Bantam doesn't want AI War, but is willing to sell it back to me for $14K and change. I should be able to work with that. We've got a lot of legal bills at the moment (or to put it another way, Alan Rodgers persists in being the biological father of my older 3 kids) -- but court's going fairly-well-so-far, and my finances have gotten a lot better recently. I left fulltime employment and went back to consulting work 6 weeks ago. Amy's got a job lined up for September, when Connor goes to kindegarten, that includes first-rate medical insurance. Consulting is risker -- too risky for almost the entire time we've been together, with small children and the threat of astonishing medical bills, with Amy unable to work much because of babies and toddlers. (Someday I will tell the story of my son Connor's 5-week premature birth, the $300K medical bill from that, and how desperately both I and the insurance company tried not to pay it ... while the web boom was collapsing around me ...)
The last several years have seen a return to form for the industry. It's not late 90s boom days, but it's not 2002 either, and my phone rings once a week or so with someone looking to hire me for SQL Server contract work: there are some benefits to having had the same cell phone # for the last decade. So in March Amy and I decided I'd go back to contract, offering my time at $150 an hour, carrying Cobra until Amy's new job starts. I gave two months notice on my job -- data architect for a popular website, not to be named because Alan Rodgers keeps fantasizing in public about getting me fired from my various jobs -- and now I'm doing long-term contract with them and a couple other clients. So far it's gone well -- I've not quite doubled what I was making on salary.
Just in time for Alan to reappear in our lives, in fact. Ah, well. :-) Even with lawyer bills and Cobra, we're in the black on the move. When Amy goes back to work and the Cobra goes away and she starts getting paid, life will be better.
Saw Live Free or Die Hard last night. Best movie of the summer by a lot. It's not as good as the original Die Hard, but that's sort of like me saying that Larry McMurtry's other novels aren't as good as "Lonesome Dove" -- duh: regression to the mean is a bitch. There can only be one best of anything, and Lonesome Dove is the best novel I've ever seen, and Die Hard is the best action movie. Die Hard 2 was a misfire, Die Hard 3 I just watched recently and it's better than I remembered, though not in the ballpark of the original. Live Free or Die Hard approaches the original in places, which is high praise. It goes over the top at the end, though it's a lot of fun to watch even then -- good action movie cartoon is OK by me, but up until then I'd been in the movie, not outside it appreciating the effects work.
I won't go see it again this summer, but I'll certainly rent it on DVD when it comes out.
The Best Cheeseburger in Los Angeles ... is not the Kobe Burger at the Crocodile Cafe.
The Crocodile Cafe has changed its menu lately, though it does still have the classic Oakwood Cheeseburger on the menu. On Tueseday we were in court in downtown, so when we got done earlier than we expected, I took the family to lunch at the Crocodile Cafe on Lake Avenue in Pasadena. Rather than ordering the Oakwood Cheeseburger (though I was relieved to see it still on the menu) I got crazed and optimistic and ordered the Kobe Burger. I keep having a fantasy that someday I'll eat a great Kobe Burger that's going to rock my world -- I like the idea of great beef inside a burger -- but it hasn't happened yet, and maybe won't. The Croc's Kobe burger came with smoked Gouda cheese, Prosciuto ham, Cayenne mayo (which I quite liked -- I might order that with the Oakwood Cheeseburger next time I'm there.) Spinach greens, tomatoes, on a bun made of some good cut of bread I didn't quite recognize, but liked.
A serious disappointment. I ordered it medium rare, it came well done. The Gouda was OK, but cheddar would have been better, and the ham completely overwhelmed the taste of the burger. That Oakwood grill taste -- a 900 degree oak grill chars the burger like nothing else -- was there, and still superb, but even that couldn't compete with the taste of the ham. A 5. A sad, disappointed 5.
A few days prior to that I ordered the Fatburger on my way home from a long night onsite at a client's, 50 miles from home. There's a Fatburger open to 2 AM not far from where I live, so I hit it right before closing and got the basic Fatburger cheeseburger, flame grilled. This is the key to Fatburger: they make an OK fried burger. But they keep a flame grill off to the side of the frying grill, and it improves the burger substantially. No Fatburger variation is a 10, but there are several flame-grilled 9s, and this is one: relish, pickles, lettuce, tomato, cheddar, white bread bun, excellent flame-grilled patty. A consistent 9, I've had this burger several times a year for years now. The only kvetch is price -- In'N'Out can make a superb $1.65 cheeseburgert, and Fatburger charges roughly twice the amount for similar quality. A 9 anyway.