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Responses to this rant
Dandy   Tuesday, 7/26/2016 8:30 AM
Bart   Tuesday, 7/26/2016 8:44 AM
Tim   Tuesday, 8/2/2016 12:50 PM
Bart   Tuesday, 8/2/2016 8:51 PM
Older rants
June 1, 2020   Trip to the Grand Canyon (last year),
Code Talker
Mar 21, 2020   The World Famous San Diego ComicFest
and the testament to dorkness that is my cubicle
and my sad, sad little doodles
Mar 8, 2020   A return to Potterland,
Meg & Dia's Christmas album, December Darling,
some other random stuff
Feb 21, 2020   Agorafabulous!,
Emeli's amazing creations
Nov 27, 2019   David Savakerrva Volume 1
The cubicle of nerdishness
Oct 28, 2019   Art Matters, Neil Gaiman
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Eric Idle
Alternate Routes, Tim Powers
Disneyland - Galaxy's Edge
Oct 4, 2019   Meg & Dia, HappySad tour San Diego 09/18/19
September 21. 2019   David Bowie - Scary Monsters,
More Adventures in Leasing,
More cubicle fun,
A new doodle
September 10. 2019   The Cranberries - In The End,
The Cranberries - Something Else,
Icicle Works, Icicle Works (vinyl),
Dia Frampton, Red,
Juliana Hatfield, Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John,
The Lemonheads, The Lemonheads,
Green Day, Insomniac ,
Flight of the Conchords, Flight of the Conchords Live in London
August 28, 2019   Heir of Ra (Maciek Sasinowski,
The Catalyst Series (JK Franks): Downward Cycle, Kingdom of Sorrow, Ghost Country
May 11, 2019   Goodbye, little friend
Nov 30, 2018   Fire of Our Fathers,
a Science Fiction Book Club rant
Nov 24, 2018   The Dinosaur Lords,
Dragon Teeth
Nov 20, 2018   My cubicle revisited, really-old ComicCon stuff, Emeli's Art, More Disney Adventures, The Zoo and Safari Park
September 9, 2018   Perimeter - an eBook thriller
September 3, 2018   Take Back the Sky Starcraft Evolution
August 11, 2018   Idaho Dunes Awesome soda Ethanol-free gas an awesome Bald Guy card Our rough dig Harry Potter Interlude story
July 21, 2018   The Cup in the Shadows (The Forbidden Powers Book 1)
June 24, 2018   Jake, Lucid Dreamer
June 13, 2018   Troll-stalking
May 23, 2018   Another badbartopia email spoofer, A sunny-day Disney adventure, Raymond E Feist book signing
May 15, 2018   A rainy-day Disneyland trip The Bassoon King
Apr 28, 2018   Down and Out in Purgatory
Apr 13, 2018   Operation Hail Storm
Mar 4, 2018   American Exodus
Jan 22, 2018   Christmas, Didn't Get Frazzled, The Sea People, The Rooster Bar, Last Burial Night, Doctor Who and the Krikkit Men
Dec 15, 2017   Mistrial, City of Death and Disneyland
Nov 14, 2017   Grace Vanderwaal - Just the Beginning
Nov 11, 2017   Tim Powers Signing at Mysterious Galaxy for Down and Out in Purgatory
November 4, 2017   Return to Disneyland, Halloween at the office, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Long Cosmos Maximus One year After War Dogs, Killing Titan Daddy, Stop Talking
October 29, 2017   Bruce Campbell Signing, Hail to the Chin, Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor
October 20, 2017   Meg & Dia, Imagine Dragons in concert, 2 Years 8 months and 28 Nights
October 17, 2017   All Apologies
October 16, 2017   Thrawn
Septempber 7, 2017   The Rage of Dragons, The Lincoln Myth
August 10, 2017   The Molly Ringwalds, Dia Frampton Musical awesomeness, Beauty and the Feast
July 28, 2017   The IT Sweatshop revisited, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, American Gods and The Magicians, Rogue One, Camino Island
July 24, 2017   CRV glovebox difficulties, San Diego Comic Con rant
July 11, 2017   Beauty and the Beast at the Lyceum, Earthweeds, Sons of Neptune Book 1, Aftermath, Empire's End, If Chin's Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor
June 30, 2017   Eastwood: No Direction Home book 2
June 23, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 4/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes, my new record, record player, and Emeli's site is live!
Jun 14, 2017   A noteworthy eBook mention before I return to my vacation ranting - No Direction Home
June 9, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 3/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes...almost. More pictures of spooky old houses, trees, rocks, and other things that nobody cares about! Plus, Goonies stuff
June 2, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 2/4) - The PCH family vacation tale continues... And more pictures of trees and other things that nobody cares about!
May 31, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 1/4) - Way more detail than anyone wants about our vacation up the coast of California and Oregon. And lots of pictures of trees!
Apr 26, 2017   Resurrection America, Pizza Studio art, AmandaLynn, Emeli art, and Disney art, and Gifted
Apr 14, 2017   My San Fransisco OSI PI adventure & "Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be"
Apr 12, 2017   Neil Gaiman speaks, Norse Mythology, American Gods comic adaptation, The Magicians TV series, and Dirk Gently on TV
Feb 2, 2017   A trip to the ever-less-magical land of Disney, The Prince of Outcasts, the Whistler, and a brief mention of The Magicians.
Jan 21, 2017   An update to my nerd wall at work, Found out about Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac) being gone, A list of all the stuff (or most, anyway) I've given up to new homes, A review of Dave! and Warp, and a couple of new doodles.
Dec 23, 2016   My final visit to Potterland and a couple of doodles
Dec 11, 2016   Books and related comics, and free/cheap stuff. Not taco Bell Material, President Me, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, The Hedge Knight (comic), The Sworn Sword (comic) Ooma, Ringplus, Amazon prime and other money-saving stuff.
Dec 4, 2016   I'm sharing my sad doodles with the world again. They're not very good, but I'll bet they're better than your scribbles!
Nov 12, 2016   Yet another trip to The Wonderful World of Harry Potter!
Nov 7, 2016   Blathering on about a few of the books I've read recently - Spire, The Check, and Dangercide, Pirate Detective
Oct 7, 2016   Yet another Visit to Harry Potterland. Oh, and my lease-mileage calculator.
July 25, 2016   Another Visit to Harry Potterland, a new car, a new shirt, a new dog, and a whole lot of the same old complaining
May 17, 2016   Email spoofers, Phishing emails, and scammers galore!
Apr 30, 2016   Winter's Edge and a Management zombie attack
Apr 23, 2016   Harry Potter land re-visited
Apr 9, 2016   Xenia...again
Apr 2, 2016   Sing Street, Batman vs Superman, Craigslist griping
Mar 1, 2016   The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood preview, fun at work, Xenia's new song, A Vanishing Glow, Our Fair Eden, Race Wars, The Force Awakens
Jan 27, 2016   Text Wars, Books I've read... Yup, that's pretty much it
Jul 30, 2015   Xenia Martinez news Still selling stuff on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half (the book), The Path Between the Seas, Trigger Warning, In Fifty years We'll all Be Chicks
Mar 17, 2015   Selling my treasures on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half, the Long Mars, Gray Mountain, Anathem, The Golden Princess, The Given Sacrifice
Mar 12, 2015   You'll be sorely missed, Sir Terry
Jan 21, 2015   More BBC 4 radio dramatizations by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice, Guards! Guards!, Neverwhere, Night Watch, Small Gods, Wyrd Sisters
Jan 10, 2015   JabberWocky, Neil Gaiman style!
Dec 24, 2014   The Good Omens BBC treatment
Aug 03, 2014   Every hobby has to end eventually, right?
Oct 8, 2013   Warning: Extreme Geekness ahead!
Oct 1, 2013   The Bloody Crown of iGoogle
Aug 26, 2013   Headphones at work
Aug 22, 2013   The guvmint is gonna getcha
June 25, 2013   Dweebs vs Big Bang vs IT Crowd
Jul 3, 2012   Xenia Martinez & Dia Frampton concert
Feb 24, 2012   Reading...just not much
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Being an idiot with Lev Grossman
Jan 7, 2012   If it ain't broke...
Aug 22, 2011   non-ComicCon report 2011
A Thousand Splendid Suns
An Act of Self Defense
May 5, 2011   On Stranger Tides
On Stranger Tides
March 2, 2011   I'm a gigantic slacker...
Wild Guns
Lord of Ultima
Metin 2
Lord of the Rings Online
Dec 15, 2010   Bring out your dead!
Aug 17, 2010   San DiegoComicCon 2010
August 11, 2010   I'm not dead yet...
May 3, 2010   Hero Comics
Liberty Comics
Dr Horrible
Neil Gaiman & Sam Keith in Batman
The Guild, Felicia Day
April 27, 2010   Mean Gene Wilder! Grrr!!!
April 24, 2010   If it's not one Jihad, it's another...
April 20, 2010   The Satanic Verses
March 15, 2010   Unseen Academicals
Feblueberry 8, 2010   The un-reading shelf (from most of 2009)
Feblueberry 2, 2010   Emily the Strange, the Lost Days...a novel
Nov 25, 2009   Happy Halloween, Mom!
Nov 18, 2009   Summer Vacation in Idaho
Aug 20, 2009   San Diego ComicCon 2009
Aug 12, 2009   I'm a big, fat slacker
June 05, 2009   The networks are helping me cut back on my TV viewing
June 04, 2009   Mandy Moore's Amanda Leigh,
Chris Isaak's Mr Lucky
My name is Bruce?
and Emmy Rossum? Where am I going with this?
May 21, 2009   Randy would have really liked Fanboys...sigh
May 3, 2009   The Spring reading shelf
Apr 21, 2009   Holidays On Ice (a little late for Christmas)
Apr 18, 2009   Leviticus Cross and other Hector Sevilla comic book stuff
Apr 16, 2009   The fantastically amazing and banal Badbartopia RSS Feed
Mar 31, 2009   Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl
Mar 30, 2009   My Amazon mis-order turns out to be not so annoying as previously expected...
(AKA the Dr Horrible soundtrack)
Mar 23, 2009   Stephan Pastis & Richard Thompson have me looking forward to the 2009 SD ComicCon
Mar 19, 2009   Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,
The Guild
Mar 08, 2009   The Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic adaptation,
Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Mar 04, 2009   Little Brother
Mar 1, 2009   Pete & Pickles
Feb 11, 2009   She & Him
Pushing Daisies
Jan 26, 2009   The Scourge of God,
When You are Engulfed in Flames
Jan 14, 2009   On the Road = hippy nonsense
Jan 12, 2009   One-by-one, my fish have met their maker
Dec 26, 2008   My Azeroth-avoidance continues
Dec 23, 2008   Nothing to see...move along
Dec 15, 2008   New scribbles
Dec 10, 2008   The Oct-Nov-Dec reading shelf
Dec 1, 2008   Shalimar the Clown
the economic impact of the events in Mumbai
Nov 21, 2008   Star Wars: Allegiance
Nov 20, 2008   Daredevil Black Widow: Abattoir
Nov 17, 2008   Travel Team
Nov 16, 2008   A new comic adaptation of The Wizard of Oz
Nov 14, 2008   Berke's Books:
The Last Basselope
Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big
Mars Needs Moms
Opus: 25 years
Nov 13, 2008   Return to Azeroth?
Nov 12, 2008   Goodbye, Opus
Oct 29, 2008   Halloween costumes of 2008
Project Superpowers
Oct 23, 2008   The Graveyard Book
Oct 16, 2008   Nation
Oct 10, 2008   The Joy of Programming
My foray into Ajax
Oct 9, 2008   My Saturn Scare
Opus ends
Terry Pratchett's condition
Oct 3, 2008   The Hitchhiker's Guide, Book Eoin Colfer?
Oct 2, 2008   Media master - music online
Sony builds a "better" camera
Sept 24, 2008   The September reading shelf
Sept 17, 2008   Still missing Randall
The Fish tank...again
The Graveyard Book
Sept 15, 2008 usual
The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang
Sept 9, 2008   The dearth of Opus strips
yes, I meant to say "dearth"
Sept 8, 2008   A new monitor goes bad...but it all ends happily
Sept 3, 2008   A Boy and His Dog,
Richard Corben,
H.P. Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror
Sept 2, 2008   A slightly newish look
(aka "why I will never be a graphic designer")
Aug 11, 2008   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in all its incarnations Mike Kunkel's re-imagining of Shazam
July 29, 2008   San Diego Comiccon 2008
July 24, 2008   Neil Gaiman
July 17, 2008   Chris Isaak!
June 30, 2008   The Woman Who Wouldn't
Legends II
Mouse Guard Fall 1152
the Jetta's latest round of repairs
fishtank overpopulation
June 10, 2008   The Reading Shelf
Fish tank jungle
Attack of the bees
June 3, 2008   Missing Randall
May 9, 2008   My French Whore
Apr 28, 2008   Fish tank fatality
Flight of the Conchords
The Dangerous Alphabet
Mar 5, 2008   Gene Wilder book signing at Borders
new fish tank
Jan 11, 2008   The Jetta Strikes back!
The Plucker
The Anubis Gates
National Treasure II
Nov 8, 2007   San Diego on Fire,
A clean break from WoW,
UCSD Extension Java I graduation (kinda)
Making Money
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Oct 2, 2007   Back to school, Java class at UCSD
AT&T's Uverse
new sketches
Blockbuster movie pass
August 28, 2007   Mandy Moore concert!
Aug 19, 2007   ComicCon 2007 - Neil Gaiman, Iron Man and all the usual suspects
May 22, 2007   World of Spamcraft (and other spamalicious topics), forum fun...gus, the woes of being a contractor and PIRATES!!
Apr 5, 2007   I'm a conservative - bite me!
Timbaland? Dumb!
Marie Antoinette - snaggle teeth and teasing glimpes. Sweet!
John Q - a lesson about fatherhood or a liberal-propoganda film?
Mar 30, 2007   Things that make me grumpy-er,
employed again at last,
Finn and assorted other ramblings
Feb 8, 2007   The search for employment continues..and the unemployment benefits are NOT pouring in!
Jan, 22, 2007   Freed from the bondage of employment, a very brief review of a few books and films
Dec 17, 2006   Sad excuses, The Innocent Man, 1776, THe Man in High Castle, Absolute Sandman, Wintersmith, garage sale treasures: Ghost in the Machine
Aug 20, 2006   Writers of the Future XXII/Tim Powers, more movie reivews
July 20, 2006   San Diego ComicCon 2006
July 15, 2006   Superman Returns, inconsiderate morons, Peewee's Playhouse returns, my plea for more pirate movies
July 8, 2006   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Wild Animal Park critters, site remodeling
Jun 27, 2006   The good, the bad and the mediocre (a bunch of movie reviews in the new forum).
June 15, 2006   Because of Romek - A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir
May 21, 2006   The DaVinci Code, Aeon Flux, Everything You Want
May 12, 2006   World of Warcrack, the Office, Coraline, my apologies...
Jan 24, 2006   Christmas Vacation 2006, Syriana, Traveling Pants, Wish You Were Here
Dec 19, 2005   Festive Neighbors, the death of Olivia, Media Misinformation surrounding Brent Wilkes/ADCS, Make Love the bruce campbell way
Nov 15, 2005   Microsoft Technet 2005 launch party, Lexmark printer problem, a bad, bad day, changing dentists.
Oct 22, 2005   Thud!, Anansi Boys, Where's my cow
Oct 18, 2005   Terry Pratchet Thud! signing, Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys signing
Oct 15, 2005   A very, very late Comiccon 2005 report.
Jun 23, 2005   The black hole of Warcraft, The Years of Rice and Salt, After the Sunset, Madagascar, Mr and Mrs Smith, Taxi.
Jun 3, 2005   All is quiet on the PM Front, War of the Worlds (the novel), Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Star Wars Episode III, Flight of the Phoenix
May 9, 2005   The program managers strike again, More of my horrendous sketches, Spanglish, A Lot Like Love, Elektra, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the film)
Apr 9, 2005   Stuck in Corporate Hell, a few of my recent sketches, Miss Congeniality 2, Collateral
Mar 21, 2005   Revenge of the Jetta (car problems), a Newegg purchase, a few new drawings, more Opus
Feb 13, 2005   The Mail mystery solved, more of my crappy sketches, A few new photos of the girls, bill-bert (introducing the new Project Manager), sweet phone skills, Opus, Dungeons and Dragons, In Good Company
Jan 27, 2005   Mystery mail, new photos of my beautiful kids, some new sketches, an Episode 3 spoiler, Opus, Going Postal, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ubik, Remember the Titans, Lemony Snicket`s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dodgeball
Jan 7, 2005   Christmas 2004, Update to the site, Elf & King Arthur revisited, National Treasure, Opus, Blade Runner
Dec 18, 2004   A new Stephanie sketch, another Target web page goof, the SD Union Tribune confirms Greg Bear`s research for Vitals, Miramar VW proves my dealer service assertions wrong, neighborhood Christmas fun, Opus
Nov 24, 2004   More of my mediocre drawings, nw russian mail-order coins, Star Wars toys, a big green spider comes to visit, Opus, Dies the Fire, Digital fortress, The Incredibles, Twisted, Van Helsing
Nov 03, 2004   Some thoughts regarding the 2004 election, rants about the environment, a memory rebate update, new computer issues, Opus, The Lone Drow, Deception Point, Roswell season 2 on DVD
Oct 12, 2004   An interesting quiz, mal-in rebates, a parrot joke, my new computer, thoughts on frame removal, web logs, Opus, Vitals, Star Wars trilogy on DVD, Ladykillers
Sep 23, 2004   My "Heath" sketch for Mark Oakley, an update on my a PNY rebate check, the fictitious AWNA Act, Browser Issues with the site, Opus/Pickles, The DaVinci Code, Garden State (Natalie Portman), Man on Fire
Sep 11, 2004   A new drawing: "Stephanie", redneck wisdom, my salary to hourly reclassification, funny video: news from iraq, an update on my mail-in pny rebate, a new rebate through Costco, Ella Enchanted, Highlander Endgame, Princess of Thieves, The Whole Ten Yards
Aug 27, 2004   Fun with my VW Warranty, Opus, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, The Land of SokMunster, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite, Hidalgo, Chasing Liberty, Out of Time
Jul 23, 2004   San Diego ComicCon 2004, the family summer vacation, Bruce Campbell, Opus, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, Angels & Demons, Folk of the fringe, Bourne Supremacy, i robot, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Cody Banks 2, Hellboy
Jul 19, 2004   *** PNY Rebate fun, IE Patch, Linux and socialism, liberal scum, Opus, BIM, timeline, master and commander, tad hamilton, stuck on you,cold mountain, 50 first dates, the terminal, spiderman 2, king arthur, a hat full of sky, the thousand orcs, meditations on middle earth
Jun 20, 2004   Memorial day pictures, Duplex, Mark Oakley/Heroes, Wild Animal Park Dinosaurs, B-52s concertman, Say After Tomorrow, Big Fish, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Eragon, A Hat Full of Sky, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
May 08, 2004   Pat Tillman, LOTR Toys, 13 Going on 30, Mean Girls, Tolkien Miscellany, Last Juror, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pork Tornado
Apr 06, 2004   Roswell season 1 DVD and a some other mindless drivel
Feb 19, 2004   Highlander site contest results, new downloads, princess gallery updates, lord of the rings toys, harry potter, underworld. lost in translation, the hunted, a tolkien miscellany...
Feb 09, 2004   Murder at 1600, Radio, Cheaper by the Dozen, King Arthur, Spiderman 2, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Tolkien Miscellany, Mark Oakley, massive snow in Idaho...
Jan 28, 2004   Swat, Uptown Girls, Somethings Gotta Give, Along Came Polly, Seabiscuit, Ashley Judd Marathon, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Science Fiction Bok Club, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, RA Salvatore, Mythology (Alex Ross), Fastner & Larson, Best page in the universe, etc, etc...
Jan 07, 2004   Clint`s rules, X-Men 2, Holes, Pirates, Two Towers, Freaky Friday (Haley Hudson), new drawings, Thieves` World, Playskool Star Wars, new Interest section
Jan 02, 2004   nothing all that interesting...
Dec 21, 2003   Nemo, Highlander page, Christmas vacation 2003, star wars kid
Dec 12, 2003   E.T. (Erika Eleniak), new drawings, Opus, Santa Claus 2 (Elizabeth Mitchell), Legolas toy/pics, How to Deal (Mandy Moore), Myth update, Last Samurai
Nov 27, 2003   Another Fine Myth, Elf
Nov 22, 2003   Dude, Where`s Bill & Ted
Nov 18, 2003   Not much to say
Nov 15, 2003   Disneyland, Astronaut`s Wife, Dumer and Dumber-er, Monstrous Regiment
Nov 10, 2003   Terry Pratchett, Matrix Revolutions
110103   School of Rock, Terry Pratchett signing, Darth Vader MBNA bust, San Diego fires
Aug 17, 2003   Johnny English, San Diego Comic-Con
Jun 17, 2003   Assorted ramblings
May 28, 2003   Not much to say
May 24, 2003   Almost nothing of note
May 17, 2003   Matrix Reloaded, Pirates
Mar 23, 2003   The Police, Pirates, Lord of the Rings grievances part II
Mar 16, 2003   Lord of the Rings grievances part 1
Super auld stuff   A big list of old submissions with boat loads of broken links

Zombies and Sentras and Yorkies, oh my!

I've been a little lax in blathering about all the super-exciting stuff I've done/read lately-ish because...well, nobody cares. And I fully acknowledge that fact. But I'm also self-aware enough to realize that documenting all this stuff is really - to be honest - for me and not for my millions of non-readers out there.

So "what's new and exciting?" you ask. Well, I'll tell ya...

Universal Studios Hollywood Zombie-action

I returned to Harry Potterland on July 13 (let's face it, it's unlikely that I, or many of the other SoCal visitors to Universal Studios, would have bothered returning to Universal Studios Hollywood this year - or ever - if not for Harry Potterville opening) on a normally blacked-out day for my annual pass in honor of the opening of the latest attraction - The Walking Dead March of Terror (that's not what it's really called, but that's pretty much what it is). It's located in a strange place - in the Westminster section of Universal Studios near the Happy-Minions-Funland stuff (which I didn't even know existed until this visit). It's not on their guide map (or wasn't the day I was there, anyway).

The "ride" itself is pretty much a haunted house with a few animatronic zombies/survivors and several actor-zombies jumping out at you or grabbing for you from behind obstructions. You just walk along a twisty path past scenes from different epsiodes/seasons of The Walking Dead. The line to actually get into the Zombie path is almost creepier than the path itself, which is a good thing since you'll probably be waiting for a long time to get in. The worst part was standing on Baker Street outside the alley that leads into the hospital Rick woke up within in the first episode of the Walking Dead. Once in the alley, you start to see signs that things have taken a turn for the worse. The further you get, the more signs of bad news you see - blood splatters, dead bodies, bullet holes, and general disrepair of pretty much everything. Photos within the attraction are prohibited and there are a lot of employees standing around very zombie-like which makes taking photos a risk not worth taking.

While not really everything I had hoped for, it's still an interesting and creepy (and scary when a zombie bum-rushes you) walk through the world of The Walking Dead.

I also went on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride while there. this was actually the first thing I did after arriving - and that may have been a huge mistake. The last time we were there in the spring, we didn't have to wait in much of a line to get inside. This time, we were stuck outside Howarts in a never-ending circuitously winding line just to get to the entrance of Hogwarts (and out of the blazing sun beating down on my albino-pale skin). But that's not the worst part. Once inside Hogwarts, and away from the angry sun glaring down at me, I discovered that there was a reason the line outside was so long. All the circuitous lines inside the castle were being unused, which I thought was odd. And then I remembered seeing people with the Universal Studios equivalent of a Disneyland fast pass skipping the whole outside line and proceeding directly into the castle. I realized that the designers of the ride had overlooked how to get people past the plebs who only pay for a normal pass into the park.

But enough complaining about the line t get in - on to the ride itself. I was asked by a couple of people outside the ride what it was like and I tried to describe it in terms relating to equivalent Disneyland rides, but it's like a mishmash of so many Disneyland rides that it's hard to describe even in that way. It was much more enjoyable with real shoes on this time, though. Wearing flip-flops on a ride that has you suspended in air and moving around is not a good idea. And with a slower line (or even just with a line), I was able to take slightly more-focused photos inside Hogwarts. It's pointless to try to take photos inside the ride itself - unless you really want to lose your phone/camera.

Those were the highlights of the visit. I did eat lunch at Luigi's Italian in Simpson's land and went on the backlot tour again. Oh and also in the tour line were several adults fully decked-out in Harry Potter clothes/robes. It had to be over 90 degrees that day and I was dying in a t-shirt and shorts. I can't imagine how hot they must have been in those robes.

And that's all I have to say about Universal Studios, so on to other super-exciting stuff...

My New Nissan

I finally got a new car to replace my 17 year-old Jetta. And when I say "replace," I mean it is now being driven by Keli. So I'm still paying to insure it and keep it running - I just don't have to drive it anymore. I shopped around for a few months pricing different makes and models of compact fuel-efficient cars and finally decided it was between a Nissan Versa Note hatchback and a Honda Fit. And then, after pricing both cars with similar features, I decided it was a Versa Note because the Hondas were a lot more dough and pretty much equivalent in every other way. So I went to Temecula Nissan (because their prices were on average about $1,500-2,000 lower than the dealers in San Diego) and found the salesman I had been in contact with. I had also decided that I was going to get the lowest-end car with the fewest features available (which is actually a regular Versa, not a note) and just lease it for 3 years so I wasn't stuck with a low-end car beyond the end of the lease. But after talking to the salesman was surprised to find out that if I was leasing a vehicle, the Versa was not a good deal because they were worth very little at the end of the 3-year lease, so I would have a much lower monthly payment/higher residual (it's just under $200/mo before tax is added in with around a $10k residual) with the Sentra, which is also a pretty low-end car, but much nicer than the Versa.

We walked the lot and found a black Sentra S to take on a test drive. It also had black interior (cloth, of course - it's a low-end car after all) so I was a little worried about the car being super hot in the summer. But I haven't really noticed it feeling any hotter than the Jetta or CRV, so that hasn't been an issue (and the AC gets cool really fast, which also helps). I'd never driven a car with a CVT transmission and found the little 4-cylinder to be more peppy than I expected. The interior features were also so far ahead of what I was used to (bluetooth, built-in Aux port, steering wheel stereo and cruise controls, digital MPG calculation, even the excess of cup holders was exciting) in the old Jetta that I quickly decided this was the car for me. And I even thought it looked better outside than any other Sentras I'd seen seen. Maybe because it was a 2016 and they had improved the body style. I call it my Batmobile.

Free Cell Phone service for Everyone!

RingPlus is my latest in a pursuit for free cell phone service. I didn't even know there was such thing as "free cell service." I had been a T-Mobile prepaid phone customer for many years, filling my flip-phone's plan with 1,000 minutes per year and then trying my hardest not to use them all before the end of the year. The wife and kids were stuck with similar low-feature phones and plans (though the kids had monthly plans and slightly better phones with tiny keyboards for the non-stop texting they did - funny, their "unlimited" text plans would often cut them off before the end of the month for excessive texting).

And then, about a year ago, one of my co-workers mentioned FreedomPop to me. After doing a little research, I was intrigued and bought a refurbished smart phone (my first) through their web site for about $100 and and signed up for their free service. I also got a phone for the wife and a backup phone for myself when they were super cheap on Black Friday. I guess in this case, you really do get what you pay for. The FreedomPop cell service was forever unavailable - in spots that it normally worked in, like my house - and the voice quality was awful. So when another co-worked mentioned a competitor that he was using, Ringplus, I checked them out. I was able to transfer service of all three of my phones to RingPlus and get on free plans (free with the caveat that you give Ringplus a deposit to cover MMS/group messages - which are not free - international calls, etc). I've been using Ringplus for a few months and am very happy with the service. And even happier not to be paying anything monthly. So if you're a big cheapskate like me, you should check RingPlus out.

Pocket Dogs

I was pressured by the family into getting a dog. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs. I just know how much work they are and how they limit your ability to just go places whenever you want. So I looked around for small dogs (our home/yard is much too small for even a medium-sized dog to be very happy) and found a web site that places yorkshire terriers that have been rescued with families that will take care of them. One of their rescue dogs, named Cody, was located in the San Diego area so we set up a time to go meet with him and hear his story. Cody was a rescue who was placed with the mother of the current caretaker, Mary. And he was treated very well. But then Mary's mother died and Mary was stuck with a fourth Yorkie, who was the smallest of the four and not treated very well by the other male in the group. So he needed to be placed somewhere else as soon as possible. He's older (around 10-12 years old), mellow, house broken, and pretty low-key as long as he was the king dog in the home, so he seemed like a good fit.

For the most part, he's been a really good dog, though he has proven to be untrustworthy as far as being housebroken. So he spend a good part of his day in the kitchen with the tile floors, where his slips can be more easily taken care of. But he serves his main purpose - giving Keli somebody to love and focus on.

Father's Day

Yeah, I know it was last month. But most of the stuff I ramble on about happened a good while back, so deal with it, sucka!

Emeli made me the sweetest little card for Father's day. It's hanging on my cubicle wall at work now. And that's all I really have to say about Father's Day.

And speaking of the place I spend way too much of my life - here are some current wall-of-nerd photos from my cubicle. I'm about to switch up a few of the comics on the wall (any day now).

One last thing I will mention before I get into the inevitable book-talk is the first Padres game I've been to in probably at least a year...

The San Diego Padres...or "Who are all these guys?"

Our family was offered tickets - from our very kind neighbors who have season tickets they weren't going to be using - to go to a Padres game in June. They were very nice seats in the Toyota Terrace, third-base side, and we were stoked. the last game we attended was waaay up in the nosebleed section, and while still fun, it was hot and a day game so we were in the sun the whole time. So it was nice to sit in a lower section, though the crowds in that section kind of killed some of the nice-ness. We even sampled some of the delivered-to-your-seat Padres food (frozen lemonade, a hot dog, and some chicken strips with fries). I had the hot dog....and wouldn't recommend it to anyone else considering it. It wasn't bad as I was eating it, but I paid for it later. Not sure why. Hot dogs don't generally mess with my stomach, but this one did in a major way.

It's funny how I don't know who any of the current crop of professional athletes are these days. Especially in baseball. Every time I start to recognize a few names, it seems like they get traded to another team and I'm back to recognizing no one. But that doesn't stop me from screaming encouragement for them at the game. It's all good fun.


Actually, I have one last mention of a non-book-related topic. I picked up a new t-shirt from Out-of-Print. It has the cover from the first Hitchhiker's Guide book. I was disappointed to see it was a polyester blend, though. But's HHG, so I've been wearing it a lot. And the tag ( a library card) was pretty sweet.

I was going to bore any potential readers of this drivel near-to-death with my ever-so-insightful commentary on recent books I've read, but I'm not exactly close to having those thoughts formed up, so I'm going to put this up and work on the book stuff later. Stay tuned...

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