Main > Joel's September 2007 News
.:Picture of the Day:.


Sunday, September 30th 2007

And that's the end of September. My goodness, this year is just flying by.

My wife and I just celebrated our 4-year anniversary by going away to Cape May this weekend, and no child! We dropped off Joshua Thursday night, and we were on the road on Friday. We stayed at one of those bed & breakfast inns in Wildwood called The Sea Gypsy from Fri - Sunday, and stayed in the Elbert Hubbard suite. We explored Cape May on Saturday, and Wildwood on Sunday. It was a very enjoyable, relaxing weekend.

This evening, I tried out the Amazon MP3 store, and no problems whatsoever. For just $0.89 each, I picked up three songs (from Johnny Cash, Kanye West, Lisa Feist) that I've been meaning to get.

Tomorrow is Day 1 of Fieldwork for my audit. And it's performance evaluation / bonus-deciding season. If I do well, good for me. If I do poorly, woe is me. Success and failure will be fresh in the minds of my management come evaluation time. Wish me luck.

If I have a spare moment, I need to find out the deal with my refrigerator delivery status with those jerks from Lowe's.


Wednesday, September 26th 2007

I am not impressed by Lowe's Home Improvement at all. I called this morning for a delivery status on our fabled refrigerator that only appears in the store inventory every 100 years. I figured that since I'm not travelling this week, and it was supposed to be in the store on Sept 24, we could get it this week after all. Guess not. They said it's been delayed again to Sept 28th, give or take a day. It really is going to take a whole month to get this refrigerator into our house. I don't think I'll purchase any more appliances (or anything) from Lowe's again. Too frustrating for words.

I just checked out the new Amazon MP3 website. Lots of good word about it so far. It's nice, the MP3s are not protected by an annoying DRM scheme, and the bitrates are 256 Kbps, which is much better than Apple's 128 Kbps. I think it's time to switch!

Lisa Feist has a catchy tune, and an interesting music video for her single 1 2 3 4. Apple features her video in their latest iPod Nano tv commercial, actually.

Yawn. Enough blogging. Back to work tonight.


Monday, September 24th 2007

What a crazy week it's been. There's so much to do. I spent so many hours last week working when I should have been sleeping. Tonight is another long night for me, but I think I'm going to take a break, get a few hours sleep, and start again at 3am. I think it's going to be something like this until end of November.

My wife was asking me does everyone work so many late nights like I have, and I said no, except for rare occasions. I can be up at 2am, and people are emailing me. Seriously, and they have to be at work the next day. A number of my coworkers get to the office before 8am, leave around 7 or 8pm. I can't do that, because I'm either dropping off or picking up my kid. I figure I'm just postponing or time shifting my workday here.

I could use a vacation.

So in non-bitching-about-my-job news, it's been about 2 weeks with my new BlackBerry Curve, and I'm lovin' it more than McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. (See that? I threw in a reference to McDonald's current ad campaign slogan of "I'm lovin' it" and I mentioned their Chicken McNuggets. That's why I should have been in Mensa, if it wasn't for that whole high IQ prequisite.) I think the phone is great, it's so smart about everything, and really well-designed. It knows when the keypad numbers should override the alpabetic keys in a field or screen, it spellchecks from the dictionary AND the phonebook, and it's a good phone. I'm not a fan of the EDGE network, because it's a little slow, but I can live with it. Great phone.

BTW, we still don't have our refrigerator yet. Maybe this week, maybe next week. Lowe's is just a bunch of jerks, if you ask for my professional opinion.

I haven't seen the Simpsons movie yet, but I did hear that Springfield got trashed. In the season premiere tonight, they reworked it to show Springfield in shambles from whatever happened in the movie. You gotta hand it to the writers for being so smart for 18 years now, right?

Family Guy's season premiere was a 1 hour parody of Star Wars. If you missed it, catch it online. Mucho funny.

Sunday, September 16th 2007

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Chicken Little

We rented two movies this weekend - Premonition starring Sandra Bullock, and Chicken Little starring... animated farm animals. Prenomition -- I can't put my finger on what was wrong with that movie exactly. It was disjointed, they flirted with a few different ideas/themes, and dropped them, then I didn't know. The movie didn't work. It wasn't too hard to follow, but it was one of those movies that you start looking at the watch. Even the Premonition deleted scenes didn't make much sense. I thought the gag reel was the most entertaining part of the whole DVD.

It's telling that I was more looking forward to the animated movie Chicken Little. The animation was nice, but I found the story to be kinda boring. There are children's animated movies that are interesting, and there are those that are just so basic, it's just not that interesting. Telling point: even Joshua was a bit bored, and he's usually enthralled by Pixar movies. Chicken Little wasn't a Pixar movie (it didn't have to be), and it wasn't all that exciting either.

In other movie news, 19 new photos from the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight, are online. Check out while they're red hot.

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Heath Ledger as the Joker
Christian Bale & Michael Caine

In other news, it's been a very relaxing weekend. I've been so tired this past week, so many late nights working on workpapers and wrapping up the Planning phase of current audit. I relaxed Friday and Saturday, so today is get back and ready for tomorrow.

It's been a few days, and I'm getting used to my new smartphone. I'm getting a little faster with the typing, but I'm definitely experiencing some unanticipated cramping in my left thumb. I'm trying to readjust the positions of my hands, and see if that alleviates the slight pain. I do like the phone, and I understand why PC World rated the BlackBerry Curve #1 on their list of Top Ten Smartphones. I may not be able to synch my email between PC and BlackBerry, but everything else is synched, and that's cool. It's already been making my life easier -- all my business/personal contacts, meeting schedules, and tasks on my phone, on hand and ready when I need it. It also fits comfortably in my pants pocket.

Speaking of PC World, they took a First Look at the iPod Touch, and had some reservations about it. Some disconcerting hardware and software issues with it that don't sound all that nice. Here's to hoping that Apple can resolve it fairly quickly.

Time to update my Toys page!


Thursday, September 13th 2007

I guess you shouldn't count your refrigerators until they've been delivered. I'm very disappointed in Lowe's.

So, let's recap. We purchased a new refrigerator during Labor Day weekend, with a delivery date of Thursday, Sept 6th. On Wednesday Sept 5th, the night before the delivery, some guy named Vinnie calls, and says there's been a mistake. It takes 10 days, not 5, before they can deliver it. The new date is actually a week later, Sept 13th. At this point, my wife and I say "What can you do?", and we postpone the grand celebration for another week.

A week later, it's Wednesday night, Sept 12th, and no phone calls about our delivery window the next day. I call, and they say check back after 6am Thurs morning -- that's when they fill out the delivery sheets. Whatever. I call this morning, 6:42am, and they confirm it will be delivered between 9am-12noon. I arrange to work from home today, my wife and I clean out the frigerator and kitchen. I have a team mate run my 11am meeting for instead, just in case. We're all ready!

9am. 10am. 11am. 12pm. 12:42, where's our new refrigerator? I call up, and the lady checks her records, and tells me that my delivery was #2 on the list. Didn't they deliver my hoses? My hoses? I didn't order hoses. She's shocked, get the manager Mike. Mike is asking me about my delivery, because the delivery guys swears he delivered my hoses. I calmly-yet-incredulously inform "Mike" that I didn't order any hoses. I ordered a refrigerator. That had already been delayed since last week. Mike tells me he doesn't know what he can do, because all the trucks are out. He'll try to get another truck.

Fast-forward. A few more calls with Lowe's saying they have my refrigerator, but no trucks. Can they deliver it Friday? No, I said. Just plain old NO. They claim the original delivery date is really Sept 28th, and I tell them they're nuts. Sept 28th is news to me. They say they'll work on it.

Fast-forward to 2pm, and I'm heading out to meet my wife for lunch in Princeton. Half way to my drive, I call for a status. First rep states that she says they have no refrigerators for me until the 28th. I said, no, they DO have my refrigerator, and they're just working to get a truck. 10 mins later, turn around, they say. They're loading up the truck, and will be leaving for my place.

We cancel lunch, I head home. 3:20pm, and still no truck. I call Lowe's, and "Mike" is all apologetic. There is no refrigerator. Between Sept 6th and Sept 13th, somebody changed the delivery date to Sept 28th, and no one called to tell us. And all of the shenanigans today? There is a refrigerator, there isn't. It's being delivered, it isn't. Well, they screwed up. And there are no refrigerators in the district to get one for us.

Personally, I don't know what to say. Seriously, how incompetent can they be? They don't even know what's going out, what's coming in. The best they can do to make it up to us is take off 10% off the price. Sept 28th is no good for us either, so I think it'll have to come in early Oct.

Stupid Lowe's.


Wednesday, September 12th 2007

Well, I took the plunge. I am now an AT&T customer... again. With a little help from my coworker, I went down to NYC to the AT&T store, and got the Curve for just $50. I don't quite believe it either. I'm still figuring out how the darn thing works, where all the options are, and how to pair up my old Bluetooth headset. At least I've gotten calendar, tasks, and notes all synched up between Outlook and my BlackBerry. From what I've read so far online, you can NOT synch up between your email client mail and the BlackBerry. Hmmm, I'm not a big fan of that, but oh well. Let's see if I can find some shareware application that does that.


Monday, September 10th 2007

I was up doing work until I went to bed at 5am this morning, and I sleepwalked the rest of the day. Here's the good news. The first Iron Man trailer is out. And it's cool.

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Iron Man costume
Iron Man teaser

Sunday, September 9th 2007

What a weekend. I've been holed up in the house all weekend, working on audit workpapers, and a 40-page document that is due on Monday to my boss. My sister-in-law came Friday night, and went Saturday morning. We did have a nice little dinner with her Friday night (Indian food we picked up - no one was cooking). Joshua got his reading fix taken care of, courtesy of his aunt reading every one of his books to him.

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John Jones Marine Staff Sgt. from Alive Day: Home from Iraq

Saturday morning, we had a contractor come in to give us a quote on building a custom media center for the living room. The price quote wasn't bad at all, and we're considering our options for early next year. Like I mentioned earlier, the refrigerator is just the current part of updating our home to our style. That's what I like about home ownership, compared to renting. After we moved into our house, it still felt like we were renting. It wasn't until we started painting that it felt like our very own place. To get a new refrigerator, to start decorating the rest of the house with real furniture.... man, it feels great.

Sometimes I miss having HBO. Not that I have much time to watch tv these days, but they occasionally do have a show or movie I'd really like to see. James Gandolfini produced a documentary called "Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq", premiering tonight.

In soldier-slang, the term "alive day" refers to a special kind of rebirth, a day experienced by cheating death. A few such survivors tell their stories in the film. They tell about what went before, as well as the personal battles they've been waging since.
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Britney performing at the 2007 MTV VMAs

I went online to check out the HBO minisite. Powerful images and stories.

I try not to follow all the celebrity crap that goes on. I try not to watch award shows anymore either. I do have to comment that tonight was the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. I had to watch Britney's big "comeback performance" opening the show. It was.... horrid. She was lip-synching..... poorly, she was slow, and when she turned around, I had to avert my eyes. I'm not one to make fun of people's weight (hey, I'm overweight these days), but geez, you won't catch me wearing that outfit.

Maybe when I'm thinner. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Anyway, that's why I'm even commenting on the whole thing. It was just laughable, yet sad.



Saturday, September 8th 2007

It looks like I'm getting Blackberry Curve after all. Well, I think I am.

As you may remember, I've been living without a phone for about one entire week now. Truth be told, it's not horrible. Maybe because I'm living at the office. Or that no one really wants to call me. However, every once in a while, I need a phone for those emergency situations.

Breaker breaker. Is this Papa John's? You guys still having that deal for a $10.00 large cheese pizza with 5 free toppings?
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I'm getting a Blackberry

Anyway, the Curve is $199 with a two-year contract, and after the $100 mail-in rebate. That's an immediate $300 I'd have to spend, plus tax. one of my coworkers was able to upgrade her phone, and argued with the AT&T reps to give her a Curve for just $50. Just. Like. That. So, I've been getting her help to get me the same deal. The customer service phone reps haven't been too helpful this week. However, my coworker was at the AT&T store down on Wall St this past week, and got the guy to agree to get me the Curve for $50, but obviously I have to do it in person. So, I'll be in NYC next week for a day, just to pick up a new phone. Yea, me!

Okay, before I hear the complaints. Yes, I have heard that Blackberries are not all that. Still, it's a smartphone and a new phone. Can't argue with that, can you?

Speaking of smartphones.... I just checked out my Wishlist on the right-hand side. We're getting the refrigerator next week, as well as a smartphone. The new iPods have been announced, so that means I can pick one up next month. That's three things on the list. Yeah me again!

Important advisory: I was reading an article that when you check out new hardware, experts recommend you test it out thoroughly using high-quality sources of entertainment. See example 1 of proper testing protocols being followed.


Thursday, September 6th 2007

My review is going well enough. I do have to spend today, this entire weekend, and most of Monday, writing up a required 40 page document. I started it last week, but boy oh boy, who had time to work on it? Not me. I'll be sequestered this weekend, developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

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iPod Touch

So, the new iPod models have been announced. I'd like to pick one up next month. My bigger priority is getting a new phone. I suppose I could accomplish both with the iPhone, but frankly the capacity is too small. iPod Touch it shall be.

My sister-in-law Anju is visiting NJ, and will be staying with us Friday night. Finally, we can take a break, and let someone else do the Dr. Seuss reading around here.

Saturday morning, we've got a contractor coming in to do some estimates on our living room. We're looking to put in a trapeze swing in the living room, for entertaining when we have company over. :) On the sad side of news, there was a mixup on our refrigerator delivery date. It won't be coming tomorrow -- we have to wait until next Thursday. I'm calling shenanigans on them.

I don't think I'm taking that CISSP exam next month. It's less than a month away, and I have no time to study. I'm calling shenanigans on life itself.


Sunday, September 2nd 2007

Stupid Verizon Wireless. I think companies will do anything to get out of spending a penny on customers. While we went shopping in the area, I stopped by the Verizon Wireless store to check out my cell phone. They said it wasn't the battery, but probably the charge port -- they get worn out after awhile. If I came back in 30 minutes, and for $50, they would give me a replacement Motorola E815 (keeping my original battery), and they would transfer my phone numbers. I said OK, and we finished our grocery shopping. I come back, and she says:

1) I have liquid damage in the phone. She pulls out the back cover, shows me a tiny red tag inside. She says the tag is normally white, but turns red when it's made contact with liquid. She never checked, and they can't do anything. I'm looking at her befuddled, because I didn't get it wet. It just stopped charging.

2) She never bothered to check if I had their insurance. She just assumed, and that was the $50 she was going to charge me for -- a deductible. I find this all ironic. With my last phone, I opted for the insurance, but when I had battery trouble, they said batteries are not covered. Now with my current phone, I don't have the insurance, and the problem is with the phone itself.

Screw this. I'm moving to AT&T -- this week if possible. I'd get the Apple iPhone, but the 8Gb is too rich for my blood. If it had a 30 Gb hard drive, then at least I could justify that I was replacing two devices with one. Unfortunately 8Gb is too little to contain our growing music collection. Did I mention that one of my coworkers did a complete demo of his iPhone for me last week. I had to admit it was pretty darn cool. Maybe I'll save up for the 2nd generation of the iPhone. In the meantime, after all the discussion, will I go Blackberry after all?

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The Ipes will be chillin' in style

Here's the good news. We went to Lowe's, and picked out a new refrigerator! This is the first step in our upcoming series of home renovations. Next stop? My poolhall / babe-o-rama. Working towards building that, I'd need a cordless drill and screwdriver. I've been borrowing my sister's since just after we moved here in 2005. Soooo..... they're asking for it back. I'm going to charge it up tonight, and use it to finally install the new backyard gate handle that I've been meaning to replace since June. Yeah, yeah, shut up.

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Optimash Prime

Joshua watched Toy Story for the first time today. Oddly enough, he only liked the Mr. Potato Head character. Probably because Uncle Paul got him a Transformers version of Mr. Potato Head on Friday. It's called Optimash Prime. Funny.

I'm catching up with my photos. I'm up to date on September -- luckily it's only Sept 2nd. I'm added August photos one after another, and I'm retroactively adding them to last month's blog musings. Check out August 5th or August 15th. It'll change your life.

BBQ at the Kondorfs tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it. I'm planning to take some video as well. I really wonder what's the point of getting a videocamera if we're not going to use it!


Saturday, September 1st 2007

I'm still building my site back up. There are lots of pictures missing, and I've been uploading them tonight. One problem I've encountered is that while my old webhosting space contains all of my pictures, I don't have them on my local computer -- remember my PC crashed last April. The good news is that I found a June 2005 backup CD, and copied many pictures over, and then uploaded them. However, I'm still missing photos from post-June 2005. Argh! I'm considering signing up with my old hosting company for the shortest duration possible, if only to download those pictures. They're the only source of these records left.

I'm glad to have the 3-day weekend, but it's already packed. Our friends Paul & Biji arrived Friday, and stayed over last night. We'll be seeing them again Monday afternoon at a BBQ.

It's official: after 13 months, the battery on my Motorola E815 cellphone won't charge. I'd love to buy a new phone, but that would require switching to AT&T, and my wife the CFO won't go for that. I'm going to have to hit the Verizon Wireless store tomorrow, and pay for a new battery.

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The Sept 5th Apple Event

Heard the big news? Apple is having a big iPod-related event on Wed Sept 5th. I can smell the new iPod. I can. And if there is no widescreen iPod to replace the old iPod that died on me over a year ago? I will be sorely pissed.

I wonder if I work at a sweatshop? I was talking to one of my coworkers, and their spouse recently started working at a investment bank. And I asked how the spouse liked it. And my coworker said it was fine, but a lot of work. "Still, they're all sweatshops, right?" I said yeah, that makes sense. Then I thought about how we also have an investment bank. And I haven't met anyone in any division that doesn't work like a dog, including me. I work a lot too. And it hit me. Do I work in a sweatshop? I think I do. Egads.

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Family dinner with family from Ramy, Muny, & Naveen @ Ming's in Edison

Case in point: Although it's Labor Day weekend, my entire weekend is packed with work. I was updating deliverables lists, and replying to emails. On a Saturday afternoon, I reply back to a Line manager who wrote me at 5:30pm Friday (remember, holiday weekend -- where's the early dismissal?), and guess what? She replies back to me 2 minutes later. Ah, the magic of Blackberries. So reply back again, and actually tell her to put down the Blackberry, and enjoy the weekend. Yeah, I did. She does the same. I figure when we're all working on weeknights and weekends, you have to take the barriers down, and stop treating each other like adversaries.

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Look who grew up

BTW, I've completed the first two weeks of my audit. It's going pretty well, I think. I forgot how much work it was to lead an audit. Still, I'm spending more time speaking to management, so that's good exposure for me.

I forgot to mention some big news. This past week, starting Monday, Joshua only wants to sleep on the bed in his room. All of a sudden, for no apparent reason. It's strange, but hey, humans are weird and unpredictable.

This evening, we met up with Muny, Ramy, and family, and Num's parents, and we all went to dinner at Ming's in Edison.

Tomorrow, I'll be catching up with work. And maybe a trip to Lowe's. And maybe catching up on all of my August 2007 photos!