I was bitten

Yeehaw, Pearl Jam is going on tour again. In case you missed the fact that I love Pearl Jam – I LOVE PEARL JAM. Fortunately I re-joined the Ten Club (their official fan club) a while back, which has now helped me get tickets to yet another concert. Unfortunately, this process is not as easy as it sounds.

Last summer when I got tickets, the server continually crashed under the load, and I spent close to an hour just trying to log onto my account just for a shot at buying tickets. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but people couldn’t even tell if they had sold out or what. This time around, the server didn’t seem to crash, but it still kept screwing up the process. I logged on just before 1 PM to make sure I was ready. As soon as the tickets went on sale, I saw them available and added a pair to my cart. No need to pause for additional merchandise, I immediately pushed the checkout button. Much to my amazement, everything was going smoothly. So far…

Confirm Shipping Address. OK. Confirm Billing Address. OK. Login. WHAAAHHH?!?! I got kicked out just before submitting my credit card. Five minutes later I was finally able to log back in only to find my cart was empty. Sure enough, tickets were no longer listed as available. This calls for writing an extremely acerbic post on a forum that will accomplish nothing! Instead, I stewed for a little bit, and read about other people’s woes with the system. Then somebody pointed out that tickets would keep getting pumped back into the system as incomplete orders fell through and credit cards did not clear. With some renewed hope, I logged back in and started refreshing the ticket page. After several refreshes, the BUY TICKETS button reappeared. I was determined not to screw this up. So no refreshes or second clicks – I just pressed each SUBMIT button as it appeared and let the server take 5 minutes per page. With enough patience, I came out the other side with a complete order.

On Saturday, May 27th, I (and a lucky as-yet-to-be-determined guest) will be rocking out to one of the greatest live bands ever. I’m hoping to add a second date today when the East Rutherford tickets go onsale. That would bring my grand total to 10 Pearl Jam shows. And I have no desire to stop. My goal is to hit at least 2 shows everytime they tour. It’s well worth it.

For those wondering about just how good these guys are after all these year, go download their new single “Worldwide Suicide” from their Myspace page (weird, huh?) for FREE! The new album will hit shelves on May 2nd. Once again, YEEHAW!

Cleaning house

The idea behind packing for a move is that you get rid of all the crap you don’t want/need anymore and only take the good stuff. A purging, if you will. On that front, our move was a complete and utter failure. We took just about everything. That means the onus has now been shifted to the unpacking portion of the move. Once again, oh joy.

But it does mean that more stuff is being tossed with ease. There’s far less well-we-might-need-it-in-the-future talk, because – to use a corny expression – the future is now. There’s no need to save something in case we could use it in our house, because we’ve got the stinkin’ house, so if we can use it we will. And if we’re just holding onto it for sentimental reasons, we’ve got plenty of boxes and closets to fill.

One site has really helped out with the whole house cleaning thing, though. And that is Freecycle. Sandy had introduced me to it, and I was intrigued by the idea of picking up some things that weren’t important enough to bother with an exchange of money for. Instead, it’s turned out to be an incredible resource for getting rid of all the things I never threw out because I thought it would be wasteful. Before we moved I was able to quickly get rid of an old 17″ Mag monitor (some of you may remember that one since it dates back to my college years), an old 9″ monitor, and an old air conditioner (still working, but we got a new one for cheap). Now I’ve already been able to get rid of most of the boxes and packing material from the move as well as the extra firm mattress the previous owner had left for us. Sure, I’ve thrown out plenty of stuff for bulk pickup, too – but that’s only for the real damaged goods. This stuff still works.

Now I’m also assembling all sorts of old computer parts, electronics, and telephones that will either be freely distributed or sold at a yard sale. Just about anything that isn’t nailed down is free game for redistribution. Eventually we’ll be able to completely minimize our lives and go back to eating off milk crates and sitting on bean bags! Take that, capitalism!

All wet

Yesterday morning, Lisa got up to take a shower (her schedule is based on the classes she teaches, and thus gets up earlier than me somedays and later on others). I tried to sleep in some as I was up late doing something stupid, undoubtedly. But my efforts were thwarted as she quietly woke me up – the cold water wasn’t turning off. Oh joy.

The upstairs bathroom in our place was an afterthought. And it shows. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE having a second full bath in our bedroom. But it was not designed well, and there was some obvious skimping of money (the inspector was sure it was not done by a contractor). No biggie, we hope to remodel down the line when we have real money. But I decided quickly on that we’d probably have to at least replace the fixtures in the shower as they just didn’t work well – way too loose and couldn’t be tightened.

Well, the cold water handle must have completely stripped itself inside, because nothing I did could get it to turn the water off. I took the handle off, tried to turn the plastic thingy, then the metal thingy. Finally I took a scraper to it and whacked off the cover from the wall. No dice – there was no access to the pipes from any angle. So I killed the water main. “Great!” exclaims Lisa in triumph. “No,” I said, “Now we have no water.”

After trying some of the valves in the bathroom itself, I finally restore the water and start hunting around the basement. With my incredible detective skills (and the fact that half of them didn’t turn) I finally turned something and heard the water stop running. Much to my amazement, we still had water on the first floor. I managed to just kill the cold water upstairs – who would have thought I would accomplish what I set out.

Now life is back to normal – we just ignore the shower in our bedroom for now. Two months ago I swore I would let stuff like this happen in my home. Now I’m wondering how long I’ll be able to last before breaking down and admitting it needs to be fixed. Probably once I find out where else I shut off water…

Faith in the Academy

Since it was the only nominated film I actually watched, I was somewhat pleased when Crash won Best Picture last night. Well, shortly after it won, when Lisa woke me up to let me know the results. What can I say? I’m a tad rundown these days.

Unfortunately, the Oscars still pretty much stink. Jon Stewart was definitely able to make it a more enjoyable experience overall (I’m sorry, but Billy Crystal is stale and Whoopi Goldberg is just horrible – Steve Martin was the best they’ve had in decades), and there were some good presentations and even speeches. But overall, the quality of the awards has just gone downhill. It was bad enough when Gladiator was even nominated, let alone won, any awards back in 2001. Then when Return of the King swept the show two years ago, I just threw my hands up in disgust. This year I’m just happy that the awards seemed to be spread across several movies, and it didn’t just become a Brokeback award ceremony as many predicted.

Getting ready for next year’s awards, I would just like to assure all of you that Snakes on a Plane is still the name of the greatest film yet to be released – no matter what acronym IMDb tries to foist on us. Look for this film to turn the heads of many an Academy voter next year.

Seriously, not only is that blog a veritable goldmine, but you should seriously start reading the IMDb forums:

Snakes. Snakes on a plane, not in a milk-crate, not under a rock; on a plane.

So many questions. How many snakes? What kind of snakes? What kind of relationship does Sammy L have with the snakes? Does he see his childhood in their eyes? Can snakes love? Can snakes love…on a plane? Can snakes love a plane? How many pina coladas can snakes drink? How many pina coladas can Sammy L drink? How many snakes can Sammy L drink?

I just can’t wait.

Fixin’ things

Yet another weekend is passing by without any progress on the closets that are to become bookcases. Yes, that is their official name. Eventually they will get to be called simply “Built-in Bookcases” or “The Library” – but for now, they must go by the longer name.

But as I am finding out with homeownership, there’s always plenty of things to do and planned projects often give way to needed projects. Yesterday it was a faulty outlet in the bedroom. I realized the thing was crumbling apart, so it became the fifth outlet that I’ve upgraded to 3-prong status. Today it was the office light. A couple days ago I was stretching my arms, and accidentally whacked the overhead light in the office. Our ceilings ain’t exactly high, and the sucker hangs a little low in the middle of the room. I didn’t think it was a big deal until a day or so later I had trouble turning it on. And a day after that, I couldn’t get it on at all.

So today I decided I better deal with that first, seeing as how doing anything in the office was becoming difficult. My original plan was to kill the circuit just long enough to do the work, while allowing my computer to keep running some stuff on the UPS. That last until about 15 minutes in, when I realized that the wires were completely ripped out of the lighting fixture. Time to kill both systems and concentrate on the task at hand.

After a little disassembly, it became obvious that the old fixture had to go. The obvious part was when I tried to unscrewed the contacts and snapped them clean off. Yeah, that’s not gonna work. Fortunately we have an old overhead lamp from Ikea that wasn’t being used. Unfortunately I couldn’t disassemble the incredibly basic, 3 inches of plastic that comprised the socket. Instead, I hacked the cords apart.

Stripping a power cord, and stripping electrical wiring are two different things. In this case the cord was molded around the electrical wires, making it damn near impossible to get off. So I started doing all sorts of inadvisable things with my Leathermen. Not too surprisingly, I cut myself. Somewhat surprisingly, I managed to get TWO fingers. And really not surprising in the least, I continued this process immediately after bandaging them. I guess the biggest surprise in the end is that I didn’t cut myself again, managed to not drip blood all over the place, and actually got the light working.

It’s a little under-powered for the room, but that can be fixed later – probably a different bulb would be enough. There is a certain sense of accomplishment in even the smallest of home improvement tasks. But that’s quickly erased when you realize that you spent the entire day fixing a light that was working 4 days ago and your computer that was working 4 hours ago and managed to make zero progress on your list overall.

Oh joy, and tonight’s the Oscars. Normally I’d skip them (I think I managed to miss just about every nominated film), but with Jon Stewart hosting, this is quite a popcorn affair. I’ll just tell Lisa that she got me sick, and that’s why I didn’t do anything…

An act of civil pointlessness

What do you get when you cross a bunch of clueless, idealistic (is that redundant) 20-somethings, half a dozen cars, and some video cameras? This time you get a very misguided “demonstration” against speed limits. Oh sure, it sounds like a great idea – have 4 cars drive the speed limit side-by-side to illustrate the fact that it is set too low. But the premise that they were driving legally is completely bogus. Yes, they kept themselves at the speed limit, but they still refused to pass in the left lane and conspired to obstruct traffic.

This is not a group of people demonstrating against an unjust law – this is some college student pissed off because he got a speeding ticket.

Listen, I’m all for a restructuring of speed limits so that those outside of certain areas (such as school zones) properly reflect the 85th percentile rule. But an improperly-realized, hipster-wannabe protest film like this is not the way to do it. Especially when you start whining about how you had to pretend to be on your cell phone so that people wouldn’t be pissed! Great way to break even more laws and show that you can, indeed, drive both slow and recklessly.

I don’t know where this originated, but one of the dorks involved posted a comment on ritilan.com.

(courtesy of MeFi)