Saturday, December 31, 2005

Stardate 59998.51 - The Latest on Loren

A post from Cheryl

For all of you who are checking the site for news about Loren rather than ranting about Cingular, here’s an update. (Though believe me, the rants are fully justified and I could add my own history, which includes nearly breaking into tears in the Cingular store to get a broken phone replaced one week past the warranty a couple of years ago. But I have not had any problems with them since, and stayed with them when I upgraded my phone because my existing plan was cheaper than what I could currently get from any other company for my low level of use. And not only is Curt having problems transitioning from a former AT&T customer to Cingular, so is his friend Ryan). At Loren’s 6 week checkup this week, she was 22 ¼ inches and 10 lbs 5 oz. For those keeping score, that means she’s still in the 75th percentile for height, where she was at 1 week, but has increased from 35th to 60th percentile in weight. Clearly she was not satisfied being below average and has been eating furiously to catch up. She has been smiling for a couple of weeks now, and is holding her head up well and taking in her surroundings. She’s particularly fond of the Christmas tree and pictures on the wall – during our visit to my parents she spent lots of time admiring my mom’s artwork over the couch. She also had her first sit-down and awake restaurant experience at John's Pizza on Thursday (Maggie Moos and Pie don't count). She was pretty good, she just didn't want to sit in her carseat/stroller.

We don’t have many new pictures since Christmas. Here’s one of Loren hanging out with her cousin Ellie.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Captain’s Log Supplemental – Now Cingular Tells Me Next Thursday (maybe)

The guy I spoke with at Cingular at noon (who promised to call me at 4 PM my time to confirm that my phone was working) did not call back (of course).  So at 4:20 PM, with my phone still indicating “no service”  I called the Cingular activation phone number for the fourth time and spoke with my third person, Lisa.

For the third time, I had to state which plan I purchased, and Lisa wanted the IMEI number and the SIMM number off of both SIMMs – the one from the store and the one that shipped with the phone.  At least Lisa seemed to understand that this situation was an issue beyond what she could do.  The guy at noon (didn’t catch his name) seemed to think he had everything taken care of, and the guy this morning (Brian) was useless and just sent me to the store.

Lisa told me that the system was not accepting either of the SIMM numbers, so she got in touch with the migration (since that is what I am doing, migrating from AT&T to Cingular) technical staff.  After lots of time on hold (I sure as hell wasn’t going to hang up and have Cingular once again fail to call me back), she returned to say that they had to open up a trouble ticket (my words, not hers) to solve this issue and that it would be 2-3 business days before they could get the issue resolved.  We ended our call at 4:57 PM, so I was on the phone with Cingular this fourth time for 37 minutes.

So, lets review, shall we?

20 Dec – Ordered the phone, promised “1-2 days delivery”

22 Dec – Was told the order was received, would get the phone in “1-2 business days”

27 Dec – Phone arrives in NJ (which is where I was on the 22nd but not on the 27th).

29 Dec, 1100 – Family members drive into the city with the phone.  I plug it in to charge for 8 hours.  
      1900 – I turn it on for 2 hours to “auto-register”, which it does not.  
      2100 – I call their system, but the automated portion cannot help and it is past business hours for humans.

30 Dec, 0700 – Talk to Cingular human (Brian), told SIMM shipped with phone has an issue.  Sent to store to get new SIMM.
      1200 – Talk to Cingular human #2, told all is well and in 2 hours phone should be fine.  Promised to call me at 1600 to confirm phone is working.
      1620 – Not having heard from Cingular human #2, I call Cingular and talk to Cingular human #3 (Lisa).  After more that 30 minutes on phone, told it is a technical migration issue and they will try to resolve in 2-3 business days.

Lisa is supposed to get an e-mail message once it is fixed, and then she is supposed to call me.  She said they have to work Monday so I should hear no later than Wednesday and maybe even Tuesday.  She sounds sincere, but maybe I just believe women more than men.

For the record, IF the phone is finally working on Wednesday the 4th of January, that will be 9 business days (15 calendar days) after I ordered the phone.

Captain’s Log Supplemental – Still no Phone

So I went to the store for a new SIMM. The person I dealt with at the store seemed completely confused. She did give me a new SIMM and warned me not to turn the phone on until I called to activate it, because I didn’t want to “burn out the SIMM”…whatever that means.

So by the time I got home and got Loren settled, it was noon when I called to activate my phone. This was now my third call to activate my phone. Now, after I put all my data into the automated system, it told me:

“We are unable to find your account based on the information you provided. Press 1 to re-enter your information or 0 to speak with a customer service representative.”

So I pressed 1 and put in my cell number and my billing zip again and got the same message. So I moved on to an actual person.

A 25 minute conversation later (with lots of holding while the rep "rebooted his system"), I was told to turn on my phone but that it would take 2 hours for my activation to “move through the switch”…whatever that means. The rep promised to call me back at 4 PM my time (which is 3.5 hours after I turned on the phone) to see if I had service.

He also told me it “might be quicker than 2 hours” and that once I got service I needed to “turn the phone off and then back on”.

So here I am, 18 hours after I first turned on my phone so it would “auto-activate”, and I am still without service.

Why is Cingular still in business? Is it because everyone is locked into 2-year contracts that they cannot get out of? I am considering looking into what would be involved in a class-action lawsuit against all the mobile phone companies to eliminate this practice of long contracts with expensive buy-out options. I’m sure I could find an attorney in NYC who would want to take this on. The price of the phones will go up, but maybe the f****** companies would treat their customers better if every single one of them could jump ship at any time.

Stardate 59995.57 - Pictures of Loren at Christmas

Because I've had a couple of rants against Cingular recently (I'll let everyone know how my trip to the store goes later today), I thought I'd post an intermission to all my yelling and put some pictures of Loren up here.

Going on a walk in NJ:

Opening presents at home:

Miss unhappy Loren (I think she really wanted seasons 5,6,&7 of Star Trek The Next Generation on DVD for Chrismas and she didn't get it):


Stardate 59995.36 - Cingular CONTINUES TO SUCK MY ASS

Update to my experiences with the worst. cell. phone. company. ever.

Called this morning at 0709 (within their "activation hours"). After another 3 minutes of speaking to the computer, it told me once again that "we cannot help you at this time". I was prepared for this eventuality, however, and pressed zero to go to an actual person. Brian answered my call.

After ten minutes with Brian, he told me that the SIMM that was installed and shipped with my phone is bad. I could either:

A) Go to a store to get a new SIMM

B) Wait for them to ship a replacement

So I guess I'm going to a f******* store today to get a g****** m*****f****** replacement SIMM.

If you are counting, I am now at 10 calendar days (6 business days) after placing my order, which promised I'd have my working phone in "1-2 business days".

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Stardate 59994.25 - Cingular Continues to Suck my Ass

To continue my story on why Cingular sucks….

So my wife’s brother Steve and his family and my father-in-law came out to visit today and brought my phone with them. Following the instructions, I plugged it in and allowed it to charge for 8 hours. I then turned it on and left it on for 2 hours, during which time it was supposed to register on the network.

Did it happen? No.

So I called the number on the form that Cingular had inserted into the shipping box:

If you are experiencing activation issues or have issues with your order please call 1-866-391-0749. One of our order specialists will be happy to assist you.

Lies. Based on this note, you would think that this number would be the activation number (wrong!) and that the activation center would be manned 24 hours (wrong!).

First, that number did get me to a person (Chris), who told me that there is a different number for activating the phone: 1-866-895-1099. OK, that's not what the form says, but at least Chris was helpful. So he transferred me there, and at least he gave me the actual number in case I got disconnected. He failed to tell me the working hours, however, that the activation number was manned (continue reading).

So onto the second phase. Now connected to the "activation number" I proceeded to wade through about 3 solid minutes of voice prompts. I first had to figure out which one to choose right off the bat, since “activate service” was not an option. I finally figured out that “problem with my order” was the magic phrase. I then had to continue to provide information, including my cell phone number, social security number, and billing zip code. I also had to say that I agreed to some long-ass service crap that seemed to go on forever, the words of which did not seem to match the plan I selected at all (it talked about month-to-month and I am pretty sure to get the price I got for the phone I had to agree to 2-years, but WTF). And I sure wasn’t going to press anything that repeated any part of this process.

Finally, just when I think it is all about to wrap up with a positive result, I am told:

We’re sorry, but we cannot help you at this time. Please call back or, to talk to a representative, please press zero.”

OK, the automated system has failed spectacularly, but perhaps I can finally get to my second actual person at Cingular! Maybe I can get my phone working tonight!!


Third phase, I press zero, and am told:

“We’re sorry, but our offices are closed. Our offices are open Monday through Friday from 7 AM until 9 PM, and on Saturday…”

And, of course, since I turned my phone on at 7 and waited the damn 2 hours for it to auto-register it is now past 9 PM. So now I have to wait until tomorrow.

So in review, Cingular doesn’t have the correct activation number on their insert with the phone, they do not have 24 hour customer service, and their telephone system just sucks.

I should have just gone with T-Mobile. Sprint has nice ads also. And Verizon’s network is supposed to be the best. Consumer reports did a review recently of all the cell plans and AT&T/Cingular customer service deservedly received a low score.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Captains Log Supplemental - Loren REALLY Hates her Shots

Oh. My. Goodness.

Loren woke up from her nap and in the middle of nursing began to scream. We have never had her do that before. We had to (according to advice from our doctor) give her infant Tylenol. That seems to have eased her pain and she has been sleeping a lot this afternoon. Hopefully this does not mean we are in for a rough night.

Stardate 59990.7 - Christmas Joy

So for Christmas we spent 5 days in NJ eating too much and visiting my wife's family. Well, Christmas was pretty good overall, despite my Mother-In-Law ending up in the hospital overnight Friday and my Brother-In-Law Steve crashing his Aunt Marie's Durango with his wife and two kids in it.

Luckily, Cheryl's Mom is fine (it was not appendicitis) and Steve and his family are fine as well. I don't know about the Durango.
I was hoping Marie's boyfriend would have posted his thoughts regarding the accident on his blog for a different perspective, but no such luck. I was also hoping for some pictures of the Durango post-crash on Steve's Blog.

Steve, Rachel, Ethan, and Ellie may come into the city tomorrow for a visit, so we'll get more details at that time. They should (if they remember) be bringing me
my new cell phone. I am also waiting for Ryan to post on his blog about his horrible Cingular experience. I only have hints of what that is all about.

Loren had her 6-week check up today. All is well, and here are her vitals for those keeping track:

Height: 22.25 Inches
Weight 10 pounds 5 oz

She also got her Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis, Polio, Heamophilus Influenzae Type b, and Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccines. She did not care for receiving the actual shots, and now has four band-aids on her thighs. But she didn't yell too badly during the shots. She and Cheryl are off taking a nap as I make this entry. Cheryl is still on maternity leave of course, and I am trying to work half-days for the rest of the week.

So all-in-all, a good holiday. I do miss having the entire week off between Christmas and New Year's. I may have to start just taking that time off. The issue is that Cheryl earns 6 weeks of vacation per year, but I only earn 3 weeks. In May I will have been with the same company for 10 years, but I have to be promoted to Principal or be an employee for 15 years before I go to 4 weeks.

But I shouldn't be complaining during the holidays.

Happy New Year to everyone!!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Captain's Log Supplemental - Christmas Pictures

Daddy (me) and Loren:

The Chriss family:

Mom and Loren:

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Early morning, before all the action started:

Enjoy! Merry Christmas to everyone!!

Stardate 59981.6 - Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas everyone!! Hope everyone is enjoying time with friends and family.

It has been a couple of interesting days. The bad news is that Cheryl's Mom went into the hospital on Friday and had to stay overnight. The good news is that it does not appear to be anything too serious and she was home in time for Christmas Eve dinner and festivities.

Cheryl's Dad's camera is a similar model to our own, so his cable may work. I may get some pictures posted later today.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Stardate 59976.42 – Furious at Cingular Wireless – Spoiled Christmas

All I wanted for Christmas was to upgrade my crappy AT&T Wireless cell phone…and Cingular (who purchased AT&T Wireless) let me down, as I’m sure they let other customers down if this is how they run their business.

I’ve been going to the Cingluar website once a month or so for the past 6 months or more, trying to upgrade my phone. At first, the site told me that because I was a former AT&T Wireless customer with an international plan, I was ineligible to upgrade via the web. I finally went into a Cingular store where an associate told me that I had to wait until 3 months or so from my contract expiration before I could upgrade. I continued to check the web site, and finally in October it told me I couldn’t upgrade because I had not met the requirements of the contract. Finally! Light at the end of the tunnel!

In late November I went to the site and it permitted me to upgrade! I picked a phone and plan, and I ordered accessories from Amazon (cheaper than from Cingular). The next day, I received an e-mail that told me “Unfortunately, either we have not heard from you in several days, or you have chosen to cancel your order. In either case, this e-mail confirms your order cancellation.” Huh??? You heard from me yesterday, you bastards, when I placed my order! And I sure as hell didn't cancel it!

I called them up, and the customer service rep (who was actually helpful!) told me that there was a bug in the web page and I should not have been permitted to upgrade until December 20th, as that was the date close enough to the end of my contract to make me eligible to upgrade. I set a reminder in my calendar for December 20, and looked forward to getting my new phone as a Christmas present to myself (and to Cheryl, because I'd finally have a decent phone and she would not have to hear me bitching about my old phone any more).

On the morning of December 20 I went to the web site and upgraded my phone and plan. I received the following e-mail later that day:

“Thank you for upgrading your former AT&T Wireless account. We look forward to providing you with the best coverage over the largest digital voice and data network in America. Remember, if you need help at any time, you can count on our knowledgeable customer service representatives and convenient online account management tools to be there when you need them.
You should receive your item(s) within one to two business days, based on the shipping method you selected.”

Now, since we were going to NJ for Christmas in 2 days, I had the phone shipped there. Even though it said 1-2 days, I figured I was safe just sending it to NJ. We went to NJ on Thursday. IThe phone did not arrive 2 days after the order, and instead I received the following e-mail Thursday near 5 PM:

Cingular Wireless - Order Status UpdateDear Cust Sawyer ,Thank you for choosing Cingular Wireless. Your order has been received. We’re glad to have you join the largest digital voice and data network in America.
We look forward to servicing your wireless needs for a long time to come.”


I checked the link they provided and was able to get to the UPS site, and it tells me:

“Your package is in the UPS system and is on time with a scheduled delivery date of Dec 27, 2005.”

For the record, we'll be back in NY on the 27th.

So, to recap, I ordered the phone on the 20th with a promise of 1-2 day delivery, Cingular claims to not have even received my order until 2 days later, with the phone showing up two days after Christmas. Just for the record, that is four business days (7 calendar days) after I placed my order.

Cingular sucks. Spoiled my Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Stardate 59974.57 - No Pictures Until Tuesday

We're in NJ now until Tuesday, having arranged for our usual cat-sitters to watch Squirt and Magic for the next few days. We remembered the camera, but forgot the cable to connect the camera to the PC. So this means we cannot post any pictures until we get back to the apartment on Tuesday. Sorry! I know everyone has nothing better to do than to wait for our latest updates!

By the way, this is our first overnight trip with Loren. I am amazed at the amount of crap we have to take with us now that we have a child. Amazing! It took us much longer than anticipated to get out of the apartment, and the car was full of bags.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Stardate 59971.1 - Some More Pictures

Cheryl purchased me a cool tripod for the camera for Christmas (since it arrived in an obvious B&H box, we didn't need to wait to open it). My gift to myself arrived also - the new video card. I put it in with absolutely no problems and it fired right up and I launched Everquest and was able to play the demo for about 20 minutes before our D&D game last night. So mission accomplished - I can now play modern (released in the last 2 years) games. Here are some shots we took with the tripod.

Andy should like the shirt I'm wearing. And I'm sure my hair is a fright. We are in the middle of the transit strike here in NYC so Cheryl and I both had to walk over 60 blocks yesterday, and pulling off a sweater does these things to your hair.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Stardate 59968.08 - More of Loren

Since I've been posting about me recently, here are some shots of Loren.

Su Ming with Loren.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Stardate 59962.97 - Review of Aidmheil

Review of Aidmheil,
Mine will be set to Haiku.
Truly a great read.

Scottish luck prevailed.
Buyer number one
received a rare gift indeed.

Could never write it,
poetry in any way.
Admire those who do.

Dust, Wind, and Stone was
lonely, bleak, and uplifting.
I drank Zima, too.

Fiction skills displayed,
Greyfeather was but a taste.
Is there more to come?

Revenge of the nerds
among the first entries read.
Classic humor – fun.

Journal conveys much.
Witness to your awesomeness,
constant and steady.

Review is over.
Remember that we believe,
Wingmen stand ready.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Captain's Log Supplemental - First Bottle and First Hat That Fits

Here I am giving Loren her first bottle (pure breastmilk!). Cheryl finds this a great relief because she can now leave to get her hair done without Loren starving! Also, we had $10 in gift cards for Cold Stone Creamery, so we took Loren for a walk up 19 blocks to the nearest so Cheryl and I could pig out. When we got her dressed we discovered that she has grown into at least one of her hats! Enjoy the pictures.

The hat fits!!!

¨Am I really going outside????¨

Stardate 59960.98 - Book Signing Attendance?

So did anyone go to Jessica's book signing?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Stardate 59957.7 - Random Thoughts

Been in a bad mood for the past couple of days. I think the weeks and weeks of not getting more than 4 hours or so of uninterrupted sleep has caught up with me. I'm also trying to stay off caffeine these days, so I'm really tired by the end of the day. I know Cheryl has things MUCH worse because after I've changed a diaper and gone back to sleep she has to stay awake to feed, and while she is getting an occasional afternoon nap in I think she is still getting less sleep than I am. So I don't know how she is doing it, because this sleep deprivation is taking its toll on me. And my mood is starting to take a toll on her, so I need to try and improve my mood.

It may also be the stress of the holidays and trying to get things purchased that is beating me down. It is always doubly stressful for me as Cheryl's birthday and Christmas are in such close I have to come up with two interesting ideas/gifts for her, not to mention all the other gift buying that has to occur. Life would be much simpler if everyone just had on-line wish lists. I have a huge wish list, so anyone purchasing stuff for me, please use it!

I think I'm also doubly stressed because my usual stress-reduction of PC game playing has been unavailable. I have a graphics card that does not support Direct-X natively, and I cannot play any game made in the past 12 months or so. But I have fixed that issue (hopefully) by ordering a card today that should permit me to play the more recent games (MSI NX6600GT-VTD128 Geforce 6600GT 128MB GDDR3 AGP 4X/8X Video Card).

I think I am just worn down with work as well, and the fact that the apartment always seems to be so cluttered and needing of a good clean. (I know, I know, the days of organization are over until I get Loren trained to pick up things). I feel like I get up, refill the humidifiers, water the Christmas Tree, scoop the cat litter, take out the trash, go to work, then I get to spend some short time with Cheryl and Loren, refill the humidifiers, water the Christmas Tree, and then go to bed. Repeat.

And one of my HUGE pet peeves as a telecommuter is when people f*** up the dial-in conference numbers for meetings, and that has happened 3 times in the last 2 days. I love dialing in 2 minutes before a meeting is supposed to start, and having the automated voice tell me "We're sorry, but you access code is not recognized". Or even better, today I got, "Your conference ended 15 minutes ago"...and I dialed in 5 minutes before it was supposed to start! This is such a simple thing to get right, and yet people continue to disappoint me.

Maybe not really getting out of the Apartment for weeks on end also is taking a larger toll on me than I expected. Anyway, we're taking a few days off around Christmas to take a short trip to NJ (about as far a trip as Loren can handle right now), so hopefully we can recharge somewhat. I still have a couple of days of parental leave I have not burned yet, so I may use that time and extend my days off a little bit around Christmas time.

I think I also am missing my typical decompression time at the end of the day between when I stop working and Cheryl gets home from work. I used to use that time to clean up a little, maybe watch part of a Star Trek:TNG episode or the news, or do a little reading. But with Cheryl home I don't have that time anymore. Additionally, I cannot get to the gym. I've dropped around 10 pounds since Loren was born, but some of that has been muscle mass. I can tell because my weight is low but my pants are a little tighter than they were 4 weeks ago. I have to try to get some situps and pushups into my schedule.

So I guess I am done with my random complaining. I know Cheryl has it worse and that I should just keep my big mouth shut, but I need to be able to gripe too. I noticed that I have not done any real ranting in some time, since I am always right and most other people are stupid, so here is a rant for your amusement.

Why do people with speakerphone capability on their cell phones walk down the street, holding their phones 1 foot from their heads, carrying on a conversation using the speaker mode? I don't care about their half of the conversation, and I certainly don't care about hearing both halves of the conversation. Do these idiots not understand what the speakerphone is for? It is for using if your hands are full or if you have other people around you who need to be involved in the call. I have some news for you. First, no-one on the streets of New York cares to be involved in your call, and if the phone is in your hands, you don't need the hands-free capability of speaker-mode! That is just rude behavior. Try to think about someone else for a change.

What else is going on right now? Well, I'm still reading Jess' book. By the time I finish working at the end of the day I am so brain-dead about all I am capable of doing is sitting in front of the TV, so I have not read it as quickly as I had hoped. And when Cheryl is feeding she is kind of trapped in the living room, so if she has read all our magazines then she gets bored and so we tend to watch TV while she is feeding. But I digress. If you are in Virginia, don't forget to stop by on Saturday to buy your own copy of Jessica's book and get it signed.

Oh, and we took some pictures at Cheryl's small Birthday party last night, so once I get onto the home PC later today I'll post some pictures. And it is warm today (48 right now) so Cheryl took Loren out for an hour to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to buy some hypoallergenic sheets. Loren has a bit of a rash on her face and we are guessing that it is due to the sheets on our bed. Guess we'll see if we guessed correctly.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Stardate 59954.53 – Picture of Loren and Daddy

Just a quick picture of me, Loren, and Magic. Oh, and today is Cheryl’s Birthday!! Happy Birthday to Mommy!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Captain’s Log Supplemental - Aidmheil Arrives

Received my copy of Aidmheil today. Did I mention I was the first person to place an order? Other than the book for which I wrote a chapter, this is the first time I’ve held in my hands a book that someone I “know” has written. Granted, I’ve never met Jessica before, so it’s not like I know her, although we have corresponded on occasion. Regardless, it is pretty cool. And to have a signed copy to boot is really, really cool. This whole thing has actually been pretty exciting. It makes me want to get off of my butt and finally do some serious writing myself.

And as a reminder for all my Northern Virginia friends and family, Jessica will be signing copies of her book on Saturday, December 17th, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the Starbucks in Cascades for a low-key sort of meet-and-greet/book signing. If you go, please let her know I sent you. I'd like at least someone to attend this event, otherwise she'll know all my friends are lame!

Starbucks at Cascades Marketplace
21019-21 Southbank Street
Sterling, Virginia 20165

More information is available on Jessica Stover dot com.

Stardate 59951.57 – Cold Morning in NYC

Woke up this morning at around 0600, surprised that I was not woken up all night! Cheryl took care of the late night diaper change and let me sleep. She says she let me sleep because she was awake and I had the cats on me, but I think she was being nice because I cleaned our bathroom yesterday. Her Dad came in to hold Loren and entertain her while Cheryl and I got some things done around the apartment, one of which was the cleaning of the master bath. But I digress. My point was that once I changed Loren around 6 or so, I put her in the bouncy chair so I could eat breakfast, and once I was done and booted up the laptop I saw that it was 17 degrees outside. That is pretty cold. It is all the way up to 21 as I write this entry, but it started off this morning at 17.

Now I have to run and put Loren’s laundry into the dryer, if the service elevator is working again…

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Captain's Log Supplemental - Book Signing

Jessica will be signing copies of her book on Saturday, December 17th, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the Starbucks in Cascades for a low-key sort of meet-and-greet/book signing.

Starbucks at Cascades Marketplace
21019-21 Southbank Street
Sterling, Virginia 20165

If you were thinking about purchasing her book, or if you already have a copy, here is an opportunity to get it signed. More information is available on Jessica Stover dot com. If you think you might show up, go over to her site and drop a comment to let her know.

If you are a really cool friend of mine living in the NoVA area you'd go get yourself a copy!

Stardate 59948.91 - The Thin Red Line

I watched The Thin Red Line over the past couple of days (it is 3 hours long, and with a 4-week old at home I don't get many 3-hour blocks of time where I am completely free). I recorded it onto the DVR from one of our many movie channels, so I did not see it in its full, widescreen glory, but I don't think that would have mattered. Thumb down. Way down. It was awful. I thought maybe it was just me, but I talked last night with a former Army Captain friend of mine, and he agreed that it was long, boring, and bad.

I understand that Terrence Malick recorded more than 6 hours of film and then trimmed it back to 3 hours. He should have trimmed it back to 90 minutes. The film was ponderous, and it was very obvious to me that entire sections had been cut out. Example - near the end there are supposed to be hordes of Japanese soldiers moving down a creek towards the company of soldiers, and everything is made to seem like any second they will be overrun and all killed...and then suddenly they are all down on the beach loading into boats to leave the island. exactly did that happen? And they paused long enough to bury someone? WTF?

I think the main character died at the end, but with about 20 main characters it was hard to a) care, and b) remember who he even was. Add to that the fact that two of the actors looked enough alike to be brothers, and I was even more confused. But I found that ultimately, I just didn't care. I don't like my war movies cerebral, I like them with action. A little thinking is good, but long dream-like sequences of one character remembering his wife...BORING! I found that I just didn't care when he got a "dear john" letter near the end.

The movie did a good job of showing the brutality of war, and how completely disorganized things get during an attack. But that was its only redeeming feature.

Highly recommend that you not watch this. Thumb down.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Stardate 59944.05 – Loren’s One Month Birthday

Sunday was Loren's one-month birthday. In celebration we decided to take a stroll outside and then pick up a Christmas tree. I won't tell you what we spent, but I have to agree with my friend James in that the days of getting a $10-20 tree are long, long past.

That reminds me of a story. Once, we had a "stolen" Christmas tree. The local volunteer fire department in the town I grew up in (Churchville,VA) would sell Christmas trees, I think for $20. One year we went down to get a tree and there were no personnel at the station, but the trees were out. So we took one. Mom went back a few days later and paid, of course, but we kids loved the fact that our Christmas tree was "stolen" that year.

Anyway, here are some shots of the tree and of Loren on her one-month birthday.

This picture is actually from Saturday, but I'll put it up here anyway.

Another cute shot. Posted by Picasa

If you ignore my hairy legs, I think this is a cute shot. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 09, 2005

Captain's Log Supplemental - Christmas Gift Idea

If you are looking for a unique Christmas gift for someone, there is still time to purchase Jessica Stover's book, Aidmheil.

If you thought it wasn't real and I was a crazy person pimping a non-existent book just to get Jessica to respond to my e-mails, well then feast your eyes on this!

And you don't need to be purchasing a copy for me. I've got an autographed version on the way. Additionally, I shall go down in history as the first person to purchase Aidmheil, about 20 seconds after the order page went up.

And if you live in the metro-DC area and are really cool, you will be interested to know that Jessica may be holding a book signing during December in the Northern Virginia area. Stay tuned for more information, here and at her site.

Stardate 59937.91 - Heavy Snow This Morning

Woke up this morning to the second snow of the season, but the first substantial snow. It is right at 30 degrees, so it is perfect for snowing and sticking. Much to John's irritation, we probably won't be going out in this today. Once Loren is older and can appreciate/play in the snow, then we'll get more excited about this type of thing. Posted by Picasa

Looking down the street you can see the condition of the roads. It is supposed to drop another inch or two this morning. Posted by Picasa

Across second avenue the snow is highlighted against the fancy, dark-glass building that is too expensive for me. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Captain's Log Supplemental

Not sure if any of my hordes of readers have explored any of the other blogs that I have links to over on the right, but Jessica Stover posted an interesting article on getting Science Fiction/Fantasy published as a movie when the subject matter is not already firmly established with an existing fan base. She put out a call for feedback and debate, so if the subject of getting a script sold and a movie made is of interest to you, then I urge you to check it out. You can read it here.

Stardate 59935.14 - Possible Fire at CVS Down the Street

Woke up this morning to constant sirens and when I opened up the shades 16 emergency vehicles were down second avenue from us, apparently tending to a fire at the CVS. Posted by Picasa

Looks like they were ready to evacuate people. Posted by Picasa

Four ladder trucks showed up. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stardate 59930.58 - Weight Check

Cheryl went to the Breastfeeding Mothers Support Group today and while there had Loren weighed. She is up to 8 pounds 5 oz. She seems to be getting enough to eat. :-)

Sorry for the repeated picture, but we haven't taken any new shots today. With the light in our apartment, if we don't take pictures during the day with natural light they just don't turn out that great.

I think we are going to get a Christmas Tree this weekend, so you have those pictures to look forward to!