July 2009


yard sale Started late during this day of yardsaling… Not really getting out the door until after 11AM, when most of the good stuff is already gone.

Had a surreal conversation with an ~80-year-old man who had worked most his career at the DEA. He told me about being a thief in Chicago before working at the DEA; he told me about using marked cards to steal his friends’ money.

He talked about how he was going to open up a bar, but anti-smoking laws meant that the government would be telling him how to run his own establishment, so screw that. He talked about old ladies at the beach coughing because they saw him smoking 30 feet away, even though he was downwind from the ocean current. (I, too, have experienced people who I’ve seen not cough, then cough immediately as soon as they make visual contact with a cigarette — Melanie S’s snobby little friend who’d never drunken a glass of wine or alcohol in her whole life because she was “not interested”.) He talked about how he only has 6 or so years to go to beat how long his dad smoked — some 75 years.

He talked about how the old DEA head banned smoking, so they had to go down 2 elevators to a sub-basement parking garage and smoke in a 10×10 ft painted square… Meanwhile disel engines of cars and trucks parking there caused them to cough on some *real* pollution.

He talked how he’s been giving body parts back one at a time, listing everything he doesn’t have. And how during surgery, he wishes they could have given him 2 puffs off of a joint instead of the crazy anesthesia drugs they give him — because he knows that puts him right to sleep.

I’m not sure, but I think he was drinking Jack Daniels & Coke. I wasn’t gonna ask. He was selling a bunch of belly-dancer vinyl records that belonged to his wife or sister or something, and went on about how the covers were nice to look at. All in all a pleasant conversation — Though like most conversations with the elderly, one is quite ready to leave by the time one has left.

Anyway, it’s really hard to estimate the value of picture frames and action figures… I’m just going to estimate $5 for most of this stuff. The best item was a foldable mini tripod that fits into our camera case — $4 new on Amazon, but 5 cents at a yardsale! Almost a 99% savings :)

  • $1.00 Cranium (board/party game): booster box 1 – On Ebay for $12 & $20, but $45 wrapped, and it’s selling at Amazon for a whopping $96, as it is out of print. Will call this an estimated value of $15.
  • $1.00 double hinged picture frame (EV:$5)
  • $0.75 wooden picture frame (EV:$5)
  • $0.50 picture frame – new in packaging (EV:$2.50)
  • $0.50 optical mouse ($4)
  • $0.50 two large candles with holder @ $.25 ea (EV:$6)
  • $0.50 5 votive candles @ $.10 ea (EV:$3.75)
  • $0.50 action figure: Batman: Batgirl (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: He-Man: Man-At-Arms (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: Batman: Harley Quinn (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: Spider-Man Venom (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: Star Wars: Chewbacca (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: Star Wars: Han Solo (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 alcohol bottle pourers (3: 1 metal, 2 plastic) (EV:$12)
  • $0.25 picture frame, large wooden (EV:$7)
  • $0.25 picture frame (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 picture frame (EV:$5)
  • $0.10 flask, plastic (EV:$5)
  • $0.10 2 extension cords, 2-pron non-polarized only @ $.05 ea (EV:$2)
  • $0.05 mini tripod ($4)
  • $FREE small blacklight-respondent stapler – cause Carolyn likes shiny things, and old DEA guy likes Carolyn, and it’s really worthless anyway :)

Total money spent was $7.75, counting an estimated $6 of gas (~30 miles). We didn’t *need* ANY of this stuff, but it was nice to get.

Estimated value of our take is $111.25. In total, we netted $111.25 for $7.75, a profit of $103.5, for about 2 hours work. That’s $25.87/hr per person, or $51.75/hr as a couple. Of course, a job that paid us in stuff we don’t really need probably woudn’t put food on the table. Still, we did better than 2 weeks ago. Remember: To take $111.25 (our profit) home from a job, you would have to earn about $159 before taxes. Things are so much nicer without the government stealing 1/3rd!

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 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Another Resident Evil movie? This time, animated? Sounds like an afterthought, but after watching all 4 Resident Evil movies (including Resident Evil: Apocalypse, which I recently reviewed), of course we’re going to watch this!

PEOPLE: Alison Court is the main voice — people might remember her as Jubilie from Fox’s X-Men:TAS (1990s) series. Crispin Freeman was another voice, and currently plays Electro in the now-airing Spectacular Spider-Man series (by Greg Weisman, creator of Gargoyles). Mostly, these are minor voice actors. One of them was in one episode of Lost. One of them plays BoBoBo’s dad in BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo, the “Japanese Family Guy” (that’s really nothing like Family Guy). But for the most part, all these people are nobodies — even director Makoto Kamiya.

QUIRKS: First Resident Evil movie based on an actual game.

And technically — this is anime, but you’d never know. In one scene, a female laughs and covers her mouth inexplicably (this is a Japanese custom — showing your teeth is bad, probably because customs are based on ancient times when dentistry was very poor). That’s when we both said, “Ohhhhh.. This is from Japan. They just tipped their hand there.” (Of course we were right.) Otherwise, it doesn’t look or feel like anime.

VISUALS: It’s CGI, but there’s not a lot of different settings. So it is actually slightly disappointing, visual-wise.

MORALS: Politicians are assholes, but corporations are even bigger assholes.

BAD STUFF: This simply wasn’t as exciting as ANY of the last 5 or 10 zombie movies I’ve seen. It was comparable to Night Of The Living Dead (the 3-D 2006-ish remake). Yup, not that good.

CONCLUSION: Meh. It entertained and got a generic pass, but I would probably rate this 5.5 on IMDB and only begrudgingly give it 3 stars on Netflix.

RECOMMENDATION: If you watched the first 4 movies, played the video games, or love CGI-based zombie movies: see this. Otherwise: Skip it.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Obviously this is somewhat similar to the other Resident Evil movies, and to any zombie movie.

NEXT: Next up we’re going to watch a Highlander animated movie. It seems a lot of the dying franchises that have made 4+ movies can’t get funding for more real movies, but can still get funding for an animated movie. This is part of the power of animation: It allows storytellers (and moneymakers) to continue their stories/profit-schemes for a cheaper price. Often times a franchise’s “last gasp” will be an animated movie or series. (more…)

Since my new Onkyo stereo has on-screen menus, I thought it would be handy to hook it up to my TV. So I took the s-video out and attached it to my Sharp Aquos 52-inch TV’s s-video in, which I only used as a redundant connection from my computer that I could switch back and forth on to laugh at the difference between s-video and DVI/HDMI.

So guess what? The menus don’t output on s-video; only on HDMI. Nice of them not to include that!

So I order an HDMI cable and hook it up to my TV. Yay, I can see the menus now. They don’t really allow any changes that you can’t make without the screen, but it’s MUCH easier to navigate that way. Though — you can set the menu to be in 1080i, but no matter what, it’s always in 480i. Annoying, because that means waiting for everything to switch. I was hoping it would just appear on the screen instantly.

So I tried running my computer’s HDMI to the stereo, just for the hell of it. Perhaps when watching a movie, it could more correctly carry the audio to my receiver? Granted, the receiver has correctly been receiving 5.1 discrete sound; but maybe with DTS and other “weird” modes, they would work better through HDMI. Maybe, maybe not.

So I plug it in, and my computer warns me: The ATI x1950 graphics card I have only outputs video onto its HDMI. I would have had to go to the next-up graphic card at the time, which was $400 when I built my computer (I paid $215). Of course, the next-up graphic card is only $30 nowadays, and even their highest up is still only $200. So I *could* upgrade, but is there really a point? Most likely not, for 99% of the time.

Optical digital audio’s been good to me. I knew HDMI switching was not really important to me. My TV has 2 HDMI ports. One gets it directly from my computer Hades, and the other gets the output from the stereo. Carolyn’s computer also runs to the stereo — so technically I am using HDMI switching to switch between Carolyn’s computer and the stereo’s output. Of course, her computer can only output 640×480 to the HDTV, not 1920×1080 like mine. She has an even older ATI card, before they went to their “x-series” (which I got the last of, before they went to their “HD” series).

So … At least my initial suspicions about HDMI switching not being super-important to me are confirmed, even if it meant tinkering around for 30 minutes.

Now the OTHER feature not mentioned: This stereo has multi-room out. But I don’t want to send powered speaker wire to the other room; I want to send unpowered RCA cables to the other room, and amp it there. If you send powered out, you can only do 5.1 sound, not 7.1 sound. And I prefer to have an amp in each location, so I can control the volume from wherever I am. So I hook up the RCA-out, run it to the room… Nothing. Open up the manual for my stereo… OHHH, digital inputs wont be converted to analog output. Real frickin’ nice.

So Onkyo has burned me on two different outputs: Their s-video output that doesn’t output their menu, and their “zone 2” RCA outputs, that don’t output my (digital) audio. So I did what I previously did: Ran the audio from my computer. It’s what I always use anyway. But it would have been nice to have used the output to the Onkyo — because then its switching would have allowed me to switch to the other room.

I could have, for example, run *Carolyn’s computer’s* audio to the bedroom, in the event that my computer died. (Her computer also has a complete copy of our music collection, so the music can never die!) But now, I’m stuck just sending my computer there.

Time to update my internal document of what to look for in a receiver. But if they don’t advertise things they don’t do very well, I wonder how I can avoid something like this happening with my next purchase? (more…)

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