Apr 142014
 

Captain America

I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier last week, and as evidenced by the fact that it was the #1 movie for the 2nd weekend in a row, I was not alone.  Unlike the first Captain America movie, this one takes place in the present time.  Despite having just woken up into this new modern world, Captain America seems to have adapted pretty nicely.  I guess that super serum did more than just make him super strong.

This time around, our hero is up against S.H.I.E.L.D.  Wait, what?  Why is S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to capture Captain America?  And if they are trying to capture him, who can Steve Rogers trust?  Or is he on his own?  He’s got to be able to trust fellow Avenger Black Widow, can’t he?  Or the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Director Fury right?  And who is this powerful new bad guy named the Winter Soldier?  Lots to juggle here, though it can’t be as much to juggle as what I’m seeing the new Spider-Man trailers.  Here’s hoping that this newest Spidey movie is nothing like Spider-Man 3.

Anyway, getting back to Captain America, I thought the movie was pretty good.  I found it more fun than the first one, which wasn’t too bad either, although I prefer that superhero movies take place in the present or the future, rather than in the past.  So, that might have had something to do with it.  I did like this movie better than the first Thor movie too.  I did not watch the Thor sequel so cannot comment on that.  The first Iron Man movie was better though, in my opinion.  Although, that might have something to do with what Robert Downey, Jr. brings to that character.  He is just great playing Tony Stark.

I never really read the comic books, but what exactly did the super serum do to Captain America?  Is he bullet proof, because it sure looks like he is.  And what is up with him always being able to get his shield back after throwing or dropping it.  Did the serum create some type of magnetic force between him and the shield?

But, in the end, this was an entertaining movie, and another success in the Disney/Marvel blockbuster machine.  It seems like they just keep churning these out, and the public cannot get enough of it.  I believe that the Avengers 2 is next, so that’s gotta be another notch in the belt.  That can’t fail, right?  I did see the trailer for Gardians of the Galaxy, and it just looks weird to me.  Not sure I really want to watch it, and I’m wondering if that is the movie that ends the winning streak.  Unless my friends want to watch it, I don’t really plan on doing so.   We shall see though.  I did not really want to see the first Iron Man movie when it came out, and I was proved wrong there.  Then again, some talking cartoon characters are not the same as Robert Downey, Jr.

Mar 182014
 

300: Rise of an Empire

I went and saw 300: Rise of an Empire with some friends this past weekend.  As the title implies, it is a sequel to the movie 300, which came out something like 7 years ago I think.  I saw 300 only one time, at the movie theater so unlike the friends I saw this with I totally forgot the small details of what happened in that movie.  Just the big stuff, like how 300 Spartans defend against what seem like thousands of enemies, only to finally all die at the end.  I remember it being a good movie and enjoying it, but it was one of those movies in which I never thought there would be a sequel, nor did I think one was really needed.

And so we come to this latest movie.  I wouldn’t so much as call it a sequel, but rather a story which takes place at the same time as the events that occurred in 300.  It starts a little before the events of the first movie and ends a little after it.  But, for the most part, it is rather similar in that the good guys are vastly outnumbered by the bad guys, but against all odds, they keep winning their battles against the evil, invading bad guys.  The main difference between the movies is that this one takes place on boats on the Aegean Sea with mostly farm hands fighting to defend democracy in Greece, while the original was on land, with the mightiest of warriors in the Spartans fighting.  Yet, despite the protagonists only being farm hands and not mighty Spartans, they keep winning their battles.

After watching the movie, I will still stand by my first thought in that a sequel really was not needed.  I suppose the CG is better (or at least much cheaper) today than it was 7 years ago since there is a lot more fake, splattering blood after each vicious kill and with all of the battle scenes involving boats ramming other boats on the sea.  But, like most Star Wars fans think, more CG does not a better film make.  The movie was not bad in any way.  It was entertaining.  The fight scenes were good.  Eva Green is hot as always.  Overall though, it just was not as good a movie as the original.  I believe the movie made decent money, so even though I believe a 3rd movie is not really needed, I would not be surprised if there is one made, as this one ended in a way that you can plausibly see one being made.  Guess it just depends on how greedy the movie executives are in a few years.

Mar 112014
 

This past Monday, my alarm sounded and not since the previous year, I struggled mightily to turn my alarm off, get up, and start my day.  It was painful.  This morning?  The exact same thing.  And I am pretty sure this torture will continue for the rest of this week at the minimum.  If history is any indication, I will not get back to a totally normal sleep/wake up schedule for at least a couple of weeks.

And for that I am complaining once again about how stupid daylight savings time is.  What the hell purpose does this serve?  It is asinine to have a law just for the sake of “it’s always been like that, so why change it?”  Seriously, is there any other reason out there for not doing what the rest of the world does?  I can’t think of one that is relevant any longer.  We are no longer a farming society that needs that extra hour of daylight so to finish more work.  All this does is probably cause more accidents, more employees coming to work late, more inefficient and groggy employees at work.  Can anyone point to any studies that shows DST actually helping us in any way?  Just give me one reason which benefits our entire nation?

I’m not sure if the rest of the world used to do the same as us and change their clocks like this yearly.  But, what I do know is that most of them do not do it now.  Why?  Is this a whole metric/english system thing where we want to be different from the rest of the world and say screw it, you have to adjust to us because we are a superpower and if we want to be the only ones in the world to do something, suck it.  I MIGHT actually understand or buy why we still use the english system.  I suppose it could be inconvenient to teach everyone to use a new measuring system that is different from what they learned their entire lives.  And it might cost many businesses a lot of money to make them change how they do business.  Fine, I get that.  Whatever.  But, passing a law that says we no longer have to change the clocks every year will not affect us in the same way at all.  Actually, it will affect us in that we will no longer be inconvenienced!   Freaking pass a law now.  It is insane that a few weeks out of every year, we have to force our bodies to get used to some arbitrary change in the clocks that benefits no one.  I would hypothesize that in fact it may not be physically healthy to do so.  Not saying it is harmful, but it definitely isn’t healthy.  We are already a very sleep deprived nation, so why add to that?  End the madness now!  And that is my annual rant.  Tune in next year when I will complain and cry and whine and bitch once again.

Mar 102014
 

The wife was out one weekend and I was thus home alone to fend for myself.  I bought some things, did some errands, made my typical instant noodle lunch with some dumplings, took the dogs to the park, played some video games.  So, you know.  The typical being lazy and vegging around the house type thing.  Then came time for dinner.  I decided to eat some Hawaiian food at a place that I have not been to for years.  There is a pineapple chicken dish there that I used to always get and was always the only thing I ever bought there.  I ordered it, ate it, and started thinking, this is not as good as I remember it.

Now, it could be that they no longer make it the same way.  Or it could be that it just happened to be a bad day.  But, I really do not think that is the case.  Why?  Because over the last few weeks, I have come to realize something.  This was not the first time that I ate some food and started thinking, this is too salty, or too sweet, or too much MSG, etc.  I’ve never really thought that way about food before unless they freaking soaked the food in salt or something.

I am by no means a health freak, but I wonder how this change in taste came about.  Is it just me getting older?  Is it all mental in that inside I know that I need to start eating healthier?  Is it because the wife?  It’s not like each of these events have been happening where I think they are really tasty, but that I feel guilty for eating it so need to turn them away.  No, it’s just that while eating it, I felt that it was just too salty or too this or too that.  It’s got to be mental right?  I am not sure, but in the case of that chicken dish, I don’t really anticipate ordering it again.  I’m not going to never go to that place again or swear off Hawaiian food, but if I do go back, just going to try something different.  Maybe food, like other activities, just change as you get older.  Many of my friends say nowadays that clubs are just not there thing anymore when they used to go every weekend.

But, this still doesn’t really make complete sense to me because there are still a lot of foods that I eat which are not healthy at all.  Now, I’ve never really been a fast food guy.  Just never interest me.  It’s not that I’ve never gone before, but it was only something I did when everyone else went, or there was nothing else around and I was hungry.  And I’ve never been a soda person either.  Just never liked the taste.  But, put a milk shake in front of me and I will still devour it today.  Cheesecake?  Cookie?  Muffin?  Yum.  The aforementioned Korean noodles?  Not like that is healthy.  I always bring leftovers to work for lunch, but when I have none, I usually just bring a frozen chicken pot pie or burrito. Not exactly health fare either.  So, what exactly is it?  Maybe when I spend money on something that costs more than a few bucks I just have higher expectations for it?  As in, I expect it not to give me a heart attack?  Not really sure, but maybe this is just the start of me turning the corner and starting to eat healthier.  Maybe…

Feb 012014
 

I am a little over a year past my PRK surgery to correct my vision.  I just wanted to put together all the posts I’ve written regarding this surgery for those that are thinking of going through the same thing.  It is a scary thing to contemplate, as this is your vision!  Trust me, I went through the same thing.  Here are my thoughts on the entire procedure, and I have also included a video of my half of my surgery.  Hope that doesn’t gross you out.  I removed the sound, but it shows the doctor removing the front layer of my eye, the laser actually doing it’s thing, and then the clean up.  I’m seeing great one year after the surgery, so I totally encourage you to find a great doctor and do the same thing.

New year New eyes: upcoming PRK surgery

PRK tomorrow, one more day with glasses!
PRK Surgery Day
Post PRK – Day 1
Post PRK – Day 2
Post PRK – Day 3
Post PRK – Week 1
Post PRK – Week 2
Post PRK – Week 3
Post PRK – Week 4
Post PRK – Week 6
Post PRK – Week 9
Joys of Vision
Post PRK – Month 4
Post PRK – Month 6
Post PRK – One Year

Feb 012014
 

I cannot believe it has already been one year since my PRK surgery.  It just went by so fast.  I am so used to not wearing glasses anymore, such that whenever I see a picture of myself with glasses from over a year ago, it looks funny to me.  Funny how you can get used to things so quickly.

I went in for my final post-operation follow-up appointment recently.  During this appointment, I found out that each eye individually is slightly better than 20/25.  When both eyes are open, I’m very close to 20/20.  I believe that this is the same vision that I had at my 6 month appointment.  Not bad, especially considering that living day to day, I don’t really struggle to see anything that I am looking at.  When it comes to reading, it is normal for me, whether it be a piece of paper, my Nook, my laptop, or my monitor at work.  I don’t need to bring the words closer to my face to read.  While at the appointment, my doctor told me that he did not try to overcorrect my vision, because if he did, I would probably need reading glasses sooner.  As it is now, he thinks that I will probably not need these glasses until well into my 40′s.  Here’s hoping.   He also let me know that if my vision got worse, he would be willing to correct my vision again with the laser.  He doesn’t anticipate that will be necessary though.

As for my actual eyes?  When he saw me, he said they looked great and he saw no scarring.  He also noted that my eyes were not dry at all, which is good since I had not put any eyedrops in for the last day or so. I’ve found that unlike when I first did the surgery, I am using my drops much less nowadays, none even on many days.  I do notice, though, that my eyes are much more sensitive to cigarette smoke.  I was in Vegas recently, and my eyes were always red there, and I can only assume it was the smoke or perhaps the air was drier there.  Regardless, I was using drops a lot more during that time.

But, now that my final appointment is over, what are my final thoughts?  I am very happy with my results and am glad that I went through with it.  As I probably said during a previous post, it is just so nice to be able to wake up in the morning and just be able to see what time it is on the clock across the room.  My doctor was great and I am happy that I chose him.  He was very helpful and patient with me at the very beginning, and that did not change in the last year that I’ve seen him.  The only regret that I can think of at the moment is that I did not do this surgery sooner.  That is a far cry from the feeling I had right after the surgery, when I was worried that my vision was screwed up and would not heal correctly.  But, as time went by, what my doctor told me came to fruition, and here we are one year later.  Not bad for someone who used to be -7.75 and -6.75.  Thus, very happy with my results, and I would encourage anyone who wears glasses or contacts to do the same.

Jan 202014
 

I was in Chicago for most of last week for a work training class.  Some thoughts on that little visit.

I was in Chicago a few months back too for another training class, and I can say without a doubt the first visit was much more pleasant!  OMG, it was cold this last week.  Spare me the So Cal boy not being able to handle cold weather.  I had on a sweater, jacket, beanie, scarf, and gloves, and it was still cold.  Lest you pick on me for being a So Cal, I can tell you that when I was walking around Chicago the prior time in much more pleasant weather, the streets were much more crowded.  So, it wasn’t just me!

I’ve been in cold weather before, but never in a city like that.  I have been to the mountains where there was snow, but for some reason, that cold just feels different.  Maybe because it’s psychological and I see snow all around?  It got colder throughout the week that I was there, starting from the low 30′s at the beginning, and then ending somewhere in the teens and low 20′s.  Yikes.  Good thing I missed that polar vortex.

That all being said, I still had fun walking around Chicago despite the cold.  Even with all my clothes on, I could feel the chill.  After dinner, I always just jumped in the shower and it felt so good.

The malls of Chicago have pretty much the exact same stores as other malls.  the only difference between the malls there and those in So Cal was that those in So Cal too up much less space, but had a lot more floors.  I think the food court I had lunch at on most days was a mall that was something like 4 or 5 floors.  And then above that mall I think were just office buildings or a hotel or something like that.  The actual building was something like 60 floors?

As I do with all of my visits to Chicago, I had a deep dish pizza for dinner, and I was not disappointed.  I went to a place called Lou Malnati’s, and I will say that it was much better than the place I went to my last trip, which I think was called something like Giordano’s.

I’ve been to Chicago a few times now, and I do like it there.  If only it did not get so cold in the winter.  (I’ve never been there in the summer, but I’ve been told it’s really hot and humid.  I so take for granted the awesome weather of So Cal.)  It is a huge city in which public transportation and walking can get you wherever you want to go.  I guess in that way it is similar to New York.  It feels much different from New York though.  It doesn’t have as much energy or the frenetic pace that New York has, and I don’t think that is a bad thing.

I would definitely go to Chicago again for a vacation, and probably will do so some time.  I’ll probably just do so in the spring or fall though.  My wimpy So Cal body can’t take the winter chill.

Dec 262013
 

American Hustle

On Christmas night, I went to see the movie American Hustle with the family.  I can’t really remember, but I think it was the first time I’ve ever watched a movie on Christmas night.  And I can tell you that it was extremely crowded.  Apparently Christmas is a popular movie going night, at least it was at the theater I went to.  I suppose it makes sense. There is no other place open for people to go to if they don’t want to spend the entire night at home.

Anyway, we decided to watch American Hustle, a movie about a couple of con artists (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) that con people out of money.  But, they are finally caught by an upstart FBI agent in Bradley Cooper.  Cooper is out to make a name for himself, so he doesn’t want to just arrest this couple, but rather use them to lure in bigger fish.  Cooper’s eyes get bigger and bigger as he wants to catch higher and higher profile people.  No small town crooks, but local government officials, Congressmen, and even the mafia?  But, before long, they get in too deep, despite the warnings that Bale throw at Cooper.  Are they able to get themselves out of it?

I thought this was a great movie.  You know it is a movie about conning others, but as the movie plays out, you are not really sure who is conning who sometimes.  Bale and Adams talk about their plan in the movie, but is that really the plan they are going to go through with?  If you like movies like the Sting, then you have to watch this.  All of the actors did a great job in their roles, with the one standout for me being Jennifer Lawrence, playing the wife of Christian Bale.  Katniss Everdeen she is not in this film.  Her character was so great and hilarious.  Funny movie overall, but I just thought her character was just so crazy and funny.  She got nominated for a Golden Globe award, as did pretty much all of the cast.  As I mentioned, they all did a great job.  Christian Bale probably added a lot of weight for this role, as this was a far cry from him playing Batman.

I am pretty sure that this movie will be nominated for multiple Academy Awards, and for good reason.  Go watch it.

Dec 022013
 

Catching Fire

During the long Thanksgiving weekend, I watched the 2nd in the Hunger Games trilogy.  I generally like to watch the movies of books that I’ve read which I at least somewhat enjoy.  This was no exception.  I did watch the first movie as well and will probably watch the last one too.  Here is hoping that they will not pull a Twilight or Hobbit money grab and make this into more than one movie when it was just one book.

This latest movie has our main character Katniss back at home with Peeta, after the two of them survived the Hunger Games.  But, the nightmare is not over yet.  Katniss has now become a symbol of rebellion against the Capital, and President Snow is going to do whatever it takes to stop any sort of rebellion.  He needs to get rid of her, so how does he go about doing that?  With the next Hunger Games of course!  But, in this version of the games, only previous winners are selected to enter, so that will solve Snow’s problems right?  All will be over when she dies in the games and things can go back to normal!  But, things can’t be that simple or there would be no third book/movie.

I read the book a while ago and so do not really remember how much of it they changed in the movie.  My memory could just be shot, but I generally got the sense that they pretty much stuck to the story.  I think that if you liked the first movie, then you will like this one.  Although, like the book, I enjoyed the first movie better than this one.  If that trend continues, then the next movie will probably be my least favorite.  I will say that the movie seemed pretty long.  It starts off pretty slowly.  I understand that they wanted to set it up and show Katniss’s life going crazy as a result of surviving the Hunger Games, but sometimes that internal strife plays out better on paper than it does on the big screen.  After the movie, I saw that it ran for about 2.5 hours, so it’s definitely not on the shorter side.

But, in the end, I found it was a good movie.  It was pretty much what I expected and so I was not disappointed.  I’m curious as to how they will play out the 3rd movie, so will have to just wait and see.  Actually, what I am most curious about is how they will end that 3rd movie as I’m not really sure they will keep it the same as it is in the book.  Will have to see I suppose.

Nov 192013
 

A couple years ago, my dad won a Kindle.  He doesn’t read, so he gave it to me.  I started reading all my books on the Kindle and have not really read a physical book ever since.  Well, my Kindle died a couple weeks ago.  No matter what I did, it would not work anymore.  I called Amazon and he walked me through some trouble shooting tips, but it still did not work.  So, he said that it was dead and that I needed to buy a new one.  He offered me a discount, but I told him I’d call back after I did some research.

Well, I went on Craigslist and saw a person selling a Nook for 40% off the normal price.  I just bought it.  It was new and still sealed.  After registering the product, I got $5 bucks in credit with it and I bought Robert Jordan’s final Wheel of Time book A Memory of Light.  After reading those first couple pages, I don’t really have any in depth review of the device, but a few initial ones.

Firstly, the Nook is smaller than my last Kindle Keyboard.  It’s about the size of a paperback, maybe a little larger.  Pretty light.  I like the placement of the page turn buttons better on the Nook than my Kindle.  It’s a smaller size, so when I carry it, my fingers are already on the buttons and I can just click it when it is time.  Plus, it is not easy to push them accidently.  I think it’s actually about the same size as the latest Kindle.  I probably would have gotten the Kindle again if I could have gotten it for the same price, without their stupid ads.

The display on this is pretty much the same.  All these eReaders use eInk, so I don’t really notice a whole lot of difference here.  I do like these eInk screens better than phones and tablets.  When my Kindle was out of commission, I was reading my book on my phone, and it was fine and all, but when reading for long periods of time, my eyes get tired.

The Nook works almost exactly the same as the Kindle when using the awesome program Calibre.  Thus, no real difference in that regard.

Pretty much all the eBook stores sell books at the same prices, so no real difference between Amazon and Barnes there.  I suppose I could shop a little more in that I can easily put books bought on Google or Kobo on my Nook as well.  But, that is not really a huge deal.  I can put books on Amazon on the Nook too once I strip the DRM.  As such, I did not feel any necessity to buy a Kindle.

Also, I wasn’t really happy that the device broke down so quickly.  My laptop is older and works fine still.  And I bet it has a lot more moving parts within.  If I could have gotten the Kindle at the same price (without the stupid ads), I might have considered getting it.  But, with it being more money, I just felt the Nook was a better deal and pretty much served the exact same purpose, namely reading on an eInk device.  Thus far, I am happy with the purchase and hope that it lasts longer than my old Kindle.