Friday, September 23, 2011

Five Minutes Watching: Unstoppable

I don't watch a lot of movies, because I don't have time. But at the end of day of work, then class, then reading for the next class, and writing down what I wrote so I can remember it all, I'll turn on one of them pay channels I have for just such an emergency and catch five minutes of something.

In the interest of full disclosure, this wasn't really five minutes of watching this. I've now probably caught bits and pieces of this at least ten times over the past few weeks and each time I'm compelled to watch a little more than I planned. It's a very interesting movie, where for the bulk of it the main characters are in a very small space, doing something amazing. Acting.

If you don't know, the story fairly simple  - a series of fairly basic accidents cause a freight train to leave the station with no driver.  Two company employees then stop said train. That's pretty much it. There are number of things that make this interesting, my main one is that the two heroes are just two guys who were doing their jobs and then decided to do something they really didn't have to do...because it was the right thing to do. Nobody turned out to be a former Ninja Navy SEAL, nobody got shot, and the characters back stories were fairly mundane. Technically, it could have been anyone going to work and then when things went off the rails, stepping up and doing something. 

Other than some obvious movie angles when they tried to work in the fake news footage, or the cell phone usage, and that the runaway train didn't seem to be going really fast in a number of shots, it was fairly straightforward. Everyone had a halfway reason for doing the stuff they did with few exceptions.  Management was driven by costs. The Yard Master felt squeezed. The guys in the field were throwing something at the wall and see if it stuck. I read a couple of reviews after I watched it and the people critical of the film hated how they Hollywooded it up. But then there had to be some tension, I mean, come on. Otherwise it just could have been a documentary voiced by Morgan Freeman.

Even more surprising, Chris Pine can act. After seeing him the mess that was the Star Trek reboot...or re-imagining... or re-whatever lets them sleep at night....I was about to write him off as another pretty boy actor who more or less fell into a sweet gig. But in this he actually looks and sounds like a guy whose life has taken an odd turn, but is otherwise just trying to make it to the next payday. And Denzel manages to find his way out of previous acting stupor and puts a nice little spin on Engineer Frank Barnes, giving him all the emotions of guy in a situation he didn't plan on, but trying to make it work.

In the end, its a pretty watchable flick. Not perfect, but pretty damn watchable. See it from the very beginning if you do, because there is a nuance that I didn't get the full effect of through two viewings until I saw the first five minutes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Water, water everywhere...except here.

Ramblings Post #160
At one point I was a certified....well, I had a red cross certification for something involving swimming. I had a tendency when I first started to dry my face every time it got wet, but I got over that. I have danced in the rain because it's fun. And at a party, I'm the idiot who always manages to crawl into the hot tub. And I can stay in a shower for an hour and have fallen asleep in the bath. So I think I have a fairly good relationship with water. I think. Maybe. Still scared of drowning.

If it ain't one thing, it's another.

First, the school is tripping, acting like the private loan I applied for and was approved for - at a rate lower than a federal student loan - they will end up having to pay back. They have budget for me, and since nobody has any actual numbers, I've been a battle of the forms with them for the past two weeks. That warm and fuzzy feeling that the University actually cares about lil' ole me is fading. Fast. But since I'm in the home stretch on this degree, and oddly, I have NO intention of returning to the old job....something will break in my favor.

But that's a story for a another time.

As part of my form "gatheration" activity to see if I could make the school understand I'm middle aged and have been managing my own money for years, I discovered I'm not paying my water bill. And by not paying my water bill I mean the city hasn't sent me one since July. Well, June, because I paid it in July. I only realized it a week or so ago, so that was on my to do list of things to figure out.

Today I figured it out when the city turned off my water.

A call to customer service, thirty minutes on hold, and two call backs from a supervisor and I get some interesting news. It turns out that sometime this Spring, somebody somewhere re-coded my account to show that the previous owner still owned this address. And they sent him the bill. And he told them to turn the service off. In May. It just took them five months to do it. Nothing I did. Nothing I was responsible for.

But tonight I have no water.

The supervisor was nice enough to tell me that the service would be restored on tomorrow, but that I'd owe for the months I missed. And because I really wanted my water, I decided not to argue the point... at this time. At one point in college I lived in a house with no working water. Or power. It's not even fun. And right this second, I'm not talking to Spanky, so that conversation where I ask to stop by and take a shower would be awkward. And since I'm actually paying attention and trying to get an education this time around, being withheld the privilege of "inside plumbing" for a prolonged period of time is a major distraction. Major distraction. I thought it was an inconvenience not having a washing machine, but that was nothing.

As it is, I'm hoping I'm not too gamey at post time (time to go to class) tomorrow. And I think I'll postpone my visit to the career center until Wednesday. Just sayin.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If I could move today...

Ramblings Post #159
Sometimes you don't want to get familiar. There are places where you're happy when they recognize you, because it means something good. Your favorite bar makes sure you get good service, your favorite restaurant means you food is always piping hot, your favorite book store where without asking they've got a couple of the hot sellers under the counter because they knew you'd stop by. And then there are mine.

The first set of officers just left. The second set have been delayed.

The thieves who periodically break into my house finally got the big screen after two years of trying. It was bolted to a six foot steel stand with four of the inch and half long screws. It was glorious. It is now gone. In its place is a pile of debris, because my alarm company took so long the crooks had time to literally take the damn thing apart. It took me twenty minutes to set it up, I wonder how long it took them to take it down. I am not happy.

They took my third PS3...with the Tiger Woods Collector's edition that's no longer available. Or the three quarters of a season that I had played. I am not happy.

They did leave the PC, which was wisely in a an old beige case, disguising it's high powered contents, but the flat screen monitor is gone. Again. I am not happy.

They took the change cup I keep in my bedroom. I am not happy.

There is probably more missing, but since I can't clean up until officers from Robbery get here, I'm stuck. So I'm sitting here. Frustrated. Just so, so very frustrated. I got other stuff to do, and I just did not need this. My plans,with the quitting the job-going to school-getting through this all I can tell you did not call for a major catastrophe like this. But then whose does?

Oh, if I could move. Today. I would have a truck out by tonight if I could. Back to the side of town where I lived for eight years without a single attempt. When the police officers say that your address rings a bell when they hear it on the radio, and when they pull up they ask "so what did they get this time?", let's just say it gets old fast.

The only way this will stop if I'm not here. And then I think they'll swing by for the copper. I am so, and I mean so, done right now.

Barkeep. Whatever you got.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Will I be happy as a lawyer?

Ramblings Post #158
Transitions are odd. Given a choice I'm a night person, unless I have to work at night, then I'm a morning person. I don't really drink coffee, unless it was free and I was at the office. Now that I don't have an office, I'm thinking of getting a coffee maker. I need focus and self discipline, and I shouldn't have expected them to just suddenly pop into existence. Or should I have? It's only been a week. It's a transition. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Would I be happy as a lawyer?

Sporty asked me the other day, a question I really hadn’t thought about. That question is the the title of this post - will I be happy being a lawyer?

I make no bones that applied to Law School on a whim, and then actually made the move to go only because it looked like Sporty had moved on and I needed something to occupy my time and my mind. It’s not the first time I’ve started something for less than completely pure reasons and later developed an interest. But that concept made me think about something else that I don’t usually consider about myself.

I’m a fairly intense person.

To look at me, to observe me, to know me you probably wouldn’t believe me when I say that. I’ve cultivated a strenuously casual demeanor, something I’ve been working on to mitigate my “dark side” since I realized I have a tendency to go overboard when I get involved... in pretty much anything. I liked reading as a child, so I read everything under the sun. Westerns, Romance, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, How-to, Horror, Novels, etc. I played organized football, and was that wild eyed screaming lunatic always a little too into the game that my coach would have referred to as - agile, mobile and hostile. I’ve had employers where I was willing to put in nineteen hours days if the job called for it, and with my last employer I nearly worked myself into the grave. Those things I do, I do with a passion. As I’ve said before, I think of my approach to things as being like that of a freight train, slow to start, but a force to be reckoned with once moving.

It’s been three years. So I’ve kinda gotten into this law thing.

That and there are so many things you can do with a law degree, so many types of lawyer you can be. Or even if you don’t take the bar, as I discussed with a classmate, there are things you can do with just a Juris Doctor. It is an advanced degree. The field is wide open for career opportunities. I'll have more tools.

But happy?

The things that make me happy can’t be earned. I can’t really work towards them, or build up a bank to use later. They aren't something I can hone, or develop, or anything I can buy. The things that make me happy have to be given to me.

Love. Friendship. Compassion.

It’s an odd concept. I don’t want to call myself gifted, but those things that can be mastered I have tendency to eventually get a grasp of. I have persistent quality and a great degree of patience, so it comes. Eventually. Most times. It is the intangibles that interest me, that drive me, that make me. And in those situations what I'm counting on mostly is luck of the draw. Damn shame.

So, will getting to the end of this make me happy? Oh, I'll be an effective lawyer, of that I'm certain. Like any other skill, given a little time I will start to get a handle on the nuances and shades that make a good counselor, and mature into legal hardwood.

Happy? about a small whiskey, and just bruise it a touch with some Sprite. Happy?