Friday, August 29, 2008

so yeah, I'm just a little bit shocked

John McCain picks some first term governor from Alaska as his running mate? What the hell is that?

I honestly was expecting/hoping he'd pick Mitt Romney. I thought Romney's economic background would compliment him well. Obviously, I'm not thinking clearly. I don't know enough about Sarah Palin to make an intelligent comment about her. Maybe she is a better choice. I just don't see it....yet.

I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, and educate myself. I'll say this though. If I end up not liking what I'm hearing, it could very well affect who I end up voting for in November.

Either way, it'll be an historic election. Either it's the first time we have a black President, or it's the first time we have a first term governor from Alaska as a Vice President.


the plural of RBI is not RBI

Does this bother anyone else but me?

I'm tired of listening to talking heads on TV discussing baseball stats, and hearing about how a player had 2, or 10, or 75 RBI. I realize that an RBI is a Run Batted In, and one is an RBI. Two are Runs Batted In, and in today's chic, trendy world, that still comes out as RBI. It may even be correct English, but it's not right, dammit. It's just not.

When you have more than one, they are RBIs...with an 's'. They're also ribbys. The 's' on the end has been there for years ands it just belongs. It's part of baseball. When you take it of, it sounds so not part of baseball and just a tad elitist.

So get with the program, sportscaster people, and keep the 's' on the end of those RBIs.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

if they were rocket scientists....

...they'd be workin' at the cape. It's not a well known, or old saying. It's just mine, and it's pretty much a fact, which helps me set my own expectations when dealing with incompetence. It doesn't stop me from wondering, though....who's been handing out the stupid pills in the NFL?

First, and the lesser of the evils, is Derrick Harvey, who finally ended his hold out with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I realize he's young, and new to this business, but there comes a time when you have to tell your agent, "I'm getting enough millions in the deal, I need to get in there and get ready to play." He finally shows up with the team day before the last preseason game. He probably won't play tonight in Washington. He may not play the first week of the regular season. His value to the team isn't near what it would have been if he'd have taken the deal they offered him a month ago, which isn't appreciably different than what he took in the end. That way he had time to learn the system. Time to practice with the people he'll play with. Time to learn how to react and what to expect from those around him. Now, the fans look at him as being a greedy little shit who hasn't proven anything yet, and given the amount of time he's had to practice with the team, chances are he won't do anything to prove them wrong. Maybe next year.

The guy though, who's overdosing on the stupid pills, is Shawne Merriman. I'm guessing, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, Shawne's been taking on medical school on the side and kicking doctorial butt, because he's now an expert. Shawne has a knee problem. His knee problem needs surgery that will effectively end his football season. That was the opinion of his doctor, but Shawne didn't like that opinion, so he got a second, and a third, and a fourth. Four doctors have told Shawne to get the surgery, because if he doesn't and he injures the knee further, he could end his career. Merriman, however, respects his own medical opinion more than these four doctors (which makes you wonder why he bothered to ask in the first place) and is opting to skip the surgery and play football this year. This kid, in his 20's, has his whole life ahead of him, and many years in football, if he plays it smart. Instead, he'll chance it to play this year, and possibly spend the rest of his life hobbled. Someone please, slap him through the stupids and back to smart before he screws up his entire life. Make it somebody big, though.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"it's tough being a girl"

I hear this from the wife all the time, and I guess it must be true.

Last night I came home from the gym and I was a nasty sweaty mess, like I always am. I cooled down a bit, and headed for the shower...where I had to get two bottles of some kind of shampoo/body wash/whatever off the floor and put them up on a ledge someplace.

It struck me as I did this. We have a little ledge around the edge of the shower. We have a towel rack in the shower. We have this little hanging thingie with wire shelves hanging from the shower head. The purpose for all these things is to hold shampoo/body wash/whatever products for my wife.

I've got two necessities in the shower. There's a bar of soap and shampoo. Nothing else there. Nothing else required.

Because I had to put the two bottles that were on the floor elsewhere, so I wouldn't step on one, slip, fall and kill myself, it struck me to count the items the wife has in there. I skipped the soap, because we both use it, and went straight for the containers....bottles, tubes, that sort of thing. Twelve.

TWELVE, folks!

I didn't realize there were that many until I actually counted. I didn't ask what the twelve were for. I don't think I want to know. I guess I'm just chalking it up to...."It's tough being a girl."


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the democratic national infomerrrrr....convention

I watched some of the Democratic National Convention last night...about as much as my stomach could handle without serious injury. If there was ever a doubt about liberal bias in the mainstream network media, that ought to erase all of it. I'm not complaining. It's the way things are. I'm just saying you're fooling yourself if you don't realize that's the way things are. In the interest of fairness, I'll point out Fox does it too, from the conservative perspective (which is why I believe liberals hate Fox...because it won't toe the party line). Fox is just one cable network though, where the liberal end is represented by ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Comedy Central and a host of others.

All the human interest stories NBC did for the Olympics, about how athletes faced adversity and battled their way to victory, paled in comparison to that little vignette they did on Michelle Obama. She has to be the most amazing woman...nay person, to walk the earth. Is it any wonder I don't even know McCain's wife's name, but I damn sure know who Michelle Obama is, and she's the best thing since whatever was the best thing before sliced bread. She's just freakin' awesome, isn't she?

But wait! If you act now, we'll send you a second Obama, absolutely free, and we'll even throw in a set of those cool blendy pens. Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, and other lesser known operators, are standing by.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Fay's finally gone

Yesterday we saw the last remnants of Tropical Storm Fay, not that it means we're drying out. We have rain in the forecast for today. It's just not Fay related.

I'm very tired of wet weather, but more than that, I'm really tired of the humidity that comes with a tropical system. The air is incredibly thick now, and has been for the last several days. I got in a bike ride yesterday between rain showers, and was a dripping sweaty mess when I finished. OK, I'm usually a dripping sweaty mess when I finish, but not like that.

On the good side, because I usually rip these guys and to be fair, I need to give them props when they actually pull through. We lost power for maybe a total of 10 minutes through the whole Fay incident. FPL kept us up and running through the whole thing. Living in that humidity with no air conditioning is a bear. I know. We've done it before. I'm just glad we didn't have to do it again.

No, we don't get to dry out quite yet, but that light is at the end of the very wet tunnel...and I can see it.


Friday, August 22, 2008

celebrity baby names

Back in the 80's, in the early days of HBO, they had a comedy show. I don't recall the name, but I do remember a spoof PSA they used to run. It started with something like...

Chasitiy Bono
Dweezil Zappa
Moon Unit Zappa

...and ran through several bizarre celebrity baby names. Then it chronicled the plight of these poor children, growing up bearing the brunt of their artistically inclined yet reality challenged parents and their need to foist their imaginations upon their progeny.

The ad ended with....Please act now, before Stevie Nicks has a child.

Well, all I can say is, Stevie ain't got nuthin' on Gwen Stefani.


it still hasn't gone away

Fay...the thing that wouldn't leave.

It's supposed to be a normal workday, but I don't know how normal it will be. There was nobody on the road this morning, or next to nobody. The normal rush hour traffic was conspicuously absent, anyway. The wind and rain were not. There are trees down along the road, and debris in it, but nothing that stops you from getting where you need to go. You just need to be a little slower about it, especially over the bridges.

Fay is slowly making her way west, which, after it's all said and done, will probably be a good thing. We really needed a ton of rain and we got it. It would be nice to get it in smaller doses, but we'll take it any way we get it.

Now...back to a desk that's been neglected for a while....


Villa Incognito

Usually when people brag on their multi-tasking ability, it comes down to the ability to do two things at the same walk and chew gum. This Atlanta trip has given me the opportunity to multi-task, but on a higher plane....sometimes the one at 30,000 feet.

Yes folks, I've been able to do, not two, but three things at once. First we have the obvious. I got through a class on how to jump through flaming software hoops in the Lawson financial package. Next there was keeping an ever watchful eye on the weather, which in the end proved to be a needless exercise, but I was exercising all the same. Lastly, I finished another Tom Robbins novel.

I discovered Tom (not Harold) Robbins in college, in a Rolling Stone review of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which sounded interesting, so I bit. It was a wonderful book (that the movie couldn't possibly do justice). The plot was great, but what caught me and made me a fan was Mr. Robbins use of language, twisted logic, humor, and an amazing ability to pull everything together in the most unlikely ways all sliding along in a sled propelled by life's more pleasurable lubricants (which is a delicate yet sort of Robbins-esque way of putting it). I gobbled up his other book, which was all there was at the time, but over the years I have read almost everything the man has written, and now I can say I highly recommend Villa Incognito. It is one of his better efforts, but understand that's coming from a fan. If you've never read Tom Robbins before, I wouldn't recommend it as something to dip your toe into. What I consider his most accessible work, and my personal favorite, is Still Life With Woodpecker, which is not only a great love story, but the inspiration for a Dan Fogelberg song...if anyone remembers Dan Fogelberg, and the immortal question, "How do we make love stay?" I like to think Mr. Robbins inspired the way I write, but let's face it, he does a far better job of it than I do, or I'd be writing books too.

In any case, The Lumberyard review of Villa Incognito is...another great book filled with humor, insight, incredible imagination and use of the English language...and yeah, Tom's own brand of and view of sex.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

for those wondering

I did make it home....just in time for the wind and rain, but at least I'm here.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

nothing ever works out quite like it's supposed to

This past Saturday the youngster and I did 53 miles in an MS Society sponsored practice ride. They held three of these over the summer and this was the last.

At each one, I'd get one of the MS Society employees to take out picture when we finished, so I could attach it to an e-mail I'd send to friends and family, basically begging for money.

I sent this one out on Saturday, and more than anything else, the response has been...why the big smiles? You can't tell me you just finished a 53 mile bike ride and look that happy. You look too damn happy.

Well, honestly, we did finish the ride, but we finished it about 15 minutes before the picture was taken. We did cool down a little, go to the car and get the camera, and cajole someone working there to take the picture, but it was pretty soon after finishing the ride. The smiles were because the woman who took the picture absolutely refused to push the button to take the picture unless we smiled, so we really had no choice.

That may be the biggest response (as in number of replies I got to the e-mail), but it's also having the desired effect. Little by little we are raising money for the we're getting there.

fay fay go away

I have to admit to being just a bit preoccupied.

I've spent the last two days, and will spend today, learning how to modify a software package we have at work. It's complex, but not all that complex. I don't exactly think I'm pushing the mental envelope, but I am wondering why we always have to push the envelope. Why not pull the envelope once in a while, or just flat out rip it open?

While I'm learning how this software does the things it does though, I've had weather on the brain. Tropical storm Fay has been wreaking havoc on my home state. It's been doing its thing to the south, but slowly creeping its way north toward, of all places, Stately Lumberyard Manor.

This has meant lots of checking out the National Hurricane Center's website during class breaks, and hours of watching Jim Cantore on The Weather Channel. I've concluded The Weather Channel has to be the most boring programming in the world. Don't get me wrong. The Weather channel is a great thing when you want a forecast and know when they do that sort of thing. The problems are 1) I'm not that familiar with when they do that sort of thing, and they fill the time in between with some pretty innocuous stuff and 2) weather isn't dynamic enough to make for compelling continuous programming. It changes about as fast as grass grows, and consequently, is about as exciting to watch. The video of some idiot, kite surfing his way into a building in the storm, aside, The Weather Channel could put those prescription sleep aids out of business. (A side fancy dancy land, they shut off the cable in my room this morning, I suppose because I was checking out, so I didn't get the morning Weather Channel update in my room. I had to go to the lobby.)

Still, I'm having trouble pulling myself away, because I have a vested interest in what's going on. I really really want to get home tonight, and all the forecasts have had me and Fay on a collision course at the airport, and I'm pretty certain if that possibility becomes a probability, Fay will win, they'll close the airport and I'll be stuck in Atlanta a little longer than planned.

It's not like I didn't think ahead, at least a little. I saw this possibility coming and packed a few days of extra clothes. It's also not like Atlanta is hell, although given my druthers, I can think of a few other places I'd much rather be stuck in, if I'm going to be stranded for a while. I could stand another day here...or two. What it isn't though, is home. Another thing it isn't, is planned. All that makes it the other thing it isn't...welcome.

Wish me luck.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

livin' the fancy dancy life

So I'm staying in the fancy dancy hotel that's within walking distance of the training class I'm taking. (I wouldn't want to mention any names, but it's initials are Westin.) I'm doing that precisely because it's within walking distance of the training class. Otherwise I probably wouldn't bother.

I'm going to come off as Mr. Tightwad (something I know I get from my dad, who's the absolute worst), but it strikes me here in fancy dancy land that...isn't it enough that the price of admission is ridiculous? I'm getting a discount rate to stay here, and that's more than $150 a night...for a small room with a nice bathroom and a comfy bed. There's no real place for your clothes besides the floor and a closet, which is cool if you have a bunch of hang up clothes, but I brought more of the folding variety. There's a small fridge, but it's chock full of their stuff and it has some electronic gizmo on it that detects the slightest movement of any of the contents. If you move it, you bought it...or so says the big warning on the front. If there's nothing in there you maybe a gatorade after a workout instead of the supplied coke, red bull or beer, you can go buy some at the local grocery store, but you can't keep it cold in your room, because that small fridge stuffed with their crap is all there is. There's wireless internet access...for a measly $12.95 a day. That's over $90 in a week...which pretty much has to cover their entire internet nut for a month. At truck stops across America, wireless internet access is free. In fancy dancy hotel land, it's $12.95 a day. Excuse me for feeling just a tad gouged. Needless to say, I was disinclined to acquiesce to the $12.95 internet offer..and watched the Olympics and the weather channel, because there's an ominous weather pattern named Fay which may affect my ability to get home.

Undaunted, I went to the local drug store and bought a gatorade and went to the small workout room. It was plenty big enough, though, because I pretty much had it to myself. Again, I'm in fancy dancy land, so all the machines have little TVs in them. Way cool...except the sound doesn't work at all. I turned the volume up to max and got...nuthin'. That was especially evident on the elliptical machine..because while the little TV made no sound, the machine made plenty. I would have picked another, if there was another. This thing was grinding, and felt like it was about to fall someone needed to tighten some nuts and bolts. I could have picked a treadmill, too, but I was being stubborn. I figured, well, if it breaks, it breaks. Then they'll have to do something to fix it. It didn't, though. It just sounded like it was going to. The workout place got me through what I needed it for, so I shouldn't whine too much, even if my drink was lukewarm.

I know I'm whining, but my point is...for freakin' $150 a night, shouldn't I get free internet? Shouldn't I be able to keep things cold that I buy someplace outside the hotel? Shouldn't there be a chest of drawers to hold clothes? Shouldn't these people maintain the workout equipment? Shouldn't there be a TV remote that lets me pick a channel number and adjust the volume, instead of just having a channel up and down rocker, and volume controls on the TV itself? Oh sure, it's incredibly easy to select a movie, for which they'll charge you, but it's not so incredibly easy if all you want to do is watch the Olympics. Then if you turn it off and turn it back on, you don't go back to NBC, which is where you left it. You go back to the hotel's movie selection channel, where they can once again pitch whatever feature films they have available. Oh, and in case you missed it, the channels on either side of that using the rocker switch are the same thing.

I just can't shake the feeling that I'm walking around with their hand in my wallet. If I would have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, I'd pay half the price, the internet would be free and there'd be room in a fridge for my stuff...and I'd walk out twice as smart (because, we all know, that happens at a Holiday Inn Express). Maybe being twice as smart comes with the prerequisite that you stay away from fancy dancy land.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

so we're in beautiful Atlanta

I finally got to my hotel, checked in, went out and found some food and settled about 9:30 last night. I knew the place I was going for training was within walking distance of the hotel (my prime reason for picking this one) and talked to the concierge dude and got directions. I was set.

Somewhere around there it hit me...when am I supposed to be there? I started looking through my paperwork for the class and found it...7:00 a.m. Excuse me? They're going to start at seven in the morning? What the hell's up with that? OK then. I'll be there. I got the wake up call thing going for 5:45, figuring that ought to leave me plenty of time...and it did.

I got to the building, went up to the 25th floor where the class is supposed to be and etched in the glass door is the company doing the training and I push down on the handle...locked.

OK, they're not here I waited. Then I waited some more. Then I waited. At 7:30 I decided to go adventuring. I found a cafe on the ground floor, so I got some coffee and a fried egg sandwich. Then I went back up...and saw movement behind the door. The woman inside unlocked the door for me and introduced herself as the office manager, and showed me to the classroom. Then she mentioned that the class starts at 9:00. NINE O'CLOCK people. I could have slept in just a bit. I told her what my paperwork said, and she seemed surprised, but she wasn't exactly apologetic or anything. She just said, "Sometimes it says 8:00 central time, because our home office is in Minnesota, but shouldn't say 7:00."

I'm wondering...well, how is it I seem to be the only person who didn't get the memo? I mean, where are the other people in this class, who, as far as I know, would have the same information I got. Was I the only beneficiary of the typo?

No harm though, really. Yes, I would have liked the extra sleep, but at least I know I'm where I belong...and I'll be on time.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

we're definitely not in Kansas anymore

It's been forever and three days, or at least since sometime before 9/11, that John of the Lumberyard went flying....anywhere. I hadn't realized that it had been that long, until I headed to the airport this afternoon to go to Atlanta for a training class. Then it became painfully evident.

First there was the trip to the kiosks that have replaced the ticket counter. I figured, how hard can this be? So I went up to the kiosk and it prompted me for a confirmation number. So, being the semi-intelligent person I am, I scanned the sheet of paper I had from the travel folks that detailed my plane/rental car information, looking for said number. There was a bunch of stuff on the paper, but nowhere did I see anything resembling a confirmation number. I saw CONF: followed by some six letter code, but that was the closest thing I could find. So, I admitted my ignorance, and waited in line to talk to the one and only Delta employee lurking around the kiosk area. I got to my turn, and explained my predicament. I knew I had a ticket dammit, because my credit card has already been billed. Somewhere there has to be a way to get me on a plane that's apparently so easy a caveman could do it. I, on the other hand, don't qualify. The guy points to the six letter code..something like QSCOGE...and says here's your confirmation number. I mentioned to him that my confirmation number has no digits, where I would have expected a number to have at least one. He wasn't amused, but he checked me in and took my bag all the same, which is all I really wanted in the first place.

Next came the security folks getting to the gate area. I waited in line and observed, because again, this is all pretty new to me. I see the thing where you have to put all your possessions in these bins and walk through the metal detector...OK, got that. As I get closer, I can see people handing some guard their boarding pass and picture ID, so that figured out. I'm cruisin'.

I get out the boarding pass and my wallet, hand it to the guy and he marks the boarding pass, telling me to go on. Wooooo hooo! I passed. But now what?

There are several lines I can get in, and I can see some are for handicapped folks, so I avoid those, and pick one. They aren't really lines, per se, because nobody's in them. You can walk right up...and I did. I put my laptop bag with all my stuff in it in a bin, take off my shoes and put them in another bin with everything out of my pockets. I got this nailed...until I get to the guard through the metal detector.

"Boarding pass?"

"Excuse me?"

"Where's your boarding pass?"

"It's in the laptop bag going through the metal detector."

A "why do I get all the slow ones?"

"No sir, you need your boarding pass. Step to the side please."

So I do, and the guy running my stuff in bins through the metal detector says "Sir, are these your possessions?"

"Yes, and I need my boarding pass for this guy over here."

"There's a laptop in this bag."

I'm thinking "no shit, Sherlock, it's a laptop bag" but I'm saying, "Yes, there is."

"Well, it can't be in there. You have to remove the laptop."

Well, damn, who knew? I guess most people do...or must, because it wasn't like there was a sign or anything, or if there was, it wasn't obvious. I know, I was looking, and studying...everything, hoping to avoid this "we got a newbie here" moment.

So now I'm hanging at the gate, waiting to leave. I still have about an hour...but I have a laptop and free internet. That wasn't here the last time I flew either.


Friday, August 15, 2008

off to the bigger city

Catch you in about a week. I'm off to Atlanta to learn more computer geek stuff for a few days. Who knows. Maybe if the Braves are in town, I might catch a baseball game.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

and I thought I was a bit homophopic

Yes, I know…you find that incredibly hard to believe, but it’s true.

First, let’s clear a few things up. I hate the term homophobe, because it suggests a phobia, or fear. Gay people don’t scare me in the least. In fact, I actually have gay friends, and we’ve discussed the things I dislike about gay people, principle among them is their insistence on shoving their gay-ness in your face. The vast majority don’t do that, but the few “militants” that do give the rest a bad name. Go to Disney World during “gay days” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. You really want to ask, "Could you keep your hand out of the back of his pants around the kids, please?" It’s not exactly a family atmosphere. For the record, there are things obnoxious bicyclists do that piss me off just as much, if not more, like take up an entire lane riding two or three abreast and blocking car traffic. Those people give me a bad name, and make car drivers hate all bicyclists. Then there's my other huge pet peeve...people who park in the fire lane in front of the grocery store/strip mall. Do these people not realize the rest of us look at them and critically determine that they, more than the average person, really could use the walk from the parking lot? But I digress. Stereotypes suck, but some people with agendas go out of their way to create them.

Still, this morning, as I was taking the youngster to the school bus stop for his first day of sophomore year (just saying that still amazes me), we were listening to the sports talk guys and they were discussing a sport I’ve been fascinated with during the Olympics this year, and have blogged about…synchronized diving. The conversation revolved around the general distaste of the sport by the host, on a Michael Phelps-less evening of Olympic viewing, and why that just generally sucked. It degenerated into…”here we have two dudes in speedos and…how does one become a synchronized diver anyway? How do two dudes get into that?” From there, well, you can imagine.

Honestly, I’ve been watching the men and women do this stuff over the last few days and….gay never entered my mind. I was just amazed at the ability to do it…or even come close. When it came over the airwaves, I just thought, “What the…??”

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ain't too proud to beg

I haven't said a lot about the MS Ride this year...or at least not nearly as much as last year. The reason, I guess, is because the new-ness of it all has worn off. I'm still training, but the distances aren't getting bigger and bigger like last year. They're pretty stable. The youngster is training (sometimes). We're raising money. If I look at the money we've raised together, it's about what I had this time last year, which makes sense. We're both tapping the same pool of friends and relatives I reached out to last year, and they're responding in a similar way....which is great, by the way. We get a lot of support and I'm grateful for that. Some who read this blog are part of that support, and we couldn't do it without you. Everything's pretty much on track, I think.

Then something happened yesterday, which rocked our bike team world. One of the new riders this year has an old high school friend recently diagnosed with MS. She reconnected with her friend at a high school reunion in the last month or so. It seems this friend's family runs (or has some connection with) a charitable foundation. This foundation decided to sponsor this woman on the MS Ride, and cut a check for a very large sum of in tens of thousands of dollars.

As I got home from the gym last night and was in the shower, it came to me...maybe there's a foundation out there for me. There are regulars who read the Lumberyard, but there are also many others who come here by chance on a Google search for...well, lets not go there. Suffice to say some of you would be amazed (and perhaps grossed out) by the search criteria that brings some people to my corner of the internet. Back to the point though. I don't know the background and financial situations of any of these people. Maybe there's someone out there running some huge charitable foundation, that just happens upon this epistle. Maybe they're looking for qualified candidates involved in good causes who need their financial help.

If that's you (or you're a really rich presidential candidate with no ass), I just want you to know I'm here for you. I'm over 50 and I don't have washboard abs or much hair, so starring in your commercials isn't a deal breaker for me, and I won't demand to grace a month on your calendar, but I will bike ride, and I'll do the whole ride. I'm not a quitter. Your very large sum of cash will go to an amazing organization in the National MS Society, and when they find the cure, you can say you played a key role in creating a world free of MS. How amazing is that? There's an e-mail link on the profile on the right, so find me, and sponsor me in a huge way.

Now, do I expect this plea to make any difference at all? No...not really. I figure though, it certainly can't hurt, and if you're a big time philanthropist reading this and feeling guilty because you got here googling "hot MILF lumberyard strip club" (no, I didn't make that up) or something similar, I can ease your pain, and nobody but me will know you left via the babes of the day links on the right, either. could happen...and I certainly ain't too proud to beg.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

on an Olympic roll...on an Olympic roll

Synchronized diving...have you seen this stuff?

Where has this been my whole Olympic viewing life? I've never seen it before this year and it's not a new event. It apparently is the first year the U.S. had a team good enough to participate, which may explain the lack of television coverage in this country, but my God! This just had me mesmerised, both Sunday and last night, and I think it's on again tonight, so if you haven't seen it and might be interested, here's your shot.

I remember growing up. I was always the tall skinny kid....all arms and legs. Just getting all the appendages into a tuck and doing a flip off the diving board was a major achievement in the Lumberyard. I was never going to do two and a half's in a pike position, or anything involving the word "twist". I envied those who could...and did. I'd watch diving in the Olympics and be amazed at what these people could do.

This synchronized stuff though...daymn....that just takes it all to a different level. Not only are they twisting and somersaulting and all that, and landing vertical in the water. They're doing it at (almost) the exact same time as someone else, right next to them. You watch them in slow motion, and arms outstretch at the same time. Legs fold into a pike, and all the body lines move in unison. They even hit the water a vertical. The Chinese do all this best, but they all do it very well...and I'm still amazed.


Monday, August 11, 2008

a sick day...or two

I tend to try to play through sickness, which is more stubborness than any sort of redeeming quality.

I'll feel a little sick and decide it's not bad enough to stay home, and I'll keep going to work and not getting better and eventually, I'll give in. At least, that's how it's been for the longest time.

Maybe it's a sign that there is some intelligent life on my own personal planet in that I'm learning from my stupidity. Either that or the wife's nagging is making a bit of headway. In either case, I'm seeing that I really just need the down time, on occasion.

Wednesday, at work, I just started feeling bad. I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but it kinda felt flu-like...a bit light headed and generally weak. Thursday, I was supposed to play golf after work, but I cancelled and went home to rest. Thursday night, I was sporting a low grade fever, so the nagging kicked in. Being honest about it, the wife was making a lot of sense. If I got back up Friday and went to work, yet again, I'd feel like crap Friday night, yet again...and I have months of sick days on the books. I really needed to just take I did...and it helped...a lot. (There, I admit it. OK?)

There was also the fact that we had company in town. This past weekend was the wife's dad's 80th birthday, and her brothers came into town for the occasion, so we had one and his family staying with us.

In any case, maybe after 50 years, I'm still figuring some stuff stay home when you feel like shit.

You'll be happy to know I think I'm all better now. It kinda makes me wonder though because I went through this same cycle a few weeks ago, and that's just a bit weird. We'll see how it goes from here, but I'm definitely paying attention.

On a smirky side note (beacuse I have spent couch time of Olympic proportions over the weekend), Way to go French! Most might think the Americans pretty much shoved it in their face when the French relay team said they'd "smash" the Americans in the Olympics and came in...ahem...second. Not so, actually (and I've been to France, so I know this). It's just a matter of definition. When the French say "smash," what you saw was a perfectly normal outcome. It's right in line with how they "smashed" the Germans in WWII, or how Napoleon "smashed" the Brits at Waterloo. "Smash" in French just doesn't translate well. Instead of meaning "smash" as we think of it in English, the word is more accurately translated as "be the bitch of".


Thursday, August 07, 2008

It's finally over

When you're a Jet,
You're a Jet all the way
From your first cigarette
To your last dyin' day.

Wonder if Brett knows that song...


can I have my Olympics back now?

On the eve of the Olympic games, I feel like I have to ask...can it be a sporting event now?

This grand stage of sports seems to get more politicized every time. Every fringe group on earth sees a place where most of the world's television cameras are going to be, and therefore a stage to get their cause seen. That happens when they don't put the games in China. Now that they have, it's all the worse, and really, shame on the I.O.C. for giving the games to Beijing, knowing full well that this would happen.

Who the hell actually believed the Chinese when they said there would be open access to just about everything? Those people don't know how to define open anything. Who thought this whole Tibet situation was going to quietly simmer while every spotlight in the universe is right next door? Who thought every human rights group on earth was going to self impose a gag order so the world could go to China and engage in sport? How naive can you possibly be?

So now we have this event, that is usually over-politicized, and ratcheted that aspect up a bazillion percent. Lost in all this are athletes...who have dedicated their lives to being the best they can be in a sport, wanting to go and compete against the best from all over the world. At one time, the Olympics used to be about those athletes. It's now become more about the smog problem, the great firewall, the Dali Lama, and the dissidents who aren't being allowed to protest close to the Olympic venues. some point...can it be about sports again?

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

sometimes, she is totally hot, or at least funny

As much as I don't like Paris Hilton (aka she of little ass), and would rather, at this point, see John McCain running the country before I'd like to see Barak Obama trying, this is pretty funny. Gotcha, white haired dude.


the redeem team

Went to the gym last night, and got to watch a little bit of a tape delayed basketball game between Team USA and Australia, which was pretty close, and pretty good.

At the last Olympics, the U.S. team was taken right from the NBA all star game, and while it didn't get crushed, it didn't live up to the gold medal expectations. The lesson coming out of that experience was that the international game, played at the Olympics, is not the same as the NBA game. The rules are slightly different, and the game is called they actually call traveling and fouls the NBA lets slide in deference to the highlights on Sports Center. Besides enforcement though, there are slightly different rules that change the game, and make you play more of a team game with less individual emphasis. The U.S. team wasn't built for that, and it showed. They hadn't been built for that in the past either, but the talent discrepancy overshadowed any weaknesses.

Well, a lot happens over time, and the rest of the world caught up, and the talent discrepancy isn't nearly as big as it once was. The result - the rest of the world took it to us four years ago.

This time around, the strategy for building the team was a little different. It wasn't like building the basketball version of the Yankees...just get the biggest stars money can buy and put 'em out there. An emphasis was put on getting guys who can play together as a team, and win as a team. The difference is showing, and so far they're winning. What amazes me though, while I'm watching them play, is the announcers. They're breaking down the team's strengths and weaknesses, but they're doing it from an NBA perspective. They're talking about the lack of big men, which makes it harder for a guy to back his opponent down toward the basket, and less rebounding. These aren't weaknesses in the international game, although rebounds are always a good thing. The game needs more outside shooters, and that's one of the things this team brings. It needs more ball movement, and this team does that better than the one-on-one "team" of four years ago.

Of course there's one other little tidbit. Four years ago the team thought they were going to walk in and get handed a gold medal, kinda like a welfare entitlement program. I mean, go there, punch the ticket, wow the fans for a few games and walk out with the gold. Why not? Every other team we sent got one. They got that attitude shoved back in their face. This team is a little hungrier, and wants to prove they deserve a gold medal, but they know it's not a given anymore.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

what a difference a year makes

Ever since the Jaguars have been in existence, we've had the same arrangement.

In 1995, even before the announcement was made, the wife and I discussed tickets. What if we actually got an NFL team? How cool would that be? Could we manage season tickets? How much would that cost? How could we swing that? Then they announced that Jacksonville got a team, and we were swept up in the euphoria. We love football, and wanted to see, what was soon to be, our team. Unfortunately, we weren't wealthy, so we really couldn't afford season tickets, but if we could split them with someone, that could work. The wife called me from work the next day. She found someone who was interested, and we did that. We bought one seat. They bought the seat next to us. We got together at the beginning of the season and picked games, each getting both seats for a preseason game and four regular season games. It was a beautiful thing. Since game day is pretty much an entire Sunday thing, this made it more affordable, not only cash, but time wise as well.

Then they moved to Tampa. No biggie. I found someone I worked with who wanted in. That worked for a few years, but then that guy went to work for a company that owned a sky box, and he could sit there on occasion, and didn't want to pay for seats. I could understand. In his situation, I wouldn't either. I went in search of a new partner, and found one...a friend of a friend. That was working until I called him last July to set up a meeting to split the tickets and he said, "Oh, I forgot to buy my seat."

Forgot? How in blazes do you forget? They send you a bazillion reminders if you don't renew, and I'm told they even give you a personal phone call asking you to reconsider. He didn't forget. He just forgot, or didn't have the common courtesy, to tell me he wasn't up for it any more. He said he'd call the ticket office and get back to me within a week. That was the last I heard from him.

That left me last season with one ticket to all the home games, no time to find a new partner, and a nasty taste in my mouth. I wasn't up to searching for someone new to split tickets with for the following year. We'd been doing it since the very first year, and I didn't want to quit, but it was starting to be too much work. If that situation didn't land in my lap, it was time to give it up. I went to most of the games last myself. Couldn't take the wife or youngster, unless I wanted to shell out even more money. Not a whole lot of fun. I gave away one game ticket for a $50 donation to the MS society, in the form of sponsoring me on last year's bike ride.

I've mentioned before how, through a series of coincidences, my college roommate from the little school in mainline Philly (and best man at my wedding) now lives about 45 minutes from me down here in Florida. We met for dinner sometime in the spring, and I was telling him about my ticket saga. Somewhere in there the situation did fall into my lap. He wanted to split tickets.

Before it was always strictly business. We found someone to split them with. We each took 4 regular games and 1 preseason game, taking turns picking, and that was it. It was never a really good friend that you wanted to see games with because, by design, you were never going to go to games with them. You were going to the games they weren't going to. Now, it's a bit friendlier.

We met Saturday for beer and wings and to split the tickets, and it was more like..."We really want to go to this game, other than that, we don't care."

"OK, you can have that one. Can I take this one?"


In the end, we each took a preseason game and three home games. The other two home games are night games, and I'll go and meet him there, so we'll go to those two together, which means I'll see a bit more of him. I think I'm going to like this a whole lot better.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

in search of the perfect taco

Saturday we were trying to figure out what to do for dinner, and the wife wanted tacos. I like tacos, but I hate making them, trying to stuff everything I want into that little tortilla shell. It always ends in compromise and frustration, and many times, breakage. More often than not, I just give up, pile it all up together and call it a taco salad.

So I said, OK...tacos, but let's go someplace and eat them. I want someone else to make them, and I'll just eat them.

So we set out in search of a restaurant with tacos. I suggested we run for the border and think outside the bun, but that was met with a groan. Then I suggested Chili's. I mean it's a southwest grill, right? Doesn't any self respecting southwest grill have to serve tacos? Apparently I was wrong on both fronts. Chili's isn't necessarily a southwest grill, and it doesn't serve tacos. Lots of different chicken entrees, but no tacos. Looking at the online menu, I started wondering if we were looking at KFC's menu by mistake, but oh well. Tacos at Chili's...don't know where I got that idea. So the wife started searching the web in search of tacos. She found this place in Saint Augustine we'd never heard of. It had amazing reviews. The short version was, little hole in the wall with outrageously good Mexican food. (One side note. One review said it was better Mexican food than in Mexican restaurants in New York City, which made me that such a good thing? What do people in New York know about Mexican food? If it said better than Mexican restaurants in San Diego, or Corpus Christi, I'd be impressed, but New York..not so much.) Google maps put it not all that far from the youngster's school, and we wondered why we'd never noticed it before. Must really be a hole in the wall.

So we set out, and we got to where Google said the restaurant was supposed to be, but we didn't see it. We drove by again...slowly, scanning both sides of the road, and still didn't see it. So we stopped at a store and asked the clerk if there was a Mexican restaurant nearby, and she said yes, and gave us directions. We got back in the car, smiling with tummies rumbling....finally! Where she was sending us wasn't quite where Google had the place, but we figured it's kinda close, so we drove there and...Taco Bell? Noooooooooo. She couldn't mean the Taco Bell. Could she? There was nothing else in the vicinity even close though.

The wife took the next step. We stopped at a hotel, and she borrowed their phone book. She got an address and a phone number. We breezed past the address part and went straight to the source.

"Hello. Where exactly are you located?"

We got directions, which put the place nowhere near where we were. It was about 15 miles south of where we were (thank you very much Google), but I wasn't stopping now. We were going!

We headed south, and were pretty much out of town, but it was right where the woman on the phone said it to a self storage place, and yes, it was a hole in the wall. I spotted it. I pointed it out and the wife said, "That's it?? Oh, I don't know."

I wasn't taking "No" for an answer. We're here and we're eating, dammit. Besides, what's life without a little adventure. The parking lot was full, but only had space for about 6 cars, and there were already cars spilling over to both sides of the road, parked off the side. We found a piece of real estate large enough to park in along side the self storage place in the grass by the road. I wondered how legal it was, but I didn't think the parking police would be around anytime soon, so I went with it.

We went inside, and it was...very small. There were several rooms, and all of them were about the size of a self respecting walk in closet. We sat at a table, that was really half a table, butted up against a wall with three chairs around it. From there, things looked up. There were several other patrons, all of whom seemed to be local. The menu included tacos, and not outrageously priced. The food, and the sangria, were excellent. We all agreed we'd made a decent choice. The wife was congratulated for finding it. I was congratulated for making everyone walk through the door once we got there. We talked about sharing our new found eatery with friends, and relatives who visit. We declared the adventure a rousing success.

We finished our meal and the youngster's coke was empty, so a waiter came, and took his glass and refilled it as the check came. I paid for dinner, and the youngster looked at me, holding his new coke and said..."here," holding his glass toward me with the straw in my face. I thought he was offering me a sip, but couldn't figure out why, and I said, "no thanks." He said, "No, look at it."

Floating in the top of his glass was some unidentifiable (by me) large bug. It wasn't a roach, but I didn't know what it was. I just knew it was a bug. We didn't say a word to any of the restaurant staff. We all just looked at the bug, got a bit grossed out, and left.

So much for a return engagement.


Friday, August 01, 2008

so it really has come to this

Take a pill instead of exercise.

OK, it's not quite there, but it's showing promise in mice. Be a couch potato. Watch Springer and take a pill to get healthy. Something about that just seems oh so wrong. I'm curious though. What happens if you take the pill and work out?