llcoolvad: (newer)
Since it's over seven weeks now, I feel like I should update, but I really don't have a lot going on. I wake up. If it's a work day, I either log in, or get ready and go to work. (I'm sticking to only a few days per week in the office since I still can't drive and since I still have some pain) If it's a day off, I hang around doing not much. I've watched a lot of tv and rewatched a lot of movies. Can't get that enthused about reading right now, other than the internet. Short form seems to be the way to go for my current attention span.

The pain is improving, but it feels like it might be at a point where it's going to stay static for a while. it's very raw-feeling around the incision, and the muscles underneath sometimes get seriously sore. I've still got some referred pain in my back, and the area under my arm still feels swollen and numb. On the other hand, I'm off the hardcore pain meds and am just on ibuprofen and tylenol.

Since I got off the pain meds I'm sleeping better, only waking up one or twice per night and I can get back to sleep most of the time without having to sleep in the chair, so that's pretty exciting. I am SO SICK of lying on my back I could scream. Occasionally I prop a pillow under one shoulder so I can angle ever so slightly to the side, which is pathetic but the best I can manage.

My breathing isn't great yet. I had to have two lung taps and they told me that the fluid would eventually clear out, but so far I can go about 30 feet and then I start breathing pretty hard. I went to my PCP this week and he wasn't particularly helpful, but he did take a chest x-ray, so maybe I'll have to have another tap. Ugh.

I did a load of laundry in my own house the other day. Totally exciting. I can't carry anything heavy (and by heavy they mean ridiculously light like five pounds or less), and even though I'm feeling better I'm afraid to break that rule by much. I can't go through this again. But I can chuck a small hamper down the stairs, drag it to the wash, drag the wet clothes to the dryer in stages, and then carefully bring stuff back up the stairs (as long as I keep it light). SUCH a relief. I think laundry was the worst part. Mom can't do a whole flight of stairs, never mind do it a couple of times in a day. P did some for me at his house, which was over and above the call of duty, then mother and I managed to get to the laundromat a couple of times, but it was stressful and expensive. I am so glad I got better enough to manage it myself.

I've been getting most of my supplies from either Amazon Prime or Peapod or the occasional trip out with either Patrick or mother. Peapod really is super convenient. Having stuff brought right into my kitchen for a small delivery fee? Excellent. I might keep this up. I hate the supermarket anyway. I could save my chores time for going to unusual stores. That would be nifty.

Solving my other problem, washing floors, is my delightful birthday present, Mr. Mint. So cute. Turn it on, wet its cloth, let it go do its thing. Floors clean. Done and done! If the floors are especially grotty, run it a couple times. No problem! I like any tool that I can set and forget and have good things come out at the other end.

Speaking of my birthday, P arranged a surprise party for me on the Saturday following my birthday! I had no idea! It was pretty awesome. There was good food and a bunch of people I like. I even got presents. Everyone got me earrings, proving that my friends know me pretty damned well.

So that's about everything. My license expired on my birthday, so tomorrow P is taking me to get it renewed. I will take my car over to Jiffy Lube and get the fluids changed (it's been sitting for almost eight weeks) and get the tires rotated. And then I'll have to decide if I'm going to keep driving, or wait out the full 12 weeks they suggest. When I called the surgeon's office to ask if I could drive yet, they said if I'm off the pain meds and have full range of motion without pain then maybe, carefully. But the pain part is important because you move more slowly when you're in pain. I'm still worried about the airbags, though. And I drive a stick, so I'm not sure I will be able to handle it anyway. But I like having a maybe on the horizon, anyway!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Tomorrow it will be three full weeks since surgery. I was intending to keep a more detailed journal of my recovery, but mostly I've been sad, lonely, in pain, feeling pathetic, and feeling like this burden would never ease, and who needs to read about that shit? Not even me. I've had excellent help from Patrick, from my mother, and from many people who've sent me cards, plants, flowers, and who have texted and called me to cheer me up. That part has been great.

I did write down a few things as I went, so here they are.

July 27, 2014

I'm feeling angry AND I'm feeling perspective at the same time.

I'm angry because I just don't feel that I was adequately prepared for the helplessness I'm feeling about my recovery. I alternate between everything being ok, reasonable, fine, and then weeping at how hard everything is and why can't I play tennis and swim right now because it's summer! Mostly I am weepy because sleeping is hard. I love sleeping, and getting into and out of bed is just sucktastic. "Sternal Precautions" are hard to remember, sometimes, especially not lifting your arms over your head. I am pretty nervous all the time that I am going to permanently damage myself. I felt a pop last night when I coughed, and I am certain that I did something bad (it really really hurt and scared me badly) but the seven different doctors at two different hospitals couldn't find anything, so I guess I am wrong. Still, each time I cough now I feel a shifting/popping/sliding. So I am angry.

But perspective: I can recover at home. I have a job that I don't need to be at for long periods of time and I still get paid. I have insurance that will cover this (once my out of pocket is met). Beyond normal surgical dangers, I wasn't in danger of dying at any particular point.

Keep the perspective in the forefront. That's really what I need to do. Hard, tho.

August 3, 2014

I probably should stop watching all the normal tv I like to watch—dark crime dramas. It's left me feeling bleak. First I watched the last six episodes of The Killing, which Netflix produced after the series was cancelled at AMC. Then I watched Top of the Lake, which is set in New Zealand and written, produced, and directed by Jane Campion, so while everything is quirky, it's also horrifically bleak. I need something more cheerful. I might switch to movies I've already watched. I can't watch comedies because laughing? It hurts!

August 10, 2014

At my first follow-up visit with one of my surgeons, they determined that I should have fluid drained from my lungs. To do that, they do an ultrasound first to determine the largest collection of fluid and they mark you up. Then they make you lean over a table, stick a needle into your back and stick a tube in and suck out the fluid (in my case, a liter). Surprisingly that part isn't bad. It's the end, when they get close to being done, and you just start coughing and coughing and it feels like you can't breathe and it hurts. Eventually, you stop coughing, mostly, and you feel slightly better.

I had more energy for a couple of days afterward and could get around without breathing hard. When I went back for my second follow-up visit with the same surgeon a week later (this last week), they did it again. This one was for what fluid was left (another liter), and was somewhat more unpleasant, as I started coughing about three minutes in (did I mention the procedure takes a long time? It does) and couldn't stop. Man. Draining in so many ways! The whole next day I was wheezy and congested, too. I had to sleep upright in my chair, because I just couldn't lie down. Bleah.

So the tap was Thursday. Friday I was just wrecked all day, and I had a visiting nurse, and we got a new fridge delivered so there was uproar (furniture had to be moved, doors had to be removed, the old fridge contents needed to be put in a cooler, the new fridge had to be loaded, uproar). I was in pain and wheezy and tired and just a mess. That night I managed to sleep in the bed, however, and woke up and felt better. I managed to go out to the store with mother, did a few errands. It's remarkable how feeling useful really helps. I think the worst part of all of this is that I have no ability to do anything and I can see all the things I usually do and it's infuriating that I can't do them. But I really don't want to mess anything up further. I haven't mentioned here already, but the pop in my chest I felt back the first Saturday after surgery was indeed me breaking a titanium staple. They didn't see it in the CAT scan, but it was obvious in the X-ray they took a week later. They say I'll heal up around it and it should be fine. I am dubious, but trying to be optimistic because I don't know if I could stand going through this again. (I don't even know what they'd do to repair it if it doesn't heal right, because I am afraid to ask.)

I only have about a week of pain meds left, if I took them every four hours like the bottle says. (Yes, I know I can ask for a refill. I did that last week. This IS the refill. I just am sick of being doped) I did an experiment today, and instead of taking a pill at 5:30pm I waited until 11:00pm and just took Tylenol. Uncomfortable, but not excruciating. Maybe I can get off the oxycodone soon. I'll save it for bed, perhaps. It makes me nod off if I'm sitting in my comfy chair, so I'd rather just cut it loose.

So anyway, my status is quo, I guess. I am finally feeling better. Tomorrow I see my primary surgeon, where I anticipate that he'll tell me that there were some micro-carcinomas in my goiter like there were in the part he removed six years ago, and that everything was contained, and that there is no further treatment that I'll require. He'll tell me everything looks good in the X-rays and that I should be fine in a while. I wish I knew what a while is, but everyone is different. Other surgeon said 8 more weeks (I think total recovery is 10-12 weeks) but that I could go back to my desk job any time I felt ready. Yay?

Patrick's BF Peter is driving me tomorrow. Are they the bestest, or what?


Jul. 25th, 2014 10:31 pm
llcoolvad: (newer)
I've been home for a bit more than 24 hours now. Patrick brought me home, we got back around 7pm I think. He was swell: bought me some foam wedges for my bed so I could sleep on my back. Brought some pillows along for the ride. Basically babied me the whole way. Dropped of my Rxs so mother could get them later. Because not only am I recovering from thoracic surgery, I am apparently
"homebound" — I can't drive at all. I can't lift anything heavier than 8-10 pounds. I have to learn how to roll out of bed and into bed because I can't use my arms for anything. I had NO IDEA that recovery was going to be like this. None.

So I've decided that I'm taking short-term disability. If I can't freaking drive, I'm not going to hunker over my laptop if I don't have to. I will do my very best to baby my chest. The thing I am the most worried about is getting in and out of bed, and of coughing. I keep picturing John Hurt in Alien:

I really would like to keep my sternum intact, thanks!

Anyway, I have moderate pain. I've been mostly taking Tylenol in the daytime, and oxycodone and lidocaine patches at night. I haven't really slept well. Even here at home I think I got five hours between 10pm and 8am. I keep coughing and waking myself up (because coughing really freaking hurts and because John Hurt). The bed wedges are great, but I still haven't found a way to be comfortable on my back. I suppose I will figure it out. I'm probably not to the point where I need to buy a recliner so I can sleep. Really wish I already had one, though! Would probably have done so had I known.

Because I am homebound, I have a visiting nurse and visiting physical therapist. They both came for initial eval today. They both thought I was doing great, and that I probably wouldn't need much by way of follow-up. I have two follow-up appointments with my surgeons. I probably need to set up a primary care doctor's appointment.

Mostly I need to figure out something productive I can do with the next couple of weeks. I need to start walking while I'm recovering; it's the number one recommended activity. But I won't be able to do a ton at first. SO that's going to leave a lot of free time where I can't do anything really productive. I mean, I can't wash floors, vacuum, do laundry, grocery shop, anything. So it needs to be quiet and sedentary but engrossing.

Probably I'll read. Sigh!

Here it is, although not all of it. It's about 9 inches long. With the bruising it kind of looks like a gekko right now. It's got dermabond all over it so it looks pretty angry.

Surgical Incision. Pretty, right?

Patrick thinks I should get a fab tattoo. Maybe I'll finally develop a scarf-wearing habit! The disease that's killing all the vamps in True Blood gives them a pretty little veiny-looking structure when they get exposed to the disease. Maybe I can think of it like that.

llcoolvad: (newer)
I have to get up at 4:15am to get to the hospital by 5:30, for a 7:30am surgery time tomorrow. I have no idea if I'll manage to sleep at all. I didn't sleep much this weekend. No idea why I'm so nervous. I was nervous the last time about anesthesia since I'd never had it before. This time I seem more worried that I won't survive. Weird! Intellectually I know my odds are very good, so I don't know why it's really got me freaked this time.

Anyway, I spent the day doing the next two week's chores, since I won't be physically able to. Grocery shopped, did returnables, six loads of laundry, changed the sheets, vacuumed, tidied, took out all the trash and put it in the barrels in the garage, swept, mopped, vacuumed some more. I am sore now, which is probably a dumb way to greet surgery. Then again I'll be on meds tomorrow so it's probably ok. Concentrating on hydrating now so I won't be parched in the morning (since I can't drink anything past midnight). Took my insulin already. Had a shower. Will have another in six hours when I wake up. Took an ativan earlier today, then took another about an hour ago. Waiting for another load to finish in the dryer (mom's stuff) before I turn in. I'm as ready as I can be, physically, but mentally I am just still pretty much a wreck. I wrote out a "here are all of my investment accounts and here's what to do and who to call and here's what I owe and all of my passwords" kind of list for mother, which might seem morbid but makes me feel better that she wouldn't have to worry about THAT.

So I guess that's it. I'm bringing my phone and a set of headphones with me as entertainment (oh, and the charger with a really long cable, so I can just leave it plugged in). I am hoping to be out of the hospital by Tuesday, with Monday possibly spent dozing, but I have no clue yet. It depends how I do and how much they cut me.

I said yes to the film crew. I figure I'll be unconscious so why not. Catch y'all on the flip!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Had my pre-op exam on Monday. It was pretty easy, they took some blood, the Nurse Practitioner did an exam and took my history, and that was about it. Later that day I got a call from a diabetes nurse, however. Apparently my blood sugar was pretty bad, really spiked since February. I've been pretty lucky so far as a diabetic. My levels have been pretty easy to control with just an oral med and reasonable eating. Lately I've been eating really badly, however, and combine it with the stress of being really sick two times and not being good about taking said oral meds, I guess now I'm in trouble. Because if I can't get the damned levels down, they won't operate. So my diabetes nurse prescribed insulin for me. Yikes! She called the Rx in for me and asked me to meet with her on Thursday, after I meet with surgeon number two, so she could go over the plan with me.

So that makes me pretty nervous. Not the taking insulin. I'm fine with needles, and it's just a maintenance dose that's supposed to get my numbers in line quickly. It's just that somehow I've gotten pretty sick all at once:
  1. Sick enough to require antibiotics 2x since end of March
  2. Severe back pain (possibly due to #1, from coughing so much)
  3. A 5.6cm mass in my chest that will require major surgery to remove
  4. Blood sugar out of control
  5. A probable hernia in my stomach (see #1 again)
  6. A weird painful bump on my finger

I sort of whined about it all to my PT while she was massaging my "soft tissue", who remarked that all systems are connected, and often this kind of thing cascades. Yeah, I get that. But I'd like it to stop now, kthxbai.

Yesterday Dr. Gawande called me to ask if I had managed to get an appt with the thoracic guy, because he needed to talk to me about how they were going to get at the goiter. Another revision. He told me that they'd explain it when I was in there. Then he told me he was being followed around by a PBS film crew on the day of my surgery, and would I want to be part? I didn't have to be. I told him I'd think about it. Maybe!

Today I saw surgeon #2 (amusingly named Dr. Wee, which makes me giggle every time I think of that Geico ad where the car salesman says "Why don't WEEEEEEEEEE go out to the car?"). He told me that because of the location of my "lesion" that they'd have to either do a full sternotomy, or do a hemiclamshell incision. And that in my case, because there are arteries and important stuff in the way (the goiter is behind) they should really do the hemiclamshell so that Gawande has more room to work.

I was a bit shocked, to be honest. I went from what I was imagining was about a 4-6" incision to at least 12". And they open me wide during the surgery. Scary. I'll need to stay in the hospital longer, recovery is longer, and there's a lot more "discomfort" as he put it. YAY.

I left there a bit shell-shocked. Met with the diabetes nurse who showed me how to stick needles in myself. She kept asking if I had questions, gave me her cell number so I could call this weekend if I was freaking out or anything, and I kind of laughed and said that insulin was not what I'd be freaking out about, but thanks!

I talked to my boss after I left the hospital to warn her about the extra time away from work, and she pointed out that at least I wasn't coming into this thing from the ER. She had had the ER leading to surgery experience and didn't recommend it. Which made me feel immensely better and snapped me out of my shock, really. I have two good surgeons, I'll be at an excellent hospital, and except for the blood sugar I'm really in pretty decent health to get through this without issue. So yeah. Shock, but recovery.

I'm sad about the giant scar, though. I already have the normal thyroid scar. Now I'll have one that puts that to shame. I am not meant to wear plunging necklines, I guess.
llcoolvad: (newer)
I really really really need to catch up on my books list. But here's the latest movie update, at least!

44. Salt, Cable. Pretty good chase scenes. Good cast. Was a rewatch. Angie doesn't look as fragile as she's looked lately, and Chiwetel Ejiofor has a great scene. Waste of Andre Braugher, though, and I wish Liev Schreiber's character was a bit more conflicted or something in the third act. Anyway, fun. And I especially appreciate filmmakers who take a moment to have a character who is fleeing from law enforcement and might never return to her apartment arrange for dog sitting. Good job!

45. Brothers, Cable. As you might expect, this is about some brothers. One, Jake Gyllenhaal, is a ne'er-do-well ex-con, the other, Tobey Maguire, is a soldier. The soldier goes back to Iraq and goes missing, presumed dead. The ne'er-do-well picks up the slack and helps the soldier's wife and children out and straightens out his life at the same time. Pretty good. I really like Gyllenhaal, so I might be biased. Maguire is excellent, too.

46. The Trials of Cate McCall, Redbox. Mostly boring. Waste of Clancy Brown and James Cromwell. Kate Beckinsale is as game as ever, and Nick Nolte is quite good, but the plot itself could have been a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode.

47. This is the End, Redbox. Stupid. I mean, really really stupid. Intentionally stupid. A send-up/critique of celebrities and their vapidity, which I did appreciate, although at some point you realize that they're writing what they know because that's all they know and it kind of makes you sad. I laughed despite all of that, but mostly I was kind of wanting everyone to die. And thankfully, they all do! The enjoyable parts are really all the celeb cameos and the ways everyone dies. Or doesn't...

48. Runner Runner, Redbox, Not bad. Justin Timberlake is a math whiz who is trying to raise his grad school money by playing online poker. When he realizes he's been swindled, he travels to Costa Rica to confront the site owners. Predictably he ends up working for them, and bad things happen (and I'm not talking about denials of service or sticky viruses). Ben Affleck is impressively oily as the online casino owner.

49. Dracula: The Dark Prince, Redbox. OMG. Bad. So very bad. You think you can imagine bad, and then there's this and you realize you don't know from bad. It would have been ok if they played it for camp, but it was so serious! Well, except for the sex scenes. But so very bad. And what is Jon Voight doing in this? It can't have paid well enough. He must be destitute. I hope they paid him extra for the inexplicably ugly prosthetic nose he has to wear throughout.

50. Nebraska, Redbox. Well-deserved hype. Bruce Dern is great, Will Forte is great, all the supporting cast is great, the cinematography is great, the story is great. It's just great. It's funny and touching and maddening and the best road movie I think I've ever seen, and possibly the best father-son movie I've seen, also. I have trouble sitting down to watch "good" movies, which is almost always stupid of me because I love them. So glad I watched this.

51. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Redbox. We've got a new Jack Ryan, and he's Captain Kirk. Which is fine. We've got Kevin Costner as his grizzled CIA recruiter and later handler, and he's great in the part. We've got the hammiest Kenneth Branagh ever, playing the Russian baddie, and that's sorta fun (he's also the director, which is I'm sure the only reason someone let him get away with that cheeseball accent). There's some financial mumbo jumbo about crashing the world financial markets and suddenly analyst Jack has to become spy Jack. He manages. It has a few fun moments. The Jack Ryan franchise has always suffered under the weight of its own seriousness, in my opinion, and this doesn't do much to dispel that. But Pine is fun to watch.

52. Donovan's Echo, Redbox. Danny Glover is Donovan, a former scientist who helped with the Manhattan Project, and who later lost his wife and child in an accident. He comes back to his home after 30 years away, where Bruce Greenwood, his brother-in-law and town sheriff, has maintained his property. He tries to settle into small-town life, but he is plagued with premonitions that seem to echo his own past. His next-door neighbors are a mother and her young daughter and Donovan is convinced that they are going to die on the 30th anniversary of his own family's death. Is he right, or is he just losing is mind? It's ok, but the writing is a bit too sappy and everything has this sad tinge. Donovan has just a bit too much backstory, and his notebook of SCIENCE! is a bit tedious. I want to support movies that have older leads, but this is not going to win anyone over.

53. Ice Soldiers, Redbox. Oh my. This is truly bad. Kind of hilariously bad. Evil grown-in-a-vat super soldiers rape, murder and pillage, and leave behind one woman who gives birth to Dominic Purcell. He grows up to become a scientist/adventurer/seriously awesome athlete who sets out to find what happened to the soldiers. Predictable stuff happens, Michael Ironside performs the Michael Ironside role, and everyone dies. Our hero escapes, barely, and flails around in the arctic, then Adam Beech shows up and becomes his Tonto. Sorta. There's a LOT of killing. Some boobs. Ice soldier naked butts. More killing. That's about it! Surprised it wasn't an Asylum movie.

54. How I Live Now, Redbox. Loved this! American teenaged girl gets sent to stay with relatives in England for the summer and is pouty about it and typically teenagery. A couple of days later war breaks out. She's with her cousins, but their mother is a diplomat and she's been called away so there are no grownups. All kinds of post-apocalyptical horrible things happen. Very good and very realistic.

55. The Dark Knight Rises, Redbox. Another rewatch. Despite his pouty side in this, I do heart Christian Bale. He just really brings it to every role, and he's by far my favorite Batman. I was just in a superhero kind of mood this month. Oh hell, every month.

56. Man of Steel, Redbox. Yet another rewatch since I was watching Batman. And it was good. Another pouty superhero. Love Russell Crowe as the super-effectual ghost in the machine.

57. Edge of Tomorrow, Theater. Loved this. No matter how you feel about Tom Cruise, it's really really good. I mean, if you hate him, well, he dies in the movie. About 100 times! Maybe more. And if you love him there he is. And if you're indifferent, he's a pretty good actor despite his Tom Cruiseyness. Seriously, go see it. It's so good!

58. 3 Days to Kill, Redbox. More fun than I thought it would be. Kevin Costner is a CIA agent who is dying of cancer and has only a few months to live, so he goes back to Paris, where his estranged wife and daughter live, for an attempt at reconciliation. There are spy hijinks and awkward father-daughter moments and bike riding and scary Parisian nightclubs, but it all works out and Kevin is reasonably charming. I bet this is one of those that audiences like more than critics, because it's not exactly deep. Still, I have a soft spot for Costner.

59. All Is Lost, Redbox. Gripping. Robert Redford sails the ocean blue. For a lot of the movie you worry that he's going to break a hip. The actor is 77, after all, and he's sailing alone. REALLY REALLY ALONE. THERE IS NO ONE ELSE IN THIS MOVIE EVER. THE CAST LIST HAS JUST ROBERT REDFORD! Ahem. Boat takes on water when it's struck by a shipping container (hey, I can relate. My car was hit by a dumpster, once) and he spends a chunk of time fixing it. He's got a clever seat pull winch something, so he doesn't have to climb up the mast. He's very resourceful, anyway. All of his electronics are fried, so he has to figure out how to sail by the stars. And of course there's a storm, and the boat does several complete rotations so he walks on the ceiling and eventually ends up in the drink a lot, and there are sharks, and of course he runs out of supplies eventually.

But he's really not a talker. There is a scene where he tries to raise somone on the dying radio. And there's a monolog at the beginning. There's one "fuck" and maybe a super quiet "shit" and some "HELP"s. I think that's it. If I were in that position I'd be chattering up a storm. All day long "fuck this fucking boat and the fucking ocean and how is this my life and oh, sure, now there are sharks and why didn't I somehow bring more water, I'm such a moron." But no. Redford brings new meaning to the term "stoic."

I gotta say, this didn't make me want to take up sailing. I'm sure if you saw this in the theater it would be hella impressive, but because I was watching on DVD and there's no dialog, I kept looking away and reading the internet. This is definitely one of those critics love it, audiences are mixed sort of movies. Still, the Sundance Kid is still pretty hot and fit and impressive.

60. Freezer, Redbox. Robert Saunders, played by Dylan McDermott, wakes up in a giant industrial freezer filled with food and realizes he's being held captive by Russians who want their money. He swears he doesn't have it. A surprising number of people traipse through the freezer and beat him up. The writers were clearly pleased with themselves, because there is plot twist on top of plot twist. Did Saunders steal the money? Does he make it out of the freezer? What the hell?

Gambit, Redbox. So I rented this at the same time as Cate McCall, while I was in Hyannis. I watched Cate, and it was so meh that when I got about 20 minutes into this I just gave up and went to bed. Sorry, Cameron Dias and Colin Firth. I am sure you're lovely people. But no. And Joel and Ethan? Maybe you need a vacation. Because, as I've mentioned, no.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Had a good vacation. Perfect weather Sun-Tue in Provincetown, where we ate good food, relaxed on the deck, wandered around downtown and looked at art, and visited the Whydah Pirate Museum (which, frankly, was uninspiring). Still, beautiful weather and fun times. There are pictures and a lot more text inside, lots of it about my health... )

As always, more pictures at Flickr.

May Movies

Jun. 1st, 2014 01:15 am
llcoolvad: (newer)
Much like April was Meth Month, May is Clooneyriffic!

30. Finding Vivian Maier, Theater. Excellent documentary. This should have been in the April entry because I watched it in April, but I forgot. Maier was a loner who became a nanny because the job allowed her to have a lot of time to take photographs. And take photographs she did! Over 100,000 photographs. And then she never showed them to anyone. After one of her storage units went up for auction, amateur historian John Maloof bought one of the lots that had some of her negatives in them, and he was so impressed with the quality of her work that he set out to find out who she was. So engrossing. Showcased a whole mess of obsession (on both sides — the filmmaker was clearly obsessive himself) in a fascinating way.

31. Star Wars, DVD. I own this and felt compelled to watch it. It's the re-release, where all the squeaky cutesy aliens are popping around in Mos Eisley, and with all the other post- post- post-production crap Lucas felt that he had to add in. Ugh. But it still is fun to watch. I just really need to get the original version some day.

31. I, Frankenstein, Redbox. Aaron Eckhart plays the monster. And that's where the similarity to the original Frankenstein tale ends. After slaughtering Frankenstein's wife, the monster takes off, only to be followed by his creator, until his creator freezes to death. For some reason, the monster decides to bury his maker in the family plot, and while he's doing that he's set upon by demons. And then he's saved by gargoyes. And then 200 years pass while he sulks in the woods. And then there's SCIENCE and Bill Nighy and the chick from "Chuck" and more demons and more gargoyles. And a lot of statements like "This will end tonight!" and "It is not for you or I to deny God's purpose!" In one scene the queen gargoyle gives him the name Adam. So hey, Adam Frankenstein, that's cool.

33. Bad Country, Redbox. An 80s period piece set in the south. Willem Dafoe is a cop who convinces Matt Dillon's bad guy to become an informant against mega-bad guy Tom Berenger. Neal McDonough plays unctious bad guy lawyer, and really everyone else except Willem Dafoe and some soon to be dead guys are all just bad bad men. There is, as you might expect, gunfire. There are murders. Only one gratuitous set of breasts. And then it was over. I was wondering through the entire movie if Willem, Matt, and Tom all got hazard pay for the mega-staches they had to sport. The moustaches were practically other cast members, so really they should have at least gotten scale for them!

34. 47 Ronin, Redbox. Keanu Reeves is the One, again. This time in ancient Japan. But really, same thing. The kid they cast to play him as a, uh, kid, looked a lot like Keanu did at that age. So that was good. The smoldering go-to Japanese guy of the decade, Hiroyuki Sanada, plays the main Japanese mentor. So Keanu is a half-breed, and basically lives in a mud hut, and everyone else lives at the shiny palace. The sets are lush and detailed and amazing. The plot is very complicated. Unfortunately they do the broken English thing to show that it's Japan, but I guess you have to overlook such things. But anyway, there is intrigue and a war and star crossed lovers and withcraft and fabled beasts and if they had just cast someone else it would be really good! But alas. Keanu! Great fight scene between Keanu and Hiroyuki, however.

35. Godzilla, Theater. YAY big lizard. OK, I've read a few reviews that said the big guy wasn't in the movie enough, but really he was the hero, so I think the pacing was good and having him as a guy of mystery. Or gal. It's not really clear, is it? Anyway, I enjoyed the heck out of most of it, grinning like a fool during the monster fights. The real flaw in the movie is the human hero, Bryan Cranston's character's son. He's very generic and I seriously couldn't remember what he looked like from one scene to the next. But ok. Not every actor can carry a picture.

36. The Monuments Men, Redbox. WWII throwback. Earnest Clooney. Gets the president of the US to agree to letting George form a team to go to Europe to save precious works of art from being stolen by the Nazis. I loved all of the cast. And the fact that this mission was needed made me unspeakably sad. But it's a bit uneven and it didn't make me cry, which it should have. The team is a bit jolly for all that they're experiencing the horrors of war, and the pacing is a bit strange. Still, it made me nostalgic for old movies.

37. Solaris (2002), Netflix DVD. Sad Clooney. In this one he plays Chris Kelvin, a psychiatrist on Earth. He gets a call from a friend, begging him to come to space station Prometheus located in orbit around the planet(?) Solaris. The crew is coming unhinged and they need his help. It's far enough into the future that the space station is huge, and spaceflight is largely unmanned. He flies there alone, and arrives to find a mystery, indeed. There are bloody handprints on the walls, and his friend is dead. There are two remaining crew members present who seem to be under some serious amount of stress. What is happening?

The whole thing is gorgeous and claustrophobic. Soderburg does an excellent job of world building, whatever the decade. Vaguely disturbing that the reason that we'd build a giant space station outside a really odd unstable (gas giant?) planet (apparently an unknown object) with no obvious commercial benefits is never explained at all. Obvi I never read the book. Bonus points for bare Clooney butt in several shots.

38. Up in the Air, Netflix DVD. Detached-turned-Sad Clooney. George is a professional downsizer who travels from one doomed company to the next telling people that they've been fired. He has no other life at all, but he likes it that way—in voiceover at one point says something like "I was on the road 323 days last year, which means I had to be at home for 42". His apartment is a closet. He meets a woman that also travels constantly, and they start a no-strings relationship. But then of course some stuff happens and George has an epiphany. Maybe his life isn't that great? No Clooney butt in this one, but some serious Vera Farmiga butt instead, so there you go.

39. Captain Phillips, HBO. Gripping. Didn't realize how much of it took place in the lifeboat. Very sympathetic towards the pirates, because really, what other choices do the pirates have? Tom Hanks is very Tom Hanks-y. I looked up the real story, and clearly the real Captain Phillips must have been a mean boss, because his crew doesn't have much nice to say about him. But it's ok—Tom makes him very heroic and smart and most people will remember the movie and not the truth.

40. The Double (2011), Netflix Streaming. This is not the highly-rated psychological Jesse Eisenberg thriller called The Double. This is the other one. I was hoping for fun/good, but I had to settle for mediocre-to-bad. Richard Gere, Topher Grace, Russian assassins and spies, FBI, every "Russian" actor we currently have working, and plot, lots and lots of plot. Richard Gere is still pretty hot. That's all I've got.

41. Get the Gringo, Netflix Streaming. Loads of fun, surprisingly. If you can ignore what you know about Mel the man, and just focus on the performance, it's good! Mel is a thieving clown in the opening scene, and he is being chased by the police right along the Mexican border. He manages to crash through the border, and since he has bags full of cash he gets taken in by the Mexican police who steal the money and hide him away in a Mexican prison. Lots of plot happens, and Mel has his charming moments. As expected, there is drug intrigue, gangster intrigue, a grubby disgusting setting, and, unexpectedly, a cute kid that Mel bonds with.

42. The Art of the Steal, Redbox. Much better than it should have been. Heist movie with the usual plot twists. Matt Dillon and Kurt Russell are brothers in crime (and also brothers) when a scheme goes wrong and Matt gets caught. He has a record and would do serious time if convicted, so he gives up his brother as a fall guy. After five and a half years, Kurt gets out and works as a motorcycle stunt driver. Then the fates conspire to drag him back into the con...there are then unexpected plot twists!

43. Veronica Mars, Amazon Instant. Ah, such a fun trip back to Neptune CA! More murder, of course. Veronica is 10 years older, a law school grad, dating the adorable Piz, and about to embark on her legal career, when she gets a call from Logan Echolls, her high school nemesis and later boyfriend. He's the son of a famous A-list actor, and he's been dating a pop star. But now the pop star is dead, and he's in the spotlight, suspected of her death. Veronica goes back home to help him screen lawyers, and gets caught up in the investigation and the corruption in Neptune. Bonus amusing cameo by James Franco as himself. Great fan service overall. No idea how it would hold up if you hadn't watched the series, because I watched every second of the series. And I watched this movie 2x back to back, because.


May. 31st, 2014 02:02 am
llcoolvad: (newer)
So the thing I don't like about the current job is the time off situation. And yes, I will freely admit that I was completely spoiled at my last job. Not only did I have five weeks of PTO, but we also got the week of Christmas to New Years off. So basically six weeks plus 10 holidays.

At this job I get three weeks vacation, one week sick, and 8 holidays. I am two full weeks plus two days short! And I am feeling every single one of them. Since I have to now save time for surgery and recovery, I am really short. Ugh. At my old job, if you had surgery or some other short-term disability, you got two weeks of 100% pay, then if it dragged on you got xx% (don't remember) of your pay for some length of time, after which it would switch to long-term disability. And you didn't have to touch even one day of your PTO.

At the new job, you have to use a week of PTO/sick to start. Then you get 60% of your salary for short-term disability for anything after that, until the long-term threshold. So that sucks, like every other aspect of our benefits. I guess I'll take the week and then work from home for a few days after that, then see how I feel about going back in. Obviously if I need more time I'll do the short-term disability thing, but I'd prefer not to at those rates. From my previous post-surgery blogging I see that I felt a lot better after three or four days, and pretty good after six, so assuming nothing goes horribly wrong it should basically be the same recovery rate, I'd think. Meaning the week of PTO with a few days at home after should be fine.

All of this is a long (and somewhat grim) way of saying that I'm on vacation now. Worked from home Friday, then I'll be leaving for the Cape Sunday morning and coming back Wednesday night. Three days of PTO is about all I can afford (I used 2 in March). That kills one of my three weeks. I've also used two sick days, so I have three left. Three sick plus 2 PTO minimum for my surgery. That leaves 8 PTO for the rest of the year. Sigh. I will use a couple around my birthday, and then the rest at XMas, I guess.


Yes, true.

SO I am going to enjoy the heck out of this vacation, anyway! I have tomorrow to plan and pack and get some stuff done around here before I flee. And then I don't need to think about home or work for many many hours. YAY!!
llcoolvad: (newer)
I am behind on my media consumption cataloging! Sorry. And apparently April is METH MONTH, judging by the number of movies I watched this month (4) with meth as a seedy undercurrent.

21. Captain America, Theater. See previous reviews regarding the Marvel movies. YAY! Very glad I watched this before I saw the Agents of SHIELD episode that week, because I would have been very spoilered.

22. Winter's Bone, Netflix DVD. Riveting, but just made me sad. It's obviously a worst case scenario on top of another worst case scenario, but there are a lot of poor people all over the world who face similar circumstances every day, and that just sucks. John Hawkes is as mesmerizing as always. Oh, and I had to look away during the squirrel skinning and prepping scene, of course.

23. Out of the Furnace, Redbox. I simply love everything Christian Bale does. He just inhabits every single character he plays. Stunning in American Hustle, great in this—and so different. He's an honest but not bright blue collar steel worker with a kind heart in rural Pennsylvania who goes to jail for an accident. He's got a brother (Casey Affleck) who has got pretty awful PTSD from Iraq, and who can't stop himself from gambling. There is Trouble. And then there's BIG trouble in the form of Woody Harrellson, who plays the scariest dead-eyed uber redneck I've ever seen. It's also got Forest Whitaker who I generally loathe but didn't so much in this one, Sam Shepard, Willem Dafoe, and Zoe Saldana, so that's a pretty awesome cast.

24. Homefront, Redbox. Jason Statham is a retired undercover cop who put away a bad guy and was present when the bad guy's son was killed by the police. He now lives with his kid in big beautiful house in a dreary Louisiana small town riddled with poverty, meth dealers, and other bad things. James Franco is a meth dealer. Winona Ryder is his meth-whore girlfriend. Franco goes to scare away Statham and takes his kitty. Stuff happens, worse guys ride into town, fighting, shooting, dying. Clancy Brown is the sheriff and mostly isn't in the movie. Kitty is saved (I was nervous about that). I like most Statham movies for some inexplicable reason, and this was ok. Not any wry quips to speak of, so that's a mistake. But asses were kicked and bad guys were appropriately mauled.

25. Hours, Redbox. Paul Walker is almost the only character in this Katrina set piece. His wife dies in childbirth during Katrina, and through a series of events Walker is left behind with his ventilator-reliant newborn when the hospital gets evacuated. And the vent has a bad battery that he manages to charge manually--every three minutes. For two solid days. And he faces looters and a wandering dog and other things. It's a bit slow moving, but the sense of dread is pretty grippy. Walker and his charm is almost able to pull it off, but he was never an actor with a lot of range and this script would have worked better with a better actor. Plus the cookie cutter bad guys are pretty unbelievable. Still, I didn't dislike it. Cute dog, too.

26. Grudge Match, Redbox. Stallone and DeNiro are retired prize fighters who have a long history. Honestly, what else is there to say? It was actually kind of cute, except there were a couple of scenes where Stallone tries for comedy, and honestly, why? He's got his schtick. Let him do it. I had to look away during those parts almost as much as I had to look away during the squirrel skinning in Winter's Bone. Scary and cruel. Good casting, tho. Raging Bull vs. Rocky Balboa? Choice.

27. Junction, Redbox. I almost turned this one off. Felt like a writer/director debut production, and indeed it turned out to be so. Four strung-out meth addicts need money to score, and their dealer (Anthony Ruivivar chewing the scenery like it was taffy) cuts them a break: bring him a television for his mother's birthday, and he'll hook them up. They find a likely house, find a television right away, but poke around a little before they leave. They find out that the homeowner has a terrible secret. What to do? Hostage taking time, naturally. It doesn't end well, but it was pretty interesting and tense by the end. A Guiding Light star, some bit players, former As the World Turns AND Guiding Light star, and a couple of famous faces. I hope the soap stars weren't counting this as their big break!
(NOTE: I didn't pick this one based on that description, but on this one: "In the idyllic upscale neighborhood of Verterra Hill, a privatized community full of manicured lawns and sprawling colonials, four strangers make a choice that sets in motion a series of events that will change their lives, the lives of some not-so-innocent homeowners and a troubled police force forever. On a road full of twists and turns each group will be forced to make a decision that will send them all careening headlong into a deadly confrontation. In a place where nothing is what it seems and no one is who they appear to be, only one thing is certain: all choices come with a price." Doesn't that sound interesting? That's what I get for not surfing Rotten Tomatoes first! And seriously, they weren't strangers!)

28. The Last Days on Mars, Redbox. So, common opinion is that any movie with Mars in the title, with the possible exception of Veronica Mars, generally sucks. I have liked almost all of them, but that is perhaps because I am a glutton for punishment. This movie is basically zombies on Mars, and for all of that it's pretty claustrophobic and awesome. Liev Schriber, Elias Koteas and a mean Olivia Williams are part of a scientific crew on Mars. They have JUST ONE DAY left before they are to leave, and one of them has made a discovery. Instead of sharing that information with his crew, he goes out with one other person right before dark to get another core sample. Bad idea, science boy! One by one the crew gets cray-cray and the suspense builds as they destroy the habitats that the remaining crew needs to survive. Will anyone make it out alive? Big ups to the makeup crew for the shuffling frozen no-atmosphere almost-skeletal faces of a couple of the undead. Nice job!

29. The Bag Man, Redbox. Another John Cusack movie. He either must owe the mob money or have an inability to sit still, because he just works and works and works. This was pretty good for the recent crop of Cusack movies. Cusack plays a delivery guy who has to deliver a bag to his boss, Robert DeNiro (who seems to have his own issues with taking any damned movie at all—are they both vying to be the new Michael Caine?) with the stipulation that he not under any circumstances look in the bag. He has a prearranged meeting spot at the creepiest motel in the world run by the always creepy Crispin Glover. All kinds of messed up stuff happens, with Cusack grimly keeping the bag throughout. (All kinds of stuff. Midgets with pistols. Russian hookers. Dirty cops. Crispin Glover in a wheelchair. Oh, and LOTS of murder) Then the denouement and more mayhem. Fun in a grim kind of way. Not Grosse Pointe Blank fun, but still fun.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Goiter 2: The Thyroid Strikes Back?
Goiter 2: Electric Boogaloo?

Short story version: went to Urgent Care to make sure that my six-week-long cough wasn't pneumonia. It wasn't! Instead, there was a mass.

goiter crop with pointer

Probably another goiter (of course they won't know for absolute sure until they yank it out and test it for cancer). It's in sorta the same place as my goiter the first. It's smaller than that one was (5.5cm x 5cm vs. 12cm x 6.5cm), so it's not actually displacing my esophagus this time (yet). It's weird that it's in the same place as the first one since they took that side of my thyroid out and flushed it. Apparently I had a void that needed filling!

I won't know much more until I meet with my fab surgeon again. Saw my doc today and he basically confirmed everything that the hospital said, and called my surgeon to discuss. Apparently he just sits around taking calls, because my doc talked to him while I waited for a couple minutes. When half the thyroid is left, goiters can recur in about 20% of patients. I always was an overachiever when it comes to really dumb things.

Previous entries about the first goiter.
llcoolvad: (newer)
11. Cold Comes the Night, Redbox. Gritty low-budget noir. A single mom runs a pay-by-the-hour motel in somewhere dreary. Child Protective Services thinks that's maybe not the best environment to raise a child in. Single mom doesn't have enough money to walk away from the no-tell. Then, suddenly, blindish Bryan Cranston, inexplicably playing an ethnically untraceable accent, decides to stop at the motel and there's violence and betrayal and mayhem.

12. Oldboy, Redbox. Joe Doucette is a pretty vile guy, and one night he's kidnapped and then kept captive in for 20 years in a fake hotel room with cheesy tv, booze, and junk food. Then suddenly he's out and he has to figure out who kidnapped him and why. Not great, but certainly interesting. And the themes end up being pretty dark.

13. Thor: The Dark World, Redbox. Fun! I am a big fan of all the Marvel movies, so I am not really the best judge. But how can you not like a movie where Tom Hiddleston gets to camp it up and play both the bad guy AND the hero? I'd watch Tom Hiddleston eat his lunch. But really everyone was pretty excellent. Fun fact: Redbox didn't get enough copies of this title, so it is out of stock everywhere. I found one in nearby town, and while I ran in to get it out of the Redbox machine, I paused in the fire lane at Stop & Shop for like 30 seconds and got a parking ticket. So I'm not sure that it was worth $40. But there you go.

14. American Hustle, Redbox. Excellent. Christian Bale is my favorite part. He's just flawless. Bradley Cooper is great, too. Really, there's nothing to complain about at all. They're all excellent, and the movie is a fun scam. I love capers, and this is a pretty complex and yet bumbling caper. Highly recommended.

15. Odd Thomas, Redbox. MUCH better than it had any right to be. Really enjoyed this. I'd read the first handful of books, and had no idea there was a movie. And it was good! The basic plot is the main character, Odd (played by Chekov from the Trek reboot, but minus the heavy Russkie accent), can see dead people. And they try to tell him things. And he tries to fix things for them. Very quirky, interesting cast, funny, but also filled with violence and horror. Pretty much captures the book's tone.

16. The Departed, Cable. I've seen this several times already, but this version had pop-up factoids about the movie, which added a bit of interestingness. It's perhaps my favorite Boston movie. A few terrible accents (Sheen, Nicholson), but everyone's performance is just so good and the plot is great and it's all just great. Major props to Leo here. He's just so good. Did I mention that it's good? Because it is.

17. The Counselor, Redbox. Interesting. Not sure if I liked it. Very appealingly filmed, gorgeously rich sets/scenes, Ridley Scott directs, Fassbinder and Javier Bardem star, Cormac McCarthy wrote it. Should be good, right? And a lot of it was interesting, but some of it was trying way too hard (like basically all of the dialog). A lot of obsession with sex across all the characters that seems unlikely, considering how much they all get. There is a delightful pair of cheetahs in the movie that I worried about from the first second I saw them on screen. I hate that. But Brad Pitt dies in a spectacularly foreshadowed way, so that part was fun. And since there's no one to like at all in the whole movie, except possibly Penelope Cruz, it's pretty satisfying to see what happenes to everyone, except possibly Penelope Cruz.

18. Dallas Buyers Club, Redbox. Powerful. Great performances, fascinating story, relentlessly sad. Watching that time in so-recent history, where people were just dropping like flies and no one had any answers, was very sad.

19. Extract, Netflix DVD. So I decided to cancel the DVD side of my Netflix, and I returned the movie I've had out for months (dumb) and forgot to actually stop the DVDs coming. Somehow this was at the top of my DVD queue. So I watched it, since it's Mike Judge. But perhaps I have aged out of the Mike Judge audience? Because it's a comedy, and I didn't laugh much. And I'm a Jason Bateman fan! There were a few funny bits at the end. I liked Judge's cameo (totally knew it was him because of the voice). The neighbor was amusing. But overall I gotta give it a meh. It's certainly no Office Space. And Ben Affleck was really meh.

20. Non-Stop, Theater. "Taken" on a plane. Except the entire time Liam Neeson plays an antihero instead of a hero. But it's a decent little thriller, if forgettable. Lots of red herrings, but ultimately the whodunnit and why part is completely unimportant.
llcoolvad: (cold)
Had a pretty decent couple of weeks. Started out stressed out about work things, since I had to make a couple of presentations to people I didn't know and who were all senior to me. Did ok. Patrick says I fidget in my seat when I present, which I didn't realize but am not really surprised by. When I used to teach college I would spend the entire three hour class pacing back and forth and waving my hands in the air. I'd get to the end of the night and I'd be completely exhausted. I even get up sometimes and pace when I'm on WebEx, so clearly I am a bursty sort. I don't know how to solve that. Maybe I'll just stop giving presentations! Yeah, that'll work.

The department my group has been reassigned to had a huge organizational meeting this week in Colorado. There was the slightest possibility that I'd have to go, but thankfully (see: fidgeting) I didn't have to and my boss went. It was pretty much bosses and other key players (I am certainly too new to be a key player). They're finalizing our reporting structure soon (ish), so I guess eventually I'll find out who is above my boss. Currently we're going to be reporting directly to the new SVP with no one in between, but that will probably change as soon as they figure out who is in charge of the new group they're creating. Anyway, all is in flux. Which is surprisingly disorienting. Do we continue to attend the old group's team meetings? Do I have to tell my no-longer-overboss what I've been doing for the past few weeks? Will he give a rat's ass? Stay tuned!

I got some public projects done this week, and was able to cc: my boss on some glossy thank yous from people, so that was spiffy. I still feel like I know nothing, but apparently some people know even less. I am the one-eyed king, I guess!

Another good thing: FINALLY an ex-coworker of mine from the last job got a job offer somewhere else. She's gone on a couple of interviews, but this one was really quick. Interview was Thursday, job offer was today (Friday). SO HAPPY for her! I am ALL IN FAVOR of everyone leaving my old boss, and I will do whatever I can to make it so. I have been pep-talking her for months, proofed her resume and made some suggestions, helped her brainstorm her portfolio, and offered to be one of her references. Oddly, for this job they didn't call. Sometimes I suspect that they just want three names on record to prove that you know three people who will stand up for you. Everything else is just unnecessary. She was very pleased to give my old boss her notice. As was I! Such a good feeling. So long, clown!

Thinking about going to Colorado anyway. My cousin lives in Boulder, and she has enthusiastically invited me to come and visit and offered to be my guide. My cousin is pretty swell, so I am giving it some thought. Maybe the end of April/beginning of May. I've never been to CO. Might be awesome!

This weekend I should do my taxes and see what I owe because I have a largish expense on the horizon. Thursday is my endoscopy to see how things are going down the hatch: has my Barrett's* stayed status quo-ish, or has something changed? Good times. Especially since I still have $900 or so to go to meet my deductible, and then I pay 20% of everything after that (up to $4k after the deductible). Looking forward to seeing how much an endoscopy is going to cost me.

Hopefully it's a huge waste of money telling me my esophagus looks spiffy and fine. I'd like that. Terms like "premalignant" are disturbing. I'd like the pre part to continue to be there, however. I only vaguely recall my last endoscopy. I recall being wheeled into the room, someone saying "swallow! swallow!" and then waking up feeling grumpy. Procedures suck. Espcially expensive ones.

Updates from previous entry: the notebook stayed on the floor in my coworker's cube for a bit over three weeks. And then, one day, it was on his shelf. Sad trombone.

And, finally, my review was excellent—as excellent as a review can be on three months' of performance. Got a raise, but it was prorated so much that it was laughable (seriously: 0.66%! that is a tiny amount of money no matter what you make unless you make CEO pay). But they kept me and my boss is happy with me, so that's good. Now it's another year before I get another shot at a raise. But I am still making more than I would have been at the old job, and I'm learning tons of new things. It's all good.

* Wow, maybe don't click that link. The image is kinda gross.
llcoolvad: (newer)
3. Prisoners, Redbox. Grim. Two girls disappear, one comes back. There is a creepy kid that's clearly mentally challenged in some way that seems like a likely suspect. Desperate dad does desperate things. Truth is eventually revealed. Honestly, too grim for me. Unrelenting. A meditation on desperation and taking things too far, but it's not one I really needed to see.

4. Rush, Redbox. James Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth, is a glamorous race car driver who bangs a lot of chicks. His nemesis, Niki Lauda, is not glamorous and does not bang a lot of chicks. They race each other. Eventually Lauda gets hurt during a race, then time passes and he sort of heals and they race again. James wins, but then retires and Lauda has the last laugh through his fairly horrible scars. (not really a spoiler, as this is a true story) Great storytelling and acting. No one is truly good, no one is truly bad. Thumbs up.

5. Closed Circuit, Redbox. Mostly slow moving British terrorism/courtroom/conspiracy drama. Good while you watch, largely forgettable after. Eric Bana is mostly inert. There's some running and stuff, but mostly it was a gorgeously filmed something about something? Pretty people. Glossy haircuts. Great clothes. And plot. I think.

6. Fruitvale Station, Redbox. So sad. We watch Oscar live the last day of his life. He tries to get his job back. He picks up supplies for a party with the family. He throws away his stash and doesn't sell it even though he has a buyer. He spends some good time with his daughter. He's pretty charming and he's trying to get his life together, but he's definitely a work in progress. And then he gets into a fight on a train with a guy he brawled with in prison, and the police take him into custody and shoot him. And it's clearly a horror and a huge injustice. And of course it's a true story. Big thumbs up. Excellent.

7. Escape Plan, Redbox. Sylvester Stallone is the foremost authority on prison security: he basically gets paid a lot of money figuring out how to break out of prisons. Then he gets a real challenge. He's to be dropped into a new prison that he doesn't know anything about--where it is, how it's set up. Treachery follows, and he's forced to team up with another con to survive. That con? Arnold! And "Person of Interest" Jim Caviezel plays the evil prison warden, so that's fun. It was ridiculous, but really kinda good. Arnold and Sly have good chemistry and feel like the old pros they are. Good to see them both shine, really.

8. Wolverine, Redbox. Better than I thought it was going to be, but my expectations were not high. Logan heads to Japan to say goodbye to a man whose life he saved decades before. There is a bunch of plot, pretty girls, and rock 'em, sock 'em robots at the end. And of course a fabulously old sword, because Japan. Also some sciency mumbo jumbo. And running on rooftops. Ok, I think that's everything.

9. Europa Report, Redbox. So a mega corporation decides to fund a trip to Jupiter's moon, Europa, to discover if there is life inside Europa's frozen seas. Various things happen and the crew gets whittled down, but they eventually discover the answer to the question. It was much better than I expected. Cast was good, Sharlto Copley and Michael Nyqvist especially. And the storytelling style is interesting; lots of documentary style combined with regular filming. Good tension, decent science, and lots of realism. Big thumbs up.

10. Enough Said, Redbox. One of the last things James Gandolfini filmed. Romantic comedy, but a grown-up, low-key quiet comedy about dating in your 50s and previous baggage. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini have a surprising chemistry, and she's uncertain and nervous and he's easygoing and calm and somehow it's just all excellent. Big thumbs up.
llcoolvad: (newer)
6. Dead Lions, Mick Herron, Thriller. The second "Slow Horses" tale. The gang is back, minus the dead ones, and with a couple new Horses added. They find out about an actual threat on the nation, and have to saddle up (see what I did there) to save the day. Or is it an actual threat? Totally enjoyable. Love Mick Herron's style. I want there to already be about 15 of these so I can binge on them for a couple of months. But no. There are only the two.

7. West Coast Crime Wave, anthology, Crime. Collection of short stories from west coast crime writers. Very good. Nick Mamatas is in there, which is why I picked it up, but a lot of the stories were good enough that I looked up their catalogs and might start reading a couple of them. That's what you hope for from an anthology, right? Plus it was on sale for $0.99, so that's awesome! Good job, lads and ladies.

8. Cockroaches, Jo Nesbo, Crime. The second Harry Hole mystery. Did I already mention in the last review that his last name is pronounced Hoh-leh, like holy? I have read all the later ones and I guess the translator didn't spell that out in those, because I've been calling him Harry Hole in my head. But now it's like it's a HOLE new guy. Sigh. Anyway, in book 1 Harry, the Norwegian, went to Australia to solve a crime (as you do). In book #2 Harry, the Norwegian, goes to Thailand to solve a crime. I guess it took a while for Nesbo to realize that Norway was plenty exotic for his readers! Harry doesn't drink in this one, except at the beginning and the end and in both cases he's a blackout wreck of a man. There is child murder and molestation and pornography and grownup murder and violence and Harry gets handcuffed to a swimming pool drain and thrown out of a second-story window, but he manages to work it all out. Kinda.

9. I'm a Stranger Here Myself, Bill Bryson, Essay. Everyone in the world has read Bill Bryson but me. My pal Jenn has been trying to get me to read him for years, and I just wasn't in the mood. I decided this month I needed laughing. And I laughed. In this collection, Bill has just returned to America after 15 years in the UK. He has to relearn everything about US living. It is funny. Sometimes it is the tiniest bit tedious, but mostly it is funny.

10. Takedown Twenty, Janet Evanovich, Audio, Crime. So, honestly, I've already read this book, maybe five times before. Not this specific one, of course, but really they're all the same. Stephanie Plum is still juggling her relationships with hot cop Joe Morelli and hotter security services guy Ranger. She's still being a bounty hunter with her ridiculous ex-'ho friend Lula. She's still dragging grandma Mazur to funerals and bingo. She's still got Rex, who has got to be the longest-living hamster in the history of the universe. And this time there's a giraffe named Kevin, some mafia guys, some dead old ladies in dumpsters, a dapper 80 year old lothario, and several attempts on Stephanie's life, plus a Joe's grandmother giving Stephanie the evil eye again. No cars were killed, however, just kinda wounded. So that seems like a tiny maturing, kinda. But seriously, Stephanie, girlfriend, you are in a RUT and you need to CHOOSE.

Anyway, I prefer these in audio to written, and the reader is quite good. Perfect for listening to while cleaning the kitchen.

11. Divergent, Veronica Roth, Young Adult. In her 16th year, Beatrice has to make a choice. What faction will she join and live with for the rest of her life? She was born into Abnegation (selfless), but she also has proficiency towards the Erudite (smart) and the Dauntless (brave). She feels that she isn't selfless enough to remain in Abnegation, and she's been taught to mistrust the Erudite, so Dauntless becomes her choice. The Dauntless faction is the group that protects the city, so she renames herself Tris and begins initiation and training. Only some initiates make the cut, and if they don't, they become "factionless" and have no standing in society. Will Tris make it? She has a secret, and it's a dangerous one.

OK, so it's very Hunger Games dystopian young adult fighting fare. Not bad, though. I guess there's a movie coming out soon. Makes perfect sense. Lots of jumping off of trains and looking at crumbling city buildings, I'm sure.

12. Insurgent, Veronica Roth, Young Adult. Raging war, dead friends, dead family. Tris is sad, angry, hurt, wounded, and fighting with her boyfriend over how to save the world. There's a huge secret that people have died trying to announce, but other people don't want the secret let out and are willing to kill lots of men, women and children to protect it.

I wasn't that impressed with the huge secret, to be honest. SPOILER: it's not space aliens, damn it. At least this wasn't practically a whole book of sulking and being depressed, like, say, Hunger Games book 2? whichever.
llcoolvad: (cold)
When will February end? Seriously. It's the longest damned month. The calendar is a big fat liar. It is apparently: American Heart Month. Library Lovers Month. Black History Month. Children's Dental Health Month. National Cherry Month. National Embroidery Month. National Grapefruit Month. National Snack Food Month. National Wild Bird Feeding Month. Responsible Pet Owners' Month. I can get behind any of that. Those all sound great. But can they all be over already? I think I'm going to have to use a few of my precious vacation days next month, because bleah. I guess if I lived in the southern hemisphere it would probably be July or August that I hated. But I don't live there, so fuck you, February.

Next week is my review. My boss tells me it's all good, she's really happy with where I am, my progress, etc. So that's good. We'll see if it means more money. That would also be good. Patrick tells me that it will be prorated, since I've only been here six months. Well, that's still something. It's a stupid policy, because it's a whole year until the next raise, but they could give me nothing and it would still be a whole year until the next raise, so I guess if I get any cash it's all good.

I have been kind of moving right along lately at my job. I keep tackling problems and solving them. P tells me I've been good in a couple of his meetings. Feeling ok about all of it. I am enjoying the actual work. There are a lot of political maneuverings and machinations all around me, but so far it doesn't really involve me. I have a friend there (not P) who's in the thick of it and so I hear all about it from her, but we're in different groups so I am mostly insulated from it.

I have been very appreciative of the "no micromanaging" policy of my company, especially lately. When I started my boss told me that as long as the work gets done, no one is terribly bothered by clock-punching or facetime, and that I should just use my best judgement about things. I have used this rather liberally lately, as the weather has been terrible. Why should I go out on the roads and risk anyone's life if I don't have to? And it's fine. At my last job, it was a constant battle and stress and anxiety, but here it's nothing. I don't even have to tell anyone. I just stay home and log in and work. There's a guy who sits behind me that hasn't been in for almost two weeks now, and I don't think anyone other than me has noticed. (He has kids, it's school vacation. Pretty sure that's the reason.)(I've mostly noticed because about three weeks ago he dropped a bright green notebook on the floor in his cube, and despite being in a couple times, didn't bother to pick it up. Every day that I walk in past it I notice it, so I'm sort of tracking how long before it's off the floor. Secretly I hope he never picks it up. Statement of slobbishness or ennui? I choose ennui.)

SO basically work is good. I just wish I could get my shit together at home. Practically every single night looks like this: leave work sometime between 5:30-6:30. Pick up something at a store, usually for mother. Come home, make dinner. Eat dinner, tidy up. Do chore (sometimes trash, sometimes laundry, sometimes just load the dishwasher). Turn on desktop computer and tv, zone out playing FreeCell and reading the internet and watching tv. Phone alarm reminds me to go to bed. Get in bed with iPad, catch up on Words with Friends and Scramble with Friends. Read a bit of my current book. Sleep.

I seriously need to do more! I have somewhere between four and five hours of non-chores time after work before sleep, and I'm not using it productively at all. No jewelry making, no walking, no elaborate house cleaning, no organizing, no projects. Nothing! If nothing else I should get some more damned sleep.

Well, at least I can manage that last one tonight.
llcoolvad: (cold)
Not a lot going on. Last week we had to postpone the coworker get-together because of snow, so I just had my Jenn dinner last Thursday for social stuff. We went to a newish restaurant near my work, the Yard House, and ate lots of nummy things like deviled eggs and truffle fries and appetizer tacos. I even had a drink!

Took a sick day on Monday because I hadn't been feeling well all the prior weekend, and the Marketing department that I'm now apparently a part of had their monthly meeting, and I guess my site was the main topic of discussion. Great. I missed it. So it threw me into a tizzy of working extra all week, trying to justify my existence. I scheduled a meeting with some of the key players and my boss on Friday because I figured I should just face the music and see what is going on, and apparently I did a really good job during the meeting and my boss was happy with me and pleased with all the stuff I'd already done. Whew. I am not sure if I was worried for nothing, or if my week of extra work and diligence pulled my ass out of the fire. Apparently I know some stuff and sound like I know some stuff, so maybe that's enough.

Tuesday was the work people get-together. We all get along pretty well so it was a fun night of a lot of laughing. Went to Longhorn's and ate lots of steak and dessert. This hasn't been the best week for my "make better choices" resolution. Because then the girl scout cookies rolled into work, also. Ah well. There's always next week.

Did a few other chores-type things this week. Got a new tire for my car after realizing that the low tire pressure idiot light was actually correct and my tire wasn't complaining about the cold, it was actually not holding air anymore. Managed to dispute a parking ticket online (dunno about the success of it, yet, but at least I tried!). Collected all my tax information except one W2. This year I'll have three: one two-week period with my old company, almost 8 months with the company that bought my old company, and 4 months with the new company. I have all but the two week period (OF COURSE). I also have all three proof of medical coverage forms, and my student loan interest paid form, and info about my 401k loan. Just waiting on the two week W2. Would like to file to see how much I owe. Because this year I will definitely owe.

Mailed a package to California on the 9th of January, and watched it travel to Springfield, then New Jersey, to Cali, back to New Jersey, to Springfield, back to New Jersey, and finally to CA again, arriving at its final destination on 1/29. And the Post Office wonders why people get so pissed off at them. 20 days? Very glad I got tracking and insurance on it. That's pretty infuriating. And why all the touring? Christ.

Did very little today. Slept as late as I could, but was awakened by a text at 9:54 so had to give up then. Had lunch, grocery shopped, put some windshield washer fluid in my car (I realized that I had thought I'd go to Jiffy Lube today partly because I needed fluids topped off, and then I thought that was a really dumb reason and bought fluid myself. Geez, woman, get a grip), came home and put everything away, and just slumped in bed reading for the rest of the afternoon. Lots of rest. I still feel sick, however, and would like to take a month off and hide under my covers*. I have a doctor's appointment scheduled for Monday. Not because I'm not feeling well—my doctor's office calls me every six months or so and prods me to come in for bloodwork and such. But the timing is handy! I'm sure his prescription will be to go to bed earlier, eat healthier food, exercise, and drink more water. Sigh. BUT IT'S FEBRUARY! I don't do well with those things in February.

My real goal for this month is to survive it by drugging myself with television and fiction. As I do every February. And ok, I'll try to drink more water and sleep more. But I make no promises. March will get here eventually.

Off to hibernate!

* Actually, I'd like to take a month away from my actual life and go somewhere where I don't know anyone and don't have any obligations, and just read books and wander around taking photographs and having nice lunches. Preferably somewhere with sunshine and excellent food, and perhaps with free massages. Because dear god, I seriously need massages.
llcoolvad: (newer)
1. Never Go Back, Lee Child, Thriller. In "61 Hours", our hero talks to Army Major Susan Turner, new commander of his old MP unit, on the phone and finds her very appealing as she helps him solve a problem. He decides to get himself a looksee at her and makes his way across the country to DC to say hello. Then suddenly they're both facing trumped-up charges and serious jail time, so Reacher busts them both out of military jail and they hit the road, trying to figure out what's the real story behind their troubles. Fairly typical outing, except this time both Reacher AND Turner get folding toothbrushes and don't carry so much as a backpack.

2. Fractured, Karin Slaughter, Audio, Crime. I've been reading these mostly out of order. This is the second in the "Will Trent" series by Slaughter. I had started reading her with the "Grant County" series, but the two have since combined two main characters in book 4?, 5?, so I went back to read this series. Anyway, all of Slaughter is pretty dark, with usually fairly brutal crimes and dark motivations. In this case a woman comes home to find her daughter brutally murdered and apparently raped, and a man standing over her body. She manages to kill the man, but there is evidence that there were other people at the scene when the murder happened. What is the motivation, here, and who are the others—witnesses? Other victims? Perpetrators? Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has to face a bully from his childhood orphanage, a new partner who has very good reason to hate him, and his own dyslexia to solve the case.

3. Tularosa, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Santa Fe ex-cop Kevin Kerney had to stop being a cop when he was badly injured on a stakeout, thanks to his partner's inattention. When that same ex-partner shows up two years later to ask Kerney to investigate his son's AWOL from the Army, Kerney only agrees because he likes the son. He really wants to go back to being a rancher, and is trying to save money to buy his own spread and cows and whatnot. His old cop buddy Andy gives him a temporary job so he'll have some legit credentials while he's investigating. There's an attractive Army Captain that helps him, and the crime ends up being quite complicated and involving insane Mexican drug lords. A decent read. I'll continue this series.

4. Mexican Hat, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Book 2 in the Kevin Kerney series. Kerney has shuffled on to another temporary gig. He's working for the Park Service for the season, and he has stumbled into a poaching ring and a couple of murders. He manages to solve them all, somehow, and meet a new attractive lady and make some new friends in the process. And solve a decades-old family feud. Busy!

5. Serpent Gate, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Book 3 in the Kevin Kerney series. Kerney has once again changed jobs (dunno yet if this authorial trick is going to wear on me), and is working for the New Mexico State PD as a detective on temporary assignment. Things quickly take a turn when a large amount of priceless art is stolen out of the Governor's office. Kerney's cop buddy Andy, who now happens to be the Chief of the New Mexico State Police, moves Kerney into the Deputy Chief position and puts him in charge of the investigation. Because who else could he trust?! Kerney does his thing, meets a new attractive lady who he puts in jail instead of sleeps with, shacks up with an old friend who's a gay artist, delivers a foal, and makes a new friend who's a raving schizophrenic.

I also finished two of the books (The Bat, and Slow Horses, both quite good!) that I hadn't quite finished last year.

1. Fast and Furious 6, Redbox. Loads of fun. Made me sad about Paul Walker all over again. I mean, he was no genius actor, but he was fun to watch and seemed like a genuinely nice person outside of his fame. Poor Vin. They were obviously pals.
2. Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, Redbox. Lacked the sense of wonder and fun of the first one (kind of like Harry Potter 2. Not enough of the 'dear god how is all of this real?' feeling). Percy finds out he has a half brother who's half cyclops, half son of Poseidon. They need to go on a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece. There is mayhem. There is anti-cyclopsism from Percy's pals. Percy's brother is a nice kid. After tribulations, they succeed. Oh, SPOILERS! Sorry.

I rented The Family and The Wolverine, but returned them both unwatched. The Wolverine had some kind of defect so I couldn't play it, and I just wasn't in the mood for The Family, after all. Next time!
llcoolvad: (cold)
Fairly ordinary couple of weeks. Busy at work, but I feel like I am in a classic "two steps forward, one step back" pattern, so that's not mentally encouraging. My boss was in a casual conversation with the new head of Marketing about me and what I'd been doing, and the head of Marketing said something like "Oh, we should have a win there, maybe by February?" But with no indication what a "win" would consist of. I guess something that would be visible, that could be released to the company at large? I dunno. So I am quietly sweating that. I was going to try to work some extra this weekend, but I just don't feel like it.

Had a couple of fun social things, with a couple more coming this week. Hung out with Stephen and Val a couple weekends ago, which was good. Hadn't seen them in a couple of months so it was good to catch up. They have a giant 3D television that they were showing me, and I have to admit, it's pretty cool! You have to wear glasses, still, but they're fancy electronic glasses and the effect is pretty darn good. Probably not something I'd be willing to spend the dosh on anytime soon, but neat to know it exists. Apparently there is a whole section of 3D things you can watch when you have FIOS. Pretty cool.

Last night I went to Arisia, our largest local science fiction convention. I didn't go to actually attend the con, but to see people. My college science fiction club, fondly known as UMSFS, was having a 50th anniversary party. First up, however, I got to have dinner with Suzanne and two of my college roommates (a married couple). They moved to California a bunch of years ago, so it had been a really long time since I'd seen them. Really fun to hang out with them all night. When we were roommates, their son was born. He's now a junior in college! God I'm old.

We headed to the party after, and I got to see a bunch of people that I also hadn't seen in decades (and some I see all the time). Lots of them are Facebook friends, so your typical "What have you been up to?" question quickly proved to be kind of dumb, since I already knew who had kids, where they worked, and the kind of things they did for fun. But it was still good to catch up in person.

There was an amusing picture of me with C., the other half of the married couple, sitting on my lap in the photo album that was being passed around. I hope they scan it, because I'd love to have a copy. I must be 24? 25? in it, because I'm not wearing glasses and I look pretty young. C. pointed out that in every picture of her in the album she is being dramatic and center-of-attentiony, and she said something like "I guess I was THAT girl." Interesting to look back and glimpse who you used to be! I guess that's what reunions are all about, really. Anyway, it was a fun night. I really should have gone to the convention this year, got a hotel room, all of that. It would have been fun to stay up super late and not think about home. But I left around midnight and slogged through the snow, found a $40 ticket on my car (says I was in a residential parking zone and I totally wasn't! I was in a metered spot! I'll have to go back in the daytime to take some better photos and then dispute it), and drove home.

Next up is dinner with the new work crew on Tuesday. The company is having a big dress-up party at some yacht club on Thursday, but it's employee-only. No plus-one, which we all thought was stupid. So we're doing an alternate program with spouses invited, which means Patrick will bring Peter, and Charles will bring his wife, and the remaining three of us will blink quietly to ourselves (we're all single). Should be fun, though! Damn the man!

Thursday night is dinner with Jenn. Not sure where we're going yet, but I always have a good time with Jenn.

Three social things in a week is a lot of social things for me!
llcoolvad: (cold)
Thanks to Hercules, I haven't left the house since midday on Wednesday. Bought a few things at the grocery store and I've hunkered down since. I can work from home whenever, basically, so I did that. The landlord cleaned the majority of the snow off all the cars, but tomorrow (since it's supposed to make it into the 20s, temp-wise) I'll go out and do the rest on both my car and mom's.

I'm also going to hang out with S&V tomorrow night; they have a place in Lynn, right along the water, so it should be pretty dramatic there in the aftermath of the storm. They showed a lot of impressive pounding surf footage on the news all day long from various beachfront locations, and Steve said that you could see his house in some of them. I didn't ask if the entire front of his house is encased in ice. I guess I'll find out tomorrow!

It was cold enough out that I finally watched the final episode of "Treme" tonight, hoping it would make me feel warm. That worked, but I also spent the entire 80 minutes weeping that the show is now over and I'll never see new scenes from those characters. It was SO very good. Between "Treme" and the James Lee Burke "Dave Robicheaux" series, I feel almost like a New Orleans native. I guess I really need to at least visit there sometime. Take in the music and the food, beignets and etouffee and muffulettas and po'boys and gumbo and jambalaya.

I've also spent the past few days watching the first 2.5 seasons of "Being Human"* (US version), which is fun in a vampires/werewolves/ghosts kind of way, but watching it all at once with no buffer of time makes you want to smack the characters a bit—stop making bad decisions!

* Not to be confused with "Almost Human", which is way more fun but has only aired half a season.


llcoolvad: (Default)

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