Take the candy, leave the crowbar

Happy Halloween, everybody. I heard something on a morning radio show on my drive into work today that made me remember something I hadn’t thought about in a long time. As a kid, there were years when I had some good Halloween costumes – I was Dracula one year, a pirate another year, and I actually won first prize in my grammar school’s costume contest for one of my lesser costumes ever. I was the grim reaper, but I didn’t have a sickle and my hooded garment was plastic, as was my mask. It’s not like there wasn’t stiff competition, either. There were plenty of kids with much better costumes.

Anyway, I think it was when I was in third grade that I wasn’t really into finding a costume that year. Actually, I don’t remember the reason why, but I had to scramble the night before Halloween to come up with something, anything that I could wear to school and trick-or-treating afterwards. What I scraped together was a half-assed murderous zombie, with ratty, old sneakers, blue jeans, one of my father’s old, gray sweaters, a pair of my father’s leather gloves (way too big for me), and a monster mask that my dad had worn to a Halloween party a few years earlier. It was just a full-head rubber mask with a gray face, gray hair, warts, scars, a big hooked nose, an evil snarl, and quasi fangs (to which I added fake blood).

Something was missing, however. I needed a weapon to appear more menacing. I had learned from my mistake the year prior when I didn’t have a sickle to complete my grim reaper ensemble. There was no time to go to a store to buy a plastic axe, so, without telling my parents, I went down to the cellar on Halloween morning and grabbed a crowbar and hid it in my sleeve. When my sister saw me carrying a crowbar to school, she warned me that I’d get busted. I didn’t believe her or didn’t care. I thought our school would grant a special dispensation allowing me to carry a blunt instrument seeing as how it was Halloween. Well, the nuns didn’t take too kindly to that. The crowbar was taken away, but in the end things worked out alright because the nuns didn’t tell my parents and didn’t give me detention. So I guess even a Pagan holiday celebrating the dead has the power to soften a ruler-wielding nun.

She could be your sister, too

A while back, I posed a question to my friends – including Captain Larby, LTJ, Mrs. Larby, Matty Ballgame, Dr. Doop, and the rest – “who could portray us in a movie?” I don’t recall all the suggestions, but I think Edward Norton was brought up for LTJ and Bruce Willis for Dr. Doop. This was before Josh Groban joined the ranks of the rich and famous, or else he would have been mentioned for me, just as surely as I get “has anyone ever told you that you look just like that singer, Josh Groban?” on a weekly basis.

However, Swedish Girl and I have come up with a variation on this game. Since my doppelganger is already known and Swedish Girl doesn’t seem to have one, we are now onto finding who our siblings could be. I think it started while watching House of Sand and Fog on HBO sometime last year. I mentioned that Jennifer Connelly could be my sister. She looks more like me than my own sister does, since she has dark hair, dark eyes, and bushy eyebrows. I’m not sure if Swedish Girl was convinced about a possible sibling resemblance there, but that was the spark that ignited the search for my Hollywood sister.

For some reason, the search has heated up recently. See, this game may be dormant, but it never dies. After seeing Saw 3 the other day, Swedish Girl thought that Shawnee Smith could be my sister. I wasn’t quite so sure about that one. I still thought Jennifer Connelly was in the lead. However, her lead was threatened yesterday, as we were watching Scream 3 on TV. As if reading my mind, Swedish Girl said that Neve Campbell could be my sister. Kind of round face, dark hair, dark eyes, the same packaging.

Anyway, maybe you can adopt this game, too, and as you’re watching TV shows or movies, you can pick out your siblings. I’ll even start you out by combining the aforementioned game and this sibling game – Josh Radnor, the guy who plays Ted on How I Met Your Mother, could both portray LTJ in a movie and be his brother. Discuss amongst yourselves…

In Search of The Captain

On behalf of The Diatribe, I would like to send (belated) birthday greetings to Captain Larby. Cap’n, I wish I could have been on board to see you walk the plank into the Sea of Thirty. If you and Matty Ballgame (even more belated happy birthday greetings) can tread water for just a little while longer, you’ll be joined by all the rest of us soon enough.


Smart Keys

One of the more innovative features of the Toyota Prius is the “Smart Key” feature. It looks like a typical electronic key unit and has the standard “Open, lock, panic” buttons (as well as a secret retractable key) but you actually don’t need to use any of these features in order to operate the vehicle — you simply need to carry the key unit with you.

If you need to unlock the car, for instance, all you need to do is reach for the door handle, and the Prius automatically recognizes that you have the key and will unlock and open the door. To start the car, you just need to have a key and push the “Power” button for the car to power up. No need to put it in the ignition or anything. Lastly, to close and lock the car, you just need to press a button on the car’s door handle that locks the car (assuming you have the key on you). If the key is still inside the car, it’s impossible to lock the door — clever, huh?

After having the car for only a few days, both MP and I have both agreed that we would like to see more “Smart Keys.” Having to dig and fetch out our house keys to open the front door, is such a let down after using the neat features of the Prius. In time, I guess we’ll see this technology become more prevalent.

Things Sometimes Work Out

Yesterday was a pretty good day, as far as regular days go. I got stuck at work late, but it worked out well because Swedish Girl called and wanted to meet up for dinner and drinks. That saved me a whole lot of time and miles since I hadn’t gone home yet. There’s something pretty cool about having your wife buy you a beer, too. While sitting at the bar and telling Swedish Girl about the trials and tribulations of my day, I mentioned how it’s not always easy to please everyone, specifically your friends and family. I, much like most of you, try, but do not always succeed. I rattled off a short list of people in need of pleasing and the things I had to try to do to keep them happy.

The list, as usual, included Cool Jesus. Aside from How I Met Your Mother on Monday nights, Thursday is the only TV night I care about. I had to head home, watch My Name is Earl and The Office, and then burn rubber to a local coffee house to watch my friend’s band. He would have been bummed out if I hadn’t shown up, knowing how close I live to the venue. Well, I raced home to find out that Earl and Office were reruns, so I raced back out and caught my friend’s band along with a mutual friend of ours. So, things worked out and I managed to make two people happy.

Earlier in the day, I found out that my landlord is going on a month-long vacation. This is excellent timing for a somewhat complicated reason. See, the smoke detector in my apartment does not work, but it’s not battery-operated. It’s hard-wired into the building. Also, my apartment doesn’t have a carbon monoxide detector, which is now against the law in Massachusetts. I brought this to my landlord’s attention in September and, despite his promises, he never provided them. He eventually said that I could buy them and subtract them from my October rent.

Push came to shove and I never did get around to buying the smoke and CO detectors. My landlord even called me (I have never had so much phone time with a landlord in all my life) and said that I lost my chance. He said the offer was no longer valid. Just as I was about to lay into him, he said, “Gotcha! Just kidding, Brian! I got you good!” The guy is insane. I had to tell him that I actually bought the detectors, but was so used to writing out the rent check for the same amount, that I forgot to subtract the cost. He pressed me further, asking how much they cost (because he had already instructed me to not buy “the fancy ones”) and I told him they were about $20 each. I hope this is accurate.

I plan on picking up the two detectors tonight, subtracting them from the rent check on Tuesday, and giving the rent check to his brother on Wednesday. Since my landlord won’t be back for a month, hopefully he won’t ask why the detectors I bought in September have receipts dated October. Things just work out sometimes.

A new set of Wheels

Our new Prius.
Originally uploaded by brandonjs.

Despite some minor headaches and issues last night, we managed to score ourselves a new Toyota Prius. We’ve yet to name her, though I’m sure something will come to mind shortly.

We didn’t get to drive her around much last night as we didn’t get back from the dealership until 1030 or so. Driving to work today was a friggin’ blast, and we did some hardcore shopping tonight. We were even excited about putting our new shopping purchases in the new car (and grocies). Yeah, I know, it’s kinda cheesy.. but when you haven’t had a car of your own for about ten years, it’s a big deal.

We’re completely addicted to watching the MPG averages on the main screen, though, trying to best optimize the fuel economy. It’s actually so silent when it’s running on a battery, I was “sneaking up” on a woman walking her child in a stroller this afternoon — as I followed her to my spot. Very strange.

Overall, it’s a great vehicle and we’re very excited (as if you couldn’t tell). I’ve even heard rumors that we might still be able to get HOV Lane stickers if we hurry.. a HUGE benefit if you live out here in CA. I’d recommend checking one out if you’re in the market for a new automobile.

Settling In..

So, our stuff was delivered on Saturday and despite only a minor incident involving a missing bookcase, everything has arrived — most of which has been unpacked. I use the term “unpacked” loosely, however, because just because it’s no longer in a box doesn’t mean that it has found its final destination.

We have a mock-dining room table that has turned into a massive knick knack zone. There are various towels and other clothing bit strewn around the apartment and there is still nothing on the walls (including Naughty Betty).

We hope to get everything finished up this coming weekend, at which point I’ll gladly shoot a few photos and post them up for the world to see.

In other news…. Work is great. I started on Monday, and it’s been a great experience. It feels mostly like college, in that I’m in class all day in training sessions, but it’s still very interesting and a lot of fun. MP is enjoying her employment situation and things are going well for her as well. It’s also hard to dislike the 70+ degree weather we’ve been seeing the past week or so — so all-in-all things have been going very well.

Thank you, Jenson!

Last night, we get home from the movies only to find out that my friend “Jenson Wireless” needed to reset his router because it lost connection to the Internet. I was able to see all of the machines connected to the router, but was unable to get anywhere on the network. (Damn Jenson!) It was down all day today — until just now when we come home from an Santa Claraian adventure. [He must’ve called Comcast].

There about 20 wireless networks that I can see from various nooks and crannies of our new apartment, although Jenson Wireless is the only one without a password (fortunately). The movers are scheduled to arrive tomorrow between 8am and 9am, and Comcast is due to set up our connections sometime late in the day — so things should be stable from that point forward.

Tonight we actually took an adventure out to Trader Joe’s and In N Out Burger for dinner. I have to admit that there was some nice things at the Trader Joe’s in Sunnyvale, but it was tiny. The selection was very minimal and I think for our location, it’s best to shop over at Wholefoods — unless we’re in an area near a nicer TJ’s.

In case you’ve been wondering how we’ve been spending our time waiting for the movers, it’s been consisting mostly of various blogs, LOST (Season 2) and .

Fortunately our stuff arrives tomorrow and we’ll be one step closer to being settled. Hooray!