Monday, July 28, 2008

Things That Irritate Me - Part II

I didn't plan to put up another one of these so quickly, but it's Monday and I'm at work and not in the best moods to begin with, and now I'm irritated.

For those of you (fortunate enough) to not have worked in an office environment much yet, count your blessings, because believe me, it's annoying. And not in a "Dilbert-esque" amusing annoying. I mean, it may start that way, but it quickly devolves into just damn annoying.

For me, one of the biggest problems with working in an office atmosphere is that I'm around people. I'll grant that my job has caused me to become short-tempered with dealing with co-workers; after all, I spend most of my time out with a drill rig not talking to anyone all day. I'm used to the (relative) solitude of field work, so being around people in general can quickly try my patience. But often, people don't help themselves at all.

Everyone knows the stereotypical Important Person in the community. You may not know their job, but you see them getting coffee or standing in line at the grocery store. A cell phone attached to their ear, they gab loudly to the other person, perhaps misunderstanding the technology and thinking that if the person is far away, they need to talk louder. And so they do. Louder and LOUDER AND LOUDER. As frustrating as this can be, it's worse in a confined space of an office.

There is always one guy in an office that takes every call on speaker phone, so that he can click away on his computer while on the phone and be extra productive. And it's never the quiet guy who does this either. Oh no, it's the loudest person in the office who decides: "Hey, I know. I'll broadcast every call - no matter how trivial, or about what - to the entire office, so they can all hear just how hard I'm working." And because it's a speakerphone your co-worker has to speak extra loud just to make himself clear to the person on the other line. Of course, the speakerphone is also up as loud as possible, so you hear both ends of the conversation quite well.

This can be more than a little distracting. How do I deal with this? Well, for starters, I try to ignore it by focusing on something peaceful - like updating my blog. =)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Things that Irritate Me - Part I

Well it seems that weekly updates may be more up my alley. Still, that's better than monthly, right? So here I'm starting a new feature that I call "People and Things that Piss me Off Because They're Stupid." Great title, I know - it's a work in progress. Mainly I'll be highlighting things that happen to me and make me realize just how annoying certain things can be. Today's topic: Driver's who change lanes ridiculously slowly!

You all know the type. If you're lucky they put their blinker on, but more often than not, they just kinda lazily drift from their lane to yours - they're in no rush, it may take them a quarter-mile to get over, but off they go, straddling two lanes. Most likely, these awesome drivers (note: sarcasm) usually can't focus on driving straight and changing lanes at the same time, so they almost always start slowing down - so much so that by the time they're in front of you, they're going 15mph slower than when they started. And God help you if you're going uphill or turning while they're changing lanes.

It can get worse though. Sometimes these slow lane changers turn while you are behind them. They signal you that they are turning long before they actually put on a blinker. They begin by slowing down to about 15mph - three times as fast as the speed they actually take the turn, mind you - about 2 blocks before their turn and then as it approaches begin to move over. They don't swiftly get out of your way so you can resume driving at an appropriate speed though. As always, they drift ever so slowly that you are reminded of glacial movements. All the while, traffic builds up behind you. Irritating as hell.

I wish I could say that these people are all from one category of driver (like, old), but, sadly, they aren't. Certainly elderly drivers often do exhibit these issues, but so do lots of others. But one thing is for certain: if you're in a hurry, at least one of them will be in front of you. Guarantted.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Obligatory Posting

So much to blog, so little time...

It's been Crazy (yeah, with a capital "c") busy at work and home this week, hence the no blogging. I wish I could blog while driving because I think of coolio things to blog about while driving to and from my job sites, but, alas, my energy is too spent when I return home to do so. Nonetheless, I wanted to take this opportunity to promote


It's a musical written and directed by Joss Whedon starring Neil Patrick Harris. It's... interesting. Worth a look. It's free online until Sunday, July 20th, so get clicking!

(thanks Reva)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Polling Results

Well, I would complain about the lack of votes, but to be honest, there were more than I expected. On the down side, we were left with an even number of votes - two for nerdy stuff, two for Life/General Stuff. Hopefully, those that like nerdiness were appeased here, but they can expect more. As for general stuff, I'll see what I can do. My life is pretty boring as is. Not that I'm complaining.

On a side note - about my sidebar! - I really like the new feature of linking blogs that show you when they last updated. I think it kinda motivates me to keep updating.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Fixing Star Wars

I've spoken before of my frustration with the Star Wars saga. In many ways, George Lucas reminds me of long-time X-Men scribe Chis Cleremont (wiki). Recently, Claremont has had some good ideas that his clumsy plotting and horrible dialogue made nearly unreadable. I often found myself reading issues of Uncanny X-Men just hoping that it would be better because, hey, I liked the premise!

Similarly, Lucas's idea for Star Wars is amazing! From the epic feel, to the detached Jedi and everything in between, the general ideas and concepts are top notch, which is one reason the franchise has lasted as long as it has. But, as most evident is the recent trilogy, Lucas writes dialogue very poorly, and his directing is pretty sub par. So how would I fix it? Well, let's turn on the Way Back machine and take a crack at it:

First of all, the first thing that should have happened is George Lucas should have found himself a writer or co-writer and/or director that had balls. Like, big huge cajones. Big enough to say "Screw you Lucas, that sucks!" Think about it; go back and watch Phantom Menace and imagine if someone like Spielberg, Tarentino, or hell, even Michael Bay had been on the set. You think any of them wouldn't have said "uh, George, maybe a 9-year-old protagonist isn't such a great idea..." Why are Empire Strikes Back nad Return of the Jedi considered the best movies of the saga? Could it have something to do with the fact that Lucas didn't direct or write the screenplays for them? I'm currently reading the novel of Episode II, and even though it's based on the screenplay, it's much better because the author (R.A. Salvatore) has put a greater emphasis on nurturing Anakin and Padme's relationship; you understand what it is in him that she finds so attractive - unlike the movie, where the entire thing feels forced.

Second, there needs to be better lightsaber fights. Episode I had - hands down - the best lightsaber duel this side of Ryan vs. Dorkman. But after that everything went downhill. Attack fo the Clones didn't have much (although I admit seeing Yoda kick ass was cool), and while Revenge of the Sith had fights a-plenty, they all suffered from the same problem, namely, too much facial close-ups, not enough wide-angle shots. All in all, very disapointing, made all the more so by the great beginning in Phantom Menace.

Third, make Anakin older! If everything else had been the same, Episode I would have been much better if Anakin had been, say, 19, instead of 9. In fact, make both Anakin and Padme their ages from Episode II and there are no problems. You can easily begin his fixiation with her - and wanting to protect her - and no one's asking "What the hell is a 14-year-old doing as a freaking Queen?" It has the added bonus of making it less of a continuity problem with Luke becoming a Jedi. As it is, it seems strange that a 9-year old was nearly not allowed to be trained by Yoda, only to have him go ahead and train Luke when he was late teens/early twenties.

A corollary to that, show me Anakin interacting with other Jedi. In Clones we're told (over and over) that he's arrogant, but we never really see him being all that arrogant. He's mostly being whiny constantly. You really are never given a frame of reference regarding what Jedi Padawans are supposed to be like - except for Obi Wan in Episode I. Contrasting Anakin with others of his age would have shown how he was acting different, and what that difference could lead to.

Finally, stop making it harder on yourselves. Lucas had to have known that these movies would be ruthlessly picked apart by fans, yet he opened up so many problem areas when there was no reason to! The relative ages of Anakin and Luke is one example; the (needless) introduction of midichlorians is another, and the self-contradicting "prophecy" sub-plot is a third. And that isn't even bringing up the stupidity that is Jar Jar Binks.

So there you go. That's how I would have made Star Wars better. I haven't looked online for any websites or anything to see if other people have thought of these things or others, but I'm sure they have. These are just the thoughts I have as I read through the Star Wars books.

While We're Waiting

Since we still have a few days before the poll closes (vote now if you haven't yet!), I'll share this little gem with everyone: Chess Boxing.

The match began over a chess board set up on a low table in the middle of a
boxing ring.
Stripped to the waist, wearing towels around their shoulders
and headphones playing the lulling sound of a moving train to drown out the
baying crowd, the men played for four minutes. Then off came their reading
glasses and on went the gloves and the mouthguards.
For three minutes they
beat each other and then, when the bell went, the chess board was back in the
ring and they picked up the gentlemanly game where they had left off.

Awesome is all I'll say. Not that I would ever want to do that, but it's just wierd enough that I might watch it late at night on ESPN2 or what have you.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Awesome Links Part 1 - The Campaign Spot


While the voting is still going on, I did promise to wirte about all the websites that I'm linking to, and I thought that I would start doing that. I think everyone should read at least one political blog, especially during the presidential election season, and I've found few that are as interesting and well written as Jim Gergahty at National Review's The Campaign Spot. While, yes, his personal politics are pretty right-of-center, he tries to give a fair shake to the opposition. He's even been used by the Obama campaign to dispel bad rumors! I find the writing sharp and unique; he has done an exceptional job of live-blogging all of the primary debates (and there were like 40 of them this season!).

And he uses references to Star Wars characters and occasionally Transformers. How do you beat that?

So if you are looking for a good round up of political content that is pretty damn fair but has a right-of-center point-of-view, check out The Campaign Spot.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

More Blogging Changes

I've put up a poll that you can see on the right-hand side of my blog asking what you want to hear most about. Now, keep in mind that I'll probably ramble at least a little about all of these topics, but if people are more interested in something then I will try to focus on that. Hopefully this gets more responses than my last poll-like post.