January 21, 2006

What a full day!

I bought a new laptop for myself today.
My car's battery terminal got so corroded that it broke apart and I couldn't start my car today.
My wife and I entered a poker tournament for the first time today.
My wife came in 5th in the poker tournament today.
We almost hit a racoon driving home today.
We DID hit 2 deer driving home today.

It's been a full day. Maybe I'll be able to sleep today. Maybe not.
More news on these to come as they come.

January 14, 2006

The Drunk Hungarian

Last night we went to eCiti with a friend from work and my sister-in-law. eCiti is a fairly upscale bar in the Tyson's Corner. We ate dinner, and moved over to the bar section, where they have a large dance floor, a sushi bar and a few tables around to sit at.
Since John is a smoker, he was being considerate and stood up on the dance floor a few feet away to smoke a cigarette. As he was smoking, we noticed that he was chatting with a man. After a few minutes, I caught John's eye and motioned him over so that we could meet his friend, and John made a quick simple introduction to Tibor, from Hungary. Completing the introductions, Tibor leaned into me and confessed, "I'm a little drunk! I've been having some troubles at home, so I've been drinking."
Ok, no harm, buddy...and that explains your complete lack of personal space at the moment. So, on to the first question. So, where do you know John from? "Oh, I just met him now."
Great, John has just sloughed off a friendly drunk on me, and he's not making any sign of leaving. Instead, he's reaching for John's chair. And to think, I even introduced him to my wife and sister, so he probably feels welcome. "Oh, may I use this chair?"
Alas, a way to hand him back off! I point at John. "It's his chair, so you'll have to ask him", I say, and grin at John.
Thankfully, the drunk leaves, not realizing that he could have pulled up another chair, if he wanted to sit at the table and talk. We all laughed a bit about the Hungarian drunk, who had confided that he came here to this country 5 years ago, and learned English by watching television.
A bit later, Tibor comes back to the table. We're all wondering what he could want, and he begins to tell us about the free buffet upstairs. "They have pasta and chicken 'something', I forgot the name, but it is good. You should try some out. It's right up there", he says, pointing at the steps upstairs.
While hesitant about Tibor's overly friendly attitude, I am a little irritated that I may have just spent $70 on dinner unnecessarily. As he walks away, I begin discussing that with my wife and glance over to the stairs. A large sign says "Private Party" at the base of the stairs, and we all burst out laughing again at Tibor, apparent drunk wedding crasher from Hungary...

January 07, 2006

Welcome to the Weekend

Ok, time to really start that diet: Update: 212.6 pounds.
This morning, went to the DMZ. The mobBLU was great for standing in line in the mall for over an hour, just to wait to GET a number, so I could wait inside to be called on. Just needed to get my tags, but since they were already overdue, I couldn't do the renewal online. $63 for two years - what a ripoff. I love how the government charges its citizens to keep track of them..... (yeah, I know its necessary, but it doesn't make it cheaper knowing that)

I asked someone to review the playlist on my MP3 player, and she promptly told me that some of my stuff was boring ("You mean the Dean Martin stuff?" - "No, that was ok...") - I need to get a clarification from her. Perhaps she didn't like the John Denver songs. I know she wasn't talking about the dance mixes, Billy Joel, Nickleback and Prince. Perhaps she meant the Harry Belafonte stuff or the Ray Romano comedy stuff...?

Ah well, back to the weekend......I've got music files to sort..

January 04, 2006

Robot Customer Service for McDonalds? Hallelujah!

Fast food restaurants in the near future may be seeing an upgrade in customer service! As pointed out to me by The Raw Feed (the blog formerly known as Mike's List), [thanks Mike], new stand-alone, self-serve, automated cashiers are coming to the fast food market that will let you skip the line at Wendy's, McDonalds, Burger King, etc...provided the franchisers buy them.

I, for one, say it's high time that we got the cashiers at these places to understand English again (damn it, I said 6 piece nugget meal with a DIET COKE, you MORON!!!). I am so sick of walking into McDonalds, waiting in line (#1) and getting up to the cashier who just got off the boat [or whose parents didn't realize they'd need the English language to get through life]. I'm not knocking immigrants (well, not legal ones) at all. But if you're taking my food order, you should at least be able to pronounce the farking menu items, don't you think?!?!?

If you're a franchiser, I can just imagine the drool coming off your lips right now. Buy these! Buy them NOW and install them in your lobby. Do away with half your cashier staff during rush hours!! Do away with countless wasted training dollars!! Do away with the added liability of barely trained minimum wage, non-English speaking workers in an area where burns, slips, trips and other hazards are waiting to drain your worker's compensation coffers. Minimize your staff to one or two trained counter personnel to handle problems and the drive-through window. Save a ton of dough, and make ME, the customer happy on top of it.

Just so you know, yes, I DID buy stock in the company. I think it's a fantastic idea, and think that if you don't pick up a piece of this action, you're going to soon wish you had a nickle for every ATM installed in America's 7-11s.....think about it, investors...[RBSY] on the pink sheets.

Timewaster of the Month Club

The Dead Awaken - an online web-browser based game that my son turned me on to. While not the best of games, it does have a strange addictive quality to it. Fortunately for the user, it is turn-based and you're only given a full set of turns each day. While you can earn extra turns, the site is probably best visited at most three times per day if you want to use all of your turns.

On the site, I play a zombie - but it's your choice, human or zombie. You can visit the graveyard and go grave-robbing, head down to the mall to kill some wandering zombies/humans, or even head down to the subway for a mission of smearing blood on things to attract more zombies (and get paid for it).

The game harkens back to the like of the old BBS games we played and wrote back in the 1980's. Trying to become top zombie will probably take you awhile, though. The game rewards those who've played the longest, so I'll probably never hit the Top 10 lists on this site.

It's an interesting diversion, and very different from the MUD experience. Give it a whirl and let me know if you like it.

January 03, 2006

New Years Resolutions?

I'll write these down - but I'm old enough to know they won't happen (*grin*):

1. Lose weight (again) - 20 pounds this year, please?
2. Get and stay organized.
3. Throw away all the useless crap I love to accumulate.
4. Work Harder.
5. Play Harder.
6. Buy Less Crap. Don't we all have enough toys already? I've got to stop buying them.


January 02, 2006

The MobiBLU

I went shopping with my Christmas money (what was left of it) - and came out of Walmart holding the 1GB MobiBLU MP3 player. This little player has an FM radio, a built-in microphone, 1GB (922 MB usable) of memory, SRS/WOW/EQ settings, a clock, and it can record (at settable bitrate/sensitivity) off the microphone or the FM radio. It also has an OLED screen and is only 1 inch cubed!!

That's right - it has 7 buttons (8 if you count the reset pin), 1 input jack, a necklace clip and an OLED screen on 5 of it's 6 square inch sides. This thing is SMALL! It came with necklace earphones, a charger, some software to update the BIOS (when they release new ones [or when someone decides to load Linux on it?]).

I charged it up with music from my collection, (it takes protected WMAs [evil] and MP3s) and took it out to play. It has a volume setting that goes up to 30. With it set to its highest level, I could hear it on top of a club band at an oldies club on New Years Eve, although it didn't drown them out (doh). At level 16, it sounds loud enough for my ears in a roughly noiseless environment. At level 20, I can't hear my wife calling me from the next room (bonus!).

You can play in repeat 1/repeat all/random/random all modes, and you can browse for songs (although the song names obviously have to scroll on the screen, which displays 3x5 from a text perspective. They could have cut out the graphical part of the tree display to give you up to 8 characters. Maybe they will in a future upgrade. I found only one problem with the player so far, and that is the number of folders it will actually read from the player. Even though I stored 100 folders of stuff on it, only the first 20 or so [I didn't count] deep showed the file contents when I was playing the music. Even on random mode, it didn't pick up those files.

All in all, it's a good value, but you need to know that it's not compatible with any of the To Go services like Yahoo or Napster. You can buy protected WMA's from Walmart (where I got the player) and it comes with 5 free songs. On top of that, you will need MP3 files, so you'll have to rip your own content or play mostly independent music that can be found on the 'net.

January 01, 2006

Happy New Year - Courtesy Please..

Bowling courtesy, that is. When I was younger than a teenager, my father brought us to the bowling alley. The first thing we learned was not how to toss the ball down the lane. No, the first thing we learned was bowling courtesy. This includes not standing on the approach (the wood of the lane) until it was your turn to bowl, and to wait for the player in the two lanes to your left and right to finish bowling before even thinking of getting on the wood.

In today's world, courtesy seems to be a lost art. Yesterday I attended a bowling New Years Eve party. The one thing that irritates me more than ANYTHING when I'm at a bowling alley is when the lane next to mine has children and ADULTS!! that completely ignore bowling courtesy. Not only can it be dangerous as all hell (Hello, I'm swining a 16-pound ball through a half-arc; maybe you should keep your children on their own lane, and wait till I'm done?!!), but it's annoying, and distracting.

I don't even mind when your child misses his lane and throws his ball down my lane. Indeed, I even find that to be cute, and it's to be expected when you hand a 5 pound weight to a 5 year old to throw down the lane - it's not a problem, no ma'am, but could you please keep your stupid little brat behind the wood when it's not his turn to bowl? Thank you very much.

On top of which, it's very difficult to approach a parent who themselves doesn't seem to know common bowling courtesy and ask that they preach it to their children. It's embrarrasing for one, and you're trying to tell them to control their family, always a mother-bear reaction just waiting for you. Sigh - well, I bowled a 168,169 and 142, so didn't do too bad, but I'm sure I could have done better if I wasn't worried about cracking open Junior's skull in the next lane.