Monday, January 19, 2004

Watching more of the caucus on C-SPAN. The man in charge of one caucus, with a camera and microphone in his face, proceded to read the phone number for reporting votes, and his pin number, on live television. I was tempted to call up and report 100% support of Al Sharpton, and then tell Iowa they've been punk'd.
I've watched a few minutes of the Iowa caucuses, and no matter how this turns out, I must say if this is what determines our president, we're all in trouble.
In my continuing effort to spend money on things I really don't need, I'm seriously considering buying a DVD recorder/digital television recorder. I have lots of VHS tapes I would like to get organized, with various stuff I've taped off TV over the years. I've previously considered purchasing a dual-unit VCR for editing them down. I thought a DVD recorder was too expensive. But $500 for a recorder that doubles as a Tivo (without the program guide or automatic recording features, but also without need of a telephone hookup and monthly fee) sounds like a damn good deal. Amazon's price seems fair, and I have a gift certificate for them. I definately want it, I'm just debating if now is the time to buy. Panasonic has a new one out with double the hard drive space for $1,000, so I wonder if I wait, will that get cheaper soon, or will they simply stop making the cheaper models, so I'd be stuck with a more expensive unit? I have a feeling I'll buy it, but I do need to give it some thought.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

I'm sick again, though I was never really well, so I guess I shouldn't say "again." I was feeling pretty good Thursday, but was feeling tired, so I went to bed early. Around 11:15, I woke up and threw up, figured my dinner wasn't sitting well. Then I proceded to get up and throw up every twenty minutes, for most of the night. Very unpleasant, I hate dry heaves. I'd drink water and gatorade, and couldn't keep either down. And I was feverish and somewhat delusional, which is sort of fun, I suppose. So I missed school on Friday, and felt pretty crappy. I didn't throw up as often on Friday, but for most of the day I still couldn't keep anything down. But I had some cereal around 9 PM and kept it down, and so far so good today, so hopefully I'm through the worst of it.

Monday, January 12, 2004

School is now in full swing. I do not anticipate this being a difficult quarter; it will also not be a particularly exciting quarter. But the class on words is interesting enough, and quite different from anything I've done previously in the literature department. I will be happy when this quarter is through, however, mostly due to the awful schedule I have to keep, which I have complained about enough and will try not to mention again.

Having so much time at school to study, I have been able to play a fair amount of Final Fantasy X-2. It is a good game, I'm enjoying it. But it seems rather easy, once you get the hang of the new battle system. The mission system is interesting; I'm not sure if I like it or not, but I do like the fact that there are lots of side-quests, and the game makes it relatively easy to find them. Some might say too easy, but I prefer that to Final Fantasy X, where it seems that, without using a strategy guide to find all the sidequests, you end up missing out on a lot. I try to use the on-line walkthroughs as little as possible, and as such feel like I missed a lot in FFX. I suppose it adds to the replay value, but I don't find it fun to read what to do on-line and then follow instructions.

I went to Cecily's on Saturday to use her CD Burner. Met her husband. Turns out they already got married. I was under the impression that the wedding was some months away, and was planning on attending. They still might go through with that, as their wedding was a rather minor affair. Slightly miffed at not being told earlier, mainly because a friend was down for Christmas and asked if I heard about Cecily getting married, and I explained to him, no, she's not married, yet. So I look like an idiot, and he already knew, and he doesn't even know Cecily directly (a friend of his was apparently the "minister"). But no big whoop. It was nice to get to meet the fellow. Nice enough guy, likes Sanford and Son, which is one of those nice things to know about someone, because it makes you like them more, yet you can still make fun of them for it. Bit of a pothead, I think. But we're none of us perfect.

The premiere episode of The Surreal Life II was on last night. I have expressed my fondness for Tammy Faye on this site before, and have the pictures to back it up. So, I was excited to see the first episode. For those who don't know, Tammy Faye will be spending a week or so living in a house with Vanilla Ice, Erik Estrada, Ron Jeremy, some girl from The Real World: Las Vegas, and Tracy Bingham (Baywatch). The first episode was okay, though the presence of the Real World chick was annoying. She reminds me of Counselor Troy on Star Trek: The Next Generation, in her incessant need to make observations that are painfully obvious to everyone. Tracy Bingham is a primadonna, Tammy Faye is religious, Ron Jeremy is a pervert. It's especially annoying since she is the one person on the show whom I'm quite sure no one at all cares about. Tammy Faye comported herself nicely, I thought, and actually seemed to get along fairly well with Ron Jeremy. Vanilla Ice seems to be the powder keg on the show; apparently his anger issues have not subsided since his notorious trashing of an MTV set some years back. The previews seem to strongly suggest he makes Tammy Faye cry, which, while admittedly not difficult to do, is not nice. I never watched the first season of the show, which is unfortunate, because I hear it was pretty sweet. I don't think this edition will be that noteworthy, but I will be watching.

Watching Adult Swim last night, they showed the first episode of Sealab 2021 without Capt. Murphy (Harry Goz, the voice of Captain Murphy, died a few months back). I can't say I enjoyed the replacement character, whose name escapes me (some sort of sadistic football coach), but I must reluctantly admit they were right not to replace Goz with another character doing the same character. Last week's episode had Capt. Murphy briefly voiced by another actor, and it was off-putting. Interestingly, the voice of the new character is Harry Goz's son.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

So, it's only January of 2004, but I've already got my 2003 Summer vacation photos online. Let no one say I'm lazy.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Gaming Control and IRS shut down Binion's Horseshoe Casino. Who didn't see this coming? Not that Vegas is known for protecting its history, but I hope someone who knows how to run a casino will buy it from Becky and keep it going. Harrah's is negotiating to buy the Nevada rights to the Horseshoe name, but they apparently aren't interested in the casino itself.
I went to Barona on Thursday and spent the night. A friend had a free room, so I figured it would be fun, like old times. And it was like old times; I lost an obscene amount of money, waited until mindnight, when the ATM daily limits reset, and proceded to lose all the cash I could get a hold of. My intention was to go play poker, but while waiting for a poker seat, I sat down at a Multi-Strike Video Poker machine, and after about ten minutes I could tell it was going to be one of those kinds of nights. I won right away, playing nickels, before realizing it was a multi-denomination machine. Kicking myself for not realizing it earlier, and realizing that my $200 win would have been $1000 if I was playing quarters, I proceded to lose a ton trying to replicate the experience. At one point, I was down to almost nothing, and then proceded to play the machine very, very close to even, but never quite got there, and was never quite willing to cut my losses. My intention after midnight, and the new influx of cash, was to play for smaller stakes, not try to get back into the black, but just make up a bit of what I'd lost, but I knew, really, that wasn't going to happen. So I spent a lot of time in the room watching TV and reading, had my coffee in the morning and went home. It was an experience I used to have two or three times a week, so it was nice for old times' sake. But I think I will save my money for trips to Vegas, for the sake of verisimilitude. Even if my gambling days started out in Barona, it was a very different Barona; Vegas may reinvent intself constantly, but it still seems the place to go, get some good food, free booze, and gawk at the crazy sights while losing one's shirt.

Appropriately enough, amongst my reading material I brought to Barona, in case I ran out of cash, I brought Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss by Steven and Frederick Barthelme. I'm re-reading it; I've read it before, and it feel it is easily the best book I've ever read on gambling. I'll say more after I've finished re-reading it, but I can say I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

So, the internet rumor mill has it that Lucinda Williams will be performing at the Randy Newman tribute at UCLA this month, and that Tom Waits may perform as well. Very exciting.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Today was the first day of Spring quarter at UCSD. I had two classes today, one at 9 AM, one at 3 PM. The five hours between classes is going to be annoying. At least five hours is substantial, so I can leave and come back if I need to attend to errands. But with a twenty-mile commute each way, I'll have to keep myself occupied on campus for the most part. At least it means I'll have plenty of time to study. Then Tuesday and Thursday I work all day, then wait for a 6:30 class.

It's especially frustrating that the course offerings are so paltry this quarter. It's bad enough having these time slots, but when the classes do little to advance me towards graduation, it really eats me up. The only class that clearly brings me closer to a degree is Meteorology, which looks to be as fun as it sounds, so God help me there. Words and their vicissitudes sounds like it could be interesting. The professor, judging from the first class, will either be fascinatingly eccentric, or simply maddening. I suppose I'll tough it out.

Going to grab a late-night bite to eat with my recently unemployed friend tonight. Calls me up tonight asking to borrow a not insubstatial sum of money. I'd seen it coming, but wasn't looking forward to it. He's my friend, and he's getting the money (it's not that much money, not enough that I'll miss it for a month, but substatial enough that if he welches on me, it'll hurt). He's loaned me similar sums back in my early gambling days, and I've loaned him money before. If he hadn't bounced a check to me before, and misled me in the past as to when previous loans would be repaid, I wouldn't think much of it. But I just worry that this won't be his last request. Of course, I feel sorry for him, but he was making a substantial amount of money for the last three years (a teacher's salary is actually quite substantial, if one has no dependents), and he'd been talking of quitting his job for some months, so should have been saving up. Oh, well.

Friday, January 02, 2004

So I've been sick for the past week or so. The day after Christmas was probably it's peak, but I'm still rather congested, with a bit of a cough. And I have a boil on my thigh, which is a nice way to wrap up the year, a festering sore pretty much sums up 2003. But I have been able to relax a bit, especially this week, not having to work between Tuesday and Sunday. I've read a bit; right now I'm finally reading Al Franken's new book. I'll withhold comment until I've finished it, but it is pretty good so far.

Wednesday I played shuffleboard for the first time. It was a lot of fun. I won't go into excessive detail about how soundly we whipped our opponents, but let's just say it was sad, really, how we schooled them. There was a lot of crying and whimpering, as I recall. Even Tanner was shocked. Actually, I was impressed by how well-behaved Tanner was, not really interfering with the game. We played in Balboa Park, so he got to explore a bit before and after the game, and met several dogs, including a one-eyed poodle. I saw a sign for an upcoming Richard Scarry exhibit at the Fleet Science Center, which sounds exciting.

Today I went to do some shopping, but Costco and another store I went to were both closed for New Year's. I went to the Costco in Mission Valley, hoping they'd have the Johnny Cash boxed set; the Costco by my house had it last month, but no longer does. Since I was in Mission Valley, I stopped by Dave and Buster's, and played games for a little bit. I got a bit mad, playing the sliding game (I don't know its name) that I'm quite good at. I wait until I'm about to quit playing to hit the big progressive jackpot, so I can get as many tickets as possible. Unfortunately, the machine I was playing malfunctioned, so I needed someone to come look at it; while I was waiting, someone came and played the machine next to me and hit the jackpot. So I went and played non-ticketing games after that, some pinball (they only have that bastardized "3-D" pinball--as if all pinball isn't 3-D), and then wasted more credits than I should have playing a horse-racing simulator, just amazed by how seriously people treat it. Especially considering how expensive it is to play.

This evening, I went to the Ken and saw Modern Times. It was alright. I prefer Buster Keaton to Chaplin, but it had its moments. Hadn't been to the Ken in some time, so that was nice.

I spent a bit of time this evening sorting through my summer vacation photos, maybe I'll finally get those uploaded before school starts on Monday.