Video Game Indecision

After playing Wii Bowling on Ogg’s Wii Sunday afternoon (and kicking Matt’s butt 🙂 ) I’ve decided I really, really want a Wii. I already sorta wanted one, and of course Matt isn’t going to protest to me buying a video game system. So I checked at work, and apparently we have 24 coming in on the 19th. That’s TOMORROW. Holy crap. This would be the third time we’ve had them in, ever, including Launch Day. And if past experience is any judge, they won’t last the day. That’s right, we’ve had PS3s for over a week, and we’ve sold maybe one or two of the 24 we likely got in, but 24 Wiis won’t likely last the day. So, clearly, I WANT one of those Wiis. But the logical part of my brain is saying “Wait Carrie – you have a GameCube and DS Lite and Matt’s PS2. You have X-Men Legends (1 and 2), Animal Crossing, FFXII and Xenosaga III all fighting for playtime. Should you really get another system?” And let’s not forget that Pokemon Diamond & Pearl are released for the DS on the 22nd. So while I WANT a Wii, should I really get one right now? But then, if I DON’T get one right now, when will I get the chance again? I know I’m just trying to logically talk myself out of this, because I hate spending money, but it’s a Wii!

Thunderbird with PDA’s?

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I use MS Outlook as my e-mail software. If I used it for just e-mail, I would have switched to Thunderbird ages ago. After all, I switched from IE to Firefox a few years ago, and haven’t looked back. No, I use Outlook for everything; the contacts section is my address book. It maintains birthdays, anniversaries, email addresses, home addresses, website addresses, almost anything I could want. I have a task list to remind me when certain bills are due, with a checkbox so I know if I’ve paid them this month. I keep my work schedule in there, since my schedule changes from week to week. And it syncs to my Dell Axim, so I can take my contacts and lists with me anywhere.

I’ve installed Thunderbird in the past, to try it out, and see if I could switch. It’s nice for email, but the contacts section was sorely lacking, and it had no calendar function. I decided that I would switch to Thunderbird only when it could replace Outlook for me; decent contacts, decent calendar, and syncing with my Axim. Well, come to find out you can now synchronize Thunderbird with a Pocket PC. About a month ago, Lifehacker had an article detailing just how you can sync your Pocket PC to Thunderbird. I think maybe it’s time for me to re-evaluate Thunderbird, and see how the advances in the calendar plug-ins have come.

ETA:

Ok, until Thunderbird improves the address book, I’m sticking with Outlook. I’ve been spoiled by the birthday and anniversary fields, and the auto-creation of birthday and anniversary events.

Dinner & a Movie

Today was opening day for TMNT, so of course Matt & I had to go. I enjoyed it terribly! I would have enjoyed it a bit more, and maybe been a touch less self-conscious, had we not been practically the only adults in the theater NOT accompanied by a slew of small children. I only wish I was joking. I was expecting SOME children – it was the first night show (6:45pm) on a Friday night after all. I was not prepared for the large groups of children, going all the way down to toddlers. And the large group of children that sat RIGHT next to us, not even giving us the unspoken one seat buffer. It’s not like space was tight – it was a good showing, but nowhere near a full house.

But I digress. The movie was very good – not terribly campy like the old cartoon was, but there was a bit of silliness thrown in at spots to lighten the mood. It was a bit dark at times – much darker than I was expecting a PG movie to go. The inevitable clash between Leonardo and Raphael was really the one dark point, and was handled very well; it was similar to the original comic books in that respect. Establishing the characterizations and personalities of the turtles was done remarkably well; far better than any of the live action films, I think. The image of Donatello wearing a headset and doing phone tech support was hilarious, and fitting.

There were a few plot holes, but in a movie about giant ninja turtles, that’s a given, isn’t it? Honestly, the most glaring plot hole to me was either continuity, or the script writer’s inability to count. I’ll try to be a bit vague and not give anything away, but if you’re paranoid, you might want to just skip down to the next paragraph. At any rate, at one point in the film, they establish that 12 of the 13 monsters have been caught, and that they won’t catch the real 13th monster. A scene or two later, Raphael is shown fighting a monster, so it must be the as yet not captured 13th monster. They catch a dummy 13th monster, and then show all the monsters in their cages, including the monster Raphael was fighting after they established that they’d caught 12. So what gives? Can they not count? Did I miss something?

After the movie we were hungry, so we walked over to Uno Chicago Grill, as I’d never been there. Very tasty – reminded me of Applebee’s, but with less crap on the walls, and more of a pizza twist. I had the Rattlesnake Pasta, which was quite good; basically Chicken Alfredo, but with penne and a spicy Alfredo sauce. I was preparing myself for something a bit more spicy, but still good. I’ll definitely go there again.

Archive Complete! And Colophon, too

I finished building my archive, and honestly, it was a lot easier than I expected. The default WordPress theme comes with an archive.php, so I just copied that, and modified it to match the rest of my theme. Essentially, I just copied the index.php and displayed the excerpt instead of the entire content. After browsing online to check out other archives in an effort to determine what I want, I decided that having an “archive” page is the way to go, if for no other reason than it’s convenient for browsing. Basically, archive.php controls how the archives are formatted, but archives.php is the page for navigating. After getting my archive up and running, though, I realized that while I know what plug-ins I’m using to format things, people without admin access have no idea what I’m using. So I figured I’d include a list of plug-ins I’m using, a colophon of sorts, in case anyone out there is curious.

  • Glossy Blue Theme – Not a plug-in, but still worth listing. The theme I currently use, and love. It does everything I want, style-wise. Anything it didn’t do (like archives) I built myself. This is his first theme, if you can believe it.
  • Widgets – For themes with a sidebar, this is fabulous. It lets you easily customize the sidebar without hacking the code. You can also easily downoad other widgets to add to your sidebar, and place them however you like. It’s like Lego bricks.
  • Drop-down Archives Widget – I don’t have this problem yet, as I’ve only had my site running for 3 months, but the longer your site runs, the longer your list of monthly archives becomes. This widget turns that long list into a drop-down menu, to conserve space. Apparently some themes come with a drop-down menu for the archives, but enabling widgets will overwrite that option in the sidebar.
  • Brian’s Threaded Comments – I LOVE this plug-in. I want to be able to reply to a specific comment, and not just have my reply be tossed at the end of a list of comments, so you have to guess what you’re replying to. I’m a huge fan of threaded comments, and this plug-in accomplishes it well.
  • Custom Posts Per Page – This lets you change the number of posts displayed on various types of pages, without editing the reading options on the WordPress dashboard. If you want 4 posts displayed on the front page, but 20 displayed on the archives, this will do it.
  • Clean Archives – This plug-in displays beautifully formatted archives. It breaks everything down by month, and further by day. This is exactly what I wanted for an archive.
  • Polls and more – I’ve not actually used the poll plug-in or widget yet, but I’ve downloaded and installed them just in case. There are actually quite a few good widgets here. Definitely worth exploring.

And there you have it! A complete listing of all the plug-ins and widgets I use.

Adventures in Building an Archive

So, I’ve determined that the one thing I really want for my blog is archives. But I don’t want a static archive page, like the “About Me” page. Ideally, when you click on the monthly archive in the dropdown box, or one of the categories, it will take you to a page, with a list of all the posts that meet that criteria. But I don’t want all the posts there – just the subject lines, the date posted, maybe a line or two excerpt, maybe the number of comments on each post. It sounds like I’m going to need to code this myself, unless I can find and modify something else that already exists. This should be fun, considering I have NO experience with PHP. Oh well, I’m a relatively quick learner. Wish me luck.

Obnoxious Customers

I’m beginning to think that retail would be SO MUCH BETTER if it weren’t for all the damn customers. Today was a prime example. First story; a pair of ladies and, I’m assuming, their husbands, have a cart filled with stuff. They come walking towards the registers, and make like they’re going through. Not completely unheard of; if you’re picking up a prescription at the pharmacy, they’ll normally let you pay for a few other things there, if you’re not getting much. They’re not SUPPOSED to, as they’re not set up to do large orders, but they’ve done it before. We just ask the people going though the registers if they paid at the pharmacy, and they’ll flash a receipt if they did. So anyway, these people are attempting to head right on through the registers, and I stopped to ask them if they paid at the pharmacy, and one of the women was like “we’re going to the food court for a soda.” That’s not what I asked, now was it? I asked if you paid for the merchandise in your cart. So at this point I inform her that if she’s not paid for the merchandise, the cart can’t go past the registers. She gives me this look, like I’ve asked her to sacrifice her firstborn child, or have asked her to chew off her own arm. Yes ma’am, I’m sure your purse is so friggin’ heavy that your arm will just snap under the weight, and you’re just SO THIRSTY, but you should have thought of that before you loaded the cart up, now shouldn’t you? As she stares at me like I’m something she’s just scraped from the bottom of her shoe, she huffs off to the food court with her little entourage, leaving her cart with her leather jacket on top. So, she couldn’t possibly be parted from her groceries, but she’ll just leave her expensive coat there.

The second situation was vaguely similar. A woman came in with her children, 2 or 3 of them, and was attempting to sign for a check issued in her husband’s name (and ONLY her husband’s name). As the cashier tried to explain to her that the check must be signed by her husband in order for us to honor it, she got all snippy. Well FINE, her husband was in the car, she’d just go out and have him sign it! So we called over a supervisor to void out the order, so that we could help the other people in line while she was gone, and I started pushing the cart over to the wall, where we normally put orders that are “on hold;” for whatever reason, they couldn’t complete the order (normally running to the car for a checkbook). She tries to snatch the cart away from me, and asks me where I think I’m going with her cart. I explain to her that I’m not putting the merchandise back, but that I’m pushing it up to the wall, since she’s not paid for it, but will be back shortly. She tries to snatch it away, and said she was going to take it towards the door. Apparently SHE was planning to take her cart of unpaid merchandise and leave it, with her unattended small children, in the food court. Oh Hell No. So I tell her again, the merchandise is unpaid for, and can’t go past the registers. Besides, the order will need to be re-rung when she returns with her husband’s signature on the rebate check. So she storms out, and I lean over to the cashier. “So, odds that she’s just going to the car, forging her husband’s signature, and returning?” “Oh, I’d count on it.” Because let’s think about this; a woman goes shopping and brings her 3 small children in the store with her, but leaves her husband in the car? No, I don’t think so. I don’t know what ended up happening, as I wasn’t there when she returned, but I’m guessing she forged his name.

The search for a good calendar…

So, I’m mostly happy with my blog. I have nested comments working, and some fun plug-ins for stats and polls (assuming I ever want to make a poll). The only thing I’m really lacking, is a calendar. I’m not even so sure I need a calendar, but it would be convenient. I’ve played with different calendar plug-ins before, and most aren’t bad, but seem to lack something. I’ve tried the one from firetree before, and it’s almost perfect. It lets you add future events, multi-day events, and subscribe to the calendar, which is cool. The only problem is how it adds events to the calendar; for whatever reason, everything is added to the calendar by the date of creation. While this is fine for posts, I don’t really want my static pages added to the archives, and I’d rather my events show up only when they’re scheduled, and not ALSO on the date when I created them.

I’ve tried a few other options, with not much luck. I’d like to be able to display and modify my google calendar from the blog, but I don’t know how feasible that is. Has anyone out there come across a calendar plug-in that they are particularly attached to?

My New Weakness…

I’ve determined I have a new weakness. It’s not for video games, although I do have a weakness for puzzle games. No, since about last July, I’ve had a weakness for cookbooks. Last summer, I bought myself a cookie cookbook and a chicken cookbook. Since then, I’ve received 2 slow cooker cookbooks as Christmas presents, and have bought 3 more cookbooks for myself. I don’t really know what the compulsion is, but in stores I almost always find myself drawn to the cookbooks. I crack one open, and immediately start classifying the recipes; “disgusting, maybe, oooooooh that sounds yummy.” I seem to have an eye for picking out the cookbooks, as well; thus far, I don’t think I’ve made anything I wouldn’t eat again, which is really the test of how good a recipe is. And it hasn’t helped that now I have MasterCook, basically a digital recipe box; merging my computer geekiness with my cooking nerd, now I can manage them all on my computer, and search, and… this shouldn’t be that fascinating, and yet it is. Never in a million years did I think I would buy a cookbook before a video game, but I still haven’t bought myself Final Fantasy 3 for the DS. Cookbooks are insidious, though; I feel guilty buying a $35 video game, but a $6-$10 cookbook is fine. And of course, Matt isn’t going to tell me to stop buying cookbooks, because he benefits. Oh well. So, if anyone out there wants some recipes, you know who to talk to.

What is WRONG with People?

For those of you unaware, Western Michigan got hit with one hell of a blizzard yesterday. So bad, in fact, I considered calling in to work. I didn’t, but I seriously contemplated it. In the end, my need for cash won out, and I just drove really, really slow. It took me over 40 minutes to drive 10 miles, when I can normally get there in under 20 minutes. Yeah, bad. So I go to work, expecting it to be a ghost town, and there are people shopping! And not just “oh crap, we’re gonna get snowed in, we need toilet paper!” shopping; they brought the kids out, and were buying random, completely non-essential crap. I wanted to grab them and shake them; “I know why I’m here, but why in the HELL are you here?” And they didn’t even bother bundling up; I saw so many children without hats or mittens or scarves. The police advised everyone to stay off the roads unless it was emergency; the shopping malls closed EARLY (on a SATURDAY), and these people felt the need to go shopping?

In a separate rant, I really dislike people who haggle. Haggling has it’s place, but not generally in retail. The prices are posted for a reason. Sometimes the prices change, but the price of certain items never changes. So don’t try to convince me that a $4.99 item is really $3.99; read the sign. Oh, and after I have someone fetch the sign to PROVE the price, and you decide you don’t want the item because it’s too expensive, please don’t pay for your $20 order with a $100 bill. It just makes you look cheap, and pisses me off.