.:January's Picture of the Month:.
Monday, January 30th 2006
Holy crap. I just saw this video of Kevin Federline introducing his PopZao song. Wow. The only thought running through my mind? This schmuck is doing Britney Spears. She's the lucky gal who exclusively gets to see K-Fed's "O-face". Just wow, what the hell is wrong with that chick?
After work today, I got home, and we all went shopping at BJ's Wholesale for our monthly bulk grocery shopping needs. No, no 2-gallon jar of mayonnaise. Just some steaks, diapers, and lots of Bounty paper towels. Bill? Big. Could we have avoided it? No. We needed it all. I've learned from my wife to accept it, and move on.
We've received all of our W-2's and other tax information. I'm gonna start our 2005 tax return later this week. I want that damn refund as early as possible. If we're not getting a refund, and are saddled with a large tax bill, I want to know soon so we can get a headstart down to Mexico to escape the IRS.
I'll change my name to Johnny Vindaloo, my wife's name will be....Manica. We'll have to change Joshy's name to Guadalupe Juarez. For the finishing touch, I'll have to dress the cat in a small white dress, call her Esmeralda, and say she's Joshy's ugly, bearded, younger sister.
Johnny Vindaloo, Manica, Guadalupe Juarez, and Esmeralda: La Muchacha Barbuda ("The Bearded Girl.")
Sunday, January 29th 2006
Note: I've updated last Thursday's blog entry, fixed up the missing photo (Thank you, Chirag. Don't you have actual work to do?), and remembered to mention my drive to work that morning.
This was the first weekend in months that we were not doublebooked and triplebooked with places to be, and people to visit. Damn, it was nice. I may have to clear my calendar, and tell everyone to go bite me. We have to do this again. You know what I did on Saturday? I slept from 9:30am to 1:30pm. Just a wonderful imprompto nap. My wife was all nice and let me take a nap.
Like I said, weekend was decent. Friday, we went nowhere. I did a bunch of work on the NYIIA site. Our friend Lesh came over late Friday night, and stayed over until Saturday. Don't worry -- she was invited. Saturday was just a few simple errands around town, Num & Lesh took the baby for a walk, that sort of thing. In the evening, Lesh & Num made this huge Indian feast. It was really good.
I took a picture, but since the food was served in Tupperware, I'm not allowed to show that here. Blame the women. Lesh also wouldn't let me take a picture of her either. Again, blame the women. My friend Kanishk & his GF Sofi came over to see Joshy. I took their picture. Here they are. They didn't stay for dinner, and Kanishk didn't bring donuts. Shame on him.
After all this, I had plans Sat nite to hang out with my buddy Doug. I got dressed up, and drove up to Secaucus to meet him for drinks, play some pool, and just B.S. I got home 3am.
Sunday, no church, because we overslept. Late lunch, then we got ready and went to visit my parents. I also had to set up their new Dell. Yes, they got a Dell. Why? Because I like Dells.
That's it. I have a bunch of photos to edit, but I promised my wife I won't stay up late anymore. Of course, it's 2:17am, she's sleeping, I've got work in a few hours, and I'm still not done with the IIA work I started last week. Let's deal with it later.
Thursday, January 26th 2006 [revised]
What a productive week. Our financial books are fairly up-to-date, and I'm feeling so much better.
I don't think I've mentioned it, but I'm trying to save money on gas. After realizing that paying over $2/gallon is ridiculous, I also realized that refilling the tank every 3 days wasn't so smart either. I'm now trying to drive slower, less fast breaks at the green light, and seeing how far I can go on a tank of gas before refueling. My best this month is 374 miles.
This morning, I took it to the extreme side of stupid. With the "Low Gas" light on, I was wondering if I could make it to my office. That's 40.1 miles one way. I drove up the NJ Turnpike, and by the time I reached I-287, it was very low. Now, I've driven with the needle on the line, and it freaks my wife out. Today, I was driving with the needle below the line. I'm not usually nervous, but I was very nervous. I didn't make it all the way to the office, but I made it close. Still, only 364 miles this time around. I was so close. Still better than running out of gas on the highway -- being, you know, that guy.
I hate rebates. What a scam. They wave this discount in front of your face, then make you follow all these specific directions in fineprint. If you don't follow it to the letter, your rebate is denied. As I've read, most manufacturers are counting on the consumer to forget the rebate until it's too late. After missing the deadline on a substantial rebate for a Nokia cell phone I had purchased in 2000, I vowed never to let that happen again. Today, I just realized that I missed the postmark date on the rebate for the Canon printer I bought my sister for Christmas. That's $30 that could've been for me, and now in the deep pockets of some sneaky Canon executive. Bastards. You win this battle.
Truly, the cheap Indian in me is standing alone on a cliff, shaking his fist, screaming "Damn you, Salazar!" In the alternate ending of that movie, I'd be screaming, "Mendoza!" Look at that: references to Charlie's Angels and another to The Simpsons (from the episode "Saturdays of Thunder". Duh.)
See the bag of fried pork skins? On the right. Yeah, I had a tiny lunch one day, and I was so hungry, this was the only item that looked remotely appealing in the vending machine at work one afternoon. I've had better. It was one of those instant purchases that, when you open and take one bite, instantly regret it. Anyway, the ingredients are ridiculous. Check it out.
Contents of one bag of Baken-Ets Friend Pork Skins. It's hideous.
It actually has MSG. Don't Chinese restaurants proudly proclaim that they don't use MSG? I was actually disgusted by myself.
A few days ago, MSN Money had an article of their Top 9 Email Hoaxes. They even included the infamous Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe hoax. What I found amusing was learning that if you do a search on the Neiman Marcus website for "cookie recipe", you'll find their recipe. I guess the NM folks were truly sick of the hoax.
Monday, January 23rd 2006
Thanks to my wife's constant nagging [insert :) here], I got some sleep this weekend. The verdict? I felt better today than I have in a while. She's still tired, but hey, it's all about me, right? I felt very productive at work today, and that's also a plus. I had planned to get some personal finance work done, but Joshy decided to stay up until 10:30pm.
10:30pm. Can I fault a 10-month-old? Sigh. I had dinner, made my mac & cheese for lunch tomorrow, and chilled out with the wife for a while. Evening is already over.
I never finished recapping the weekend. Saturday, my buddy Kanishk came over to work with me on a website. It took most of the day, but he brought Dunkin' Donuts, so that's alright.
Sunday was my father-in-law's birthday. We took my in-laws out for dinner at Charlie Brown's Steakhouse. My wife (and her sister in abstentia) gave him his gift, which he seemed to like (two concert tickets to see Insane Clown Posse -- I'm kidding). More importantly, I had damn good NY Strip steak. Also, Joshy behaved himself. That was probably the best part of the entire evening.
When we all got back, we tried to give Joshua a haircut, and it's "okay". Let's call it a practice run. If anyone has any tips on how to cut an infant's hair, I'm all ears.
My parents bought a new computer. Huzzah! It's been a long time coming. I'm hoping to set it up for them this weekend, then they can get a webcam. Now that they've got broadband, a fast computer, an LCD monitor, they're in the fast lane. Good for them.
Funny story: my Dad and I are trying to configure/price out the new PC specs, including how much hard drive space to get them. 80 Gb? 160 Gb? I tell my Dad to check how much they've used on the current PC. Turns out, they have a 6 Gb hard drive, and have only used 2 Gb.
I told him, "Dad, I think the 80 Gb hard drive will be fine." :)
Sunday, January 22nd 2006
I'm still alive. If you bet somebody $20 that I wasn't, pay up.
After some personal introspection, I've realized that I'm stressed out. Lemme 'splain. To me, when I see my desk or home messy, piled with papers, etc, it stresses me out. I feel that these piles of paper are messy, my life is messy, my life is out of order, chaotic. I've been like that since I used to live with parents in the days of yore and yesteryear.
Fast forward to today: my home office is cluttered with paperwork that needs to be organized. I haven't touched my Quicken finances in months. My "To Do" list of tasks to finish around here grows every day, and it's all stressing me out. This is my own doing, and I don't like it. I aimed to complete so much last month on vacation, but that didn't happen. Dumb, but I tried.
So, after realizing that I'm really cranky and irritable with everyone, I figured it out, and it's because of the perceived mess in my life. My solution? I'm going to pick one task to complete each night this week. 5 nights. 5 tasks. No procrastinating.
Wish me luck.
Wednesday, January 18th 2006
"I'm not a blogger, I just crush a lot."
On that note, I'm adding two new links to my Bookmarks: Tushar Singh (Bootleggers, Bloggers, Bin Laden) and my friend Tabitha (A Jar of Clay). I'm taking off Anna of HERstory, because Oct 14th is way too long ago. Anna, when you get out of the Witness Protection Program and start writing again, let me know, and I'll put you back on.
Thanks to Kanishk for letting me know about Tushar's site. It's hilarious. It might even be a daily read!
I've customized my Comments section (the Peanut Gallery). I like it, but I may not be done yet with it.
I've fixed some typos from yesterday's entry. Divya, you can put down the voodoo doll now. I was tired. Your husband is still sexy. It's good to be Mallu. :)
I backed up my pictures, websites, and other documents last night. When I make the backup of my music collection, I'll feel better.
Tomorrow, I'll be in NYC doing some business monitoring work. I also plan to meet up with my old coworkers for lunch. Sweet.
Tuesday, January 17th 2006
iPod, you were lost, but now you are found. I found my iPod. It was in my bag, buried between magazines and other papers. Stupid me.
Joshua, Mommy, and her parents drove to Long Island to spend the day with Divya and the kids. Pictures will come later, but from what I'm told, Joshy had a blast with the other kids. Like Disneyland-quality fun. I'm glad.
The upstairs baby gate is halfway done, except for the part where I have to yank what I've already finished out of the wall, and start all over again. Grrrrrr. Back to square one, plus 4 large holes that weren't there before.
Monday, January 16th 2006
Kids who can solve a Rubik's cube in less than 30 seconds? A 20-year-old guy who solved one in 11.13 seconds? You may say "Congratulations!" or "Awesome!" I'll say, "Freak!"
Today is my day off for Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday. Happy birthday, sir.
Nothing fancy today. One of our old childhood friends, Matt, invited himself over for lunch, which I think is rude, but we let him come over anyway. :) We caught up on everything in the past 15 years, so that's good. Thanks for coming over, Matt. It was good to see you again. Don't be a stranger!
Sideshow Collectibles has some great collectible figures from Sci-Fi, Fantasy, movie, and other pop culture lore, but I can't spend that kind of dough on a figurine. Come on, $600 for a Star Wars Darth Maul bust? That purchase has "nerd" written all over it.
Last Saturday night, we went over to Vib's new place in Westchester for a nice 'lil ol' housewarming (pics courtesy of the host himself). We got to see some friends, I got to see the Broncos game in HD (HD is awesome!), and we even scored some food for home. Although driving home was slightly treacherous, all in all, a very good evening.
The baby is taking his afternoon nap right now, so that's a nice breather. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my free time today. Installing the 2nd baby gate, organizing our financial bookkeeping, weaving some baskets, etc. Where to start first? Hmmm. So many choices, and yet all of my Tivo'd shows are just sitting downstairs, waiting to be watched.
Be responsible, or vegetate? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
For the past few weeks, I've had this pet project of trying to find my high school classmates, see if they remember me, and find out how life has treated them. I've found a few more. A few lawyers in the bunch, one who apparently went on to being a big cheese at a few companies out in California, etc. Some have been relatively easy to find, because the name was unique. Others have names that are so common, Google comes back with a million+ hits. That's a dead end.
Did you know you could search MySpace by high school and year graduated? (Thanks, Matt.) I found one elementary school classmate that way. What's interesting is that even after 11 years, a few pounds heavier, a bit more scruffier, these people look relatively the same. You stare at their headshot, and you go, "....yeah, it is him."
Saturday, January 14th 2006
Someone left me an anonymous comment on Wed that only said 111?? :)), and I had no idea what that was about. Then I looked just now, and I realized I had "January 111th" in Wed's title. Doh. It's been fixed, and now both the comment and this paragraph are meaningless. Hope you're satisfied.
I called in sick on Friday. For some reason, Joshua was uncomfortable the entire Thursday night, and couldn't sleep. I think he actually slept around 6am. Call it the mysteries of children. We were both exhausted, and since I've been sick for over a week, I gave up, and left groggy messages at work. We're still trying to catch up. Joshua was better last night, and slept well.
I still don't know where my iPod is. It's been 2 weeks or so. I have a bad feeling that it's gone. Where? I don't know.
The folks at Tivo finally got off their collective butts, and unveiled a prototype Series 3 recorder. It will record HD broadcasts, two tuners, and the ability to add external storage. Yipee, but the release date is sketchy, and if it's going to really cost $1000, I'll be waiting on the sidelines. If they can get it to $500 or less, the Ipes will be in business.
I still haven't quite figured out how to use the Trackback feature. My life is truly emptier for not knowing. :(
Family Gallery page 7 is 50% fixed. I've added back all the photos my naughty fingers deleted. The other 50% of the job is to add captions.
Wednesday, January 11th 2006
I was working late in the office today. While I was typing away, I started to hear some popping noise. I look up, and this cleaning woman is just standing there, popping bubble wrap. She sees me staring at her, she looks embarrassed, and walks away. I felt bad, but I also wondered what the universal fascination with popping bubble wrap was. Seriously. Everyone seems to do it.
Even though it was raining pretty hard tonight, there was little-to-no traffic on the road. Keeping it at a steady 70 MPH on the highway, I made it home in 50 minutes. I also learned that the office is exactly 40.1 miles away.
X3 fans, here are more movies stills. Includes headshots of Juggernaut, Colossus, Callisto, Ice Man, Pyro, and Kitty Pryde. And the good guys are wearing the X-Man uniform, so maybe we'll get to finally see these folks in action. A little confused by the names? The Marvel Directory isn't perfect, but it's a good start.
The Google Video store went live today. There's still a large collection of user-submitted free movies, but now you can pay for episodes of Survivor, I Love Lucy, etc. Unfortunately, Google deciding that we don't have enough varying forms of DRM, are forcing their own home-grown restrictions on us. Enough, I say. I must tell you that, IMHO, the Google store is kinda ugly. Ben Charny over at eWeek also believes the Google Video store is truly lacking.
I've decided on my next camera: the Canon Powershot S80. It's "the one". 8 megapixels, decent recycling time between shots, decent flash, big 2.5" LCD display. Here are some sample shots, provided by the always-awesome Digital Photography Review. We've bought a lot of stuff recently, so we're going to hold off for a while. No need for the CEOs of Moostercard and Vassa to celebrate too much.
I hate the vending machines at the new office. For the past 6 weeks or so, the selection was extremely poor, and the snack machine has stolen my money. When it does relinquish its treats, it does not give you change back. Today, it appears my voodoo doll of the snack machine company president has worked. TPTB ("The Powers That Be") have added Twinkies to the selection. Also, the machine gave me correct change. Joygasm.
Maybe it sounds like my joy is misplaced, but I haven't tasted a succulent Twinkie since I moved from Jersey City in 2002. Doug and I used to do snack runs at 11pm to the deli on the corner. Since moving, I never had one. Looking ahead, I'll weigh 400 lbs in May, and if you cut me, I'll bleed creme filling. I'll also smell like sponge cake.
Stop laughing, it won't happen. Remember, I'm on the wait-list for the gym at work. As soon as enough people quit or get terminated, I'll be in like Flynn.
BTW, the Twinkie shot was from my camera phone. Call me an idiot, but I didn't realize I could email photos from the phone to my home account, and save them all that way. I just never considered it. When it doubt, blame the baby. The baby made me stupid. Also, sleep deprivation. Suffice it to say, a new peephole into my life has opened.
Remember, Yoda said fear was the path to the dark side. Also, to the supermarket aisle with fresh produce. [shiver]
I know some people miss "The Many Faces of Joel" movie, but it'll always be available in the archived News pages on your right. It's been 3 years (can you believe it???), and I'm still going strong. In that regard, I want to do something different. More photos from my daily life, an occasionaly movie short (I haven't given up), and making a new Flash movie is too time-consuming.
What you also don't know is that I don't have rights to show that movie after 3 years. The old Joel visited me via a time machine, and is now suing me for profiting off his likeness. I got so mad, I punched him in the nose, thereby spiting my own face. It's all rather ridiculous, so I decided it's just easier to not screw up the space-time continuum, and just come up with something new. Man, I hate the space-time continuum. Stephen Hawking was right: the space-time continuum sucks big hairy balls.
Did I just make fun of Dr. Stephen Hawking? A man suffering from debilitating ALS? Dear God, I really am going to Hell. And if you laughed at my joke, that means I'm taking you bitches down with me.
Anyway, I have a vision. Believe in me. It'll be worth it.
Tuesday, January 10th 2006
I got an email from one of my hotel frequent guest award programs. They addressed me as Mr. Joel Pie.
That's right. Mr. Pie.
God is laughing at me.
BTW, added a new Family page, with photos from the get-together at my parents' place New Year's, and from our first visit to Gymboree. In sad news, in my haste, I overwrote the entire August-December 2005 page, with no backup of it. After trying to recover it, and weeping in the corner like a 8-year old girl who's missing her puppy, I'm now recreating it.
Monday, January 9th 2006
It's going to take me a while to get used to writing "2006".
I added two new photos to yesterday's entry. Just look at them so that I know my time searching for them online wasn't worthless. Thanking you in advance. :)
The Clerks 2 teaser trailer is out. I totally forgot there was going to be a Clerks 2 movie. Regina, can you believe I forgot? BTW, hope Delhi is a little cleaner than you remember. Enjoy your trip, and remember to bargain!
I feel sad.
Let me explain. I wonder sometimes how you can be such good/close friends with someone, and then seemingly overnight, lose touch, and never speak with each other any more. Every once in a while, I think of some friend who I've lost touch with, and I wonder how does that happen? It's not a one-way thing -- I'm just as guilty for not maintaining the relationship, but still, I find it troubling.
Recently, I was motivated to track down my best friend Matt from my high school days. After graduation, we had spoken over email during our freshman year, when I was at Univ @ Albany, and he was up at Cornell. This was a guy I hung out all the time with in high school, hooked me onto U2, and we were all part of a group of geeky friends. Sometime after freshman year, we just stopped writing each other. I got busy with life, and I guess, so did he. We drifted apart, and that was it.
10 years later, I tracked him down to the Boston suburbs, where he's now a civil engineer, and he seems happy. We corresponded over email a few times, and we discussed what our old friends were doing. Some eternal bachelor was engaged, some underachiever was in law school, etc.
We ended it with one of those "Keep in touch!"-type closings which is just the polite thing to do. So, not that I was hoping to restart my old high school friendship, but it made me feel a little uncomfortable. As if our "Keep in touch!" was really just our mutual closing the book on our friendship.
It made me think of other coworkers and friends, who I used to be very close with, and now we never speak. I recently got in touch with my previous coworker Mahesh, who I used to work with at PwC. We are/were really good friends, and Num & I even visited Mahesh & his wife in California a couple years ago. And you know, that was the last time I ever spoke to him. I spoke to him last week -- they bought a house early last year, and they had a wonderful baby girl in October. Life changing events in his life.
I thought of other old coworkers who I've written, and don't write back. I think of others who move, but never bothered to send updated contact info. It's nothing personal -- we've all just drifted apart. Is it because we never really had anything in common, besides the job? A shared experience, and that's all?
I rarely speak to my old church friends anymore, and I wonder how much we'll drift apart. Has the drifting apart already begun with my old NYL colleagues and friends? Have you ever met up with old colleagues, and realized they all have new stories that you were never a part of? Weird, right? It's as if you and your friends are floating on rafts down a river, close enough for your hands to touch. However, slowly, it gets harder and harder to keep making contact, to keep holding on to each other.
I spoke to another old coworker a week or two ago, and we've both had a few jobs between us since we worked together. He and his wife even attended a housewarming at my old apartment, and also my wedding. You know what? I felt like we really had to struggle to find something to talk about. It really bothered me. This was my friend. Am I losing him too?
I feel the same way with most of my cousins. Growing up, we used to see each other every few months. We would visit each other, as our parents would get together. Hanging out, we'd go see movies, play boardgames, watch TV together, whatever. Now we're all married, have kids, and now we might see each other at Thanksgiving or at a baptism. When we get together, we ask each other the perfunctory "So, how's life?", but it seems so rote. I feel like they're dropping away too.
I suppose that any relationship (familial, friendship, spiritual, etc), has to not only be built on a strong foundation, but it needs constant renewing through additional experiences/activities. You might have the foundation, but if you don't have the constant contact, you're like me and my ex-coworkers, who just talk about "old times". If that.
I guess that's life, right? People come and go in your life, you make new friends, and you lose old ones. People change, and maybe you two don't have anything in common anymore.
It still makes me sad though. Ah well.
Sunday, January 8th 2006
I didn't realize it (what a bad parent I am), but today is Joshy's 10-month birthday. It's officially been 10 months since we've had any sleep.
It's another Sunday afternoon in the Ipe household. A million things to do, and I don't even know where to start. The kid is finally taking his afternoon nap, and we're free people for the moment.
The past week has been fairly busy both at work and at home. I've been faced with the choice of blogging or sleeping, and I chose sleep. Please forgive me. :)
Last night, we started watching the old 80's movie Footloose. So far, it's a rather typical 80's movie. Come on, Kevin Bacon is playing a high school kid? I'd have better success fitting in at Spring Break in Daytona.
Hey, so, I got around to adding the last batch of pictures for 2005. I'll start a new Family gallery page for 2006 this month. Of course, now that I said that, there won't be any more pictures, because I got hit by a truck or something. Don't worry. I'll have plenty of time to work on pictures from my hospital bed, in a full body cast -- just stick a pencil in my mouth.
Hmmm. Of course, I still have a whole bunch of pictures left over from New Year's Day weekend to complete. New Year's Eve was spent at home, and we did nothing to write about. On the 1st, we finally visited Pradeesh & Sona and their cute kid Ryan. I'd write cutie-patootie, but I'm neither 1) gay or 2) a woman. That leaves me with "cute" or "well, he looks alright. All the limbs are in the right places."
Afterwards, we drove up to Rockland to visit my parents. They arranged a family get-together. I got slightly mocked for taking pictures, as everyone knows they'll be published here. Well, you know what? When I start churning out my joelipe.com t-shirts, all the naysayers won't get a cut of the profits. And when I'm sitting in my $2 million-dollar house, floating in my million-dollar pool, smoking my million dollar cigars, you can't have any poolside snacks.
Nope. Not even those tasty jalapeno poppers. Hmm, those are so good. I'm hungry.
Oh yeah, anyway. On the 2nd, we took Joshy to a free music class at the nearby Gymboree. I liked that it was free, and Joshy got to crawl around, go down the slides, eat people's shoes, before class started. The class was nice, as all the infants get to play with instruments, and other unconventional instruments like wooden sticks, etc. Well, it was good in theory, as all the kids just wanted to eat the instruments. So, we don't think we'll be paying for classes just yet. :) Hmm, got pictures of that too. I'll have to find the digital camera.
That evening, we went over to Sunil & Ligy's new apartment in Union City. We spent most of the time taking turns keeping a cranky baby quiet. I think we left around 11pm.
Being back to work the next day was no fun. :(
January has new episodes of new and returning shows. My Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, and Stargate Atlantis have returned with new episodes. My wife is utterly despondent. If she was sick of sci-fi before with the reruns, you can imagine her plight now. Ignoring her pain, I must decree that Sci Fi Friday is awesome.
Speaking of tv, have you seen this train wreck of a show -- The Flavor of Love. It's a "Bachelor"-type show, but starring Flavor Flav of Public Enemy fame. It's on VH1, and stars some truly scary women who are just gushing over Flav. I swear some have to be actresses, because it's too ridiculous. Come on, Flavor Flav? I can't believe he's only 46. It looks like he's experienced some hard livin'. Here's a 30-sec bio about him.