My Dad’s Nose.

January 30, 2009

I asked my dad what I should have an opinion about for today’s posting, and he said “my nose.” Right, then.

My dad’s nose fits his face pretty well. It’s of about average size for a guy but would look really terrible on a girl. It is mostly straight and a very normal, symmetrical shape which is hard to describe because it’s so very normal. The reason that his nose is only mostly straight is that there is a small rise on the upper part of the bridge from where it was broken when I accidentally headbutted him in the face two years ago. (Really, it was an accident. I feel quite bad about it.) The pores on my dad’s nose are fairly large. It is pale-ish like the rest of his face, with a slight reddish tinge. If I were to rate my dad’s nose, I would give it a 7/10 because there’s really nothing remarkable or special about it, but it’s not horrible and I would consider it above average considering all the lumpy, bumpy, really odd noses out there.

Obviously this posting would be incomplete without a picture of the probiscus in question, so here it is.

This is my dad's nose and part of his right eye.

END HIGH-QUALITY, THOUGHT-PROVOKING BLOG POST.

-Caitlin

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If you haven’t read or heard about this story already, a high school girls’ basketball coach was fired after refusing to apologize when his team beat their opponents 100-0. Apparently losing so horribly is bad for one’s self-esteem, and any coach who would allow their team to trounce another team so horribly is being disrespectful and has no regard for the self-esteem of others.

Frankly, this is completely ridiculous. It’s competition; there will always be one winner and one loser and the losers have to deal with it. If any apology is necessary, it should be given by the coach who is so grossly incompetent that he couldn’t train his girls to score a single basket in 4 quarters of play. Seriously, what exactly would you be apologizing for? “I’m sorry your coach is awful”? “I’m sorry I didn’t tell my team to suck for a while to make you feel better about yourselves”? In my mind, allowing someone to score for the sake of their own confidence is more demeaning than having enough respect for them to not let up. As long as there wasn’t any cheating going on, there’s really nothing more to say. One team won, one team lost. You can go cry about it if you like, but firing somebody for succeeding by too much is moronic.

When you punish people for being overly successful, you’re encouraging mediocrity or even outright failure. Failure means that conversations like this actually happen. I sat and listened to that with my mouth literally hanging open, and now I’m terrified at the fact that people like that Verizon supervisor exist in society. On one hand, I don’t want to go outside ever again. On the other, the internet is frequently worse.

To end, here’s a letter of complaint written to Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines. Maybe it’s just late and I had too much sugar, but I was crying of laughter by the fifth paragraph. The grammar and spelling is unfortunately terrible, as I can’t help noting, but it was still probably one of the best things I’ve ever read.

I have to be awake in six and a half hours and am now going to bed.

-Caitlin

Professor Layton

Since it seems like Professor Layton and the Curious Village was one of the more popular DS games of 2008, and I happened to get a copy of it for Christmas, I thought I’d give it a review.

In short, it’s pretty okay.

It’s exactly what it’s advertised as: A lot of brainteaser-style games and a strange rectangular-headed British chap with a cool hat. The heroes of the game, Professor Layton and his young assistant, Luke, arrive in the little village of St. Mystere to solve a mystery (what else) involving the hidden fortune of an eccentric, deceased baron. (Also, there’s a murder mystery on the side – but it’s totally not as important as money.) The people of St. Mystere are very fond of brainteasers, and will only offer help – or let you pass, in some cases – if you solve their riddles.

On a mostly off-topic note, that’s something that always bugged me about games like this. In St. Mystere, people will only let you pass if you solve their riddles. Couldn’t you just be like, “Um, I’m working on something really important and I don’t have time, sorry” and then run by? What are they going to do, tackle you to the ground and tie you up until you answer their question? It’s like in Pokemon, when trainers are all “lol i saw u, we have 2 fite RITE NOW” and then whip out their Caterpies or Bellsprouts or whatever without even waiting to see if you’re ready. The fishermen are the worst. You just know they have a team of six level 15 Magikarp, and you’re like, “Oh, come on. You have NO CHANCE. I’m the Pokemon League Champion, for crying out loud. Or at least I was the last time I checked, but my rival keeps taking that title back without even challenging me for it… Anyway, maybe you saw me fly into town on the back of a massive dragon? Yeah, that was me. And you have six level 15 Magikarp. It’s not even worth the PP to kill them. (KO them, whatever.) And when you’re done wasting my time, you’re going to give me a lousy 135 Poke-dollars or whatever they are, which isn’t even half the price of a Pokeball, much less a Great or Ultra ball, and I HATE YOU SO MUCH.” And the fisherman just stands there with a dumb look on his face and goes “U FITE MY MAGIKARP NAO K LOL”

Anyway, back to the brainteasers… Some are quite simple, some less so. One forced me to run crying to the internet for help because I’m truly terrible at those horrid little slider puzzles. There are 135 brainteasers within the game, and new ones that have nothing to do with the story can be downloaded from the internet every week. The first time you connect to Nintendo WFC with this game, it will download and save all of the puzzles since the game’s release, so you don’t have to worry about missing any, which I think is sort of nice. Overall, it’s your basic intermediate-level brainteaser book, except it has some plot and a few cutscenes and costs about 20 dollars more.

My main gripes with this game are fairly minor, but still annoying enough to mention. Movement around the village requires two touch screen taps when it ought to require only one. There are some side mysteries – eight or ten, I think – that you pick up throughout the storyline, but you have no hand whatsoever in solving them because the game does it for you as you progress, which sort of makes me wonder if there was a point to including them at all. The village is very small, and there really aren’t a lot of people in it. Sometimes after you acquire a new objective they’ll have new puzzles, and sometimes they won’t, but there’s nothing to indicate if they do or not. This makes for a lot of unnecessary and repetitive talking to townsfolk, which is another thing I dislike. You earn “picarats” for solving puzzles, which is the currency of St. Mystere, but you can’t actually buy anything with them. As for our heroes, Professor Layton can be either a quirky sort of fellow or just completely annoying, depending on how you view very proper cartoon British gentlemen with cool hats. Luke is entirely useless except as the standard Captain Obvious character.

All that said, though, Professor Layton and the Curious Village is somewhat charming. The plot is decent and has a bit of a surprise twist, and the cutscenes are actually quite well done, with voices and everything. I’m not really sure if I’d recommend it to buy for yourself – because honestly, in terms of pure gameplay, it’s no more than a good brainteaser book – but it made for a nice gift and was worth the time to play. A good game to rent or buy used, possibly.

Also, I found this very funny. (Some other comics on that site might not be child-friendly, though.)

-Caitlin

Note: The following post is going to be extremely image-heavy, because it’s preferable to walls of text.

On Sunday, we went to the zoo.

We saw some bears.

A bear.A polary-bear.

The second picture is of a polar bear. I was disappointed that we didn’t see any covalent bears. (This is funny if you remember high school chemistry. BEHOLD MY WIT.)

There was a bald eagle. I love birds – I wonder what I’d have to do to legally own an eagle or a hawk or two. Also, a mom and baby elephant.

Hello, I am an eagle.Ellie-funts.

Finally, this is a picture of my dad being manly. Check out that sweet hat.

Such a MAN.

After leaving the zoo, dad kindly decided to treat us to dinner at a fancy-ish Moroccan restaurant in Portland. I forgot the name, but it was a pretty neat place. We sat on cushions around low tables and ate saffron rice and spiced lamb and beef and chicken with our fingers. OM NOM NOM NOM.

I’m now switching to the topic of destruction, as promised in the title.

It seems as though an inordinate amount of stuff is being broken recently. My sister’s bunny decided to sever the cord of my mouse in two places with her big rodent-y teeth. The next day, we were packing up our Christmas decorations and started bringing boxes downstairs, only to discover that a combination of Otto’s digging activities (he’s our sort-of-dumb German shepherd, not the pretty one) and a huge amount of snow managed to flood the basement. Of course all my dad’s irreplaceable racing posters and artwork and the family photo albums were down there, among other things. We’ve been spending the last few days peeling lumps of photos apart and laying them out to dry wherever there’s room; the house is a disaster zone. Most of the family pictures are thankfully salvageable, but dad’s racing stuff is pretty much beyond repair. Really disappointing.

It's messy.

Other recently broken things include:

  • A lot of my coding, because other people who do not code try to change things and fail. I mean, they don’t fail at changing things. They do fail at keeping things functional. Codemonkey is displeased.
  • Our trees. Nice going, weather.
  • The shower curtain rod. It didn’t actually break, but it did decide to let go of the wall and land on my head. Then I had to turn the water off to put it back up while being all cold and wet. It was sad.
  • My sister’s heart, because her bunny has been in a rotten mood ever since the basement flooded and keeps trying to bite her.

I shall conclude with “cuteness,” again as promised in the title.

While peeling apart lumps of photos, my mom came across a ton of my baby/toddler pictures. Here are two. (The gray patch on the first is the lighting since I took a picture of the picture. I wasn’t turning into a zombie or anything.)

Mini-Cait 1AWWWWW

Even when I was a toddler, I had seriously great hair. True fact.

“Aww, you were so cute when you were little! What happened?” –My Dad

-Caitlin

Customer Service.

January 11, 2009

It’s only been three short weeks since I wrote an angry review about the customer “service” at Fry’s Electronics, but recent events have compelled me to whine about this subject once again. This time, however, my aggravation with one company – or rather, two companies working together – will be tempered by my satisfaction with high-quality service from a different company, and at the end there will be a snide (yet accurate) comparison of the two.

Let us begin with the company with the customer service that sucked. My mom got an iPhone from dad for Christmas, of which I am exceedingly jealous. Rather, I would be exceedingly jealous if it actually worked. But it doesn’t. When calls are made or received, the person on the other line can’t hear mom speaking at all. Of course we thoroughly examined every bit of the phone to make sure there wasn’t some hidden “mute” button we overlooked, but we found nothing. So mom brought it to the AT&T store from which the phone was originally purchased. They looked it over, said, “Hm, looks like a software problem,” and shrugged and gave it back. Mom inquired as to whether they could replace her phone. “No,” they said. “Go to the Apple store – it’s under their warranty once it leaves our store – and they’ll replace it for you.”

Mom drove half an hour to the Apple store (Not! The fruit store, but! The computer store, and now she’s at the door…) After a tremendously long wait, one of their service reps paid attention to her (though in all fairness, there was a line, so that part wasn’t a big deal.) He looked over the phone, said, “Yep, it’s a software problem,” and offered to replace the phone. Mom would have accepted, except that the phone he tried to give her was a used, “refurbished” phone with scratches in the case and a general feel of used-ness. As her iPhone was brand new and in perfect condition (aside from not working), she didn’t think it was quite a fair trade. The service rep refused to offer anything else and said to go to AT&T if an old phone wasn’t satisfactory.

The next day, mom returned to AT&T. They said that the Apple store only offers refurbished phones if they don’t have any new ones in stock, and suggested that she try the other Apple store at the Washington Square Mall instead of the one she’d formerly visited in Bridgeport.

The people at the Washington Square Mall’s Apple store first had to schedule mom for an appointment the following day. At that appointment, they said, “Company policy is that we can only offer refurbished phones since you bought it from AT&T and not from us. Return the phone to AT&T since they have a 30-day return policy, get your money back, and then just purchase a new one instead of trying to exchange yours.” This answer was satisfactory, but mom shouldn’t have had to run back and forth between stores for hours over a period of several days in order to get it.

The people at AT&T tried really hard to discourage mom from following Apple’s advice, but by this time, she wasn’t having any of it. They sulked and took the iPhone back and sold her a new one, all the while griping about how they were doing her a special favor by doing so.

So that’s the customer service that sucked. Standing in stark contrast is that of Nintendo, which is awesome. Our Wii has had problems reading discs for a while, which slowly got worse until we couldn’t play anything at all on it. I pulled up Nintendo’s website, easily found the support page, and got all the information I needed within about two minutes. We put the Wii in a box, shipped it out, and it was promptly returned to us completely fixed. Nintendo is great. Unfortunately, I won’t be playing any Wii Fit until Baby makes his appearance (Less than three weeks ’til the due date!) because my balance is terrible and the game would call me fat and old. But I can still trounce my brother at Brawl, at least.

In conclusion, here’s a simple table I created which illustrates the customer service-related comparisons between AT&T/Apple and Nintendo.

Nintendo is also Koopa-friendly.-Caitlin