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The Olympic Hockey Bowl Thing, Whatever

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “In a mad world only the mad are sane.”

- Akira Kurosawa

(Oops, this might not be the men’s team.. my bad.)

I have never, and I mean NEVER, sat through an entire hockey game.

Oh, sure, I took my girlfriend-now-wife to a game when we were first dating but I got so drunk I don’t remember much from it except all the vomiting I accomplished.

But back to my point, I have never been into the hockey thing. Not even Olympic hockey but I succumbed to the hype and joined my brother in his new place to watch the biggest hockey game in the history of the Universe, in HD of course.

It felt like a real event. I don’t mean to insult you hardcore hockey freaks but you have to understand, I have never treated ANY hockey game like a Super Bowl event. But today had that flavor and I sat and watched all the pre-game hype, had read up on the big match online, and was ready for action by the time the first puck was dropped.

This had all the makings of a Hollywood movie.

You had the Americans beating the Canadians early on which, in itself, caused a ripple in the time-space continuum.

Then the Canadian beat the horse piss out of 3 other teams (7-3, really?) in the “losers” bracket to get to the finals against, guess who, the American team that symbolically had their way with their women by beating them the first time.

I am a true bleeding-heart American but I have to admit, we are not a hockey powerhouse. In fact, hockey is barely a sport here (I know, heresy around the world but I’m a damn American, what are you gonna do?)

If we win, it’s like “Oh, yeah, hockey? Well, um, great, good job. Another medal. Cool. Now, are they gonna show those sexy skiing chicks again?”

Whereas in Canada, it’s like Gladiator, live or die. Not ONLY have Canadians intertwined their very worth with the performance of their hockey team but they are hosting the damn games. NOT winning is NOT an option.

In fact, I’m pretty sure they would trade all their medals in every Olympic sport (summer AND winter) for the gold in hockey. They simply expect, nay DEMAND to win the hockey gold.

While we Americans would give a combined “Meh” to the Olympic hockey gold, a loss for the Canadians would require mass suicide on a country-wide level.

And because we are pretty much dicks here in America, the only reason it would mean anything more than “OK, whatever” to us would just to see the Canadians remove their combined genitalia with rusty garden shears in the face of a Olympic hockey loss.

So that’s the set up. We beat them early on and they bitch-slapped every country to get back to the top where we knew we would see them again.

And they were pissed.

If we beat them, they would surely commit hari-kari and we would laugh and say “Hey, you are getting blood all over the ice, come on…”

It was just too good to be true. We had the Miracle On Ice years ago against the Ruskies but this might have been even more dramatic. With the Canadians still stinging from a loss and the fact they were hosting the games, a loss the those bastard American jackholes would just be too much to bear.

I would like to say that the fairy tale ended with the Americans castrating the Canadians but this was not to be.

It would be like the Canadians putting together a football or basketball team, coming down, and beating our professional teams. It just doesn’t happen.

And neither did it today. I mean, congratulations and all but I don’t know how much you can celebrate, Canada. Hockey is just about ALL you do in the world of sports and is it really such a big deal that you win at the one sport that you funnel all of your athletic talent into? Into a sport we Americans is just think of as, “meh”?

Are you celebrating that you won or are you celebrating NOT GETTING BEAT by a country who barely holds the sport up as a legitimate sport at all?

You are good at hockey. Cool. Congrats. We didn’t want to hear the whining at the closing ceremonies if you lost at your capstone event anyway.

(I want to apologize to Sarah McLachlan for the above rant. Please forgive me, Sarah.)

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t obligate yourself to a home mortgage larger than three times your family’s annual income.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Second Move Day and First Movement

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “For four-fifths of our history, our planet was populated by pond scum.”

- J. W. Schopf

Today is day 2 of “Helping Brother Move” and what better way to spend a Saturday morning than free manual labor?

Actually, I really didn’t mind at all and volunteered for this. He told me he didn’t want to ask and I said that there was no need to ask. He’s my brother. He’s moving. There’s no asking. I just show up, ready to work.

The first order of business was getting donuts.


So I stopped off at Chuck’s Donuts, a place I have frequented for years and thought they had the best donuts on Earth until I discovered Krispy Kreme. Sorry, Chuck, it’s Krispy Kreme for God sakes!

With a strategy to get a couple of douts for me and one for Chris (he told me he doesn’t like donuts), here is how it went down:

“Can I help you?”
“I’ll take one of those chocolate bars, one chocolate, and one glazed donut.”
“Anything else?”

Criminy, was this lady with the Gestapo? The pressure!!!

“Oh, yeah, I’ll take a chocolate covered old-fashioned, too, please.”
“OK, is that all?”

Holy Mother of God, was she trained in interrogation techniques by SEALS?!!!

“Well, yeah, maybe I should get Chris another one. Another glazed, please.”
“That’s five. One more makes a half dozen and we have a sale.”

My will evaporated like toilet paper in the rain.

“OK, another chocolate-covered fat-brick, please.”

I grabbed the bag, which was disgustingly heavy, and sat in my car thinking, “I have 6 donuts and Chris doesn’t even like them. He may eat one if I’m lucky. That leaves me with 5 to eat. Shit.”

So I came up with the idea of dropping by my in-laws’ house and dumping a couple off on them.

I mean, it was 9:30 AM on a Saturday. I thought that if anything, I would miss them because after getting up at the crack of dawn, they might have headed out to breakfast or something.

I drove up into the driveway, grabbed the bag-o-shit, and let myself in.

My in-laws have lived in this house for almost 30 years and they have a combo lock on the side garage door that everyone in the family uses. I have been letting myself this way for the 22 years I’ve been around them and it is customary to knock on the inner door before opening the door, to maintain some sense of respect before barging into their house.

Their car was in the garage so I thought they would be home as I knocked gently and opened the door.


No answer.

OK, they must be on a walk.

As I went farther into the house, I heard the sound of a sound machine coming from their darkened bedroom and to my horror, I realized they were still asleep.

Shit. Now what do I do? Now I feel like an intruder and if they wake up and I’m in the house, I’d feel like a total jackass.

OK, Jason, just be really quiet, drop a couple of the donuts, write a note, and get the hell out of Dodge!

What they hell were they doing asleep at 9:30 AM? They usually beat the birds up!

So that’s what I did. After a small stress session about which donuts to leave, I wrote the note and let myself out. I don’t know how they would feel that I was wandering around in their house when they were still asleep but they could ponder that over a couple of Chuck’s Donuts.

I met Chris at his house and we loaded the items we had left for today which included those items that fall squarely in the realm of “Man Alive This Shit’s Heavy!”

Once we got all the big stuff out and I threw my back out, scored a double hernia, and cramped in every place I have a muscle and 3 places I don’t, we got to cleaning.

By the way, his cat, Puddins, decided to make a run for it. Chris had left the door open and when he came back around the corner, there was Puddins staring right at him. They locked eyes and stood motionless for a few seconds, each knowing what the other was thinking.

Chris broke the silence with a gentle, “Hey Puddi…”

And Puddin’s dashed under the house.

“You mother $#%@$#^%@#^%@^@^@%$@!!!!!”

Well, that cat is eternal anyway so I’m sure it will work out. Chris has had him for over 10 years and has taken her to the vet exactly once. The damn thing will not die and we tease that it will be like Michigan J. Frog on the Looney Tunes that sings “Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal…”

Anyway, we got to cleaning and you know what is more disgusting that cleaning the very depths of your house?

Cleaning the very depths of someone elses house.

I mean, he’s my brother and everything but good God. He’s a clean person but he has a dog and a cat.

Nuff said.

So, after throwing up my toenails, we were off to his house to unload the mammoth furniture into a little townhouse.

They say that unloading is easier than loading. And while I might not know who “They” are and would be inclined to kick them square in the nuts, whatever advantage unloading has over loading was counterbalanced with the fact that we were moving it OUT of a one story house and INTO a two story townhouse.

In other words, we had to go up the stairs with some of it and that simply means it sucked ass.

We got everything in and just in time for the Dish Network guy to show up and install Chris’s system. Because he gets the HD, they had to install a new dish (of course) and were up on the roof getting all that set up. In no time, he had happy streaming out of his television and Dishman left.

We got everything somewhat settled and I hooked up his computer. The router didn’t want to play so I mainlined it and he was having internet flow by the time I was done.

TV, check.

Internet, check.

OK, the necessities of life were good to go.

Oh, and by the way, let it be known that I was the first to christen the downstairs bathroom. And yes, I mean the FULL christening. I made sure Chris knew that so for now on, whenever he uses it, he will know.

He will know.

If you have brothers, you understand.

Free Advice for Today: “When talking to someone who’s a new parent, always ask to see a picture of the baby.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Movin’ On Up, To The Hen House

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true.”

- Carl Sagan

Today was moving day.

No, not me. I just got here. You think I’m going anywhere?

No, today was moving day for my brother. For a couple of years now, he and his dog have lived in a small house with no central heating so he got tired of using space heaters and decided to get a townhouse.

The moving process will be a two-step process: move some stuff today and move the rest tomorrow.

Yes, we are expert planners.

So I showed up at Chris’s house and we hauled a few boxes before meeting the manager at the townhouse.

So here are my general thoughts about all this:

The manager lives next door to Chris. In fact, he is situated smack dab between two single women with kids and I think once they saw all 6’2” of him, they thought it prudent to move him between them for protection.

There were some other single women that lived within the little section that shares a courtyard and it got me to thinking if my brother had just become the rooster in a big hen house.

I went through the inspection with him and the lady was very eager to fix everything we found. What I think she didn’t expect was to have a military-level inspection by a former Marine Major. I refrained from smacking her.

One of the potential problems I see is that the place is next to the train tracks. In fact, there is an intersection right behind the complex and what do trains do when they come to a crossing?

That’s right, train horn. Not something I would want to hear in the middle of the night. Hopefully this doesn’t prove to be a problem.

Other than that, Chris has more room, pays less, and had all the heat he can handle.

Plus, think of all the free eggs!!!!

Free Advice for Today: “Never complain about the food or entertainment at church suppers or charity functions.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Books of All Persuasions

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”

- David Russell

In my eternal quest to become the geekiest of all geeks, the nerdiest of all nerds, the dorkiest…. you get the idea …. I checked another pocket-protecting box today.

I became a card-carrying member of the library.

Not only that, but I became a card-carrying member of TWO libraries!!!

Allow me to explain…

Like most things in my life, I caught wind of an idea and then spent many days being totally absorbed in investigating every aspect of every detail until I was spit out the other end, out of breath, totally unaware of how much time had passed, and confused on exactly what I discovered.

It started with this thought: “Hmmm, I should go see what the library has to offer.”

Going first to the internet, I discovered a couple of initial facts. I live in Renton so I could get a card from the Renton Public Library System. Cool.

But Renton is also a part of King County so since they have an agreement, I can also get a King County Library System card. Double cool.

Going first to the downtown Renton Library, which actually straddles the Cedar River and has a reading area overlooking the water flowing below, I reveled in the whole book environment. For a bibliophile like myself, I was in my glory.

Well, me, a few bums, some old people, and a few moms. I didn’t really know which category I fit into but I felt kind of that I was supposed to be at work and was somehow playing hooky.

It was here that I discovered that while yes, the two library systems were separate, the larger of the two (King County) was absorbing the Renton system like a whale swallowing a minnow. In fact, I had found myself right in the middle of the transition so, of course, it was chaos.

The Good: King County has about a billion offerings so now I would have access to a much larger pool of materials.

The Bad: I already had access to all of both systems already so that didn’t really help me.

The Ugly: Although Renton was smaller in materials, it has a smaller member population which meant you didn’t have to wait as long if you had something on hold but now, I was competing with the entire King County population so hold times just got a lot longer, despite the increase in the amount of materials available.

So I got a Renton card and later, I visited a King County library and got one of those cards. I also made online accounts for each and they assured me that the separation would only last a month until they could meld the two systems.

I’m hanging onto both cards just in case.

OK, now on to the good stuff. How does this benefit me?

Well, everyone knows that you can get books at a library. But I don’t like getting library books because:

- I hate the 2-week countdown to get it read (I know, you can recheck it out but I still feel under the gun).

- I read really slow.

- I like owning a book

- I am scared I will damage or lose the book

- I have a Kindle so now I am caught between the two worlds of real books and electronic books. I feel like I’m wasting my Kindle if I check out the paper book but LOVE paper books. The end result: I’m at a standstill with books with no real plan to get unstuck.

You can also get magazines but again, problems:

- I have more magazines than I read in a month anyway

- I don’t want to check them out because I KNOW I’ll trash them

Newspapers… yeah right.

- I don’t see myself going there every day to save a quarter.

With all this written above, you might be wondering why I even consider being a part of a library a benefit at all.

I discovered there is even more offered at the modern library: CANDY!

OK, maybe not but symbolically, very much so..

Did you know you can check out almost any DVD at the library?

You see, my wife is working part time at Hollywood video and I’ve been trying to get to TV series like 24 and watching the entire commercial-free run, season by season. She gets to check them out free but her store is closing so soon, I will be cast into the frightening world of NOT getting free DVDs.

I know, scary.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered a vast library (chuckle) of DVDs. Almost any popular series can be checked out for free.


So that right there is worth the price of admission (which is free itself so, yeah, no brainer.)

OK, what’s next. Oh yeah, e-books.

Now I’ve done the research here so let me break it down for you here:

There are true E-books and there are books on tape.

True E-books: I was initially excited that I could download and horde as many ebooks as Dellzilla could hold. But then I discovered that not only do they contract this whole thing out to a separate company, but they treat it like a library book. After two weeks, it simply disappears from your grasp.

So again, I’m under the two-week gun so that sucks ass.

But I recently discovered that they have some ebooks that you can access any time but can only see them on your computer so the mobility factor comes into play. I don’t cherish the thought of sitting in front of my computer just plain reading but this might have some value if I use a computer book and I am following along with whatever program I am studying.

Ideally, I could “own” the ebook, transfer it to my Kindle, and be all mobile with it with no time limits.

I know, I am a dreamer.

Books-on-tape and Audio books: I have known about this for a long time and I used to check out books on tape all the time when I commuted over the years. Luckily I have tape players in all my cars so this is still a viable option.

But now I have a different possibility: my iPod.

So if I were inclined, I could check out the book on CD, rip it into mp3 files, and put it on my iPod.

There are some unknowns here:

- Will the iPod treat it like a book and show up on the ebook menu?

- Will I have to just transfer the chapter files as separate mp3s?

The disadvantage to all this is if I just get a bunch of mp3 files that are not treated like an audio book, when I stop listening, it will not pick up where it left off. This has been an area that has kept me away from books on CDs in general.

The concept of stopping and starting with tapes is easy. You just stop it and it starts up right where you left off.

Books on CD? I don’t know. Unless you pause it and keep it paused until the next time you use it, it will start over. So when I turn off my car, I don’t know what I will get when I get back in and want to pick up where I left off.

If I go the transfer-to-mp3 route, I have the same conundrum. If my iPod treats the separate files as a true audio book, it will know where I left off. If it treats them as just a bunch of mp3 files, it will not remember.

And yes, because there always has to be a catch, the true audio books have the a time limit also so I can’t just check them out and keep them on deck forever.

So there you have it, my latest dalliance into the world of Nerd. When I get a job and am forced to commute, I will see how this eventually pans out. I am thinking, probably figure out how to get books on my iPod and listen to them through my speakers.

Either that or podcasts which is a whole other blog….

Free Advice for Today: “Take your dad bowling.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Season 4 of 24: World Saved Once Again

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.”

- Dave Barry

OK, season 4 of 24 is done.

On my continuing quest to rent and watch all of the seasons of 24, I have reached another milestone.

Nothing like a couple of episodes a night to end a rather unproductive day. I have heard how some people watch like an entire season in one or two sittings and I don’t know how they can do it. I can run marathons but the thought of sitting on a couch for more than a couple of hours at most makes my bones hurt.

Anyway, this season introduced a love interest of the main character, Jack Bauer. And like most of the women on 24, I found her endlessly annoying.

Although she looked like Sheryl Crow, she seemed to fulfill the writers’ of 24 need to introduce damsels in distress who make a mess of everything they touch.

This one was a particular annoying one since she was the Secretary of Defense’s daughter. So Jack just HAPPENS to meet up and hook up with the SecDef’s daughter? Really? How did that happen?

Oh, Jack is WORKING for the SecDef (really, with his insubordination issues and record?) and the SecDef’s daughter just happens to be his advisor.

Let’s look past the obvious nepotism (“Daddy, can I haves a job? I can do a gooder job that anyone in the world, Daddy, pleeeeeease…”) and concentrate on an even more annoying twist…

As the season goes on, she is “loaned” to CTU as the Office of SecDef advisor and before long, she is not only right in the thick of high level meetings, but she is throwing in her input like it’s law.

Look, you are SecDef Daddy’s little girl. You MIGHT be qualified to be an aide (“Go get me some coffee dear, and try not to be distracted by another butterfly. I don’t have time to go find you wandering around the park…”), but dammit, you are NOT a CTU agent, a computer expert, or a prodigy intel analyst.

You are daddy’s aide and Jack’s stress reliever.

Needless to say, I cheered for the terrorist again when they had her and Jack had to donkey punch everyone on the cast list at least once, if not multiple times, to save her.

I know that if I’m looking at finding airtight logic, I am looking in the wrong place. But would it kill the writers to create one female character that I didn’t want to see offed with extreme prejudice? I mean, I can suspend reality for a show with the best of them but come on, throw me a bone.

Maybe season 5 will do a better job. Hope springs eternal.

Free Advice for Today: “Visit the Art Institute of Chicago.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Alex’s Senior(itus) Project

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Quote of the Day: “If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith.”

- Albert Einstein

I think my son Alex would be the first to admit, he has it easy.

A year before I retired from the military, we had a family meeting and I said I would consider staying in an extra year so that Alex could spend his senior year in the high school he was going to in San Diego but he didn’t like the idea.

I pointed out that if we moved back to Seattle, he would be the new kid in the school his senior year but he didn’t care. He wanted to “come home” so bad, he was willing to go a single year to his graduating high school in Washington state.

So when we got here, we discovered the Running Start program which allows high school students with good grades to take college courses to fulfill their high school graduation requirements and take college classes that counted toward their college credits.

Best of all, the school paid most of the tuition so for us, it seemed like the best deal. Alex would not have to deal with the “new senior” situation, just the “new college freshman” situation one year early.

All and all, it has gone well. We had a bumpy road with some online classes because the boy can be a procrastinator like his mother … ahem … and we had a situation where he took an online test but it didn’t “take” so he got a zero and the school was less than accommodating when we tried to resolve it.

The end result is that he will not be taking any more online classes, as long I’m paying for his college. I think he needs the structure of a class to attend and a teacher to listen to.

(Notice I didn’t say “ask questions to” because I think Alex would sooner dip his naughty bits in honey and sit naked on an ant hill rather than ask a teacher a question.)

Anyway, his schedule has been more than lax. He usually has two or three classes and while he did have one early one, most of the time, he has short weeks and classes starting in the middle of the day and he’s home before an average high schooler (my very bitter daughter) gets home.

But there is one requirement that he still must do: the senior project.

Even this, he got lucky. What they do now is that you collect a whole bunch of work you did over the course of your entire high school and make a huge binder and presentation. It’s almost like a scrapbook of your work, a portfolio of your high school years, if you will.

But since this is his first and last year at this school, the counselor wiped out about half of the requirements so now it’s almost a formality.

But did this stop him from procrastinating it until the last few days?

Of course not.

And did this send me into raging maniac mode?

Of course it did.

I mean, come on, I kept asking about it and he assured me that he had it handled but when I delved deeper into his definition of “having it handled” I discovered that it was very similar to MY definition of “not even close to getting started.”

I tried my best not to come down on him like a ton of bricks and also tried not to jump in and basically do a high school senior project at the age of 41.

Neither of which was very successful.

Because I am OCD when it comes to organization, I grabbed his binder (which I had provided to him long ago and it was untouched since I placed it in his hands), and in a flurry of activity, I had his sections broken down by separators which were tabbed and labeled (with my handy-dandy labeler) with the required titles, matching exactly with the required contents and matching the table of contents to the letter.

I told him in no uncertain terms I wanted the sections to be filled most ricki-tik.

When I checked on him next, he had done minimal work.

I don’t know where he gets this. I mean, I thought, as my son, he would be an organization dynamo but alas, I had to push him every step of the way. I tried to justify my abundance of work on the project by explaining to him why each step was necessary and what I was doing.

As we all know, presentation is 80% of any project like this and if he put the effort into making it look good, he could rest assured it would fly through without a hitch.

For each section, he was supposed to write out a summary and let’s just say my son is not the writer I am. It’s just not his thing and what is harder than writing? Fixing someone else’s writing.

Seriously, I would rather write something from scratch than have to edit someone else’s work. It’s easier to just write the entire thing than it is to surgically alter existing text into “good” writing.

But, alas, I cannot do that. It was not my project and I had to grind my teeth and try to use my Red Pen of Death gracefully to try to mold a presentable block of text out of a less-than-optimal offering.

After many revisions (and lectures) we finally got it done and, if I do say so myself, was pretty impressive.

We took it to the counselor on the deadline date and she looked over it, ooh’ed and ahhh’ed, and said it looked great at first glance. She would give it to the main counselor responsible for these projects but she didn’t foresee any needed changes.

I could not brag about MY involvement because it was HIS project, but I sure as hell wanted to.

She told him to be ready to present the project in a presentation in April.

Oh boy, here we go again.

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t forget that your attitude is just as important as the facts.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Putting the POW in POWWEB Negotiation

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Quote of the Day: “I hope that when I die, people say about me, ‘Boy, that guy sure owed me a lot of money.’”

- Jack Handey

It’s that time of year again: my webspace provider needs more money to keep alive for one more year.

I had some issues recently and had called POWWEB to get them resolved. They took the opportunity to try to get me to re-up right then even though I had a couple of months left on my current contract. When I politely told them I would wait closer to the deadline for monetary reasons, they went right into the sales pitch.

I first started with them almost 10 years ago, yes, that’s ten years with one company which, if you know me, must be some kind of record. You would think by now they would have pissed me off and I would have found somewhere else.

Anyway, 10 years ago, their big promotion was $7.77 a month. They stayed like that over the years but like everything else, they started bumping up the price every year. Now they were quoting me something nearer to $9 and last year I think I paid that.

During this latest conversation, when they were working hard to try to get me to sign up early, and I wasn’t buying, suddenly Indian Steve (almost certainly a dude from India trying to sound American) was unexplainably authorized to offer me the old price of $7.77 a month.

Wow, just like that. I almost didn’t even see how sudden and fortuitous that situation came about. You are good, Indian Steve!

I stuck to my guns and at the end of the conversation, Indian Steve kind of came clean and told me to make sure to call before my automatic billing hit and I could probably negotiate a similar deal.

So today, I called and got in touch with Indian Bill. But what Indian Bill didn’t know is that Indian Steve had armed me with knowledge and I was a force to be reckoned with.

“Yes Sir, I see your account, I can offer you a year of service for $108.”

“No, my friend, you can offer it to me for $93.24.”

“I am sorry Sir, I am not authorized to offer it at that price.”

“OK, look, what is your name?”


“What is your real name?”

“That is my real name, Sir.” (said with a heavy Indian accent.)

“OK, but we both know different. Anyway, look, I don’t want to dance this little dance with you. Let’s just get to the last page and you can sign me up with the $7.77 price. I’ve been with you guys for 10 years and we both know I could go somewhere else for less than what you are offering me but you guys have been really good to me, offered great service and support, so I’m willing to stay but I’ll need the price I stated. So go ahead, put me on hold, act like you are talking to your supervisor, tap away on your keyboard for 20 seconds like you are playing Whack-A-Mole, and when you are done with the theatrics, let’s get me signed up so we can both go back to what we were doing before I called.”

“Just a minute, Sir.”

“Tell your imaginary supervisor I said hello.”

About 30 seconds later he comes back..


“Yes, Joe.”

“Thank you for waiting. I think I found a deal for you…”

“Of course you have.”

(furiously taps on his keys for 20 seconds…)

“Yes, here it is, I have been authorized to offer you the $7.77 per month price.”

“Of course you have been.”

I just love dealing with these people.

So in the end, I got signed up for two years at that price and nothing takes the sting out of an annual charge like getting it at the same price you got a decade ago. and lives another two years!

Free Advice for Today: “Read Growing a Business by Paul Hawken (Simon & Schuster, 1987).”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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I Might Be An Alkiholic!

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Quote of the Day: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

- Albert Einstein

(My daughter took this really cool pic with her phone. She didn’t mean it to look this dramatic but when we saw it, we thought it was awesome! That’s my nephew climbing on the beach wood, oblivious her cousin was taking a pic.)

Tonight, my brother-in-law invited us to go to Alki Beach.

See, this is what’s cool about being home: you can just decide to go somewhere with family for no other reason that just experience it and go to incredible local places to just hang out. I love that about our family.

My history with Alki goes back when I was a kid and I think my father took my brother and me there a couple of times when we would come up to the Northwest during the summer. But I have to admit that if I had ever been there, it was back when I was a kid.

So now we are talking about three distinct vibes from this place.

1. As a kid, it was a beach. Seattle isn’t known for its warm beaches like SOCAL but it was a beach and we would do beach stuff (Frisbee, splash around, etc.) in the cold. I can’t remember really being warm on any of these Seattle beaches.

2. Hook-up boardwalk. I got the feeling that this is kind of a party beach with a boardwalk and I think the local reputation is kind of like a drunken meat market during the summer. I missed this entire vibe since I never came to the place when I was “on the market.”

3. I skipped right to what it is now: a place to take the family and just hang out “at the beach.”

We brought some firewood and made a fire, watched the water, and generally just sat around and talked, trying to avoid the direction of the smoke.

Before the sun went down, we got a great view across Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island, and the Olympic Mountains.

(I didn’t take this pic, I got it off the net but this is where we were.)

When the sun went down, we got a pretty cool view of the Seattle skyline at night.

(Again, I didn’t take this pic. I got it off the net.)

We also visited a local coffee shop, one of the many small businesses set up along the beach. If you can look beyond the bikers with their big, obnoxious Harleys, it was a cool little place to get a coffee.

The night was capped off when the ladies trekked over to a little food joint and brought back some chicken strips and fries (a beach staple) and we all ate in front of a fire on the beach.

What could be cooler?

It just cements my belief: I live in a cool place!

Free Advice for Today: “Have a little money in the bank to handle unforeseen problems.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Outlook or Gmail Dominance?

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

- Bertrand Russell

I’m starting to feel the tug.

Every once in awhile, I get this little voice that whispers to me “Hey, psssst…. you should switch over to Gmail.”

This normally happens when I am having trouble with my Outlook and then the advantages and disadvantages start playing against each other.

The advantages to Gmail include:

- Having all my mail on the net, accessible anywhere I have an internet connection
- Easy searching options
- Highly customizable
- Linked to all kinds of cool tools in the Googlesphere
- Never lose my entire email history because of a corrupt .pst file

The disadvantages are:

- If my internet connection goes down, so does my email
- I lose all kinds of Outlook goodies to include a better interface
- Gmail blocked at work (this was a problem when I was in the Marine Corps but I don’t think many civilian business do this so it may not be valid anymore.)
- I would have to transfer all my old email over to Google
- I would have to give up the Outlook calendar and use the Google calendar instead

I do have other options. I know there is a way to connect my current email address ( to my Gmail account so the outside world would see that email address but my interface would be with Gmail.

And it’s not like I don’t have Gmail accounts already. In fact, I have a few. I got them when Gmail was fairly new and you could get good addresses before they all got sucked up.

I think for now, the dealbreaker in changing over is the overhead it would cost to transfer all my old Outlook email into Gmail and the same with the calendar (although I know I could export the calendar events and import them to Google Calendar).

I think I have just entwined myself with the Outlook email and calendar so much that changing over to the Gmail versions is just a bit too much for now.

But, man, how alluring that Gmail seems sometimes….

Free Advice for Today: “Watch what you eat at cocktail parties. Each hors d’oeuvre has about a hundred calories.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


What’s Up, Doc?

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”

- Niels Bohr

Remember when I was talking about my finally successful VA appointment and we put in the paperwork?

Well, one of the questions she asked me was if I had seen a doctor for my back. I told her I had not even though it was legitimately bothering me.

She encouraged me to make an appointment because the board would want to see that I was continuing treatment after I left the service.

I think I had put this off for a couple of reasons. As a life-long Marine, we are subtly and not-so-subtly encouraged not to get seen. To “tough it out” and any sign of weakness was, well, a sign of weakness.

It’s the culture and especially within the Officer ranks.

“Live with it.”
“I’m good to go.”
“Stop your belly-achin’”
“Suck it up!”

The other reason is because I didn’t want to spent the money even though we have great medical insurance.

But since my VA rep said it would help solidify my claim, my back was legitimately bothering me, and I felt I needed to establish a doctor and medical relationship with my new provider, I made an appointment.

But like any Marine, I grumbled about it…

I don’t know why I need to see this guy. I have a slipped disc. It hurts. He can’t fix it. So he will poke, prod, ask me how I rate the pain on the bullshit 1-10 scale (1, doesn’t hurt, 10, the most pain I’ve felt in my life…) and then tell me I have a slipped disc, I have pain, and that he can’t do anything.

I’m a real optimist when I go to the doctor.

The first shocker I got was the standard height and weight measurement. Not only had I put on a number of pounds I would rather not admit discuss, but I can deny it no longer. I am 5’10”, not 5’11” like I used to be and that I desperately clung to in order to give me a bit more breathing room while I was active duty (an inch gives you 6 more pounds before you are deemed over your height/weight limit).

So OK, I’m shorter and fatter, big deal.

Like most doctors, this one seemed in a hurry and I had no doubt that he had two or three more patients sitting in adjacent waiting rooms waiting to be seen. So I just hit the highlights, showed him my medical record (which he wanted to make a copy), and in the end, just like I thought, he couldn’t do much for me but slide me a prescription for 40 Vicodin.

I went downstairs and paid my $12 co-pay (yes, I only have to pay 12 bucks to see a doctor) and when I got my prescription, it was only $3.

What’s all this debate about health care? I’m doing just fine with mine so butt out.

Now I have a choice, either I can take a pill and be loopy and worthless for hours, pain-free or I can deal with the pain and actually be productive.

Taking a pill, sleeping most of the day, and not able to concentrate on much more than watching TV is not my idea of a good time.

Ironically, when I take them before I go to bed, I don’t sleep very well. So I don’t know, it seems like a shitty trade-off. I’ll just save them for when the pain is at its worse and I have nothing to do.

In the end, I guess I have a doctor now. It’s weird to “have a doctor” because in the military, you got who you got when you stumbled in and it was usually different every time.

Free Advice for Today: “Be sure the person you marry loves music.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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