Saturday, December 31, 2011

Flying Cars vs. The Mayans

Today is the last day of 2011.  Which means that tomorrow marks the beginning of an epic battle:  Flying Cars vs. The Mayans!

Six hundred years ago, the Mayans told everyone their smoke signals would reach that the world would end in 2012.  Then, a scant sixty years ago, a pack of upstart science fiction writers promised us that 2010 would be the year that cars started flying.

With nothing to show in the last two years, will we ever get flying cars before the Mayans kill us all?


Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Don't Normally Talk about Video Games

Okay, so that's a lie. I talk about video games all the time. Just, you know, not in my blog.

In fact, I haven't talked about anything in my blog in a while. It's not that I didn't have anything to say, it's more that I didn't have time to write it down. But I do now.

Why, you ask? Well, mostly it's because of a video game. The ironically titled Rage. The multi-award-winning long dreamt of collaboration between Id (known for graphics and technology) and Bethesda (known for intricate and detailed plots). It promised to be truly epic. The game is beautiful, to be sure. The first person shooting has a wonderful feel. The driving is fun in the open world, though the vehicle combat is poor and the racing feels like a tacked on chore that you have to slog through to get to more of the game where you kill things.

And therein lies the rub: There isn't any more of the game (hence my statement that the title was ironic). At a point in plot development that feels like you're just about to get to the good stuff, and have a reason to actually use the plethora of killing implements you've been stockpiling this whole time, the game ends. No boss fight. No epic cutscene. Just... one moment your on an elevator shooting muties (literally one shot-one kill using upgraded ammo and the first weapon that I ever got in the whole game... this on the "hard" difficulty), and the next you're watching a non-epic cutscene of a satellite flying over earth. And then some "arks" (small round buildings, basically) rise out of the ground. And then the credits roll.

I almost took the game back claiming it to be defective, as it is *clearly* incomplete. It's as if you were watching Falling Skies, and just as the humans are about to bring war to the aliens, they get wiped out except for a few notable stars, one of whom fires a non-guided rocket with miraculous aim to blow up a single alien fighter-jet-thing and then the boss of all aliens lands out of nowhere and congratulates him for his pluck. Oh, wait... that actually happened.

Okay, it's more like you're watching Lost, and after setting up an interesting backstory and dynamic character relationship between Libby and Hurly, they kill her out of nowhere in the very next episode. Wait, wait... that happened too.

Okay, so this sort of thing happens all the time in television. But, and I must stress this, not in video games. This is mostly because you don't buy TV one episode at a time, except on iTunes. Or maybe because you don't pay $60 for an episode of TV, so if one of them does happen to suck balls, it's not that bad.

The bottom line here is that I'm not going buy another Bethesda game without first hearing the reviews. Well, except for Skyrim. Which I'd already pre-ordered before Rage came out. Damnit.

The real bottom line here is that I'm not going to buy another Id game until they learn how a goddamn plot works. This one I stand by. Their best game was and still is, in my mind, Doom 2. What happened to their level and monster design? Out the window to make room for more fancy graphics, I guess. This is a claim I can stand by: Rage should have been good. Could have been good. But wasn't.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fresh and Easy: The Ikea of Supermarkets

I don't know how many of my faithful readers have ever been to Fresh and Easy, but... okay, okay, that's a like. I know that one of you has and one of you hasn't. Fine. Let me start over.

For my beloved reader who has not yet been to Fresh and Easy "Neighborhood Market," I offer you this plum: Modular Home Meal Design.

Granted, you can buy normal produce or other "food"-type products there, but why? I mean, you can, for a scant $3.99, purchase an almost-ready-to-eat Jumbalaya! Or a Chinese Chicken Salad (they keep the fried wontons in a separate pouch so they stay crunchy), or any one of a number of pastas.

For me, this is heaven. You see, I work nights, and there just aren't that many healthy (or good) places to get "lunch" from at 6:00 am. So I swing by F&E once a week, pick up an assortment of meals or meal elements, and take them to the office with me. Some can be eaten right out of the package (the salads come with sporks and napkins, too), and some need 3-5 minutes in a microwave. And they're good. Not just "edible" but actually recommendably (that's a word now) delicious. The Chinese Chicken Salad I personally believe is better than any of the ones that we get from the fancy schmancy lunch delis that the office orders from once a week. And at 1/3 of the cost, what's not to love?

There's only one real drawback: At home, looking at my refrigerator full of hip packaging and schmaltzy urbanite food, I feel a bit like I'm not really hip enough to be truly enjoying this strange new Ikea of Grocers. And yet enjoy it I do. Mmmm...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Re-Porpoising Blogs... Again.

We did a lot of work on the house, and have a new bathroom and mostly new kitchen (as well as several very newly painted other rooms) to show for it. And I could tell you about those. But really, well, I'm not particularly interested in doing so. I was, for a couple of weeks there, I really was, but it's dawned on me that I'm just not down for the hours and hours that it takes to blog about things that I've already spent hours and hours doing.

So I'm re-purposing this blog yet again, now to a much more generic sort of format. I'm going to talk about random things for a while, and hopefully one or two of the topics will stick.

Let's start here.

This is a twitter account that I created. I post to it nearly every day. I have no idea why I find it so damn amusing, but if you're remotely close to my sense of humor, you may find it amusing as well.

Now to find some dolphins... you know, so my blog title makes sense.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Changing your Doorknobs and Locks

The very first thing that you should do when you buy a house, so I'm told, is change the locks. This is just in case some former resident has turned burglar. At least, that's the only reason I could think of that made any sense. Regardless, changing the locks and doorknobs (known as "hardware") on your home is really easy. In fact, it's a lot easier than it sounds!

Degree of difficulty: 1. It's about as hard as brushing your teeth, and easier than flossing them.

Cost: Anywhere from $5 to $45 per lock (if your door has a doorknob and a deadbolt, that's two locks as far as this cost is concerned) for new hardware. Re-keying a lock costs $5 per lock.

Time: About 5 minutes. The first one may take longer, just to get used to it.

What you'll need:
  1. A new doorknob/deadbolt/lock/etc.
  2. A phillips-head screwdriver.
  3. Access to a locksmith.

This last one may sound like cheating, but for around $5 a lock, any locksmith can re-key it to match any key that you have. In fact, if you don't mind leaving your home completely lock-less for an hour or so, you can just have the old hardware re-keyed to match any other key that you already have, which makes this a really cheap fix.

In our case, we hated the old, dirty, gross, and painted on hardware, so we bought new stuff. Our doorknobs were $25 each, the deadbolts were $35 each, and re-keying of 4 of the locks costs another $5 each. New hardware typically comes in lots of 3 identical key sets, so we didn't have to re-key 3 of our deadbolts. We got 4 deadbolts, 4 key lock doorknobs, 2 push-button lock doorknobs, and one non-locking doorknob. All of the stainless steel variety. Total cost was about $350 to put entirely new doorknobs and deadbolts on every single door in our house, as well as our detached garage. The new knobs and locks come with all the necessary screws and sill guards, so there's no additional or hidden costs.

If you like a more classic or antique look, head over to an archetectural salvage yard. They have classic - mostly glass prism-type - doorknobs for around $2-$10 each. These *may not* come with actual latches, or you may have to dig around to find a complete set, but it's an inexpensive alternative.

But enough chit-chat. How does one change a lock, anyway?
  • First, you need to remove the old hardware. Open the door. There's two screws on the latch (edge) of the door that need to be removed. Don't worry, nothing will fall off the door at this point.
  • Second, there are two screws on the inside part of the door (deadbolt latch or inside doorknob) that hold the two knobs or sides of the deadbolt together. Remove those. The doorknob *might* fall off when the last screw comes out, so I recommend holding both halves together with one hand.
  • Once the screws are all out, just grasp both doorknobs and pull them apart. The latch assembly will stay in the door, you can just pull that out after setting down the knobs. Congratulations on removing a doorknob or deadbolt!
  • Putting your new hardware in is just as easy. Slide in the latch assembly (make sure you have it facing the right way so the door will close!) and screw it in place.
  • Then find the half of your doorknob that has a long, protruding piece, and slide that through the latch assembly. You might have to rotate this piece prior to sliding it through to get it to fit, or to make sure that your key-holes are right-side up.
  • Once this piece is in place, slide the other half of the doorknob assembly over the protruding piece. They should fit quite nicely and look, well, just like a real doorknob!
  • As before, there are two screws that will need to be screwed in place to finish the installation. These may be at an odd angle for your screwdriver, but shouldn't give you too much trouble.
  • Well done, dear reader, you've changed the locks!
  • The final step is replacing the old strike plate with the one that matches your new hardware. The strike plate is the metal thing on the door sill that your latch hits (or "strikes") every time you close the door. Two screws keep the old one in place. Just remove them, remove the old plate, place the new plate, and screw it in. You may have to reposition this slightly to make your new hardware fit, but it shouldn't be any challenge to do so.

That's it for doorknobs and deadbolts. Next time I'm going to examine a more challenging doorknob installation: Putting oversized locks into security gates. Sounds tricky, but really it's just a more elbow-grease intensive task than a technically challenging one.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Re-Purposing Your Old Blog

This is the first of my many DIY posts, and possibly the most pertinent: How to repurpose your old "I'm about to get married" blog after you get married.

For me, this was a difficult task that took many months, however, I'm now ready to change things up and start posting (i'd say "again" but, well, I didn't really post much to begin with. This is about to change).

Degree of Difficulty: 0. If you find this hard, you should not be blogging, nor should you own a computer. I'd suggest that you just go put yourself out of your misery, but seeing as that has a higher degree of difficulty, maybe you should just resign yourself to being bedridden in your mom's attic for the rest of your life.

Here's what you'll need:
  1. An Idea.
  2. A Computer.
  3. Um... typing... skills. Maybe.

Time: This should take about 10 minutes.

How to do this amazing thing:
  1. Sign in to your blog. If you're like me and using blogspot, just hit the nifty "settings" button in the upper right to get you going.
  2. Change the title of the blog. "Jimmy is about to get married" was a sucky title anyway. Your new title should have something to do with your new blog Idea (that first thing you needed to do this). As you can see, mine has changed from "Mr. Un-Bride" to "Mr. Un-Bride's DIY Guide". It rhymes, which I sort of like, but which is also sort of annoying, so I'll probably change that again in the future. Anyway, just make yours "Jimmy got married and is now blogging about X" for the time being. Still sucky, sorry Jimmy.
  3. Change your blog description. That thing is waaay out of date. "Jimmy is about to get married" was already a sucky title, why did you make it your description, too? Bad Jimmy! Bad! Let's make it "Jimmy describes his feelings after watching the latest episodes of Jersey Shore." That's pretty good for now.
  4. Make a post in your blog about how you've re-purposed and are actually going to start posting again!

Well done! Tune in next time to find out how to change to locks now that the house is yours and not your ex-wife's. Or... bank's. I don't have an ex-wife (and hopefully I'll never write a blog on how to get one. If you're curious about it though, check out Tiger Woods' blog...).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Something about the Wedding. No no, really.

I have procured gifts for the groomsmen.

This was, I assure you, my dear readers (there are more than one of you, right?), a very arduous task. I also departed from the usual "flask" and "belt buckle" and "watch" and even the "mont blanc" for you hoity-toity types.

Now, because the gifts have not yet been bestowed, I don't want to ruin the surprise, but I feel that they were informed more by my philosophy of gift-giving than by anything even remotely related to the wedding. Please, allow me to elaborate:

I believe that a gift should be something which the recipient wants, but isn't willing to pay for themselves.

I want to be clear. I am not saying that overpriced gifts are better gifts. Indeed, the actual price tag is not even what I am referring to when I say "pay." What I mean is that there are things that we would like, and there are things that we need, and while sometimes in a rare while these two things intersect and produce a lovely child (which you can then buy and take home as your own, just as if you lived in Indo-China), it is far more common for the things that we would like to be further down the list of possibilities than the things that we need.

Example: I need a car. I would like a Ferrari.

Yeah... Not in a long, long while will that "like" even be remotely possible.

So when I select a gift, I consider the things that the recipient needs. Then I consider what they would like in relation to those needs, and weigh the options until I strike upon something which I would generally consider to be beyond the scope of what they would reasonably pay for themselves.

My fiancee, for example, needs cheese. If you're any sort of real human, I'm sure that agree that cheese forms one of the major food groups on its own, closely related to the Philly-Cheese-Steak food group though it may be. So she needs cheese. But what does she want? The fact is, she doesn't know what she wants, all that she knows is that cheese calls her by name from the darkest part of the night, and it grows more and more difficult for her to resist the temptation to go screaming into the shadows.

So I must deduce: What she reasonably wants is simply some cheese. That's not a good gift. She could go out and buy some cheese and it would not really phase her at all. No, a good gift is beyond the reasonable (which is why rich people are terrible to shop for - instead you must get them an experience which is rarified and beyond the purview of their typical adventures; but I digress). A good gift satisfies the need while exemplifying the want.

So too, have I - rightly, I believe - ascertained the needs and wants of a group of four men, alike in friendship but disparate in means. Yes, I think this will go quite well tomorrow. You know, because that's the bachelor party.

Oh, crap.

I'd better start packing.