Friday, July 27, 2007

Simpsons Movie! I'm on the internet within minutes....

Movie Review:
The Simpsons Movie - 2007 - 20th Century Fox

Eric as a Simpsons characterPlot:
Homer's tom-foolery has grave repercussions for the entire town of Springfield. Can he win back the trust of his family, his friends & his town? No spoilers here. You've seen the trailers so you know the basics anyway. D'ome!
They plugged a cast-of-thousands and might have hit the mark. Every single character from the show's 18 years supposedly makes an appearance and I can't say I had the eyes fast enough to notice them all (especially in the large mob scenes) but all of the more common characters (Even Maggy) at least had a single line. They even dragged in some of the reoccurring guest stars like Joe Mantagna for two lines for Fat Tony. No Sideshow Bob however.
What's Different:
This isn't the 22 minute show. They have the luxury of slowing down the pacing, putting in more scenes without dialog & allowing timing jokes to work correctly. The animation itself is the new fangled enhanced 3d-ized stuff with highly detailed backgrounds & special effects that you wouldn't ever see on a Sunday. They didn't resort to old gags either. You wont hear Bart say "Eat my shorts!" or see Maggie fall down. You will see plot essentials like Homer choking Bart & Marge hiding stuff in her hair, but hey, you can't reinvent the show just to make a movie, right? You also get to see them take "Itchy & Scratchy" to the next level, Homer flashing "The Bird" & a bit more about how Otto spends his downtime. Can't do that in syndication!
Heather's Simpsons SelfThings to watch for:
I'll have to see it again (and probably again) but there weren't as many site-gags as I expected. A lot of what I would write about here would be "note which character's torch goes out in the lynch mob scene" but I didn't see a lot of stuff like that. I would have died laughing if it was Gil's torch that fizzles but alas, I wasn't hired to write the movie. I'll give you this though: Watch for the ambulance from Season 2's Bart the Daredevil (Aka Springfield Gorge Aka episode 7F06). In the episode Homer ends up trying to jump Springfield Gorge on Bart's skateboard. He doesn't make it and tumbles horribly down the rocks into the gorge. He's lifted out on a gurney and loaded into an ambulance. The ambulance IMMEDIATELY crashes into a tree and Homer rolls out, still strapped into the gurney and proceeds to tumble back down the gorge. Hilarity then and a fantastic call-back now. Oh, and stay tuned all through the credits. ;-)

Final Words:
I enjoy going to cult-following movies the first day because all of the other freaks are there with me. People applauded at the end and a guy was actually dancing in the isle during the credits. You might be too late to get the same kinda crowd that I enjoyed but the bottom line is this: Not everyone there was a die-hard Simpsons fan and they laughed, cried & enjoyed the ride. They left as happy as the fan-boys and that's the hardest thing to pull off. The Simpsons Movie entertained the masses while somehow not letting the hardcore fans down. Thumbs up!

Heh. I saw his doodle.

Orignal From: Simpsons Movie! I'm on the internet within minutes....

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Moving Right Along...

Wow! What a difference having a motivated seller makes when trying to buy a house! We're out of Attorney Review, have the inspection planned for later this afternoon & a mortgage company picked out. My goodness, this could actually happen this time!

Unless the inspection reveals gremlins in the appliances & a troll in the basement anyway.

So I'm glad we're finally progressing but I'm pissed that I missed the boat on good interest rates. The first time we had pre-approval for a loan our rate was 6.125%. The best we could do now is 6.5%. If you don't care to do the math I'll do it for you: 0.375% amounts to $54/month or $19,370 over the term of the loan. I choose to look at it this way: lawyers and bankers have already cost us over $20,000 and we haven't even closed yet. Thanks!

Here's the thing: I won't forget this. The plan right now is to leave the state (and the law specifying that lawyers are mandatory) for the next house purchase and go somewhere cheaper. I don't intend on taking a loan for that next house. If things work out Banks will never see another dime from me. I'm not just bitter because of the whole "buying a house" fiasco either. Many years ago First Union dropped a fee on me for not holding a minimum balance. They took my remaining few bucks, bounced a few of my checks and then didn't tell me for a week during which time I bounced another check.  It cost me around $60. Why did I let it drop below the "minimum balance" you ask? Because in the agreement I signed with the bank that was purchased by FU there was no minimum. They simply usurped my bank, changed the rules and reaped the benefits of fees on all of the "legacy" accounts. Thanks!

I pointedly chose the word Usurp above.  I look at banks as the new monarchy. Did prior monarchs rule because they were regal & just? Of bloody course not! They ruled because they had all of the money! In the end they could afford to pay the military to keep people in line and for really thick/tall walls when they stepped over that line. The only difference is the banks can't tax us directly. Or can they?

When it comes time to close the deal on the new house I need to hand over the down payment. The banks refuse to take cash or a personal check. I can only hand over a Certified Check or make a Wire Transfer.

The Bank charges me $12 & $15 dollars for each respectively. I smell taxation. Where's my representation?

Orignal From: Moving Right Along...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mighty Ericles Cache Spree of Summer 2007!

On June 23rd I hit a cache in the parking lot of a Cabelas in Pennsylvania. The next day I hit one in Reading, PA on my way out of town. The day after that I snagged a tricky puzzle cache after work that I had finally solved earlier in the day. I had a mini-streak going but didn't think much of it. I relaxed and allowed it to lapse the next day. Well, I planned to.

Out of the blue WWWW planted one near my place of employment and I ran out to try for FTF. I ended up 2nd, but the streak continued. Several times I quit but then I would just happen to take the scenic route home from work and oops! I did it again! FTFs are what really preserved the streak though... I've nabbed 5 in the past 4 weeks. Considering I only had 3 in the previous 5 months I think that's one seriously lucky streak!

Lucky? Maybe. It's hard not be superstitious in caching but I felt as though the streak was somehow charmed. I found everything I looked for without much trouble. Granted, I didn't really go after the 5 star caches, but I picked off a few harder ones without trouble. I even found an unlisted benchmark! All of that changed when I got greedy with the 1st-to-find honors and picked up 2 in one day. After that my luck turned and half of the caches I looked for were simply not there. I managed to continue the streak for 2 more days but another trip to Reading this past weekend and a DNF up on a Neversink Mt. sunk the streak. I planted a new cache while I was there so I didn't think it was a complete loss until I got home, logged my DNF and realized that there was another cache only 350 feet from where I hid mine! It's currently "temporarily disabled" for maintenance which is why it didn't show up on my listing but I can't activate mine while that one is there. D'oh! I even dropped a coin in there as a FTF prize and now it's stuck until the other cache either goes belly up or I make the pilgrimage to get the cache back. Double D'oh!

So, am I cursed? Nah. I'll just let a few others grab the First honors for a while and go back to enjoying destination caches for a while. In the end my streak stats look like this: 28 days, 44 physical finds (5 FTF) & 2 events.

Not bad for something I basically started by accident. This will be my last attempt at a streak until I move to a completely new area. I pretty much wiped out my neck of the woods. :-)

Profile for ericles

Friday, July 20, 2007

My brain hurts!

This week marked the official return of the Eyegraine. For years I talked to doctors & headache people and even an optometrist and nobody had any idea what was wrong with me. Finally, in the past 5 years or so I've started seeing information on what I now know is the Cluster Headache.

In the same family as the Migraine headache, Cluster Headaches differ in that they are usually isolated to a specific area - usually behind the left temple or eye and show up for months at a time sometimes several times a day and then stop for months. For me at least the individual headaches last from 15 minutes to an hour. I get the sensitivity to light & smells and all that lovely pain. Although they can just come on whenever they wish they can be triggered by stress, low-oxygen trance-like computer programming & pheromones (like the perfume counter at the Boscovs). I'm currently in a cluster cycle and getting a headache once or twice a day unless I'm able to abort it before it goes full blown. Actually aborting a pending C.H. is tough. By the time I feel it coming on (they have an "aura" much like a migraine) it's too late to pop pain pills that might take a half hour to kick in. Caffeine helps but suffers the same time delay problem as pills and has the side effect of messing with my sleeping which can actually cause a cluster cycle to begin. No, for me there's only one way to get rid of a C.H. - Adrenaline!

I wish (oh how I wish) I had learned the secret sooner, but the best way for me to kick a headaches ass is to kick my own ass. Grab the running shoes and sprint out the door or drop and knock out 50 push-ups or spend a few minutes fighting the heavy bag. Jump rope, squat thrusts, sex, it all works and it's all good! Some research suggests that result is due to the increase in oxygen in the blood, but as I've personally seen an elevated heart rate & tried deep breathing techniques without relief, adrenaline is the only way to go! Its not always convenient to have sex or do squat thrusts while at the office though but I've found my ways around the problem. I used to walk up/down 16 flights of stairs while I was working at Spiewak. I've pulled off the highway and ran laps around the parking lot. I've dropped to do push-ups in the mall. I'll do whatever it takes because an Eyegraine in full bloom is heinous!

So if you see me absentmindedly rubbing the back of my neck or left temple, it's Cluster Time and you should immediately scream "What's your major malfunction soldier Oh, does your head hurt? DROP AND GIVE ME 40!"

Headaches. They're all in your head anyway.

Orignal From: My brain hurts!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Minor cosmetic changes

You probably wont notice, but I changed the site in a primarily cosmetic fashion. The headers are more along the lines of my color scheme & each posting has category icons now. It's all done through the style sheets & custom code to do the icon things. No plug-ins for me, man! Custom code all the way! I'll eventually make better icons but for now I'll do with what I have. Enjoy! Or don't! Whatever!

Orignal From: Minor cosmetic changes

Monday, July 16, 2007

New House - New House

It's a new new house although it's only new to us. You see we got tired of being dicked around by the previous sellers' attorney and bank (Adios Banco Popular!), ixnayed the deal, made a bid on a new dream home and as of this very evening have a signed contract. We're back in attorney review - but this time with real people who want to move out. We even have a closing date. The house is in Keyport, NJ right off of Treasure ("Yarrr! X marks the spot!") Lake and a 2 minute walk from the bay.

Sorry, no pictures this time. I'm not going to jinx it. I will send you a linksie or three though!
Google Maps Sat View
Zillow's House Page w/Birds Eye View
City Data for Keyport, NJ

I'll provide more info as things get settled!

Orignal From: New House - New House

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy Independents Day!

Independence is a grand thing but too many folks around the Fourth of July mindlessly celebrate by drinking, blowing things up and watching Will Smith movies without remembering from what they happen to be independent. No, I don't mean The Redcoats. The British are not coming back and it's time to lay down those arms. No I mean a generality of being without dependence as an individual. I mean more along the lines of the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary:


adjective 1 free from outside control or influence. 2 (of a country) self governing. 3 not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence. 4 not connected with another; separate. 5 (of broadcasting, a school, etc.) not supported by public funds.

On the Fourth of July 2007 I celebrated my own personal lack of outside controlling influence by not buying a Dunkin' Coolata, watching TV or going to see the Transformers Movie. I proved myself self-governing by deciding to sleep in and not take a shower until mid afternoon. I depend not upon another for livelihood! (I made my own ball-park franks & "peace, pasta & parmesan" mac & cheese) I may be connected to my wife, but we did our own thing almost all day. We even have our own separate cats. Oh, and though I did enjoy the benefits of some public fun I do not enjoy the benefits of any public funds.

I think for myself, feel my own emotions & do not buy into propaganda. I pay my taxes, vote my conscience & hate how all the fireworks I heard yesterday were made in China. I'm proud that an American is once again the hot-dog-eating-champ but sad that comic book writers killed Captain America and the final Sopranos episode was filled with thinly veiled political rhetoric.

It seems lots of folks have lost their pride in America. Maybe I just have too much faith or maybe I can't let go of the dream because my name is right there in the middle of the word America for goodness sake. Whatever the reason I hold out hope that more Independents will emerge. They'll turn off The News, crack a book and think for themselves. They'll see the big picture. They'll run for office. They'll win. Congress will be filled with Independent Thinkers and a new square peg who just doesn't fit into the old system will toil in the oval office every four years.

But that's a ways away... first things first! Before you can take pride in your country, start by taking pride in your back yard, your children & most importantly: yourself. See yourself independently of how others tell you how you are supposed to look. Work independently of the limitations others have prescribed for you. Think independently of the groupthink others have thought for you. Be your own person for God's sake! Or, failing that, be your own God for man's sake. Have pride in yourself and everything else starts to fall in line like so many ducks in a row at a Cheney family reunion. Start now and by this holiday next year you too can celebrate Independent's day and nobody will ever be able to take that away from you.

Orignal From: Happy Independents Day!