Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Follow up: We have a winner!

It's been decided. We're moving into the old Victorian-style house, which is in Lynnwood. We're very excited!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Moving, again

Well, we've been living in the house we currently rent for over 3 years. Since we seem to get the urge to move every 2 years, we're overdue. (In fact, we tried last year, but it didn't work out.)

Last week, our search for new housing kicked in to high gear. Friday, we looked at one in a neighborhood we love, but it was waaaaay too small. On Saturday, we drove all over hell and gone and looked at 4 houses. All bust. The first was too expensive (the agent had 2 listings in the same neighborhood, and showed us the wrong one), the second was right next to the freeway (seriously, I could see the traffic on 520 through the trees), the third was too small and laid out horribly, and the fourth didn't accept pets (which he didn't put in the ad).

After Saturday, we were frustrated and dispirited.

Monday, we looked at one house that I immediately fell in love with. It's impractical, as it's on Camano Island, but it is beautiful, has an amazing view of the water (with a great deck and a fire pit), and has a separate mother-in-law not connected to the house. It also would be near Jen's brother and his family, who live on the island. The downsides are the commute, being far from our friends, and there's barely any place to park. The yard is also a little small, and the house itself is a little small, too.

But damn...that view. And it would be so peaceful. And my in-laws wouldn't be in my house, per se.

Wednesday, two more houses, both fantastic.

The first one is not terribly exciting to look at...it's a rambler in a suburban neighborhood (Kenmore). However, it has a mother-in-law that would be better for my in-laws than the one on Camano. Unfortunately, it shares a wall with the main house, but that isn't too bad. The main house is a three bedroom, with a nice kitchen - including a five-burner gas stove set into a brick recess, making it look like an old-world baking oven. Jen loved it. It also has a sunroom that would be perfect for placing a soft tub spa in. Big, fenced backyard, which is a big plus for our dogs. Not-bad commute for both Jen and myself. And the landlord is a Microsoftie. The drawbacks are: no true master bathroom, no garage, and it's the most expensive, rent-wise, that we are looking at.

It's the most practical, to be sure, and would suit our needs best.

Then we looked at this beautiful Victorian-style house that was built in 1929, and then added on to. It is big, and just looks amazing, and appeals to the history buff in me - seriously, right up my alley. (Can you say steampunk d├ęcor? I knew you could.) Part of the house has the original hardwood floors from 1929, and there are pictures of the house from the '30s hanging on the wall. It has a big yard, and would be terrific for parties and entertaining. It's walking distance to Jen's work, with a gym, shopping, and restaurants very near. I'd probably wind up going to the nearby park-and-ride and bus to work, which isn't great, but isn't bad, and would save us on gas prices. The drawbacks are: yard not fully fenced, parents would be in the house still, a neighborhood we don't particularly care for with schools that are less than stellar.

The kitchen has a built-in, fold-into-the-cabinet ironing board. The agent showing it (all of 25 years old) expressed perplexity at the ironing board being in the kitchen, much to Jen's amusement. Jen did not explain it. (If you don't get it either: in 1929, you wouldn't have a plug-in iron. You would heat your iron on the stove.)

I think we're going to throw applications at all 3, and see which one(s) is (are) willing to rent to us. Hopefully we'll know soon.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Movie/TV tropes that irritate me

I am big fan of movies, and watch a lot of TV. I see many, many plots and plot devices that get used over and over. Those don't bother me, for the most part; I accept that there are only so many stories that can be told, and that the art is in how you tell them.

What will irritate the bejeesus out of me is the little details.

I studied law enforcement in college, and learned a lot about crime scene investigation. I love a good mystery or police procedural show, but the way they handle crime scenes just pains me. I know that they don't have the time to show how it's actually done, but it still just irks me. It's a wonder that my wife will sit down and watch Castle with me every week, because inevitably I cringe at the way the murder scene is handled.

But the topic of today's post is (mostly) about even smaller details in movies and TV shows that drive me nuts. Here are some examples:

1. "Call me" - The awkward but lovable boy has just met the rebellious outsider chick who is new in school (and who has the body of a supermodel despite being a nerd), and they have awkward banter. She walks away, or goes to her dad's car, and says, "Call me." But she never gives him a phone number. In the next scene, Mr. Awkward is calling her, and she answers on her cell phone. Really?
This also happens with addresses - "Swing by my place at 7pm" she'll say, despite the fact that he would have no way to know where she lives.

2. "The suspect's name is Geoffrey Blomkamphisburgh" - The cop/spy/whatever has found the driver's license, passport, or scrap of paper with the suspect's name on it, and is on the phone with the trusty cohort back at the station, and gives the cohort the suspect's name, which is one or more of the following:

  • able to be spelled multiple ways
  • in a foreign language
  • generally difficult to spell
But, the cohort types it out perfectly (usually into the Magic Database that has Every Detail About Everyone, Everywhere). I'm not saying the show should make us sit through the hero spelling it out - it's just one of those things that momentarily damages the suspension of disbelief.

3. Doing anything that I've seen busted on Mythbusters - I mean, really...it's on TV too. There's just no excuse.

And one big one that I just can't resist complaining about:

4. The Spy Who's Been Everywhere, Done Everything, and has Mastered Every Skill - You've seen him in dozens of movies (*cough* Jason Bourne *cough*). The CIA's former top operative/assassin, he knows off the top of his head the details of the war crimes (from 2 decades ago) of the Serbian bad guy that nobody else has ever heard of; speaks perfect French, Farsi, Russian, and Tagalog (look it up); knows what the symbols of some secret society from 1200 A.D. mean and how they relate to the murderer in the story; and he can kick the asses of 10 Navy SEALs with his right hand tied to his left ankle.

There are many more, I just can't think of them right this second. Seriously, if you ever have to sit next to me through a movie or show where there's a crime scene investigation, I apologize in advance. And no, I do not watch CSI, of any flavor. I tried once, and I nearly had an aneurism.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

This is your brain on grunge

Apparently, it was 17 years ago today that Kurt Cobain killed himself. I wouldn't have realized if someone had not brought it up on Facebook.

You see, I hate Nirvana's music. Hate it. They were a drastically overrated waste of airplay. In my not-so-humble opinion. In fact, the day Cobain offed himself, some of my friends gathered with me and we made a toast and drank to "No new Nirvana albums."

Yeah, I'm a bastard. And then some.

Cobain's suicide also hatched a little plot amongst some my friends. At that time, I was studying Criminal Justice at my local community college, and one of our instructors was the head detective for the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office (and later would become Sheriff).

After our Homicide Investigation class wrapped up for the day, a few of us walked up to ol' Bart. He eyed us suspiciously. "What do you want?" he asked.

"Say, uh, Bart, do you have any friends in the King County homicide department?"

"Of course," Bart replied. "Why?"

"All right...hear us out. All we need is one picture from the Cobain crime scene. Picture this poster: Cobain in the chair, post-mortem, and the caption - 'This is your brain on Grunge.' Money in the bank, man. We'll cut you in."

Bart just said, "You little sickos just get to your next class."

Damn Bart and his morals. We could have made a fortune.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Obscure movies I love, pt. 6: Strange Days

It's been forever since I've done an "Obscure movies I love" post. Strange Days is obscure in the sense that it was a bomb at the box office, and not many people remember it. Basically, if you weren't into all things "cyberpunk" back in the 90's, you probably don't remember this movie.



The plot is a little cheesy, and suffers from overly-speculative-future syndrome - it depicts a 1999 L.A. racked by chaos, crime, and rioting, as well as  featuring at its center a technology that still hasn't come to exist over a decade later.

That technology is SQUID, a method for recording experiences so that someone else can experience them later - immersing themselves in the sight, hearing, touch, taste, and scent of the recorder. In the movie, it results in addiction for those who come to prefer living vicariously through others. The recordings are outlawed, and a black market is created. The main character is both an addict and a dealer in this black market.

The movie was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who later won a Best Director Oscar for "The Hurt Locker". You may also know some of her other movies, such as "K-19: The Widowmaker" (a.k.a. Harrison Ford's flagging career) and a little film called "Point Break".

"Strange Days" was co-written by James Cameron, who won Oscars later for "Titanic", proving that it doesn't have to be a good movie to win an Oscar. "Strange Days" also stars Ralph Fiennes, who has been nominated twice for Oscars.

I'm not going to claim this movie is good. It's a bit cheesy, and the futurism is well-dated now, but the grittiness and cool factor make for enjoyable viewing if you aren't too critical. And if you like cyberpunk.


Previously on The Inexcusable:
Obscure Movies I Love, pt. 5: Split Second
Obscure Movies I Love, pt. 4: Laurel Canyon
Obscure Movies I Love, pt. 3: the Jason Priestley double-feature
Obscure Movies I Love, pt. 2: A Shock to the System
Obscure Movies I Love, pt. 1: Diggstown

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Health, Pt. 2

Over 3 months ago, I wrote the post "Health" about my travails with coronary arterial disease. My wife's been giving me hell about not writing a follow-up post...so here it is.

In early November, I had angioplasty - a procedure where they insert a catheter into the femoral artery and open up a clogged artery and place a metal stent to keep it open. It was difficult and scary, but it saved my life.

Since then, I've completely changed my life. I've cut out chocolate, ice cream, and other sweets. I eat yogurt and granola for lunch. I only snack once or twice a day (about a quarter of how often I did before). We eat a healthier dinner, lower in fat and cholesterol - more fish, chicken, and turkey; less beef and pork.

I've been doing a "cardiac rehab" program at Valley Medical Center. Basically, three times a week I go exercise for an hour while they have me hooked up to a portable EKG to watch how my heart is doing. They keep upping my routine to make me progress, and there's nutrition education and such. It's really designed for people who've had heart attacks, which I didn't, but it's been very helpful to me. I'm about halfway through the 12 week program, after which I will just have to make exercise part of my routine habit. I'm working on incorporating exercise into all my other days too, because I really have to.

Since the surgery, I have lost 21 pounds. The first 12 pounds I lost in the first 12 days after the surgery, strictly by changing my diet. That means that before the surgery, I was eating 3500 calories a day too much - enough for two other people. Every day.  After the 12 pounds, I stayed steady for a bit until I started exercising, then it's been a steady pound a week loss - sometimes a little more, but so far no less.

My blood pressure is down to normal, and my cholesterol is down to where my doctor wants it. Overall, I've made a lot of progress and am actually doing very well. I just have to keep it up now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Prostitution Incident

Before you say it, no, I have not been prostituting myself. At least not in the carnal sense. I do call myself a Corporate Whore, as I will sell my content writing skills to the highest bidder, rather than do something that matters to me or is meaningful. I'm like that. But when it comes to the more traditional sense, no. Hell, I can't even give it away, let alone sell it.

I have also never hired a prostitute, and have no intention of ever doing so. In fact, living in the suburbs most of my life, my sole encounter with a real live prostitute (prior to the incident I am about to describe) is limited to once, many years ago, being stopped at a red light and having a woman make some vague offering gestures in an attempt to get me to roll down my window and discuss the matter further. I did not roll down my window, and began studiously watching the traffic light until it turned green.

Recently, however, I had a much closer encounter.

My nephew Mike and his wife Nicole were up from Texas, visiting for the holidays. Mike had organized a night out at a local casino to visit with as many of his friends as possible while he was in town. The missus and I attended, and I had a couple of drinks. A couple of drinks is all I can have anymore, due to the blood thinners I am on now. The medication combined with the fact that I was drinking on an empty stomach sent the booze right to my head, and I was a bit drunk.

I wandered off to the restroom at one point. On the way, two young women in very (very) short dresses walked by me. This was notable as it was freezing cold outside and all the other women at the casino were wearing pants. Being a man, I turned to watch them walk past.

One of the women noticed me looking, and turned around and said, "Hey, don't I know you?"
Then she motioned to her friend to come over.

I replied in the negative, and she asked if I worked there. I again replied in the negative. "Oh, you look just like one of the guys who works here, so I thought I knew you."
I shrugged. She said, "I'm Chelsea, and this [indicating her friend] is Ashley. So what are you doing tonight? You winning?"

I was drunk, so that made me chatty. "Actually, I'm just hanging out with family. My nephew's in town from Texas, so we're having a night out and visiting with friends."

"Your nephew?" Ashley asked, a perplexed look on her face. "How old is he?"

I get this reaction a lot when I speak of my nephew doing adult things like bartending, gambling, or being married. People always assume "nephew" means "child."

"He's 34," I said.

"And how old are you?"

"37," I admittedly, painfully. "My oldest sister is 18 years older than I am."

They gave an "oh, that makes sense" type of response. Then Chelsea said, "How 'bout I give you my number, and you can call me when you're done visiting? Maybe we can hang out."

I don't get hit on generally, so I figured something was up. I don't have a look that says "hot." It more says, "sits on the couch playing Xbox a lot." I believe in truth in advertising, I guess. I have been hit on many times, by attractive women, when I'm wearing a kilt - but I was wearing pants this particular evening. (An aside: many of my male friends who don't wear kilts don't believe me, but it's true. A lot of ladies love a man in a skirt.) When a young woman flirts with me, it's usually because she's looking for a sucker to buy her drinks for a while.

My response to the phone number offer was, "Yeah, well, I don't have anything to write with..."

At this point, she starts tickling my belly. I gently pushed her hand away and said "That tickles!"

"What is that?" she asks, poking at my belly button. "Your belly button?"

"Yes," I said, "but you probably hit my scar. It's from an old surgery."

"Ah," she says. "So are you staying in the hotel here?"

"No, I'm local."

Chelsea got a puzzled look on her face. "I thought you were visiting from Texas?"

"No, my nephew's visiting from Texas. I'm local."

At this point, her disinterest became visible. "Well, we're going to go get a drink. You can find my number in The Stranger." Then they walked off. (For anyone not local who's reading this, The Stranger is a local "alternative" newspaper.)

I went about my business, and what she was getting at just did not seep in. Again, in my defense, I was drunk. I returned to our group, where my nephew was testing out some silly Roullette theory he had. (The tests would later disprove his theorem.)

I told my wife, "I got hit on by a couple of young women while I was on my way to the bathroom."

"Go you, you animal," she said with a grin.

"It was weird. She said she'd give me her number, then she said her number was in The Stranger, and I'm just confused, but whatever."

My niece-in-law Nicole, who is very sweet and has led a far more innocent life than I, piped up and said, "They were probably prostitutes."

The light dawned, and pierced the cloudy haze of my drunkenness, and I knew she was right. The fact that this realization came from sweet-natured Nicole and in her Texan drawl just made the whole thing that much more surreal.

The rest of the night went on in a fun way, but was fairly uneventful. We did walk by the Ladies of the Night at one point, and I pointed them out to my wife. Her comment was, "Well, they're dressed for it."