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News & Updates for 2003

Mai Shiranui (Fatal Fury)
Friday, November 28, 2003

Added the anime profiles of Angelic Layer and Tenchi Muyo!: Galaxy Space Mihoshi Special. Added an additional description to the character profile Mai Valentine (from Yi-Gi-Oh!).

Monday, November 24, 2003

Sorry for not having any updates once again for the past couple weeks. We've been keeping busy, out of the house and off of the computer. The Saturday before last I spent a lot of the day just doing chores. I cleaned out the hall closet and the kitchen pantry, changed some light bulbs, and climbed into the attic to investigate the scuttling sounds (which I'll talk about later). I was just finishing up everything when Treeses got home from work, and I spent the rest of the day with her.

The next day we went to see Elf, which we had tried to go see when my parents came to visit but was sold out. This was a good movie, although I was expecting it to be more laugh-out-loud funny. A lot of the jokes, although they almost always hit their mark, often could be seen coming, and so what might have been a laugh was instead just a chuckle. There were a few that caught me by surprise, though, like his method for putting the star on top of the Christmas tree or when the store manager announced to the crew that Santa would be coming tomorrow. There really wasn't too much to the story, but that was fine as it was mainly just an excuse to put Will Ferrell on-screen and let him do his thing.

After the movie we went out to eat at the always tasty Denny's, and then headed over to the other movie theater for The Matrix Revolutions. I had little desire to see this installment of the series after the extreme letdown of the second film, but Treeses wanted to see it. And I'm glad we went, because it was a pretty good movie. Most of the movie takes place outside the world of the Matrix, and this works. Luckily there is no stupid parties or boring speeches this time, just intense action as people take up arms to defend their home against a swarm robots. The Neo fight against Agent Smith was also much better this time around, although it still seemed rather pointless. At least this time they could both fly, and fought one-on-one all over the place.

Last week we discovered that we have rats in our attic. We would hear scratching or scuttling, and we kept thinking it was a tree branch or something scraping against the roof. After finally going outside and looking around, I saw that there was nothing even close to the roof, so I climbed in the attic. I didn't see any major signs or rodents, such as droppings or any chew marks, but there was an area that had been cleared of insulation and what looked like a hole through some of the insulation. Since we have Clark Pest Control on service, they came by Monday and set some traps up. Treeses said she heard them snap during the day, so around the next day I went up to check out the traps, and sure enough there were two dead rats, each laying in their own trap. The Clark guy came by to take the rodents, and set up the traps again since we still heard scurrying. I went up in the attic once more this morning and found two more dead ones in the traps, so the Clark guy came by again today. I sure hope there's not too many of them up there.

The week before last we had the new fence installed by Top Fence. They seemed to do a pretty good job, and it looks nice, but shortly afterwards two of the boards cracked near the bottom unveiling a hole big enough for a puppy, and then one of the boards split in half. We tried calling but for some reason we kept getting a fax machine. My wife finally got a hold of them today, and they came by and put a bunch of extra nails in the fence. They didn't replace the broken boards, however. Maybe they're going to do that later, and just stopped by to do the nails because they were in the area. I'm not really sure because nobody came to the door or tried talking to my wife, who was home.

Speaking of Latrice, she got a cortisone shot today. She has a lot of pain when the weather starts to get cold like this, and none of her regular pain relievers were helping, so she decided to try the shot. She said it hurt at first, but now it really seems like it is helping. Hopefully it will last for a while. She says it can last up to 6 months. We also just purchased a memory foam bed to help with her sleeping. She always tosses and turns, and wakes up sore, so we're hoping this will let her get a good nights sleep.

This past Saturday we went to a private party out at some bar. Once there, I asked the bartender for something fruity, and he suggested a Fuzzy Naval (which is Vodka, Peach Brandy, and orange juice). Treese tried one too, and we both thought it was pretty good. We tried dancing a bit, but Treese's leg was hurting so we stopped after a little while. Besides, I don't know how to dance anyway. I can move my body, but I can't feel the beat of the music. So we tried playing a little pool. We really don't know much about it, so we went with the solids-and-stripes games, which I believe is called 8-Ball. My dad used to have a pool table when I was a kid, but don't remember much about the game. We got some tips for shooting from some of the other people there, which was helpful.

The bar opened to the public at 6:00PM, so some of the group decided to go out to dinner at some Thai restaurant, and we were invited to come. Us and one other couple arrived like 10 minutes before anyone else. Apparently they had to actually find out were it was. It was funny though, as once everyone was there and ordering, some people were having a hard time picking something off the menu and were joking about just grabbing some McDonald's. The funny part is I used to be exactly like that. I didn't like the sound of food I've never heard of, and always scanned the menu for a cheeseburger or ham sandwich. But thanks to Victor, I'm no longer hesitant about trying new dishes.

After dinner, one of the couples invited everyone to their house, and what a cool house it was. As soon as you walk into the house, directly to the right was a popcorn machine filled with freshly made popcorn. There were old fashioned phones hung all around the house, an jukebox filled with various types of music, a fire pit out back, and next to that was a giant hot tub. After some Vodka, some people got in the hot tub, but it was just way too cold for us to do that. This was my first time doing a Vodka shot, and let me tell you that stuff is pretty nasty. Apparently everyone else knows it's nasty too, and that's why you're supposed to lick salt, drink the shot, then suck on a lime. I'm not really sure what the salt is for, but the lime has to be for getting that nasty taste out of your mouth.

So with all the drinking, and the extremely cold weather forcing most people to stay inside, I guess it's not hard to figure out why everyone ended up in bed. Yep, it's because the bed was a Tempur-pedic, one of those memory foam ones that shape itself to your body. Just about everyone who tried it out said that they had to get one. That is, until everyone found out that it cost over $2,000. Still, I know Treeses needed to have one if she was ever going to get a good night sleep, so the next day I did some investigating on the web. Although the foam was patented, it was done so by NASA over 40 years ago, and patents only last 20 years. I figured that there had to be others with similar beds that worked just as well but didn't cost so much. We found one for about $500, so we ordered it and are going to try it out. It's about a hundred bucks shipping, so it'll cost us that much if we want to send it back after trying it, but hopefully we won't be needing to do that.

Oh yeah, and I called Pacesetter again and just said that we had put in a service claim over a month ago and still no one has called to set up an appointment, so the lady said she would put a note on our request, and that seemed to work because we then got a call to set up a time he could come over. It was between 11 and noon, and he arrived around 11:45. He tried out the window and said that there was nothing physically broken, and that it just needed some certain type of lubrication which he would have to go get. He said that he would be out of town for the next few days, but could come by around Thursday. Well, it's now Monday and we haven't heard anything since that day. Way to go, Pacesetter! You just keep on showing everyone what you're really made of!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Last week there was a call on our answering machine from George, a Wal-Mart district manager, regarding the complaint about the photo center that I had made via e-mail. This was the first time that I had sent a complaint and actually had someone from the company contact me. This made me feel a little better about the company. Usually I just get sent an email with a statement like that's our policy and we're sorry if you don't like it (Target, for instance). And then there are the companies like Pacesetter Corp. which just ignore me completely. So this morning I was able to get a hold of him and have a little chat.

He started out by saying it was not just a policy of the Redding store, but a policy of all Wal-Mart's to not print photos with nudity because Wal-Mart considers itself a family store. So I asked how come Wal-Mart then sold R rated movies and M rated video games. He said that they will only sell those items to people over the age of 18, so I asked how that affected our photos. We were both over 18. I asked how could they claim to not process photos with nudity because they were a family oriented store, and yet still sell a video game where you can have sex with a prostitute in the back of a car and then use a gun to shoot and kill her directly afterwards. He fumbled for words after that one, and all he could eventually come up with is that if Wal-Mart did sell such a game, doing so was the decision of their buyers.

Why does Wal-Mart sell such a game? Probably because it's a top seller, and makes them a lot of money. But they will refuse to sell some albums unless music companies provide censored versions, so you'd think they'd do the same thing with video games. Hmmm.... I wonder what the difference is? Well, if I had to take a guess, I supposed it would be that the video game companies probably refuse to censor their games for a particular store, but Wal-Mart wants that money so they just go ahead and buy the games anyway. Wal-Mart, if you want to be a family store, that's fine. Sell only products that are suitable for the entire family, but do not try to sell us this garbage about being a family store when you're willing to sell products that even many adults find inappropriate.

The last argument he made for their photo policy is that they could have some employees that, unbeknownst to Wal-Mart, would make copies of the nude photos for themselves and possibly publicly release the photos. The other arguments were weak, but this was the absolute weakest. First, no policy could keep an employee from making copies of the photos, especially when the photos are not being printed but are being burned to a CD. It is extremely easy to make digital copies. Now, if the employees didn't have the nude photos in the first place, then they wouldn't be able to copy them, but how is that going to happen when Wal-Mart never even tells its customers about their policy? It makes no sense!

He asked what they could do to make it up to us after I told him that not only were we not informed that all of our photos weren't on the CD when we picked them up, but also that without the original roll of film it cost us $16 to get our photos put onto a CD. I am not the kind of person that demands money or free stuff to make up for a mistake, and that was not the purpose of my complaint. You need to do what you feel is right. So he offered us a $25 Wal-Mart gift certificate, which I accepted. However, I also asked if he could stop just accepting the policy, and try to make some effort to get it changed. He said that he would send my e-mail on to their legal department. I seriously doubt anything will happen, but at least I tried, so we'll see. We will not be shopping at Wal-Mart as much as before, and I mentioned that, but yes, we will still shop there. The simple fact that he called and tried to work things out with us shows that they do care about their customers.

Okay, enough of that. My parents came to visit this weekend. They arrived Saturday afternoon, around two o'clock. Treeses had worked early that morning and was back at home and sleeping when they got here. Then I had to wake her up at 2:45 because she had to go back to work. Treeses wanted to try this Indian restaurant called the Taj Mahal, but she was too busy working special shifts that evening to go out, so my mom cooked. We went to the FoodMax to get all the ingredients, but strangely enough they were all out of corn starch. We briefly thought about going to a different store, but it dark out and raining hard, making it difficult to see, so we just decided to do without. We watched Holes that evening, one of the NetFlix movies that arrived the day before. I really wasn't expecting much from it, as the commercials made it look boring, but it was actually a pretty good movie.

The next day we tried to go see Elf, but it was sold out when we got there. So we went to the mall to pick up a few things, looked around a bit, and then got lunch from In-N-Out Burger. On the way home we stopped at the video store and picked up Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Some parts were cool, but overall it didn't really hold my interest. Later that night we went out to eat at the Taj Mahal. Some of the food was spicy, and some wasn't, but it all tasted pretty bland to me. We got way too much food and had like four take-home boxes. We watched the Indiana Jones extras disc when we got home, which was very enjoyable. Both nights when my parents went to bed, I would play video games in the bedroom. I played both my new Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike game and my previous Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader.

Rogue Squadron III is a fun game. This time around they added the ability to play with more that just ships. Now some missions have you running around on foot, or zooming around on a speeder bike, or fumbling around in an AT-ST. The speeder bikes are really cool, but controlling characters is a little clunky and controlling the AT-ST can be quite difficult. I also don't like the mission select interface as much as the previous game. Now they have three columns of rings, each showing a mission, and the columns are moved up and down to view the different missions...sometimes. In the middle column, you there's a point where it will no longer scroll up, so you have to move to one of the side columns, scroll that up, and then move back over to the middle column. I'm sure they're organized somehow, but I couldn't figure it out other than the on-foot missions seemed to be in the left column.

The game also seems to have more unlockable stages as the previous one. Actually, I didn't even know the previous game had unlockable missions until I went back to check. And this game also has a reduced difficult level. I had forgotten how extremely difficult those missions were in Rogue Leader. I've gotten almost all silver medals in Rebel Strike, where in the Rogue Leader there are still several mission where I haven't gotten any metals at all. Oh man, I hate that level where you have to stay close to the ground to avoid being detected. There's fog everywhere and you can't see anything and I stay as close to the ground as my ship will go but it makes no difference as they still always see me. The only way I was able to get past that stage was by playing it at a different time of day. Yep, that mission changes depending on what time of day you play it at. Kinda cool.

Saturday, November 8, 2003

Replaced the description of Magic Knight Rayearth with a much more detailed version.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Added the anime profile for Zoids Guardian Force. Added the character profile for Raven (from Zoids Chaotic Century).

Well, we finally got a light fixture for the ceiling fan in our living room. I came home Monday night and there it was, already installed and illuminating the room with brilliance though its frosted glass underbelly. That was something we've been trying to get for a while, as the only light we had was the two lights for the fireplace mantle and the dining room lights. We looked at a bunch of different stores, but none had the right size for our fan. Then Treese got the wonderful idea to look in a light and fan specialty store. Viola! And now we can see!

Treese was busy Monday. Besides getting the light fixture, she also found the Wal-Mart receipt for the photo CD. At first they still weren't going to give her a refund, but when she calmly explained that I had already been in and was told that they would refund the CD if we brought our receipt, and that if they didn't refund our money then she would have to start yelling, they decided to hand over our money. I know it was just a few dollars, but it's the principle of the matter. We gave them money to put all of our pictures onto a CD, and they did not do that, so our money should be returned.

She also had Top Fence come over to give us an estimate for how much it would cost to fix a large section of our fence. The dogs from our neighbor to the east are completely tearing it up and continually getting into our yard. And then they play with Christy's dogs, making noise, eating their food, sleeping on their giant pillow, and tearing up whatever happens to be laying around. We are sick of it, and our neighbor has shown very little effort to keep the fence repaired or the dogs out, so now we're getting estimates to get almost the entire fence replaced. And yippee, we get to pay half of it. Tomorrow we have Dale Brown coming to give an estimate. We've used both companies for our last fence repair (one neighbor preferred Dale Brown, one preferred Top Fence, and one was indifferent), and they both did a great job. We'd recommend them both.

We got a call from Pacesetter last week. I was sleeping so Treeses answered it. The guy was calling about the service request we put in... but the question is which one? We put in a service request almost a year ago for a broken part for our storm door, and then put in another request over a month ago for a problem we were having with one of our windows. Treeses had forgotten about the problem with the window, and the only thing the guy mentioned on the phone was the storm door part, and he said it cost $60 to come out, so she just had him send us the part. Sixty bucks?! Scott told us it wouldn't cost anything for our service requests because we lived close to a local office. Maybe they just charge for having someone come out when it is not really necessary to fix the problem?

I called back a little later that morning, and was told by a recording to call an 800 number. So I called that number and was transferred to the Sacramento office. He told me that he did see the window problem on the service request, and said that the service guy was feeling sick and just went home, but that he would have him call the very next day. Hm, so I guess they did receive the second service request. Well that was fine, but why did the guy not mention anything about our window problem on the phone? Anyway, so can you guess what happened the very next day? Yep, the same thing that happens every time they say they'll call back... absolutely nothing! So on Monday I called again, but he was not at his desk. I left a message on his voice mail giving my name, phone number, explaining that we never received the call, and asking if he could please have someone call us. Well, it's now Wednesday and we have still not received any call. Are the only people who know how to work phones at Pacesetter the telemarketers?

Is it just me? I mean, hypothetically, let's say you had a company, and that your company continually messed up so bad when dealing with a particular customer that the customer made a sucks.com website about your company. Then lets say that the customer is having a problem with your product that is fully covered by your warranty. Now, wouldn't you try to do everything possible to correct this problem as smoothly as possible so that the customer could finally have a good experience to write about on the website? I'm not trying to say that I deserve any special treatment at all, and I know that everyone makes mistakes and has bad days, but it just seems like this would be one of those times when you'd really want everything to go right. I just don't get it.

Monday, November 3, 2003

Separated En, Ryou, and Kai into separate profiles. Added character profiles for: Karasu and Bui (from Yu Yu Hakusho). Put a different picture on my profile.

Saturday, November 1, 2003

Put up the photos from our Jamaican vacation and some photos of our Halloween costumes. Sorry to say, no new profiles this weekend.

So I went to Wal-Mart today in order to find out how come only 13 of the photos from our water camera got put onto the CD when there were nearly 30 pictures in the camera. The lady told me that they did not put all of our photos on our CD because of their Wal-Mart policy against nudity, because they are a family store. What kind of sense does that make?! Are they allowing their customers to view our photos? And why weren't we told this when they gave us the CD? Did they just hope we wouldn't notice? Never were we informed about this policy, for if we had been we would have taken our business elsewhere. And what kind of family store won't put private non-sexual nude photos on a CD where nobody can see them, but will happily sell you guns and ammunition? What kind of family value message is that? Shooting things is perfectly fine, Timmy, but being naked makes you a bad person. This is just asinine. The lady then told me that Raley's could do it, so I drove over there and was told that they can only do it from the original roll of film, and not from the negatives. So now we have to go looking for a professional photo shop.

After having this experience, I went online to see if I could find out more about Wal-Mart's policies. What I discovered was quite surprising. Not only do they censor photographs, they also censor song lyrics, album cover art, and videos. And again, they do not tell consumers that what they're purchasing is a censored version of the original. They just let the customer buy it, and when the customer realizes they've been duped, Wal-Mart won't even give them refund because the package has been opened. The really weird thing is that Wal-Mart still happily sells movies that are rated 'R' and video games that are rated 'M', both of which may contain excessive vulgar language, violence, nudity, and/or sexual situations. And censorship is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a ton of websites out there happy to fill you in on the rest, like Wal-Mart Watch and Wal-Mart vs. Women. Until now, we bought most of our non-food department store type items at Wal-Mart, including movies and video games. So will this new information affect where we shop? You'd better believe it!

Yesterday was the first time that Treeses had ever participated in the Halloween holiday. Last year she was working, and the year before that was our wedding. I had been nagging her for the past couple weeks to find someone to cover for her so she could take the day off. She finally found someone who would cover for her in the evening, so she could get off around 6. On Halloween morning, I convinced her to wear the Evil Mistress costume to work, which we bought the previous weekend. It looked very good on her, and she said is was extremely comfortable as well. When she came home around 6:30, I was shocked to see her dressed in a school girl outfit. Apparently she bought it Monday while in Sacramento visiting her sister. We both handed out candy to the kiddies, as well as decks of Goemon cards. It didn't seem to be quite as busy this year for some reason. Besides being Halloween, yesterday was also our second wedding anniversary. I got Treese a card, a basket of plastic fruit (which I put together myself at Wal-Mart), and Devil May Cry 2 for PlayStation 2. Why a basket of plastic fruit? Because I know she absolutely loves fake food.


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