zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (OSS 117)
Wow, I haven't posted here in a while. Like, in over a month. O_O
I still read my Friends Page every day, though. I just don't post much.
Maybe I should do a little recap for those not on Facebook.

The Oscars came and went and I DVRed the whole thing so I could start watching it halfway through and catch up to real-time by skipping over all the commercials. I had a dog in the fight, so to speak: Uggie the Dog from "The Artist". :D
Yes, I was rooting for Uggie, Jean "OSS 117" Dujardin and the whole crew of this silly French silent film about Old Hollywood. However, I would have been totally okay with Gary Oldman winning for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" because it's GARY FUCKING OLDMAN and how the hell is this the first time he's been nominated for an Oscar!?!?!
The bulk of the Oscars wound up being divided between "Hugo" and "The Artist", with "The Artist" getting the juicy ones like "Best Film" and "Best Actor". ("Formidable! Super génial!" exclaimed Jean Dujardin).
Since then, I've seen "Hugo" and "My Week With Marilyn", and they're both very good films. I didn't even realize that Sacha Baron Cohen was in "Hugo" until the credits rolled.
I'm happy for "Rango" winning Best Animated Feature Film. "Rango" is really quite good and more than a little strange. It's amazing-looking in Bluray and a treat for fans of spaghetti and classic westerns.

The office was closed for Presidents Day and I didn't know it, so I showed up at work and found tumbleweeds in the parking lot. Oh, well, then, guess I'll run some errands and take care of some business. HA!
Post office: closed. Bank: closed. DMV: closed.
Smog Test Station: open! Smog test result: FAIL!
It was not the emissions though, there was a broken thingamabob that needed replacing, which also explained why my truck had been running a little rough lately. And the EVAP line was screwed up. I needed to deal with this ASAP so I went to Joe's to get it taken care of. I needed to pass to get my new plate sticker and the deadline was fast approaching. The broken thingymabob was connected to the engine's right-side valve cover, and I couldn't get just the thingamabob. So I needed a new valve cover. Easy-peasy, right?
Wrong! Joe's parts suppliers said it was discontinued. That didn't make sense to me! We're talking about the basic Ford V-6 engine that's in every Ranger, Explorer and Taurus (and probably others) up to at least 1994! Argh!
So Joe's guys went out looking for a valve cover at junkyards.
Since it looked like fixing this problem was going to take a while, I saved myself the local DMV headache and hit the local AAA office instead. I paid for and obtained a 60-day extension on my car registration. This gave me time to find the part needed for the F(n)ord (St)Ranger, get it fixed, and get the smog certificate. It's awesome how you can take care of most DMV transactions at AAA offices. I recommend being a member!
The needed part was found last week and I left my trusty steed at Joe's on Friday morning. I had to rent a car to get to work and to use over the weekend, as the truck would be ready on Monday. I went with a Budget office barely 5 minutes from Joe's and wound up with a silver Toyota Camry that I promptly dubbed "Maytag 1". :D
That thing had a hella twitchy throttle and very responsive steering. I don't understand how the people who own these things manage to drive them so slowly and sluggishly. Also, I really don't like these electronic throttles because the accelerator pedal has no force-feedback to speak of. It's really weak, with no resistance. With a normal throttle, the pedal gives back and gives something for the right foot to rest on. With the weak pedal, I can't rest my foot on it, I just kinda keep it poised over it and work myself into a cramped state. Blargh.
At least, the sound system was nice. No USB port though.
The truck was ready on Tuesday morning this week; I had requested an alignment as well and that took an extra day. I returned Maytag 1 and got dropped off at Joe's. It was nice to get back behind the wheel of my lil' truck. I called the smog test station and scheduled a retest for yesterday morning. The (St)Ranger passed it with flying colors, and once I got the smog certificate, I went straight to AAA to get my license plate sticker.
I had to find a socket wrench to remove my license plate frame, as it partly covered the sticker area. A bit of a pain but, on the other hand, makes it tougher to steal my sticker. :)
And thus ended the Norwegian (St)Ranger Smog Saga, by Odin's Beard! :D

Bonus Netflixing!

Killer Elite - Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro, Clive Owen, Dominic Purcell, Nick Tate (!)
The movie was pretty good. It's set in 1980, mostly in England. Statham is an ex-SAS guy who freelances and DeNiro is his mentor of sorts. DeNiro is kidnapped by a sheik who blackmails Statham into killing three SAS guys for him, 'cause each one killed one of his sons during the Oman War of 1970. It's not all shooty-bang, there's skullduggery and espionage thrown in. The director is an unknown, and seems fairly competent. And Statham can still kick ass while tied to a chair. It was fun seeing all the old late '70s cars.
There was an older gentleman who looked terribly familiar and turned out to be Nick Tate, aka Alan Carter, Eagle jockey from "Space: 1999". Holy crap!
I enjoyed the film a lot. It's not your typical mindless XTREEM ACTION 'SPLOSION shoot'em'up.
It might get added to my permanent library.

That's it for now.
Tune in next time when I realize all my Saturdays in March are spoken for!

zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Hi There!)

007 4EVR - "Do you expect me to talk?"
LRD V8R - "No Mister Bond, I expect you to join the Dark Side."

zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Pirate)

So it's Sunday Night and I'm posting a weekend report for the previous weekend.
Onwards with the general faffing! :D

Saturday Sep. 19th was International Talk Like A Pirate Day, so I wore my one pirate-themed t-shirt.
I took care of some stuff, then headed down to Vista, CA, for the big combined Lego user group meeting.
Vista is East of Oceanside, which is itself south of Camp Pendleton, the big-ass US Marines base.
So yeah, it's a bit of a drive. I think it took me about two hours to get there.
I filled up the F(n)ord (St)Ranger at the cheap Arco near my ex-work, reset the tripometer, then did the
La Cienega boogie to rejoin the 405 and bypass the pre-LAX madness. Then I followed the 405 down down
down to the 5 and hit the usual patch of slowdown. Argh!
It eventually cleared up and everybody was doing 80 past the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
The meeting started at 1pm and I got there at 2pm. So, pretty much my usual arrival time for these things.
There was a lot of people there. I estimate about 40 people at one time.
The meeting had attendees from both LUGOLA (my group) and SANDLUG (the Sand Diego Lego user group).
There were some nifty MOCs on display, but I didn't take any photos, because Tim blocked my box with all
his stuff and I couldn't get to my camera. He brought this huge military Hummvee that was too stubby.
One guy had some "Crimson Skies" inspired airplanes. I want to build some airplanes like that.
I brought along the SCAP strike package, Weapon M, a flying sub I built from an Agents set last month,
and a new mothership with detachable fighters MOC I had finished that week. I also brought Space Carrier
Saratoga, the big ugly blocky thing I built from the Mega Bloks contained in The Tub.
Few people seemed to notice it was Mega Bloks. I overhead a couple of guys talking about it though:

Guy 1: "Hey, that's Mega Bloks."
Guy 2: "What, the boat?"
G1: "Yeah."
G2: "Who the hell brings a Mega Bloks MOC to a LUG meeting?"
G1: "Probably some kid."

There was the usual club activities, along with plenty to eat and drink. I met a lot of new people whom
I'm probably not gonna see again because they're SANDLUG members and I don't attend their meetings.
I got a phone call from Jean-Louis, who alerted me that his cousin was ready to lend us the boat to take
care of Pascal's ashes this weekend. Since I was out of town, we agreed on Sunday afternoon.
It was really hot in there, so I slipped out and went to sit outside on the lawn. It was cooler outside.
There were already people there too. :)
As people started leaving, things got a little silly. I grabbed Space Carrier Saratoga and started gently
poking random people with it, saying "oh nooooooo, it's Mega Bloks. It's touching YOU! The horror!".
It was all in good fun. And I was the biggest and tallest guy there, so no one dared try anything! :D
The meeting lasted a good long while, eventually breaking up around 6pm.
I packed my stuff and started the long drive home, which was faster than the drive in, of course.
It was getting to be dinner time, and I was famished, having only nibbled on a few things at the meeting.
So I stopped at the Inglewood Blvd. In-N-Out Burgers, which is, like, right next to the freeway.
I mean, seriously! You get off the 405 and you're in the In-N-Out parking lot! CONVENIENT! :D
I had a couple of Double-Doubles, fries, and a drink and it was the most delicious meal of the week!
Eventually, I got home and plotzed.

Sunday Sep. 20th: I drove to Malibu to meet Jean-Louis at his cousin's house. We took the boat out and
committed Pascal's ashes to the Ocean. All the details are in the next post, which is friends-only.
The post contains many photos and is of a personal nature, hence the friends-only lock.

So yeah, there was a lot of driving that weekend. Much of it was freeway driving.
This explains why I've squeezed the most miles out of a tank of gas EVAR!
I normally get somewhere between 220 and 250 miles on one tank.
Check THIS out:

That's what the tripometer and gas gauge looked like Sunday Night, after I got back from Malibu.
287.7 miles! And the gas gauge needle is barely touching the edge of the red area.
When I refilled the (St)Ranger the next day, the tripometer was reading 295.5 miles.
Trip out!
My old '94 Ford Explorer (Simba) had a similar engine and gas tank and it never gave more than 240 miles.

Mar. 4th, 2009 12:17 am

Heck Week

zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Gravity Gun)

Not quite as bad as Hell Week, but still pretty darn trying!
It took me a whole weekend to recover!

Of AFOLs, defective trucks and Mondays )

I'm sure I'm forgetting various things, but that's the way it is.
If I remember, I'll post about it.
I do have a bunch of photos waiting to be turned into Random posts though.
So watch for amusing and/or fail pics!

Ciao bambinos!
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Watchmen)

A new year...
A new President Of The United States (or POTUS as we like to call him) in 13 days...
New and exciting ways to screw things up and have life blow up in your face...
Herewith a random recap of the past few weeks...

Automotively-speaking, the F(n)ord (St)Ranger suffered from a badly corroded terminal, which was replaced.
This had to happen on a LUGOLA meeting Saturday, of course.
After getting jumpstarted by AAA, I rushed to the meeting in hope of catching people still there.
I was planning to sell a couple of Lego sets to raise money for the replacement of the terminal.
Several eBay buyers had not paid me yet, otherwise I could have gotten that thing fixed right away.
Thanks to a friend's help, I got the terminal replaced. It was a cheap fix too, at $25.
3 days later, the alternator failed and I found myself running on battery power only. Oh boy...
Thanks to eBay buyers finally paying for their stuff and my very cool boss, I got the alternator replaced.
The truck is now running like clockwork. Huzzah!

Christmas Day was spent at [livejournal.com profile] selenesue's House of Sci-Fi, watching DVDs and snacking on delicious things.
Unfortunately, I was under the weather, so I could only nibble on a few things. I was fine the day before,
but on Xmas Day itself? Blargh! And the next day, I was feeling better, of course. Stupid fate!!
I still managed to have some of Selene's awesome mac'n'cheese and Maria's tasty empenadas.
I brought some Pomegranate 7-Up (limited edition) and the general consensus was that it was "yummy".
The DVDs watched were "A Christmas Story" (already in progress), "A Wish For Wings That Work" (aka the Outland
Christmas Special starring Opus The Penguin and Bill The Cat, apparently recently released), "Ghostbusters II",
a vaguely Christmasy episode of "Supernatural" (which caused some revulsion on the part of the viewers),
and an amusing "Blackadder" reverse "Christmas Carol" in which Blackadder is generous to a fault and gets
taken advantage of by everyone. Also featuring Robbie Coltrane as the Ghost Of Christmas, looking almost exactly
like Hagrid, down to the clothing style and the enormous height, but with grey hair instead of black.
Despite the sicky-ness, I had a good time, and spent half of it dozing on the very comfy couch construct.
Thanks Auntie Selene! You rawk! (:hugs)

On the home computer front, it seems to be working okay. I started backing up stuff to CD-Rs, but that way lies
madness, as we're talking almost 2 CDs per gig, and I have 250 gigs to back up. If only I had a DVD burner...
So intead, I am trying to save up to buy an external USB drive. I did some extensive shopping around and I found
a Cavalry brand 400Gig drive on Amazon.com for $65 shipped. That's pretty awesome as everything else I looked at
costs a minimum of $80, and that's for 320Gig. So, let's hope the eBay auctions do well.
EDIT: I just double-checked the price on that drive and it has inexplicably shot up to $89.91! ASSHOLES!!!
Guess I'll have to keep searching.
In the meantime, I'm leaving my computer turned on for 3-4 days at a stretch (I used to turn it off daily).

So there was a screw-up at work with paychecks. Since the L.A. and Canada offices were closed on the week of
New Year's, payroll wanted to finish up ahead of time. Unfortunately, nobody told the QA deaprtment in L.A. where
I work and where the only hourly employees are to be found (just about everybody else is salaried).
So as a result, we didn't give our guesstimates for the hours we would work on Christmas Week, so this past paycheck
only contained one week of wages, plus Christmas Day off paid. Not very condusive to paying the rent, this.
So I had to write a nice letter to my landlord, explaining the situation. I've heard nothing back so far.
No news is good news, I hope.
Now, eventhough the office was officially closed for the week of New Year's, some people came in to work on our
main project, and they wanted testers to be there. So work was available. I jumped at the chance!!
Two of the testers didn't show up, so I wound up with even more hours, covering for them!
So next paycheck will be a bit weird, containing the 4 days of Christmas Week (Mon/Tue/Wed plus Friday 26th),
plus 4 days for New Year's week (3 days and New Year's Day paid), and a normal 40-hour week.
This will help a lot, but I'm still gonna do my taxes as soon as possible. :D

It's been pretty cold in L.A. for the past 3 weeks. Cold for L.A. means 40-50 temps. I know, big deal.
There was a brief upsurge of temperature last week for a couple of days, but the temps fell again.
Today, it's actually pretty nice, currently at 62, and the forecast indicates 65 for the next 2 days.
Yeah baby!! :D

I've reached an impasse with the SACEM, regarding the paperwork they want, so i'm going to go to the French
consulate to seek guidance. They should be able to help me out.

Please check out my eBay auctions. It's mostly Lego stuff, but I keep adding things.
Grey Kzin needs food (and gas and USB drive) badly! :)

Life goes on...



zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Default)

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