Too close… too far… juuuust right!

So… it’s been a weird progression over the last few years. First, I find out my eyes are getting worse and go to get a new prescription for my glasses. The optometrist tells me I have cataracts but can correct for them with lenses in the meantime. Then it progresses to even worse and I get my optometrist to schedule me for surgery. We don’t bother upgrading my prescription because, well, my eyes would just quickly get worse and the money would have been wasted.

Over the six months waiting for my surgery my eyes do get steadily worse. Pretty soon my prescription glasses don’t seem to make much difference at all. Then, at my eye measurement appointment, the doctor suggests I simply get some cheap drug store reading glasses. I take her suggestion and find reading glasses with a +2.0 rating allow me to read again. Joy! Sure the frames are kind of small and the arms dig into my head above my ears, but it’s a small price to pay to be able to read again.

Then, the surgery, and my left eye clears up like never before. I haven’t seen this clearly since I was in my twenties. It’s glorious. The doctor tests me the following morning and says, for distance vision, I have 20/20. For close up work, though, they’re completely unfocused. I definitely will need reading glasses.

Now, however, the cheap reading glasses I got from the drug store only let me read when the book / computer / text / whatever is fairly close to my face. Working on a computer at a table becomes awkward again. I have to drag the monitor close to my face for the text to become clear.

Today I went back to the drug store willing to pay another thirty to forty dollars to find the right quasi-prescription that lets me read at arms’ length.

My discovery? The more powerful the prescription, the closer the text needs to be. So, after trying a few on, I discover that a prescription of +1.25 is pretty good. They don’t go lower than that, though, so I hem and haw a bit. I don’t want to spend money if a slightly lower prescription would work better. I decide to leave it alone for a while and try again later.

Then, as I’m walking home, a thought occurs to me.

My original glasses were actually pretty weak. I seem to recall the optometrist saying they were barely a +1. I go home, I put them on, I sit at my computer.

Perfect. Well, maybe not 100% perfect, but definitely workable. I can now work on my computer with the screen at slightly more than arms’ length away. And the frames fit comfortably!

Win/win/win.

Another year older, another day wiser…

I now have some pictures to go along with some of this so I suppose it’s time for an update.

Well, long past time, I’m sure. I haven’t written a lot of blogs in the past couple of years and… that’s something I need to fix. I really just need to open up a text window and start typing away.

I turned 44 a few weeks ago. I’ll spare you the existential angst I went through at the turn of double four… suffice to say I didn’t think I’d be where I am at this age. Then again, I didn’t have any firm idea of where I’d be at all so the outcome really isn’t surprising. It’s hard to be surprised when you don’t have any expectations.

It is, however, easy to be disappointed when you don’t have any expectation. And that revelation… surprised me.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Turning 44.

I have a wealth of friends, more than any man’s share I’m sure, and they all went to great lengths to ensure I enjoyed my birthday. Ronya, in particular, went to amazing lengths.

First there was a dinner party at Shane and Dianne’s place on Friday night with the tribe. Lots of candy and cake and a bit of Scene It: Disney style. We were all kind of curious as to why every single answer had to be prefaced with the word “Disney’s” until we got our first question about Toy Story, the answer to which was “Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story”. It pretty soon became a running joke that every answer was “Disney’s Something” unless the clue was digitally rendered in which case it was “Disney/Pixar’s Something”. It’s amazing how often copyright issues turn even the simplest things into lame jokes.

Playing Xbox at the Chinook Theater

Playing Xbox at the Chinook Theater

Saturday morning a small collection of us showed up at the Scotiabank Theater in Chinook Mall to play some Xbox. Ronya had rented out the the theater for a couple of hours and we got to play Left 4 Dead, Halo 3, and Dead or Alive 4 on the biggest projection TV screen in the world. DOA4 is even better when the jiggly bits are each bigger than you are, but Left 4 Dead was just creepy with zombies twenty feet tall and 130 decibels loud.

Playing DOA4 on the biggest widescreen ever.

Playing DOA4 on the biggest widescreen ever.

After the Xbox we transitioned over to my favorite pub, Limericks, for a lunch of my favorite greasy, cheesy food. It was a bit touch and go at first, though. It took me three tries to finally find a patio chair that wasn’t broken. The food, weather, and company very quickly made up for it, though.

After lunch… well, I had a nap, didn’t I? I’m not getting any younger, you know. An exciting day like that will take a lot out of a man my age.

After my afternoon nap we ventured up into the far northwest to Tony and Mary Ann’s’ place where we grazed on fine food and alcohol. My friends got to enjoy doodling on me like a curved, spongy white board for a while. Dianne had purchased me a plain white t-shirt and then made we wear it while everyone doodled on my with markers and fabric color pens. It’s an odd feeling being written on and it kind of made me appreciate what it might be like to be a notebook. Ronya drew epaulets on both my shoulders but many people felt they looked more like irradiated penises aiming for my ears. Others wrote across my back that I was offering free hugs… after a mail in rebate. I think my favorite bit was the pocket that got drawn on my chest, complete with pocket protector and a varied selection of pens.

Being a human sketch pad tickles

Being a human sketch pad tickles

As the dye dried on my shirt we then dove into Rock Band: The Beatles, drinks well in hand to best adapt to the mindset of the band. I have never, and probably will never, sing for Rock Band but I was given to understand that the addition of two other singers and the potential for harmonizing made the game both more interesting and more difficult. For me it was just cool playing with six people all at once.

We played through the storyline of the entire game. The best I can say is it’s definitely worth playing through once, but beyond that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of replay-ability. Perhaps if they actually had the whole library of Beatles tunes instead of just the 35 selected tracks, or if they had even just built the game around all their chart-able hits, it might have been worth going back and playing some of them again. But some of their track choices, while providing and interesting perspective on the band’s development (you could actually *feel* the disintegration of the band’s normal cohesion throughout the last set) weren’t compelling enough to go back and play again.

That being said if they made the tracks available for download for regular Rock Band I’d be willing to download about half of them.

Playing Rock Band Beatles

Playing Rock Band Beatles

Last but certainly not least, Ronya’s family pooled money together to buy me the Carcassonne Big Box, a collection of the basic Carcassonne game and five of it’s more popular expansions.

We’ve played the game almost every day since we got it and I’m nowhere near tired of it yet. The game box itself contains an interesting feature that appeals to my detail oriented nature: the interior of the box is formed in such a way that each set of tiles ( the basic and each of the expansions ) has it’s own precision fit storage slot. This way you can pick and choose which expansions to use for the game you’re playing. (ie. if you’re feeling particularly adversarial you can put in the princess / dragon / fairy expansion) The tiles themselves are watermarked with a little symbol depicting the expansion they’re from so it’s easy to sort them all out later and put them back in their respective holes.

Yes, I’m so anal I’m gushing about the organizational packaging that came with the game more than the actual game itself.

But the game itself is great fun as well. So far I think I’ve only won two actual games but I don’t care, it’s just fun to play.

Big thanks to all my friends and family, and to my tribe, for setting up an awesome birthday weekend.

Chad Update

Tammy called me this afternoon with an update on Chad. Apparently he had a seizure last night. I’m not sure what that means in terms of details of his condition, but what it ultimately means is that he’s going to be transfered into hospice care sometime next week. Tammy wanted me to let everyone know.

And I can’t think of anything else to add.

Our weekends are Awesome!

Write write write. I need to write something. Got the itch, got it bad. My hands keep straying into “power move” position, and no by that I do *not* mean anything pornographic.

A few months ago I had an image pop into my head. I imagined myself as a super (villain or hero, it doesn’t matter) and imagined myself in an anime-style power move. You know the kind of thing I mean, that pose that anime characters go into when they’re summoning all their battle aura for a full-on, all-out, must-kill-my-opponent-or-I-will-die move. The pose and subsequent yelling typically goes on for a good minute or so. You know the kind.

Anyway… when I envisioned myself in that kind of “power pose”, yelling something like “hadoken!” or whatever, the pose had me in crouched stance, feet braced, shoulders hunched a bit… and my hands directly in front of me, fingers clearly positioned for… typing.

So apparently writing is my “power move”. At least in my mind.

I don’t know where that came from.

The weekend was very good. Friday night Ronya and I had Dianne and we took her out to the pub for beer, pub food, and dart flailing. I’d say “dart throwing” but, really, that would be giving us much too much credit. We were definitely Dart Flailing.

Saturday Tony joined us for a matinee showing of Casino Royale. It started out as the best Bond film I’ve ever seen (which, you know, isn’t saying that *much*) but gradually degraded into a meandering, boring denouement that felt longer than the multiple endings of Return of the King. I do think Daniel Craig is possibly the best Bond they’ve ever had, and Mads Mikkelsen is quite honestly the first Bond villain I’ve ever found to be the least bit scary, or creepy. Other than Judi Dench the rest of the cast were competent filler at best. Eva Green was a weird, watery-eyed school girl with big tits… and that’s all. Her emotional depth wasn’t much more than puddle deep. I had no real compassion for her at all. I was much more attracted to Judi Dench. But then I’ve always loved strong women. :-)

After that we enjoyed a quiet christmas party at Michael and Marci’s place with plenty of drinks and baked goods. From there Ronya, myself, and the boys walked over to Mary Ann and Tony’s place to play some head to head halo action. I’m ashamed to say that I… kicked their butts. Both separately and as a team of one. Michael was particularly frustrated that I seemed invulnerable to his rockets and grenades. Since it was my personal Xbox I suppose there could be some potential … favoritism from the machine. But only if you believe in animism. Otherwise I just kicked their collective butts all up and down the street.

Late into gaming Tony took a break for a while (apparently alcohol and FPS don’t mix well for some people) at which point Ronya entertained him with our recent discovery of a massive collection of cat pictures, including one of our current favorites.

“I’m poopin! I’M POOPIN!”

I’m sorry, I don’t know why, but that makes us giggle every god damn time.

On Sunday Ronya and I slept in until mid morning, had ourselves a nice pancake breakfast, and then joined Dianne and her boys for a walk around Heritage Park. While the place is kind of interesting I wasn’t really drawn in. Much of what they presented as “history” was reminiscent of things my great aunts and uncles had laying around their farms. So for me it wasn’t so much “history” as “things you haven’t seen in a while.”

Some notable events:

It’s always interesting to watch someone walk up to a display piece, in this case a century old washing machine in the Prince house, read the sign mounted right on it that says “please do not touch the displays”, and then reach out to open the washing machine and look inside. It’s amazing how people can reinterpret “don’t touch” to exclude them or what they’re doing. Because obviously the sign doesn’t refer to *them*.

We got trapped in the church. In our defense Tony and I were just following Ronya, but she was just walking down one pew to look at the construction of it. Before we knew it they’d closed the door and begun singing hymns. Lucky for all of us we managed enough social chutzpah to stand up and walk out before any of us burst into flames.

Standing in line, waiting to pay for fudge (”Fudge Packing Goats!”), and having Tony singing along with the “Christmas CD” display. His renditions of Elvis and Bing were fine, but his rendition of Ertha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” was a bit… scarring.

Not half as scarring as the movie later on.

After Heritage Park we had dinner at Big T’s BBQ on Heritage and MacLeod. It was a challenge to get a reasonable sized meal, but since we’d just barely squeaked in under the wire we were still able to buy Lunch Specials and avoid having to consume full plates of pulled pork or whatever. The place just serves Huge Food, both as a description of the portions and what those portions will eventually do to you.

From dinner Dianne took her Irish Horde home with her while Tony joined us at our place and subjected us to Clerks 2. The mental scarring may take years to fade. Those of you who’ve seen it will know what I’m talking about. Especially when I mention how, after the movie, while we were preparing to play some Roborally, Tony heard the opening strains to some techno tune we had on the stereo and went “ooooh!” while miming putting on lipstick. I screamed. I ran. I couldn’t escape.

Ronya then did the same thing to me later in the evening… just as we were going to sleep. I was awake all night, staring at the ceiling, paralyzed by the horror.

In all honesty Clerks 2 wasn’t too terribly bad. It wasn’t terribly good, either. Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson, also known as Dante Hicks and Randal Graves, are not very good actors. There’s a reason they’re only in Kevin Smith movies: they’re Kevin Smith’s friends. While they did each put in a noble effort, neither of them have the depth of experience worthy of a major production film. I got a sense that Kevin Smith’s newly acquired directing skills were brought to play heavily, but it wasn’t enough. As Ronya put it, she was relieved every time one of the “real” actors came into the scene and saved it. But the writing was still good, and the dialog priceless. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re already a Kevin Smith fan, though. You need prior exposure to Jason Mewes just to survive, I suspect.

Ronya kicked our butts in Roborally, at least partly due to my mistake that caused my robot to jump into a pit with Tony’s robot in it’s loving metal embrace. But, really, she was pretty much ahead of us from the start. I tried my best to stop her towards the end but she still managed to fling her robot’s bullet riddled carcass across the finish line before us.

This morning I got up with Ronya at 4:30 and gave her a kiss goodbye as she started her next tour. Unexpectedly, I did not go back to bed. Instead I stayed up and started configuring my Google newsreader. Livejournal is capable of reading rss feeds, but Google lets me sort through them and organize them. So I’m slowly converting my rss feeds over from livejournal to google. Yes, I am that much of an online info whore that I will spend a couple of spare morning hours doing nothing more than playing with a new google app.

As we were fond of saying over the weekend: It’s my particular “geek”.