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Happy New Year! Now Leave Me The Hell Alone.

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Monday

Quote of the Day: “The purpose of life is to fight maturity.”

- Dick Werthimer

I will fully admit, I was a putz. There’s no getting around it.

And the rub is I don’t know why. I wasn’t feeling all that good all day and by the end of the night, I was on the couch curled up. My gut hurt a bit, I was really tired, and I was in no mood to do any celebrating beyond blankly staring at the TV.

That’s how we spent the rockin’ New Year’s Eve party: at home with a troll curled up on the couch.

In fact, I fell asleep at about 9:00 PM and my family had to wake me up for the countdown.

It came. It went.

I went to bed.

So that’s how I brought in the new year. No so much a bang but a squeaky little fart sound.

I will not attempt to recap the year as it had so many ups and downs that it would be futile. If you want to know all about it, I’m sure I’ve provided years worth of blog reading where you can follow my every move.

But I will say….

It’s sad to see Dick Clark. I’ve probably said this before but I still think, Dick, you had a stroke and good on ya for coming back and not letting the bastard get the better of you but now you are just embarrassing yourself. We don’t want to see old man, raspy-voice, semi-retarded-sounding Dick Clark. We want to remember the eternal teenager. So Dick, please. You’ve had a good run. Let Ryan’s little faggoty ass take over completely.

To all my old friends, I cherish our continuing friendships. To my new friends of 2007, may you have the longevity of the old friends to put up with me for years to come. It’ll be tough and probably not really worth it but the fact that you’re still reading proves your judgment is questionable so there is hope.

And yes, I did use the phrase “So Dick, please.”

Awesome!

Free Advice for Today: “Own two crystal champagne glasses.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Walking a Run

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Sunday

Quote of the Day: “Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself.”

- A. H. Weiler

I guess I can’t go this long off of work without trying to get back in the swing of running. So I decided to take Buster with me and revisit my old haunt: Penesquitos Canyon.

Big mistake.


“Take the baby! He wants to go…”

Damn.

You see, my intention was to run. Buster had other intentions. In fact, it was more along the lines of sniffing, peeing, and walking.

Now, Buster, buddy, I’ve been there. But if you expect to come with me on my runs, you have to…well, run.

But there was no convincing him. He fell farther and farther behind until I got tired of yelling for him to catch up. After about a mile of this, it was obvious that we came for a walk rather than a run.

On the way back, it got to be painful. Not because of Buster but because of bikers. They came one after another and I had to make sure Buster didn’t lose his mind and decide it was time for a little “chase the biker” fun.

Walk. Stop. Hold. Walk. Stop… it was more than a little annoying.

Unfortunately, that is the reality of finding some really good trail. The runners get tired of dealing with the bikers and I’m sure they feel the same way about us. If only we could have our own areas. Like we get the trails and they get … whatever, I don’t care. How about “not the trails?”

All and all, it was pretty unfulfilling. I didn’t get any kind of run in and it was pretty much a waste of time for me.

Buster had a good time though so I guess from his perspective, good times.

And I’m totally convinced that he thinks that’s where I go every time I leave the house.

Stupid dog.

Free Advice for Today: “Own a salad spinner.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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The New Style

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Saturday

Quote of the Day: “When someone tells you something defies description, you can be pretty sure he’s going to have a go at it anyway.”

- Clyde B. Aster

Today is the day. After many, many years, I have finally bought myself a new iPod.

Giggy, my intrepid iPod Mini (which they don’t even make anymore) was getting long in the tooth and was getting more “personality” than I wanted to deal with. Mainly, it would think it was out of battery power if it got cold.

Hey, who doesn’t have that problem?

But it became high on the suck meter on runs. So a year after I thought I was going to get an update (I actually bought one LAST Christmas but returned it), Giggy lasted an entire year and even survived my busiest running year of my life.

So props go out to Giggy.

And it’s not like I’m throwing it away. It just now resides full-time in my car where it stays charged and in the transmitter so I can listen to it while driving. It lives on and that’s a source of comfort (I’m so damn sentimental.)

Now, onto the new one. I got an 8 gig Nano. That’s double the space I had before.

You would think I would be all excited but spending money for me is a painful experience and even though I got $50 cash for Christmas and just got two reimbursement checks for marathons, it still felt like giving birth to a porcupine to plop down 200 bones.

We went to Costco and they don’t even put them out for people to steal. There is something inherently wrong about grabbing a plasticized piece of cardboard and paying $200.

I had a long debate over the color with Carrie. The package had a blue one and a different part number than the one on the sign which was specifically identified as “black.” I argued that this meant that if we brought a blue package up, we would get a blue Nano. I wanted a black one.

Carrie thought it didn’t matter and that we could ask for whatever color we wanted when we got up there.

I countered with a suggestion to ask (actually, have HER ask) before we paid but I was ignored.

After Carrie paid (something that was just too painful for me), I took it up to the distribution counter and asked the lady about it. Turns out I won the argument but lost in the long run. Blue meant blue. Black would be, well, black. Her logic was relentless.

I almost returned it but then I thought, what the hell. I’m going to get a case for it anyway so it could be pink as far as it mattered. OK, I would not have taken pink. A man has his limits.

Our next stop was at Circuit City to see about this case. The leather one I got for my mini way back when was just over $10 so imagine my dismay when the one I needed for this was over double that.

Son of a BITCH!!!

But I had to have it and the bastards knew it.

As we left the store, Carrie cheerfully pointed out how much the total was and my reaction was:


“Thanks. That makes me feel real great about all of this. I really didn’t want to know. I didn’t even want to think about it and you just had to point that out.”

You would think she would know me better than that after 20 years.

I got home and got to work of putting songs on it.

For those that know me, you know I hate iTunes like a weak prisoner hates shower time. I absolutely refuse to use it and was looking forward to going to the replacement program I found works better; Media Monkey.

I plugged in the Nano, synced it up with the old list from Giggy, and voila, the songs transferred on the first try. I was set.

Until I plugged in the earphones and pushed play. The screen proclaimed there was not music. What?

I plugged it back into the computer and saw that there was 988 songs on there. (you can’t have it plugged in to the computer and listen to it at the same time because after all, crApple is still crApple).

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to work. I was getting less and less happy about this whole thing and wasted several hours unloading, loading, messing with settings, and cussing to get it to work but no joy. I even did some research on the web and saw that some people were having the same problems. One person even went so far as to claim that they had designed the new iPods so they can ONLY work with iTunes. I was about to lose it.

Utterly defeated, I actually downloaded the iTunes installation executable and was about to launch it when a thought came to mind. I am not kidding, my finger was on the mouse ready to double click the installation program when the thought came to me:

Have I tried updating the Media Monkey software?

I went to the site and sure enough, they had a new version. In fact, I was several version behind and the new one specifically said that it works with the new iPods as a “new feature.”

I upgraded (still free which made me purr), and uploaded the list.

I unplugged, put the earbuds in, pushed play, and heard “Sweet Child O Mine” come sweetly pouring into my ears.

It worked. For the love of God, it worked.

The first thing I did was go to my “installs” folder and deleted the iTunes install program while laughing maniacally.

Then I got to the business of adding more songs.

Like I said, I had 4 gig to work with and a long time ago, I made a long list that I had to whittle down to fit onto Giggy. But now, all bets are off.

I started by doing onesies and twosies but then got sloppy and just started adding huge swaths of songs. Like instead of trying to pick out Sarah McLachlan songs individually, screw it, I threw them all on there. Same with Hootie, Alanis, Seal, Dido, Enya, and Sheryl.

I wandered through my collection and just loaded up songs willy-nilly and STILL only used 3/4 of the space I have. This will not be a problem until I have to cut out songs and then I’ll have to go through and see the ones I just threw on there because I had the room.

But that won’t happen for awhile because, come on, 8 gig.

The one thing left to do?

Name it.

I’m considering “Nanny” or just “Blue” although that’s one of Trucky Trucksaurus’s nicknames.

Help me out, here.

Free Advice for Today: “Write a letter to the editor at least once a year.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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I Am Legend (Oh, and I Saw a Movie With The Same Name)

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Friday

Quote of the Day: “If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.”

- Lyndon B. Johnson

A few weeks ago, I took my son to Beowulf in IMAX 3D and ever since, I have been on the lookout for a good movie to revisit the IMAX format.

Yes, the experience actually overtook my cheap-assedness to the point that I’m willing to drop a lot of cabbage to see a good movie on acreage.

When I saw that I Am Legend was playing, bingo.

I took my entire family because we had all been looking forward to seeing this movie so when I saw it was playing at the IMAX, it was game on.

Have you ever seen a movie that sticks with you? That you find yourself thinking about days after you saw it?

This is that kind of movie. If you have not seen it, GO!

I was enthralled about the concept of living alone in New York. I mean, like ALONE. I figure you would never starve since the canned food and bottled water, soda, juice in all of the grocery stores would last you until you died.

But how would you die? No doctors. What if you broke your leg or somehow became incapacitated? What if you got in a car wreck and were bleeding to death. I’m just dumb enough to mess myself up in some way and with no one around, I’d be screwed…and mad that I got myself into that situation.

All you had to do was just be careful. Now look at you. You’re gonna eat it because you were joyriding. Idiot!

And I thought I could walk into a Borders and walk out with armfuls but then I thought, wait a minute, why am I taking them out? Borders would BE my bookshelf. Just leave them there and read them there when I wanted to. Duh!

Would I run? Would marathons and ultra be as much fun with no one around and nothing but a finish line? It would be more like the training runs I do when I simply get to the end, get in the car, and go home.

So many things to think about and I didn’t even get into the whole storyline of the movie. Those pesky zombies would be a bit of a bitch.

I just got done reading “The World Without Us” and will be starting “The Road” soon so with this movie thrown in the mix, I might be overdoing the whole post-Apocalyptic thing.

Free Advice for Today: “Go through all your old photographs. Select ten and tape them to your kitchen cabinets. Change them every thirty days.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Back to Being a Running Fool

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Thursday

Quote of the Day: “Some have been thought brave because they were afraid to run away.”

- Thomas Fuller

Well, I guess it’s about time to hammer out some running stuff.

To bring everyone up to speed, I had a great year last year, running more races than any other year in my life. Here is what I accomplished:

2007 Rock & Roll Phoenix Marathon
2007 Carlsbad Half Marathon
2007 Miami Marathon
2007 San Dieguito Half Marathon
2007 Los Angeles Marathon
2007 Wild Miles Adventure Relay
2007 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2007 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon
2007 America’s Finest City Half Marathon
2007 San Diego 100 Ultra-Marathon

Although I had my first DNF (Did Not Finish) with that last race, I did crank out 56 miles of it and I will be back in 2008 to settle the score.

Since then, I have been taking a bit of a break. Not by choice but work and life events have kind of got the better of me and I have not been disciplined in getting out on the road.

This week, that changed. I ran my normal 7.5 mile loop … well, kind of ran it. I gave myself the opportunity to ease into it and did a lot of walking. I normally use up an hour but this first one required about 1 hour and 45 minutes since I walked most of it.

But then I came back and ran it the next day in about 1:04.

Then the next day at 1:02.

So I’m getting back.

I also got a bit of holiday weight to lose so that will be my focus along with getting the miles in. It’ll be good to get back in my running routine after the end of the year I had.

As far as CrossFit, I can go back any month I want but I think I will use it as a one-month toner where I pick a month (maybe every other month) and hit it hard. I’ve realized I can’t do distance training while I’m doing CrossFit so I have to alternate.

Here is my proposed schedule for 2008:

2008 Rock & Roll Phoenix Marathon: I signed up for it but am not ready. I really do not want to travel to Phoenix unprepared and have a lousy race, especially since I got my PR on this course last year.

2008 Carlsbad Half Marathon: already signed up!

2008 Miami Marathon: I won’t be travelling to Miami for this. It was great last year but I’m no longer an active member of the Achilles team.

2008 San Dieguito Half Marathon: already signed up!

2008 Los Angeles Marathon: I MIGHT be running this if the Achilles team wants my help.

2008 La Jolla Half-Marathon: Part of the Triple Crown. I skipped this one last year.

2008 Wild Miles Adventure Relay: the organizers are not putting this on this year. Taking a break I guess.

2008 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon: I have the application and will be hitting this for the 9th consecutive year.

2008 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon: already signed up!

2008 America’s Finest City Half Marathon: I can’t sign up for this yet but when it opens, I will. Part of the “Triple Crown” series.

2008 San Diego 100 Ultra-Marathon: I got a score to settle.

Free Advice for Today: “Learn to identify local flowers, birds, and trees.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Frontier Fiasco Follow-Up

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Wednesday

Quote of the Day: “We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it.”

- Roald Dahl

If you will remember, I wrote Frontier airlines about my little encounter with their service and I was amazed to get this back on December 24th:

Dear Major Grose:

First of all, let me express our condolences on the recent loss of your grandmother. In all the hubbub at the airport, the reason for the trip got a little lost. I’m sorry for that – that should have been primary in everyone’s minds, that you were travelling home to attend the services for your grandmother. I hope everything has gone as well as it could since you’ve gotten there.

Secondly, let me express my congratulations. You have broken the record as having the longest complaint ever recorded. But as one who is to deal with your problem, I appreciate the detailed description of the situation. Your comments will be forwarded to the appropriate corporate managers who will deal with the San Diego personnel internally.

I just looked at your ticket and groaned to notice that your flights on the 22nd were cancelled out of Wichita and that you are just finally getting home today after an overnight stay in Denver. Argghh! A circus of mishaps is what this trip has turned into. I see that because of the delays on your homebound flight, you were given $150 travel vouchers.

Thirdly, of course, I will return your $100. You should never have been charged it in the first place. I would like to return it to you in the form of additional $100 vouchers for you and your wife. That will give you a total of $250 each – which is enough for a free trip for almost anywhere we fly. This may provide incentive for you to give us one more try after the chaotic experience you’ve had this time. Thank you for your calmness in the midst of the chaos.

I’ll send these new travel vouchers to you under separate cover with instructions for their use to the address listed in your email. I hope they can provide a spring respite in Mexico for you and your wife.

Thank you for visiting FrontierAirlines.com.

(name removed by me)
Customer Relations Specialist

FRONTIER AIRLINES
“Best Low-Cost Carrier” Business Traveler Magazine 2006 Readers’ Choice Award

Then on the 26th, I got this in the mail:

OK, maybe you can read it. Here is what it says:

December 26, 2007

Dear Major Grose:

Thank you for taking the time to share your recent Frontier Airlines experience with us. We’re disappointed that you were inconvenienced and that our service did not meet your or our expectations. We strongly believe in trying to resolve such issues, and provide you with a fair and reasonable resolution of the problem.

Your Frontier experience was less than we would expect when we fly, and we need to earn back your business, as well as take steps internally to ensure that future Frontier customers do not experience a similar situation. With that in mind, we will forward your comments to the respective department manager for follow up.

We would like to have another chance to earn your business, and to facilitate that opportunity we have enclosed 2 $100 Travel Vouchers, which will provide a discount on future Frontier travel. You may use up to two vouchers on one trip. In addition, these vouchers:

* Are valid for one year from the date of issue.
* Cannot be replaced if lost or stolen and have no cash value.
* May be used by any member of your family.
* Cannot be used towards the purchase of Web site purchases.
* May be redeemed at your local travel agency, Frontier Airlines ticket counter or by calling us at 1-800-432-1359.
* Require three weeks of lead-time in order to handle the ticket processing if utilizing Frontier’s reservation department.

When you book your trip, be sure to let our reservations agent know that you are using your Transportation Vouchers.

(name removed by me)
Customer Service Specialist

1-$100 Travel Voucher – Jason Grose
1-$100 Travel Voucher – Carrie Grose

At Frontier, we realize how important you are to our future and that’s why resolving our service issues is critical to our success. We thank you for the potential opportunity to continue serving you.

So in conclusion, what did I get for my troubles?

3 $9 food vouchers
1 voucher for a night in a Denver hotel
2 $150 travel vouchers for tickets on Frontier
2 more $100 travel vouchers for tickets on Frontier
1 apology
1 record for longest complaint to Frontier

I wouldn’t exactly say I got out ahead considering the fiasco but it could be worse. I could have been told to pound sound when I complained. Then again, I could have been treated better from the get-go and none of this would have been necessary.

The question begs to be asked: will I go back to Frontier?

I really don’t have a choice do I? I got $500 to spend on Frontier tickets within a year!

Free Advice for Today: “Spread crunchy peanut butter on Pepperridge Farm Gingerman cookies for the perfect late-night snack.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Christmas Day and Tag

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Tuesday

Quote of the Day: “About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.”

- Herbert Hoover

Christmas morning isn’t quite as spectacular as it was when I was a kid or when my kids were, well, kiddier.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice. It was Christmas morning after all but the kids are teenagers now so that means one thing: sleeping in. They stayed up late playing with their presents so naturally, the morning was not full of the patter of little feet but the snoring of little lazies.

To be honest, it was pretty much like a weekend morning where I wake up at 0700 no matter how late I WANT to sleep and then I turn the coffee on and get on the computer to see what’s going on in the world, write some, read some, and basically wallow in the Matrix while everyone else snoozes.

Since everything is closed on Christmas Day, we all had a guilt-free day at home to do whatever. The kids played with their video games, surfed the net, and watched TV. I did more than my normal vegetation in front of the computer, and Carrie watched TV and read.

We would wander together every few hours and it was just a good day to flow from “our own thing” to “family time.”

Because of our travel fiasco, we did not get home in time to get a frozen turkey for Christmas dinner. It would not have thawed in time so the only unfrozen turkey Carrie could find was a big old breast. It wasn’t quite the same but we had all the fixin’s for my twice-per-year turkey extravaganza. I don’t do ham so Thanksgiving and Christmas is the turkey time for me.

I know, not all that “storybook” but that was our Christmas. Sometimes the best time is when we do nothing and are able to have our own time between coming together.

Merry Christmas and here is a rare tag from me.

This could only be interesting to those of you that actually know me.

Even then…

1. Wrapping or gift bags?
Wrapping, even though I suck donkey at it. I use pounds of tape and still have gaps.

2. Real or artificial tree?
Artificial. We’ve had one for years. No dead/brittle pine needles. No fire hazard. No pitch on the hands. No dog drinking the water at the base. If I want the smell, I’ll use incense!

3. When do you put up the tree?
Well, CARRIE puts it up the day after Thanksgiving after she washes the dried blood from her clothes from Black Friday.

4. When do you take the tree down?
CARRIE takes it down on New Year’s Day without the exuberance that the kids helped with putting it up.

5. Do you like eggnog?
It might be the most vile semi-liquid on the face of the planet. Just….huuuuwg.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
My God, nothing comes to mind. That is just sad.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
A few. One of them sports a broken staff that Joseph is holding.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Sheets for a size of bed we didn’t even have.

9. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Both but the main is the enormity of our Christmas mailing list.

10. Favorite Christmas movie?
Rudolph, of course. Duh! Oops, that’s not a movie…OK, I’ll go with … the new Grinch one with Jim Carrey although that’s just because nothing else really comes to mind. On a related note, I still have not seen “Miracle on 32nd Street” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Also, I thought I loved “The Christmas Story” until I rewatched it the other day with my kids and I realized it kind of sucked.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Mainly only shop for the wife but this year, I did it two weeks before Christmas so in guy-time, that’s like Summer!

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Chocolate Turtles. I eat all of them until I puke. Merry Christmas.

13. Clear lights or colored?
Why do we have to bring race into this? (Colored)

14. Favorite Christmas song?
Little Drummer Boy. Par-rup-a-pum-pum, baby. I guess I can kind of relate to the “I have nothing to give…” line as a kid.

15. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?
Prefer to stay home but we sometimes brave the crowds and weather by going back to Seattle.

16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
If some of them want new names.

17. Angel or star on the top of your tree?
Angel who always looks in danger of testing her flying ability.

18. Open your presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Yeah, right. Like given the choice, I would wait until morning. Christmas Eve without a moment of consideration.

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Advertising. Do they really think we are that stupid? They suck the joy right away.

20. What do you leave for Santa?
A Buster attack if he tries to shimmy his fat ass down our chimney.

21. Least favorite holiday song?
That stupid “Santa Baby” song sung all high-pitched with a Jersey accent. I think it was Madonna a few years back.

22. Do you decorate your tree with any specific theme or color?
No, we mainly use ornaments with pictures and past years’ reminders.

23. Favorite ornament?
A felt bell with my wife’s picture. She made it when she was in grade school and going through her awkward years. I put it front and center each year…and laugh my ass off.

Free Advice for Today: “Use credit cards only for convenience, never for credit.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Finally Home for Christmas Eve

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Monday

Quote of the Day: “The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps.”

- Benjamin Disraeli

After a luxurious 4 hours of sleep, we got up from the hotel, got dressed, and got downstairs to catch the shuttle back to the airport.

Sitting in the front seat again, we got the early morning cold air blasts hitting us every time the bus driver stopped to pick up more passengers but I mentioned to Carrie it would be the last time we would have to suffer through the cold. Once we got to the airport, it was temperature controlled and then on the plane until we got to San Diego.

This thought crept back to me once we started walking down the causeway which had a draft and, you guessed it, it was freezing.

Then when we got to the plane, our seats were almost the last ones in the back and it just so happens they were resupplying the food and beverages so the back hatch was open. The ice-cold draft came right through and nailed us in our seats that had a straight draft-line to the open door.

Of course.

But before all of this happened, we had $18 in voucher money to spend and the only thing open? Oh no, not the crap Burger King we were tempted by last night but the oh-so-delectable CrapDonalds this time.

Let me just go on record by saying that the “breakfast” at CrapDonalds is pretty much like butt-blowing on a Styrofoam plate and calling it morning vittles.

Normally, flying from Denver to San Diego is not even a second thought. You don’t even think about it, just part of the trip. But coming in today was almost like we didn’t want to breathe wrong. We didn’t want to even talk on the off chance that it may cause something to go wrong and as we landed, it felt like a major accomplishment that we actually made it home.

The airlines had their last digs on us by making us wait 45 minutes for our luggage. The way things have gone, I thought it wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary to never see our luggage again, especially since I was starting to feel like the ordeal was over. I needed something to snap me back to reality and lost luggage would have been just the ticket.

But it finally came out of the chute and I will admit, it was the FIRST time that MY bag was the first off the conveyor belt. I mean, think about it. How many times has YOUR bag been the first one to slide down the chute and down to the metal conveyor belt?

Never, that’s when.

Until today.

Paola picked us up and we dropped her off at her house before coming home to a couple of sleeping kids. They were still out even though it was mid-morning but we were so glad to see them. They seemed happy too through their daze of still being half-asleep.

Instead of flopping down and catching up on sleep, we got to work opening mail, working email, cleaning up, and unpacking. We had a lot to do since it was Christmas Eve and we were opening presents tonight.

Poala came over and we ate dinner before opening presents. To tell you the truth, I was just happy to be home with the kids and watching them opening their presents. It’s always fun to get gifts but with the funeral and the travel fiasco, I was a bit drained.

OK, yeah, it was present time…

I got a couple of cool things. Carrie got me a monitor so I could go back to my dual-screen set up that I so enjoyed before one of the monitors took a trip to the big technological waste dump in the sky and I was reduced to a regular-guy one-monitor situation.

But it was “best viewed” at 1440×900 and my video card didn’t support those resolutions and after two hours of tinkering, I couldn’t find a way around it. I had to accept that it was going back to Costco.

One tear fell…

She also got me a docking station for my new Kodak EasyShare Z712IS.

It came with a rechargeable battery but the one that came in the box was a NiMH and this particular model requires lithium ion batteries. The docking station could be used for a few different models (that normally take the NiMH batteries) but my particular model needed the other kind. So I will have to go and try to find a rechargeable lithium ion battery.

Anyone need a rechargeable NIMH battery?

Let’s see, I got a cool shirt and an Under Armour sweatshirt that will probably be on my body about 80% of the time I don’t wear a uniform.

My dad slid me some chocolate covered cherries which are going for 89 cents a box at WalMart (the only big store where he lives).

Did I mention I deplore these lugies-in-a-chocolate-casing disasters?

I was more exited about what we got the kids.

For Stephanie’s big gift, we got her an iPod shuffle.

I had been waiting until she asked for one and was so happy when she finally asked and I could share with her this technological wonder. I look forward to loading it up for her with whatever she wants to listen to. Alex has yet to catch the bug but it won’t be long. He’s almost 16.

For Alex, we bought him the upgrade to Flash.

I had bought a copy when I was going through post graduate school and after calling up Adobe who now owns Flash, I found out that for $200, I can get it upgraded to the latest version.

It also marked the first time I have ever bought software that I downloaded off the Internet. And now that I have an account, if I ever need it again (computer crashes or house burns down), I can just log in and download another copy.

So cool.

I burned the executable file onto a disk and we wrapped that as his gift.

He was so excited.

His grandparents also got him a Wii game called “Guitar Hero II” which I know the following about:

1. Not much
2. It’s a video game so I will not be playing it
3. It apparently doesn’t really teach you how to play guitar
4. It has songs that were popular when I was a kid
5. The characters in the game do not look anything like the real singers (I’m looking at you, Pat Benatar)

But the boy seemed happy to get it…

For Paola, we got her a crock pot and you know what? It was like we got a little kid the biggest, flashiest bike on the block.

Buster got a bone and he was so content. Such a simpleton.

For Carrie, I had taken the kids to the mall and they got her some lotions from Bath and Body Works. We also got her some chocolates from Mrs. Sees.

All that would have made a great blog entry but since she reads this blog, I was kind of blocked from tipping my hand.

She also got a gift certificate to a spa so she can go enjoy a facial without kids, husband, and dog sucking the very lifeforce out of her for awhile.

After all the presents were opened, the ladies broke out the fondue …which I don’t do… because… ew…

And the kids turned to Guitar Hero for the rest of the night.

I was busy messing with monitors that wouldn’t get quite right.

But when all was said and done, I was thankful to be home with Carrie, my kids, my dog, and a good friend. It had been a long week, hell, a long month and I was home on Christmas Eve.

This is the way it’s supposed to be.

Free Advice for Today: “Choose a charity in your community and support it generously with your time and money.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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No Trains But %$@ Planes and Automobiles

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Sunday

Quote of the Day: “There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.”

- Robert Benchley

This is becoming unbelievable. I kept referring to “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles” and the weird thing is that I was stuck in WICHITA!!!

Let me start by recognizing that my Aunt took us all out to the Sirloin Stockade and paid for lunch. Of course I gorged myself and would have never given a second thought that the chicken tasted a little like fish because they fried it all together if my Uncle wouldn’t have mentioned it.

Thanks Uncle Kent.

This time, my cousins Kary and Jennifer took us to Wichita and the roads were pretty much clear. The snow was piled up but the streets were good and the sun was actually shining. No way were gonna get delayed today.

Yeah.

They dropped it off and my wife and I fought off a wave of déjà vu.

We waited for our flight and as the time got closer, we could see there was no plane at the gate. No one was at the counter until finally someone shows up to tell us our plane was delayed.

At this point, we start doing the math. We had a connection in Denver and we think that the delay will be made up with a shorter layover.

Then it starts getting close and you start getting nervous.

Still no plane.

The time calculations were coming down to the minute and then a new employee grabbed the speaker and with a perky little voice announced that none of us would be making our connections at Denver.

The place went bonkers.

Actually, that’s untrue. There were gasps and irritable mumblings but the big attention-getter was the sweatsuit-clad lady with 4 kids and a meek husband who had a better chance to control runaway nuclear fusion than his wife-asaurus.

Normally, I would have sympathy for this family. I mean, come on, four kids ranging from toddler to pre-teen stuck in Wichita.

That would be normally, but this woman was far from normal. She was a perfect example of why many people think western civilization is going into the shitter.

Now, none of us are happy. We are all floating in the Wichita toilet clinging to the same Frontier turd. But this woman believed her situation was far worse than anyone else’s and made sure everyone knew that little factoid.

She starts screaming, wailing, crying, berating, and generally making a scene. The airline people got yelled at, the kids go yelled at, and a few people on her cell phone got a piece of her action.

She was just a gem.

Meanwhile, we were trying to figure out what to do.

Just to recap, we were supposed to fly home on Saturday but the snow cancelled our flight. So we were rebooked for today at 7:30 PM and now we were going to miss our connection in Denver for no reason given. We know this because Bitchzilla made it abundantly clear to the general public that we were not give a reason, yet she would be finding out once we got to Denver.

A gem, I tell you.

The plane did eventually make it in and we DID actually get to Denver just around the time Saturday turned into Sunday.

When we got off of the plane in Denver, we dashed to the first customer service area which was packed to the gills so we made the educated decision to bypass it for the next one. That one was even more packed so we went back to the first one and waited in line.

We got there just in time to hear the counter employers getting a verbal thrashing by some OTHER irate passengers and as an added bonus, Bitchzilla was there too and announced to the crowd that she might as well go to the front since she is going to be the same way.

She was.

And got as far as anyone else.

What did we get?

Well, there were no more planes going out tonight so since the fact finally came out that it had been mechanical problems that caused the delay, Frontier was gracious enough to put us up in a hotel, give us some food vouchers, and book us on the next flight out in the morning.

The food vouchers were $9 each and only good in the airport. The fact that it was the middle of the night and nothing was open kind of limited our choices to Burger King and air and since BK makes me feel like I performed Hari-Kari with a spoon, I chose the air option.

Oh, the other special little moment came when we were informed that we would be put in a hotel for the night but would not have access to our checked luggage. It would be transferred to our plane automatically but they couldn’t permit unchecking and then checking it again.

I found myself outside at midnight in Denver Colorado in December waiting for the hotel shuttle. I couldn’t believe this was happening and was quickly becoming miserably cold to add to my fatigue and hunger.

I. Just. Wanted. To. Get. Home.

The shuttle ride took ½ hour because we were the farthest away in the loop from the airport to the hotels.

Luckily, we didn’t have to share the ride with Bitchzilla but as we checked in, Mr. Bitchzilla was buying supplies for his kids that included chips, candy, soda, and donuts in large quantities. I was not at all surprised.

Doing the math, we calculated this to be our schedule:

Get to hotel
Check in
Strip off our dirty clothes
Share a newly-bought flimsy toothbrush as our only toiletry luxury
Get 4 hours of sleep (3 if you are Carrie and can’t get to sleep)
Get up
Put on our dirty clothes
Get back on the shuttle
Freeze every time the door opens because we have the first seats
Get to airport and hopefully get home on the third day after we had planned

This was no longer a chuckle about “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” This really sucked and I just wanted to get home. I did have Carrie with me which is what kept me sane and calm but I was starting to lose my patience. I was not about to go public like some but what I really wanted to say to her was that at least she had her family with her. What she was complaining about, we had been going through for two days already and we were trying to get home for Christmas to see our kids after traveling to Kansas to bury a grandmother.

I didn’t say it only because I knew it wouldn’t have mattered to her and her reaction probably would have pushed me over the edge I was already tipping on.

Free Advice for Today: “Support a high school band.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Grandma Wanted One More Day I Guess

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Saturday

Quote of the Day: “The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well.”

- Horace Walpole


(Guess who is in the same location.)

As is fitting, the weather turned bad today.

A world without Grandma needed to be introduced and I guess this is the way it makes its appearance.

The wind blew cold. Then the sleet came that stung as we loaded the luggage into the car. The forecast called for a nasty mixture of snow and ice but I never thought for a moment that we would be delayed from going back home.

It had been a tough trip and Christmas was coming quick. We wanted to get home to the kids and mend the wounds of burying a beloved grandparent.

My cousin Sharon and her husband, Kelly, needed to go to Wichita to do some last-minute Christmas shopping so they offered to give us a ride to the airport.

They regretted that but I felt better that they were planning on going anyway. We weren’t exactly pulling them into the jaws of a storm.

The farther we got, the heavier the show started coming down. It didn’t help that there was sleet and water would freeze as sheets of ice on the windshield. The wipers were helpless to stop this and the best we could do was crank the heat and squint through the windshield at 30 miles per hour.

So yeah, it was hot inside, cold outside, and the one hour trip turned into double that. By the end, we were in 6 inches of snow and couldn’t see anything. Total white-out.

They dropped us off and we had a couple of hours because our flight had been pushed back 45 minutes. I set up my laptop (yay, free wireless!) and waited it out while Carrie read.

Our flight kept getting delayed until it dropped off the board completely. Carrie went to ask why as I looked it up on the computer but believe it or not, they do not keep the airport status and the online status synched up.

When we found out that our flight was cancelled, I was dumbfounded. Never for a moment did I even consider this, even after the debacle about getting here. I had never missed a flight or had one cancelled on me so I was little unprepared about what the hell to do.

Carrie got in the long line and I called Frontier on the phone. After 10 minutes waiting, I finally got in touch with a human being and explained my situation. They put me on hold for, and I am not exaggerating, 25 minutes.

When they came back, they told me that they could not rebook me because I was already confirmed for the flight….that was cancelled.

I calmly explained to them that we were told it was canxed and they said they do not show it on their computers that the flight was cancelled.

Idiots!

They said that since the airport had not updated the computers, my status was stuck and I could not rebook until my status cleared. They said I would have to rebook at the airport (something my wife was undoubtedly doing at the moment) and that there was a flight later that night that had plenty of seats.

I thanked for their non-help and just as I hung up, Carrie walked up.

“They couldn’t rebook us until 7:30.”

“Tomorrow.”

“Night.”

“What? I just talked to them and they said one was leaving tonight.”

“Nope, they told me that one was booked and that everything was full until tomorrow night.”

Well, it looked like one more day with my family.

I called Sharon and luckily they had not headed back yet so they swung by and picked us up.

The snow had stopped and ironically, the sun actually came out and shone in my eyes.

Yes, the sun.

Gleaming off of the 6 inches of snow that stopped me from going home.

It took us two hours to get back, thanks to packed snow, ice, and darkness but we finally made it. Making the best out of the situation, I had another tostada and we stayed up late reminiscing, laughing, and talking about Grandma.

Obviously I would rather be home but another night with my family and in the Dungeon for a full night’s sleep was not all that bad. We would try it again tomorrow and get home a day late.

I guess Grandma wanted one more day near me.

And in case you are wondering, the pictures at the start of this post were not staged. I did not notice it until I was searching for pictures of Grandma.

Free Advice for Today: “Let people pull in front of you when you’re stopped in traffic.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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