Truer Than Fiction

My not-so-eventful, everyday life.

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Location: Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Eye Of The Storm

The way I see it, we're pretty much sitting in the eye of the storm right now. The Christmas rush is over, and we now have a few days to recover before New Years descends upon us. I'm sure the worst of the craziness is over, but it won't be truly done until we hit 2006.

Christmas recap:

We left on Friday to head down to Courtney's parents' place. The drive that should have taken two hours actually took three hours because we drive by the only major shopping center near Waldorf and La Plata on the way there. It was the Friday before Christmas, and all of the procrastinators were out in full force. Other than the traffic on 5/301, the drive was uneventful.

Friday night we had pork tenderloin for dinner. It was really good, as always, and we spent the rest of the evening just socializing. Christmas Eve was spent lounging around the house and wrapping a few gifts. (Courtney bought some of our presents on Amazon and just had them shipped to her parents' house.) We also played some Cheater and Miles Bourne as well. I got to catch up on some reading, play some Nintendo DS, and just pretty much be lazy. For Christmas Eve dinner, we had an awesome meal of crab stuffed shrimp. It was an Emeril recipe, and it was good. I hope you got that recipe like you were supposed to, Courtney! I was the one to unwrap baby Jesus around midnight for display in the nativity (a tradition in their house), and then we headed to bed.

Christmas morning was spent unwrapping presents. (What else did you expect?) Courtney was caught completely off-guard when she opened her diamond necklace. She was convinced that her big present had come from Best Buy. I had in fact bought her an iTunes gift card at Best Buy. I then bought the necklace and put it in the Best Buy bag as well and ditched the Littman's bag at Pep Boys. So when I walked in with nothing but the tiny Best Buy bag the weekend before, it just confused her. Mission accomplished! Courtney got me Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head and Matchbox 20's Mad Season, both good CDs, and Eddie Izzard's Dress to Kill DVD. She wanted to get me a VT polo shirt, but the bookstore was sold out. I'll have to wait a few weeks before I get that present. I also received a Monty Python T-shirt, a car charger for my iPod, some flannel pants (good for lounging about in the mornings), Best Buy gift cards, The Apprentice TV game (looks fun for parties), and a collection of John Wayne movies. I'm sure there's other stuff, but I just can't think of it right now.

For Christmas dinner we had an awesome beef Wellington. I'd never had it before, but man was it good! A bunch of people came over to hang out after dinner, including Seth, who I hadn't seen in forever. It was cool to catch up with him. He was also the one who got me the John Wayne movies. Everyone pretty much hung out and talked late into the night. We watched the Green Bay/Chicago game, and that went pretty much as expected. The last couple of minutes were pretty exciting when it looked like Green Bay might tie it up, but in the end Chicago managed to hang on to their lead.

Monday we bought Chinese food for everyone for lunch, and then we headed home. We made the drive back in two hours, giving me time to go and get the oil changed on my car. We watched the Eddie Izzard DVD (which had more stuff in it than what I had seen before), and then we went to bed. I'm working today, tomorrow, and Thursday. All three days promise to be slow. I am definitely looking forward to another four day weekend! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

The wife and I are headed down to her parents' place today. All of the Christmas shopping is done. We just have to pack our bags, toss them in the trunk, and drive for (hopefully) two hours down to King George. Her brother Daniel is able to take leave from the marines, so he will be there, and we'll get to see Seth, as he's home with family during school break. We haven't seen him in a good while, so that should be a lot of fun.

We'll be coming back Monday, and even though there's dialup internet access at her parents' house, I doubt I will be posting anything over the weekend. I will be sure to post a full update when I get back, as I'm sure you all will die if you don't know what I got for Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

L-O-Freaking-L

Do yourself a favor and watch the Chronicles of Narnia Rap as done by Saturday Night Live. Too funny. The history reference near the end is great too. Can you find it?

My Wife Is Hilarious

Me: They're talking about extending the PATRIOT Act for another six months.
C: *sigh of exasperation* Do you know how many people they've actually caught and convicted with that?
Me: Ooh! Ooh! Can I count them on one hand?
C: I can count them on my penis.

And because Courtney always takes the cool links, I'm going to beat her to the punch. Pacman reenacted!

I win!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Weekend Update With Matt Silverthorn

This past weekend was incredibly busy. I already posted about the party on Friday, and we also had a party on Saturday and another one on Sunday. Insane. First, the Saturday party.

Phil drove up to our place, and we all rode up to Kim's place together. We were the first ones there, so we just talked for a bit. Mike showed me some of the cool poker stuff he had: a WPT handheld poker game, Phil Gordon's little green book, and an instructional video by Phil Gordon. We popped the instructional video in while we were waiting for other people to arrive. I learned some really important things, which I have posted over on my poker blog. It has most definitely helped to improve my game.

It wasn't long before everyone showed up, and we ate dinner. After dinner was over, we busted out Trivial Pursuit: 90s Edition. Team 1 was Courtney, Kim, and Ray. Team 2 was Jim, Mike, and Matt Sprinkle. Team 3 was me, Phil, and Sid. This was the most intense game of Trivial Pursuit ever. By the time the end rolled around, Team 1 had all the pies, Team 2 was short only one pie, and Team 3 had all the pies. Team 1 went to the center about 4 or 5 times before they ended up winning. If it weren't for their crazy lucky pie streak early in the game, my team probably would have won, but they definitely deserved it.

Sunday's party was over at Chuck and Peggy's place. They live right near our church, so it didn't take long to get there. It was a cookie exchange party, so Courtney baked and brought about eleventy billion cookies. We took home slightly over twelveteen billion. That's a lot of cookies. We watched the end of the Redskins game (they dominated Dallas), and after that was over, we watched the greatest 80's movie of all time:

The Holiday Yule Log

That's right, we watched a video of a fire burning in a fireplace (Chuck and Peggy don't have a real one). It wasn't meant to be for serious watching, but we had fun making up crazy commentary. It was a good time. Courtney proceeded to pick up our twelveteen billion cookies while I talked with some of the other people from church. Once the cookie gathering ritual was complete, we headed home, where we already had over one hundredty billion cookies.

PLEASE TAKE THE COOKIES! I'LL PAY YOU! (in cookies)

Work's been pretty lax so far this week. I'm taking Friday off, and there's two parties this week, one of which I have to go to now. I'm outta here.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Spend, Spend, Spend

I woke up early this morning so that I could do what Americans do best: go out and spend money. I had several errands I needed to run. First, I went by Best Buy to return the iPod FM transmitter that I bought, because it sucked. It was weak and only had eight stations that you could set it to. I just can't settle for that, so I returned it. I also picked up C's Christmas present.

After that it was to Lakeforest Mall... to spend more money. Courtney wanted me to get a haircut before Christmas, so I decided to do that today before we went to Kim's party. However, this haircut was no ordinary haircut. No, sir. This haircut was a landmark event in the history of me getting my hair cut. Today, ladies and gentlemen, marks the first time (since I was like 8), that the barber had to raise my chair.

I'll pause to let you catch your breath. Don't hyperventillate. Brown paper bags are in the kitchen if you need assistance.

That's right, my barber needed to lift my chair to give me a haircut. I'm a skosh (man I love that word) taller than six feet, so I'd almost forgotten that little pedal beneath the chair was even there. However, my barber today was like six foot five, so he actually needed to raise my chair to cut my hair. What a fun little ride. After my haircut, I got lunch at Chick-fil-a, and then it was time to go to Pep Boys...

...to spend more money.

I noticed on Friday that Courtney's right rear brake light was out, so I took her car over to Pep Boys to buy a replacement. Let me tell you, if you ever need to feel like a man's man, just head on over to Pep Boys. There will be at least four other guys in the parking lot working on their cars. So I went in, bought the replacement tail light, and busted out the toolbox. There's very few things more manly than working on a car. The only things more manly than working on a car are eating a giant steak and shaving with a knife.

Even though I know absolutely nothing about cars and was only replacing a tail light, for about five minutes I felt like a kindred spirit. A car guy, if you will. The sense of belonging wore off quickly when I noticed I'm standing there with my leather jacket and Dockers while these other guys are in their soiled car shop clothes. I'll never be a true car guy, but every once in a while I get to pretend.

On the ride home, it finally dawned on me the kind of place the DC Metro area really is. I was stopped behind an SUV at a red light, and I noticed that he had padlocked his spare tire to the frame of his car. I had never thought of someone stealing spare tires before. It had just never crossed my mind, but apparently it's actually a problem in the DC Metro area. How very sad.

Hmm, I wonder how much money you can get from that...

I'm currently up $4.70 at a $.25/$.50 limit table, it's almost time for Kim's party, and Phil's on his way up. Hit it!*

*With profuse apologies to the Blues Brothers.

One Down, Two To Go

Well, we got our first party out of the way tonight. We left for Carly and Eric's around 6:45 because I figured that traffic was really going to suck. It turns out that there was barely any traffic, so we spent a while browsing around the CVS near their place. We got Dan's (Courtney's brother) girlfriend a Christmas present and some doggie treats for Emily's (Courtney's parents' dog) Christmas present. After that, it was over to the Nusbaums' for some fun times.

We started out just socializing and meeting some new people. We got to meet Eric's brother Jeremy and his fianceƩ Ashley, and their friends Mike, Doug, and Josh. Gillian came, and I was very glad that I got to catch up with her. I hadn't seen her in months. Randi came as well, and we had a fun time. Carlymo showed up with her boyfriend Jay, and Carly's sisters Cary and Amanda were there for a while as well. The last time I saw them was Christmas of 1999. They weren't even in high school yet. Now they're college kids. I feel so old.

The party got fully underway with the gift exchange. I ended up stealing Cranium from Randi instead of opening a present, and C ended up with some champagne, a candle, and a Christmas kitchen towel. Ashley ended up with our game of Pit that we brought, and Carlymo ended up with Set and LCR. We also managed to collect our Question of the Day prizes from Eric. C got some chocolate candy, and I got a duck shaped squirt gun and a magic wiggly (I'm not sure what it does yet).

After the gift exchange was holiday trivia. Eric had it set up where he would ask a question and the first person to get the correct answer would get a card. Whoever had the most cards at the end would win. People were yelling out answers all over the place (the questions were hard), and many Monty Python references were thrown out. ("Apples... small rocks... churches! churches!... a duck!") It was great times indeed. Mike ended up winning it after two bonus questions, at which point he was tied with Carly with five cards. It was the general consensus that since Carly bought the prize in the first place, that Mike should get it. It was a DVD entitled Star Wait, a documentary about the fools who waiting in line for six weeks for Star Wars: Episode 2. That's probably got some pretty entertaining footage.

The party kind of settled down after that, and people began to drift out. We played a little bit of Samba de Amigo on the Dreamcast, but the maracas were broken so we had to use the controllers. It was still pretty fun, and I even managed to get a perfect score against Courtney in our last game. She called me a jerk. It was awesome.

We headed home around 11:45 and got home just fine. I'm going to get up a little early tomorrow and run some errands before we head up to Kim's party. I need to return my iPod transmitter (it's freaking weak), and I need to get a haircut. I also need to replace the right rear brake light on Courtney's car, so tomorrow promises to be a busy day. I better hit the hay.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ice Waves and Big Brother

The drive in to work this morning was pretty cool. About halfway there, really tiny pieces of ice started falling. I dunno if it has to be a certain size before it's called hail, but it definitely wasn't snow. This poses no dangeer to drivers at all, but of course traffic drops to 5 MPH below the speed limit. Had it been an actual blizzard, everyone would have been doing 80. What a stupid city. Anyway, the pieces started to gather on the road, and then whenever a car drove by, the gusts of wind would create currents and eddies of blowing ice. It was really pretty.

Then I get to work and find this on Slashdot. To sum it up, all electronic transaction data (phone, internet, credit card, you name it) now has to be recorded by the telecommunications companies in Europe in order to combat terrorism. Oh, and child porn, of course. You don't support child porn, do you, Sicko? So yeah, everyone on the other side of the pond say hello to 1984. I can't wait until this gets tacked on to the Patriot Act or something stupid like that.

EDIT: In addition (and only a couple of articles down the page on Slashdot), I also found the Orwellian microchip. Goody, now any website can see who I am. That's awesome! I've always wanted that. Seriously, how can this EVER be considered a good idea. Better personalized ads? Whoop-de-freaking-do. If this thing ever becomes standard, it's going to get "accidentally" shorted out on my motherboard.

They say it's going to help combat fraud, but what makes them think the information on this chip will be any more valid than what they get anyway? I give it a month after it's common before it's hacked and we're back at square one, only now we've lost our anonymity on the internet. The solution to the problems of frauding and phishing on the internet is NOT more technology, it's EDUCATION. People need to be educated on the dangers of the internet and how to avoid being defrauded and getting their identities stolen. That's the only way the situation is going to get better. You can keep inventing new technologies, but hackers will just keep finding new ways around them. Until the general public becomes more than just a bunch of technologically impaired sheep, internet fraud and identity theft will continue to be a common problem.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Go To Work Drunk!

I was driving along on 270 this morning, and as I approached the split for the beltway, I noticed the sign that's supposed to display traffic information was now displaying a different notice: "U drink, U drive, U lose." Now, maybe I'm just not the typical Marylander, but is that really a problem at 9am on a Wednesday morning? Also, can we get someone besides your ten-year-old son to write the messages next time? It's "you," not "U"; this is not instant messenger, email, or IRC. This is a public notice on equipment owned by the federal government. How can other nations take us seriously when we have stuff like this?

Tonight is going to be one of our last (if not our last) choir practices before the concert next Wednesday. Personally, I think we're pretty set. We have some areas that we can polish up, but overall I think we've got all of the songs down. Here's a list of the songs that I remember off the top of my head:

"Oh Little Town of Bethlehem"
"Is There Room?"
"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"
Two pieces from Handel's Messiah (no, the "Hallelujah Chorus" is not one)
"Calypso Christmas"
"How Far is it to Bethlehem?"
"Journey of Praise" (a medley of a few different songs)
"Oh Holy Night" (women only)

There are at least five more, but I can't remember what they are at the moment. It should be a good concert.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Party Time This Weekend!

Man, it feels like it's been four days already this week, and it's only been two. What's the deal with that? I'm so ready for the weekend. This weekend we have two fun Christmas parties to go to, and I can't wait. It promises to be a lot of fun with people that we haven't seen in a while. Friday night is Carly and Eric's party, and Saturday night is Kim's party.

Chris said that he should know what the approved bonuses for our team are by the end of this week. That will be nice to know, because C and I would like to get her dad a pretty nice present for Christmas, and we need to know how much we have to work with. We also need to set aside enough money for our ski trip and for our summer vacation to Foxwoods that we're planning. We also would like to get her a new laptop and possibly get a new mattress for our bed, so we'll have to see exactly how much we have to work with.

I can't believe it's less than two weeks until Christmas. That is insane.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Inauguration

Ok, lemme esplain. This past weekend my old web page was hacked. It was the very first site that I ever coded, and I tried to make it as secure as possible. However, I was a newbie back then, and someone managed to hack it this past weekend. I really don't have the time to go and create an entirely new site from scratch (especially since I will be redoing my church's website), so I've decided that I will migrate over here to Blogspot, where my poker blog is already housed. With that said, let's hit it!

This past weekend was pretty good. Mostly. On Friday I got some nasty spyware that neither Adaware, Spybot, OR Norton could detect. I think I got it through a security hole in an old version of Winamp that was running. Everytime I started the thing I would ignore the little warning to upgrade (mostly because I hate how bloated it's become), and it looks like it finally bit me in the buttocks. I have iTunes now, so no more need for crappy Winamp. Anywho, I had to do a format and reinstall of my Windows partition. That's not a really big deal, since I keep all the other stuff on another section of the drive. However, I did forget to copy the budget file from the desktop, so that got lost. We spent Saturday morning rebuilding that, and I moved it to the documents section and created a shortcut instead of storing it on the desktop directly.

Saturday afternoon we went Christmas shopping at Lakeforest Mall. It was pretty packed, and it took us forever to find a seat for lunch, even though we ate at like three. We got most of the Christmas shopping done, including presents for the gift exchange at Carly and Eric's. We're awesome. Oh, and the poker chips I've had my eye on for like six months finally went on sale, so I bought them with my Christmas money. Booyah! I can't wait for January poker night.

After shopping and lunch we came home and set up our Christmas tree. Max was the first one under there, though I haven't seen either of the cats under there very much since it's been up. Courtney even put lights up above the living room windows, and it looks nice. That night we had to give Roxie a bath because she smelled like terds. I'd never given a cat a bath before, so I was a little curious if I would come out of the experience with all of my limbs. As a precaution, we cut Roxie's claws a few hours beforehand. She struggled a bit when we put her in, but after she realized she wasn't going anywhere (I had her pinned), she just kind of resigned and glared at us the rest of the time. However, once she dried herself off, all was forgiven.

Sunday was a nice service at church. We did a neat arrangement of several Christmas songs which we had only practiced twice, once last Wednesday and once before the service. That's how good we are. (It also didn't hurt that it was very easy.) After church we ate lunch at home and then went up to Courtney's office Christmas party. Almost no one from her lab showed up, so we pretty much just ate dinner and then left. When we got home, I proceeded to lose $15 to people sucking out on me in poker. You can read about that over at the poker blog. When I got tired of that, I watched some WSOP reruns on TV.

So now it's Monday, and the workday is over. It should be pretty easy going until Christmas break. I think the client isn't going to ask for any new stuff until after the new year, so we're just maintaining and improving what we have. I'm looking forward to the two parties this weekend. It will be good to see everyone.

Hope that wasn't too boring for you. Welcome to my new home on the intarnets.