control right when I got up (early afternoon - hey, I work nights). They said that our neighbor was coming home, had her dog on a leash, and Sammy ran up and bit her dog, and then ran off. I knew the story was fishy and told the guy so. He said regardless we'd have to get a rabies shot for Sammy, and the neighbor wanted $45 for her vet bill, but AC wasn't going to enforce it, simply suggesting if it happened the way she said, we ought to pay it. When I talked to Jen, the truth came out. Sure enough, Sammy had been on her chain the whole time. If there was a bite, it actually happened on our property. What probably happened is her dog got away from her, came back to see the puppies, and got bit. Being a "responsible pet owner", she didn't let the vet know the whole story, who probably suggested we contact Animal Control and try to stick us with the bill. The lady's been avoiding us, even avoiding looking at us, ever since - either she had a conscience attack or realized we weren't fooled.

We contacted the Outer Banks lady to inform her the last male had been adopted, but we had the females. She consulted a vet, and her family, and said that would be acceptable - but still no concrete time to meet her or her brother-in-law.

Monday night, a lady from Jacksonville (about an hour and a half away) called and said she wanted one of the girls. Normally I would go watch Monday Night RAW, but this was more important. She actually didn't get here until about 11:30pm (so I didn't have to miss it, really), fell in love with one, but needed a can of dog food, not being able to go shopping until the morning. We gladly gave her one (being as that we wouldn't need it before long).

The next day, Jen transferred one of her contacts to me, being as he sounded serious. (A few people had contacted her, via Freecycle, but weren't really serious.) I had him meet me Wednesday. He wanted both of the last puppies, but I told him about the Outer Banks lady. She sounded flaky, but something told me she was more serious. I offered him Sammy, since we'd need to find a home for her, too. He warmed right up to Sammy, and left with Sammy and one of the girls.

Yesterday (Thursday) we got an email from the lady in Jacksonville. Her puppy had gotten worms. It was pretty sad, since we had heard great things from most of the other adopters. She wasn't real clear, whether the puppy would live or die. I wish we would have known, but there wouldn't be anything we could do here. We certainly wouldn't be able to afford to take it to the vet for that - she said treating it was/would be costly. But, y'know, a free puppy... You can't expect someone to have fixed it, given it all its shots - else it wouldn't be free. We didn't charge for the extra dog food we were out. You get a free puppy, it gets sick and needs special care, well, you have a choice. You spend the money and get it well, or you don't, and get another free puppy the next week, they're always available. Sad, but that's the world. If more dogs were fixed, there'd be fewer unwanted puppies, and the ones there were would be valued higher... But then the same could be said about humans, though nobody would like to.

Today, the Outer Banks lady hadn't written back (I gave her until today, since the last puppy was real lonely) and she hasn't written back. I can only assume she found a puppy closer, or has lost interest (or might be having computer problems, I guess that's possible). Either way, we couldn't keep the last puppy any longer, so we called the guy who'd taken Sammy and the other puppy, and he just left with her an hour or so ago.

So now all we have left is the pen. Which I plan to take down in the next couple days. And I guess that's that.

We've learned a fair bit from all this. First of all, we learned that we really aren't the best people to have a dog, certainly not one Sammy's size. She wasn't big, but on the bigger side of medium. We didn't have the room for her. We're not allowed to have dogs inside, and we don't have a fenced-in yard. The animal rights people got on us for having her on a chain, but unless you got some good money, you gotta face reality. A dog's got to be on a chain or in a pen, or you can't really have one. So we made the hard choice to not have one.

We also learned it's important to get an animal fixed. Our cat came fixed, that's great. If we'd have gotten Sammy fixed, sure six puppies wouldn't have made people happy - but they could have found other puppies, easily. One wouldn't have made my wife cry (the first one) and one wouldn't cause such heartache for a couple we don't even otherwise know.

We'll get another dog, down the road. We'll buy a home, either a double-wide trailer or a modular home, with some land. We'll have a fence, and then we'll get a dog. We won't take the first one that comes our way, either. We'll think about it, we'll talk it over, we'll shop around. We won't limit ourselves to the freebies, either. We'll probably pay for a dog. We'll probably take it to the vet within a couple days, make sure it has its shots, make sure it's fixed, make sure it's healthy. We'll definitely keep it inside and housebreak it, so it goes out (or gets us to let it out) when it's got to "go". We'll learn from this, and next time we'll do things right.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Why do people hold pro wrestling being fake against it?

I don't get it. I'm only a WWE fan as of around this time in 2005, and I love it - for what it is. My favorite shows are the 1990s Star Trek - Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager - and I know Star Trek isn't real. There's no question that the popular TV shows - Seinfeld, Friends, Full House, whatever - aren't real. They're scripted serial stories that their fans watch faithfully every week.

RAW - the one I watch the most and can speak the most about - isn't like most TV shows. Like others, the characters act their roles fairly convincingly, and entertain the audience. While Vince McMahon really is the chairman of WWE, the company, the company exists in the fiction, or kayfabe as it's called in the pro wrestling industry, and Mr. McMahon, the character, doesn't reflect the real Vince McMahon, but is based on him. (A couple wrestlers' books paint the real Vince McMahon as serious, businesslike, professional, and a little quiet.)

And then WWE itself, in real life, is merely an entertainment company. They make money providing entertainment. On the show, though, they're a bona fide wrestling federation with real championships. None of the belts hold any merit whatsoever, but does it matter? I mean, how much would it have mattered if Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ended with the Dominion winning? Not at all, because it's a fictional world.

There's nothing at all real about the outcome of the matches. The polls (Cyber Sunday, the Diva Search, et al) are rigged. However the action is real. It's practised, it's rehearsed, but special effects are very minimal, limited to pyrotechnics, and what you see them doing is mostly authentic. Sure, punches are pulled, and some objects they use as weapons don't hurt as much as they let on (they "sell" the moves, as it were), but the acrobatic stuff (e.g. Jeff Hardy's Swanton Bomb) isn't done with bungee cords, it's real enough.

I think they were really fooling people in the 70s and 80s, but now I think most people who sit down and watch Monday Night RAW pretty much know what's going on. The kayfabe may not be as transparent to them as it is to me, but I'm sure it's not as opaque as the performers pretend it is. They may not know that, after a bloody match, Triple H and Randy Orton share a drink and some laughs by the refreshment table backstage, but they know the outcome is predetermined and the match, rehearsed. Or at least most of them do.

So why do people like me like wrestling? Same reason I like Star Trek. It's not real, but it's sure as hell entertaining.

For more information, click the word Kayfabe above to learn about it, it's a little different than fiction, but the differences are hard to explain.

Monday, November 5, 2007

We almost got scammed in relation to a "dog bite" incident

As you may have read, we have to be rid of our dog and her puppies by the middle of this month for reasons I can't fully go into. Suffice it to say, we are trying to have them adopted by "real people" but if that is not possible, we have someone (who adopted the first two) who said she would take the rest of the puppies if it came to taking them to a shelter. We did look into no-kill shelters run/financed/approved by the ASPCA, so we're not talking about putting them to sleep, we're talking about shelters which will try harder than we know how, to find homes for them.

Anyhow, last Thursday, two other puppies got adopted, taking us from 5 to 3. It was great, because someone had called us from about 2 hours away and were coming up, and while they were on their way, another couple called and said they wanted one as well. So I hear someone on the doorstep, and I'm thinking they're here already, but I didn't hear a vehicle. I'm doing something else, but nobody knocked. When I get to the door, only a minute or so later, there's a piece of paper stuck to the door, from Animal Control. The note says that our dog bit a neighbor's dog, and we need to get a rabies vaccination in 72 hours or they'll issue a warrant. I call, and of course they're closed. I guess they've been shot at or something, so they had to put the notice up real incognito. I guess, anyway.

Next day, Friday of last week. I call and set up our dog to get rabies shots - $12 - at a local veterinary office. I then ask what happened. Wednesday, according to the neighbor, the animal control officer tells me, our neighbor out front was coming home (he didn't say what time, or from what she was coming home from), had her dog on a leash, and our dog came running up, bit her dog in the face, and ran off. And that she isn't pressing charges, but wants us to pay her $45 vet bill to fix her dog up. I ask if that's through them or what, and he says no, animal control just requires the rabies vaccination, the rest is between us.

I talk to Jen about it, and my suspicions are confirmed. Sammy was on the chain when Jen left for work Wednesday. I was home all day (well, I left for work at 9:30pm). When Jen got home (12:30AM Thursday morning), Sammy was still chained. Remember, that on Wednesday we had five puppies in the pen back there.

Here's what happened, from a more logical point of view. The neighbor lady got home, got out of her vehicle, and her dog got away from her. Her dog smelled something new in the air (the puppies). Her dog came around back to take a look. Her dog got close enough and Sammy bit her. This fits because, 1) Sammy was chained the whole time, and 2) you know what happens when a dog gets between another dog and her puppies. People can mess with the puppies all they want, but other animals, it's a different story. And 3) this lady has like 5 dogs, who's to say she has full control over all of them all the time? We have one dog that isn't in a pen, and she was chained all that day. Ergo, she did not leave our backyard.

Here's what's interesting, though. The neighbor says she tried to talk to us. Not so - she's seen my wife come and go a few times. She doesn't see me - I leave late at night and come back early in the morning. Jen says today, on the way to work, her dogs were barking and she came outside, and actually avoided looking at my wife.

What I think happened, is the lady watched her dog get away, maybe approached our place, heard the scuffle, her dog came running back, face bloody, so she took it to the vet. The vet advised her to call animal control, and either the vet or animal control gave her the idea that if her dog had been bitten on her property while her dog was leashed, we would be liable for the vet bill, so that's the story she gave animal control. She must have assumed animal control would convince us to just up and pay her the $45, and when we didn't walk over there, check in hand, she realized they hadn't. Or maybe she came back and looked at Sammy, and saw Sammy was chained, and realized we'd know that the bite took place on our property, with our dog chained, and her dog running free - in which case the liability is hers alone.

It's just messed up, because there's no fence between our properties, and Jen used to cut part of her grass. She would only cut what was just in front of her trailer, where her car parks and dogs run. She wouldn't cut all the way to the electrical box, which is the pre-established "line". She'd leave about 10-15 feet of grass, times the width of the yard (maybe 3-4 times that). Not much, but on top of our own yard it's a lot. And my wife loves to cut our grass - so I let her. And she's cut the neighbor's grass as well. But not anymore. We don't really know this lady. We don't know her name. We aren't social. But Jen figured on doing that small favor, just because. Well, no more. This lady doesn't know us and thought she'd get us to pay $45 that we really don't have because of her own negligence. Hey, accidents happen, and I sympathize with her dog, but it shouldn't have gotten between Sammy and her puppies. And this lady should have controlled her dog better.

Besides, we're not even 100% sure it was Sammy to begin with. Not only was Sammy on her chain the whole time, but assuming the lady was telling the truth about the way things happened, it had to have been another dog. So it's another dog. She takes her dog to the vet, the vet tells her if she knew what dog, she might get the bill reimbursed by the owner. Sammy HAS gotten out before. The neighbor lady knows this. So maybe she just blamed Sammy because she wanted someone else to pay the bill.

Either way, it's not on us, and it'll be a non-issue in a couple weeks when we haven't got Sammy anymore. And no, I'm not really saddened by that... Sure I am, a little, but the fact is we really haven't got the facilities to care for a dog of her size and temperament. We can leave her outside, but that's only OK in the summer. In the winter, she should perhaps be indoors, but we can't keep a dog inside. It's a bad mix anyway, us having a dog in these conditions. If we were allowed to have a dog, we should have a real small one. We have a cat now, we're happy with the cat, she's potty trained, and generally OK. A cat's fine. A Rhodesian Ridgeback/Rottweiler, not so much so.

Friday, October 26, 2007

My WWE:Cyber Sunday 2007 predictions (and votes)

WWE calls Cyber Sunday (formerly Taboo Tuesday) "the most interactive Pay-Per-View of the year". Because, unlike the others, they have a mock voting setup on their site, inviting fans to "vote" on various aspects of the matches. In some, fans can vote for a champ's opponent. In some, fans can vote on the match type. And there are some where fans can vote on a special guest referee. Of course, the voting is fake, just a way for WWE to pander to the few marks who still believe it's real. Not that this is a bad thing, by any means, if it makes the fans feel they're a part of something, that's good. But just like any PPV WWE puts out, all the matches are scripted weeks or months in advance and well practiced. So the outcomes were determined before the "voting" began.

So not only will I post my predictions, but my "votes" as well. I didn't just vote, though, I actually played along. My wife and I, for the most part, discussed each one and voted what we thought would be the best. Not always what we'd want to see, but would be the best business-wise, since we are certainly not your average marks.

Now, here's the card as posted on

WWE Championship Match (Fans' Choice)
World Heavyweight Championship Match (Fans choose the guest referee)
ECW Championship Match (Fans' choice)
Triple H vs. Umaga (Fans pick the stipulation)
MVP vs. Matt Hardy (Fans choose the stipulation)

The WWE Championship match is between newly-crowned champ Randy Orton (who was "awarded" the belt after Cena's injury, lost it to Triple H, and won it back from Triple H, all at No Mercy, the last PPV), and the fans choose the opponent, between Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy, Mr. Kennedy, and Shawn Michaels.

We voted for Mr. Kennedy, because he's a rising star after being drafted to RAW from SmackDown, and he was the one who put Cena out. However, I predict Shawn Michaels will be in the match. Randy Orton put HIM out a month or two ago, and his return the day after No Mercy pretty much guaranteed a feud. Triple H is after the WWE's top honor as well, so I predict, as do others, a feud between Triple H and his old tag-team partner (Michaels) if Shawn Michaels wins. However, Orton just won it, and they like to build credibility for the title by not moving it much. So I predict Randy Orton will defeat Shawn Michaels.

For the World Heavyweight match, which is the top title on SmackDown, we have Batista vs. Undertaker, fans choose the referee, between "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

This was a tough one, but we voted for Mick Foley, just because he's our favorite. No other reason here. Stone Cold is our prediction, though. Foley is underutilized, but Stone Cold draws crowds, and everyone likes seeing him (including us). JBL would be a real surprise. He's one of the announcers on SmackDown, used to perform a few years back, nothing too special or appealing about him. As for the match, if it were Wrestlemania, Batista wouldn't have a shot at breaking Taker's 15-0 record, but it's not, so I think Batista will hold onto his title.

In the ECW Championship match, the fans choose champion CM Punk's opponent. Will it be John Morrison (formerly Johnny Nitro of MNM), the WWE's knockoff of the 60s rockstar; the 500lb. Big Daddy V (formerly Viscera); or The Miz?

We voted for Big Daddy V, and that's my prediction for who WWE has lined up to go against CM Punk. Nobody stands in the way of this guy - how could they? And he's been being pushed lately. John Morrison is a former champion, and the pattern ECW has established in its year-plus history (not counting pre-WWE ECW) is one of passing the belt around, each person holding it for a few months, and dropping it to someone credible. I don't see The Miz as being credible, and I don't see it going back to Johnny Nitro. Big Daddy V, like Big Show before him, is more than credible and it would be hard to take it from him. But I don't think the WWE would be writing themselves into a corner giving V the belt, not at all.

For Triple H versus Umaga, the fans pick the stipulation. Will it be a street fight (anything goes, win by pinfall or submission inside the ring)? Or a First Blood match (first one to bleed, loses)? Or a steel cage match (cage lowered around ring, win by pinfall, submission, by climbing over cage and landing on the ground, or by walking out of the cage via door)?

A street fight would be nice. Triple H could get his trusty sledgehammer out and work Umaga over with that. First Blood would be a bad choice, because both of these guys can and will fight well after first blood. So we voted for steel cage. As my wife put it, Umaga would have nowhere to run. I asked what if Umaga gets to the door. My wife: Triple H won't let him get that far. What we're talking about is the 2 or 3 times Umaga has run from Triple H, despite being the monster the WWE uses to squash "new talent".

Then we have MVP vs. Matt Hardy, which has been one of the best feuds in the WWE in recent years. MVP is this real snobbish SOB who basically believes he's better than everyone, including other performers, including the fans, including his tag-team partner Matt Hardy, who pretty much wins their matches and defends their belts while MVP watches. When they're not in matches, they commonly have these little games. Chess, pushups, beer drinking, pizza eating, whatever. Either Matt Hardy wins and MVP comes up with an excuse, or MVP cheats. So it's just real funny. In their Cyber Sunday match, they can either have a boxing match, a wrestling match, or a mixed martial arts match.

We voted for boxing, just because it would be different. A wrestling match? That's what they do anyway. Mixed martial arts? I don't think either of them know any. This was just a stupid match anyway, but that's all MVP vs. Matt Hardy is, just good dumb fun. Nothing wrong with that.

Also, beyond the matches, there's a little surprise WWE has been gearing up for. The trouble is, some of the smarter fans had it figured out weeks ago. I kept my mind open, but now that it has been confirmed, I dare speak and ruin the surprise. Former superstar Chris Jericho, aka Y2J, is returning, either Sunday or Monday. It hasn't been specified which.

Around Summerslam or Unforgiven (before No Mercy), the WWE started running a promo on its shows which featured Matrix-like code, with references to SAVE_US.222, SAVE_US.X29, 2ND_COMING, REV_25:15, stuff like that. Just a little 15 second clip that's been confusing people. My wife was one of the first ones to call it. "Oh, that sounds like what Chris Jericho does" and then she dismissed it. But people denied it. Wikipedia pretty much gave it away, actually; once it was finalized, I believe, Wikipedia began silencing people, preventing any discussion of it. (I think Vince McMahon donated some money, suggested they do so. Usually Wikipedia isn't like that.) I then read on that he was returning to the WWE, after several promotional telecasts, it said. Then I read an unofficial report that the WWE was planning on doing it at Cyber Sunday, but USA wanted better ratings and were encouraging them to wait for Monday Night RAW on the 29th. Since X is 10 in Roman numerals, it could be suggested that the SAVE_US.X29 is pointing to Monday (the 29th). 222? I guess that just coincides with the second career segment of this guy.

Some fans consider it a done deal. Then again, the WWE has staged surprises before, so there's really no telling. But all the signs point to Jericho.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Automatically type backwards, no joke

Of course I have to start with the story as to how I found this. Years ago, I was a member at the test board for the Invision Power Board forum platform. The board installation on their site, which was probably first a test board and announcement system, had evolved into a community, led by the IPS staff. I ran a board running IPB in those days, and left the community shortly after they shut my board down, not for not paying or anything, but because I suggested someone might be able to find a game they were looking for on eMule. Didn't provide a download, just told them where to get the program and how to search. Basically a load of BS, but I guess they were covering their asses. Still, lesson learned: Don't trust a program that can stab you in the back. If you pay for it, it should serve you, not someone else.

Anyway, I had heard the name HydrogenAudio a couple times, it was supposed to be the authority on digital audio. The name stuck in the back of my mind, and having a question about MP3 I'd been meaning to ask for a while, I finally signed up on their forums, asked my question, and was looking around, when I came across this little bit.

There is a certain character that, if you copy and paste it, everything afterwards is typed in reverse. Sound dangerous? Well, it is... various sites have voiced a concern about it being used for various illicit purposes. I guess you can think you're getting a picture, video, or song, and you're really getting a virus. I mean, "EXE.STUFF.MP3" looks like a song file, but backwards it's "3PM.FFUTS.EXE" which Windows will try to execute as code. And if it really is code, as opposed to sound, you may be up the creek. But this wouldn't be here, in this blog posting, this would be in an email or on a web site that's set up to cheat you in the first place. In other words, by itself the character is not harmful, just tricky.

A character, for the non-technical, is a letter, a number, a symbol, a space, something like that. It's computer language. The word "blog" is four characters, and "Nathan's Blog" is 13 characters, because we count the letters, the apostrophe, and the space.

Here's more information on the potential danger of this character.

And a link to the page I got this information from:

Now for the fun part. I post the character - and then I'll copy the entire blog thus far and paste it after the character - that is, in reverse. (PS: Use it wisely.)


Of course I have to start with the story as to how I found this. Years ago, I was a member at the test board for the Invision Power Board forum platform. The board installation on their site, which was probably first a test board and announcement system, had evolved into a community, led by the IPS staff. I ran a board running IPB in those days, and left the community shortly after they shut my board down, not for not paying or anything, but because I suggested someone might be able to find a game they were looking for on eMule. Didn't provide a download, just told them where to get the program and how to search. Basically a load of BS, but I guess they were covering their asses. Still, lesson learned: Don't trust a program that can stab you in the back. If you pay for it, it should serve you, not someone else.

Anyway, I had heard the name HydrogenAudio a couple times, it was supposed to be the authority on digital audio. The name stuck in the back of my mind, and having a question about MP3 I'd been meaning to ask for a while, I finally signed up on their forums, asked my question, and was looking around, when I came across this little bit.

There is a certain character that, if you copy and paste it, everything afterwards is typed in reverse. Sound dangerous? Well, it is... various sites have voiced a concern about it being used for various illicit purposes. I guess you can think you're getting a picture, video, or song, and you're really getting a virus. I mean, "EXE.STUFF.MP3" looks like a song file, but backwards it's "3PM.FFUTS.EXE" which Windows will try to execute as code. And if it really is code, as opposed to sound, you may be up the creek. But this wouldn't be here, in this blog posting, this would be in an email or on a web site that's set up to cheat you in the first place. In other words, by itself the character is not harmful, just tricky.

A character, for the non-technical, is a letter, a number, a symbol, a space, something like that. It's computer language. The word "blog" is four characters, and "Nathan's Blog" is 13 characters, because we count the letters, the apostrophe, and the space.

Here's more information on the potential danger of this character.

And a link to the page I got this information from:

Now for the fun part. I post the character - and then I'll copy the entire blog thus far and paste it after the character - that is, in reverse.
(PS: Use it wisely.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jolly PC goes low-tech with multimedia

So last year sometime, I bought a TV tuner. For the technically unintiated, this basically adds the inputs from the back of a TV, to the back of your computer. There are more advanced ones (some come with remotes, for example; mine does not) but I got mine for a fair price. Around $80 if I remember right. It didn't do all that it said, but we were able to hook up a VCR to it and copy over some tapes. Didn't like the results so we just left it alone, figured it would be better in Windows Media Center, when we go to Vista, which will be whenever Micro$oft work all the bugs out.

The other day, Jen called the local rock station with a funny story, and I thought of the TV tuner. Not only does it have an FM tuner, it came with an antenna, which was currently connected! So I scrambled looking for a program that would receive a radio signal. Now you want to hear something sad? 2007 and the only "radio program" I could find was $30 and lets you jack a radio in through the sound card. Now what in the blue hell will that do? Great, you still gotta tune it the old fashioned way, all you're doing is importing sound, which has been possible for free for years. Hell, it's built into Windows, Windows 95 and newer. I don't know who that company thought they were fooling, but not me.

I checked on the CD, but it was nothing but drivers.

So I wrote to the company that makes my TV tuner card. I noticed on the web page it said the device could play FM Radio. That about set me off. So I email them, and I ask them just how I'm supposed to play FM radio on it. They tell me there's a new version of the CD, and I can download its contents. 52MB but Jen and I were stepping out for a bit anyway, so I started the download. This installed, among other things, a radio program. We open it up, and it plays perfectly. We configure half (5) of the presets to local stations we know, and I teach Jen how to record from the radio using the free audio editor Audacity. I mean, sure we can download music, but if the radio station comes in perfectly clear, we can record what should be a near-perfect quality Mp3 in the time it takes to listen to the song, crop the recording down, and save it in the appropriate directory.

So yes, we have working FM radio on our already so-badass-it-kicks-your-computer's-ass PC. That really hit home when I was channelsurfing looking for more presets (added a classical station, a lite rock station, and a rap station just to fill presets) and the Delilah program came on. It reminded me how much I hated hearing that corny program whenever it came on - and how much I hate the "Hey There Delilah" song (even though it's apparently about a completely different Delilah). But, sanity is returning. Metallica's on, on the rock station, and not that new "hey let's impress teenagers" new stuff they got, I'm talkin "For Whom the Bell Tolls" from 1984. From back when they still had heart. "Take a look to the sky before you die, it's the last time you will." (Lyrics say "he will" but if you listen to it, it's "you will". Guess they changed it at the last minute.) I wouldn't put this song on if it were me. I'd probably play something I play a lot, so sometimes it's nice to pass the controls over to somewhere else. They pick something really annoying, I can just change the station.

There's a button on the radio for CD. This closes the radio and opens Winamp. Stupid. It probably just calls whatever program Windows uses for Audio CDs. At least it didn't open Windows Media Player, that thing takes longer than Windows itself to start up. OK, so I go back to it, and click the TV button. It doesn't work, as it can't find any channels. OK, what can I do about that? We can get a few channels in the bedroom - due to another antenna. So I take that and hook it up to the computer. I try the TV program again, and it can pick up six channels over the antenna. Judge Mathis, Montel's show, and some other crap. I didn't expect anything great, but hey, I'm happy as a pig in shit, I got my computer to watch TV.

Now, down the road, when we get satellite (or cable, if we can get Suddenlink to serve our area) we can hook the box right up to the TV and switch from computer to DVD player to satellite (or cable) to computer... OR I can run it through the TV Tuner (maybe I can do both?) and pull it in through the computer. Fullscreen, it'd be the same thing - I can still control it from the couch with the remote - but with the added option of being able to record. Yep, DVR for free. I could and record
WWE Monday Night RAW and be doing something else, like playing my DS, or watching it as it records, and then watch it again with Jen when she gets home.

Heh... Pearl Jam on the radio now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I hate dreams like this

So I'm laying in bed - not literally, but in the dream - thinking about how broke I am. I remember an action figure I stuffed a $20 in, but then sink in despair realizing I haven't seen it in weeks. I just happen to be looking around, and I see a piece of it in my sock drawer. (Long story short, my sock drawer is sitting on a box, the rails are broken on it.) So I start digging, and there it is. I snap it in half, and sure enough, in the bottom part there's a folded-up $20. I can almost smell the Hardee's Monster Thickburger as I take it out.

Then I wake up and realize I have all of 60¢ in my pocket. I hate dreams like that!

I can't be too mad, though, at least that's the only one I remembered. I get nightmares, bad, but it's such that it doesn't bother me anymore, like I'm desensitized to them. Now I just wake up with this creepy feeling followed by the relief that I didn't remember more of it. All I remember was a bunch of gamers who had gone into comas, like a .hack//SIGN kind of thing, and that doesn't really sound scary, but I remember it being so.

Overall though I do hate not being able to remember dreams, even bad ones, because if they're not based on copyrighted works, I might be able to work them into short stories, maybe get something published.

This is funny, but messed up.

So, I'm reading the GameFAQs board for Pro Wrestling (WWE) and someone submits a picture of their girlfriend to brag on her shirt (and to ask for opinions on it) but almost nobody comments on the shirt. They go on about whether the girl is a guy or a girl, how hideous she is...

...Now, I'm not a big fan of shallow cruelty, but the following passage was just epic (ironically, the topic creator described the girl's shirt as epic).
Jesus: Dad, I know you like to make ugly people to balance things out but what you did here is just mean!
God: What? I wanted to get creative. It takes talent to make something that hideous. *Orton poses*
The Orton pose is a reference to current WWE champion Randy Orton, click the first link to see it. It's like a victory pose.

And no, I'm not posting the girl's picture, I don't really want to contribute to her torment - just post a funny passage from the topic. And by the time you find the Pro Wrestling forum on GameFAQs, the topic will most likely be purged - topics only last a day or two anyway.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Parking fees too high? Read this.

Saturday, October 6, 2007. Greenville, North Carolina. College football game, East Carolina University's Pirates vs. University of Central Florida Golden Knights. Final score, 52-38 ECU. Supposed to be a great game.

USA Today's coverage of the game

Too bad I'm not into sports. I didn't watch it, but I do work in Greenville, so I had to deal with the traffic. In fact I work very close to the stadium. Almost close enough to hear the game. But not quite.

I'm sure ECU tries to provide ample parking, some of it free and some of it paid. College games, I do know, cost less to attend than NFL games, so I'm sure the parking fees are a bit less. I could not find on the ECU website the prices of parking. Maybe there aren't any, but for the sake of argument, let's put it at $10. Ten bucks to park on the ECU campus within walking distance to the stadium. Also, there is a lot across town that ECU has a deal with, they run a bus to and from the lot every so often, probably the 20 minutes the round trip probably takes, maybe 30 so the driver isn't rushing. Pretty sure the park and ride parking is free, it's just a mall or shopping center lot where all the stores are closed.

The problem with parking downtown, where the stadium is, is local businesses are hurt when people park in their lots and leave their cars for several hours to watch a game. A store stocks up on beer, soda, water, frozen pizzas, whatever people might want before or after the game. Restaurants stock up on supplies as well, since a home game brings a lot of visitors. But then people, residents of Greenville or not, fill these stores' and restaurants' lot up with cars that don't move for hours, and customers have nowhere to park. The businesses lose money - thousands of dollars, in some cases.

What's the cost of a parking space? A store figures a customer who is in the store for 10 minutes spends X amount of money. A customer in the store for 30 minutes spends Y amount, and a customer in the store for an hour spends Z amount. How long does it take to run in and get a case of beer? Assuming the idiot can read and doesn't park in the fire lane (and Greenville is home to a lot of idiots, as evidenced by looking at any fire lane, doesn't matter which one), they might spend 5 minutes in the store, spend $20 on a case of beer, and they're gone, maybe 10 minutes tops. Just on beer, that parking space is worth $120/hour. Now figure the store has 250 parking spaces, that's $30,000 an hour - assuming everyone's coming to buy a case of beer. Of course these figures are all guesses - I don't know that much about the business side of running a store - but at least you can see that if a lot is filled with cars that aren't bringing the store money, the store is losing money as customers go to the competition.

In fact, during one of the last big games Greenville hosted, the store I work at lost thousands. The other businesses in the lot lost a lot, too. So they went to the lot owner and demanded a better solution, so they could profit from the game. The lot owner offered what seemed to be a win/win solution. He posted signs that clearly stated that the lot was for the use of customers only. Then, he told the tenants that he would hire a security guard to patrol the lot, and anyone who parked and headed for the stadium would be warned that their car could be towed if they left it, the idea being that people would find another place to park. Sounds like a great idea, right?

But of course, there's always going to be the idiot, or idiots, who have to test the waters, and that's what I walked into last night at work.

So it's pretty busy in the store, the manager and the other employees and I are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We're not understaffed, but due to the volume of business, technically speaking we were.

Next thing I know a young couple comes in, the girl almost in tears and the guy obviously angry. And I'm the unlucky SOB they see first. Apparently they went to a football game, didn't see the signs (or heed the warning), and didn't see the security guard, and thought everything was fine. They get back from the game and their car is gone. Their first thought is that perhaps it was stolen, but then we tell them that the lot owner was having cars towed. So they call the police, they make a few calls trying to find out where their car is and how they can get it back.

Then an older genteman strolls in, at least that's what he appeared to be. He knows his car was towed, he's not as naive as the young couple. He's cussing anyone and everyone out, he's blaming the store because it's the biggest business on the lot and he assumes the store's upper management owns the lot. He knew his car would be subject to being towed, but he thought he'd be smart and park around back, as if the "customers only" rule applied only out front.

I do, of course, sypathize with these people, to a point. They wanted to save ten bucks (or whatever) and park in a store's parking lot. They didn't think at all that they were costing the business any money because they only thought about their car, not realizing what that the mob of sports fans as a whole were doing to the business. They really only thought of themselves and their situation - but that's how most of us are, sometimes. Oh, and the tow fee - $125. That'll put a dent in anyone's pocketbook. If it seems about three times what it should be, consider the tow truck drivers were probably demanding double time to work during the big game. And the old "stupidity tax" idea, you park in front of a sign that says No Parking, maybe you should have to pay a little extra.

Not all the sports fans who parked there were towed. Greenville only has so many tow trucks, and our lot was not the only lot calling them. As it happens, three cars were towed. The third car's occupants came in later: A young black couple and their 3-year-old son. By this point, the first three (the young couple and the beligirent old man) were standing out in front of the store, telling anyone who would listen that the store had their cars towed just because they wanted to watch a football game. Call the police? The police were tied up between downtown and the stadium. I'm sure we could have gotten an officer to the store, but when? And they weren't exactly in the wrong, and desperate. See how rational you are over a hundred miles from home, your car taken away.

This is about where my sympathy for the three of them ended. The young lady found a couple that were headed out that way. A couple driving a big SUV, an Escalade or a Suburban or something. The couple ask "well how many of you are there?" She says just her, her boyfriend, and the old man. Forget about the black couple, forget about the black kid. I don't know if they were racist or just stupid, but then again the family didn't say anything, and the manager and I were in such shock to say anything until they left. We called a cab for the family, though, and I'm not sure if the store picked up the tab or if they got charged.

Oh, and here's a nice little twist. Guess who owns the towing company? You guessed it, same guy who owns the lot. And same guy who was supposed to hire a security guard to keep people from parking there. My guess is the guy told the security guard not to approach people, just to report cars whose passengers went to the stadium rather than one of the businesses, after they departed the parking lot, and then send in the tow truck. Well, he made at least $375 at it, more than I make in a week. Sweet. Or not, depending on how you look at it. But he had his bases covered. He had signs up clearly stating that the parking was for customers only, and that all other vehicles were subject to towing. It's perfectly within his legal right to send tow trucks out there to enforce that. I'm sure the signs cite the specific laws that cover a land owners' right to have vehicles towed at the owner's expense.

So next time you're out and faced with a $10 parking fee, just suck it up, pay it, and be glad you have the convenience of parking closer to the event, as opposed to walking there and back from a store or restaurant, finding your car was towed, spending an hour or two and $125 getting your car back. Paying $10 to park does suck - again, if that's what the fee was - but I think the alternative is much worse.

PS - I'm sure most towing companies are honest, but some are not. My brother had his car towed. After paying to get it out, he found they had broken one of his windows - fortunately, one of those little triangle windows, not a big one - broken in, stolen his CD collection and ripped his CD player out of the deck. He went to the police, I think, but the towing companies have a law of some kind protecting them. I think the honest reasoning is that, if they damage your car while towing it, it's on you for being stupid enough to get your car towed in the first place. But some towing companies will use that law to steal things out of your car, or sabotage it. If that happens, the tow fee is likely the least of your problems.

Friday, October 5, 2007

An update on the puppies


I just got up not even an hour ago, and Jen wants me to feed Sammy, because when she got home from a girl's day out with her sister (read: paying bills in Greenville) she didn't have the time. Normally she does it, as a tradition from when the puppies were born and I was crippled by that wart, I couldn't get out to see them. She just did it and did it on her own. But I get out there from time to time - like today.

So I'm filling Sammy's dish up with dry food, and topping it with wet food, and she's barking away at me, like I could possibly move any faster. Sammy is a bitch in both senses of the word: A female dog, and an angry... Well, not woman, but an angry female dog. Maybe not angry, but... Bitchy.

The puppies themselves, the seven that survived the first week, are mobile, bouncing all around, but most choose to stay at the back end of the pen, under the tarp and near the kitty bed we got for Smores (but she never used it, even when we put catnip in it, so the puppies got it). One ventures up to the middle of the pen to watch Sammy eat. They're still too small to eat, themselves.

Two more puppies come near the halfway point, where the water is. It's in a 5 gallon bucket, so they can't reach it, but one seems to use it as cover, you know, stealthy like ninja, like Sammy's not going to notice. The first one is emboldened, and makes a dash for a hanging teat, and Sammy nearly bites the puppy's head off barking at it. And then I yell at Sammy because, you know, she was just barking at me to hurry up with HER food.

But then I realize it's best to leave them be. Sammy seems to know what she's doing. One puppy died, but that's probably because he got stuck in the fence and we didn't catch it. I saved him, but then one died. I'm not even sure the one that got stuck in the fence is the one that died, it's just an assumption. But the other seven are healthy and seem fine. And it's not like Jen's sister's cat, who completely neglected her first batch of kittens and let them die. (Not Jen's sister, the cat - she wouldn't feed them at all and tried to hide them througout the house where they wouldn't be found. Real cruel.)

As I walk in, I hear Sammy bark again, and the whimpering of a puppy...

OK, went out there and got her dish back. I don't fully know why we keep her food dish with her food, outside the pen, but it has something to do with ants. Ants go for the dish, empty or no, and ants aren't good for Sammy or the puppies, something like that.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

New Zelda game. Timeline questions again.

While the Nintendo DS has been out for at least two years, we've just now received the first Zelda game, and of course Jen and I had to get it. The Legend of Zelda is probably the biggest Nintendo franchise after Mario, and I happen to prefer the Zelda games as they don't move quite as fast and focus more on exploration, require a little more intelligence than Mario games.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is the direct sequel to the Nintendo Gamecube game TLoZ: Wind Waker. I can't say anything about that game since I have never even owned a Gamecube, let alone played Wind Waker. So here I am starting out with PH, and apparently one does not have to know anything about WW to play PH. Lovely.

Getting started, the game is almost entirely controlled independent of the buttons on the DS. Movement, attacking, even weapon selection is all handled using the touch screen. You can even draw on the map by touching an icon to swap the map with the action screen, and writing on the touch screen. Movement is simple. You pretty much touch where you want to go. If there's an enemy in front of you, drawing a line from Link (or whatever you name him) to the enemy makes Link perform a jab thrust, stabbing the enemy. Drawing a line between Link and the enemy causes Link to swipe his sword left to right or right to left. Lastly, you can draw a circle around Link to make him do his famous spin attack. It gets more interesting once you get the Boomerang. You get an active item icon in the upper right corner. You touch the icon to select the boomerang, and then you draw its trajectory. It attempts to follow the path you've given it, and when it's done (or fails, if you just scribbled), it returns to you.

The plot thus far (and I'm not far at all) is that Link washes up on the shore of a strange island, having failed to rescue Zelda, who goes by the name of Tetra and runs with pirates. A fabled Ghost Ship appears, she jumps on board, Link goes after her but misses, lands in the water, the Ghost Ship vanishes and his own ship abandons him or loses him. So again Link's trying to rescue Zelda, although for once it seems as though Ganon isn't involved.

So I go online, and it appears they're still debating a timeline. It happens with each Zelda game, fans want to know the order in which the games take place. The fact that Wikipedia supports the theory and says one game takes place 100 years after another pretty much sinks the argument, I mean how old is Link anyway? Here's how it was before the N64 versions. It may have changed officially or in fanfiction, but here's what it used to be.

Consider the name... Legend of Zelda. What is a "Legend"? It's a story that is passed down from generation to generation, and at every step something changes. Two thousand years later, every society on the planet has the same story told, just differently. Different exxagerations, different cultural influences, make for different stories.

Therefore there is no timeline. It's the same story told differently. Direct sequels (like Phantom Hourglass being of Wind Waker) aside, each game is just a retelling of the original legend, the "Legend of Zelda".

Ganon isn't Jason Vorhees. He doesn't just keep coming back to life after being definitively killed each time. Ganon isn't even the main villain in some games - chalk that up to cultural influence.

And Link doesn't have amnesia. He doesn't forget everything that happens after each adventure, pawn all his stuff.

So some games reference others, do they? Well, I don't know anything about that, but I'd bet, on the part of the developers at least, it's just common themes from game to game. Most of them have fairies. Most of them feature the Triforce. Most of them feature a young hero named Link (who could later be renamed). As the years went by (in our world), different introduced new things, and different developers who thought those things were special reused them. That's just a story element that remained the same in two or more stories because it was important.

Lastly, I'm not even going to touch which games correspond to which countries or cultures. There's no real evidence AFAIK that Hyrule is anywhere on our Earth to start with. It's just some kingdom that existed some thousands of years ago, and these are the stories. The story is basically the same each time, but each retelling adds to the legend. And as long as the games keep selling - as long as people follow the legend - then the legend is successful.

And that's all there is to it, folks. Phantom Hourglass is a great game so far, but it's not an original story that takes place before or after the other Zelda games (but it does take place after Wind Waker, apparently). It's just another story based on the legend.

Why buying online is better

Foreword: This post is neither sponsored nor endorsed by any companies named here. I'm writing this of my own experiences, because I want to, not because I'm being paid to or offered any discounts the general public can't get.

I just bought a stack of blank DVD+R discs. Normally I pay $25 or so at Walmart (probably $24.83 or something, you know how precise they are with their prices) for a 50-stack, which is a pretty fair deal. It averages out to about 50¢ a disc. Not bad for 4.45GB of one-time written storage. When we have kids, they won't touch our real DVDs - either they'll use copies or we'll have them on the computer somehow. A good friend at work stopped buying DVDs because his neice and nephews were trashing them - that won't happen to us. And, you know, you buy something, "they" don't like you copying it, but neither are "they" in a big hurry to replace them when your kids damage them, "their" answer is to just go buy another copy of the movie at $20 a pop. But then "they" have never had to worry about that next paycheck or where the money to buy diapers or milk will come from, so you gotta do what you gotta do, right? But enough of the social rant. $25 for a 50-stack of DVD+R discs is pretty good, is it not? Sure it is.. Unless you can get a 100-stack for $31.60 shipped at But, while Walmart is real precise with their prices, Newegg's fluctuate. Tomorrow it might be a buck more or less, Newegg is a very strange beast.

However, Newegg beats if not annihilates that "great deal" you see at Walmart or Best Buy or Circuit City wherever, all the time. And DVD media is just the beginning. Go price hard drives at Best Buy. Write down the brand, the capacity (80GB, 160GB, etc.), the speed (5400RPM, 7200RPM, etc.), the interface (IDE or SATA, etc.) and any other information - model number works great. Jot down a few. Oh, and be SURE to note the price. Then look the drives up on Newegg and see if the price isn't right around half. Same thing with DVD burners. Best Buy's prices do seem fair, for what you're getting. A DVD burner is something really special to have, right? Without shipping, Newegg lets them go daily for under $30! I never see them below $60 in Best Buy's printed ad.

With that in mind, when I say in March 2005 I ordered the parts to build this computer and spent about $1200 on, how much do you think those parts would have cost me at Fry's? (Neither Best Buy nor Circuit City, certainly not Walmart, sell the parts to build a computer, but Fry's does.) Yeah, you can bet this is a $2500 PC by retail pricing. Then you factor in what your average geek, independent or working for a place like that, is going to charge you to build it. To have this computer built for you in March 2005 would have cost you easily $3,000-$3,200 and I did it for $1200. That's some serious cash. And for what? For whom? Does stuff really need to be marked up that high?

Remember, Newegg doesn't just cover computer parts. They have all kinds of accessories. From blank discs to flash drives (and flash cards) to crap you just don't need. Watch the bundle deals, every now and then they'll throw something in for free. I've gotten 2 stickers and a shirt for free with stuff. And when I got my computer stuff, I bundled a motherboard, a CPU, and one of the sticks of memory and got a free digital download of the game Half-Life 2, at the time valued at $60 (and called "The Best Game Ever Made" by, I think, PC Gamer - although I disagree with it, it still means something).

I'm not done here - and computer stuff at Newegg is just the start.

You probably know that if you buy movies and music the first week they're out, you get a good deal, especially if it's a major album or movie. Best Buy tends to sell albums for around $10 and Walmart sells most new movies for $15.99, in both cases for the first week only. I don't think you can beat that buying them online. But after that first week, the price goes way up. Some CD stores have the audacity to charge as much as $22 for an album. At Best Buy it's closer to $15, and of course Walmart has to sell them for a buck or two less, but they only sell the "clean" albums, so unless you're some kind of 17th century prude, you shouldn't be buying music at Walmart anyway; supporting censorship is wrong for so many reasons. Look on Amazon, though, and you can find the same albums for $12.99 or $13.99. And same with DVDs, after that first week they can go for as much as $21-22, or right at $20 at Walmart, but they're usually a buck or so cheaper at So where's the break? Well, most DVD and CD sellers sell 20-year-old classics at the same price as current hits. Not so on Amazon - you can usually get movies that are just a few years old for right around $10. Add the fact that you get free shipping if you spend $25 or more, you're looking at some good deals. Maybe get a new DVD you want for $20, then browse their bargains and pick up an old favorite for around $10, $30 for 2 movies and free shipping isn't bad at all.

Now here's a way to really get a deal with Amazon, but it requires having a Coinstar kiosk at a grocery store near you with gift code functionality. Just approach the Coinstar, hit the button to start, tell it you have coins, and see what your options are. All Coinstars let you turn in your coins for cash with an 8.9% fee, and most let you donate to various charities. Look for a Gift Certificate option. You should get free coin counting this way, with the minor stipulation that you have to have at least $5 and no more than $500 in change. Out here, the two Harris Teeters in Greenville, NC, have gift code/cards (they actually spit out cards in some cases), but a couple Food Lions are strictly cash/donate. You'll have to look around some in your own area. Now what you do is, make a habit of only spending paper money and pennies - and nickels if you want to push it. You take your change and put it in a jar. Never spend dimes and quarters, or nickels if you want it to go a little faster. The thing about pennies, they aren't worth the space they take up in your jar, especially if the jar is small. Nickels really don't, either. The most space-efficient coin is actually the dime, but quarters aren't far behind. If I save dimes, quarters, and a few nickels for 3 months, I can have close to $50 in coins. That's 5 not-so-recent movies and I might have to pay a buck or two. Or if I don't spend it all, Amazon keeps the remainder of the gift amount for the next transaction, up to 2 years, I think. The trick with saving coins, though, is strategy. You don't want to throw pennies away, as a matter of fact you should have 4 on you as often as possible, so you can get your change back in other denominations. Do the math quickly in your head - if you would get a nickel back, give up another nickel to make it a dime. It's best to use self-checkout machines, like at the grocery store, rather than burdening a cashier with the hard math.

But yeah, I have over 300 DVDs - at full price that's about $6,000 in DVDs, and I know I didn't pay that. I have spent a lot on them over the years, enough to perhaps own some stock in the movie industry. My collection isn't nearly the biggest, possibly not even among working-class movie lovers. I've seen some nice collections, but you know people with collections like those aren't worrying about money. But I'm talking wall to wall shelves custom built, 2, 3, 4 copies of the same movie in different editions, pretty much every edition of every movie they don't hate, just because. That's just ridiculous, but you can get DVDs for a heck of a lot cheaper than in the stores.

And that's just new. If you're willing to accept nonremovable stickers all over your DVD case, maybe the disc itself, maybe some writing on the case or disc label, maybe a smudge on the disc, and the knowledge that someone else owned it before you, you can get some killer deals on used DVDs. First of all Amazon, which I already mentioned. Just look up the movie you want, and look for more buying options near the top, on the right. Note that buying from others through Amazon doesn't count towards free shipping, and shipping is often higher buying from third-party sellers, so you have to factor shipping in as part of the cost. Some sellers will sell some things for a penny because the shipping is marked up enough that they turn enough of a profit in the shipping that they don't care about getting more. So you might get lucky. In brick-and-mortar stores, of course your Blockbuster and Hollywood video stores have used DVDs, but did you know Gamestop (formerly EB Games) has them as well? They usually have quite a lot, at better deals than Blockbuster and Hollywood offer. And unlike them, Gamestop's are bought from real people, so the DVDs are the same ones you can buy, whereas Blockbuster and Hollywood only sell retired rentals. How many times was a DVD rented out before it was retired, you have to wonder. And then the case might be different, and it's possible the DVD will have different (often less, I think) special features than the retail one. After all, it's just for rental. Some rental places are ignorant to "original aspect ratio" and only sell "Fullscreen" (aka "missing 1/3-2/3 of the picture") DVDs, and most only sell the Theatrical cut of a movie if an Unrated version is available.

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's human nature for Star Wars' Jedi to turn to the dark side

If you didn't already know, I'm a big fan of Star Wars and Star Trek, and find myself thinking about

All my life I've idealized the Vulcan (Star Trek) and Jedi (Star Wars) way of thinking, logic before emotion, etc., but you know, that's only (no offense to fans) viable within the somewhat narrow plot structures of the story. You try that in real life and see where it gets you.

Be that as it may, Obi-Wan Kenobi (in both OT and PT) seems to have the Jedi Code down pat. He doesn't show any emotion, he's just this cool, calm and collected dude who does what needs to be done. He shows a little bit of passion once in a while (like when he fights Grievous) but it's kept in check.

Then you have Anakin Skywalker. He's always been emotional, from TPM, through AOTC, and into ROTS. So Anakin turned to the Dark Side, despite his Jedi training, and yet through these movies we see over a dozen Jedi (on the council, fighting alongside Mace Windu in AOTC, Order 66 scenes in ROTS, etc.), these guys of various races for whom the training was also successful.

So we are led to believe that Anakin is the odd man out here, the "one" that turned to the Dark Side. But looking at it, I think Anakin was the most human of them all. (Maybe humans make bad Jedi, hence why most of them on the council are not human?) He was angry at the slave traders for what they did to his mother. He was angry at the Sand People for killing his mother. He fell in love with a beautiful girl who took a special interest in him.

And, while the Jedi Order forbids him to love, a Sith offers to protect his unborn child(ren) from a perceived threat (albeit probably created by said Sith and somehow sent to Anakin's dreams), he changes sides. Not to mention that he feels underutilized by the Jedi Council. Within the SW universe we see that as a bad thing, but in real life, if you work for one company and they're not paying you what you feel you deserve, they're not utilizing the specific skills that you bring to the table, and their competitor offers you a position that satisfies both pay and skill, moving is the wise choice.

Back to my first paragraph, about trying to be like the Jedi in real life. No, I've never dressed up, I don't own a lightsaber replica, and no, I haven't tried to live my life as a Jedi (or Vulcan). The way of life does appeal to me, however. Thinking about it, beyond the confines of the story, a Jedi must be a real coldhearted son of a bitch, right? While I agree with why the Jedi (and Vulcans) suppress emotion, one must not forget that the most powerful emotion isn't hate, it is love. I mean, you can kill for hate, and you can kill for love, but can you kill yourself for hate? Not as readily as you would (e.g. take a bullet for someone) for true love.

And I don't just mean love of a spouse, a partner. I think it's the Jews, the Hebrew language has six or seven words that translate, in English, to love. Love for a deity, love for your spouse/partner, love for your offspring, love for your parents, love for your siblings, love for your friends, love for the self. Without researching it, I think those are the seven types. Then there's patriotism (in SW: love for the Jedi Order, and/or for the Republic), a kind of love as well, more a passion for something. I know the Jedi know loyalty, but how passionate are they, without using emotion?

Human nature is such that, if you forbid something, the mind, or people in general, want it more. Alcohol and a certain herb classified as a drug were/are many times more popular in their respective prohibitions. You tell a kid not to touch something, they're going to do it anyway, to see what happens, and to see what you're going to do about it. Put that into the SW universe, and you take a kid (doesn't matter which one, but Anakin for example) who is Force sensitive, and offer to train them, repress their emotions, it's going to come out sooner or later when human nature takes over. Maybe whatever race Yoda is (Wikipedia gives it as Whil, but more official sources have his race unnamed and say he ISN'T a Whil...) either don't feel emotions, or like Star Trek's Vulcans, they've phased them out over a few centuries, but humans in SW are enough like humans on Earth; that's why Star Wars appeals to us. We can see ourselves in Luke or Han or Anakin, they're like us. And thus prey to the same human nature.

I thus conclude that, by nature, Jedi are prone to turn to the Dark Side by fault of human nature.

I posted this over on GameFAQs with a couple minor changes, for example one word had to be starred out due to a bad-word policy, and the last paragraph had to be put in the first reply, along with notes as to why it was split (a technical limitation in the GameFAQs forum system that limits post input to 4,096 characters). And also, as a final note, if you aren't as familiar with the Star Wars universe or more of a casual fan, you can click some of these links above to be taken to the Wikipedia page on that subject.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"The Best of Music That Doesn't Suck"

So I'm on the phone with my mother for my birthday, and she tells me she's sending something for Jen, but won't tell me what it is. Big mystery. This was last week, and having forgotten about it, I'm up at the shop (that my brother in law works at) getting my brakes changed, and Jen's coming, to get her oil changed. She has the package - inside is a tape.

"The Best of Music That Doesn't Suck by Nathan Law, c. 11/1996". So you may be asking yourself, who is this "Nathan Law" fella? Well, he's me. I got mad at my father over some stupid shit, and my mom remembers I wanted to change my name. I vaguely remember that, but the real reason for the "Nathan Law" persona was a pseudonym, a pen name, under which to write. I really had no good reason to use a pen name, but my favorite author at the time, Dean Koontz, had about a dozen of them, so I was thinking I'd need one. And it does sound cool.

As for "Music That Doesn't Suck", it was a series of mix tapes I was making, of the best stuff on the radio and my mom's tape collection. I started these when I got my first dual-cassette recorder, and continued on after I got a CD/tape player, eventually went to copying from both CD and tapes. I made at least 22 of them, maybe a couple more but I'm not sure. There were a couple spinoffs, too, such as this, and a couple "Metal That Doesn't Suck" and maybe one or two others.

So I wrote down the songs as they played on the tape, and I have most of these songs. The others, I will get. I'm assembling the mix on my computer, using digital sources - obviously sounding a thousand times better. So here's a rundown of the tracklist and some comments on the songs.

1. Metallica - Outlaw Torn
I do not remember this song, the last song from their album Load, ever being a favorite of mine. It's a good song, sure, but I can't see where my head was putting this song first. Plus it's long - almost 10 minutes - and I've never been a big fan of putting long songs at the beginning. That's one major beef I have with Green Day's "American Idiot" album.

2. Van Halen - Not Enough
Now I do remember loving Van Hagar's "Not Enough". It's got some beautiful lyrics, just a real good song. Probably my favorite on their "Balance" album.

3. Smashing Pumpkins - 1979
I still love 1979. It's cool because it's my birth year, and it's just a good song.

4. Culture Club - Karma Chameleon
Yep, I loved this song when I was a kid. I knew something was off about Boy George but couldn't really put my finger on it, but it didn't bother me, with the music. This is the only song I really cared for by them, and every now and then I still like to hear it.

5. Petra - Last Days
There's a long story behind me and Petra, I'll post about it sometime. Let's just say this song holds a special place in my heart as being about those who leave Christianity.

6. Ozzy Osbourne - S.I.N.
When I heard this, I had no idea what it was. Oh, there's no mistaking the Ozzman's voice. But I remember when I was a huge Ozzy fan - I had all his CDs - and I could not remember this one. I had to Google the lyrics. Now I remember. This was from the "No More Tears" album, and for a while it was my favorite song by his. I completely forgot about it!

7. Jimi Hendrix - Purple Haze
When I was a kid, I asked my mother if Jimi Hendrix was gay. She asked why I thought that. I said, well in Purple Haze he says "scuse me while I kiss this guy"! Yeah... turns out he really says "scuse me while I kiss the sky", but you can see where I thought this. I never was a big fan of Jimi, but he's impressive in his own way, and this has always been my favorite of his songs.

8. Ministry - New World Order
Ah, I remember when I liked Ministry. Dark, dark times. For the kind of metal they played, they were actually pretty good, but I can't see myself really enjoying it nowadays. (On another note, I'm surprised I didn't pick "Scarecrow" from their same album, it's always been my favorite.) And that ends Side A - remember, it's from a tape.
9. Van Halen - Dreams
I was mortified when I heard they used this song in the Power Rangers movie. I still am. Van Hagar's most inspirational rock song, almost makes you wanna go out and do something, to kick some serious ass in the way only a Van Hagar 90s ballad could.

10. Ludwig von Beethoven - Fur Elise
I used to be a much bigger fan of Beethoven than I am now, but I've always appreciated his music, mostly the 5th and 9th symphonies, but this shortest of his symphonies is about the length of a normal song, as opposed to a whole album. Short, sweet, and perfect for a modern mix tape.

11. Smashing Pumpkins - Bullet/Butterfly Wings
Oh, I remember having this idiot friend who thought the 80s hair band Ratt did this song. Why? Because of the line "Despite all my rage I'm still just a RAT in a cage". *Facepalm* I don't think Ratt ever claimed to be actual rodents... stupid, stupid, stupid. I didn't know who Smashing Pumpkins were at the time, and he was a big Ratt fan, so I fell for it. Idiot... Yeah, J.G. if you ever read this, you were an idiot... but drop me an email sometime.

12. Metallica - Hero of the Day
Now I do remember this being a favorite from Load. Once I began to accept that Metallica had gone from heavy metal to moody rock (back then, grunge/alternative), I really started digging this song. This song really represents the maturity that Metallica had grown into. It's too bad Reload wasn't up to par with Load, and they went off the deep end with St. Anger, because even though they took a step in another direction for Load, they did alright for themselves.

13. Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tears
Probably my favorite Ozzy song - I still dig it, but I haven't listened to the No More Tears album in so long. I'll be remedying that in the next couple weeks, however.

14. Jimi Hendrix - Third Stone from the Sun
How in the blue hell did I pick this out? Some things will forever be a mystery. The name doesn't mean anything to me. It's an instrumental, mostly, with some spoken verses. Googling one line told me what it was. I have this as well, but I don't remember ever liking it, as a favorite.

15. Anthrax - Be All, End All
Another one I had to Google the lyrics to to find out what it was. I vaguely remember liking this song, though overall I was never a big Anthrax fan beyond "I'm the Man".

Overall it's not a bad mix, but it's a long way from good, and it shows me just how far I've come with mixes. First of all, using so many artists twice on the same volume is bad. It shows you couldn't find enough good artists/bands to include, or your music is very limited, and that's what this mix represents. It has a few songs where a better song from the same artist/band, perhaps even album, could have been chosen. It's got a long song kicking it off. However it does take me back some, kind of helps me remember those days. Which is an amazing coincidence that an old friend from those days contacted me last night. Speaking of which, I've just received another email from him, so I'm off to check that.