Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Royalties, sandwiches, saving money, XBOX live, shatterproof window film, and the Shedd.

I haven't written anything qualitative on here in a while, and that always leaves me in a position where I have a lot to say and just barely enough time to say it. I'm at home on a Tuesday morning waiting for John to finish his morning nap so I can take him to daycare and go to work till 7PM. These Tuesdays are tricky because there's really no middle-of-the-day time to eat lunch. What I end up doing generally is either eating too early (right before John wakes up at about 10:30AM, or after our meetings have finished and right before the patients come at about 3:00PM. I get no scheduled lunch break, so the option is usually to starve now or starve later, which for someone who performes medical care on you, is not exactly the sort of distraction that my patients probably want.

So I'm trying a new strategy: In order to save some money on our outrageous $800/month grocery bill, I'm making my own sandwiches everyday and taking them rather than buying pre-prepared meals like Stouffers or Lean Cuisines. At one point it was cheaper to buy the pre-prepareds than make sandwiches with lunchmeats, but at this point it's about the same, and I discovered that with an actual sandwich in my stomach rather than a Lean Cuisine, I could go considerably longer before becoming hungry. Hence, I have to bring fewer peanuts/crackers/snacky foods, and I spend less money overall. That's the theory anyway. This is day two of the test run, and I managed to go from 6:30AM yesterday to 8:00PM eating a bowl of cereal, a granola bar, and one turkey sandwich. I was ravenous by the time I got home, however, so that isn't quite enough food.

This is about as interesting as life gets for me in January.

I have been playing Call of Duty 4 with some friends and co-workers (and even my nephew, who is in college) online with XBOX live. I've been quite impressed by the service. As a veteran of multiplayer online games like Diablo and Counterstrike, my experience has been that you get laggy connections, jittery gaming, and when you can finally connect you usually play rooms full of basement-dwelling, professional meta-gamer assholes. XBOX live was a pleasent suprise in this sense. The connection was fast with little or no perceptible game lag even on a wireless connection which is only 1/10th of the speed of Ethernet, and with the headphones you can even talk to your opponents which facilitates just LOADS of hilarious trash-talking. Better still, the XBOX has a system of Achievement points that you unlock by playing games that doubles as a sort of skill-meter that matches you up with people of approximately your same skill level. This leads to lively, fun, LAN party-style games rather than 5 uber-gamers plus you.

Sadly, my free one month subscription to XBOX live runs out in a day or two, and to get it for a year is $59.99, which I can't afford at the moment. This was one of those wonderful months where there are three saturdays within the same pay period meaning instead of splitting $400 between two loads of groceries, I have to buy three. In a blink, all my extra cash for the month is gone. Boo. Things are picking up at work, however, so I'm hoping that will translate into some positive cash flow.

We live in a two bedroom condo, but there are actually three rooms to it, including a sun-porch that has been enclosed with real windows and carpeted like a third room. This used to be a massage room as pictured below (isn't my wife smokin?), but now is my office as John moved into our old office.

Anyway, you can see that it is separated from the living room not by a wall but by a set of large picture windows and a glass door. None of these, unfortunately, are safety glass. Safety glass is what is needed, however, to keep my rambunctious little guy from shattering them with whatever dense object (including his forehead) is on hand. So rather than pull the windows out at a cost of $_______ (insert rediculous inflated Evanston price here), we decided to put this 3M safety film on instead. Long story short, the windows look terrible now because I'm not a professional at this and it was quite difficult to install smoothly, but on the bright side we basically have bulletproof glass between our living room and front room now. John happily bangs away at it harmlessly. Yay!

We also took John to the Shedd Aquarium to see the baby Beluga whales, dolphins, giant sea turtle, and penguins. We got very little footage from this because in general the aquarium is kept dark so you can see the fish, but nonetheless it was very fun. Here's a picture from a recent sledding trip.

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