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The End of 2013 is Here

December 31st, 2013 No comments

With 2012 being such a spectacular and life-changing year, there was no way that 2013 could be just as good, right?  While that turned out to be true, 2013 was still a fantastic year.

I lost my job, which caused me to lose the house I was a few days away from closing on.  However, I landed a new job about 6 weeks later.  I still haven’t had any desire to start looking for another house again.  One of these days…

I think I did more traveling this year than any previous year.  I went to Las Vegas, Canada, Reno, Tahoe, San Francisco, Seattle, and New Orleans.  I had a great time on each trip.

I got to spend time with old friends this year and make new ones.  The 2-week visit from my good friend John and our trip to Canada was one of the highlights of the year.  I’ve become involved in some local groups, so I’m even more socially active.

I’m looking forward to 2014.  I think it’ll be even better than this year.  I have some things in the works and I hope there will be some good surprises.

Christmas 2013

December 26th, 2013 No comments

I had a good Christmas this year.  I decided to remain in Portland this year. It’s nice to spend a holiday resting instead of traveling.  I missed seeing my family, but I didn’t mind missing out on the airports. I worked on Christmas Eve for the first time ever, but I did take a vacation from work beginning on Christmas Day and ending on New Year’s Day. On Christmas Day I saw two movies, two of many movies I plan to see during my break. I’m going to a game night on New Year’s Eve, but that’s the only social activity.  I have planned.

What did I get for my birthday and Christmas? My friends and family took very good care of me this year.

  • Grimm lore book
  • Batman figure
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • Princess Mononoke on DVD
  • 2(x)ist underwear
  • Pizza pan
  • Beanie
  • Enterprise-D model
  • C.O.P.S. Vol. 1 and 2 on DVD
  • Batman snuggie

I sent my niece a toy Dora the Explorer guitar. I hear that she really liked it and was doing air guitar not long before she got her gift.

Geek Out Loud Fat Off Conclusion

December 8th, 2013 No comments

I won the weight loss challenge that I took part in. I needed to lose 7.7 lbs and I lost 8.0 lbs. Out of the 24 participants, 11 people were winners. The pot was $840. I put in $35 and I got a payment of $57.25. DietBet takes out a 25% fee apparently. I’m just happy I got more than I put in.

I didn’t do as well as I could have. I didn’t lost as much in the first week as I did in weeks two and four. I was still eating too much junk food. I actually gained weight in week three, which was Thanksgiving week. Altogether we lost 189.7 lbs in 4 weeks. Good job everyone!

Thanksgiving 2013

December 1st, 2013 1 comment

I had a good Thanksgiving week here in Portland. I took the whole week off from work. I decided to take the week off not long after I was hired in June and realized how many vacation days I would have to use by the end of the year or lose them. I’m taking another week off between Christmas and New Year’s.

The week was fun even though I was busy a lot. I cleaned up on the insides, raked the leaves the leaves on the outside, and ran a lot of errands. I watched a lot of TV (finally caught up after getting behind during Voodoo Fest), and played a lot of video games. On Thanksgiving Day, I went to a potluck that I found out about in a local gaming group that I’m in. All of those people who came know each other from a different group, so it was a little awkward being the only one who didn’t already know people there. It was still fun though. I think it was first Thanksgiving celebration since 2007. Everyone loved the potato salad I made. It was the first time I’d tried making it. I used a dish my mom used to always use for potato salad. She gave it to me when I got my first apartment in college. I held on to it, but had never used it until Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, I had the Pearl Jam concert, which was the highlight of the week.

I’m going back to work tomorrow refreshed.

Console Crazy

December 1st, 2013 2 comments

I’ve been playing the Xbox One and the PS4 a lot lately. I pre-ordered then both so I would have them at launch. The PS4 actually came a few days late because of a screw up by Amazon, but I have had a good amount of time with both of them.

In spite of a few bugs, I am pleased with both consoles. I don’t buy the mentality that you should never buy anything when it’s first released because it’ll have issues. I’m hearing a lot of people say, “I’m glad I waited.” Well, unless it’s hardware failure, I can deal with the issues. Most issues I have can be fixed by a simple reboot. Hopefully, Sony and Microsoft will have patches out soon. I think I read somewhere that less than 1% of people are getting the light of death, whatever color it is now. Every launch is going to have some problems. It just seems like a lot of people are being affected because so many people are buying them right now. The only real issue I had was with audio and that was because my sound system’s receiver is old. I found a new receiver for a good price and that fixed that.

The graphics on both consoles are gorgeous. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting a big improvement in graphics. Now I realize that it shouldn’t have been a surprise. My favorite one is the Xbox One. The PS4 probably has the better graphics, but the Xbox One experience is better. I have enough games on each system to last a while. I hope this generation of consoles lasts at least as long as the last one.
Xbox One

Pearl Jam, Portland 2013

November 30th, 2013 3 comments

I had such a great time at the Pearl Jam concert I went to last night. Pearl Jam is my favorite band ever, for those that don’t know. Instead of Black Friday, I celebrated Pearl Jam Friday! I saw them 4 weeks after I last saw them at Voodoo Fest.

I woke up around 7am and I saw online that there were about 14 people in line for general admission seating as of 6am. I didn’t have time for that. I had a few things to do early in the day. I went to go pick up my tickets at 2:30 when the fan club’s will call windows opened. Each show (not counting Voodoo Fest) had a general admission “pit” area on the floor right in front of the stage for fan club members. Behind the pit was a seated section for fan club members. I requested tickets in the pit. I’ve been a member of the Pearl Jam fan club since 1998. That gives me a great priority because my membership number is fairly low. If people let their membership expire, they start over and get a new, higher number. Back when I saw them in 2000 and 2003, I got 4th and 2nd row seats. I’m sure that my priority and the fact that a lot of people probably chose to get Seattle (Pearl Jam’s home base) tickets instead of Portland helped me get the GA floor seats that I wanted. You have to buy fan club tickets in pairs. I found someone in a Facebook group I’m in to buy my other ticket. She and a friend were coming from Italy to attend a few shows on the tour. I can’t remember if she said it was her first time in the U.S. or just her first time in Portland.

The will call line was really short. After that I tackled the LONG merchandise line. Merchandise is very popular on Pearl Jam tours. They have unique stickers, t-shirts, and posters for each stop on the tour. Fans trade with each other or sell it online. It took my about an hour to get through the line. I picked up a poster, a t-shirt, and 2 stickers. I’m usually not into this type of stuff, but for Pearl Jam I’ll make an exception. After that I went to put my merchandise in my car and warm up using the heater a little bit. I parked in the garage next to the arena.
tickets and wrist bands

After about 45 minutes in my car, I went to wait in the GA line. The sooner you got there, the better. I didn’t’t have a bad spot, but I definitely wasn’t going to be right up against the rail. I met some pretty cool people in line. There was a father who was there with his teenage son. After about 2 hours there, we finally got to go inside. Everyone rushed so they could get a good spot. My spot was 4 people deep, slightly to the right of the center of the stage. Nice!

About an hour and a half later the opening act, Mudhoney, came on stage at 7:30. I don’t know much about them, but apparently they were a precursor to grunge and they greatly influenced Pearl Jam. They played for only 30 minutes. Thank goodness! I was tired of waiting. Then at 8:30, Pearl Jam took the stage.

Oh my goodness! This was an amazing show! It’s not just my opinion. The crowd was really into it. I later saw posts online from people show saw the setlist (it changes every night) and thought it was exceptional. There was a 60ish pot-smoking lady who was there with her daughters. I danced with her and one of her daughters some. Pearl Jam played a few songs from the new ablum, which I’m not as familiar with as I am the older stuff. Most of the show was older stuff that I could sing along to pretty much word for word. They played “You Are”, which they haven’t played in years. I was also surprised to hear “Sometimes”, “Rats”, “Deep”, and “Mother”. They didn’t play one of my favorites “Do the Evolution” like they did in New Orleans, but they more than made up for it with one of my favorites from the same album, “Low Light”. And they played many of the hits like “Alive”, “Even Flow”, “Black”, “Porch”, and “Rearviewmirror”. They were really into it and had lots of energy. At one point they mentioned that this was the best crowd they’ve had in Portland since ‘92 or ’93. The building was packed. There were a few times when I’m pretty sure Eddie was looking right at me while he was singing. I tried not to look away out of nervousness. I don’t usually get nervous around celebrities. Also, there was once were he spoke from the stage to a couple immediately to my left and a guy immediately behind me and to my right. They made a couple of mistakes during the show, but they laughed it off instead of getting upset about it. During the last song, “Rockin in the Free World”, a bunch of people came on stage to play with them, including Sleater-Kinney and Peter Buck from R.E.M.
Eddie Vedder

They left the stage for the last time right at 11:30. They played for 3 hours!!! 3 HOURS!!! After all the standing, jumping up and down, and dancing, it was hard for me to move my legs to leave the building. I could barely move for the last few songs. I ripped part of my thumbnail off during the show somehow. I have no idea how it happened.

My only complaints I had about the night were because of the pit. The couple that Eddie spoke to was rude to people and didn’t’t care that they were being rude because it was the husband’s birthday. And you had the people who would try to push their way up closer. There were times when it was so cramped that I couldn’t really move. I didn’t mind that we were bumping into each other a lot, but it wouldn’t have been nice I could’ve moved my arms more. I had to be a dick and shove some people back who tried to get in front of me. They should’ve gotten there earlier if they wanted better seats. The couple who was being rude earlier actually stopped some people from sneaking in front of me, so in my head I forgave them a little. Every time I would start getting upset, Pearl Jam would play a song I really liked or Eddie would say something cool and I would start to feel good again.

So, yeah, I had a great time at the show. Right now I believe it’s my #1 concert ever. I’m excited to buy the official bootleg in a few months! I’ll make every effort to be there the next time Pearl Jam is in Portland. My favorite part of the night was one of the many times Eddie came down front to interact with the crowd. This time he came into the crowd a little right next to where I was. There were only about 3 people between me and him. If I hadn’t hesitated and moved forward when others did, I could have been one of the people that got a fist bump. I waved at him and he either waved back at me or to the guy standing near me. Look at the pic below and see how close I was to one of my idols.
Eddie Vedder closeup

15. AFTER HOURS (Lou Reed)
17. RATS

27. WHY GO

34. ROCKIN IN THE FREE WORLD (with Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, and all of Sleater-Kinney)

Geek Out Loud Fat Off

November 9th, 2013 1 comment

I decided to take part in Geek Out Loud’s weight loss challenge. It’s called Civil War Episode 7: The Fatoff. It started yesterday and goes until Dec 6. Basically, everyone put $35 into the pool. Each person who loses 4% of their body weight in 4 weeks splits the pool. Right now the pool is at $805. I have to lose 7.7 lbs to win.

I lost 90 lbs, but then I put about 25 back on. It’s shouldn’t be too hard to drop 7.7 lbs if I do what I know I should be doing. My only issue is that I hate the word diet because of what it sometimes implies. I made a lifestyle change when I lost my weight. I never changed what I eat, just how much of it I eat.

Anyway, I think I’ll get back the $35 I put in, maybe more. Maybe I’ll get back down to my former weight within the next few months. Check out the page here.

Voodoo Fest 2013

November 9th, 2013 1 comment

This past weekend I went to New Orleans for Voodoo Fest. I met my friend John down there. We’d been looking forward to this since we last met up in Reno back in June. This was the first time I had been to New Orleans and Voodoo Fest since Voodoo Fest 2007.
Voodoo Fest sign

On Friday, I flew to New Orleans. It is a LONG way from Portland to New Orleans. My first stop on the way there was at L.A.X. My plane landed around the time of the L.A.X. shooting that was in the news. We did sit on the runway for a while before we parked. Maybe the shooting was why. Everything was calm in the area I was in. I didn’t even know about the shooting until I got on wifi and checked Twitter. Once we made it to New Orleans the local news interviewed some of the people on our flight about it. John picked me up at the airport. He was worried because one of the flights from L.A. to New Orleans was delayed because of the shooting. After taking my stuff to the hotel and catching up a little bit, we headed to Voodoo Fest. We missed Macklemore & Lewis, but soon it was time for Pearl Jam. They put on a great show! They are an excellent live band! They played a few songs from the new album, but it was mostly older favorites. They played the songs I would’ve been disappointed if I didn’t hear: “Given to Fly” and “Do the Evolution”. I was surprised to hear “In My Tree”. John’s not as big of a Pearl Jam fan as me. He really likes “Do the Evolution”, so I’m glad they played it. After the show, I think we drank before calling it a night. We slept for 11 hours. I blame it on the jet lag and staying up late.
Pearl Jam

On Saturday I think we got something to eat and then headed back to the park. While walking around the park, we heard the end of Paramore’s set, but after that it was time for Nine Inch Nails. They started a lot earlier than the schedule said, so I’m glad we got there early. They also put on a great show. I’m not as big of a NIN fan as John. They played the song he really wanted to hear: “Reptile”. I think they played a lot of new songs, or maybe just songs that I’m not as familiar with. I got more pumped up during “Wish” than I did the entire night. They played one of the songs I really wanted to hear: “The Hand that Feeds”. I wish they would have played “Closer”, but it was still a great show.
Nine Inch Nails

On Sunday, we skipped Voodoo Fest entirely. We had talked about going to see Kid Rock and The Cure that night, but decided against it. It was too much of a hassle going to the park and back. We did some shopping and then hung out with one of John’s old friends, Elizabeth. She lives in New Orleans. I’ve hung out with her a few times over the years. She’s very cool. We did a little bar hopping and lost some money at the casino. Then we went to a club where Elizabeth’s boyfriend was DJing later in the night. We ended up leaving before his 2:30am performance because we were all tired.

On Monday, I flew back to Portland. It’s always sad coming back after having a great time with friends. I’m grateful that I got to go. Both Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails play in Portland later this month, so I’ll get to see them again. I got sick on this trip like I did at P.A.X. John is suffering the same symptoms I am. I think my next trip will be February at the earliest. It’ll be nice to spend time at home on weekends.

Shark Attack

October 27th, 2013 1 comment

I haven’t done much lately. I’ve enjoyed having a few weekends in a row to relax around here. Two of my co-workers and I have started having a weekly board game night here at my place.

Last week we didn’t have game night because one person was busy, so I decided to take advantage of the extra time to get a head start on some routine cleaning that I was planning to do that weekend. I always liked cleaning growing up and I still do to this day. I cleaned the bathrooms, mopped the floors, and vacuumed the carpets. When it came time for me to clean the couch using an attachment on my vacuum, I noticed that the spinner thing wasn’t moving as quickly as normal, so it wasn’t performing as effectively as it should. I ran it over the couch longer, hoping to collect more hair.
Over the next couple of days, I noticed more hair than normal on my clothes and in the air. I decided to try the attachment again. Same result. I took one of the attachment things off while the vacuum was still on and a big ball of hair came flying out of the hose. This is when I realized that the “change bag” indicator was on. It never occurred to me that the bag might be full. I was still using the last of the bags that came with the vacuum about 4 years ago. My last place didn’t have much carpet, so I didn’t vacuum much. I’m not sure that I ever had to change the bags there. I’ve gone through 2 bags in the year and half that I’ve lived here.

So I went to Target to get some replacement bags and I couldn’t find any. I was looking near the vacuums, but I thought that maybe I was looking in the wrong place. All of a sudden it hit me. Maybe they don’t make vacuums that use bags anymore. I checked all the ones on display and all of them were bagless vacuums. This irritated me for no rational reason. I knew that I could probably go online to order some bags, but I had it in my head that I would have my couch cleaned that night. So, I impulsive bought a new vacuum.

I got one of those Shark vacuums, a Shark Navigator DLX. I know I’ve seen or heard an advertisement for them recently, and they claim to have more suction power than a Dyson. This one was $160, which is about twice as much as my 4 year old Bissell cost. I wasn’t about to pay $400 for a Dyson. This one has a 5-year warranty, which is about how long I expect anything to last these days. I remember my mom’s old vacuum that she had all throughout my childhood and into my college years. They don’t make things to last anymore, do they?
Shark Navigator DLX

After I assembled my new vac, the only thing I did was use it to clean the couch. The hair on the couch along filled up about ¼ or 1/3 of the cup, which isn’t small. I didn’t re-vacuum the entire apartment, but think that this vacuum will do a much better job at sucking up dirt and hair than my old one did. My dog sheds like crazy. When my friend John was here in February, he had problems with allergies even though I cleaned the entire apartment a couple of days before he got here.

So, yeah, I’m at the point in my life where I get excited by new appliances and I’ve been here for a while. I’m excited to run through my entire apartment with this thing.

Rose City Comic Con 2013

September 23rd, 2013 No comments

This past weekend I attended the 2nd annual Rose City Comic Con here in Portland. Year 2 was much, much bigger and better than Year 1. They partnered up with Emerald City Comic Con out of Seattle to make the event better. They moved from the Doubletree Hotel to the Oregon Convention Center. They had a lot more panels and a lot more celebrities. Even the cosplay was greatly improved.
cosplayers at Rose City Comic Con 2013

On Saturday I got there about half an hour before it opened up at 10 AM. They had a special line for people who had picked up their badges early (I did at a kick-off party the night before). The con workers told a lot of us to get into the wrong line. When the exhibition hall opened, I could see people walking around, but we weren’t being allowed in even though they realized their mistake. I was annoyed already. Once I got in I saw the place where you could pay for photo ops. I paid to get photos with Jewel Staite, Avery Brooks, and David Giuntoli. I saw the area where celebrities were signing autographs. Even though I said I wouldn’t get autographs, I decided to get Jewel Staite’s autograph for my friend John. He’s a big Firefly fan and one of the main reasons why I became a fan. Jewel was fashionably late to her table. I checked her Twitter account and she had tweeted earlier that she was in Portland, but she had a sore throat. Everyone cheered when she got there. She was very nice and gorgeous. After that I caught the end of the Christopher Judge panel while I waited for the Avery Brooks panel. Christopher Judge was funny and entertaining, but Avery Brooks was just weird. I had heard that he was crazy, but it was still a site to see. The moderator was afraid to ask questions after the first couple. I think most of the audience was uncomfortable at times. Jewel Staite had her panel next. She was adorable. She’s very good at taking bad audience questions and giving good answers. She’s obviously been doing this for a while. After that I went to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s panel, which was great. My last panel of the day was David Giuntoli’s. It was fun, but I had to leave early to get in line to get my photo made with Jewel Staite. I got there 15 minutes early like they told me to and the line was already huge. This line moved quickly though once they started taking photos. I might have been a little curt with her. I was tired, I hadn’t eaten in almost 12 hours, and I was trying not to take up a lot of time especially since I had already spoken to her earlier in the day. She’s probably seen it all, so it probably didn’t register with her.
me and Jewel Staite

I didn’t have to be there as early on Sunday as I did on Saturday. I think I got there around noon. The first thing I did was go to the exhibition hall to get Kelly Sue DeConnick’s autograph. She’s so cool! Then I went to Matt Fraction’s panel. Also, very cool! He’s a really funny guy. At some point during the day I got his autograph for the 2nd year in a row, but I can’t remember when. I also saw a bunch of people from work. After Fraction, I went to the Stargate panel. Seeing Stargate people all weekend made me decide that it’s finally time to watch this show. I ordered it from Amazon last night. I left this panel a little early to go to my photo op with Avery Brooks. His line was much shorter. While I was in line, I could see him sitting at his table. I felt bad because no one was coming to get his autograph. Did he scare people off the day before or are people just not interested in Deep Space Nine anymore? I bet there would have been a long line for him 15 years ago. I was in and out of the picture area quickly. I was a little afraid to say much. He was cool though. Then I went to the Greg Rucka panel. He went off on an angry tangent on politics and blah blah blah. I was a little bored. I had to leave early for my photo op with David Giuntoli. Once again I could see Avery Brooks looking sitting at his table and I felt bad again. They made an announcement that he was leaving early. Maybe one or two people came to his table after that and then he left. David was a little late, but the line moved quickly as expected. He was really nice. I thought it was funny that he asked for my name and introduced himself like I didn’t know who he was, like I didn’t pay to have a photo made with him. After that, I was done with the con for the year. On my way out of the exhibition hall, I almost ran right into Jewel Staite, who I think was on her way to her last autograph session.
Stargate panel

me and Avery Brooks

me and David Giuntoli

One again, I’m exhausted, but I’ll definitely be back next year unless something major comes up. I hope this and the competing Wizard’s World Portand Comic Con can both continue for a long time to come. Portland’s a nerdy city and there’s room for both.