Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thursday Threesome for January 31st

And the first month of a year comes to a close. Must be time for a new Thursday Threesome, brought to us by storytellers and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Long ago-- I was sure I would become a _ _ _ _ _ _ when I grew up! Hmmm...
writer. But then I realized I'd have to come up with stories and mine weren't any good. Beside, it takes discipline, which anyone who knows me knows I don't have.

Twosome: and-- how did you end up where you are (currently) if that didn't happen? (Students, you can talk majors and changes and such!)
First of all, mom suggested I become an accountant as a day job. But I also realized that I'd have to come up with stories and mine aren't any good. Beside, it takes discipline and patience, which anyone who knows me knows I don't have.

Threesome: Far Away-- from any thoughts of the Super Bowl? Are you tuning in? No? Whatcha' doin' instead ?
I'm thinking about it and planning to watch. Heck, I may even watch instead of have football on while I'm doing something on my computer, which is what I've done all season. And I may be watching on my new HD TV. That is if I decided to actually get one instead of talk about it and I find it on sale like I should.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So It's Just Muscle, Huh?

Went to the doctor today. My right leg has been bothering me most of the year, but especially after Angelique and I went to Disneyland. So I decided it was time to have someone professional take a look at it. After having me walk all around, he concluded it's just a sore muscle. If that's the case, why hasn't it gotten better with me icing it and letting it rest for the last few weeks?

I was hoping he'd give me something to do to make it all better.

He did say I was okay to run or walk, so I can at least start trying to get back into some symblance of shape again.

In other news, I went to see Juno this weekend with Kurt, Kellie, and Dawn. We all enjoyed it. Then I went back to Kurt and Kellies and we hung out, had dinner, and watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. All in all, it was a great Saturday.

And did you catch American Gladiators last night? I was in it! Okay, so maybe not. But I did get a kick out of rooting for a guy named Mark Baker. I just wish he had done better.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Word Association for January 28th

Yep, a day late again. Taken from here.

  1. Booze :: Alcoholic
  2. Counter :: Bean
  3. Action :: adventure
  4. Trial :: Jury
  5. Wheelchair :: Handicap
  6. 1-800 :: Toll Free
  7. Chop :: Shop
  8. Relatives :: Visit
  9. Bed sheets :: Laundry
  10. Funnel :: Cake

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ending Another Week

This has been an interesting week.

It started out rather badly. Between the funk I've been in all year (that beginning of the year depression has hit me hard again this year) and some other things going on, I was seriously depressed. I mean, I honestly felt like if anything could go wrong it would. And I hate that feeling. Heck, I even helped contribute to a friend getting into a tight spot work wise.

Fortunately, things started to turn around Tuesday night. And with nothing in particular. I went down to my friend Don's for dinner. But that allowed me to move on by not dwelling on everything that was going wrong for a little while. And my mode has been better all week.

I also started working out in the fitness center here on campus at lunch time again. And I've got the sore muscles to prove it. Still, I feel better knowing I am doing something physical again. If only my leg would stop bothering me so I could run again.

I took down the problem review I talked about last week. I had a couple people talk some sense into me, basically saying it wasn't worth it to me to be the target of the hate.

And can I say that it is about time for the strike to end? Yes, I am mourning the potential for no new episodes of Chuck until who knows when. Man, I love that show. Any show that can have me choking up, laughing, and on the edge of my seat in five minutes is all right by me. I'm just disappointed that they didn't resolve the cliffhanger from Christmas.

On that front, the two sides are at least talking about talking again, which is a step in the right direction. But most everyone is saying we won't get anything new until Fall. FALL??!! At least the WGA has taken off the demands that animation and reality writers be part of their union. That was nothing but a power grab and needed to be shot down. I'm hopeful that things can be resolved quickly and that the actors strike set for summer doesn't happen. This whole thing is stupid and needs to be resolved.

Of course, the big news around here is all the rain. It started Tuesday and is still raining. Apparently, it's not the same storm, but it has been raining pretty much non-stop all week. Naturally, that means the roads are flooded. I sure wish they knew how to build proper drains around here.

On the down side, part of my garage flooded. There's a part that must take on water from the outside, because it's half way back in my garage. Anyway, when I was leaving for work this morning, I discovered that there was a puddle of water under the spare mattresses for the other bunk beds and my Christmas tree box. I've got the box up drying, and the mattresses are in plastic. Hopefully nothing was ruined, but we'll see.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Threesome for January 24th

This week's edition is brought to us by ESPN and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Harlem-- Nights? The Apollo Theater? If we came to visit your area, where would you recommend we sightsee?
In the greater Los Angeles area, you can't miss Hollywood. In my town? Um...Magic Mountain?

Twosome: (The) Globetrotters-- can be quite a show! Have you ever seen them? Are there any "show" teams you like to watch perform? Pep competitions? Bands?
Not really. Those kind of things don't entertain me for very long.

Threesome: Basketball-- is in full swing, and March Madness isn't all that far away? Any opinions on either NBA or NCAA teams? ...or is it all downhill after the Packers lost?
I actually semi-followed football this year. Give me another decade, and I might have an answer for you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

35 Years

I'm not having a good week right now, so let's focus on something other then me, shall we?

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. And in those years, more abortions then I can count have happened.

Yes, I do think abortion is murder.

And I think that the availability of abortion has led many to believe that there can be sex without consequences. Which has led to the rise of STD.

But back on track. This is a horrible, inhuman practice. It surprises me that our society still thinks it is fine.

I will spend some time tonight praying for abortion to once again become illegal. And this will be one issue I vote on in the upcoming election year.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursday Threesome for January 17th

It is Thursday, right? I'm so mixed up this week. Earlier in the week, I was thinking the week was about over. Now, I feel like it's the beginning of the week.

Anyway, this week's edition is brought to us by bakers and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Apple-- turnovers? Bear claws? Do you have a favorite pastry? You know, the one you can't pass up no matter what!
I generally enjoy turnovers, but I'm not a fan of bear claws. Depending on the muffin, I'll go for those, however.

Twosome: Pie-- or cake? You're out to dinner and you get your choice: What do you go for? ...or do you simply have to have the creme brulee?
Well, my favorite dessert is cheesecake, but I'll take pie over regular cake any day of the week.

Threesome: Crust--makes the pie, ya' think? Which pie absolutely has to have the proper crust or it just doesn't work for you?
Actually, I'm not a big crust person. I prefer crusts be a small as possible.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This is Supposed to be Fun, Right?

There are many different angles to this hobby I call Internet reviewing. There are those of us who take it way too seriously and review everything we can get our hands on in order to have a greater opportunity to increase our rank. Then there are the people who just want to use it as a means of getting the word out on things they've enjoyed. I started out in that camp.

Among those who take things way too seriously are the Harriet Klausner Appreciation Society. Now I have no love of Amazon's #1 reviewer. Her "reviews" aren't helpful and are getting sloppier by the month. And a little mocking of her rather major mistakes is fun. The group is also on the lookout for other major cheats on the site. However, these people will take on anyone that doesn't live up to their standards. They also only allow comments from people who have been approved, so their site is nothing but an echo chamber of their own wisdom. And one of their biggest issues is people who only post positive reviews.

Yesterday, they had a post up linking to a blog of an Amazon reviewer who only posts positive reviews. His reasoning? He doesn't want to spend any more time thinking about something he didn't enjoy. Naturally, they were all over this, stating that he has just proved he's nothing but a shill who can be bought by publishers. How they can know him that well from some reviews and a blog post is beyond me.

Now I will admit I am suspicious of people who post one review a day and give nothing but 5 stars. Still, this poor reviewer's argument is a good one.

This is something I wrestled with during my first year or two of reviewing. But I decided early on to review the good and the bad so people can get a feel for my tastes if they are so inclined.

However, I can make a good argument for avoiding the bad - the feedback.

Over the years, I have gotten some interesting feedback from authors and readers when I've left negative reviews. One author did acknowledge the particular book was weak (it was several years old) and hoped I'd give him another try (I really keep meaning to, but I haven't yet.)

Then there was the author who sent me an e-mail demanding I remove a line from a mostly positive review where I questioned one detail's historical accuracy. He offered no proof, just said he was right and I needed to change it. I didn't.

Another time, I complained about some inconsistencies in a novel. The author e-mailed demanding to know what they were. When I didn't respond in a couple days (I was very busy at the time), she e-mailed back and said that she and a friend had reread it and found nothing, therefore I was wrong and needed to change my review immediately. I haven't read anything by her since.

Over a year ago, Amazon added the ability to leave comments on reviews. It can be a fun feature, but it is a chance for people to take their fights public, something the HK Society does when they target a reviewer. Mine have been mostly positive, although I got some nasty comments on my review of Third Day's Christmas CD. (I objected to a rather depressing song and got raked over the coals for being insensitive, which I probably was.)

However, this last week has been very interesting all the way around. (And it all comes together.)

This year, I started out by writing a negative review of the movie The Kingdom. Basically, I thought the story was weak, the characters cardboard, and the camera work so shaky it was hard to follow. In addition to the negative votes (I sure wish Amazon users would stop using the NO button as a "I disagree with the opinion button), I got a comment from a reader. Most of it was stating his side of the story, which is fine (although a review would be a better place for it.) However, he starts out his comment by pointing out that I am a fan of the star of the movie Elektra (which I haven't seen) and gave the Father of the Bride remake 5 stars (I'd just reviewed it the week before.) I can take comments when the person disagrees with my opinion and lays out the reasons why. But to attack my tastes and reasons for seeing a film? What was the point of that? (And I stated I saw this movie because Jennifer Garner was in it to give people an idea on how seriously to take my comments.)

Then comes my review of The Fault Tree. I was given an advanced review copy of this book, so I posted my review the first day. I called it a thriller in my title, and gave it a negative review because I found the story dragged on too long and the ending preposterous. And here's the comment I got. "As a top 100 reviewer you should KNOW the difference between a mystery and a thriller. The book has on the cover - "A Mystery". Therefore, your review is one of ignorance in NOT knowing the pacing and difference between the two. It's sad that your review was even allowed to be published with the title you gave it. Sorry, but true." So, I guess there was some kind of test I had to pass to become a top reviewer that I missed? Sorry, but I can call any book anything to so desire. I missed the fact that it was called a mystery on the cover, but I feel the book reads more like a thriller.

So the post at the HK Society and these comments were swirling in my brain yesterday when I got the phone call.

Back in October, a member of my church stopped me and asked if I'd written a review of his book. When I said yes, he thanked me. I was rather surprised since it had been a luke warm 3 star review. He then asked me when I was going to review the second. When I said I didn't have a copy, he gave me one.

As I feared when I read it, it was even worse then the first. Instead of just never reviewing it (which would have been the wise thing to do), I wrote an honest review, which was negative. And I waited for the backlash.

Yesterday was when it came. I answered the phone here at work and listened to a several minute long diatribe about how I had been in his home (true) and he considered me a friend and how a brother should not do this to a brother. He also pointed out that he has some weight at church and here at the college. At this point, I asked if he was threatening me. His response? "If I were threatening you, I'd be in your office and you'd know it." But he once again said he had written an e-mail and would be sending it to someone depending on how I responded. He finally stopped denying that he was threatening me, but he also didn't say he was.

I apologized that my review offended him, but it was my honest opinion. He came back by pointing out that I was an accountant and couldn't hide behind journalist ethics. Only later did I think I should have pointed out that with over 1000 reviews at Amazon (and almost 700 at Epinions) I do have a reputation to uphold.

He tried to make this a Matthew 18 reconciliation issue. Hate to break it to him, but that's about sin, not about someone making you angry.

It also came out during our conversation that he hadn't read my review on his first book when he gave me the second one. So whose fault is that?

When it became obvious to him that I wasn't going to back down (which was about five minutes after I was through listening to his threats), he announced, "Well, I can see we won't be getting anywhere" and hung up on me.

I haven't heard anything else about this, and it will be interesting to see if I do.

And before anyone points it out to me, I do know I am showing how thin my skin is by complaining about the way thin skinned people have treated me.

So this is a long winded way of defending only posting reviews of books you loved. Am I going to go with that approach? No. I'm too stubborn. But people who want to do this occasionally just for the fun of it should be allowed to do that without being attacked (like I will be by the HK Society followers if/when they find this post).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Worth Every Penny Paid (And Then Some)

You'll never guess where I was this weekend. Disneyland!!!!

Angelique e-mailed me the week before saying she might get her hands on two free tickets that had to be used by the 15th. So, if I was available.... She didn't have to ask me twice.

And we couldn't have asked for a better day. It was supposed to be low 70s for a high, and it wouldn't surprise me to find out it reached 75 or so. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Yes, it cooled off once the sun set, but I was comfortable with my light jacket on.

The park was fairly empty in the morning, too. We walked on Pirates and Splash Mountain. It was more crowded in the afternoon. Surprisingly, it didn't empty out once it cooled off. I really had expected it to. Of course, maybe if the weather had turned cold it would have. Either way, we did get everything on our list occomplished with two fewer hours in the day since the park wasn't opened as long as normal. The lines were still long for Finding Nemo Submarines, so we didn't attempt that.

One highlight was Small World Holiday. It was still all decked out for Christmas, which we hadn't expected. Since we've only seen it that way once, in 2001, it was nice to see that again. And let me tell you, the outside at night is amazing.

There is one downside, however. I pulled my normal don't sleep before Disneyland routin. Then, rather then fight it, I slept in instead of going to church Sunday. Now I am having trouble going to sleep at night and getting up in the morning. In fact, I've been very late for work both days so far this week. I've got to do better tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Word Association for January 13, 2008

So what if I'm doing it a day late. It's still yesterday's edition.

  1. Dream big :: Live Big
  2. Competition :: Race
  3. Torn :: Bwteen the Two
  4. Modeling :: Agency
  5. Coaster :: Drink
  6. Slut :: Loose
  7. Spread :: Peanut Butter
  8. Amanda :: Bynes
  9. Romance :: Novel
  10. Paradise :: Lost

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday Threesome for January 10th

Welcome to a medical edition of The Thursday Threesome, taken from The Back Porch, as always.

Onesome: Kidney--beans? Lima Beans? Pinto beans? Which legumes do you like to cook with? Hmmm... A hot pot of chili sounds good this week!
I don't gook a lot of beans, but I love Kidney and Pinto beans on a salad.

Twosome: Stones?-- Monoliths? Pebbles? Do you use any of these in decorating? Heck, we'll even count marbles in vases!
Your mistake, Grasshopper, was assuming I decorate.

Threesome: and herbal remedies-- Hey, there's a good one: do you have any herbal remedies for us to try? Anything? I'm betting this bunch will have a trick or two to work with!
Nope. Don't pay much attention to that kind of thing.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Catching Up: A Week at Home

So, when I left my parents' a week before I had to be back at work, I wanted a week to get bored. While it was nice and relaxing, I would say I ever got bored.

I had figured I would spend New Year's Eve hanging out with my roommates. That didn't quite come together. One had to work, and the other and I couldn't agree on what we wanted to do. At the last minute, I got an invite over to some friends' to play poker and Bunko. It was a fun night, and I'm really glad I got to go.

Tuesday, I headed down to Santa Monica. It was clear but really windy up here. It was calm and slightly overcast down there. I walked from the Santa Monica pier to the Venice pier and back, which took me quite a while. I really wish I had taken my camera with me, because the way the light played off the clouds was beautiful. And the sun set was spectacular.

Wednesday, Clint and I finally got together with Kurt and Kellie. None of us could quite agree on anything to do. But we did hang out, play some video games, go to Olive Garden to eat (I hadn't been there in over a year), and hit the hot tub. It was a great afternoon/evening.

Thursday, I did come into work for about an hour to process the first of the month credit card donations. After that, I met Kurt and we played Frisbee golf at the course here in town. I lost by two strokes, which was frustrating. I have a few discs now, so I need to practice so I can beat him next time!

Friday, I headed down to Northridge and met up with a friend for lunch. We hung out all afternoon at his place, which was lots of fun. It started to rain that day, and we even went hot tubbing in the rain. I got a haircut, too.

When I wasn't out doing this stuff, I just goofed off. I spent lots of time watching TV I wouldn't normally watch. Nothing exciting, just fun stuff like sit com reruns. And lots of football Saturday. It was so nice to sit back and do absolutely nothing. Over the weekend, we got plenty of rain with this storm, but I didn't see any flooding or mud slides or power outages or anything like that. And I'm very thankful, too.

Unfortunately, this week I'm back at work. If only I could get paid for goofing off all the time.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Catching Up, Part 1 of ?

So where do you even begin when you haven't blogged for almost three weeks? How about at the beginning.

I was born early in the morning....

Well, maybe not that far back.

Last time I posted about my life, I was worried about getting out of here by noon on Friday. Didn't happen. Phil found a couple problems, so we didn't start running the W-2's until close to noon. He did let me go around 1:30. I should have stayed, however, because a couple steps got skipped in closing the payroll year, so we need to figure out how to recreate that.

So that afternoon, I took in National Treasure: Book of Secrets (enjoyed it) and went to Kurt and Kellie's Christmas party, which was fun.

Then the 22nd, I headed to my parents' house for a week.

The first couple days were busy getting ready for Christmas since we were hosting. In fact, we did a lot of cooking on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I made a peach cobbler for dessert, which turned out great.

My brother and sister-in-law were out as well, and the couple days after Christmas were busy doing stuff with them. We went to Armstrong Redwoods and the beach one day. It was bitter cold walking around the redwoods. We didn't even get out at the beach because the wind was blowing so hard.

That Friday was Dad's last day of work ever. Yep, he's retired now.

And how did I celebrate? By spending the day away from home. I left in the morning and headed down to Epinions headquarters in Brisbain, CA. After getting lost on the way, I made it down there. Yep, it's an office. But I really enjoyed getting to meet some of the people who work hard behind the scenes to keep everything running there. And it was great to hang out with Garrett again (I'd met him back in July).

Speaking of whom, Hi, Garrett!

From there, I headed over to the east bay and spent a few hours with Donald and Heather. After a great game of Hear Me Out (I won) we played a not as great round of The Stock Market Game (I had more money then Donald did, but his term came first, so he won. I will beat him at it some day.) Heather actually joined us for The Stock Market Game. And she enjoyed it. Hopefully, that means the three of us will get to play it again soon.

Sunday the 30th, I headed back home to enjoy a week off down here. Instead of taking the 5 like I normally do, I decided to take the 101. It was nice for something different. And I don't think it added that much time to my trip, either.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Starting the Year with Two Thursday Threesomes

Yes, I know I haven't been around for a while. I've been having fun and relaxing. I've got stuff to blog about. But let's start off this year of blogging with the last two week's Thursday Threesomes, brought to us by The Back Porch.

The first one is appropriate since I'm doing it a week late.

Onesome: Better-- butter than margarine? ...or Mayonnaise? What goes on your bread for sandwiches? How about dinner rolls? Honey, anyone?
Nothing goes on my bread for sandwiches. Other then the stuff I am putting in the sandwich. However, I do enjoy butter on dinner rolls. Or honey if I'm in the mood.

Twosome: Late-- again! I think that's something I do about once a year. May I blame it on Christmas cleaning? How about you: is your place all cleaned up from the paper-fest? ...or can you even get to the door yet?
My place was never too bad since we were all gone. However, I am still taking down my Christmas tree and decorations.

Threesome: than Never-- again? Do you have any Christmas memories (this year or Christmas Pasts) that you'd just like to never repeat? I'm thinking humourous stories would be best!
I can't think of any funny stories that I wouldn't want to repeat.

On to today's.

Onesome: Twenty-five?-- Good age to be? ...or bad age to survive? Can you look back at this time without cringing? ...or are you there yet?
25 was a good age. Nothing really stands out in my mind for that year, either good or bad.

Twosome: or Six-- ways to help yourself out? ...or maybe just one? If you could send a piece of advice for yourself at twenty-five, what would it be? ...and if you are twenty-five? Well, can the gang here answer any questions for you?
Work hard at all times!

Threesome: to Four-- pounds of See's candy over the holidays? Did you survive 'growing season'? How's it looking out there? I've already seen the displays up for Valentine's Day! Can we survive the constant onslaught of the chocolatiers?
I did about like always. I just seemed more determined then normal to shed a few pounds now. We'll see how I do.