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Chief Justice Mike Jackson's Blog
• Location: San Antonio, TX
A Virgin made me change my mind (almost)
Long story short, I spent Friday night in New York City with some of my co-workers. Awesome, awesome place. I tell you, if you've never been, go. Now.
Anyway, we went into the Virgin Megastore on Times Square, which must be the single largest collection of media anywhere in the world. Okay, maybe except an Amazon.com warehouse, so let's make that the single largest collection of media open to the public. I found the high-def section, and was quite amazed. See, in your garden-variety Best Buys or Circuit Citys, they devote roughly the same amount of shelf space to both HD DVD and to Blu-Ray. Thanks to the cost of the players and the range of films I had seen on both formats, I was pretty much convinced that I'd buy a HD DVD player within the next year (or maybe one of the Xbox 360 attachment drives, which I'd then hook to a HTPC). Well, not I'm not so sure. In this bastion of completeness, there was one ten-foot section of HD titles, comprising just about everything I had ever seen on the format (except they were out of stock on Corpse Bride). Moving down the aisle, there were three or four ten-foot sections of Blu-Ray, and I hadn't heard of half the stuff (and considering the HD sections of our upcoming releases requires a lot of hand-tuning, I see most of the stuff that passes through). Now I better be prepared to tell my wife we'll need to spend a lot more money on that next player...
Big changes afoot
My parents moved from the Los Angeles area to Eugene, Oregon when I was about two or three years old. They bought a house not long after, and I lived there until I was 18, when they moved to the next city over (and I moved with them). I lived with them until I got married at 23. My wife and I lived in Eugene and/or Springfield (the aforementioned next city over) until last year, when we bought a house in Cottage Grove, which is rapidly becoming a bedroom community for Eugene.
Since 1998, I've worked in Eugene's rather small tech community. I started as a tech support rep for an ISP. My next job was as a system administrator, then as a manager of an ISP, then as a help desk manager, and then as a sys admin/programmer. (I'm not really the manager sort. I'm much happier doing real work.) It's not in my nature to switch jobs so often, but that's how it is in the tech field - either the company went out of business, or I switched to gain new skills or experience. I've stayed in my comfort zone, geographically speaking, and in a small market, which was safe yet restricting. A couple years ago, I very nearly took a job in New Jersey; fortunately, it fell through at the last minute. (I note with a sense of schadenfreude that they've never stopped looking to fill the position, even after all this time.) Well, all that's about to change...
A few weeks ago, I updated my resume on monster.com, mostly just to keep it up to date - I wasn't really planning on hitting the streets (virtually, of course) to look for a position. A couple days later, I received a call from a recruiter. She asked me a few technical questions, and was impressed enough to schedule a more detailed technical interview a couple days later. For that, a tech watched me solve a series of FUBARs on a server. I didn't ace them, but he liked my troubleshooting skills. Next thing I know, they're scheduling me an on-site interview. I flew out there and met with the folks that I'd be working with. Two days later (it would've been the next day, but my stupid cell phone wasn't working), they offered me a position. I'm going to be working for Rackspace in San Antonio, Texas! It's an awesome company - better than I could've ever hoped to work for. We're in that painful process of getting our house ready for sale and making moving plans. I never really thought I'd leave Eugene (at least after the Hackensack debacle), least of all to live in Texas (where I swore I'd never live), but how can you pass up your dream job?
Anyway, what does this mean for DVD Verdict? Currently, the site's hosted on a server that sits in a closet...oh, just across the room from the couch I'm sitting on now. Its steady droning can be heard throughout my house. It's crazy having to move it every time my family moves, so we're going to be getting a dedicated server to host it on. It'll be the first time since I've been the editor/web guy that it'll be on a server I can't go smack upside the head when it's misbehaving.
Suggestions for places to eat or good movie theaters in San Antonio are greatly appreciated! I'm already looking forward to going to the Alamo Drafthouse...
This morning, my wife asked why she kept hearing me yell "yay!" from my office. Because, I explained, I was yelling it every time NPR said the Winter Olympics were ending today. She also let out a "yay!" See, neither of us are big sports fans, especially of the ilk in the Winter Olympics. Besides, we've sorely missed watching My Name Is Earl and (especially) The Office the past two weeks. We're ready to get back to the only two "sitcoms" we watch. Yay!
Hey, let's watch Pulp Fiction!
Proving, once again, that this world takes all kinds. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, a kid jumped from a moving vehicle after another passenger used profanity. It probably goes without saying that he was a Mormon. Or, what the hell was he thinking?
Funniest thing I've read in a long time...
"That lends a suggestion of both cleanliness and fresh citrus to the otherwise awkward situation."
You gotta go read the post for the full context.
(EDIT: Correction. Visit the main page of Scott's blog and just keep reading. His "thoughts" on writer's block are priceless.)
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night
My son, Gavin, is now three years old and since we finally live in a house in a decent neighborhood (clue: they bring kids by the vanload from "across the tracks" to trick-or-treat here), it was time to take him trick-or-treating. Which takes me back...
My parents were the conservative sort (still are, actually; I'm pretty much the leftist weirdo in my family) and didn't believe in Halloween. Every year we'd go out to dinner on Halloween night -- not so bad in and of itself, but no T-or-T'ing. In grade school, I'd be the lonely kid sitting in the library re-reading Beatrix Potter's books for the millionth time while everyone else was off having fun, wearing costumes and eating candy (which my parents didn't believe in either; they were, and are, health food nuts). The first, last, and only time I ever went trick-or-treating I was right around Gavin's age. We still lived in southern California before moving up to Oregon. My mom made costumes -- matching costumes -- for my sister and me (she's a year-and-a-half younger). We went as Raggedy-Ann and Andy. I think I was Andy. It's one of my earliest memories. I remember my dad walking us around the cul-de-sac we lived in, and the yarn wig being all itchy and we finally just stopped, took them off, and threw them away.
Anyway, with all that in my mind, I really wanted to give Gavin that memory too. We've been planning for it for months -- since his birthday, in fact. We had two costume plans. For his birthday, Melanie (my wife) talked one of her co-workers into making a custom Superman cape for him. It makes me wish I was two feet tall so I could wear it. Then, as a birthday present, my sister got him a Darth Vader outfit, which neatly accessorizes with the red and blue lightsabers he already had (hey, someone's gotta be Luke or Obi-Wan!). Then a wrench got thrown in our plans. Gavin goes to a Montessori preschool, and for their Halloween party (hey, at least they celebrate Halloween, not "Falloween" or a harvest party) they specifically stated no superheroes or threatening costumes. So, there went both of our costume ideas -- Superman defines superhero, and let's face it, Darth Vader isn't exactly cute and cuddly. We hunted through several stores to find him a non-sucky costume that wasn't a superhero, didn't have weapons, and was "non-threatening." At Target we stumbled on the perfect costume...
(Okay, so it's technically Frankenstein's monster. So sue me.)
It was abso-freakin'-lutely adorable, with raggedly clothes and a green hood with bolts and fuzzy hair. There's no way you could construe it as threatening, even though I taught him to growl and wave his arms like Boris Karloff. He wore it to school, and had a blast donning it again tonight (along with his yellow rubber boots) and going around the neighborhood. He didn't quite have the hang of saying "Trick or treat," though at least he (almost) always remembered to say thank you.
But, our next door neighbor had to put the damper on the evening. She lives by herself and you can hear uber-annoying Christian music blaring from her house from time to time. (I actually did feel sorta bad once though. Once, while Mel and Gav were visiting her parents, I was at home watching The Boondock Saints at a deafening volume with the front windows open. She came over to talk to me about some ladders she left on our property, and while I hunted around the house to find some pants before I answered the door, she must've been subjected to about 20 f-bombs.) All week she's been reminding us that we needed to keep our cat (a black cat, by the way) in the house lest she fall victim to the dastardly punks who live around here. To make matters worse, tonight all her lights were off...which is cool if you don't want to hand out candy, but she even roped off her driveway. What sort of person ropes off their driveway so you can't even get to their door?
I hope that this will be a yearly tradition. How can you deny a kid this much fun?
My flirtation with Linux
For the past five or six years, I've been immersed in the Unix world. By trade I'm a FreeBSD system administrator. The server running this site runs FreeBSD as well. I kick ass at FreeBSD. But, I've never been able to break myself free to use it as a workstation. I tried last night, and for a glorious 12 hours my Dell Inspiron laptop was running Fedora Core (I figured of all the Linux/Unix variants suitable for workstation use, the free one from Redhat would be the best). Then I went to run up2date to update all the installed packages. Things went great until I pressed NO instead of YES on one of dozens of popups asking me if I wanted to accept an RPM that wasn't GPG signed (and it didn't appear that any of the packages were signed, so why ask in the first place, or not provide a "yes to all" button? I understand the desire for security that signing provides, but for god's sake, some of us have lives). Instead of failing gracefully, the entire update process aborted. Maybe the RPMs were saved somewhere and I wouldn't have to spend an hour downloading them again, but I was too pissed off to try again. In the meantime, I was trying to get the builtin Dell wireless support working. I downloaded ndiswrapper, but couldn't make heads or tails of what I needed to do with it - the difference between FreeBSD bootup configuration and Linux bootup configuration is like Shakespeare jumping in a time machine and falling out next to a Valley Girl. One is cultured and refined (BSD), the other is, like, whatever (Linux). I got so fed up with it that I'm just going to abort the little experiment and reinstall Windows. Which, of course, can never just be easy - XP's hardware test thingy just hung when it saw the EXT2 filesystems, forcing me to download a bootdisk with an fdisk clone on it to blow away the Linux partitions (or the master boot record, or, like, whatever). Yes, I know I should've been more patient, and maybe I'll try again someday, but for now I just want my beloved laptop working. So, I'm back to being Bill Gates's bitch.
I'll tell you what, though - while I had it running, I had KDE (that's my window manager, desktop thingy, graphical environment, whatever it's called, of choice) looking absolutely beautiful. Forget Apple; if Microsoft wants to get more experienced users excited about Windows again, give them the customization options that KDE gives you. You can tune your experience to be however you want it to be.
Oh, so that's why they picked that name...
Today's Word of the Day from dictionary.com was:
evanescent \ev-uh-NES-uhnt\, adjective:
The first thing I thought of was that band, Evanescence (or however they spell it). I don't think I've ever even listened to them, but since they're the sort that lives and dies by MTV'S Total Request Live (I can think of three things wrong with that name), basically implying with your name that you're going to be a one-hit wonder is somehow apropos.
Hve you ever seen the grass so green?
Out of the blue this afternoon, my (now) three-year-old asked to watch Mary Poppins. He's seen it once or twice before, but it's hardly one of his favorites. He wasn't much interested in the beginning of the movie, but once Mary Poppins appeared and started singing, he was enthralled. I just sat there watching the look on his face, almost in awe, occasionally smiling and bobbing his head along. He's grown up on a steady diet of Pixar, so I'm almost surprised that movie with such quaint special effects and animation would hold his attention. Just goes to show that quality is forever.
Just the opposite
For years, I've wanted to write a screenplay. I've read tons of books on the process, read screenplays of my favorite movies, even got as far as writing a couple pages of a treatment (but that was waiting in line for Spider-Man, to tell you how long ago it was). I've had a few good ideas -- nothing earth shattering or even all that original, but a few that would've made good flicks ("Escape from Alcatraz" in space, a romantic comedy that I described to myself as a cross between Woody Allen and David Lynch). But as time wears on, I find myself less and less interested. Maybe that's part of growing older and more responsible -- I have a son now, and essentially work two jobs (my real job that pays the bills, and working on this site) -- but not long ago it dawned on me why I didn't feel the urge to create:
Every time I see one of his movies, I'm shocked that anyone's brain could crap out something so unique, so interesting, so unlike anything you've ever seen or heard or read before. It should inspire me to want to do that myself, but all it really does is dis-inspire me -- I could never be that creative, so why should I even try?
Then again, Akiva Goldsman won an Oscar, so maybe there's hope for me after all...
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