Breaking Bad Has Ruined Television For Me

Breaking Bad has ruined network television for me.  And it most cases cable television as well.  It’s just too good.

Having a conversation with my coworkers about the new series Terra Nova on FOX it just hit me: I really have a hard time watching network television after being exposed to the awesomeness that is Breaking Bad.  To Terra Nova’s credit it’s a good show in its own right, and it fills a sci-fi niche that has been missing from prime time for a long time.  But it’s just not good.  It really isn’t.

Before I bash Terra Nova too much I’ll just stop right here because that conversation could have been about almost any show on NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX.  The quality of shows being shown on network TV is just weak.  Either that or my taste for what is on those channels has soured almost completely.

Here is my reason for why I feel the way that I do: character development.  I just can’t connect with more than a couple of characters on any sitcom or crime drama (ok, comedies).  Breaking Bad however…well, now that’s a different story.  I may not be able to relate to the characters but I can sure as Hell connect with them somehow.  Whether it’s good writing or good acting I have no idea.  But when I’m sucked in to a show from the first 10 seconds of the series premiere to the last second of the season finale (season 4) then that means something.

Personally I hope that shows like this never make it to network.  And I hope they stay away from pay cable channels like HBO.  They already have their shows, as well as sketchy series schedules.  I’ve seen a few shows die after a few seasons without any warning or explanation.  So keep your premium channels shows just as they are and leave my AMC alone.

If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad yet then I suggest that you do.

Five Years

Grief is a difficult and terrible emotion born from a tragic moment. Add another tragedy that reaches back and reminds someone of sorrow they have not yet healed from and this is called compounded grief. Compounded grief is also known as complicated grief and can delay the cycle of healing.

In February, 2006 I lost my grandfather, and my father lost his father.  The last time that I saw him was on December 30, 2005 as I wanted to visit my grandparents before flying back to San Diego on New Years Eve.  My grandmother was out playing cards so I wasn’t able to see her,  but Granddad and I sat and talked and joked for a few hours before I left for the night.  I shook his hand goodbye.  It was the last time I saw him.

In October, 2006 I lost my uncle, and my father lost a little brother.  Chris passed away because of a brain tumor that was never completely removed and kept coming back.  He fought the good fight but succumbed to it and was taken long before his time.  The last time I saw him was at my grandfather’s memorial service and he looked healthy and on the way back to recovery.  I think I am lucky to have not been around to see him fade the way he did.

In February, 2007 I lost my grandmother, and my father lost his mother.  I was only able to visit her once after my grandfather and uncle passed away and it was clear to me that the end wasn’t far away.  I can imagine that when you lose your husband and your youngest son only eight months apart that the grief is unbearable.

Grandma was the third death on my Dad’s side of the family that we had experienced in a year and none of us had really had a chance to recover from the first.  There was so much compounded grief that my Dad was losing his faith and nobody was able to figure out how to handle all of those deaths with any kind of comfort.  Their passings are still hard to deal with since their memories are so frequently brought up as if it had just happened.

A couple of weeks ago I drove to Inova Alexandria Hospital to see my aunt, my Dad’s oldest sister where she told me that she probably had cancer.  She had just found out herself and at the time it was believed to be ovarian cancer, and now it’s been confirmed to be peritoneal cancer (cancer of the lining of the stomach).  She is so weak that the prognosis is not good and I find myself bracing for yet another death on my Dad’s side of the family.

The one difference that sets this situation apart from the others is that this time I’m here to be part of the familial grieving process. In California I was so far removed from what was happening that I had to cope with things on my own, so being here may be helpful or it may be hurtful.  I really have no idea what to expect and my head is spinning from the possibilities.

It’s Just a Name

I read this post recently and decided to write about the topic of anonymity and the internet, and how easy it is to hide in this place if we choose to.

By writing in this blog I’m essentially hiding behind a pseudonym.  Granted, it’s one that I’ve had for years (with a variation of it being error404ts) but it’s still not my real name.  When I came up with it the intention wasn’t to hide behind it or use it as some fake personality to manifest in cyberspace.  Yet here I am still using it and even embracing it at times, and were it not for my picture in the “about me” section I would have all kinds of deniability on my side.  There are several close friends who know my by this name, but most don’t.

Not only are there pseudonyms that people can hide behind, there is also the option for multiple email addresses.  I have three – Gmail, Yahoo, and work.  I’ve had more but have long-since abandoned them since they were all created for various reasons like job searches, SPAM dumps, and others that I can no longer remember.  Gmail is my main email, Yahoo is for crap that I sign up for and never want to be bothered with reading messages sent there, and work is for work.  Some people have many more email addresses than I do and use them.  It’s mind-boggling.  Hiding from their wives and husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends, et, etc…

What can appear to be something “safe” to hide behind can also be just as debilitating.  I won’t go in to the details of the example that I’m going to use, but the facts speak for themselves because let’s face it: most people are too ignorant (or comfortable) in using their other names and wind up slipping up at some point.  This example involves a dating site called Plenty of Fish (POF) that is really nothing more than a hook-up site for anyone who signs up.  Not that everyone on there is looking for just a hook-up, but it’s definitely not as serious as the pay-to-play sites like eHarmony and Match.  A friend of mine found her boyfriend there after being suspicious of his activities.  I have no idea how she decided to go on POF to look, but she did go there specifically to find him.  Watching that whole thing go down was just painful.  I’ve seen similar things happen with MySpace where someone deletes an account only to create a secret account later on under a different name.  Very original.

Come up with a nickname or pseudonym and voila, instant alter ego!  Any douchebag name will do, just name yourself after your pick-up truck or football team or Barbie doll and you’re in.  Will your significant other find you?  Maybe, maybe not.  After all, if you’re smart you will have created a new email address to go along with your new dating self, and to be even smarter you will have made that email address nothing like your real one.  Are you that smart?

God help you if you end up getting caught on those dating sites though.  Because you never know who else is out there legitimately looking for a love connection.  Maybe your better half’s best friend?  Their mother? Their dog?  You never know who you’re going to run in to.  You’re better off not doing it at all, right?  Eh, who am I kidding?  You’re gonna do it anyway because you’re smarter than that.  Riiiiight….

Your address book on your phone is another place to hide your secret contacts from your significant other.  I’ve never done this and have no plans to, but I know others that have.  It’s plain stupid.  Another friend of mine had a boyfriend that would give the girls that he had extracurricular rendezvous with boy names that were recognizable as that girl names he was “playing” with.  “Sam” for Samantha, “Jack” for Jacqueline, “Chris” for Christy, etc.  But when “Jack” sends a text that says, “I miss your touch”, well, your boyfriend either has a lot of explaining to do about his sexuality or he’s cheating.

Dating is hard enough without the douchebaggery of online cheating.  sometimes I don’t know what’s worse – the people who are cheating or the boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife that find immoral ways of finding out that they’re cheating.  Posing as someone else to catch a person posing as someone else, finding out passwords to email accounts and breaking in to read what’s being said, you name it.  Whatever happened to straight up confrontation?

Heavy sigh.  I remember when dating used to be complicated.  Now it’s just ridiculously hard.  Next I’ll have to write about the complications of Facebook and social networking on your personal life.  Jeez….

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My Beef with the Holidays…

…is very simple.  Sentiment.  One word, that’s it.  To be more specific it’s my inability to handle the existence of sentiment for the ghosts of Christmas past.  Someone needs to password lock my email and put a breathalyzer on my phone and force me to drink enough that I’d have to pass it to gain access.  If all that fails I need someone to keep an eye on me to physically restrain me from breaking my own rules.  Nope, the Holidays are a tremendous weakness for me and I the whole bit about forgiveness and love and all that stuff really gets to me.

Damn you Holidays.  I love you and hate you at the same time.  Sigh… here’s to making it through without slipping up.

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Moved. And a Little Less Comfortable for It.

Watching the Sun set from Del Mar

Almost 2 months ago I traveled across the country for the second time.  Much like the first time I made the move because there were some things in my life that desperately needed to change.  The first time was because I needed to change how I was living my life, while the second time is because I had become stagnant in that lifestyle.  Now I’m wondering if being stagnant wasn’t so bad.

I have moved back to Virginia, the state from which I moved from initially, and have settled in to an apartment a little south of my office in wonderful Old Town Alexandria.  My office is great and it’s nice to be surrounded by so many great places to visit.  My drive to work is a few miles longer than the more direct path along Route 1, but I consider that to be a small price to pay since the scenery along the George Washington Parkway past Mount Vernon is quite beautiful.  And my office is right on the Potomac so I get to see the water every day.  I’m finally able to get back to doing what I enjoy doing at work, and it’s in a great office environment with some great people.  From a work standpoint I’m exactly where I need to be, and I could be even further along had I never left this area to begin with.

But there is something missing.  A social life that I had in San Diego is no longer as available to me here.  I’ve traded a somewhat stagnant (but active) social life in San Diego for an even more stagnant (and dormant) one back in the DC area.  The rediscovery that nobody in this area really likes to (or can) hang out during the week is disheartening for sure.  Socializing is left for the weekends and my weekends have no been spent here but elsewhere for reasons that I’ll keep to myself.  This weekend was the only weekend that I’ve had available so far to hang out locally and it’s been less than successful due to poor planning on my part; forgetting how slow traveling the DC Metro can be, underestimating the time that it takes to travel everywhere, lounging around the apartment longer than I should have, etc.  Getting around just isn’t as easy as it is San Diego.

“Starting over” the way I am is proving to be much more uncomfortable than I had predicted.  I miss San Diego.  I miss my friends there.  The reality that I am not here visiting just for the Holidays is hitting me and the mini panic attacks that I keep having are having an effect on my mood.  I’m counting on the feelings that I’m having to go away because while I have them I will be an extremely unhappy person.  Today I started to give in to the thoughts that I’ve been fighting off for the last several weeks.  Fighting the thoughts that I’ve made a terrible mistake by coming here, and questioning my reasons.  My reasons for coming here are valid so those aren’t even arguable, but somehow I’ve managed to try.

This was meant to be a positive experience and I’m determined to make it one.  I won’t let my current frame of mind get the best of me.  Some serious changes have to be made in order to make this change that I’ve made work.

Dell Studio Post Getting the Larget Hits

My post for calibrating the color of the Dell Studio laptop has been getting the most hits but I’m not sure if it’s being helpful at all. It’s apparent that more than a few people are having similar issues with the color on that laptop monitor.

For anyone that reads this does this have anything to do with the fact that it’s an LED screen instead of an LCD? I’m still debating over whether or not an LED flat screen TV is the way to go instead of another LCD.

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Living in the Moment.

I used to not know how to live in the moment.  I didn’t know how to really appreciate the joy that experiencing the here and now can bring.  It took spending time with more than a few people who lived life so gingerly that it no longer appeared to be enjoyable to see how important it is to throw caution to the wind.  Or at the very least forget about it for a little while.

Have you ever played chess or seen someone play chess?  Typically chess players think 3-5 moves ahead and focus on the most plausible ones.  It’s possible to play on instinct and still make good choices, and this instinct comes from years of experience.  But what happens when a person lives their life like a chess player and plans out every experience 3-5 moves ahead?  What happens when every move is so calculated and examined that only the safest and danger-free path is chosen to avoid being hurt or disappointed?  What happens when it’s not just the plausible moves that are considered and they conjure up some implausible ones as well?

There is a definite need for planning ahead and ensuring that you have some sort of loose plan for your life.  However, recently I’ve been spending time with some folks who have made me realize even more the importance of enjoying the present because worrying about the future only diminishes the experience.  They’re leading their lives like chess players and trying to think of the possible moves that they can make so that their lives will be easier.  When you plan your life out using a flow chart of your options you may think that you’re living life smartly, but you’re really limiting yourself to the number of wonderful possibilities available to you and living by a set of restrictions.

Even though I never really got in to the SoCal way of life after living in San Diego for 8 years I did learn the importance of letting go, even if it was just a little bit.  Not that I planned my life out step by step, but I would think about things so much that I ended up not taking any action at all and therefore missed out on a lot of fun.  Southern Californians lead lives that are wonderfully laid back, and even when things aren’t going so well there is always time to relax and enjoy the sunset or surf, to have a a drink with a friend, and to enjoy the sound of the palm trees rustling from the light breeze coming from the ocean.  It was important to take in the beauty of the now and not worry about pressures of every day life.  It was important to live.  I picked up on some of that and I’m so much more relaxed for it.

Try not to limit your decisions to some fabricated flow chart of your life.  Do your very best to take the experiences of your past and learn from them without becoming colder and closed.  It’s not an easy thing to do because by being open to new experiences there is the distinct possibility that you will get hurt.  And there is also the distinct possibility that you will experience something wonderful and feel a little more alive.

Live in the moment.

Tandem skydiving at Otay Lake, Chula Vista, California (that's me strapped to that dude's belly)

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