Friday, July 21, 2006

There Go My Dreams of Winning the Indy 500

Red Hat class is over. I am not sure if I’ll be attending RH300 in a couple of weeks or in October yet. Class was pretty good. I had a better grip on the information this time around than in my last class, but I still feel unprepared for another test.

A fun thing happened on the way home from class on Wednesday, though. As soon as I started the car, the engine rumbled to life a few decibels higher than usual. No big deal, it sounded a little more throaty, like I had a cold-air intake on the engine. By the time I made it home, it sounded like I had a sports car with a coffee-can-sized muffler. I shrugged and figured I’d let the mechanic take a look at it next week. The next morning, about ¾ of the way to Red Hat training, I shifted from 3rd to 4th gear and it sounded like I had left my exhaust on 495. I checked my rear view mirror to watch the carnage as rush hour traffic swerved to avoid the debris, but there was none. That didn’t stop the engine from deafening me, though. Where before the car sounded like it had some aftermarket exhaust work done, now it sounded like I was front-row at the Indy 500. I made it to Red Hat and texted Stacy the good news after my teeth stopped rattling. Just what she needed on her birthday, right? Oh, did I mention that she was due for a root canal in the afternoon, too? Yeah. Great birthday. Anyway, my drive home involved me slouched down in the seat as every person I passed glared at me until I was out of earshot.

“Mommy, why is that car so loud?”
“Because the prick driving is an inconsiderate jerk, honey. Let’s give the bad man dirty looks until he goes away.”

I kept waiting for a cop to pull me over for the noise, but I lucked out. Once my hearing returned, I thought I’d give Stacy the thrill of pretending she was in an F1 racer and let her drive the car to the mechanic. As she drove ahead of me, I noticed that the pipe that leads from the catalytic converter to the muffler was dangling. Rust had eaten clean (dirty, actually) through where the pipe met the converter. I guess that would explain the extra noise and the new soothing rumble seat feature! Stacy looked like she had just gotten off a death-dealing bad carnival ride. I went inside to hand over the keys while she tried to stop her whole body vibrating. I figured with over 100k miles on the converter that it had finally given up the ghost.

Update: I just heard from Stacy. Turns out the catalytic converter is fine, it’s just the pipe that connects to it that needs replacing. 100k+ miles and that converter is still converting. I love that car.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Secondary Thoughts on Superman Returns

Well, Superman Returns has been out for a couple of weeks. As promised, here are more of my thoughts on the movie. Be warned, spoilers abound below.

Superman Returns had good, bad, and elements that were both good and bad (further known as “gad.”) It’s been a couple of weeks, so I figure anyone who reads this and intends to see the movie already has. For those of you that haven’t, spoilers follow.

The Good:
  • Flashback to young Clark discovering his powers as he runs and jumps through the Kansas cornfields, ultimately falling out of control to the barn floor, but not landing

  • Homage to the cover Action #1 when Supes lowers a runaway Ford Mustang to the ground

  • Homage to Man of Steel when Supes rescues an out-of-control space shuttle and airplane with Lois Lane aboard

  • Supes outracing said plane after it lost its wings, catching it on the nose cone, stopping it with the power of his flight just inches from the ground in a full sports stadium, then gently lowering it to rest

  • Various scenes portraying Supes flying through Metropolis as its citizens look up in awe. This is reminiscent of the citizens in the comics that are safe and secure in the knowledge that Supes is watching over them and are used to seeing him flying through the streets

  • Television footage of Supes fighting everyday crime in convenience stores, banks, etc

  • Supes floating above the Earth and just listening until he hears a crime. Not only does this showcase his devotion to fighting crime, but it gives a little bit of insight to what it would be like to be able to hear everything all of the time. Plus, the visual with the cape billowing in zero-G was cool

  • Supes walking up to a full-sized chain-gun on full auto until it runs out of ammo, after which, gunman closes the distance and shoots Supes point blank in the eye. Does Supes flinch or even blink? No, he takes the bullet straight to the eye, it deforms from the impact and falls to the ground, harmless. Both the thug and Supes take a moment to watch the bullet fall

  • Supes takes Lois up above the city for an object lesson on why the world needs Superman. “What do you hear?” “I don’t hear anything.” “I hear everything. You say the world doesn’t need a savior but everyday I hear them crying out for one.”

  • Lex gets out of jail because Supes doesn’t show up for Lex’s parole hearing

  • Supes flies on his back and lays down a broad beam of heat vision to take out falling debris and save the people on the ground

  • The Daily Planet globe’s slow fall and ultimate catch by Supes, who then lays it to rest gently on a Volvo
The Bad:
  • Oh, where to start? Crystals, that’s where. Everything to do with Krypton crystals should not have been there. What a horrible plot device. By extension, most of the movie was bad

  • Crystal-based Krypton sucks, as does the sterile environment of the crystal-based Fortress of Solitude

  • Lex Luthor was the old land-grabbing kook from the original Donner films. Why? Why not the xenophobic business tycoon that carried on a personal vendetta against Supes through many years of the comics? Why not the man that was so charismatic, he became the US President before his treachery was revealed?

  • Cyclops as Lois Lane’s love interest. Not nearly as annoying as he was in the X-Men movies, but lame nonetheless.

  • The homage to the first Donner film with Supes outracing a natural disaster to save thousands while Lois, this time with bastard son and annoying fiancĂ©, sinks to her death. Still an earthquake, but this time it hit Metropolis, and this time Lois is drowning in water instead of earth. At least Supes didn’t have to travel back in time to save her this time.

  • The Boy. I can’t express the amount of my dismay at The Boy. First, they make Supes and Lois parents of a bastard child. This is the most morally-straight man on the planet. His scruples have scruples, he’s so righteous. Yet they portray him as someone that has not only had premarital sex, but has fathered an illegitimate child. Second, they foreshadow that The Boy is really Supes’ son by laying on the health maladies so thick that The Boy shouldn’t even be walking. Third, when The Boy does exhibit his super-strength, he uses it to kill a man. The Boy is already a killer at five years of age. Fourth, when given not only the opportunity, but the motive to use his powers again, The Boy sits on the floor playing with olives. Gah! The Boy!

  • Superman becomes Superstalker. Would the man who holds principles as dear as Supes use his X-Ray vision and Super Hearing to spy on Lois and her family? I think not

  • Superman drinks beer. COME ON

  • Supes leaves the planet for five years without telling anyone why. Weak

  • Constant focus on Luthor’s thug’s “eyes on the back of his head” tattoo. It was a dumb joke and repeated display only makes it worse

  • Supes gay costume. The “S” shield was too small, his hotpants were too small, there shouldn’t be an “S” on his belt buckle, there shouldn’t be “S”s on the backs of his heels, there should be a yellow “S” shield on the back of his cape, the blue and red in his costume should have been brighter. In other words, his costume should have looked like this:

The Gad:
  • In the context of the bad, some of the elements of the movie were good. Lex using a crystal encased in kryptonite to create a continent laced with the only thing Supes is vulnerable to is one of those things. The crystals are bad, but the concept was cool

  • Lois uttering the Freudian slip, “I did Superman!” in response to being assigned Supes as an article subject. Said joke reinforced by the snickering of Olsen

  • Lex causing massive EMPs everytime he uses a crystal in water

  • Supes using his heat vision to punch a hole underground and lifting the entire Krypton continent into space, regardless of the kryptonite that is growing out of the bottom

  • Supes pulling half a yacht out of the water to save Lois and her family, then dropping the yacht as they hang on to him. Powerful image

  • Luthor’s thug playing the piano with The Boy. The Boy shouldn’t have existed, but since he did, it was kinda cool

  • Lois doing what Lois would have done, brazenly entering Luthor’s yacht to track down a story even with The Boy in tow

There is more, much more, but now I am down to minutiae and I’m running out of items. My conclusion? Go see the movie if you haven’t already and make your own decision on the merits of the movie. It was not as bad as I thought it would be, but obviously, I still have some issues with quite a few of the concepts. Still, nothing compares with seeing Superman in action on the big screen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Idiocy, Wooly Instructors, Hot Canadians, and Not-So-Hot Receptionists

So I'm an idiot. I really need to learn how to read. For example, the class in which I am now sitting, RH253, is not a five-day course with a test during the last day. It is a four-day course with an optional test in which I could enroll. I would know that if I had read the friggin' Web site where I found the course in the first place. I could sign up for the test at the end of the week and try for my Technician and Engineer certification now, but I don't think I'll be doing that. There is another course, RH300, which reviews information from both the RH133 (the test I failed) and this course, followed by the tech/engineer test. That one runs from July 31 to August 4. I'll be signing up for that one. With the abysmal scores I got on the RH133 exam, I need as much review as possible.

My embarassing senior picture. Man am I glad I got rid of the side-fro!

Unlike Jon, it seems I lucked out in class this week. Number one, my class is not facilitated by Jabba the Hutt. Rather, it is being led by a man that bears more than a striking resemblance to Wooly Willy. I never really made the connection in my first two courses taught by him, but now that I have, I can't look at him the same. Don't get me wrong, he's a great instructor and a very interesting person. We've had a few good conversations during breaks.

Hi! My name is Willy. We're gonna learn all about Red Hat today!

The other good thing about class this week is the guy/girl ratio. There aren't a lot of people in this course, just 9 enrolled and eight actually attending, but two of them are girls. One is a techie from way back, she's been using Unix for over 13 years. She is what you would expect someone like that to look like, hair pulled back in a pony tail, no make up, t-shirt and jeans, nothing special. The girl sitting behind me, however, is much easier on the eyes. She's from Canada (she's already thrown out an “aboot” for us,) and is very cute. She has short, curly hair and a pixie-ish face. I mention this only because I have never been to such a technical course that is attended by any woman above the attractive level of a Polish babushka that doesn't believe in shaving her mustache. So, it looks like I have Canada to thank for this one. They can make a few things right Up North.

Blame Canada

The cute chick in class makes up for the letdown I felt when I passed the other office on this floor on the way to the bathroom. Jon had me all prepped for a hot receptionist down the hall. Not so much. What was sitting behind the reception desk was very greasy, from her hair to her shiny face. Maybe I caught her at a bad moment and she'll freshen up to beauty, but I couldn't help but think of Soul-Glo as I walked by.

Just let your soul glo!

On that note, I'll get back to class. I finished the last lab and lunch about an hour early, so I can already tell how fast this week will go by, which is to say, not at all.


Apparently, the receptionist I saw this morning was just the morning person. That, or she changed clothes, got a dye job, and drastic reconstructive facial surgery because now, there is a decidedly hot blonde sitting behind the desk showing off an amount of decolletage of which I definitely approve. I may be making some more trips to the bathroom. Eh? Eh? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink! A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh? Eh?