Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can the Red Sox trade Manny Ramirez to the Green Bay Packers...

for Brett Favre?


a Jack update

For those of you who remember Jack, a co-worker of the wife who was hospitalized and, in that process, found out he's HIV positive and almost died...

He's doing much better now. He's at home and his mother is staying with him for a while. He's still pretty weak, and won't be back at work anytime soon, but he is off all the life sustaining equipment. The wife still visits from time to time. The doctors told him many people who were in his condition don't survive, so it was pretty close for a while. For now though, things are looking up.


will golf ever love me back?

Maybe if I practiced....or played more...or something.

OK, I played with someone who is terrible....and yes, there is a such thing as more terrible than me. It was a two man team scoring format, and with that much LOFT (lack of f***ing talent) involved, I really shouldn't have expected more.

To be honest, we didn't do all that bad, considering who we were, and it was fun. It just hits you when you turn in your score card, and someone who actually plays golf and is good at it asks, "how'd you do?" Your partner, who's actually a little proud of the score, pipes up with "we're 12 over" and the reaction is an ugly grimace, followed by a condescending "If I were 12 over, I think I would have quit after the first few holes."

Well, maybe so, but we're not you. We don't play every week and twice on the weekend. I understand some folks are fanatical about golf, and competitive as hell about it as well. I'm just not one of them. I love getting out and playing the game, which is why I'd never quit after a few holes. The score is less important to me than getting out and hitting the ball, and if I get to hit it a few more times than the next guy, am I not actually getting a little more for my money?


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

back to golf

I'm actually playing tonight...the $5 9 hole evening good deal after work. I used to do this thing every week in years past, but real exercise and other obligations have gotten in the way this year and I haven't played all that much...and I miss it.

Let's face facts. I've never been very good at it. Still, I enjoy getting out there and playing the game. I like hitting the little white ball through manicured fairways...into the trees, to try to pull off the shot between two of them that, if I'm really lucky, could get to the green. I really enjoy the few times I actually pull that shot off. I like seeing the shots I make that look like a real golfer made them. It's fun.

The problem with golf, as I see it, is it's a black hole of time. It just sucks time in and doesn't let go. You need to be able to invest most of a day to go play. Sure, you can get up before dawn and be done at noon, but if you do that, you aren't getting the whole golf experience. You play 18 holes, and that's it. Part of golf, for most guys, is the camaraderie. You spend some quality time with your buddies, swapping stories and afterwards, have a beer or two telling more stories. Note, I said a beer or two. That doesn't mean you go home drunk. Still, to have that kind of experience, you leave the house and nobody should reasonably expect to see you for a good six or seven hours. For me, that kind of time doesn't come easy, which is why I haven't played 18 holes since last year.

Tonight I'll get a little of golf lite. I'll get to play 9 holes after work, spend some time with buddies and have...maybe one beer. I'll be home by 9:00. It's a nice compromise, and at least lets me play a little of a game I miss.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sometimes I wish they'd take their name to heart

....and just move org.

" Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on important national issues." (a quote from their website). Non-partisan my ass! That's why you're doing Obama ads...because you're...ahem...non-partisan. But hey, that's not the first lie. It's just one of many, but there's no law that says websites have to be honest.

I won't begrudge them their right to say whatever they feel the need to say, or paying for air time to say it. Sometimes though, it just makes me shake my head.

So, my brain "on hope" is a baby chick. No, perhaps your brain on hope is a baby chick, which might explain a lot. Pardon me if I expect just a tad more from my brain. I hope, but if I expect anything to come from that hope, I expect to work, too. Holding a chick ain't gonna cut it, and neither is expecting anyone else to do the work for me. I suppose, if that's where you are, and you hope Obama, or anyone else, is going to make your life all better, you'd better hold on to that chick. In time, it might get you a chicken dinner.

The commercial (you can see it on the link) features people who supposedly lost hope in the last 8 years, because George Bush was in the White House. Oh, please. During the 8 years before that, when the most memorable thing that happened was Bill staining a dress with his DNA, I never lost hope. That's because my hope was never based on what he was doing...or not doing. It's always been based on what I do, given my current situation. It's based on my belief in myself, not what a bunch of ass kissing ex-lawyers in Washington do. Again, if Obama (or McCain, for that matter) is where your hope is....hang on to that chick. It's the only concrete thing you've got.

but then we have the current Irish take on it all....

"We in Ireland can't figure out why you people are even bothering to hold
a presidential election in the US this year.

On one side, you have a pants wearing bitch who is a lawyer, married to a lawyer who can't keep his pants on, running against a lawyer who goes to the wrong church, married to a bitch who is a lawyer and doesn't even like the country her husband wants to run.

On the other side, you have a war hero with a nice Irish sounding name, married to an attractive woman who owns a beer distributorship.

What are you lads thinking over there?"


an objective review

Sometimes I surf through websites that purport to give opinions on equipment. Since my two major interests are golf and bicycling, golf and bike equipment are what I look at, to see what other people think of what I own, and to look at some other stuff to see how it compares, and stuff I may purchase in the future.

My two favorite websites to do this are golf review and road bike review. I've held this theory for a while, but last night, while reading about a driver I'm contemplating buying, it really hit home. What these reviews consist of is people who have bought whatever it is, and then tell you what they think of it. The premise seems good enough, but human nature being what it is...the practice just goes down the tubes.

You end up reading what some guy, who just sunk $300 or more into a new golf club, thinks of his purchase. How many times do you think you'll hear that it's a piece of carp? Next to never. That's how many times. The idea that someone will be objective about something they just put a sizable cash investment into is pretty silly.

You get two kinds of reviews. You get that guy...the one who just paid an outrageous sum, that he's probably been saving for quite some time, for golf equipment of some sort. He may have been eyeing it in stores, coveting it for months. He's not going to tell you that he just blew it, even if he thinks he did. He won't admit failure. This is the culmination of months of work. If he really thinks he just threw away hundreds of dollars, you won't be reading about it. He'll sulk in a corner, maybe, but he won't be telling you all about it on the internet. The other kind of review you get is one that pans whatever is being reviewed, written by a guy who doesn't own it. He hit the club 5 times off a plastic mat at the golf shop and didn't like it, and decided to tell the world, based on 5 swings, that the club sucks.

It's the same with bikes, only magnified, because bikes cost more. Nobody who just sunk a thousand dollars (or more) into a bike is giving you an objective opinion of the bike. To be fair, most people who do that will ride several and buy the one they like best. You can equate it to test driving cars. Therefore, when you read a review, you're reading someone who tried several bikes and liked this one better than the others. Of course it's coming off in glowing terms, but at least it's based on some evaluation, even if it's 20 minutes in the saddle of comparison shopping. What I'd love to see is someone, who maybe rented the bike for a week on vacation, who has no real money invested in it, compare it to what they normally ride. that might be worth something. Those people aren't writing reviews though. They're vacationing, on a rented bike.


Monday, July 28, 2008

the very slow weekend

Friday night we were being good friends, picking someone up from the airport (about a 45 minute drive). The guy I used to bike ride with, before the Navy sent him over seas, is in Sicily. His wife went to see him for about a trip over via Navy space available, but had to fly commercial to get home in time to get back to we got her home from the airport.

Saturday morning I got up to ride. The youngster balked and I wasn't arguing, so I decided to go 50 miles....and did. The thing was, the trip was being unusually hard. No, it's never exactly a piece of cake, but for some reason this trip was being overly exhausting. Toward the end, I had about 48 miles in when I got back to the neighborhood, so I did a lap and cruised up and down a few streets, and stopped to talk to a friend. While we were talking, I got a little dizzy. That wasn't all, and a bit scary even. I got home and sat down for a while. I got through a shower and did the grocery shopping.....and crashed. I felt like I was running a low grade fever, but never really checked. After dinner, I took some Motrin and went to bed....and didn't get up until 9:30 Sunday morning. I took it easy Sunday. grilling burgers was about the most strenuous thing I tried, but to be honest, by Sunday night I felt a lot better.

Today, even though I pretty much wasted the weekend, I feel fine. I know I'll get an argument if I try to go to the gym tomorrow night, but I think I'm pretty much over whatever it was....and livin' to charge through another day!

Happy Monday!


Friday, July 25, 2008

it's a small small small small world

Well, maybe not that small.

Last night the wife and I continued our non-extravagant tour through the local eating establishments...Applebees.

As soon as we sat down, another couple (friends of ours) from the neighborhood walked in, so they joined us. It was pretty coincidental. We hadn't seen them in a few months, so we caught up a bit over dinner. It was trivia night at the local Applebees, so the four of us gave it a try. We got a little over half of them right, but obviously weren't going to win anything...which was a bit humbling for me. I used to be pretty damn good at trivia, but I was dying a slow trivial death last night. We left before it was over. I mean was already after 9:00....a huge night out for the Lumberyard folks, and they were just starting round three (each round had three or four questions) and we didn't know if a round four was coming after that, and we had no hope of winning the amazing $50 Applebees gift certificate that went to the we forfeited.

What southwest state used the tourism slogan, "It's like a whole other country."?

Me? I thought maybe New Mexico....because it's like Mexico, only...New. Maybe Mexico is supposed to be the whole other country it's like. I mean, here in Florida we have Miami, and it's like a whole other country....Cuba. So much for Lumberyard logic.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

bits and pieces

The youngster's out of town this week, touring coastal Georgia with mom-in-law. It gives the wife and I some time to ourselves, give him some time with grandma, and makes me realize how much I miss him when he's not here. All good things.

In his absence, the wife and I have gone out to dinner more than usual. Nothing too extravagant, but just...out. Last night...Longhorn Steak House. Home of country music and a good steak, and in my opinion, the best birthday jingle of any restaurant...
"Fry a chicken
Catch a hawg
It's your birthday
Hot dawg!"
Not that it was either of our birthday. We were just there to eat. Behind us was what seemed to be grandparents and a granddaughter. Grandpa was doing his best to ruin their meal, our meal, and anyone else's in earshot, talking rather loudly about the girl like she wasn't there...

"Why does she have to blah blah blah..."
"Why doesn't she blah blah blah..."
"She won't even blah blah blah..."
"We should just leave if she won't blah blah blah... Let's get out of here!"
"She wants mac and a steak place???"

Well, yeah she wants mac and cheese. So do a lot of kids. That's why it's on the kids menu. Yes, the girl wasn't saying much, and she was definitely wasn't saying a word to him. I can't blame her. He was being an asshole. Grandma was struggling to keep the peace, and it was all very tense. I know it's none of my business, but I struggled to bite my tongue. I succeeded, but still...

We talked a little about next summer. The wife is working on her bachelors degree and should be done by early next summer...and we haven't road tripped north in a few years. Next summer we may have to head back to Pennsylvania. I checked into it a little, and the MS chapter in Harrisburg has a bike ride through Amish country in July (it was last weekend). On a humorous note, their web page about teams riding in the event has four pictures of team tents. They obviously aren't pictures of team tents from their ride, because the fourth picture is of our team tent last year in Daytona (note the palm trees in the background). In any case, can you hear the wheels turning? Just might be pedaling through covered bridges next July.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

back in the saddle

My usual routine for at least the last 6 months has been bike on weekends, hit the gym on Tuesday and Thursday. Well, during our week off, I skipped out on the gym. I didn't feel that bad about it because I did go bike riding several times...3 times over 50 miles. Last Tuesday was the wife's birthday, so I blew it off. Thursday I blew it off because....well, because I was being a slacker. I had no good excuse for Thursday, but I didn't go.

Therefore, last night was the first time in a while. Biking is good, but there are muscles that get more attention in the gym than they do on a bike. Consequently they demand more attention afterwards. That's OK. It's just a reminder to get out and do more than pedal.

While there though, and watching Sports Center, I got to see some brawl at a WNBA game. The announcer actually said it could be good for the game because it has people talking about the WNBA. Well, I guess that's true to a point. I mean, here I am blogging about it, but that's only because nothing else even close to earth shattering happened. By this evening, I'll have forgotten all about it...and the WNBA...again.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

no, I don't watch enough TV

I can't say I've ever watched the ESPYs on ESPN, but yesterday morning the sports talk guys were critiquing Justin Timberlake's performance as emcee and generally gave him a thumbs up. Part of the discussion, though, was about the funny parts, and it got into the funniest ESPY moment. Jamie Foxx's serenade of Serena Williams won, hands down. It's a few years old, so some of you may have seen it before. It was new to me, and now I can't get the song out of my head.


color me surprised

Barak Obama writes a free advertisement/op ed piece for the New York Times, and they run it. So then we have John McCain, doing the same tit for tat carp that made me shake my head when they both did ads for Army Wives. I hate the stupidity of politics, and yes, both sides do it. Anyway, McCain feels compelled to send the Times his op ed piece/rebuttal/free advertisement. Let's face facts John. No fan of the New York Times is voting for you....what's the point? It's the paper version of Rush Limbaugh from the other perspective, and that's putting it mildly. At least Limbaugh makes no pretense of being an objective source of truth. He's up front with the fact that he's all opinion and all extremely conservative. The Times tries to hide behind a very thin disguise that says it has no..cough cough...agenda.

The Times, in it's politically correct wisdom, rejected McCain's piece, proving once really means all the liberal news that's fit to print.


Monday, July 21, 2008

as we get closer to the Bike MS: PGA TOUR Cycle to the Shore

Daymn, MS 150 was a lot easier to say. Marketers. Go figure.

The youngster is a confusing individual. I don't understand how this works, but it does. On any given Saturday morning, getting him out of bed to ride is a chore. He buries his head in his pillow and the whining starts about getting up so early. Then we get out there and he's complaining about how fast and how far we have to go. He'll usually go about 25 - 30 miles and then I drop him at home and go farther on my own. I struggle to keep him on a 17 mile an hour pace.

Then, once a month, the MS Society has an organized training ride. We have to get up earlier, because we have to drive to the ride. Usually, I'll stop at a fast food place to get him some food on the way (and maybe this is it...because he eats before we go at home, but there's less time before we actually ride). We get there, and there are lots of other people. We check in and then hang for a few minutes before it starts..and he gets itchy to go.

Then it starts, and it's like he's in his element. He starts cruisin'. There's no complaining. He wants to keep up with/pass other groups along the way. Still, it's pretty much just the two of us, but he's pushing 20 miles an hour and I have to remind him not to burn himself out early. We'll stay with a few other people for a while, and then he'll just start pushing. We did 37 miles Saturday morning and he was rarin' to go, even at the end. I think we could have gone back out and done another 20 and he wouldn't have batted an eye. At 10:00 on a warm July morning after we finished, he was bearly breaking a sweat. I was...a pound or two lighter than when we started.

Maybe it's just the atmosphere with all the other riders doing the same route with us. Maybe it's all the motorcycle/police support. I'm not sure. All I know is it seems to have an effect on him. At least it's a positive one.


Friday, July 18, 2008

colonoscopy - revisited

In the last post, I noted that mom-in-law stays with us when she goes through this ordeal. She doesn't do it that often, but when she does, we give her a bathroom and a stand for her books, and just clear out. Over the last couple times, she's looked at me with this morbid sort of glee, saying, "You're time's coming."

Well, I told her about my visit with Mr. My Doctor, and when I mentioned the 'c' word, her eyes lit up and she got this nasty cackle in her voice....until I told her I stopped the guy in his tracks.

"I can't believe that. I can't believe he let you get away with that."

"What? I told him no. He asked if he could schedule it and I refused."

"He's not making you go?"

"He can't make me do anything. I didn't say never. I just don't think I need to start that routine quite yet. He said I need to do it before I turn 60. I'm only 51, for God's sake."

She's genuinely me! It's like I pissed in her corn flakes by opting out of a trip to disgusting-world. She feels like I got away with something and took away the joy of watching me feel her pain, so to speak. She was looking forward to this day with some kind of nasty anticipation. I yanked the rug out from under her, and she's not happy about it.

Sorry mom-in-law...but I don't feel the least bit guilty about ruining your fun.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

you say tomato, I say tomaaahhhhto, you say colonoscopy, I say no freakin' way

Went to see Mr. My Doctor yesterday, because frankly, I haven't been insulted enough lately, so I had to go pay this guy to do it.

It began with the usual..."I'd really like to see you drop 15 pounds...more than that actually, but for now I'll settle for 15." Thanks so much. That's what I came for. We talked about a few other things and then the discussion took a new turn...right up my ass.

Doc: You're 51 years old now, we should probably schedule a colonoscopy.

Me: WHAT??? Why would we want to do that?

Doc: Because you're 51 years old.

Me: Can you give me a better reason, because that's not really cutting it for me.

Doc: Really, the procedure's not that bad. You'll snore right through it.

Me: It's not the procedure I'm avoiding. It's the 24 hours before it, when you make me drink a 50 gallon drum of the liquid that turns me into a human shit cannon. Mom-in-law stays with us when she goes to Mayo for hers. I know when that's happening because we don't see her at all that day, and one bathroom in the house is unusable by anyone else....because her ass is on it and numb from going to sleep after the first hour. She takes about 12 novels she's been dying to read in there, and stays put. When she goes in for the colonoscopy, she's very ready to sleep, because she she just pulled an all-nighter on the toilet. She's afraid of what might happen if she dozed off in her bed and couldn't get back in time. Brings a whole new meaning to "scared shitless."

Doc: Well, yes, the day before can be unpleasant.

Me: Thank you Captain Understatement.

He then when through several attempts to get me to where I'd have him schedule the thing...soon. I pushed him back to at least 4 years from now. I tried to explain that giving me the medical equivalent of the date rape drug, and then shoving a sex toy with a camera on the end of it up my ass could be construed as a crime in several Florida counties. Next to a pervert taking camera phone pictures up skirts, he's looking a whole lot more guilty. Excuse me if I'm not overly enthusiastic. Don't give me that "but I'm a doctor" line either. It didn't work in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I'm not quite ready to let it slide with him. I don't have that many rules in my life, but one is to avoid anything that ends in the phrase 'oscopy' at all costs.

Then to top it off, I go to check out and make my next appointment and the receptionist says, "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

Me: That depends.

Rec: Well, at least you're not overweight. He really lights into those people.

Me: He told me to lose 15 pounds.

Rec (very surprised): No way! You're pretty slim.

Me: Well, that what he said.

Rec (shaking her head): He's a real piece of work.

No shit.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

déjà vu all over again

Baseball is toying with the concept of instant replay, and I can see why. You watch bad calls happen and then get played over and over again of jumbotrons or at home on TV and you shake your head. Then there are other sports. It helps (sometimes) in football, and tennis, etc. Why not baseball?

Baseball, to me, has a certain charm other sports don't. It's the game with no time limit (note last nights all star game). It's the game where different umpires have different strike zones, and part of the game is figuring your umpire out, and what you can get away with and what won't fly...or might fly out of the park if you're not careful. I can see instant replay for certain things. I can buy it for home run/not home run, and foul/not foul. Beyond that, I don't want it. I don't want it reviewing safe at the plate, or balls and strikes. Please leave a bit of the human element in there. Now, granted, this is coming from the same guy who hates the designated hitter in the American League and thinks interleague play needs to crawl back in whatever hole it came out of, and couldn't text anyone anything on his phone if his life depended on it, but still. Some things are pretty darned good just the way they are. Don't mess with them....too much.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

buck up and take responsibility for what you do, Brett

I am already sooooo tired of the Brett Favre saga, and I know it's nowhere near over. How much more of this manure must I endure?

Brett Favre has held the Green Bay Packers hostage before. He did it last year and now he's doing it again. Last year the Packers waited for Brett to decide whether or not he was going to retire, so they could figure out what to do at quarterback if he decided to leave the game. This year he "did them a favor" and told the world through a tear filled speech in February that he was indeed leaving football.

The Packers asked him to reconsider. They even planned a trip to Mississippi when there were rumblings that he might change his mind. Then, when it looked like it was really going to happen, they planned for and started down the road of life without Favre.

Now he wants to play again, and he wants to hold all the cards, none of which are in his possession (except the loyalty of a few thousand Favre fans in Wisconsin...note I didn't say Packer fans). The man who dealt with pressure better than just about anybody and became a legend in Packer history wants to say a few people pressured him into making a bad decision. Who is he kidding? He says he didn't feel like they wanted him in Green Bay. Again, who's he trying to fool? I don't know of anyone who was a bigger fish in a small pond and adored pretty much everywhere he went. How low must your self image be to not feel wanted when you're Brett Favre in Green freakin' Bay Wisconsin? How much approval can a man possibly require? Makes me wonder how his wife ever convinced him that she so much as likes him. Then he wants the Packers to give up their rights to him, even though he signed a contract and got paid millions of bucks for those rights...or he wants to be the Packers starter. Yeah, and I want the Florida lottery guys to rig it so I win....two or three times....when the jackpot is huge...without buying a ticket. Sorry Brett. Welcome to the world of mere mortals. You don't get all that. You don't get any of that. It ain't yours to get.

You made a decision. You have to live with the consequences. The Packers are in a no-win situation and looking like the bad guys here, when it's all your fault. I realize you gave the Packers a lot, but you got a lot in return as well. I realize you're loved in Green Bay, and a lot of other places. I realize you can still play...probably good enough to start. If you need to get back to that, go back to Green Bay and take the role they give you, let the situation play out, and go from there. You may be the back up and then again when it's all said and done, you may not. Please don't ruin your legacy with this crap. Sack up, stop jerking people around and live with the consequences of what you do.


Monday, July 14, 2008

and it's Snorty Jones by a nose

Most people outside J'ville (and it's immediate surroundings) and the state of Arkansas probably didn't even notice.

Matt Jones, first round draft pick a few years ago and perennial disappointment every year since, got caught with his hand in the cocaine jar. When the cops showed up, he was with some friends in an SUV, but it was Matt with a credit card making lines of the stuff. Be that as it may, his dad is saying the drugs weren't his. (Matt isn't talking on the advice of his lawyer.) Does that really matter? He was the one who again couldn't put both hands up upon request, because he was trying to save the coke. Again he was unsuccessful, displaying the same case of the drops he's known for on the field...or so the allegation goes.

Matt was going to have a hard time keeping a Jaguars uniform as it was. This just made it damn near impossible. Maybe it wasn't all that much of an accident. He never really showed a big desire to be here. He never really tried to be part of the community. He never showed much of a desire to be on the team. I'm not sure what it is he really wants to do, but maybe this'll give him a chance to do it.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

boogity boogity boogity - let's go racin' boys

A few months ago I got an e-mail from the captains of our MS bike ride team. We had this awesome opportunity, if we could get enough volunteers, to raise money. We could run a concession stand at Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 over July 4th weekend. Whatever profits we make go to the team and eventually to the MS Society.

I thought about it. First there was a little pang of guilt. The team had a car wash last year and I blew it off…and they were a bit short of people. This year I wanted to participate. Then there was the event….a NASCAR race. I have lots of friends who are NASCAR fans, and all of them say you can’t judge it from what you see on TV. You have to actually go to a race to appreciate it. I’ll admit I’ve never been all that big on NASCAR, but I figured…this would be a good opportunity to see what it’s all about.

I raised my hand and said, “Sure, I’m in.”

It wasn’t until after I did that, that the time commitment hit me. We had to be at the track at 11:30 a.m. and the race doesn’t start until after 8:00 p.m. We might be out by midnight…and with no traffic, Daytona is about an hour away. Then I found out there's a dress code. We had to wear a t-shirt, but it couldn't advertise the charity we were supporting, and we couldn't wear shorts (some lawyer-speak thing about handling hot food and maybe accidentally dropping it on your legs and ensuing lawsuits) in July in Daytona, Florida. Yowza!

I e-mailed a few people who were doing it with me trying to arrange car pool stuff. I ended up with one other person. Everyone else was already going to be there (because they’re into NASCAR and were attending the pre-race festivities) or were coming from elsewhere (like Orlando) on the long 4th of July weekend.

We left at 9:00, unsure of what to expect for traffic and also the suspect directions to where we were supposed to park and get a shuttle. The directions started with…take the exit before the one for the track. Well, if you don’t know what exit the track is near, it’s hard to figure out which one comes before it. You can see the track from I-95. I know that because we missed the exit before you get to the track. We found the one for the track, but eventually found our parking lot, rode the shuttle back to where we just were and then found our concession stand at about 11:00….and the place was deserted.

We walked around a bit. I bought the youngster a Daytona ball cap and we came back at 11:20…a couple was there. In the next 20 minutes or so, though, most of the crew got there and we were given things to do. Mostly it was inventory and getting burgers and hot dogs cooking, drinks cooling, roaches killed, that sort of thing, which kept us busy until about 1:00.

Then we waited. The gates opened around 1:00 or 1:30, and there were actually lines to get in….for a race starting in a little over seven hours. We waited some more. Then we waited. At around 3:00, there was some action on the track. A Corvette and a few other Chevrolet automobiles were running around the track giving people rides. We figured it had to be sponsor people, but later learned you could pay some outrageous sum of money to get a ride around the track. At about 4:00 we were told we could go down and walk around the track, sign the start/finish line and check out the garage area, so I did (note the picture), because I wanted to see what it’s all about. I still don’t get the signature on the finish line thing, but I did it. Looking in the garages, with the rest of the mass of humanity, was pretty cool, and standing on the banked curve near the start finish line was impressive. That sucker is pretty steep!

Around 6:00 business picked up. We got and stayed pretty busy until a little after 8:00, when everyone’s butts were glued to their seats. Then we were allowed to get out and watch the start. The first thing that hit me was the smell, which reminded me of driving behind a city bus…but a bit different. I mentioned it to one of my coworkers who was very into it all. He just got this wide grin and said that’s racin’ fuel. Well, OK, but it still stinks. The next thing was the actual start and the noise, which rivals any air show I’ve ever seen. The difference is, in an air show, the jets come and go…and there’s quiet again. With racing, it just keeps coming, and coming…especially once they get strung out a bit. It’s very impressive at first, but after 50 laps, it gets a little old. Many people, I noticed, had ear plugs.

Back in the concession stand, which got noticeably busier during caution flag periods, things moved along, hampered only by the noise when the cars went by. You literally couldn’t hear the person yelling in your face…resorting sometimes to improvised hand signals. In between busy times though, I actually got to see a lot of the much as I wanted, and then some.

After it ended, apparently nobody was happy because some guy nobody likes won the thing. We started inventorying everything left over, and putting beers back in their little plastic rings (a chore we were warned about early in the day, so we only took them out as we sold them, and there weren’t too many of those) and cleaning up.

It was 12:15 when we got in line for the shuttle. There were 10 lines with buses moving in and out. They were somewhat prepared for that fiasco, because they had those serpentine line barricades set up to organize things getting on the shuttles, and jumbotrons in the back showing highlights from the Daytona 500. The only thing was, it was a little disheartening when you got to the third time through the highlight reel and had the lines memorized, which is where I got the title for this entry. It was after 1:00 when we got on a shuttle bus. It was 2:30 when my head hit the pillow. My feet didn't stop hurting (from standing most of the day) until well into Sunday.

Overall, I’m glad I did it. The entire day was one helluva experience. It helped a good cause and satisfied a curiosity I had for quite some time. I still don’t get NASCAR though. I have a better appreciation for it, and understand why it appeals to some folks. I’m just not one of them. They told me I’d either love it or hate it, but they were wrong. I’m pretty much apathetic about it all. It was kinda cool, but not that cool…and definitely not worth all the hype baggage that comes with it, but that’s just one man’s opinion.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

let the vacation begin

See ya sometime around the14th. Have a great week and a half.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

patting myself on the back

As most of the throngs that read this blog know, last year was my first foray into the world of bicycling for distance and the MS 150, which is now supposedly known as Bike MS.

Here in the Lumberyard, we try hard not to do things half-assed. If you're going to dive in, do it head first. I'm not going to re-chronicle the whole journey from last year, but I will hit the highlights. First I started exercising. Then I got asked if I'd consider doing the MS 150, and said yes, and started training, knowing I'd have to ride back to back 75 mile days. Little by little I increased the distance I'd go on training rides, until I'd sometimes go over 60 miles on a ride last September in the weeks before the ride. Somewhere in there I heard the distance was really a bit over 80 miles each way...OK. Once you're committed to do 75 miles, another 5 isn't that big a deal. Later I heard there was an option to ride 100 miles the first day. As soon as I heard that, I wanted to try. I figured at the very least, I'd get to a fork in the road and if I felt good, I'd go for it.

Then there was fund raising. I tried to do the best I could. I asked, cajoled, begged, pleaded, reminded, reminded again. If I was going to do this thing, I wanted to do the best I could.

Well, long story shorter, I did end up riding as far as you possibly could for the organized ride, which was a hundred miles the first day and a little over eighty the second.

Yesterday I got a note from the MS Society, informing me that I was one of the top 50 fund raisers on last year's ride. I knew they had a top 50 (they call it the 50 Phenoms), and I wanted to get there, but really didn't know if I did...until I opened that envelope. That and $5 might get me a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but it was something I really wanted to accomplish, and it's cool that it happened. It just put the right cap on the whole experience.

Won't happen this year, because all my friends and family are now supporting the youngster, as well as me, so I'm diluting my financial base. I figure, if we combine to match or beat my total from last year ($3,350), that'll be good enough for me. As for the riding part, I'm tempted to push the youngster to do the first day 100 mile ride, but we'll see how it goes.

If anyone wants to be part of that diluted financial base, just e-mail me (there's a link on my profile) and I'll see what I can do to stop you from being...well...baseless.


a tragic wake up call

The wife cried herself to sleep last night. That's an extremely rare occurrence in our house...for any of us. I guess I ought to be thankful for that fact, but it seems a bit irrelevant right now.

She's worked side by side with this guy for the last 4 years or so. In that 4 years, they've become very good friends, even though Jack (the names have been changed to protect those who have enough going on in their lives without the added publicity of Lumberyard fame) always kept his personal life very private. The wife kinda wondered if he was gay, but didn't dwell on it. He just never talked much about what he did outside of work with other people. If he talked about something he did, it was always in a context that made the event the center of the story and not the people involved.

About three weeks ago, Jack called in sick. He did it the next day, and the next. After about a week of that, he went to the emergency room because he didn't seem to be getting any better, and was immediately admitted. The doctors first thought pneumonia, but later ruled that and several other things out. Then one day the wife got a call at her desk from Jack. He had just found out he was HIV positive, and was devastated. The next day or so, he was allowed to go home.

I haven't thought about HIV or AIDS lately. I know it's out there, but I was under the impression that people finds out they are HIV positive and, with the right drug cocktail, manage to live fairly normal, long, relatively healthy lives.

Jack was readmitted to the hospital over the weekend. The wife went to see him yesterday and said he was extremely happy to see her. His parents showed up while she was there. The prognosis for Jack isn't good. The wife knows a lot of doctors and nurses and has a fair amount of educated opinion to work with and the general consensus is, if he can make it through the next couple of days, he might live. There's a fair chance he won't. The idea that someone who seemed perfectly healthy two months ago could very well die soon just blows me away.

If praying is something you do, please keep Jack in your prayers. The guy is literally fighting for his life.

The wife cried herself to sleep last night. For Jack's sake, I hope she doesn't do it again anytime soon.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

turkey hot dogs

There's a guy in the building next to me with a George Forman grill, and he's cookin' up turkey hot dogs.

I'm sorry. There's something completely wrong about that concept. Hot dogs are, but definition, a gross commodity. If you're going to eat hot dogs, go for the gusto. Jump right on those nasty bits of beef and pork or whatever scraps, that can't be made into anything else and revel in the unhealthiness of it all. If you're going to eat hot God, eat hot dogs. Don't try to sugar coat it...or in this case, un-sugar coat it. If you want to eat something else. Have a sandwich made with turkey, or a nice piece of grilled fish. Stay away from the hot dog.

That's like staring at this delicious looking brownie, and finally deciding...fat be damned, I'm eating it, taking a bite and tasting tofu. If you're going to eat a a real brownie with all the calories that come with that decision. If you're willing to take the leap, enjoy everything that goes with it. Don't try to do it half-assed. If you'd rather not go for it, grab an apple.