Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For Your Amusement...

I thought this may amuse some of you so I'll relate how I began my Saturday, Dec 8. It started like any other day, the usual wake-up, shower, shave and dress. I took the laptop out to the truck then headed back inside to get my phone, wallet, gloves etc... before leaving for work. That's when I ran into a wee little problem, the doorknob lock was locked and they keys I had grabbed to unlock the truck were the spare truck keys, no house key and no work keys. Oops.

So I start the trip around the house, checking every window and door along the way. I get across the front, no luck. I head down the left side, no luck. I check across the back, still no luck. Everything with potential would have required breaking glass or ripping out screen and I was trying to avoid that. So I'm on my way down the last side of the house when I spot my salvation, a small kitchen window which appeared unlocked. Unfortunately it's over a flower bed which was a bit muddy. So I walk to the far rear of the yard, grab a bag of mulch I had not yet used and drag it back to the house through the sloppy melting snow so I had something to stand on.

 First problem, the kitchen has the only two windows in the house which are not over 100 years old. They are double pane insulated windows with screens which are not intended to be removed. My only tools? My truck key, lol. It took a bit but I did manage to get the screen removed without doing it any damage then slid the window up.

 Next problem, orchids. Six of them right in front of the window; four on the kitchen counter and two hanging from the handles of the cupboards above the window. Three are blooming and one has three spikes which will soon be flowering so I didn't really want to damage them. The window is fairly small and was chest high so I had a difficult time moving them all out of the way but eventually after much hopping up and down, wiggling, kicking and reaching I finally managed to clear them all out of my way. The whole time this is going on Zeus is staring at me all bug-eyed from his favorite place to lay. I had tried the whole "Zeus, bring daddy his keys" thing to no avail. Some training may be in his immediate future. Anyway, I have a clear shot in now so I'm thinking "Success!"

Silly me for thinking it would be that easy. The window was too damned small! I couldn't get myself through it. I needed to remove both the top and bottom window sashes to make the opening big enough. Yay for long arms. I was able to reach the top of the bottom sash, find the tilt release and figure out how it worked, then tilt the sash in to the house. After getting the locks caught in the sheer curtain inside and ripping the curtain rod off the wall I was able to figure out how to get the thing completely out of the frame, then repeated the process for the top one.

Finally! Now I could fit through the opening so I laid my jacket across the sill, jumped up and wiggled my way through the window and across the counter, and promptly fell to the floor. But I was in! I cleaned up the muddy footprints then went back out to get the windows so I could put them back in. Forty-five minutes after locking myself out I was finally ready to go to work. Nothing was broken, and the police didn't show up so it ended well.

There you have it, another excellent way to not begin your day. Now that I have amused you I am off to do some Christmas shopping on what will most likely be my last day off of work before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Catching Up

Oops, it's been a month since I blogged about anything, I guess I should put something here so I don't get yelled at.

I got to meet up with Steph and hang out with her for a day. I drove down to Virginia to meet her when she was dropping off her son for the next phase of his National Guard training. The little town was mostly closed (it was a Sunday) but it was still fun walking around checking out the sites. I showed my pig side when we went to an Outback for dinner and I wolfed down a 20 ounce Porterhouse steak plus bread, veggies and a bunch of cheese fries. Oink! It was good to finally be able to meet her after years of talking online and I'll most likely be driving back down in January to meet her again. She's not even close to as scary as she tries to be.   :P

I am once again sick, some stupid virus or flu or cold or wtf ever. Ever since the whole Lyme thing and the resultant diet of antibiotics and antiprotozoals I seem to catch every bug out there. This time of year makes it gets worse, probably because all day long I handle one of the dirtiest things known to mankind. No not that, I bathe dammit, I'm talking about money. I had one bug which made me cough for a while, and another which made me unable to breathe through my nose for a while, and this current one is now causing me to alternate between sneezing and blowing my nose. Germs piss me off. Imagine that.

Work has been busy, and getting busier. Merchandise is leaving here pretty quick, I'm hoping I can keep enough new product coming in to keep the place full. Between sales and the fairly constant deliveries to replace it all I end up actually having to do stuff for almost the entire day every day. We have extended hours now too, so no more slacking for me. I have 2 days off next week then I'm on for 14 straight until Christmas. Ew, I wrote that word. Bah fkn humbug!

On the "Welcome to the twentieth century, better late than never" front I finally broke down and got a laptop computer. I got a wireless router too so now I can play online anywhere in the house, probably even in the yard too. Plus now I have something to play with in my off time at work. I think it's ended up confusing me even more than I already was (hold the smartass comments thank you very much). The work computer is a Mac laptop, then I go home to my Windows XP pc and in between I'm on a Windows Vista laptop. God forbid they all do things the same way.

Ignore the smell of smoke, that's just me trying to think what else is going on. I tore down my pool and hauled it to the landfill. I'm two thirds of the way done ripping out the deck around it and hauling that away too but haven't had the weather lately to finish. Nobody but me ever got in it and I was tired of the work and expense of maintaining it, plus it was getting quite old (22 years) and I had doubts regarding it's structural integrity. I wasn't overly enthused about the possibility of ten thousand gallons of water rushing downhill at my house if it collapsed.

That's about it I think. The cats are alive and well, my wife is still a lazy slob and I'm still as cheery and optimistic as ever.

Until next time .......

Monday, November 5, 2007

Music Playlists and Copyright Infringement

I recently changed my settings on my Multiply Inbox so that I'd be shown updates by contacts of my contacts. The overwhelming majority of these updates were music playlists, a whole lot of music in fact. All of the ones that I checked were visible to me on each user's page, and all appeared with a "Download" link next to them on each user's page.

I hate to be a party pooper but this basically offers a way to share copyright protected music. Anyone with access to the playlist can simply download the song from your page. Aside from potentially violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act it's also a clear violation of the Multiply Terms of Service and Use, the penalty for which can be the termination of your Multiply account. I asked Multiply customer service for clarification and received the following as part of their reply, "sharing unauthorized copyrighted material (including music) violates our terms. So yes, you can share music, as long as it is not unauthorized copyrighted music."

You may want to make all of your playlists private, just to be safe. Edit each playlist, select the "Advanced" access option then uncheck all of the boxes and save. Each playlist will state "For you" in the upper right corner once you've properly edited it.

Given the increasingly litigated legal issues surrounding music I suspect that the abilities to download, embed and/or share music will soon be severely limited.

This concludes this public service announcement, we now return to your regularly scheduled multiplying.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Holy Moly It's E-Mail Hell!

My first multiply.com mistake? My e-mail alerts settings. I got e-mail alerts for each entry posted by all my contacts. Each blog entry, each photo album, each comment, every single entry imported to multiply from 360° by all of my contacts. It was hundreds upon hundreds of e-mails. So ... the first multiply lesson learned is to turn off those damned e-mail alerts!!

"How do you do that?" you may ask, well I'll tell you. If your inbox is getting inundated with multiply alerts click the "my account" link at top right of any multiply page then click "My E-mail Alerts". I highly recommend unchecking the "Posts by my contacts" option and keeping it that way for a while. If you leave it schecked you'll get a separate e-mail for everything any new contact imports from another blog plus everything new.

My latest round was a total of 171 mails, and that was at least the third time. Screw that!! Once most everyone has migrated to multiply or wherever else they are going to go I'll turn them back on ... maybe. They all show in your Multiply Inbox when you log in anyway.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

M.O.T.A.S. - Puzzle Game From Hell

If you like a challenge and have time to kill try M.O.T.A.S.. It's room after room, each requiring that you solve some sort of puzzle or challenge before you can exit and proceed to the next.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yahoo 360° Closing

Yahoo! has announced that they are closing down 360° early next year. They aim to make a universal profile to replace all the different ones currently used. Yahoo! claims that none of your content like contacts and blogs will be deleted but it is Yahoo! we're talking about here.

So now it's time to find a substitute, either as a backup plan or on a more permanent basis if you're fed up with Yahoo! and their inability to consistently offer services and/or make them work correctly. The three I hear the most are MySpace, Facebook and Multiply.

MySpace is kind of a pain in the ass. It generally seems to take multiple clicks to get anywhere or find anything. They've made it easier to customize your pages but overall it's still not all that easy to control how your page looks. Most customization requires you getting code from a non-MySpace site and pasting it in. Blog privacy options are good, each entry can be set individually unlike 360°. You can make photo albums and all that, but it's nothing special. I have a MySpace page but I never use it.

Multiply is much better in my opinion. Customizing is easier, there are several premade themes you can pick from and user groups onsite with thousands more. You can easily hide and restore content modules on your page or drag and drop to rearrange them. There are multiple privacy levels ranging from specific users all the way up to everyone. Blog entry sharing options can be set individually per entry. What I like most is that everything is easy to find, when you log in you are taken to a page that shows you updates from all of your contacts, or if you choose it can show just yours, or those from contacts of your contacts, etc... You also have control over how these are displayed to you. One huge plus is that Multiply has a couple of Import tools for 360°. One enables you to import your blog entries with almost no effort. You lose the comments but your blog entry is preserved, html and all. Another tool enables you to invite any or all of your 360° contacts to Multiply in a couple quick easy steps. Overall I much prefer the look and feel of Multiply.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boooo Flickr!

   I'm already sick of Flickr, my introductory free PRO account is about to expire and when it does I'm only allowed to have 3 sets (albums). All the photos remain but the ability to organize them goes away. It seems pretty stupid to make people look through a couple of hundred photos to find ones they may be interested in seeing. 

Flickr doesn't allow you to reorganize the Photostream either so you're stuck with showing that in the order that the pictures were downloaded unless you manually edit the upload date of every photo one at a time. You can't even put a slideshow of your Flickr photos on a blog, they don't offer any such option. Screw Yahoo! for shutting down their own Photos service and leaving us with this as the alternative, the hunt is on for a new photo sharing site.

MyPhotoAlbum.com was my first try. Joining was easy, and figuring things out seemed easier than in Flickr. Drawbacks are that free accounts can't show the full sized originals, have limited ability to post slide shows in blogs and the code they provide does not function in Yahoo! 360° (then again, what does?). It does work in MySpace just fine though.

Does anyone out there know of any good free photo storage/sharing sites without these limitations?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Slack Blogging, Again

I admit it, I'm a sucky blogger. I'm way overdue and have been slacking. Let's see, what interesting things do I have to report?

   Back in August I met up with Mark and Nicole and got to see some of Pittsburgh. We went to the Phipps Conservatory and were fortunate to have our visit coincide with an art exhibit featuring the works of glassblower Dale Chihuly. There were hundreds upon hundreds of his pieces all tucked in and arranged amongst the plants in the conservatory. For once I even took pictures!!

We rode a tram thingy up some steep freaking hill, I kept trying to scare Nicole or make her turn green but she wasn't very cooperative, the party pooper. When we got to the top the view was awesome, Pittsburgh was all spread out in front of us on the other side of the river. We capped it off with dinner and games at Dave and Buster's. All in all it was an enjoyable day, I hope we can do it again sometime soon.

September, not a lot went on except the beach trip I mention in my last entry. The sunburn got progressively worse, I guess it was sun poisoning. My legs ended up a dark purplish color and so swollen that I had no ankles. I had pregnant woman cankles! I eventually peeled and after a month it's finally about gone. I'll probably be needing a melanoma screening after this one, I should probably get one anyway after all the bad sunburns I've had throughout the years. Ahh the joys of being fair skinned.

This week I was lucky enough to be able to spend a day with Dee. She got to watch me get a bs ticket from a semi-literate traffic cop (real cop wannabe) who appeared to have been at least partially lobotomized. We checked out Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and although most everything I wanted to do was closed due to the limited fall schedule we still managed to have a good time. I think Dee was glad about one closure, she looked kinda green at the thought of going to the Observation Deck on the 27th floor of the World Trade Center. I don't know why, it's only 420 feet up

I amused us while we enjoyed lunch on an outdoor patio by staging food fights amongst the multitude of pigeons and sparrows which were hanging around. Those little sparrows kicked the pigeons' asses and almost always got the food. Go underdogs! Or is that underbirds? Afterward we walked up to the top of Federal Hill and hung out for a while enjoying the view of the harbor area. I'm hoping we can do it again, this time when everything is open, lol. I tried to get some pictures but something must have been wrong with my camera, it seemed to only be able to take pictures of the palm of her hand or various hand gestures. Go figure!!

I am number one, she said so!

What else? Oh yeah, I got a snow blower!! Shoveling shit loads of heavy snow will now be a thing of the past! If I were anywhere near coordinated enough to pull it off without hurting myself I'd be doing the happy dance. I think that's about it, nothing else to report. Until next time ....

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back From The Beach

The weekend getaway is over and everyone survived. It wasn't even as bad as I thought it would be, the house was big enough that no couples or singles had to share beds or rooms with another.

As usual I ate too damned much, and of course my poor albino chicken legs are extra crispy now and a lovely shade of pinkish red. Two applications of SPF-30 and I still fry. It looks like I'm going to be walking a bit funny for a couple days but I'll survive.

I still have no real love for going to the beach, nor do I understand the fascination with it shared by so many people. I get bored with it after a couple of hours. Maybe if I lived there and had my own beach it'd be different. The sound of the ocean is pretty relaxing but all the people and noise ruin it. Or maybe I'm just too antisocial.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Vacation? Yeah, Right

Oh joy, I am off to spend a couple days at a rented beach house with my wife, her mother, her grandmother, one of her aunts, her sister and her sister's infant, 3 dogs, and my only ray of hope, my brother in law. Pray for me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Going Green, Anyone?

That chair is far too comfortable for my own good. A green chair, green pants, green socks, green stripes on my shirt, even a green lampshade and green coasters! How much more green can I get?

I've spent the majority of my working years in jobs which kept me outside, even a few years of school which often had me outside. I've worked in everything from basic landscape maintenance, ornamental horticulture, retail nursery, pest control and large tree care to lakes, forests and uncontrolled natural areas. Because of this I've developed a respect for the environment, an understanding of how it can be affected and knowledge of what can happen when it's abused in ways from which it can't fully recover. I've seen the effects of change and abuse with my own eyes.

Lately it seems that everything you see or hear about the environment is bad. Toxic air and drinking water, poisoned oceans, contamination from nuclear waste dump sites, global warming altering the planet's weather patterns, animal species endangered or going extinct, the list goes on. I can't even remember the last time I saw or read anything positive about the state of our planet and it's diminishing ability to continue supporting life.

If all of that sounds familiar it's because it was in my previous blog entry but it fit better here so I moved it. I'm like that. Anyway, I'm curious if anyone out there is doing anything to reduce their own environmental impact. For my part, I use the most energy efficient settings on all of my home appliances. I've switched most all of my regular light bulbs over to more energy efficient compact fluorescents. Outdoor lighting and the pool filter are on timers. I recycle as much as I can and compost what I can to reduce landfill waste. I've made up my mind to buy an old fashioned reel type mower (no engine), and yes I'll actually use it. I've even cut down on water usage, watering the garden only when necessary and trying to plant more drought tolerant plants.

So who out there is attempting to be more green, and who just plain doesn't care? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Discovery Channel, Planet Earth In HD

I was pleasantly surprised at the BBC series Planet Earth which recently ran on Discovery Channel. Throughout all eleven episodes the damage we are doing is scarcely even mentioned. Instead it focuses on the incredible diversity of habitat and animal life which exist on our planet. Each episode concentrates on a specific habitat; it's features and it's animal life. Some episodes contain footage of habitat areas that have never been filmed, including previously unfilmed animals and animal behavior. Most all of it is filmed in high definition so it's incredibly clear on HDTV.

If you get a chance to catch a few episodes, I highly recommend it. Despite the damage that we as a species are causing and the fact that our population is steadily spreading into new territory there are still pristine areas where nature goes about it's business undisturbed as it has for millions of years. It's a refreshing change to see it presented this way. You can read about the series in this Wikipedia article.

I also recommend Blue Planet, a similar series dealing exclusively with our oceans. It begins showing again on Aug 19th.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Roofing The Shed

My extended Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and I am happy to see it go. I didn't get to rest, slack off or have any fun.

Saturday was errands, cleaning and ripping out weeds. Since I had the bright idea of putting a new roof on my shed I went out and took some measurements then went to Home Depot to get some supplies. It's a 14' x 10' shed with a Gambrel roof, the roof area is 14' x 14'.

Sunday was spent ripping off the old shingles and rotted plywood which, as it turns out, were all attached with a bajillion staples. With the shingles gone I could see that I needed to replace about triple what I originally thought. So, back to Home Depot I went. I get all the wood nailed on and am just getting started with the roofing felt when a thunderstorm arrives. So there I am on top of the shed in a torrential downpour trying to cover as much of the roof as I could. Mind you I am working directly beneath power lines (which would hit me in the back if I stood up wrong) in a thunderstorm holding a metal hammer tacker while lightning is flashing all over. Can you say Duh!? So wisdom prevailed and I took my soggy self inside. It was about dark anyway.

Monday was spent putting the shingles on. It was 87°F, sunny and humid. Perfect weather to be standing on a roof which is covered with asphalt impregnated black paper while handling black, asphalt impregnated roofing shingles. A gallon or two of water later and I had all the shingles on then had to clean up the mess I'd made. Ew. That took forever, by the time I was done loading up my truck it was about dark again.

Tuesday morning I went for a haircut then hauled all the roofing debris to the landfill, came home and trimmed the ends of the shingles then cut and nailed down the ridge cap pieces to finish off the peak of the roof. Then I apparently lost my sanity and decided to clean out the shed. What was I thinking? That, some garden debris and some trash and  I had another full truck to take to the landfill. When I got back home I had to mow my lawn. I'd been too busy with everything else to bother cutting it so it was way tall. I ended up cutting it twice. I cleaned up everything, crawled back into the house for dinner at 8:30pm and called it a night.

Now it's time to pat myself on the back. I've never done any roofing before so I was pretty clueless and learned as I went along. It came out looking surprisingly good, I guess I'll find out for sure how I did the next time it rains. Oh, somewhere along the line I also finished getting the pool open, it's good to go now. The water temperature is bearable, all the chemical levels are spot on and the water is crystal clear, but all I managed was one 15 minute dip. There's my weekend, I hope yours was more relaxing. Sometimes it's less work to just go to work.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yahoo! Photos Closing Down

Yahpoo! recently spend a considerable amount of time and money revamping their rather old Yahpoo! Photos service. Of course, being Yahpoo! it's chock freaking full of bugs and rarely if ever works right, not to mention the fact that it totally screwed up a lot of Photo Sharing on 360ยบ pages everywhere. When it did work properly it was great, I thought it was far and away the best photo sharing option on the internet, easy to use and very intuitive.

Now the Yahpoo! powers that be have decided that they will completely do away with this new Y! Photos and the whole Y! Photos service! Some time this fall they will be taking it offline. During the summer you'll be getting an e-mail from them explaining your options.

Anyway, I've started the slow and painful process of migrating my photos over to Flickr so I can start learning how it works. Sign up is easy, all I needed was my Y! ID. If you have a Flickr account, let me know so I can add you as a contact. Or, here's my Flickr, you can add me as a contact from there by hovering your cursor on my Buddy Icon.

Update: Since posting this entry I've since discontinued all use of any Yahoo! services.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spring, A Meeting and Sushi

This time of year is extremely busy for me, both at work and at home. The customer count at work grows higher by the week as my yard and gardens grow out of control. I see both Easter and Mother's Day as inconveniences, all the driving around and visiting is wasted time which I really need to spend preparing for and dealing with the explosion of spring growth. Throw in a rainy weekend or two and I've lost most of a month's outside work time right when I need it the most. Fortunately this year the rain has held off on the weekends but I still think those two holidays need to be rescheduled.

I've been working my ass off to stay caught up and so far I've actually succeeded! Most everything that needs to be cut down has been, the rest will only take me 30 minutes or less. Everything that didn't survive winter has been removed, several plants that were becoming a problem or that I just didn't like have been removed. All the edging that had shrunk and/or separated or heaved out of the ground has been pulled out and re-installed. Using a saw, a shovel, an ax, a tow chain and my truck I removed an out of control Arborvitae that was up to the windows of the second floor of the house and growing out over the walkway. I really hated that thing. The lawn has been mowed several times already. I've even taken a couple of truckloads of debris to the landfill.

The meeting I missed a few weeks ago when I was sick was rescheduled for this past Thursday so I did take a day off from everything to go meet up with Dee. It was really nice to sit and talk face to face, her visit was far too short but I enjoyed it immensely anyway. She's good company, I hope we get to do it again. We visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore where we learned that some fish are classified like people on the internet, there were hiders and lurkers! We saw some pretty weird looking fish, some really cool ones (I love those rays) and some sharks. The shark tank wasn't as full as usual but there were still some big ones swimming just a couple feet away. Nice teeth, lol. The rain forest exhibit was fun until we started to melt. None of the birds would come land on my finger though. :(  Heeeere birdy birdy birdy.

Last but not least, sushi! We went out Sunday night to my new favorite sushi place in New Jersey. Four of us wanted sushi so we told the waiter to bring two of the sushi boats that feed two people each. He told us they have one for four and he'd bring that one. Holy crap that thing was huge!! It was every bit of four feet long, the part with the sushi, sashimi and extra sushi rolls was 3 feet long by itself. My brother-in-law and I ate most of it ourselves and washed it down with a few Aventinus beers that I'd brought with me. Can you say Oink? I sure did.

Monday, May 7, 2007

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

I keep seeing this on blogs and in e-mails, so here's mine. Naturally I think the results are far from accurate. Me, a troublemkaer? Please! Outspoken? As if! What do you think, is it even close?

You Are a Troublemaker

You have the type of personality that people either love or hate. You're opinionated, dramatic, intense, and very outspoken.
Some people can't get enough of you - they're totally addicted. Others, well, they wish you were a little more reserved.

Your strength: Your flair
Your weakness: If you think it, you say it
What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

King Tut

Today I went to Killadelphia to check out the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs Exhibition currently on display at the Franklin Institute Science Museum. While it was interesting I have to say that I left feeling more disappointed than anything else.

Maybe it's just me but I was expecting more. Normally when you hear about the treasures of the Pharaohs' tombs you hear tales of vast amounts of stunning gold items, huge ornate statues, beautifully decorated sarcophagi, etc... Well, there's almost none of that in this exhibition. There's roughly 130 artifacts, only 50 were from Tut's tomb. The rest were a sampling of artifacts collected from other tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The overwhelming majority of them were smaller pieces (shoe box sized or smaller).

The 10th of 11 small exhibit rooms held most of the more interesting pieces, items used by Tut himself or found in his sarcophagus with his mummy. A diadem (small crown) with a cobra and a vulture, a viscera coffin used to hold some of Tut's mummified internal organs and a couple chest plates were some of the highlights. We got there early (less crowded) and were through the whole exhibit in about an hour and half after looking at every piece on display.

Upon leaving the exhibit you are forced into the museum store which is chock full of cheap, imported garbage. Some of it was so poorly done or in such poor taste that I considered it an insult to Egyptian culture.

Bottom line, if you are utterly fascinated by old Egyptian artifacts then you'll enjoy the exhibit. There are a few pieces that are quite stunning and the history aspect is appealing too. Personally I found the other unrelated exhibits in the museum more interesting.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Still Alive, Just Slacking

I see I've been slacking on this whole blog thing, shame on me. Since I have nothing of any real interest to talk about I'll ramble a bit about a couple odds and ends, at least you'll know I'm still alive.

I put on a suit and tie and attended my first full on Catholic wedding, complete with chanting/singing priests. It was quite the experience, and at well over an hour it was the longest wedding I'd ever been to. I was beginning to think that it would never end and the poor couple would die of old age before they managed to tie the knot, but they made it through. I was not aware that the Catholic service was so ritualized, just knowing when to stand or sit or knowing what to say in response to the priest and when to say it must take some time to learn. It seemed more like a well rehearsed choreography than a wedding service, but I'm not much of a church goer so what do I know? I have to admit that the building itself was stunning. All hand worked stone, massive wood beams holding up a ceiling with multiple arches, and a lot of stained glass.

Next, the reception. The bride chose a restaurant in the Chinatown section of Killadelphia as the location for her reception. I'm guessing it was for her family's sake, they comprised the bulk of the 300+ reception guests (she is Vietnamese). The place was dirty and smelled of dead fish, most likely from the dead fish I saw in the tanks down in the front of the restaurant. The tables were set up wrong, and numbered wrong, and they forgot a gift table, and one for the cake. The cake arrived 45 minutes after the guests, 15 minutes later the right one showed up but only partially decorated. After that it got a lot better! 

The menu was a traditional 12 course Chinese meal, being the pig that I am I naturally ate all of my portions of all 12 courses, plus a little extra. Oink. Jellyfish, coddle fish and shark fin soup were but a few of the items on the menu. We're talking foods most Americans have never even seen before, much less eaten. Suffice it to say that a lot of them went home hungry or were stopping at McDonald's on the way home. It was fun just watching a couple of the guys at my table as they examined each dish, then braved a taste. The faces they made were great!! The kicker was after the last course, restaurant staff started bringing out Styrofoam "to go" boxes to all the tables. That was definitely a first.

Today I had the pleasure of staying home with a nasty stomach virus. Out of the 365 days in a year it just had to be today, ruining a day I'd been looking forward to for quite some time. I was supposed to meet up with someone I met online years ago while playing gin. We've become very close since then and I was looking forward to spending some time in her company. Instead, I had to call her at 2am and tell her that I was in no condition to be able to meet up with her. What a disappointment :(

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Back From Vacation

The first rule of driving in the state of Utah is: "If you ever, ever, ever look up and see the above in your rear view mirror, GET OUT OF THE WAY!!" Do it like your life depends on it, because it does!

Now that I've been back for a few days I suppose I should do a little blogging before anyone starts yelling at me. You know how much that bothers me. I enjoyed my little getaway immensely and was sorry to see it end. Vacations always seem so short. We did a LOT of driving this time so there was plenty of time for talking. I learned a lot about Lisa during these long drives, now I have a deeper understanding of her and greater respect and appreciation for the person she is now. That alone made the whole trip worthwhile.

I got to see a lot of Eastern Utah, and some of the Northern part too (I think). The landscape is extremely different from what I am used to. Barren would be a good word, even desolate would work for some places. It seemed to be mostly dirt and rocks with a few tumbleweeds, straight out of an old Spaghetti Western. It was still quite pretty in it's own way though. The color contrasts between the flat ground, the mountains and the sky, the different colors of the mountains themselves, the multicolored layers of stone and the oddly shaped formations all made for some fantastic scenery. The pictures just don't do it justice and completely fail to convey just how big and open the views actually were. Check out the "Utah Mountains" album if you want to see a few of the pictures I took. Most of them were taken while moving at roughly 80-85 miles per hour proving that high speed photography is indeed possible. Who knew??

We went to a museum which showcased artifacts from the region. There were a lot of interesting exhibits depicting human life throughout early history in what would later become Utah. There was also a lot of dinosaur exhibits. It's a small place but they had a lot packed into it and it was interesting to see. A lot of the pictures we took there didn't come out so well so I borrowed a few from the museum's site to replace them so they'd be more visible. They are in the "Utah Prehistoric Museum" photo album if you care to look.

I also learned that I absolutely made the right choice when I decided to never have kids, lol. 6 hours in a vehicle with 4 boys who all had better things to do was not the highlight of my trip. But I survived!

There's only one bad thing I can think of about the entire trip. I left my last few remaining Godiva chocolates in Lisa's refrigerator!! :( They were my reward to myself for enduring the pain of shopping with Lisa. After an hour in Victoria's Secret I felt I deserved it (just kidding, it wasn't really that bad. Shhhh) Key lime truffles and raspberry truffles in dark chocolate. Shame, shame, shame on me!

Coming home sucked! Drving to the airport, long flights, a layover, losing 2 hours due to crossing multiple time zones then the long drive home. We left Lisa's around 11am, I got home around midnight to find a messy house (grrrrr), then got up and went to work the next day. WtF was I thinking?? Laundry and cleaning the next night insured I'd still not have enough sleep then back to work again. yay Now it's back to life as I know it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Blogging From The Land Of Mormon

My first ever weekend in Utah is all but over. The mountains and canyons made for a pretty drive from Salt Lake City to Lisa and Adam's place. I didn't get a real good look at them (at 85mph everything goes by pretty quick), but I managed to see a lot. I'm still not used to seeing mountains everywhere I look but I'm getting there. I don't have a camera so sorry, no pics.

The weather has been perfect, sunny and 70ish. Meanwhile at home in PA there was a day of flooding rains then a winter storm dropped 6 inches of snow over a layer of ice. All I can say is hahahahahahaha!! I beat all the airport shutdowns, so no sleeping in the terminal for me!

So far this visit I've done a few things for the very first time. I ate fries with fry sauce on them, it sounded nasty (a mix of mayonnaise and ketchup) but I had to admit that it was pretty good. I saw my first real live (even though they are dead) tumbleweed. I took the four wheeler for a few laps around the yard, that was fun! I managed to avoid hurting myself or running in to anything. We even ended up at a club which was having a swinger party, that was quite interesting. I met some nice people and experienced another first, an Anheuser-Busch product that I actually liked!. I got nailed with a low level migraine which put a damper on the evening but it still ended up being a good time.

Tonight we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over an open fire in the back yard, not a first but it has been just about forever since last time I did that.I'm having a great time and am really enjoying my little getaway. It'll be over before I know it but I'm enjoying it while I can. Until next time .....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Vacation Time!

Reservations for my flights and my airport parking are made and confirmed, the banking is done, the bills are paid, the orchids and other house plants are all watered, the litter box is cleaned, the recyclables have all been dropped off at the collection center, the house is mostly clean and I am all packed. I think I need a vacation from all the preparation for going on vacation! Now I'll probably spend the next few hours driving myself crazy wondering what I forgot... I hate that!

It will sure be good to get away from home for a few days. I leave this afternoon to go spend almost a week with Lisa and family, in Utah this time. Aside from flying over it I've not seen any of Utah so I'm looking forward to it. Plus I know I'll be in good company, so that's even better! I've already been warned that the boys want to fill my luggage with rocks (fossils they've found and collected) so I think I better bring along an extra bag, lol. Let airport security figure that one out.

Here's yet another online quiz for your amusement. I was extremely surprised when I took it. Me of all people, sarcastic? The nerve!! See where you rate.

You're Totally Sarcastic
You sarcastic? Never! You're as sweet as a baby bunny.
Seriously, though, you have a sharp tongue
and you aren't afraid to use it.
And if people are too wimpy to deal with your attitude
then too bad. So sad.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

What's Your Party?

I forgot about these right after I did them, so here they are now. Better late than never!

You Are 40% Democrat
You're a bit Democrat, and probably more liberal than you realize.
If you're still voting Republican, maybe it's time that you stop.

Nothing earth shattering there, so I figured I may as well take the other one.

You Are 16% Republican
If you have anything in common with the Republican party, it's by sheer chance. You're a staunch liberal, and nothing is going to change that!

Uh oh, I've been called the dreaded "L" word. Oh for shame! I'll take it though, "liberal" sounds better than "supporter of a murderous lying buffoon." I don't really think these lame internet tests are all that accurate but it's still nice of them to show that I put my money where my mouth is. I'm always saying that blind partisanship is bullshit, vote the issue not the platform. At 40% Democrat, 16% Republican and 44% other (whatever that may be) it looks like my opinions are spread out amongst all parties and platforms. Go me!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Since the topic of immigration seemed to touch a nerve I decided to blog about it. Personally I'm all for immigration, but with conditions. Most importantly, follow proper legal procedure and pay your share. Next, learn the bloody language. This is America, an English speaking country. We should never ever have to press 1 to continue in English. Finally, you are coming to America to be an American so you damned well better act like one.

If you want to be Mexican, befriend only other Mexicans and speak only Spanish then stay in Mexico. This applies to all other nationalities as well. This is America, by coming here you imply that you want to be American. Learn the customs and follow the rules. I'm not saying that immigrants should forget their heritage, that's an unreasonable request and one with no merit whatsoever. It is quite reasonable however to ask, even to demand, that once you are an American you start acting like it. If that's a problem, leave.

What follows is the text of an e-mail I received not too long ago, the general theme is the same."Recently large demonstrations have taken place across the country protesting the fact that Congress is finally addressing the issue of illegal immigration. Certain people are angry that the US might protect its own borders, might make it harder to sneak into this country and, once here, to stay indefinitely. Let me see if I correctly understand the thinking behind these protests.

Let's say I break into your house. Let's say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave. But I say, 'I've made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors; I've done all the things you don't like to do. I'm hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house).'

According to the protesters, not only must you let me stay, you must add me to your family's insurance plan, educate my kids, and provide other benefits to me and to my family (my husband will do your yard work because he too is hard-working and honest, except for that breaking in part).

If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends, who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my right to be there. It's only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I'm just trying to better myself. I'm hard-working and honest, um, except for well, you know.

And what a deal it is for me!! I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of my keep, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of selfishness and prejudice. Oh, and I want you to learn my language so you can communicate with me."

Only in America.... Pass it on (in English) if you find this ridiculous. Share it if you see the value of it as a good simile or even just to provide a smile

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mandatory Urine Tests?

It's official, I'm losing my mind. This will be the second time in a week that I decided to write another blog entry then forgot what I was going to blog about. Duh me. After forgetting what I was going to blog about I figured I'd just rant about something but after thinking about it for a few minutes I realized I wasn't even pissed off about anything. How's that for scary?

To prevent the cobwebs from forming I have to put something here so I'll just start posting the forwarded e-mails which I receive almost daily. This one comes (supposedly) from the readers' opinion column of a newspaper in Riddle, Oregon. For those of you who don't know, the random urine test the writer refers to are the random drug screenings required by a majority of employers in the US.

"I have a question, not only for Douglas County, but for the entire state of Oregon. Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me, i pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as they see fit. In order for me to get that paycheck I am required to pass a random urine test, which I have no problem with.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test. Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check, because I have to pass one to go earn it for them?

Please understand, I have nothing against helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sit on their butt. Could you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?"

While it sounded kind of funny at first, the more I think about it the more I realize that the writer may actually have a valid point. What do you think?

Monday, January 8, 2007

Hating on Yahoo!

I'd like to take this opportunity to loudly declare my firm belief that YAHOO! SUCKS!. Lately it seems that every part of their services have been screwed up. As usual, if you do manage to get a response from an actual person at Yahpoo! Customer Care they just tell you that they were unable to replicate the problem then try to pass it off as a problem with your computer.

360° is screwy, html blog entries require repeated and extensive re-editing before they post correctly and the Share Photos feature seems to be broken too. I got so fed up that I made a myspace page and copied most of my blogs to it.

Y! Photos is all buggered up too. It seems they've updated the whole interface and given it some new features. Nice! Too bad most of it doesn't work.

Yahoo! Message Boards are screwed up, "technical difficulty" error messages out the wazoo. Sometimes they open, sometimes they don't. Sometimes when they open correctly they even remember your settings! Wow ... progress!

Then we get to Yahoo! Answers. It used to be fun helping people out but now the site is now full of assholes, idiots, spammers, homophobes, racists and any other low-life form of bigoted horse's ass you can imagine so I quit going there. Now I have to find something else to do, again. Viva la Yahpoo!!