What I Did This Weekend

by TreeSweater

(This is like one of those essays you always had to write in September when school started again.)

I spent the weekend in Los Angeles, California so that I could attend The One Last Party, put on by TheOneRing.net.

This was my first trip to California. Unfamiliar vegetation – the trees, mostly – gave the place a sort of sci fi vibe. There were two kinds of what I guess were both palm trees, but one was taller with a skinny trunk, and the other was squattier with a thicker, hairy trunk. It was also a lot muggier there.

Hollywood was unimpressive, to be honest. To start with, I don’t watch TV and I hardly ever go to movies, so there isn’t really anything about Hollywood that interests me. I expected something more exotic and glittery, but it didn’t feel particularly different than the grubbier parts of Denver. Except that it was bigger. And grubbier.

I did go find Hollywood Boulevard, but there wasn’t much to see. They were putting up all the grandstands and stuff for the Oscars on Sunday, so you couldn’t even get to part of it. I found a few stars, although I had heard ahead of time that Peter Jackson’s star was under one of the grandstands, so I didn’t even look for that one.

I felt they had “jumped the shark” when they gave a star to Orlando Bloom a couple years ago, but after seeing some of the older recipients, it became obvious that the shark was well and truly jumped long before ol’ Orly came along. (The Smurfs? Really?? And the Munchkins???)

I didn’t do much sightseeing. I was there only a couple days and I wasn’t interested enough to brave public transport to look for anything out of walking distance. I did find a cool residential neighborhood behind and up the hill from the hotel. All stucco, plus all the weird plants and flowers – that sci fi vibe again. And it was an extremely steep, winding hill, to the point where, about halfway up, you have to lean forward and march.

The Party was fun, too. Everyone was dressed all fancy, either in evening dress or costumes. There were some amazing costumes – a Smaug with actual wings, a couple of fantastic Thorin Oakenshields (at least one of whom was a woman), a dead ringer for Elrond, lots of very hobbity hobbits. And some female dwarves (not just women dressed as dwarves, but dressed as female dwarves.)

The catered meal was yummy and the entertainment was fun. Emerald Rose, a Celtic band, was first and they were pretty lively. The California Dreamers were the main entertainment – the mostly 60s cover/Mamas and Papas tribute band that William Kircher (Bifur) and his wife started (I think).

I was a little disappointed that more celebrities didn’t attend (I was secretly hoping to see at least Richard Armitage and Graham McTavish), but we did get Bruce Hopkins (Gamling), John Bell (Bain), Sala Baker (Sauron/various Orcs), Mark Ordesky (Executive Producer LOTR), and Royd Tolkien (ROTK/DOS uncredited roles/JRRT’s great-grandson). Plus the Happy Hobbits, the Button Lady, and various other folks.

I took some photos of the guests and the performers, but they’re pretty crappy. My iPhone really doesn’t take good photos from that far away, but by that time, my shoes were off and I wasn’t about to put them back on to get closer for photos.

This link has way better photos:

http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2015/02/26/97207-check-out-24-fabulous-teaser-images-from-the-one-last-party/

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 10:26 AM  Comments (11)  
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And the day started out so well…

Shoes

Yep, those are my feet.

And I didn’t notice until I got to work (a 40-minute drive), so these are going to be my feet aaaall day!

We had a “skiff” of snow yesterday – at least 6 inches worth – so I knew I was going to need extra time to scrape off my car. We were running around last evening, so we’d already swept the worst of the snow off, so I just needed five more minutes for the overnight frost. The point is, I remembered *and* and got up early, too.

Most of the street lights were in my favor, too, except for a couple that I always have to sit through. The rest were either green or just turning green as I got to the intersection. That’s unheard of. Thankfully, the roads were dry, and I didn’t have too many slowpokes pull in front of me. So I was actually a couple minutes early to the office. That’s also unheard of.

Then, as I was walking to my cube, I looked at my shoes…

*sigh*

Some good news, though. See the brown pants in the photo? I haven’t been able to wear those since I started having tummy troubles because they’re a snug fit and that made me feel sick. Well, they’re still snug, but the last few days I have been able to wear snugger stuff and it’s not making me queasy! Yay! That means there are a couple things in my closet that I don’t have to get rid of, thinking I’d never wear them again.

Granted, these are stretchy, and the couple pairs of jeans I’m reclaiming are custom-fit. So the off-the-rack size 10 stuff probably will still have to go, not because they make me sick, but because they simply don’t go around me anymore.

But still…

Published in: on February 2, 2015 at 10:37 AM  Comments (5)  
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Missing Categories?

BTW, with the new post interface, has anyone else noticed that your list of categories is incomplete? Mine stops at around the letter “G.”

Published in: on January 26, 2015 at 11:07 AM  Leave a Comment  

I need a new title for my blog.

It doesn’t really qualify as “new” anymore. And the only place I really use “TreeSweater” anymore is on Twitter. And that only because it’s the account name. Although I do still have a tree wearing a sweater as my avatar here. Hmm…

It has been extremely slow at work for several weeks now, and it’s excruciating. They don’t want us billing to overhead too much, but there is no billable work to be done. And I don’t want to keep pissing away my PTO, because then I won’t have any when I need it later.

And I will need it later. I’m going to Los Angeles in February for “The One Last Party”!

Some of you may be familiar with TheOneRing.net. It’s the Tolkien website and forum that I have been chatting on since 1999, when they first started talking up the LOTR movies. TORn (as it’s affectionately known) is not officially affiliated with the filmmakers or the studio, but they have always had an “in” for interviews and stuff. And they’ve had other events that the film people have attended and been supportive of.

Anyway, since there won’t be any more movies after the Hobbit films, they decided to have one last big bash. And since this is the first time I’ve had the leisure to do something like this, I decided to go!

It’s a “formal” event, and I don’t have any occasion for formal clothes, so I have to decide if I want to spend money on an outfit that I’ll probably never wear again, or if I just want to try to fake something up with what I have in my closet. I guess if I got a formal-ish dress, I could make a point to wear it to things like company Christmas parties, although I haven’t bothered with them much lately, either.

I also have to figure out how the heck you dress in California in February. I’ve never been there at any time of year, so I’ll completely be a fish out of water. (Not that it’s easy to know how to dress in Colorado, either. It’s supposed to be nearly 70 today. And it’s the middle of winter, for pete’s sake!)

I’m really looking forward to the party, though. Some of the actors have promised to try to be there, so I can get my fangirl on! (Thorin and Dwalin…oh my!) And this is the first “vacation” I’ve taken in years.

I’ll try to get over my photo-phobia and take lots of pictures, but I feel self-conscious and intrusive taking photos, so I don’t promise anything. :P

Published in: on January 26, 2015 at 11:04 AM  Comments (7)  
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Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

I’m at work today. We get two days off for Christmas, which is usually Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but since Christmas is Thursday this year, they’re giving us the long weekend, and we’ll be off Friday instead.

This is going to be our first Christmas without either parent. It’ll be different. It’s nice not to be obliged to go spend time with people you don’t particularly enjoy being around. But still…

No need to rehash all that now. My sister bought a couple ham steaks and some side dishes and an apple pie, and we’re just going to have a pajama day at home. Messing around on Lord of the Rings Online, or something.

I may not literally spend the day in my pjs. And if the weather is nice-ish, I may get out for a walk, so that I don’t spend the entire weekend sitting on my rear. But it’ll be a quiet day, and that’ll be nice.

Speaking of work, one of my goals this year was to complete my Project Administrator certification. I was supposed to complete it by October 5, but that didn’t happen. I didn’t realize until too late that there was a live course I needed to attend, and I’d just missed the last one before my deadline.

Anyway, I took the course later in October, and tried my certification exam for the first time about a month ago. It requires 70% to pass, and I got 63%. Ugh! I can swear that some of the questions were from modules I didn’t take, so it didn’t seem really fair.

But I’d taken screen caps of all my answers, so I did some research on the ones I wasn’t sure of and tried again this morning.

On my second attempt, I got 69.69%. Augh!

One more rummage through the questions, and on my third attempt I got 72.72%!

Woot!

Have a lovely holiday, everyone, whatever you celebrate! (Or not!)

Published in: on December 24, 2014 at 1:08 PM  Comments (4)  
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Hobbit review (Here be spoilers)

I posted this on Facebook, and I thought I’d post it here, too.

Some (spoilery) thoughts about the last Hobbit movie.

Remember, I said spoilery.

S
P
O
I
L
E
R
S

You have been warned.

1. I hated Galadriel at Dol Guldur. She is too powerful. Sure she has a magic ring. But she is still Just. An. Elf. Gandalf and Saruman are Maiar. They are practically gods. And Gandalf seemed to have his magic ring, too. So there is no way in heck that Galadriel should have been the most powerful person there. Besides, if it was that easy to run Sauron out of Dol Guldur, then why couldn’t all the magic ring wearers just go gang up on Mordor and do it again? I loved Saruman opening up a can of whoop-ass on the Nazgul, though!

2. I thought they portrayed Thorin’s madness/gold sickness quite well. I’ve heard criticism that making it seem like a “disease” he couldn’t control undermined the impact of his eventual repentance and redemption, but I didn’t see it that way. And Richard Armitage hit it out of the park.

3. Tauriel…just no. It’s bad enough that she’s really only there to be the love interest of a male character, but in the third film, they destroy any pretense of her being a strong female role model for girls by having her be the distraction that leads directly to Kili’s death. What exactly is “girl-empowering” about a female character who ultimately still needs a man (both of them) to come rescue her in the end?

4. Legolas’ CGI stunts are still crap.

5. There were plot holes galore! Why did Beorn get a sum total of about 4 seconds of screen time? Who became King Under the Mountain after Thorin’s death? Does Bard become the King over Dale and Laketown, or is his “royalty” limited to a few sarcastic asides from Alfrid? What was the random scene with the somber music and people taking their hats off all about? Did Thranduil get his jewels back? If Arathorn’s son–known as Strider in the wild–could become a great man, why did they portray him as such a weenie in LOTR? Even after he became King? And why can’t Legolas go back home (and who cares)?

6. Balin and Dwalin were wonderful, especially in the scenes where Balin is mourning Thorin’s descent into madness, and where Dwalin is confronting Thorin for hiding in the Mountain and not going out to fight.

7. Thorin’s death scene was fantastic. Out of the park again, with another home run by Bilbo sobbing in anguish at the death of his friend. But it was completely spoiled by an immediate cut to Tauriel blubbing over Kili’s dead body. This movie is about the hobbit, dammit. Not the freaking elves!

8. Alfrid’s scenes were silly and over-the-top, but they didn’t clang as much as some other scenes did.

9. For the first time in a PJ Middle-earth film, there were no farts, no belches, no snot, no dick jokes, nothing off-color at all, that I can think of.

10. The 3D seemed almost like an afterthought. A couple places where furniture in the foreground swings in to view as the camera pans. Falling rocks looking up at Legolas’ ridiculous fight with Bolg on the fallen tower. And Thorin’s sword as he stalks toward Azog. And that was pretty much the 3D.

I can’t think of anything else right now. But my sister wants to see it again, so maybe I’ll think of more later.

Published in: on December 21, 2014 at 6:06 PM  Comments (2)  
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Oh the joys of home ownership…

Okay, I suck at this daily blogging thing.

Maybe I’ll try to do a post-a-day in January…

I’m sitting at home this afternoon, because I had to meet the furnace repair guy. On Saturday we noticed that it wasn’t pushing out warm air, and when you turned the thermostat up, you didn’t hear the tick noise of it striking.

Since we’ve wanted a programmable thermostat anyway, we tried simply replacing the old thermostat, but it still wasn’t warm. So we broke down and called the company that installed the furnace back in 2009 and had them send someone out to look.

I was impressed, first of all, that he was so prompt. When I talked to their dispatcher this morning, she’d said it might be 1:00 or after, and that he would call about 30 minutes before to let me know he was on the way. So I gave her my cell phone number and told her I’d be home by 1:00.

At 12:58, he called to verify the address and said he was on the way.

It was a quick and easy fix – the igniter had burned out – and he was in and out within an hour. It cost $428, but we have warm air!

I swear these plumbers and electricians are getting younger every year, though. This guy looked about 20 years old. Or maybe I’m just getting old…

Published in: on December 15, 2014 at 2:42 PM  Comments (3)  
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So, um…it’s December.

I started to post at work several times, and got distracted every time.

Our Thanksgiving day was fine. We went to friends and stayed too long and ate delicious food. I was okay after the main meal, but the pumpkin cheesecake is what pushed me over the edge into over-stuffedness. These are the folks we used to spend Thanksgiving with every year, before Dad got too poorly to want to get out, and we enjoyed seeing everyone again.

But we must have picked up a bug, because we were both sick on Saturday, and we heard that several of them had been sick, too. Bleh! I was actually only “sick” once, but for most of Friday night and Saturday day, I felt like I had acid crawling up my throat. And I must have irritated my esophagus or something, because certain things were uncomfortable to eat on Sunday.

It’s better today, but I couldn’t eat my whole lunch today, and I’ve got a nice little case of acid indigestion again tonight.

Apparently the world premiere of the third Hobbit film was tonight in London. I saw a link earlier today that had some spoilers from a movie tie-in book that was accidentally published too early. As an adaptation, it’s just getting worse. So I’m just going to go to the theater and pretend I went into the wrong one by mistake. :P

At least it’ll be pretty to look at:

I understand that Evangeline Lilly is right in front because she’s the best looking of the bunch, but this photo is a prime example of something that has bothered me all along about these films. The Elves aren’t even all that important to the story, but all along, they’ve been front and center of all of the publicity. And hell, the last two movies have been all about them anyway.

Bilbo who?

Published in: on December 1, 2014 at 8:17 PM  Comments (2)  
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I’m at work! And I’m workin’ hard!

Or hardly workin’. Same thing, right? It is the day before Thanksgiving.

I was going write about something I’m thankful for this year, but I couldn’t come up with a way to say it that didn’t sound cold-hearted and callous. So just suffice it to say that *everyone* is at peace now, and that’s a good thing.

NaNoWriMo is coming to an end. My 2014 attempt ended after the first hour when I decided that I couldn’t write with a dog in my lap. And I wasn’t staying awake anyway. Ha! Maybe next year.

I joined a NaNoWriMo group on Facebook a few months ago. Since this is NaNo month, lots of people in the group have been busily writing. The sad thing is that, based on the quality of some of their Facebook posts, a lot of these people shouldn’t be deluding themselves with any hopes of a *writing* career…

I have mostly stayed out of the Ferguson, MO discussions, but I really, really wanted to say something this morning when I read an article that said that if you dare to suggest waiting for the evidence before you opine, or that you want in any way to be fair to all parties, then you’re a troll.

The usual “if your opinion isn’t in lockstep with mine, then you are irredeemably stupid and evil.”

We get enough of that kind of bullshit from politics.

Since I have been such a slacker at posting, I’m thinking about doing an unofficial NaBloPoMo in December. Maybe mixing it up with a NaBloPhoToMo. I used to see things that I wanted to photograph all the time. Then I bought a camera, and naturally, I immediately lost interest in photography. Now that I have a camera on my phone, I really have no excuse.

My internal thermostat has been really messed up this fall/winter. I didn’t put blankets on the bed until we had our sub-zero deep freeze a couple weeks ago, and even now that night temps are hovering around freezing, I’m still waking up with an overheat/dehydration headache nearly every morning. In spite of guzzling water all day and all evening.

It potentially menopause, I suppose, but I’m not having night sweats or hot flashes. I’m just waking up with headaches and the Sahara desert in my mouth.

Some friendly advice: If you are looking to do some investing for retirement (or whatever) on your own that doesn’t involve your employer’s 401k, do NOT use UBS Financial. We have been trying for months to sort out mom’s estate (ONE stinking IRA), and it has been the most incompetent cock-up I have ever seen.

Thank God my sister works in the financial industry and knows how it’s supposed to work, so that she could call them 37 times and tell them no, that’s wrong. You are supposed to do it like this.

I hate to think how badly they have screwed over people who don’t know the system.

Let’s see…both meetings I had today have been cancelled. A task that we were supposed to complete today has been pushed back to next Friday. And half of the office didn’t even come in today.

Yeah, I think I’m leaving early today…

Happy, safe Thanksgiving to all who celebrate, and happy, safe rest of the week and weekend to everyone else!

Published in: on November 26, 2014 at 10:56 AM  Comments (8)  

This is the coffee shelf in my cubicle.

Don’t laugh.

CoffeeChoices

Published in: on November 19, 2014 at 4:05 PM  Comments (3)  
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