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    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2009 edited
    Robert Downey Jr is seriously nominated for an Oscar for his role in Tropic Thunder?
    It's some big Hollywood in-joke, right?

    Not that he was bad at playing a dude that's changed the colour of his skin to become another dude for a movie, and not that I didn't enjoy that movie, but, uh, no one in that movie really acted a whole hell of a lot and that was kind of the point, I thought? Heh, found this great quote from him on it though: "I'm playing an idiot method actor who thinks he's a black guy - it's the stupidest thing."

    I think I prefer the Kaedrin movie awards, where I've seen slightly more of the movies nominated and am not bored by Hollywood applauding itself for four hours.

    Anyway, hi all. How's everyone doing? Been quiet here. Saw Let the Right One In not too long ago. Pretty good. Very different kind of vampire film. Other than that I've been sick and overworked. Not exciting, either of those.

    Oh, been playing a lot of a game called Deadspace, which is fantastic. You play an engineer sent to recover a spaceship only to find it infested with weird undead alien things. The combination of creepy atmosphere and bad guys that work counter to the instincts anyone who has played a lot of shooter games is great. Most enemies need to have their limbs dispatched as shooting them in the head just makes them mad. Creatures play dead, crawl through walls, and pretty much every time there's something pretty to look at, there's something just about ready to rip your head off behind you. I've actually been going through the game near constantly checking around me and giving dead bodies an extra stomp as I go, just to make sure. Good fun.
    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2009
    I guess. He was decent in Tropic Thunder, though I didn't particularly love the movie. It's funny, back before it came out, everyone thought it would be controversial because a white man was playing a black man... but the controversy all stemmed from his little monologue regarding "going full retard" (which was actually kinda funny).

    I'm glad to hear that someone likes the Kaedrin Movie Awards! It's hard to tell when no one yells at me for picking the wrong nominees/winners:p Seriously though, that's the idea. Some of the movies nominated/winning aren't particularly fantastic, except for one or two things (usually what they're winning an award for). I'm still having trouble with my top 10 though. This has been a rough year, despite me seeing around 67 2008 movies (at last count). I have a couple coming my way that I still want to watch, but we'll see. Top 10 might be delayed a week or two.

    I really liked Let the Right One In. For once, something relatively new and interesting in a vampire movie. It's funny, because from their basic plot descriptions, this seems similar to Twilight. Now, I didn't see Twilight, but I imagine Let the Right One In is the polar opposite...

    Now that I have a PS3, I've been gaming like a madman. So far, I've played and won Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty 4, Resistance, and Resistance 2. I actually enjoyed ALL of the aforementioned games, though I'm starting to itch for something that is perhaps not a first person shooter. I like FPS games, but this is 3 in a row for me. And I'm still getting my footing on the online play for COD4 and Resistance 1 & 2. Resistance 2 is the first game I've bought that actually leverage's the PS3 trophy system (like achievements on the 360), so it will probably be the first game I replay, if only to earn a trophy or two...

    I actually just finished Resistance 2. The credits are playing in the background as I type. It's been like 5 minutes. That's a long time to be watching credits. I don't know why, but I really like the Resistance universe. It's an alternate history type thing. At some point in the early 20th century, a virus made it's way to earth, starting in Russia (I believe a reference is made to the Tunguska Explosion in Siberia, which is kinda neat, though I could be wrong). In any case, by the 1940s, the virus had spread all through Europe and Asia... a race of beings known as the Chimera are the result of the virus, and they launch an attack at the UK in the early 1950s. This is where the first game starts. It's kinda like those tired WWII games, but with aliens instead of Nazis. It works well enough. You play an American solier sent to the UK to fight, and of course, you're the only surviving American:p Anyway, the first game is pretty darn good. I really enjoyed the setting. It's a pretty standard FPS game, but I liked the weapons - many of which seem to be idea for fighting certain kinds of enemies. This is cool, and something a lot of FPS games neglect. They actually give you good opportunites to use your Sniper rifle or the mine thrower thingy, or whatever. Resistance 2 is a little more of the same, though it lacks some of the things I liked about the first game. One thing they did was to get rid of the health meter, instead opting for the COD4 method of blurring vision, making your heartbeat audible, etc... then eventually regaining health (assuming you took cover). They also did a Halo like thing with the weapons - you can only carry 2 at a time. This was actually kinda frustrating, though they at least did a pretty good job stocking the levels with enough ammo/weapons. There are also a lot more bosses in this game. Some are pretty cool, others are a bit ho-hum. Neither game was particularly difficult, though I haven't exactly played on the more difficult levels. Perhaps someday... For now, I'll have to see if I can do better in the online games:p

    Dead Space is on my list of games to check out at some point, though I'm not sure I'll get to it any time soon. Like I said, I'm a bit burnt out on FPS games. I'd get me a copy of NHL 2009, but I see that they don't have any PS3 trophies, which totally sucks because by all accounts, the game is the best yet. Maybe they'll release a patch, but from what I've seen they won't. Stupid EA. The strange part is that it's not like the game doesn't have XBox achievements - why can't they just port those over? Grr.

    Other games I want to check out are Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Star Wars Force Unleashed, Orange Box (for portal, and maybe even HL2 episode 2). I could get a GTA IV, but then, it looks like the same thing the last several iterations have been, so what's the point? I'll probably just get real bored with it and move on anyway.

    Problem is that most of those are shooters. Maybe I should try a racing game or something. I've heard Motorstorm is supposed to be pretty good. I don't know. Any suggestions?

    Wow, I diverged into PS3 pretty heavily there. Sorry. In other news, I'm doing well. I have to write employee reviews this week, which I'm not especially looking forward to. It's an exhausting process and I don't have much time left. Plus, it's not like all the other work stops while I'm doing that. Fun. I think I'm just going to have to bite the bullet tomorrow and knock out a huge portion of the work in one sitting or something. And I have to do 5 reviews, too... (last year, I only had 3).

    • CommentTimeJan 27th 2009
    Whoa, Oscar nomination? What is this crazy world coming to? We're all going to hell in a handbasket!

    I exaggerate. But seriously, that is a very strange nomination that even has Robert Downey Jr. all WTF? He was better in Iron Man anyway.

    I, too, like the Kaedrin Movie Awards. I didn't even watch the Oscars last year because I already knew the real winners. But we should Twitter the Oscars this year. What do you think? I'm sure lots of people will.

    I don't watch enough movies or play enough games to have much to talk about. My husband and I bought a used PS2 that came with lots of other stuff: Guitar Hero Encore: Rock the 80s, GH II, GH III, two GH guitars with that; Rockband with the guitar, mic, and drums; DDR with the pad; an extra wireless controller; and some other games. All of that for $150. But I haven't played anything except a little GH. I am not coordinated enough to start on Easy even. I'll need to do some training before I can really play.

    Charles got Dead Space at a discount at a Circuit City that was closing. It's really annoying to be in the room while it's being played because you hear all the screams and crazy noise without knowing what the hell is going on.

    But I did play Portal! It was a lot of fun. Playing with a significant other is even moreso!

    "You need to shoot an orange portal at that wall."
    "No I don't. I just need to adjust where the blue one is."
    "But that will cause you to fall in the water."
    "Like I said, you need to put an orange portal over there."

    Who do you think was correct in this situation? Well me of course. I wasn't going to detail the many other times I was wrong.

    I haven't been reading much either. I started reading The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, but it didn't exactly grabbed my attention. But I did recently start The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson. It's categorized as young adult, but I really think it could just as well be in the regular fiction section. (Actually some parts of the book I'm sure will cause it to be banned by some childrens' libraries.) The description at Amazon.com is good:
    "Young Octavian is being raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers. After he opens a forbidden door he learns the hideous nature of their experiments and his own chilling role in them. Set in Revolutionary Boston, M.T. Anderson's mesmerizing novel takes place at a time when Patriots battled to win liberty while African slaves were entreated to risk their own lives for a freedom they would never claim."

    I'm wondering if books with young characters are just automatically classified as young adult? I don't understand how that works.

    We went to the downtown Alamo Drafthouse Saturday night to see Master Pancake Theater: The Matrix. It's basically a local version of Mystery Science Theater. I also saw Master Pancake Theater: Independence Day a while back. They cut out parts of the movie to make time for a skit they perform on stage halfway through. The skit for The Matrix was craaaay-zee. The three guys ended up stripped to their underwear.

    Also, really good pizza there. I got "The Godfather" pizza, which is funny because I didn't like The Godfather that much.

    Oh, okay, here's something interesting. My sister has indirect connections to Joel Hodgson. She knows a guy who knows Joel and some of the other MST3K cast. When she saw that the original MST3K cast was coming to Austin in March to riff on movies, she talked to her friend who knows the guys. So now she has two free tickets to that show! I might buy some for my husband and me so she can use hers for her and a friend.

    I haven't been posting here as much since I got back into 4k. So you guys may have seen that I was offered a job at Texas Advocacy Project. They created a position just for me. Well, the position already exists - administrative assistant. But I'll be taking over from the current person who will then be able to do other stuff for the organization. Two of the staff put a lot of effort into reallocating funds and getting approval from the director for this. I'll be part-time, 20 hours a week, and my pay is about $9.62/hour, but that's completely fine with me. They realize I am capable of doing much more and deserving of higher pay, but this is all they can afford to offer.

    This works great for me. I love the organization and the staff - my soon-to-be coworkers. I've learned that's important for me to be happy. And of course I'll be working for an entity that is really making an impact in the community. The part-time hours are probably best for someone like me who doesn't want to be pent up in an office all day, plus it will enable me to bypass rush hour traffic times since I'll work 10-2.

    Also, I will be an administrative assistant, as opposed to a secretary or solely receptionist. I will have some of those duties, but I won't be fetching coffee for anyone or doing every little thing for the staff. I really will be assisting in the basic day-to-day administrative tasks, like contacting people when something breaks, filing documents important for auditing time, and delivering mail and forwarding email to the right people. My job duties will be centered around those things that make the organization as a whole run smoothly. I'll also still help organize the big fundraisers.

    Yeah, so I was in quite a shock when informed of this last week. I don't think I was able to adequately express my appreciation and happiness.

    tallman, performance review time was hated by all at my old job. My GIS supervisor didn't seem to be as on top of it as some other supervisors, but I really couldn't blame him. As a map analyst though, I was one of around 20-30 people under one supervisor in one group. And there were 8 groups? Can you imagine?

    My husband's boss is always really behind on getting performance reviews completed. But at his company, there's sort of a set way of quantifying performance. If Charles gets a high rating this time around, he'll very unlikely get a rating above a 3 (from 1-5) the next time, even if he does deserve higher. The company likes to be able to give big pay increases to everyone, but not all at once. But even if the salary increase isn't much more than 3%, they'll compensate with a bigger bonus or stock options.

    Charles was just telling me tonight about how great his company is doing. A competitor is doing layoffs, but Charles' company doesn't operate on much debt, just some mortgages for their buildings. Otherwise they can do business in cash. What a lucky bastid eh?
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2009
    Perhaps I'll use twitter instead of liveblogging... but then I'm going to be slamming my friends on facebook. That probably isn't a good idea. I think I'll just stick to the regular liveblogging:p

    That's a lot of fun for $150! Guitar Hero has a relatively steep learning curve. At least, I had a lot of trouble at first, and while I did manage to get pretty good at medium difficulty, I never did get the hang of the hard difficulty. Plus, my fingers were starting to hurt. Seriously, I think I may have given myself arthritis. Ok, probably not, but I took a break for 2-3 weeks at one point, and when I started playing again, my hand started to hurt during the second song. At some point, I'll probably pick up one of the newfangled Rock Band or GH4 or something, but for now, I've got my hands full with lots of other games...

    I wish there was an Alamo Drafthouse near me. I've heard a lot about it, and it sounds awesome. There's this film festival that happens there called Fantastic Fest, which sounds right up my alley. Perhaps some year, I'll go... Anyway, seeing a live MST3K performance has got to be pretty interesting and fun.

    With respect to 4k, I have the same tendency - if I'm posting a lot there, my writing elsewhere seems to suffer, and vice versa. I've been pretty good about keeping to my blog schedule, which means that I've not been too up to speed on 4k, though I do try to stop by often. About 1-2 hours a week, if 4's statistics are to be trusted:p Back in the day, though, I would spend hours upon hours, each day. All those long posts took forever to compose. I'm glad I did it, but eventually I got tired of finishing a post and then realizing that it was 11 pm and I still had a bunch of stuff I wanted to do or something.

    Congrats about the job! Hope it works out as well as you describe!

    I only have to do performance reviews for 5 people... I can't imagine doing 20-30! How complicated were the reviews? Mine end up being pretty tough. There's a section of standard job duties and then everyone has these "goals" that they have to write and work towards for the year, and I have to wite a description of what they did for each goal (each person has at least 8 goals - don't get me started, I hate the freakin goals) and then you do the typical strengths, opportunities, comments section. In addition to that, there's a whole system for succession management, which includes this ridiculous 6 page matrix of "competencies" that you have to rate the person on and a bunch of stuff about other positions in the company that they would be suited for. They actually tried to streamline the process this year, but it's still a bear. And it's not so much that I dislike it as that it's a huge amount of work, and it's not like the business can stop for a few weeks while I work it out (I mean we're a retail company, and with this economy?), but it's very important stuff because I like my employees and I want to see them do well and this is a good way to take stock and make sure the team is headed in the right direction. It's just hard. And draining. But I've got 4 out of 5 reviews done, and a bit of a head start on the succession planning stuff. I should be able to finish most of it by tomorrow. Then I have to do a presentation for each person next week and the process continues until about mid march. During that time we also get started on setting up next (er, this) year's goals. Exhausting, I tell you:p

    I'm glad to hear that Charles' company is doing well. Our company is in a relatively strong position as well. Our debt is somewhat manageable. The worst part of it is that we ran a lot of "installment billing" type promotions (i.e. buy this $1000 computer, but only pay $200 a month for 5 months) and that we have our own branded credit card. But even then, we're in better shape than most other retailers, which is good news.

    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2009
    I quite enjoy the Kaedrin movie awards and the offbeat categories, even if I haven't seen most of the films. Still, I usually end up seeing more of your selections than what's nominated for the Oscars, so I'm slightly less lost. Plus I get plenty of titles to keep an eye out for, either in theatres or my Netflix queue.

    Heh, tallman, I think the only games I can recommend that aren't first-person shooters are third-person shooters. I played through Gears of War 2 not too long ago (might be an Xbox exclusive title anyway). It's a lot more grinding than the first. A lot of time spent inching your way through hostile territory, but it's also great fun, especially when the gameplay mechanics are changed up a bit, like when you ride a couple different locust creatures. I thought the first game was terribly short for something so fun so I was pleased to find GOW2 is considerably longer. I have Mirror's Edge to play too, which is basically a lot of jumping puzzles from a first-person perspective. This works out when your moves work out because everything looks really cool but the game can be very frustrating at times, especially when you die because you jumped a little too early because you couldn't tell how close to the edge of something you were. I have a copy of Assassin's Creed at my disposal (roommate's). I should play more. I did like what little I'd played before, although the weird sci-fi ancestral memory between-levels thing is stupid and totally unnecessary. Thankfully, it doesn't seem like it has much to do with the actual gameplay.

    GTA4 is a lot of fun but yeah, it basically is just another GTA game. The game world is much more detailed and the plot is more compelling than the previous games (although it's still kinda "eh") but it's still the basic formula. I'd like to get NHL09 at some point too. The be-a-pro mode sounds really cool, as does playing online in a game where every player on the ice is controlled by a real person. Assuming I don't have to listen to a bunch of 12-year-olds talk about how gay this player or that player is, which is what fucking happens every time I play Halo online. I should just disconnect the headset. Ugh, I'm totally gonna be "you kids get off my lawn" guy when I'm old.

    Portal is fantastic. I just remembered reading you two talk about it that I still haven't finished it. It's wonderful.

    Spencer, sometimes, when actually playing Deadspace, one still can't tell what the hell is going on with all the horrible screaming and noises. I'll just be like "hey that looks cool" and there will be a horrible screeching sound and something lunges out of the darkness and then I don't have a head anymore.

    I have no idea how some people are so involved in 4k now that I'm back to reading and posting there. I wrote a couple replies in a thread on the politics board the other day and took entirely too much time composing my posts. Then I go back the next day and there's like 50 new posts on half the boards I try to keep up with and I just give up and browse flickr until I can't keep my eyes open anymore. Oh, speaking of which, I've finally uploaded all my photos from when I went to Death Valley around Thanksgiving, if anyone's interested: http://www.flickr.com/photos/musiquenonstop/collections/72157612175893329/

    I fully blame flickr's ease of use for the fact that I haven't had a completed website in like a million years.

    Good to hear you found employment, Spencer, and that your husband's company is doing well. Yours too, tallman. I feel lucky that my employer is doing well now too. The company actually just had to move to a bigger office recently, which now enables me to walk to work as well. It's about a 30 minute walk (little under 2 miles), which I greatly enjoy. I took the metro a couple times last week because I wasn't feeling that great and felt like a slug for not walking.
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2009
    Your performance reviews sound mostly like what I had. There were several sections, and they were annoyingly similar. I think there was a part about accuracy, efficiency, customer service, areas for improvement, goals, and some I can't remember.
    The customer service part was hard because we didn't interact with the customers directly at all. We basically had to write, "I care." We didn't, but we had to make it seem like we did. Not that we were maliciously against the customers, or rather homeowners, but our positions were in opposition by definition almost. (Too many -itions.) No one likes being told they have to pay lots of money for flood insurance because their home is located in a 100-year floodplain (or barely touching one) as determined by FEMA, which has been well-hated and lost respect since 2005.

    I'll be interested to see how performance review is done at my new job. I answer to the Executive Director, but then I don't know if she has to justify my job to the Board of Directors.

    have no idea how some people are so involved in 4k now that I'm back to reading and posting there.

    I had tried returning to 4k several times. My sign-ins were probably about 6 months apart for several years. This time, I was willing to actually read some threads. There was another complicating factor to my return in the past that I won't go into here publicly. Anyway, I think I was rested up enough and had the energy to get involved in long discussions.
    My energy has slacked off a bit already though. It does take up a lot of time to stay in the know there. I've also changed in significant ways since last being an involved member. I have a different outlook on the place now. Not sure how to explain it. I already spend a lot of time reading blogs I thoroughly enjoy. I will sometimes have 4k open in one tab, but actually be engrossed in an article elsewhere on the net.
    I should spend less time online in general.

    I did enjoy your posts DyRE. I miss you, but I'm not going to implore you to stick around because I understand how you're feeling. Really, if I could hang out with the people I like in real life, I would never go to 4k.

    I keep meaning to get a flickr account, but each time I can't think of a username I like that isn't taken. Perhaps you could make some suggestions?

    You are like a Death Valley ambassador. You make me want to go there, where before I never considered it. When we were at Glacier, I was genuinely afraid of bears and moose. I think I would be scared of the wildlife in Death Valley, but of course you always hope to see something...far away.

    I would love to be able to walk to work, or the store even. I do drop my car off for oil changes and maintenance nearby and walk home to wait for it to be done. The mechanics like that they don't have to get to my car(s) right away, and I like the exercise. Actually, that just reminded me that my check engine light came on yesterday, so I should drive my car over there now!
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009
    have no idea how some people are so involved in 4k now that I'm back to reading and posting there.

    I don't know how I did it back in the day. I think part of the reason some people are so active is that they only write a sentence or two for most of their posts. That always frustrated me when I'd write a post that was like 6000 words long, and then get like 20 words in response. Yeah, thanks a lot. That's going to make for a meaningful debate.

    Of course, these days, most of what I post there is the same sorta short post, but still. I occasionally churn out a long post or two, and I sitll like it, but I don't think I'll ever get back to the way I was. I guess I've moved on:p

    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2009
    The only wildlife I saw in Death Valley were crows. Very big crows, but that's it. I saw a few plaques here and there about other animals in the area. Coyotes, some smaller critters, but aside from the crows, who very much didn't care about me, I didn't see anything. Oh, wait, no, I saw one lizard. Anyway, might have had to do with the time of year. Getting colder, so I would imagine a lot of animals would be less active. Plus it was a long weekend so there were probably more people around than usual, which may have kept some away.

    I'm already kinda slacking with contributing to 4k, but I am still signing in and reading every couple days or so. Not everything, 'cause, again, not enough time and I'm kinda limited on what boards, or even what topics within those boards, I'm interested in there. I get what you mean, tallman, about writing a lengthy post and getting little in response.

    Also, Spence, for your flickr username, I recommend unicorns not included.
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2009
    There will be unicorns, they're just invisible to my camera. But I like it anyway!