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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Movie Time: Extraordinary Measures

Published January 31, 2010 - 3 Comments

Curious to know if you have any blood pumping through that cold heart of yours?  Go see Extraordinary Measures.  If you walk out of there without feeling anything, then chances are good that you’re beyond hope.

Brendan Fraser is a Dad trying to save two of his young children who have Pompe Disease, a rare genetic disorder.  Harrison Ford is the somewhat eccentric scientist, whose life’s work on the disease appears to hold the most promise… at least in theory.  Together they form an interesting partnership.

I’ll admit, I had never even heard of Pompe Disease until this movie.  Like I’m sure many people did, I went and looked it up shortly afterward.  It’s quite an amazing story.

And you just might learn something about yourself…

TV Update: Dynex 40″ LCD

Published January 31, 2010 - 2 Comments

Many thanks to the people who commented on my TV woes.  I should have rounded you all up and taken you into Future Shop with me!  Especially those of you who enjoy haggling with the salespeople to save a few extra bucks!  🙂

After that original post, I was determined to diagnose the problem, and see if it was something simple.  I was going to take note of when the TV was on, what time (if) it shut off by itself again, swap some cables around… basically do all the technical troubleshooting that I could do on my own.

*pop*  It shut off.  A whopping 15 mins after I sat down to watch something.  That was enough for me!  I didn’t even bother watching the rest of my show.  I just started to package it up, and went to bed.  So much for troubleshooting.  It would be Future Shop’s problem now.

I figured that I would take the Dynex back and replace it with the same model.  Of course, I did have to wait in the parking lot 40 mins for my TV to catch up to me, as there was a bit of a miscommunication with the driver bringing my old one.  (Don’t ask)

Replacing it was easy.  I had hoped that the same guy who sold it to me would be there, because I distinctly remember saying “I’ll roll the dice” the day that I bought it.  I wanted him to know that the dice came up snake-eyes, and the TV was a lemon.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t working.

Now, going without a TV really wasn’t an option.  And spending more money wasn’t an option either.  I could have downsized, and upgraded the brand name.  That might have gotten me a better quality TV, albeit with a smaller viewing area.  But I went with my original option… swap it out for a 1:1 exchange. 

There were no questions asked.  I did remember to ask the guy whether he was aware of anyone returning the same TV with the same problem.  His answer was “no”, and I’m inclined to believe him, if only because I couldn’t find a single instance online of anyone complaining about this problem.  So maybe it was an isolated occurrence.

I’m proud to report that the new Dynex 40″ LCD looks great in my living room, and so far has been running without any problems.  Now that I’ve moved past worrying whether it’s going to shut off on its own, I’ve started tweaking some of the settings to make it more personal.  I think that I’d like to add some additional speakers to it, especially since I quite often watch music videos.  But that’s something for another day. 

What do you do when Life hands you lemons?  You get a new TV! 

Should I have aimed for the LG?  Only time will tell.  I’ll give you the opportunity to say “I told ya so” in a few months/years…

Cystoscopy 101

Published January 28, 2010 - 4 Comments

Now we’re going to expose you.

Wonderful.  I lay there, staring at the ceiling, trying to think happy thoughts.  Rainbows, butterflies, puppies, warm summer nights… anything other than my present situation.

3.. maybe 4.. at least 3…

Hey! Wait a second!  What are the nurses talking about?  Had I not been in such a poor frame of mind, I would have cracked a joke.  It’s cold in here!  But I had no idea what they were really referring to…  Could have been anything.

We’re going to insert the numbing jelly now.

Hmm… well that sounds…  OWWWWW… if THIS is the stuff that’s supposed to make the NEXT PART more tolerable, couldn’t we have found a way to make THIS a little better???  Oh… that doesn’t feel too horrible now… ok.. piece of cake…

Now, we need you to relax…  Take a deep breath..

Hey lady, I’m as relaxed as I’m gonna… OH DEAR GOD!!

I know it’s uncomfortable…

YOU DO? NO YOU DON’T!

… but if you can just relax down there a little, it’ll be easier …  That’s it.. Now you’re going to feel a warm sensation..   just let it out…

If I had any modesty remaining, it was gone at that point.

The bladder looks great!

Fantastic, now get this thing out of me!

No signs of tumors, or anything.

Ya don’t say?

OK, the nurse will take you to get cleaned up, and you can make an appointment to see me in April.

Umm…  aren’t you going to take this thing out of me?  Oh, it’s already out?  When did that happen?  Apparently the one-way street still works quite well for outbound traffic.  Didn’t even notice.

After a lengthy stay in the bathroom, I was dressed and out the door.  Although it felt like an eternity on that bed, I doubt the procedure lasted more than 2-3 minutes.  It was certainly 2-3 minutes that I don’t want to have to repeat again.

“Oh whah.. stop being such a big baby”, I can hear the women readers saying.  “Try childbirth, and then see if you complain about 2-3 mins of inconvenient pain.”

True enough.  I’ll concede that point.

And if you’re wondering how on earth I could publicly post something that is obviously quite personal…  When I was told that I would require this procedure to rule out cancer, I was a little taken back, and decided to do some research.  There’s a fair amount of technical information online, but I didn’t really see anything that humanized the procedure.  True enough..  it was the medical stuff that I was initially interested in.   What exactly IS going to happen?  OK… that doesn’t sound like fun at all…    and then I thought that it would have been nice had I read something from someone who had gone through it.  It’s not a pleasant experience, but it’s an important one… and truthfully, it’s not nearly as horrible as I had made it out to be in my head over the last few weeks.  When they say that it only takes a couple of minutes, they’re right.

Cystoscopy.

Good times.

New Brunswick Gets a Mention on TMZ.com?

Published January 27, 2010 - 5 Comments

Oh, if only it was for something good…

I’m out of the loop.  I don’t know what this “Pants on the Ground” thing is all about… but when I heard that New Brunswick made it onto the front page of TMZ.com, I had to go check it out…   Still a little confused, but here’s the page…  Straight from the New Brunswick Legislature…

Looking for Answers with my Dynex 40″ LCD TV (DX-L40-10A)

Published January 26, 2010 - 5 Comments

As pretty much everyone in the western hemisphere knows, I finally bought a TV.  Sure, it took having my other one go *poof* and emit a funny smell… but hey… I finally stopped babbling about buying a new TV, and just did it!  Nike would be so proud of me.

I’ve only had the TV for 4 days, and I haven’t had it on today, so this is based solely on the previous 3 days of use…  it looks nice, sounds nice, and I generally feel that I should have taken the plunge and bought it much sooner.  With one tiny little unwelcome feature.

It seems to mysteriously shut off.

Three times, once during each day, the TV has mysteriously shut itself off.  I’m watching content through my XBox 360, and two of the three times, I was skipping ahead in a movie when the TV shut off.  The third time, I was sitting at the XBox control panel, and it turned off.  It turns back on easily enough, and I continue watching…  but it’s more than a little annoying.

I’ve started an initial scour of the internet help forums, hoping to find someone complaining of the same thing.  So far I have not found anything.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.  If it was a common problem, I’d be inclined to take it back quickly and look at something else.  If it’s something that is unique to my TV then I’m inclined to take it back and replace it with another of the same make and model.  But I’m not ready to just package everything up, and go through the bother of taking it back in, only to find out that it might be something in a setting or something that I can resolve myself.  I need to take a closer look at the power saver options, although my initial thought is that is not the cause of my issue.

I have 30 days to return it with no questions asked, so I still have some time.

Best $20 I’ve Ever Spent

Published January 25, 2010 - 1 Comment

I’ve made a few bad purchases in my lifetime.  We all have.  But I continue to shake my head at one of the best purchases that I’ve made… or at least one of the most valuable ones!

Several years ago… way before blogging.. way before social networking… back when  internet was barely breathing… one of my best friends told me about a little shareware game that he had discovered.  It ran on DOS.  The graphics were horrible by today’s standards.  But it was fun.  A space exploration, economy building, warfare indulging play-by-email game written by some guy in his basement. It used 11 well known factions from popular science fiction (Star Trek, Star Wars, Batttlestar Gallactica), each one with their own particular strengths, weaknesses, ships… and somehow managed to not get sued for copyright infringement.

It was called VGA Planets.

I sent $20 to the author, Tim Wisseman, and in a couple of weeks I had my very own copy on 3.5″ floppy disk. (remember those?)  A couple of years later, a Windows version was released, and I again sent $20 US to Tim.  This time, one of the disks wouldn’t work.  No problem.  When you’re running a one man show, customer service is everything.  I sent an email to Tim, and had a new disk mailed immediately.

Over the years, I’ve played countless VGA Planets (or simply “planets” as we now call it) games with people from all over the world.  It’s always been a “cult favourite” and never did go mainstream, but that hasn’t diminished it’s playability one bit.  Each game tends to last anywhere from 6 months to a year, depending on the commitment of the players.  If someone gets bored and drops the game, it can cause a real problem for everyone else, so it’s nice to find a good group of people and stick to that community.

I’m thankful that another great friend of mine runs a VGA-Planets server that hosts the games, and provides a stable community for those of us looking to play.  These servers aren’t as numerous as they once were, and it’s important that the ones that do remain are appreciated for the service that they offer.  Check out Star-Port, and don’t be afraid to click on a couple of the Google ads that you see.  He’s not allowed to ask you for that, but hey.. I can.  Hosting these sites isn’t free and the admins rely heavily on advertising revenue and contributions from the players.  Yes, I even sent along a few dollars to help.

When I think of all the money that I’ve blown on stupid things… a couple of dollars here…  a thousand dollars there…  it’s amazing that I’ve gotten so much value from a $20 DOS game…  I’ve seen people come and go… a few of my friends no longer play… but for those of us who do, it’s great to relive the memories from a much simpler time.

Happy gaming!

These Earbuds are Junk

Published January 24, 2010 - 2 Comments

Why do they even bother to package earbuds with iPods?  It feels like I’m shoving hand-carved marbles in my ears.  Sure, they sound decent enough, but they don’t fit very well.  I’m not sure what it means when the pain dies down.  Are they re-shaping my ears, or am I just going numb?

I decided to take a break from my impromptu vacation, and make an appearance at work.  It’s Sunday, and I enjoy the additional premium, although not as much as I enjoy sleeping in.  I’m sure that God will understand.

I thought that you didn’t believe in God?

I don’t.  Except when something bad happens to me.  I like to think of my God as a vengeful son of a bitch…

Oh.

So here I am, getting caught up on emails, and wondering why I didn’t try to squeeze out an extra day from all of this back-vacation stuff.  Part of me wishes that I could have used it during better (warmer!) weather… the other part is just happy not to have to get up at 5:15am for a few days. 

But what have I managed to accomplish on my days off?

Nothing.

Zip.

Nadda.

Diddly squat.

Well, I bought a new TV.. and iPod..  so that’s SOMETHING, I suppose.  I’ve run a few errands that I might not otherwise have been able to do.  I’m still counting down the days until that lovely procedure that promises to be a memorable event.  I’ve slept in.  I’ve taken a few extra naps.  I’m practicing hibernating for next winter. 

All in all, it’s been a fairly unproductive vacation, but I’m not complaining.  I get to stay inside and send happy thoughts to my team as they trudge through the snow to get into work.

With or Without You

Published January 22, 2010 - 0 Comments

A few years ago I decided that enough was enough.. I was going to start going to concerts again.  I was pissed at myself for not having seen Genesis live when I had the chance.  Phil Collins had left the band, and it was never the same after that.  So if I wasn’t going to get a chance to see them, then I would at least have a chance to equal that experience, and go see Phil solo in Boston.  It was a great concert!  Nothing flashy.  Nothing over the top.  Just Phil wearing what looked like pajamas, singing all the songs that I knew and loved.. and even a couple that I wasn’t overly familiar with.  (Introducing me to Come With Me… and forever imprinting that song in my mind as a reminder of my daughter)

A couple of years later, Phil reunited with Genesis for another tour.  This time Montreal was our destination.  My ex surprised me with those tickets.. one of the last really “couple”ish things that we ever did.  In all fairness, while I’m glad that I had the chance to see them perform live, I was a little disappointed with the concert.  They spent more time than I would have liked playing their really old stuff, and I was far less interested in their artsy beginnings, than I was in their commercial stuff.  But I understand.. to each their own.. I was still happy to have those tickets, and enjoyed myself.  It just wasn’t as much fun as the Boston concert.

So that left only 1 remaining “must see” concert for me.  A band that I had grown up listening to in elementary school… and continue to listen to their old and new songs still…

U2

The Joshua Tree is probably the only REAL CD still in my life today.  Yeah, I have all the songs ripped onto my hard drive, and I listen to them frequently.  But The Joshua Tree is mixed in with all the burnt CDs that I have in my car.  And I listen to it.  A lot!  Where The Streets Have No Name… You should hear me belt that one out when I’m on my way to work at 6am… (or maybe you shouldn’t)… then there’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For…  an anthem of mine since I was 12..  and lastly… With Or Without You… quite possibly the most played song of all time in my ears… I’ve watched it performed on YouTube from various concerts… memorized the lyrics… can tap out the beat in my sleep… and have listened to it on constant repeat more times than I’d care to admit…

But I’ve never seen it live…

At least… not yet!

They played in Toronto last year, and I was sooooooooooooo close to foregoing a car payment, and going to see them.  It just wasn’t possible, though.  And really, I wasn’t interested in going to Toronto.  Ottawa or Montreal I could handle, but not Toronto.  Even though it was the right decision, I still regretted it.  I figured that it would be years before they came back to Canada.  Then I heard on the radio…

July 17, 2010.. LIVE IN MONTREAL…  U2…

NO FREAKIN’ WAY!

I couldn’t believe it!  I had somehow missed the chance to buy tickets directly, and these were being advertised through Collins tours, but I didn’t care.  Let someone else handle the driving.  (My last drive through Montreal was an adventure that I didn’t want to repeat any time soon)  Plus the package also included 2 nights accomodations.  I’m not expecting a 5 star resort, but I don’t care.  If someone else is taking care of everything, dropping me off and picking me up, and I get to belt out some of my favourite songs with Bono… I’m a happy camper!

And two days in Montreal in the summer… what could possibly go wrong?

When It Rains, It Pours

Published January 21, 2010 - 2 Comments

Earlier in the week, I lost my iPod.  I distinctly remember stepping out of the car, and having it dangling out of my pocket, unplugging it from my headphones, throwing it onto the seat of the car, and pumping my gas. When I arrived at my destination, I couldn’t find the musical wonder.  I wasn’t too worried.  I figured that it must have fallen between the seats or under them.  I figured that I’d find it the next day when I had more time.  Well, I’ve gone through that car twice now, and I’ve found everything EXCEPT an iPod Nano. That’s fine (not really).  I’ve been thinking about replacing it for awhile now.  The last time that I held the iPhone, I was somewhat proficient in its use, so I’ve really been leaning in that direction now.  It was just a matter of timing.  Tomorrow is payday, but this is the first payday of the year, and all my deductions kick in again, so I know that it won’t be as much as I’ve been accustomed to getting.  Add to that, my heating bill is starting to take off, so I don’t know how much extra cashflow I’m going to have.  But not upgrading my cellphone is one thing… not having my personal music with me 24/7 is another.  Whether it’s a Shuffle, Nano, or Touch.. I need an iPod.  If the music rattling around in my brain ever stops, I’d be afraid to know what’s going on up there.  So I need to get SOMETHING, and fast!

Then this morning I turned on my TV.  Hmm.. that’s odd.. a pretty bar from one side to the other… lots of sound… zero video… and what’s that smell?  That doesn’t smell right.. almost.. like.. something… burning??  Yup.  The TV is toast.  I’ve been moaning about getting a new TV for about 2 years now.  Whenever I reached the point where I had enough money to possibly get interested in buying one, something always seemed to happen, and the money was used elsewhere.  But now I’ve managed to save enough that I COULD go out and get a 32″ LCD and have money to spare… or perhaps put it toward something larger..  but how large?  That’s the question.  Feeling somewhat nomadic at the moment, I’m never sure how long I’m going to be in one place.  Do I want something smaller that I can easily take with me, and set up in a bedroom… or something a little larger that requires a little more room, and perhaps signals permanence?  No easy answer there.

One thing’s for certain.  I see a trip to Future Shop in my immediate future…

Oh Twitter, Where Art Thou? (Part Deux)

Published January 21, 2010 - 2 Comments

I thought that my phone seemed a little too silent lately.  I hadn’t even received my daily motivational tweets.  Nor had anyone replied to the announcement of my trip in July.  Something just wasn’t right in Twitterland.  I tried toggling my phone/twitter connection off.  No response from Twitter.  I tried sending a direct tweet to someone as a test.  No response.  I asked them to send me something.  Nothing.  As a last ditch effort, I asked a friend to look on my blog and tell me when the last tweet was.  I’d do it myself, except that I am far outside the internet’s borders, so my cellphone is my only link to that world.  The last posted tweet was referencing me being short one lousy quarter when I was trying to make a roll for my TV fund.  That was from a couple of days ago.  So apparently my tweets from yesterday (and possibly even the day prior) hadn’t left my cellphone, and I hadn’t received anything.

I felt alone.  Like being stranded on a desert island.

Telephone communication couldn’t fill the void.  Face to face conversation was too far old school.  I needed my 140 characters of random madness, and continued to check my cellphone at periodic intervals.  And finally it happened.

Inexplicably, tweets started to trickle in.  When I checked with someone else, some of the tweets that I had sent the day prior fell out of their twitter-orbit and were processed as though I had just written them.  Some of them still appear to be lost in space somewhere… but may eventually find their way home.. Not that there was anything Earth shattering to report.  It’s just the principle.  That’s all.  I can breathe a sigh of relief.

All is right in the world again.

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