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It's been a low-key Thanksgiving around here. As usual, I had to work the day after Thanksgiving, since the Stock Market is open that day, but this year because my department is so understaffed, and so behind, we were asked to come in for a half day on Thanksgiving. Since I wasn't traveling, and there were no plans until later that night, I went in. Heck, for double time and holiday pay, I'll take it.

Even though I'm really down on my job and am looking for something new, I do have to say that there has been some good with all the overtime I've been able to accumulate this year. I've been a good boy and have been applying much of it to larger credit card payments. Oh, and gas, of course. I guess the Thanksgiving paycheck will go to buying Chris his Christmas present.

I haven't purchased Christmas cards this year...maybe I'll just go without this year.

Mikel ([livejournal.com profile] soonercubntx) cooked up a nice Thanksgiving dinner for us he was also showing of his new HD-DVD player. Of course Chris goes out on Saturday and picks up a Playstation 3 because they were giving away 10 Blu-Ray movies with it. We are all set here, with both the XBOX HD-DVD player, Blu-Ray in the Playstation and the Wii. There's no new game or movie release we can't see here.

Chris is almost through with the new Ratchet and Clank game for the PS3. It looks really good in HD.

Joey has a friend over this week. He's Fidel the basset hound and we're sitting him for a friend. Fidel doesn't smoke cigars as far as I can tell, but he does have a little of that basset hound smell. It's fun to watch him hop his way down the stairs. He's a little gluttonous and has eaten Joey's food as well as his own, so we have to keep them apart to feed them.

Joey has been in alpha dog mode trying to make sure Fidel knows who's house this is. she's not mean or anything, but their play together certainly shown signs of dominance play. Joey is a natural herding dog, so you see she's trying to make Fidel go where she wants. They like to try to out nuzzle the other. No biting or scratching, just nosing each other around. It's funny to watch. It reminds me of Zoolander where the guys are "breakdance fighting."

We have been trying to save money by resisting turning the heat on - and wearing layers. I think I might break down and turn it on tonight though, the cold damp weather gets on your nerves after a while. We did go out to the mall where it was warmer today. I know our nearby mall is pretty empty on most days, even this time of year. The mall has too many luxury stores, and few practical ones. It was interesting to note that the Apple store was the most crowded place there.

Of course the usual thanks to partners, pets, family, good fortune and health as goes this season.
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After lunch, Skye, Todd, Chris and I took a little field trip down to the Kwik-E-Mart here in Dallas. As a part of the Simpsons movie tie-in, a 7-11 store in dallas, and a few others around the country were changed into a Springfield convenience store. Since 7-11 started in Dallas, it's only natural one would be here.

As it was July 4th, many other people decided to come gawk at the store as well, causing a full parking lot and a long line to get an official Squishee drink, or some Buzz cola. They were already sold out of Krusty O's cereal. All in all it was fun seeing the signs that were replacing the usual 7-11 signs, like "Special Offer, Buy 3 for the Price of 3!" They had several character stand ups as well, so everyone was taking pictures. Skye mentioned that everything was being sold, and se saw people even buying the hot dogs on the rotisserie.

There are more pictures HERE. Chris' photos (which are better) can be found HERE

Chris and I watched the Nathan's Hot-Dog Eating championship on TV. I kind of wish I hadn't. *burf*

Otherwise, to round out our day, we went to see Transformers. I'm out of the age bracket for the toys and I didn't watch the cartoons (though sadly, I did watch Thundercats, snarf, snarf). This was mostly Chris' movie to be excited about. I know a few days ago I was saying I wasn't really interested in seeing it, but when it started getting decent reviews, my interest piqued.

It got lots of other people interested, too. One theater we tried was sold out for several showings.

Well, the humans are on way too much, and there's some roles that Chris and I wondered if they could be eliminated altogether. There's also a few plot holes that are big enough to drive Optimus Prime through, but when they shut up and really get to FIGHTING, and the explosions go off, then you know why you like this movie. So what if it doesn't make sense. The robots fighting are AMAZING, and the effects, and matching the action to the surrounding real-life areas of Los Angeles are fantastic. I'm sure the action sequences couldn't have been done even 5 years ago.

Character development? Who cares.

It's a bit of a surprising reaction from me, because I can nitpick really well, and when I get on a roll, I really can't let go and enjoy the movie, but there it is.

Yes, i know, I should be writing about Independence Day and how I'm not thrilled with the direction of the country and all, but you know, I can do that anyday. In the long run, I'm not connected to power, I'm not wealthy and I can't change much on my own when it comes to governmental abuses, and stupidity and power games at the expense of the public and those in other countries.

All I can do is raise my voice from time to time, and to get out there and vote, for thankfully in this country they still allow us those rights. As a government made of and for it's people, we should demand better than we have right now, but it will take time. It takes vigilance, and it takes not giving up on the long vision when short term things go awry. We can recover from this disastrous administration, but we need to be thoughtful of what we do next so we don't end up in the same crap with just a different face.

Still, here we are today with good friends, a few bits of entertainment and diversion, stuff that makes life good. All in all, it's not bad living in North America, you know?
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I kind of feel like this guy today.

With all the rain we've been having, he safely moved from the pond behind the building at work to the front walkway.

Couple of notes today.

➠ I need to go find the Kwik-E-Mart in town. Given that 7-11 started in Dallas, it's no suprise that one of the Simpson Movie tie-in stores is here. I wish i was more excited about the Simpsons movie, though. All those years on TV, so much of it feels like a re-tread to me.

➠ Well, there's never a real surprise with the Bush administration - well, maybe that he let the fines stick for now, just taking away Scooter's prison sentence. Don't worry, when the heat dies down, Scooter will get the full pardon. It's nice to know the administration is consistent for making sure the loyalists will reap the rewards, even if you are just a fall guy.

What kind of world is it where a person convicted of perjury (correction, obstruction of justice - sorry) in the case of divulging state secrets serves no time, while a celebutard manages to at least serve time for driving without a license?

➠ I'm almost finished with a book on Benjamin Franklin. Over the last couple of years I've read a lot on Revolutionary war figures, Adams, Washington, Jefferson and now Franklin. I guess i wanted to understand more about the founding fathers, and see if I can come to my own conclusion as what they wanted this country to be. Here's one thing, Adams was the most devout, and he didn't go to church often. Let's just say these guys were very tolerant, and not very observant of religion, despite what's said about the forming of our nation.

Franklin though seems less put upon a pedestal, perhaps because he wasn't president, but more that he seemed like the kindly grandfather to the whole process. He was certainly more folksy and didn't try to show that he was a great thinker even though he was one of the most influential people in both science and letters of his day.

Still, he seems funny, more of a clown with clever witticisms than the others, mainly because he was very quotable, where the others were more long winded. Still, we owe a lot to the man, not only from his inventions and work on such things as ballooning and the foundations of modern electrical use, but his ability (and well-traveled-ness) to see the nation as a whole, and not just 13 separate colonies and later states. Outside of kings, he was pretty much the most famous man in the world at the time of his death, having spent time in both the new and old world.

I'm not sure there's another Revolutionary War figure I really want to read about now. i think i have my opinions down, and i know the major players. what i do know is the slow build up in executive branch power over the last six years would have alarmed the founding fathers as much as it should alarm us.
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Chris' flight back from San Francisco was delayed and hour and a half, so I have to wait until midnight to go pick him up. Thanks American Airlines.

Still, I had plenty of time to watch the start of Top Chef 3, which was good. I like Dale, but I think he's going home really fast. It's not Project Runway, but it certainly is a favorite, and probably the best thing on this summer. I'll say that until the new series of Doctor Who starts up.

I'm at a bit of a fashion crossroads. For the last several years I've been wearing boxer shorts - mostly the heavier cotton boxers from Big Dogs that have the embarrassing sayings embroidered on them. This is all well and good, but I find now that my body must be changing a bit, and these things ride up in ways i don't find goo or amusing. i guess all the workouts on the elliptical machine are starting to pay off with my butt and thighs.

So I'm just not enjoying the boxers anymore, thought they do make great loungewear. I recently bought some boxer-briefs from UnderArmour. they sell some larger sizes on their website, and they feel great - a little snug, but it's great for my workouts. Working out in the boxers, well, that was just stupid.

So the UnderArmour boxer-breifs are good with all of that sleek feeling that makes me feel a little sexy even, but the underwear is a little expensive. Yeah, the Big Dogs boxers weren't that cheap either, but they have lasted a long time and they are often on sale. Buying off UnderArmour's website means no sales and a shipping charge. I need something cheaper for more of an everyday kind of thing.

Here's the question, who makes good boxer-breifs that I can easily get in a 2X (or maybe 3X, depending on fit)? I looked at the JCPenny website and didn't like anything they had. I have a couple of pairs of old Hanes Boxer-breifs when Target used to carry my size, many years ago. their fine, but I can't even find them on the Hanes website.

Let's face it, I loathe shopping at Casual Male. Dillards has no-name underwear, and little of it in stock, and even worse, seems to have stopped having sales on their Big and Tall clothing all together. Does someone have a supplier I don't know about?

Last question, does anyone know where I can get square-cut swim trunks? Am I just too big to show off like that? Maybe so, but I'd at least like to try it if I can find it. Come on guys, where do you go shop for this stuff!?
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❄ Other people in the DFW area have been talking about snowflurries today. I haven't seen any here, so I must be in the warm part of town. Still, there's predictions of more as we drop below freezing tonight. I doubt any will stick, but it is still strange. I'm guessing that this is going to put a big damper on the Easter Pet Parade in Lee Park tomorrow, which sucks. We always see some great folks and their pets out there. Last year temps were in the 90's!

❆ About a month ago I saw a story stating that gas prices shouldn't go to $3.00 a gallon this year (in Texas). At that time prices had risen to $2.25. Now the price is 2.75. I'm going to guess that we'll hit $3.00 right after April 15th. *sigh*

❅ So I've been catching up with episodes of 24 this weekend. It's the first season that I've watched this show as I've seen a few people rave about it. I have one question: Has the show always been this bad, or is this season just terrible?

It's not necessarily the acting, but it's just the writing that seems awful. They have an interesting scenario, a suitcase nuke goes off, and not only do we see how we try to get those responsible, but we also see leader's response to it. The problem is, they throw away characters all the time. Someone shows up for an hour or two and then they disappear, having little impact on the plot arch of the show. Then there's the need to give the series regulars something to do, so they look for moles and have office romances and suspect each other of drinking on the job, none of which is interesting or does anything to move the story forward.

I wonder if the writers are also writers of videogames, as there is a similarity of plot devices where you go from one situation to another on a path to the finish. There's several small bosses that must be defeated (or as Jack Bauer does, interrogate them) until you finally get to the big boss.

There's also a lot of M. Night Shamalan "Ohh! What a twist!" moments that aren't as big a reveals as they seem to think.

I'll watch the rest of the season just to see what craziness they pull out to show that it's not the Muslims or the Russians or even the Cheney-like vice president. It's probably Jack's Dad who was seen in two episodes early on and promptly forgotten. After it's over, it's getting deleted off the Tivo.

❄Otherwise, Chris and I were at the local mall last weekend and it was a little dead. We walked by center court and there was the Easter bunny sitting there waiting for children to come up and get photos. At this mall he's a overly large brown furry with a nice waistcoat and tie. He was sitting on a park bench and the area was decorated like it was New York's Central Park. Why this was, I have no clue.

We're looking at the rather-lonely bunny from the second level, and Chris asks me if i found the bunny a little creepy. I said no and asked him what he meant.

He says, "Well you have a guy in a bunny suit waiting on a park bench for kids to come and sit on his lap."

Yeah, when you put it like that, yeah, it's creepy.
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I was off from work today. I'm burning off my "use it or lose it" vacation days, scheduling the last two available days of the year. The entire month of December was booked before I ever stated with the company.

Today I did a little shopping and I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, enjoying the warm weather. Over the next two hours we're expecting a line of thunderstorms to come through and drop temperatures some 45 degrees from the 70's into the 30's. We're expecting sleet with the thunderstorms and possibly snow tomorrow as the temperature plummets into the 20's. It makes me long for no-freeze Houston weather.

Chris the other day said that he already had my Christmas gift, so now I'm worried about getting him something. I have no idea. I thought about getting the XBox 360 game Viva! Pinata!, but now I think it's looking a little childish. Of course we're both playing Lego Star Wars II.

We still haven't found a Wii. I looked around today with no luck. I think you have to get up early.

I did find some slippers at Khol's. Really, shoes and socks are the only things I can buy there. I wish they carried larger sizes. Still, I wish i could find some of those bear paws slippers. I know it's silly, but they're cute

I wish that more people would use BearLix or another chat service. Bear 411 is crap, but everyone's on it. Can we just all move to a new site and not tell the creepy people about it?

We've seen two movies at the theater this fall, Borat and Casino Royale, both were good in very different ways. Really, there's very few other movies this holiday season that are piquing my interest. Lord knows we don't need any more animated animals. We also could do without the bratty kids in Unaccompanied Minors.

I did have an interesting reaction seeing the first few minutes of the trailer for We Are Marshall when the team is on the plane, looking happy and the coach mentions Marshall...I remember gasping knowing what was coming. The rest of the trailer didn't excite me though. It was just knowing what the scene was leading to. I might go see the Matt Damon movie The Good Shepard.

I've interviewed a couple of times for a new position at work. I'm not really hopeful about it since it's not an area I'm familiar with, and I haven't been with the company for a year yet, but I'm at least trying to do something to make my situation better. I'm also getting back into the interviewing game.

Mall walking is boring and the people at the mall kiosks are getting more annoying. I don't want to try your skin cream, and I really don't want it if I was just asked by your other kiosk at the other end of the mall. Then you say I'm grouchy? Yea Christmas spirit.

Lastly, politics. Didn't it seem like President Bush was open to change a few weeks ago, when he found that the Democrats had won? Well, that's changed, and it seems like he's back to his ways of just being a selfish whiny fool, claiming that we'll stay in Iraq following the same stupid strategy we've been following the last four years. The guy is in a self-made vacuum and he's never coming out, is he?

What will be interesting is if the rumors of replacing Dick Cheney come true, and they really work on creating a candidate for President for 2008. I'm not sure anyone running would want to take the job if Bush continues to be such a doof. It wouldn't help to start campaigning in a pit.

Oh well. I should do a longer post about this year's television shows, but that will have to wait.
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Last night Chris and I went out half-hartedly looking for a Wii. Really, i wasn't too into it, even though I liked the test that we did at the Game Stop in the mall. The controller really is quite different, and really, it's the stupid, complicated controller that keeps me away from a lot of games.

We checked out Best Buy twice. It seemed like they were going to do a midnight special, so we went and grabbed a coupon Chris has had for the newest Zelda game since March of last year. Apparently people have been waiting for a year and a half for this game to come out, and when it does, it's on a totally different system than it was before.

When we got back to Best Buy we noticed that all the employees were gone and what was left was a line of folding chairs with some 20 people in them. We asked when they would be giving the Wiis out, and they replied "9am" Uhm, no. I certainly wasn't going to camp out all night, and Chris wasn't either.

We ran over to Wal*Mart, which already is a place I hate, and there's a line of 40 people already, snaked outside of the garden center. Chris decided to give it a go, so I went into the store to shop. Twenty minutes later, about ten minutes to midnight, Chris comes over and said they had already pulled the twenty people who would actually be getting the console. I was disappointed for him, and maybe a little sad myself, because I was kind of interested, but I was sure as hell ready to get out of Wal*Mart.

I really am not much of a gamer. About the only game I play online is Soduko, and that's a one person deal. Games became much to complicated for me many, many years ago, and I've never had the co-ordination to really make all of those buttons, keypads and joysticks work together. Really, the last game i actually enjoyed was Katamari Damancy, and I wasn't that good at that.

A favorite game of mine was Yar's Revenge, which used the single joystick and one fire button. That's good Atari 2600 stuff. Somewhere I have an Activision Classics disk for the Playstation 2 that I guess I should try, but I'm not sure I could play Kaboom! without a paddle controller.

Chris is a good gamer. He can do all these things, and come up with these combinations and such. I think it's crazy. I end up watching him play games, just because some have a decent storyline. I've seen most of Kameo, Kingdom Hearts II and Legend of Zelda:Windwalker. Some are better than others. I look forward to seeing more of Dead Rising because the zombies bite it in such unusual ways.

Still, Chris is trying to involve me more. What he really wants is for me to start playing World of Warcraft. look, he says, it's available for Mac, and it's already installed on your system! Still, I watch him play and I can't think of a more pointless thing than this game. I just don't understand why people think this is any fun.

I used to like Sim City, but then it got far, far to complicated. All I want to do is build a city. I don't want to have to figure out taxes and budgets and other realistic details that take away from the feeling that you have a cool set of Legos. Perhaps they just need a Lego town set - build, destroy, and still have time to watch Ugly Betty.

Seriously, i'll pass on Warcraft, but the truck game for the Wii was kind of fun, and some of the sports games look interesting as well. it's all about that controller, though, and the different possibilities. I'll be happy if we get a Wii in the house. If Chris wants to get a Playstation 3 sometime, he's all on his own there.
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I've been working on a list of cities I would, and would not move to if I had the opportunity. In most cases, it's based on cities that I've travelled to at one time or another. I've never moved out of Texas, so I guess sometime in my life, I should actually consider it. My biggest question tends to be, can I handle snow? I've never been in a place that had significant snowfall...or even snow that lasted more than a day. It scares me.

Places I'd Move to:
Boston
SF Bay Area (Preferably somewhere like Palo Alto or Cupertino, but I doubt I could afford it.)
Chicago
Washington DC
Austin

Maybe:
Montreal (language and snow problems)
San Diego
Madison, WI
Houston (been there, done that)
Honolulu (isolated)

Off the List:
Los Angeles
Baltimore
St. Louis
Kansas City
Memphis
New Orleans
any city in Florida

I'm reserving judgement on cities that I haven't visited, but intrigue me, like Atlanta, Seattle and Toronto. I haven't spent enough time in Philadelphia to know.

Otherwise, in our terrible boredom today, we went out to the Dallas Galleria. That's actually the name of the mall. Houston has had "the Galleria" for almost 45 years, so when they opened up a mall in Dallas some 20 years ago, they had to make sure to let everyone know that this is the Dallas one.

Now over the last couple of weeks, we've visited all the malls in our area except Valley View. Valley View is the old, ghetto mall. I remember when it opened, sometime in the 70's where it was clean and modern, and it was where I got my Sears Toughskins - when we didn't have to order them from the catalog store in East Texas. Now Valley View is the mall that sells Disco Jesus plaques next to the moving waterfall pictures.

The Dallas Galleria has had a Macy's store since it opened. The Houston location added a Macy's in the eighties in an area that you have to know how to get through Saks Fifth Avenue to find. It's a pretty peaceful area. they were both the last stores when Macy's pulled out most of it's stores in Texas in the 90's. I mention this because this was the big weekend when Macy's took off the name Foley's in the southwest, among other names across the country.

The Dallas Galleria has it easy as the Macy's there doesn't have to change a thing. In Houston the Galleria has both a Macy's and a Foley's, and they had already closed the Lord and Taylor, another department store owned by the same company. I'll bet the much older Macy's in the quiet part of the mall will close after the holidays. While the Dallas Galleria store will do fine, I'm going to guess the Valley View store, the one that once was a Sanger-Harris, will close since it's only a few blocks away. Why they build malls a few feet from each other, I'll never know.

The Dallas Galleria is not a mall for us. It's the mall with the fancy stores, like Gucci and Versace (pronounced Ver-sayse but the trendy twink behind us today). There's nothing with a big and tall section. Many stores are just there to impress the travelers that we are some sort of fly-over state shopping oasis. We did notice that the stores got cheaper and trashier as you went higher. this is easily seen as sister stores from the Gap corporation are stacked up at one end of the mall. Banana Republic is on the ground floor, Gap in the center, and Old Navy on the third floor.

On the scary third floor, we found a store that sold a repainted knock-off Batman doll as Superman in the window, the sad "learning toys" store that no child would ever want something from, and Hot Topic.

Chris, remembering [livejournal.com profile] xkot's old post about crying in front of Hot Topic asked me if I wanted to reproduce the photo, I said no, because I'd have to cry in front of Torrid instead.

One of the worst things is that the Stroller Bear population is really low at the Galleria. The bearish folks just don't travel there. Really, if you're going to people watch, the better looking crowd in my book is at Stonebriar Center. Even the upscale Shops at Willowbend is better especially as there's the cute bear who manages the pretzel shop there. The Galleria has more pretty people who surprisingly can't pronounce Versace.

We bought nothing, but it did get us out of the house, where we're suffering with a problem with our air conditioning. It also got us to walk - yea exercise! -and waste our time without spending money on some movie that we'll just realize isn't worth the $6 for a matinee showing.

Malled

Aug. 5th, 2006 06:41 pm
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So I decided this afternoon to take the Texas tax-free weekend challenge. The challenge is having to deal with larger than normal crowds at malls and stores with crazed back-to-school shoppers. Your reward is that Texas decides not to add the 8.25% sales tax to your purchases (unless it's an item over $100, or some other arbitrary reason that legislators have come up with.

I decided to go over to Willow Bend, which is less than 5 miles from the homestead, and is filled with high-end stores, but very little practical places. Sure, the Apple store is there, but so is Swarovsky Crystal, Mont Blanc Pensand Lucky Brand Jeans and such. There's Macy's and Dillards, plus Sak's 5th Ave. and Neiman-Marcus. Not a JC Penny in sight. Needless to say, it's a style-consious (read Plano-Pretentious) mall.

The Thomas Kincade gallery has left. Not enough trash shopping there, I guess.

That also made it much less crowded than say Stonebriar Center, or the Galleria, or the ghetto-fabulous Valley View.

My main purpose was to go and get some shirts for work, and if possible, more khakis. There's only one place I can shop in the mall, and that's Dillard's Big and Tall shop. so i waled around the mall and then went to shop in the little nook where all the big guys have to go. At least they had a good selection of polo shirts on clearance. This so appeals to my cheap side.

So I placed my purchases in the car, and decided to do some more mall walking, and to possibly negate any good I could have possible done by getting a pretzel. As I walk through the mall I notice that the kids play area was more full than usual. what's funny is that the playground features a giant-sized breakfast of steak and eggs, coffee, toast, a grapefruit and a large bottle of tabasco sauce. I think there's a good sense of humor from the designers to have the kids look like ants crawling all over the food.

Still, there was a reason for all of the kids. There was a television crew there to audition families for Supernanny! At least the producers tried to keep the auditioners corralled up.

So I go over to Aunt Annie's Pretzeltorium and there's a friggin' line there for mid-mall snacking. I thought about giving up, and saving the calories, but then I saw the hot bear manager. He looked like he was having quite a day, and his cashier was pretty damn dumb. He gave me a look while I was in line, and once I finally got up there, he took my order, and gave my my carbo-loaded pretzel with a wink.

I went off to the mall's dead zone, you know, the one with the film developer and the Select comfort store, and ate my bread-tastic find, then I walked back and saw that he was not behind the counter. Then as I was walking back to the car, there he was, taking a break. Apparently things had be very crazy, and he had to stay late. Aaaaw! Still, he lives close, and I said that we should hang out some time. He said he's seen me around somewhere - probably at TBRU. Still cool. Good to make a friend. Oh, and he's single. (Now he'll get stalkers)

I hope this means I can get all the pretzels I want now!

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