Oct 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everybody!

Have you got your costume ready? Are you all set for going out and making a "ghoul" of your self at a party, or are you going to be hanging around and 'trick-or-treating' with the kids?
Well, whatever you do have fun!

Also... Happy Birthday to Peter Jackson, who turned 48 today.

What have I been up to lately?
Until yesterday, not a whole lot.
I've working on my unemployment obligations, so nothing exciting there.

I'm still doing the organization work for a friend of mine. Finally starting to see some progress there. It felt like I really wasn't making much of a dent in it but I'm starting to see that's not the case now.

On Wednesday I applied for a job position that I'd been hoping would open up.
I'm really excited about it, although I haven't been called in for an interview so I'm just in a holding pattern for now.

Thursday I had to attend mandatory "orientation" at the local unemployment office. *YAWN!*
But that's out of my way now. It counted as a job search for my requirements, and since it was early in the day AND it completed my week's quota... I blew the rest of the day off and watched horror movies while Hotness was at work.

First up was the remake of "Friday the 13th".
Other than being a newer "retelling" of the story, this movie didn't bring anything to the table that was really all that good. (Except for Julianna Guill. RAWR!)
I wasn't shocked in the least and the suspense wasn't really there.
On the plus side, it was better than the original in that it had a better budget and so the effects were on a higher level than when it first came out. Overall.... meh.

Second movie was the remake of "Halloween" which was directed by Rob Zombie.
This one fired on all 8 cylinders and was a great remake of the original.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My only regret is having watched it during the daytime, as I think it would've been much better to watch it after dark with the lights turned down. Other than that, I thought it was top-notch for a horror / suspense movie.

On Friday I was supposed to babysit my nephew for the morning, but that ended rather abruptly when he decided that he'd had enough excitement and fell asleep in his highchair while eating breakfast.
I'd only been there 45 minutes before the little tyke crashed and burned. His mom was already home, so she put him to bed and didn't need me to stick around anymore.

I went the next town and picked up some Halloween candy to hand out at their house tonight, and while I was there I went to see a movie.
I'd been looking forward to seeing it ever since I heard it was coming out and wanted to catch it in the theater.
It was just under 2 hours long and when it was finished I felt like I'd really spent my money on a "non-experience".
I don't know... The cinematography was well done. The music was appropriately moody and fitting. The costume design was incredible. But when the movie was over I just felt like it really didn't say anything.
This is one case where I really think the book was better.

With that finished, I came back home and putzed around the house for a bit.
Then I took off in the late afternoon to catch up with my good friend Liz and go see a concert in Seattle that night.
She had won tickets to go see UFO at Neumo's and asked me if I wanted to join her.

The music was great. They are a band from the late 70's that has continued to have a somewhat lucrative career in rock, although they are somewhat unknown to a lot of people in the U.S. who are under 35 years old.
I looked around the crowd and it seemed like I was the youngest person there. Kind of a shock, but at least I wasn't "creepy old guy" for a change!

As for the bar, well.... I won't be going back just for drinks there anytime soon. If ever.
I'm not much of a social drinker when I'm out and about, so I didn't know what I wanted when we were at the bar. I sat down with Liz and looked over the drink menu.
Let me clarify that a bit. It's a "menu" of the types of drinks they can make which you pay for to enjoy. Sort of like going to a restaurant and ordering a food item that they offer on their menu.
So I went up to the bar and ordered my drink. The bartender said "A what?", so I repeated it and then said, "It's in your drink menu".
He fiddled with some cash for a moment, filled a beer glass and then came back to me and said, "What is it called?". I repeated it again. He looked puzzled.
Then he grabbed a glass and mixed up something that sounded like what I wanted and handed it to me. Plus he overcharged me for it.
So not only only did I not get what I wanted, but the bartender WHO WORKS AT THE BAR THAT OFFERED THE DRINK MENU didn't know what drinks were on that menu. Plus I paid extra for his lack of knowledge.
Customer service FAIL in my book. Thank you very little.

We finished and our drinks and then went to see the band. They rocked for over an hour and had a couple of encores. Then we left and headed for home.
It was well after midnight and the roads were very wet, so I stayed at her place and had breakfast there before coming back to my house to Hotness today.

Tonight we'll be handing out candy to costumed hoodlums at separate locations.
She'll be downtown at the auto parts store and I'll be at our friend's house.
Then after the ghosts and goblins (and princesses) settle down for the night, we'll be heading to a local restaurant for their Halloween shindig. It should be a fun evening.

** UPDATE!! **
I forgot I'd taken pictures of the band last night.
They aren't great but here they are:

We were on the left side of the stage in the second row, so we got a great view.

Oct 25, 2009

Wall Of Sound

I mentioned earlier that I had acquired a 5.1 surround sound DVD player in trade for some work I did for a friend, so I thought I might talk a bit about that.

A buddy of mine recently upgraded from an older system to a newer, wireless surround sound with Blu-ray DVD system. (OoOoOo... fancy shmancy!)
He had recently gotten it and hooked it up, so his older system was still at the house.

He mentioned offhandedly that he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with the old system.
He didn't want to waste time trying to sell it, since it was older and probably couldn't get much for it, but he also didn't want to throw it away, as it still worked perfectly good.

I said, "Well if you want to get rid of it, I'd take it off your hands if that's okay."
He thought that'd be great, seeing as how I was already doing stuff for him and it would be a good trade.

So I packed it up and brought it home.
Along the way, I also picked up some new speaker wire. (The ones it came with were a bit damaged from his kittens playing with them)

I've never owned or set up a surround sound system before, and since I didn't have the directions that came with them I wanted to devote a whole day to work on getting it together.
My buddy Imperfect found the instruction manual online at the mfg'r's website, so I downloaded it in preparation of setting it up and read through it briefly to familiarize myself with it.

On Wednesday, Hotness worked from home and I had no other plans that day, so I picked that day to get working on taking apart my previous system and getting the new one hooked up.

I'm not going to go into details about the process ('cause it's pretty boring actually).
But I wanted to tell you what I had been using compared to what I have now.

I bought a Panasonic DVD player about 10 years ago. It was my first and only DVD player I purchased (for myself, at least).
I hooked it up to my home stereo and when Hotness and I would watch movies we had the "luxury" of listening to movies play in quadraphonic stereo (two stereo speakers + two TV speakers). This was the height of my sound system and has worked for us all this time.

I'd watched movies at friend's houses with better systems, but was still quite happy with my mediocre system.

I got done fixing the wires on the newer machine and hooked everything up. I turned it on and balanced the speakers.
Then I put in a DVD that I new had a lot of "sounds" so that I could see if I noticed much of a difference.

HOLY COW!!! What a difference indeed!
This new sound system is amazing compared to what we were using before.
There are so many little things we weren't hearing before when we watched movies.
I think we were only getting about 2/3 of the actual soundtrack at any given time.

I'm not an audiophile so I don't go around looking for the latest and greatest to try and get perfection for my ears.
But having used the set-up I had been for the last 10 or so years, I am very excited and happy to have this newer system to use.

In case you're interested, this is what I have now: SONY DAV-C770
It's gotten mediocre reviews, but I can honestly say that I have no complaints about it.
Now I'm going to have to re-watch all my DVDs so I can hear what I'd been missing all this time!

Oct 23, 2009

And Here Are Those Pictures I Promised

Well, I may not be speedy, but I do deliver.... eventually.

I meant to get some pictures up about a week ago but I let it slide and look where we are now.
Anyway, here a few pictures from things I've been doing lately. Enjoy.

In between job searches I been filling my time up with babysitting for my niece and nephew.
A few nights back I had the chance to watch them for the evening while their parents went out looking for a new vehicle (read: bigger kid-transport).
My niece put these fangs on and tried to scare me:

It worked 'really well' as I was certainly terrified and couldn't sleep at all after being frightened by that cute face. (*wink wink*)

On a different day, I watched her brother in the morning.
He hadn't yet had breakfast, so I thought I'd make cinnamon toast for him and see if he liked it.

Trying it out
Seems to be a success!

Other than babysitting, I've also been doing some organizing at a friend's place.
He's been behind in getting his comic books filed and asked if I could come lend a hand while I'm available.

In trade for some of the work, he gave me his older 5.1 surround sound DVD player, since he'd recently upgraded to a newer system. (More on this later)
Also, I get to hang out with his kitties all day while I'm there.

See what rough working conditions I have to deal with?

Wednesday last week, I was running some errands and ended up in Lynnwood.
I stopped by the Comic Stop and later treated myself to some sushi at Sushi Misoya next door to the shop.
This place is tiny, but what they lack in size, they more than make up for in excellent food.
On this trip I had the 'paradise roll' and the 'tarantula roll'.

Absolutely wonderful and the people who run the place are fantastic!
If you like sushi and find yourself in Lynnwood one day, I highly recommend going there to eat.
Their prices are reasonable and their food if well worth it. (They also have non-sushi items on the menu as well, if that's not your "thing")

On Sunday, Hotness and I went to our first opera of the season.
Well, technically it wasn't the "first of the season" but it as OUR first one this season.
We went and saw "La Traviata". (Click the link to find out the synopsis)
It was wonderful. A very tragic opera with a suitably sad ending.
I'm not ashamed to say that I was bit sniffly at the end, but Hotness was definitely teary-eyed.
It was a good thing we'd brought tissues with us!
Here's a shot of the traffic afterwards as everybody was leaving the parking garage.

I took it from the Skybridge.

After that we went to Pomodoro for a bit to eat.
The two of us haven't been there together since I'd proposed to Hotness... 7 months ago!
Oh, it was so good and we'd missed coming there. The food was splendid (as usual) and we got to see our favorite waitress (who missed seeing us as well!).
We had our usual: calamari, halibut ceviche, as well as the Penne alla Vodka which we shared.
(Mmmm... calamari!)

I am so looking forward to our next opera, "Il Trovatore". It has treachery, deceit, political intrigue, attempted murder, kidnapping... and gypsies!
It also happens to be right around my birthday, so it's a double treat. (Guess we'll have to celebrate at Pomodoro again!)

That's most of what's been happening lately.
I probably forgot a few things, but I can't give away EVERYTHING.

I'll try to get back to this again soon, so stay tuned.

Oct 16, 2009

Pictures To Follow Soon

Hey there!
I haven't forgotten about you all.
I just didn't think anybody would be interested in hearing my daily unemployment status.
("Woke up. Applied for some jobs. Didn't get called. Went back to bed. Etc.... Repeat daily")

I've actually been keeping quite busy, so this break from work has been kind of pleasant to get caught up on a few things.

I've got some pictures to post, but I don't have them loaded on the computer yet. I'll try to do it tomorrow and get 'em up on here for you to see.

In the meantime, I thought I'd chime in to let you all know I'm still very much alive and kicking. Just not very "blog" active lately.
Actual content coming soon though.

Oct 6, 2009

Barbie Couch

Yesterday I spent part of my afternoon watching my niece and nephew so their mom could take a break and catch up on things she'd been putting off.

My nephew was asleep for most of the time, so it was my niece and myself for the better part of the time I was there.

We painted some rocks together for a craft project, and when we were finished I asked her what else she'd like to do.
"Let's play Barbies!" was her reply.
We went up to her room and she was very specific on which ones we'd be taking downstairs to play with.

We came back down and she decided they were going to all go on a "camping trip". So it was a Barbie slumber-party on the living room floor.

While they were 'setting up camp', they all took a break to "chat" and sat down on the couch...
which was conveniently similar looking to my leg:

Anyway, we played Barbies for a little while when I heard a "POP" noise come from the kitchen.
I knew what it was, but I made a funny face anyway.
My niece said, "Oh, that's just the 'fridgerator. It makes that noise."
I said, "I thought it came from you".
She replied, "No it's makes ice and does that".
I told her, "Well, I thought maybe you made ice with your butt".
She laughed and said, "Uncle Ferretnick*, you make me laugh so hard that sometimes I cry!"

She's almost four years old and saying things like that? She's such a trip!

* Obviously, she didn't call me "uncle Ferretnick", but I avoid using real names on here as much as possible.

Oct 5, 2009

Cthulhu Cupcakes

Saturday was quite a fun and eventful day.

It was the day that some of the members of the Comic Stop Social Club got together to have a baby shower for Dr. Zoltar and his lovely assistant.

He (being a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft) and she (being very tolerant of his geeky ways) were given a "Cthulhu-themed" shower.

I wanted to bring something, as we are a bunch of snack-eating people, so I decided to make Cthulhu cupcakes.
I'd never made any before, so I did a quick Google search which directed me to here.
They were cute, but the Mt. Dew cupcake recipe is what really intrigued me about them.
This I had to try.

I should have started on Friday night, but instead I got started on Saturday morning.
It became apparent that I wouldn't have time to make the cupcake batter in the recipe but I could at least make the frosting.
So, going forward from there I got out my supplies and got busy.

The frosting recipe called for me to boil down the Mt. Dew and reduce it into more of a syrup to concentrate the flavor. So I did that while I started in on the cake batter.
I decided to use a white cake batter and just add food coloring to it.
I added a few drops of green food color and to add a little flavor I put in 2 teaspoons of lemon extract and the zest from a whole lime and half of a lemon.
Then I spooned the batter into the prepared paper lined pans and put them in the oven.

They came just fine with a nice pale green color.

While they were cooling, I mixed up the frosting.
It wasn't very green, so I added some food coloring to it. (Mostly some green but also a couple drops of blue to make it darker than the cupcakes)

Despite the amount of flour and butter in the frosting, it was still a little soft and tended to spread. But for the most part it stayed on top of the cupcakes.
(I've since found out that the frosting holds in place better after it's been chilled in the fridge for a bit, but it's a little harder to spread evenly)

Once they were all frosted, I got the garnishes ready.
I used "very cherry", "watermelon" and "peach" Jelly Bellys for the eyes and "Zappin' Apple" sour punch straws for the tentacles.

and made a few to get the look I was going for.

Then I left Hotness to finish them for me while I jumped into the shower to get ready.

They were VERY moist cupcakes and only had a hint of citrus flavor to them. (Less than I'd have preferred, but at least I didn't go overboard and make them too "lemony")
The cup cakes were a hit and went very well with the punch that was served

as well as the cake

The baby shower, itself, was a total blast and we all had a great time.
We all look foward to the "geekling" when she makes her appearance to the world next month.

Oct 1, 2009


Not a very "catchy" blog post title, but it does get right to the point don't it?

Anyway, like it says, I am now currently unemployed.
After 15 years of working for the same company, I was let go today due to economic conditions.
Basically, they couldn't afford to keep 5 salespeople on the payroll when there was really only enough work for 2-1/2. So, somebody had to go.

I've kind of seen it coming and was expecting it to happen right about now.
September was the last month of our fiscal year, and October was the beginning.
If layoffs were going to happen, it was going to be around this time.

I'm not looking forward to my unemployment status (who does, really?), but I'm not all that shaken up about it.
I expected it to happen for a while and if I'd been thinking "Well, it won't be me" I'd have just been thinking like an idiot.
Now it's like a weight has been taken off. I don't have to get up in the morning and wonder if it's going to be my last day or not. I just had my last day.

I promised when I started this blog that I wouldn't gripe about my work, and I think I've honored that.
I'm not going to start now, but I would like to get a few things out of my system.

I'd been there for 15 years. That's along time.
I could've gotten married, had a kid and have that kid in High School this year during the length of time I've been there.

One thing I've been asked alot is "What do I want to do?"
Honestly... I do not know.
What I do know, is that I don't want to work in the same industry anymore.
I'm tired of it. In fact, I never really liked it. But the pay was good and it let me afford my hobbies. I may not have been enjoying it, but I'm not going to rock the boat . That'd be foolish.

On the other hand, I haven't had that many different jobs. The ones I've had have been V-E-R-Y diverse, but I haven't had that many of them. And for the last 15 years, I've been doing the same thing.
Now I've got to go look for another job, and I'm pushing 40 while there are a whole slew of younger bucks out there fresh on the market. That doesn't seem too favorable for me.
I may have to suck it up and do what I know how to do, instead of something different.
We'll see. I'll be sure to keep you posted one way or the other.

One of the downsides is that while I may have had a 'customer / provider' relationship with people I dealt with on the phone, there were quite a few whom I was friends with.
I'm going to miss talking with them.
Luckily some of them have my personal email and I'll be able to keep contact with a few of them.
But not all of them.

On the plus side, I won't have to deal with the same old office beauracracy I've been dealing with these past years.
I get to look forward to a whole new one.
Also, I really didn't want to be there when I turned 40. Now I guess I got my wish.

Now that that's out of my system, I get to start all over.
Tomorrow I'm going into Redmond and Elwood is going to help me with my unemployment paperwork.
It sucks that I've had friends lose their jobs recently as well, but thankfully they can help me navigate this uncharted territory. I'm very appreciative for their help.

I got a pretty generous severance, so as long we tighten our belts and don't do anything stupid, we should be okay for a while.
I'm actually not too worked up about this.

..... and by the way, that stapler in the picture above is mine.
I bought it.
Nobody's keeping my red Swingline stapler!

NUDGE Music Maker

I've playing around with this for a few days.
It's kind of addictive.

You can pick and choose the particular notes you want to have play, or just drag your mouse over random spots and see what happens.
You can also change the tempo and volume for each "instrument", and you can speed up or slow the beats per minute. (or 'BPM' for you Ravers out there)

I wish there was a way to save your music.
If there is I haven't found out how to do it yet.