This weekend I picked up Burnout Paradise for thr Xbox 360 and I have to say that its a pretty good game over all. I am a fan of the Burnout series, I have two previous games on the original Xbox that I enjoyed playing for hours on end and this latest one doesn't dissappoint.

There are a few things that are really different in this game compared to past ones. The first one is that I haven't been able to find the "Crash" mode yet. This was one of the huge draws Claire and I had towards the game. The utter chaos that could be brought to bear was always incredible. The otherone that is really weird is that there is no defined "route" to any of the races. You have a map to figure out you route but its kinda weird to pause the game and figure out were to go next. All the streets in the game have names but I've never been good with street names in the first place.

However its still been an excellent addition to my 360. I'll be playing this when I get home on Thursday night πŸ™‚

Tax Season is upon us

Ahh the month of February! What a joyus month it is. It's that time of year that employers big and small start sending out the Federal W-2 form so that income taxes can be filed. I think this is one of the most hated times of the year for tax payers and the government and I'll give you my reasons.

First let's take the individuals point of view. First off, all year long Federal, State, and in some instances Local governments have been fleecing the litte guy (you and me) out of our rightful earnings for an entire calendar year. If the company is big enough, they've been paying this for you to the Feds and it appears as three line items on your pay check. When Februrary comes along you finally find out just exactly how much the government has taken away from you in total. For me personally it was quite a large chunk of change and hopefully I'll be able to get some of it back in the form of a nice refund check. For some other unfortunate souls (me last year), they'll discover that they've paid too little and have to fork over a truck load of cash to the Feds. BOOO!! So this all equates to stress. The tax code has tons of loop holes in it that people can exploit, the kick is trying to find them in the encyclopedic tax codes written by our elected officials. That's where ma
ny of us get fleeced again, there is a whole industry dedicated to helping someone do their taxes. Assistance varies from using accountants to computer programs but it still may mean a couple hundred bucks from your pocket.

The government point of view isn't as bad since they're the ones receiving money but its processing the sheer volume of tax filings that has to be daunting. Not only are they processing individual tax returns but also business returns. All of them need to be checked to ensure that everything has been filled out correctly and the proper amount of tax has been paid to Uncle Sam. A great many people also over pay so refunds are in order. That means the great government machine needs to punch out millions of checks potentially to businesses and individuals which eats up…. tax revenue! And then if you're truely bored you can then watch senators and congressmen spend your hard earned money on C-SPAN on little pet projects that don't really mean spit to you or me but makes them look awesome come election time.

So that's it, that is my tax season rant for 2008. I have one set of W-2's from my job. I'm just waiting for another set for me and my wife's then I can begin the stressful process of trying to find out if I should whoop for joy that I'm getting money back or curse the tax gods that I'll have to fork over even more money to the government.

Seven Years

Tomorrow is January 15th. This is a significant day for me because it is the day that I stepped away from UMass and started my career in Information Technology. Holy crap its been a long time! I can almost remember that Monday, getting my butt on the train to go to NY for orientation and arriving way too early. Since I arrived too early, I made my way to the closest subway and had some McDonalds to pass the time.

Of course on that first day I did absolutely nothing but fill out paper work and I think I got my first work issued laptop which I promptly showed to my then girl friend (and now wife). It was a used, USED, Compaq M700 but I promptly switched it out for a new one once I got to my main work office in my home town πŸ˜‰ Perks of the position! LOL!

I’ve come a long way I think. I went from field service tech and asset manager seven years ago to a full blown consultant telling people how to run their IT operations. From my standpoint, I’ve reached a significant goal since I’m finally working for the company that I targeted those many years ago (well I wanted to work here after maybe a year of pain and suffering but good times too). But after going to Tampa, I knew where I wanted to be and now I’m here and now my goal is to progress far enough that I won’t have a care in the world πŸ™‚ Well that will probably take another 15 years but I’ve reached one goal, so the others shouldn’t be so hard.

Tomorrow I shall celebrate by getting my Jamba Juice (if I don’t work late) and reminisce in my success…….

Yet another new tea!

This past week my wife went off to Teavana to get us some more of our special tea made with Jasmin Dragon Pearls (I forget what the other tea is but its pretty good when you mix them together). Since I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, Claire decided to get me some tea bags as well as a tea filter that I could take on the road with me. I decided to take the tea bags this week to see how that worked out, depending on how things go I may try and bring the filter next week.

Anyway, while Claire tried and bought a new tea that she thought I would enjoy. She got me the “To Life” Strawberry Kiwi tea which is really good. Now all the teas that I drink always need some sugar in it but the taste is awesome. I have another Teavana tin that I can take with me on the road and I’m hoping that there is a Teavana here near my client so I can pick up supplies just in case I run out.

Now I can sit and sip my tea in my room while I’m away from home…. thanks Claire!! πŸ™‚

Happy Anniversary Thumper

Tomorrow is January 8th which is the date I brought Thumper home when I used to live in Tampa. My fat cat has been in my care for four years now and he’s still going strong although I think he’ll need to go on a diet or something. I’d post a pic of him but I don’t have any recent pics of him on my work computer. Well, thats it I’m done blogging for the week (or month, depends on the laziness factor).

The Holidays are over but…..

…. it was really fun! Well first things first I believe. Lets talk about Christmas! This year was pretty good in terms of gifts. I got the digital camera that I wanted from my wife as well as a cookbook with south east asian food recipes. Not only that, I also got a nice gift card from my wife to Jamba Juice! BOOYAH!! The camera was a little over our agreed upon budget for Christmas this year but thats alright, I broke the agreement too and got her a suite case that she wanted as well as some gift cards to buy some new clothes.

After Christmas was all done I took a day off before we traveled to Hawaii for our New Years vacation to visit my father. On the way we had a lay over in Los Angeles and decided to get away from the airport. I rented a car with Avis and they had the gall to try and give me a PT Cruiser! BOOO!! I complained to the agent and because of my super bad ass status with Avis, they gave me a Ford Mustang instead at the same rate. Ultimate sweetness! It would have been better if it was a convertible but it was too cold to put the top down.

Claire did some research while we were home and found a few places to hit up for food and tourist attractions. First we hit up a hot dog joint that was featured on Food Network called Pinks. The dogs were pretty good, we both decided to have chili dogs and some fries. After we finished that, we decided to go to the Chinese Theater and the Kodak Theater to take some pictures, see the Walk of Fame, and just see what Hollywood is all about. After we had enough of Hollywood, we headed over to Beverly Hills for some dessert! Claire found a cupcake place called Sprinkles thats close to Rodeo Drive. I had a hard time finding parking but I found some eventually and got some cupcakes to take on the plane. We also decided to take some time and walk up and down Rodeo Drive before we headed back to the airport. On our way back to the car we saw this huge crowd of people and some spot lights and headed over to see who it was. In the middle of the chaos was none other than Jay Leno doing interviews of people on the street I believe. I didn’t get interviewed but it was still pretty cool!

After getting on the plane to Hawaii, we arrived at around 9:30PM which isn’t too late. The flight itself was pretty long so we didn’t do a lot on that first night. A lot of what we did in Hawaii was a lot of walking up and down Waikiki Beach looking through the stores, going through the hotels and trying to work off all the food we ate on the trip. The entire trip was a big food fest. I was able to eat a lot of my favorite foods while I was on this trip and Claire got to try a few things as well like duriens (yuck) and Thai food.

We did do some unique things that you can only do in Hawaii. We went to an outdoor farmers market where I bought myself some really good Star Fruit and Claire bought us some of the best bread ever made out of Poi. It was a really good bread and was pretty sweet too. Nothing needed to be added to it at all. I also had to hit up the Dole Plantation for some fun in the worlds largest maze which they recently expanded. The record for the maze is 9 minutes, it took me and Claire exactly an hour to finish it. We went past Dole to eat at Giovanni’s Original White Shrimp Truck. This was some tasty garlic shrimp served with rice. I think it was well worth going all the way up to the North Shore to get it and just in case you’re wondering, they do cook the shrimp in a white camper. We then started to drive to some town that I can’t remember the name to but it had one of the oldest surf shops on the island and I took some pretty good pics.

The highlight was brunch at the Plumeria at the Mandarin Hotel near Waikiki. I took Claire and my father to brunch there and it had to be one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii if you were going to stay at a hotel. The food there is really good and I ate entirely way too much but it was so worth it!

We also hit up the Iolani Palace and of course we also went to the beach the days it was really sunny as well as hang out at the hot tub at my fathers place which was nice and relaxing. The only thing that we didn’t get to do was go to Haunama Bay. I didn’t expect the water to be so cold in Waikiki so we kind of canceled going to the bay to do snorkeling. I guess that leaves us something to look forward to on our next trip to the islands of Aloha. New Years was also really nice because they had fireworks right on Waikiki Beach so that was very different from most New Years events that I’ve been to

In a nutshell that was my trip with Claire for New Years. When we got back we found all the food bowls I left for my cats empty as well as the water bowls and it looked like my older cat got fatter too. But it was nice to go home after a week in Oahu. Since we still haven’t done everything there, there are still things for us to discover as well as other islands to visit in the future.