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( #8 ... from 09/18/38 )

07/28/39 ---------------- Big Time Gambler
  I went on vacation in Colorado and visited "The Lodge Blackhawk" in the Rockies just west of Golden. It's about a half mile strip of casinos wedged in between mountains. I took my own advice and just decided to lose $100 dollars playing the penny slots. These are all electronic now so you may feel like a rat in an experiment designed to see how many times you will push the lever in response to minimal stimuli ... or better yet ... how many times you will push the button to feel pain when each push carries with it the "chance" that you just may feel "joy" ... errr ... jackpot.
I got down to about $20 bucks and the gods of chance favored me with a $84.16 victory which just about brought me back to even (it cost $4.95 to get the 100 off my debit card). Thereafter, I piddled the whole thing away over a period of 4-5 hours. So, we had a fairly good time losing money ... hmmmm ... the upside is all the bells and whistles on the machines that give you a "genuine" thrill. My recommendation is then that if you are approaching a casino and have something else to do ... do the other thing and save your money for a nice dinner out.

07/15/39 ----------------Transformers
  Went to see Transformers with the grandkids ... twice. I took them twice because I liked it and it won't ever come back to the big screen and that's where it looks best. This is not just kiddie fair. They have made the perfect movie (moneywise). That's a movie that the parents like and they can take their kids to as well. Now, if the kids like it enough ... they will go twice. That's where the big bucks are. Get mom or pop to take the kids ... twice. Now, you can buy a big rake at WalMart to pull in the dough.
Saw "Harry Potter 5" also. It was OK but not as good as Transformers. The Bruce Willis' Die Hard 4 was very good also (better than Potter). We saw Spidey 3 on a pirate disc and were sorry for that ... not for the movie producers as much as for ourselves because you just can't watch a big screen movie on a TV and get the same effect as on the big movie screen. And ... you can only get the "big kick" out of a movie ... once. So, I don't recommend watching a movie you really want to see on a pirate disc just because it's cheap. Cheap thrills I don't want. I want the real deal in the regular movie show.
Also, pirate discs generally suck as well ... something will go wrong with the visuals or the sound will go out of sync or any of a hundred different things. Given this eventuallity, I recommend ... if you want to buy the disc ... wait till the regular formal release and go to WalMart and buy it for $14.99. You get the extra stuff too that you don't get on the pirate disc. Pirate discs suck all way 'round ... but their cheap. Maybe if you live in rural Venezuela you should buy a pirated disc.

06/24/39 ---------------- Bush Tollway
  I went about 20 miles on the George Bush Turnpike yesterday. Since George is no longer considered by me to be an honest man, I wondered if his turnpike might be dirty too. After a few moments reflection I realized that indeed it is dirty. It's not that a toll is exacted to pay for construction. It's that the toll will be eternal ... and ... there is a method to the madness of this particular tollroad. It is this.
  They want a decent and relatively uncrowded path through the city for ... the uppercrust. They don't wish to alleviate heavy traffic in general ... just for the wealthier segment of the population. The rest of us are just to get along on the old freeways as best we can while most highway monies go to the construction of the new freeways for the rich and infamous.
  This is how it works. I can take the George Bush Turnpike anytime I like (at about $.75 per five miles) ... so going to Frisco from Euless takes about six bucks round trip. That's OK by me ... once in awhile. But if I had to commute everyday to a low paying job ... I've got to stay off because of the accumulating expense. Get it? I can't use it for the rush hour because I can't afford it. But the wealthy can. So, this is the fast lane for Mercedes and Lexus and BMWs. It's their road ... their right of way. See? It's dirty.

03/14/39 ---------------- "300"
  Went to see "300" Spartans last Sunday night. I had high hopes that it would be a great picture. Sadly, I was disappointed. The visuals were indeed great but the story was ... empty. I read that they only spent two months filming and a year in post production. It shows. The actors did their best with a mediocre script and buffed up real nice for the film but it wasn't enough.
  I don't care about historial accuracy over story. I want to see a good story and to hell with history. No story ... no movie. I just didn't care about the characters probably because the dialogue was insufficient to develop them into acceptable real individuals.
  They made some logical errors too that don't sit well with me in any story. For instance, the Spartans are shown erecting a wall out of boulders on the water side of the pass. And the actual "pass" is a cleft between two pieces of the same split mountain which they called the "hot gates". This supposedly made the pass real narrow giving the edge to the Spartans. There wasn't such a cleft in the mountain in the real battle (which doesn't bother me) for if there were ... the battle would have gone like this:
  The Persians would have gone to the wall instead of the hot gates and taken down the boulders and put them in front of the Spartans. You can't logically erect a twenty foot high wall undefended and expect the opposition not to knock it down. It would be a waste of time. No matter how many rocks they put there it just a minor impediment to be removed by 300,000 Persians.
  Also, from the fact that the real Spartans held the pass for two and a half days indicates that it was a fairly narrow meandering path through a rock strewn plain. If other than this, the Persians could have just bulldozed them out with simple mechanical wedges built from trees riding on wheels and pushed by thousands of men. 300 men can't hold back 10s of thousands on a level surface with a front of say fifty feet. Remember that Xerxes engineers were resourceful enough to build a pontoon bridge across the Hellespont that was on the order of a mile long. So, they were intelligent enough to remove the Spartans (if they didn't see that there were several thousand other Greeks standing behind them).
  And having the Spartans speaking of such things as "freedom" is pretty much assinine in light of the beginning of the picture where they take the kid from his mother and turn him into an army "slave" ... they had lots of slaves then ... the slaves are the ones who fed the Spartans, i.e. no slaves = no Spartan warriors. The Spartans were light on brains and heavy on armament believing that brute force was a more effective way to deal with reality. This was inconsistent with fighting for freedom. They should have had the dialogue just focus on the Spartans code of honor which, in a way, was admirable given the times they lived in ... but "freedom fighters" they were not.
  Also, they threw in a gratuitous sex scene which to me is the same a those Bob Hope- Bing Crosby "road pictures" where in the middle of a scene they look out at the audience and make a joke with them ... which takes the viewer right out of the movie and ruins it. Anything "gratuitous" in a movie shouldn't be there whether it's sex or unabashed ads like having people eating breakfast and the husband says "Honey, pass me the Kelloggs Corn Flakes" and the wife says "Yes, try them again for the first time!". Would you like to see such extraneous shit in a movie you paid for? ... just to fill time? ... or make an extra buck? ... of be certain of getting an "R" rating?
  All in all it was a fairly decent movie ... for March ;o)

01/17/39 ---------------- New Orleans wins Super Bowl
  This is my official prediction for the outcome of the next Super Bowl.
New Orleans Saints against Indianapolic Colts. New Orleans wins by a touchdown about 27 to 21 ... something like that. The reasoning is as follows:
Professional football is 5% football, 10% illicit drug use, 20% extreme womanizing, 10% macho bullshit and 55% maudlin sentiment. So, Indianapolis gets in because ... "It's Peyton Manning's turn" boo hoo boo hoo. And ... New Orleans wins because ... They had the hurricane and they "need it" ... for the good of the country and ... all the po' folk down in da' bahyoooooo.

Addendum 1/22/39 :
New Orleans lost to Chicago. If things had gone as I pridicted, I should consider pro football as a waste sport. However, Chicago has redeemed them (for now) by kicking the "po foke" in the groin. Hooray for da Bears!

11/26/38 ----------------Happy Feet
  Saw this movie last night with my grandkids (10 and 12 years). It was excellent though I'd say the leopard seal chase scenes were maybe a little too strong for less than a 5 year old. The script is well made and the story is original ... and Robin Williams is a hoot, of course.
  There is a scene in this computer animated movie that I think is the best representation yet of a hard arctic storm and its effect on someone walking in it. One could really "feel" the cold and experience the wind chill effect. This movie looks like it will make a ton of "herring" at the box office. Go see it if you have kids over 4. They'll be engrossed by it.

11/17/38 ----------------Honda Wreck Business finished
  Yesterday I received a final check for $1823 from Standard Insurance. This is the settlement for injuries sustained, bills paid,etc. It's been a long time coming. I initially thought that the whole process should take no more than a week or two at most. Dream on !!
  Dealing with the insurance company was like standing on the edge of a big clearing and thinking, "It should take me about an hour to cross this" ... then ... you walk out and find yourself chest deep in mud under the dry crusty surface. You slog through this and weeks later arrive at the expected destination. Mind you ... I did this without a lawyer who would have charged me 40% for the privilege of having him suck my blood. I don't advocate using a lawyer unless there are hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake and the insurance company wants to pay you only tens of thousands. In other words, DIY unless the differential is in the hundreds of thousands ... or ... you'll get screwed twice over instead of only once.
  I got a total of $7800 for the entire thing when I thought (after much reflection) that $8000 to $10,000 would have been fair. I wasn't too far off, eh? I guess their idea of fair is somewhat less than mine ... who woulda' thought? ;o)

10/06/38 ----------------Goodbye PeoplePC!
  I finally got to terminate my subscription to PeoplePC a couple days ago. It took about five calls for me to realize that they would be experiencing "High Call Volume" forever and there was, in fact, no regular means of cancelling out. So, I pressed option #2 (I think it was) to go to tech support. I waited several minutes to talk to a guy in India about not being able to cancel so he redirected my call to the "real" cancellation service which is, of course, unavailable by direct means. I waited on hold for a few minutes and talked to another pleasant Indian gal who tried to give me the free-month cloying tactic which I politely declined (as this would keep me in their grip for another month and I'd have to go through this all over again).
  She then proceeded to give me a cancellation number with sufficient digits to number all the molecules in the known universe ... I duly wrote them down for "unamed" future problems with them. It wasn't as bad as AOL, of course ... unless I keep getting charges to my Visa card. I patiently await the verdict of history on this cancellation. If you have cancellation problems like this, try going through a back door to get connected. It's worked for me on several other occasions.

9/18/38 ----------------Got Bandwidth
  Last week I signed up for Yahoo AT&T dsl. Only $12.99 per month for the first 12 months after which it's $29.99 and you're in for a 12 month commitment - $200 penalty for early out. I didn't see anything about any contractual obligations after the 12 months is up ... so I bit. I'm paying $10.95 for PeoplePC dialup anyway ... so ... whudafuck? I am truly impressed with the result. Before, I couldn't think about big downloads or even a movie trailer. Now, I can SEEEEEEEEE!!!! My eyes have been opened. It's really true ... "The best thing you can do with dialup is use it to order broadband"
  I downloaded a 9.8 megabyte html text editor in only about hmmmm ... a few minutes? Didn't seem long at all. With dialup, it would have taken a few hours. I went to yahoo's movie page and clicked on a movie trailer for Saw III and ... I saw it !! It started playing in just a few seconds. I've had dialup for ten years and didn't know what I was missing. And I can listen to streaming audio too. Hmmmm.... porn comes to mind ... no ... I ... wouldn't ... do ... that.
  Another thing you don't have to do is wait for an internet connection cause you're always on ... like the entire internet is right on your hard drive. Of course, now I can't go surfing naked and will have to keep up a firewall and virus protection. I think that will consume about 1% of the spare time that I now have when I'm NOT waiting for a page to load.
  My speed maxes out at 1.5 megabits per second and that's slow by high speed standards ... but it sure beats 56 kbits per second (actually only maybe 44 kb/sec). Let's see ... 1500/44 = 34 times faster at best. You wait one minute instead of a half hour ... I'll take it!
  You get a little dsl modem with little green LEDs on it and a power brick and some data cable and a few dsl filters for all your other phones It's like a little dongle that you plug into the phone jack then plug your phone into that ... it's supposed to prevent any high note shreeking on your phone when you talk ... which is another thing you can do ... surf & yak at the same time. This installation was fairly easy. One hitch ... the program couldn't recognize the modem. So, I did what I know best ... keep doing the same thing over and over like a dumb machine till the dumb machine understands. It worked and I'm connected. Takes about an hour to set up ... you order and UPS delivers it ... twice when you're not there and once when you are. You pay 49 bucks for the modem and get a rebate card for the 49 bucks so the modem is free ... if ... you get your rebate. I put the cd in and let it do the work and trusted yahoo (which could be a mistake). Yahoo is between Google and AOL on the shitparade ... guess which is the bottom dweller?
  You have to have AT&T phone service and you get billed on your phone bill once per month .. no credit card necessary. Just in case there is anyone out there who wants Yahoo AT&T dsl ... order it and there's probably a place to put in my "refferral code" ... EB0691001. If you do, I get a gift card for $25.
I'll hold my breath. Yahoo DSL

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