Sunday, December 31, 2006

The 2006 Esqys

Last year, I made a list of some of the highlights of the year, and thought I would continue the tradition. Like last year, I am favored to win every category, and I must remind everybody...please, no wagering.

Best trip (non-family) = the Mini Takes the States Road Rally. Fun trip, fun people, fun to not be at work for a whole week. Check out my archives for the full story.

Best trip (family) = Thanksgiving in Colorado with the Gilberts. Great to see everybody again, and need to do that more often.

Best book I read this year = The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Beautifully simple book about the love between a father and a son...told against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic nightmare. If my father were still alive, I would have shared this book with him.

Best new habit = getting more assertive at work. As I continue to learn the law and the various court procedures, I am trying to become a better advocate for my clients. I am getting better at believing in myself and standing my ground when I think I am right. More and more often, I am.

Best new habit, runner up = paying off debt. We have been free of credit card debt for a few years now, but earlier this year I was able to pay off my undergraduate student loans, we are a couple payments away from paying off the car, and should be able to pay off the wife's student loans in the coming year. My law school debt will be hanging around for quite a while (emphasis on "quite"), but with those others out of the way, I think we can seriously begin looking at buying our own home in the near future. Yay, us!

Best continuing habit = running, but I'm not going as often as I need to. Hopefully this will be a continuing winner in years to come.

Best purchase (big) = our new car, an '06 Mini Cooper. Made driving fun again, and made parking less of a chore. Also exciting? I've never owned a new car before. Honestly, made (makes) me a little nervous.

Best purchase (smaller) = TiVo. Has revolutionized how I watch television, and I am proud to say, has worked out how I hoped: I watch fewer overall hours of television, and can't remember the last commercial I saw. Fantastic!

Best videogame = Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. Playing video games in my 30s? Check. Playing a game where I get to re-live my favorite movies of all time? Check. Both of those, but doing it as lego characters? Check. All of the above, and the wife likes to play it with me? Come on...that's almost too many positives for one game!

2006 was a positive year for me, and I hope it was good for you as well. Good luck to all of us in the coming year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006


This morning, we woke up very early (esp. for a Saturday!) and drove to San Jose to take part in a Japanese new year custom called mochitsuki, which involves steaming rice, pounding into a paste, and then forming it into little disc-shaped rolls to be eaten on New Year's Day. It was a lot of fun to see everybody, share a traditional custom, and beat the hell out of some unsuspecting rice. Good times.

Here's me, showing some rice who's boss.

This one shows our friends pounding their mochi...and yes, in case you wondered, the double entendres were pretty much an all-day event.

We got to see our good friends, drank sake, took out some aggression on some rice, and went home with way too many mochi. What's not to love?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On the comeback trail...

If you are a regular reader (I'm speaking to both of you here), you know my sorrow at getting kicked off my favorite online poker site due to recent legislation which attempts to ban US players from making deposits to certain online gaming sites.

So I am trying to get back in the old-fashioned winning free money!

This morning (I'm embarrassed to admit how long I played), I monied in my second freeroll, making it to the final table and coming in 8th out of 1,800 players. I now have a mighty $5 of other people in my account, and am pleased that I am once again playing poker with free money.

WSOP, here I come!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Shootings and tigers and earthquakes...oh my!

Busy day in my neighborhood; came home to see on the news that a tiger "attacked" a volunteer at the zoo down the street. While I was watching that, at least six cop cars and three ambulances went screaming past us to a house one block up where a cop and suspect both died in a gun battle. While I was watching the local news to learn about the shooting, a small earthquake hit, shaking us up but causing no damage.

No locust swarms or frogs yet, but I'm keeping an umbrella handy just in case.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

One dozen and counting

The better half and I celebrated twelve years of being married this weekend with a fun "vacation" downtown. We relaxed, had a fantastic dinner, and then retired for the evening. We even had fun breakfast this morning, and did not order our eggs poached.

Happy anniversary to us!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Everybody Wang Chung...

Finished American Psycho, and as weird as it sounds, I enjoyed this book. It is harrowing, disgusting, pornographically violent, and all the same, it was fun to read. Watching as Patrick slowly spirals into his personal hell, which may or may not exist outside of his own mind, you get a real snapshot of the superficial 80s in all their New Wave glamour. The details of the narrative, especially about the clothing, are meticulous, and one of the main reasons this book works so effectively as satire. The concept that the characters have everything going for them on the surface, but are so utterly empty and alone, is driven home perfectly.

This book is not for the squeamish; I consider myself fairly desensitized by now, but a couple of the scenes made my stomach turn. Also a tricky book to read on the train; definitely one of those books that gets so graphic, you start to wonder if anyone is reading over your shoulder, and if so, what they must think of you. I give this book a solid A, and recommend it if you want to see how satire is done.

Now, in a rare double bill, I have to share that after finishing Psycho, I thought I would give Ellis's first book, Less Than Zero, a try. It is such a fast read, I didn't even have time to put it in the sidebar. Maybe it was because I had just finished Psycho, and was expecting bigger things, but I really didn't care for this book. The other maybe? I think Zero was the author's warm up to Psycho, and the latter is in my opinion the vastly superior book. There are several shared themes: too much money, too many drugs, too much sex, and so much of everything that none of it means anything to anyone. All of the characters in Zero were bored, and I got very bored reading about their "poor little rich kids" lives. I will say I liked the book better than the movie, but that is (a) pretty normal, and (b) still not saying much. D.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Envying the fictional

Every time I log on to Gmail, I see this picture, advertising their new phone-compatible email program.

This fictional person leads a very rich, full fictional life. Where is his spam promising low interest rates and cheap prescription drugs?

I hope he has fun at his fictional BBQ. I wouldn't mind getting invited to a fictional BBQ.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Out of this world!

[I tried to think of the cheesiest title possible for this post, the one that would make Ellis cringe the most, and I believe I picked a winner]

I finished Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis, and I was impressed. This is the first Ellis book I have read, and based on the publicity I have heard about him, the mix of praise and disgust, I am not sure what I expected, but "tender" was not high on the list.

On the surface, this is a horror story, a pseudo-autobiographical account of events that the author claims happened in his life. If you choose to believe that these events actually happened, I am guessing you also loved that horrible Johnny Depp movie. If, like me, you choose to see the "events" of this book more as either drug/alcohol induced nightmares, and/or simple theatrical devices used by the author to show us his own inner deterioration as the rift between himself and his estranged father eats at him over the years, then I think this is an easier book to digest (pun somewhat intended), and is much more interesting.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. There were stretches where I thought it could have been tighter (the first chapter was useful to me, but I can understand how critics would see it as self-indulgent), but overall, I was impressed that the author used the underlying horror story as a lesson about connecting with his own son in a way that he did not connect with his father. The final chapter is touching, and there is a genuine sadness there, even if it is hidden behind fictional characters and blood-soaked monsters. I want to read American Psycho so I understand some of the portions of this book that refer to the earlier work, and based on the author's writing style, I think I will enjoy reading it. I'll give this book a solid B.