31 December 2005

Ah, baby...

So far so good on this portion of the trip back home to North Carolina from the snowbound world of Maine. Actually since I got back on the 24th, it has done nothing but rain, and be gloomy and gray. The first time I saw the sun since I got home last week was today when I was flying into New York from Portland, and we got above the cloud cover enough so that I could see the actual sunrise this morning. Finally, some sun. Of course the reports from home have been that the weather has been stupendous and nice, and well, you really are missing some good weather this year. Same as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Seems as though every single time I head home for Christmas, the weather in North Carolina takes a turn for the nice. While, at home, it is either blistering cold, rainy, gray, snowy, or just downright nasty. Ah well, it is what it is, as they like to say in North Carolina. Luckily, on the way back South, I haven’t run into any major issues yet as I cruise along. Plane left Portland on time, sitting here in New York with a couple of hours to kill, cranking out this entry, no problems, aside from the 2 very annoying people who sat next to me on the flight down from Portland.

I think that I am doomed to attract such people. Normally, you get on a plane, and if people are going to talk to one another, they are going to use what we like to call our inside voices. This is something that we learned as very small children, most of us, once we hit kindergarten. These 2 sitting next to me, must have missed that particular day of school methinks. I think everyone on the plane could hear these 2 commiserating about what a rat hole Maine was, how they were so glad to be getting out of there, how the weather was crap (this part was true at least during this trip), how they weren’t going to come back anytime soon, how cramped the seats were, how they were so close to missing the plane, and on, and on, and on, and on. I really wanted to slap them both down. It was a couple. A pair. A woman and a man, who were probably in their mid 20’s. They were obviously engaged, or betrothed, or something of that nature. They were together. I knew this because the woman kept calling the man baby. Repeatedly. In a very loud voice. Mostly in my ear. It was, “Oh baby, we almost missed the plane baby.” Or, “Baby tell me that you love me baby. Baby, give me a kiss baby. Baby don’t fall asleep on me baby. Baby, will you proclaim your love for me baby. Baby, oh baby, oh baby, I know we almost missed the plane baby. Baby, I can’t believe how bright it is in this plane baby. Baby, look out the window baby and see how pretty it is baby. Baby look at the clouds baby.” Anyway, you get the picture I think. The worst part, the absolute worst part was that a friend that they were traveling with was sitting back in row 12 or somewhere near the shitter on this particular aircraft. This woman, felt the need to communicate with her friend by turning around in her seat, kneeling on the seat itself, and shouting to her friend in the back. I am not shitting you. Yelling, across the plane. Throwing “F” bombs every few words as well. I mean come on. That’s just not language that you would normally use in the presence of a plane full of people. I was honestly waiting for the flight attendant to give me the nod to knock her out, or hold her down while she applied a nice thick layer of duct tape over her mouth, but unluckily, that time never came. There was a point near the start of the flight though where “baby” as we’ll refer to man in this couple said something about quieting down because people were getting sick of hearing her ramble onward. She then went on to say, and I’m paraphrasing here, “I don’t think anybody on this plane cares if I’m loud or not do they?” I raised my hand like I knew the answer to the $64,000 question, at which point they looked at me, laughed, and continued to be loud and annoying. If there ever was a case for in flight sedation of a passenger, or in this case passengers, by the flight crew, I’d be all for it in this case. Hell, I’d hold them down to help the process take control. I mean, damn, I’m not the quietest person in the world, but these 2 take the cake for annoying plane passengers, at least in the time that I’ve been traveling, and that’s saying a lot, because I’ve seen some annoying people on flights. Just not for this length of time. Gratefully, “baby” fell asleep, and without someone else to play off of, super annoying girl just stared blankly out the window for the rest of the flight. Now, the SO will probably tell me something like she was just anxious or something like that, but damn, she really needed a ball gag or something. It was killing a man. Absolutely killing me. If I were my brother, I probably would have said something. Me being patient and all, I said nothing, well, except for the hand raising thing. They just walked past me as I was writing this, and they were connected at the hip of course. She was saying something about, “baby” as they walked by. Damn… That girl should have a one way ticket to kicked to the curbdom.

Going through the airport these days is a study in how to quickly get rid of any metal that you might have on you before you go through the metal detector. If you go through it, and that thing beeps you, you’re in for a wand search by some surly disgruntled TSA worker who has been on the job for probably 14 hours straight, and whose breath is starting to smell a little like a dead rodent. I’ve got the drill down though for the most part. Remove shoes, remove belt, remove watch, remove jacket, remove laptop from case, place money clip into carry on bag, keep driver’s license in pocket, keep boarding pass or passes in pocket, and then walk through the metal detector. If everything goes as planned, there is no loud beep that comes from the little gate that you walk through. If things go badly, well, there is the hand and wand search that I mentioned before. And if it really goes badly, they go through all of your stuff before letting you continue onward. Last time I went through Portland, they took everything out of my carry on bag, and I do mean everything. Every last little scrap of paper. This time, they only took out my laptop and dusted it for explosives. Yeah, the rubbed it down with that swatch of paper, and ran it through their analyzer. I think that maybe a lot of people haven’t seen an Apple laptop, so they were strangely confused. Wait. Isn’t this thing supposed to be black and ugly? What’s with this white color this guy has going on here? I’m scared. Quick, swab it for C4 plastic explosives. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Luckily I wasn’t stashing anything inside of my laptop case, so I was cleared on through. Only after the laptop was roughly handled, and the cover slammed shut. Have these people no couth? I was thinking damn Genghis. Easy on the goods you know what I mean? I got some nice shit here, and I’m trying to keep it nice. Good thing I didn’t pack it into my checked luggage. That probably would have been a mistake. I hope my Christmas booze makes it through the flights OK. I’ve got one expensive bottle of vodka in those bags, and I aim to drink it on down tomorrow night for New Year’s Eve and all. Maybe a martini or 2, and then watch Dick Clark ring in the New Year from New York (which is where I happen to be sitting right now). I wonder if I’ll spot him in the airport as I’m sitting here waiting for my flight? Yeah, I’m sure Dick Clark flies commercial, and US Airways Express at that. Please. That dude has his own plane I’m sure, or someone is going to fly him in here for these festivities, or does he live here? I don’t know. I do know that he’s been rocking the New Year’s Eve for a long ass time now. Isn’t it time for that guy to retire yet? I’m sure that he’ll probably die during a New Year’s Eve show some year. Or just keel over right there live on TV. I’m not saying that this is what I want to happen to the man, but the possibilities of that happening are probably pretty good. Like I said, he’s been at it for a long time. His gig these days is sort of being like Santa Claus. He’s only really working one day a year, and when he is working, he’s in the middle of a big party, and has the best vantage point of all things happening. That seems like a pretty good deal to me. Where can I get a job like that? I’m thinking maybe I should make my profession writing. But not just writing mind you. I’d have to try and write the most messed up stuff and opinions so that it is controversial, and more people read it. Not that I would mean any of it, but kind of like pundit stuff. I mean hell. Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter can write and spout off made up things, and they get paid good money to be whackos. Why can’t I? That might be a new niche field that they can create a whole college curriculum around. Whacked Out Writing 101. Hmm… I’m sure there is a liberal arts college out there somewhere I could sell that to. Well, maybe not, but talk about creating your own business.

I think this upcoming year, I’m going to have to take a real vacation. It might actually be the first one that I’ve ever really taken. Sure I’ve gone places, but it’s always been under the guise of something else. I’ve never just gone somewhere for vacation, there has always been another underlying issue or reason behind the trips that I’ve taken for vacation. The SO and I will put our heads together, and come up with something I’m sure. There has been talk of Vegas this year sometime. Maybe take in a Barry Manilow (not my choice) show, or something with some serious cheese factor to it. I mean, not that Barry wouldn’t have a certain cheese factor to it, because I’m sure that he would, but something more Vegas traditional. Like some sort of burlesque show, or a cabaret show, something weird like that with lots of showgirls with huge hats. Siegfried and Roy would have been a good choice for cheese, had Roy not almost gotten eaten by one of his tigers a couple of years ago. Now, they don’t even do shows, and that’s just wrong in my book. There could always be some Tom Jones, Wayne Newton, Elvis impersonators, and any other thing in town. And of course, gambling. We could roll the dice a little bit. Not too much, but you’re in Vegas, you’ve got to do some gambling. It just wouldn’t be right. It would be like going to Sweden and not eating the meatballs. Going to Japan and not eating sushi. Going to Walt Disney World and not riding Space Mountain. These are just things that you do in these places, and that goes for Vegas as well. You’re there, might as well throw away some of your hard earned cash. That’s what the town was built on after all wasn’t it? Other people’s money. Oh, and the mafia of course. Can’t forget about that bunch. I’d also, as much as this sounds so unlike me, would like to take a trip to somewhere warm and sunny and with a beach. Like Jamaica, or some other all inclusive resort kind of place. The Bahamas. I think that would be interesting and fun. In talking with The Chad about his trip last year to Jamaica to an all inclusive place, he said it was awesome. Good food. Good booze, and good fun. All you have to worry about is getting there. Once there, you’re good to go. What else could you possibly want aside from all you can drink booze? Sounds like a good vacation to me. Maybe a drunken vacation, but good nonetheless. Then there could be the adventure vacation route of things. This is something that I’m not so sure the SO would be down with. Like camping and rafting in the grand canyon, or trekking around the mountains in some weird far flung foreign country. She can correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe that her idea of a vacation is one where they bring you fruity drinks on the beach with little tiny umbrellas in them. I’m starting to come around to something like that. It could be a possibility, whereas a year ago or so, I would have abandoned that idea altogether. No, I take it back. I wouldn’t have thought of it in the first place.

Almost time to pack up and hit the road, or the sky in this case, once again. I can’t wait to get home. It’s always nice heading North to see the family and the parents especially around the holidays, but it’s always nice to get back to my home as well. I get to see the SO, ride the bike, go out to dinner with some friends, drink expensive vodka, and basically kick back and relax for another couple of days before I have to go back to the accursed workplace on Monday. The sad thing is, is that I know as soon as I get back on Monday, the shit is going to hit the fan, again. The customer (Ford again) is coming back into the plant the first week we’re back, and they’re expecting a lot this time around. Well, not that they weren’t expecting a lot before, but this time, they expect every little thing to be done and complete, and ready to roll. We might be in deep shit, but we’ll see. Hopefully not. If we are, well, we are. Not much I can do about it now, except maybe kick back and watch the fireworks, and then get yelled at later of course. I didn’t do the job searching that I thought I might be able to accomplish over Christmas, but as the SO keeps telling me. I’ve got to get out of that place, and she’s right. I’ll be working on that during the dark hours after riding the bike at night. Maybe, sometime in the new year, I’ll find a new position, and leave the great world of constant velocity joints behind. I can only hope.

28 December 2005

I forget sometimes...

I forget sometimes how hard running actually is, and then the time that I do remember, it is normally this time of year when I'm home for Christmas, because that's my only recourse of endurance exercise for the most part. Running. Well, I went out running for the first time that I was home today, and damn, it was hard. Hard on the legs, hard on the lungs, hard because it's something that I only do once for only a week during the year. Oh well, it's good for me. It'll build character. I might go again later on today so that I can get a couple of runs in for today. Double workouts, so hot right now. And necessary. I'm way behind where I should be right now. Ah well, not that big of a deal. Just a general return to fitness and health will be a good thing no matter how long it takes. I'll wait a few more hours though to head back out and run this evening. I'll do it post supper or something like that. To burn off tha food that I'm going to throw down later on this afternoon. Or maybe actually right before we eat, that might be the better idea because running after eating, unlike cycling, is a bad thing, a very bad thing. Chances are good that you're going to see whatever it is you ate again after the pounding and the up and down motion jars it loose from inside of your gullet no doubt. I finally did change out of PJs though since getting home on the 25th, and took a shower. Now that's progress if you ask me, and the stinking stopped, for now.

As I was cruising through the family home, I found my high school senior picture. Damn, that's a funny picture, I need to post it up here so that anyone who breezes through here can laugh their asses off at it. At the very least I didn't have a mullet, so that is a point or 2 there. But I did have a very tight molester moustache. Seriously, it was backwoods Maine in the early 90's, everyone had one of these bad boys. If you looked at my senior yearbook, you'd see what I mean. I did shave it off shortly after this set of senior pictures was taken, which is unfortunate, because for all perpetuity, there it is, out there for all to see what an asshole that I looked like. Good stuff. No wonder chicks didn't dig me in high school, look at me. Funny, I still have the same haircut for the most part though. No wonder I decided to become a hippy in college. Long hair and all. I wish that I could find some of those pictures to throw on up here. Maybe I'll dig some of them out when I get a chance. If I can find them. If I didn't burn them all. Unfortunately, a lot of the pictures I had when I was in college and had extremely long hippy hair is when I was with The Swimmer, and she was in a lot of those pictures, so when she dumped me back in the day, a lot of those pictures that I had were either destroyed or returned. So there are blank spots in my photo album of life mostly due to that fact. Maybe those pictures are better left undisplayed anyway. They would probably scare small children and animals if they were shown out in a public forum. Can't have that on my conscience for now. Maybe later though when I'm feeling particularly vindictive about something. I should have burned the high school pictures when I had the chance though. That would have made things so much easier on me on down the line. I never look good in any pictures of myself that I've ever seen so I have a problem with that to begin with. I'm one of those people that loathe having their picture taken ever, and hence why there aren't many pictures of me running around anywhere. And I like it that way really. I'm starting to come around to it a little bit, but not a lot that's for sure. Just a little bit. The camera does not like me very much, or at all. We'll just leave it at that. In speaking with the SO, she received a video camera for Christmas, and that could be the death of me right there. I'm sure the lens of that contraption will be pointed in my direction more than I'll like it to be.

Going off in another direction here though, I saw that the new X-Men movie is coming out this summer or spring, somewhere in there. And for former reformed comic book geeks such as myself, this one shows much promise. They're starting to bring in a lot of the kick ass characters it appears from year's past, and that's good thing. Just as long as Ben Affleck doesn't play a super hero ever again (see the horrible Daredevil for an example). We should be OK. Also, the new Superman movie looks promising, at least in the trailers that I've seen about it. Let's face it. The Christopher Reeves movies were OK, just OK, for the time, but time for a fresh take on it. This new Superman movie has been going around and around for years now with many different people doing the writing, many different people directing, and they were even talking about Nicholas Cage playing the great caped one. How big of a mistake would that have been right there? Incredibly huge is what I would call it. Nick Cage as Superman? What the hell were those people thinking? Yeah, I know. Star power and all. But that guy hasn't made a good movie since Leaving Las Vegas. I mean, did anyone ever see Face Off?? I rest my case. I'm glad that they didn't cast that guy. Holy shit. I would have protested that one for sure. Maybe thrown eggs, or something of that nature. Nicholas Cage? I think not. I've yet to see the Chronicles of Narnia yet, might have to take that one in when I get back to NC. There are no movie theaters even remotely near to where my parents live. OK, there is one about 30 minutes away, but do I really want to drive for 30 minutes to see a movie? Nah, not right now I don't. When I was growing up and in high school, actually the closest movie theater was an hour away. Now that sucks. I missed a lot of good movies in high school because I couldn't get to them easy enough. Now, I could walk to a movie theater if I really wanted to, and that's a nice thing. Short drive to others in Chapel Hill.

27 December 2005

It's funny...

I've started a new entry today about, oh, 3 or 4 times thus far, and haven't gotten past the first sentence or 2. Now, I'm trying again. Don't know what to write about, as I'm sitting in Mexico Maine kicking back and doing, well, what Mexico is good for. Nothing. And actually I don't mind. Sure, it's not sexy and it's not exciting, but hey, I can kick back AND do nothing. I remember back when I was little, my Mom used to pack us up into the car to take us to Aroostook County for vacation. Aroostook County for those of you not in the know is the god forsaken Northern nether regions of Maine where you can literally spit on Canada and where everybody speaks French (they must be cheese eating surrender monkeys), but it's a good place to really do nothing. That's what my Mom would go there for on vacation. To do nothing and to visit old friends who had moved that way. That was a long ass trip for a young kid, about 5 hours or so from where we lived. I guess maybe that's where I get my tolerance for long road trips these days. Early years of driving through Maine to get to northern Maine to sit around for a week or so to do nothing. Oh well, looks like I'm repeating myself here as now I'm in Maine, and I'm doing nothing. And by nothing, I mean nothing. I've spent the last couple of days sitting around in my PJs and not eating a lot of food. Hey, it's Christmas. What else are you supposed to be doing? That's about it I guess.

Mexico Maine is a place that if you should ever visit it, it will only be on the way through town. It's not what we could a destination at any stretch. We have a US route going through the middle of town, but most people go around Mexico, because US Route 2 has a bypass that misses the town and just goes out of it. Same for our neighboring town Rumford. If you do drive through it, you literally might miss it if you blink too many times. Riding my bike I can go from where the town begins (like the main portion of town) to leaving town in about oh, 5 minutes. And that's by bike. Take it for what it's worth. It's small. It's nice. It's where my parents still reside, so here I am with I love the 80's on TV, and me typing this out on my lappy. There are of course redeeming values of Mexico. It's still pretty pristine really, and there are tons of hills surrounding the town, and plenty of forest, and lakes, ponds, and rivers. In the summer, super nice to be able to swim in the rivers and local fresh water ponds and lakes. Also, if there was more racing around here, it would be an almost ideal place to train in the summer. Why? The weather is good. Not too hot, not too cold. The terrain around here, hilly as a mo-fo. Lung busting climbs all over the place, and lots and lots of empty roads, because hey. It's Maine, there's just not a whole lot of people around here to begin with. The downside is that the roads get beat up during the winter, so it's not the smoothest riding surface around, but did I mention they're empty? I keep trying to get friends of mine to come up here in the summer with me, and they don't want to come. This I don't understand. We could have a great base to train from, with home cooking in the morning, and when we get back, plus local waterways to swim and relax in post ride, it would be awesome. The downside, is that normally when it's really good to ride around here it is right in the middle of race season, and normally, people don't want to miss races to come to Maine to eat, ride, eat, sleep, and ride some more. I'm not sure why, but I hope to get a few folks to come on up here at some point in time, and they can see what I'm talking about. The best part about Maine. Shoulders. As in, the roads have shoulders so that you can ride 2 or 3 abreast, and it's not an issue for the traffic flowing by. Why? Shoulders. Simple as that. North Carolina doesn't have shoulders on their roads for the most part. I mean, none. In the winter though, not much going on around here as far as riding. Of course there is skiing, snowmobiling, hockey, and just about any other wintertime activities that you can think of. Doesn't do much for the riding though as the roads are covered with ice, snow, and other maladies that make riding road bikes outside a little on the hazardous side during the winter.

I'm heading back South in a few days though, which will be good. I'll get to hang out with the SO finally after not seeing her for about 10 days. That's too long I would have to believe, but it's the holiday season. This happened last year after we had first started dating, but that was last year, when we first started dating. Now, I'm just waiting to head back South. Of course I have many plans and many things to do when I get back. The 30th when I get back will be The Chad's Birthday celebration at Leblon in Greensboro. The 31st will be Jenn and Josh's New Year's Eve gathering at their hiz-house. The 1st, well, don't know what I'll be doing then. Probably riding my bike for a change, and then, I go back to work. Back to work on the 2nd. I'm already not looking forward to that. It'll be busy, busy, and more busy when I get back. But I'll be complaining about that later, for now, I'm not there, so it's OK. I'm wondering what the New Year there is going to hold. I'm hoping to NOT work 60 hours per week when I get back. That would suck indeed, as I need to start training for bike racing again, and well, just for general health and all. I might have to postpone the start of race season for myself until April or so. That might be the best bet, as I won't be ready by the end of February and or the start of March. Might just be at the start of April. We'll see what shakes loose in that time period. If work continues the way that it has gone this past year, I might not be racing at all come the 2006 season.

I am just hoping that my trip home later on this week is not as prolonged as it was getting here. If it is, yeah, I'm going to smash my head into a wall somewhere in the Portland Airport no doubt.

25 December 2005

Trying to travel during a holiday...

I’ve got to tell you that spending a large amount of time in an airport on Christmas Eve, well, it’s just no good, no good at all. This little adventure of mine started early on Saturday morning at say, oh, 6AM when I rose to get ready to meet the day and to travel home for the Christmas holiday, home being Maine of course. To get to Maine one has to catch 2 different planes because there are no direct flights from anywhere that I can fly out of into Portland Maine. First choice when making the reservations back a few weeks ago was to fly through New York, and then get the connecting flight into Portland, getting there by 1 in the afternoon and catching a ride home with my sister to engage in the annual Christmas feasting. Of course as is the case with anything that I do these days, this didn’t work out correctly, or at all for that matter. Getting to the airport, not a problem. Checking in and making it through security, not a problem either. The hard part came when it was time for the plane to leave on time, which never happened.

First problem in the litany of problems to follow was a bum aircraft sitting on the ground in Raleigh. They weren’t really sure what was wrong with it. Call me nuts, but if you’re going to be flying in something, and there is something wrong with it, you are probably going to want to know what’s wrong with it, and that they can fix it before you climb aboard. I mean, a car malfunctioning is one thing. There is usually a shoulder that you can pull onto should your car shit out on you. An airplane, well, there is no shoulder, just a loud and horrible crash. So plane #1, it appeared to not be feeling well. They wheeled it out of there, and rolled in a new one, which, lo and behold, it also had some sort of warning light flashing in the cockpit that they could not seem to make go away no matter how the prodded it. By this time though, the airline had called my name and given me the bad news that indeed, my original flight plans were now null and void because there was no way anyone heading to Portland was going to catch their connections in New York, so a choice had to be made. Either go later on in the afternoon at 5PM and get into Portland at 9:30, or wait until the following morning. I decided to consult The Mom, because really, it was kind of her call as to whether I came in this evening or on Christmas morning. Her decision was for Christmas Eve, so off I went to make arrangements for that. And now the problem, it was only 10AM, flight time to Charlotte was going to be 5PM. 7 hours of waiting lay ahead of me. I tried to make the best of it without complaining or cursing too loudly as I languished walking the terminal repeatedly to maybe get some exercise, and to do a little mobile people watching (one of my all time favorite airport activities of course). What I did notice in my 20 laps of the terminal that I was in, there were a lot of the same people sitting in the same places everytime I walked by. I walked 10 laps in the morning to keep the legs fresh, and then another 10 laps later on in the afternoon after watching a movie on the Lappy. Lots and lots of the same people, so it appeared that there were a lot of people in the same boat as me. Did this make me happy? Nah, but misery does love company doesn’t it? Seems as though the airlines were having a hard time getting people onto planes for some reason this Christmas Eve.

The flight from Raleigh to Charlotte, uneventful as a 30 minute trip can be. And now as I write this, I’m sitting in the Charlotte airport, which always seems like a waste to me because what’s the point of flying into an airport that is in the same State in which you reside? Silly, pure folly. That’s how the air routes go though, especially when you’re flying US Scare, I mean, US Air, because for them, all routes pretty much lead through Charlotte. If I had known I was going to be flying out of Charlotte, I would have just driven down here this morning, instead of getting a numb ass sitting on my duff in Raleigh. At least I would have been doing something. Ah hell. And to think, I had to be talked into coming home for Christmas this year, just for the mere fact that I’m tired, very tired, and just needed a break from the hustle and bustle of life in general. Getting stuck in an airport for 10 hours, getting diverted a couple of times, and getting home to Mexico Maine somewhere close to midnight on Christmas Eve / early Christmas morning, yep, that is not my idea of maximizing my relaxation time for what little vacation time that I do have this year during the holidays. Not maximizing things at all. If I had stayed at home for Christmas this year, the temperatures in Chapel Hill today were in the 60’s, the sun was shining, and the air was still. It would have made for a few days of relaxing bike rides out in the countryside, rolling along feeling the wind and sun on my face for a change, and just pedaling along thinking, and getting lost in the rhythm and flow of the ride, which is something that I haven’t done in a good long while. Instead though, I’ve been cooped up in an airport all day long with coughing and hacking people, small yelling children, smaller crying children, and developing a general sense of piss offed-ness (Is that a word? Doesn’t matter, I’m using it.). As the English would say, a cracking good way to start this vacation indeed. I am the poster child for the old saying, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” This year, this couldn’t be any more true. I’m still waiting for something good to happen to me this year, I mean, aside from being with the SO and all, but something other than that. The SO situation is great and good, but there has to be something else that can go right for me. Isn’t there?

I’m really starting to wonder what the hell I did in a past life to deserve all of this bad karma, because I know deep down that I’ve not been this bad of a person in this life. I think that there might be some cosmic force out there keeping a good man down, it’s like someone has got their thumb on the back of my neck most days. I’m starting to feel like Rodney Dangerfield, can’t get no respect out there. I can sort of pinpoint when all of the really bad things started happening to me, and it was awhile ago, but nonetheless, there they are. It’s felt like a downward slide ever since then, over which I have no control. They just happen. And keep happening. Maybe I’ll break out of the slump here in the near future, been in it for, oh, I don’t know, about 7 years or so at this point in time. Or maybe I just see the bad things, and not the good, because when shit is going wrong, you just see the bad shit, you probably don’t see the good things around you because your mind is pre-occupied with the bad. Know what I mean? I’m sure that things aren’t as bad as I perceive them to be, but hey, as some people (like my boss) like to tell me. Perception is reality. Which is a turn of phrase that I’ve never understood until I went to work for GKN. That’s another entirely different story though there. Let’s just say that for most people that I work with and or for, there is a severely skewed view of reality, and that comes from growing up, going to school in, and now residing in Roxboro, NC. People there don’t seem to like to leave the town to go and see other things. For instance, you have a damn hard time getting anyone from Roxboro to even hang out in Raleigh, which is, for the record, about 40 minutes down the road. They like being big fish in a very small pond, but I suppose to each their own. They live in their own little world separate from the actual world I think.

Let me review some of the good things. I have the SO. She’s special to me and I love her, and this past year has been great being together with her. Back in December we celebrated our 1st year of being together, and I honestly and truly hope that there will be a lot more years to come with her. Then there is my friendship with The Chad and The Alex. I feel like they are 2 people that I will be in constant contact with for the rest of my life really, and I feel like my friendships with them are getting ever stronger and tighter, so that’s a good thing. And of course, I always have my family. They’ll always be there I know that. There are a few good things that I have this year, and there are a mess more of bad things. Too numerous to list right now, maybe I’ll take that up in an entry all of its own at some point in time here down the road.

Holy shit! I just saw the funniest footwear that I’ve seen in a long time. Just imagine a pair of boots on some woman’s feet that are fuzzy and fur covered and have little dingle balls hanging off the top of them. Now that is some comedy. Sorry, had to mention that. Oh, here she comes again. Damn, someone needs to have a talk with her about that style sense. I’m not Versace over here, but damn. Just, damn… I’m betting they were Ugg’s. They’re taking the US by storm. Official uniform of the UNC woman in the winter. Ugg boots, and some short of hip hugging tight across the buttocks jeans. If you are the woman that wears the really fuzzy boots, please don’t. Take them off, and immediately burn the footwear. I’m sure they would make good material to start fires with. There are some of these boots that are OK, for the most part, but these particular ones that I just saw. Kick them to the curb, kick them to the curb. And of course only in the Charlotte airport would have a display of several NASCAR cars sitting in the middle of the airport. There has been some controversy lately as to who is going to get the NASCAR hall of fame, and where it’s going to be located, and I can’t think of a better place than Charlotte. I mean think about it. NASCAR started down in NC for the most part, a large number of the teams are based in NC, it just makes sense. It would be like locating the baseball hall of fame in Canada. But no. Where did they locate it? Cooperstown, where it all started. Same should go for NASCAR. It only makes good horse sense, but back to the original point. Only in Charlotte, and only in NC would there be 5 NASCAR vehicles parked in the middle of the airport on display.

Christmas morning has come and gone now. And the sitting around and eating begins. Around here, tradition dictates that we get up in the morning, open presents, and then sit around and eat meat pies with ketchup of course. I got some good stuff this year, and my Mom commissioned an artist, and had him draw our house, and then she got prints of that for everyone framed and such. It is pretty cool. Good depiction of the old homestead. Of course my sister Amy, when seeing this cried, mostly because she’s a crier, and well, that’s just what she does. They were really nice prints though, and I’ll have to have mine shipped out to North Carolina, because that isn’t going to make the journey back home on the plane very well, or at all. I’m sure that shit would get broken with the gorillas that they have out there handling the luggage and all. No way I would entrust that shit to them. No way. I also got a dashboard Jesus, which I am most definitely bringing to work and putting it somewhere on my desk without a doubt. Maybe the folks that I work with will think I got saved over the Christmas break and all. And my plot to get enough gift cards to Best Buy fell through for the most part, but I did get one more that brings the total to around $150, which is more than close enough to get what I need. Now if I can find a Best Buy that has a 30GB color video iPod hanging around. Those bad boys are a scarce commodity, but maybe, just maybe I can peruse the local Best Buys around here, and find one that someone got for Christmas, and returned it (for whatever reason), and it could be an open box item so I can get it cheaper. So indeed, the evil plot for a new iPod continues. I got a bunch of other stuff that is pretty cool. A stainless steel martini set, some new Maine vodka that just came out, and some big ass olives. Socks, a hat, and a few other odds and ends. Good stuff all around. I think my brother Joel said it best though. This was the first year that nobody received some sort of high tech high dollar electronic device. Times, they are a changing.

And now, it’s mid afternoon nap time, and TV watching time. Time to kick back and do what I came here to do. Nothing. Nothing at all. And I like that.

22 December 2005

Phew... Bush said to trust him and now I feel better...

It's been one of those long ass weeks, although it's still only Thursday. Things are heating up in the old workplace as the year winds down towards its end. Does it seem like I keep complaining about these long ass weeks all of the time? Well, it's true. Very true. I can't help it, work has been dominating my life for the better part of the last 3-4 months, and it's getting tiresome really. No, really, it is. This week, it's kind of worse, because even though I still have tons of crap to do, there is no support there, it being the week before Christmas, and everyone using up all available vacation days before the end of the year, and hence, I was pretty much at work by myself today, which in and of itself, is not a bad thing, because then I can pretty much do what I want, such as goof around and be loud, and nobody cares, because there is nobody there to care. Of course I have Ford Motor Company breathing down my neck still. They are truly the Grinch that stole 2005 for me. There is this one guy that we work with, named Gregg (last names withheld to protect the innocent) who is a complete flaming asshole. I don't know how else to describe him, and he is personally making this whole new program a living hell for anyone and everyone working on it. The other folks from Ford like to ask some silly questions, but they also like to work with us on the issues and work out a good solution. This Gregg guy (who spells Gregg with 2 g's anyway??) is out to get us. In other words, he would love to see us fail, and it seems to give him a sense of power and being able to hold sway over my company, and frankly, that sucks. He's not part of the solution, he is only adding to the problem of what is going on, and personally, I'd love to kick him square in the nuts. I know that I'm not alone in this, but people within my organization keep making promises for the people in Roxboro that we can't keep, or can't accomplish. Of course the people making said promises are sitting in their office in Michigan, and really have no stake in this except to sit on the phone during conference calls and say "yes" to everything. Now I know what it feels like to sit in a President Bush cabinet meeting. Everything is just yes, yes, and more yes. Even when the answer should be no, but everyone is afraid of this guy, and tuck tail and just submit. It sucks. Me being a peon though, I don't get to really say much about it, but I did mention in an e-mail chain that something this guy asked for was ridiculous, and told him basically that we weren't going to do it. This in turn got me scolded by him on the phone, and cursed at by Gregg. Fortunately I held my tongue in a little bit, but made it clear to him that expressing that kind of un-professional attitude towards myself or any of my colleagues was unacceptable. I was shocked when the plant manager actually agreed with me, and then he really surprised me by telling Gregg (with 2 g's) that if he had another outburst like that during this or any other meeting, that would officially end that meeting, and possibly could end this program with Ford. So, when that was mentioned, he shut the hell up and was more amenable to suggestion after that. He's still an asshole, and I'm going to have to deal with him again tomorrow, oh joy and fun. I already know what he's going to ask for, and he's going to be in for another shock when we tell him no. I can hardly wait for that meeting actually, first one that I've looked forward to in years.

I'm going to make this next thing easy. Bush. Surveillance. Spying. American citizens. Illegal. Investigate. Impeach. That's it, that's all I have for now. I can't believe the apologists coming out in support of his circumventing the laws of the United States. I thought he was supposed to protect and defend the Constitution, not roll it up and wipe his ass with it. I was listening to some talk radio this afternoon on the drive home from work, and they had the guy on there for the whole drive home that was part of the group of legislators and advisors who wrote the FISA act that Bush seems to have skipped over. And it was pretty clear in his mind (registered Republican by the way just as a head's up for those of you who would cry partisanship) that what Bush did, and admitted to, was illegal on the face of the FISA statute. Now that Bush was in the ditch, what do the right wing bloggers, news shows, radio talk show hosts, and other pundits trot out? Clinton. Ah yes, the catch all for republican punditry, William Jefferson Clinton. Seems as though back in 1995 (bear in mind that this has no bearing on what Bush or didn't do) he signed and executive order for searches and wiretapping without warrants. End of story, or so the right wing talking points machine would have you believe. Now, if you actually took the time to read the order, and it's follow ups and all of the other attached items to it, it states, implicitly within the order that FISA is to be followed, and if warrants are not obtained originally, then they are to do so within the allotted 72 hour time period. Some smoking gun that they have there. Their fall back position was that, well, Clinton did it too, which is actually not the truth. And what's funny is that they posted the Clinton order on any number of websites out there (all right leaning of course), and claimed that it was a precedent set by Clinton and Carter (who also had an order of similar wording, and who also had a follow up in it that said FISA is to be followed), but it appears that their reading comprehension was at an all time low that day. I think they stopped at the sentence that said searches and wiretaps without warrants, and said to themselves, "AHA! We have something!" Which is so far from the truth, it's really silly.

Let's think this through shall we. In 1995, Clinton was in office as President of the United States. Since he entered office in 1992, vast sums of money put up mostly by independently wealthy republicans was being funneled into efforts to find something to pin on Clinton to force him from office. We know what the end result of that was. A stained dress, a perjury charge, and articles of impeachment. I fail to believe that if Clinton who wrote this executive order (which was passed onto the Senate for review and consent - the whole Senate mind you) did so illegally, the republicans in Congress would have had his head on a plate and barbecued it, and ate it for dinner. Which, in my little twisted illogical world, leads me to believe that order written was lawful, and followed the intent and statute of the FISA act, which, according to the guy who helped to write FISA in the first place, said that it was. Because he also has seen the controversy erupt on the blogospehere and in the punditry, so he made sure to procure himself a copy, read through it, and proclaimed it to be a-OK in his mind. So if the guy that helped to write the statute says that Bush probably (he leaves it open for investigation as I will) broke the law when he went around FISA, I'm going to take his word for it. The White House's story keeps changing as well, and spinning, and I'm sure by the time I get out of bed tomorrow morning, it will have changed again. The blatant hypocrisy of some on the right hand side of things is crazy, really crazy. I asked one guy to look at it this way. Say Clinton had done this same thing when he was in office, and it came out in the same manner that this did for Bush; would he have just said Clinton was just trying to protect the country and it's OK to break a few laws in order to gain security for the nation? Hell no my friends, he would have beheaded Clinton on it, and he's know it. I'm hear to also mention that if something like this had happened under Clinton and it had come out, I would have been just as incensed as I am now. Actually, throw any democrat's name in there, I'd still be pissed that our personal freedoms and liberties were being threatened by the President of the United States. The man who is supposed to be the best defender of said liberties and freedoms.

I also tend to look at it this way as well. Say you start with this one right being taken away, the right for unwarranted searches and seizures and eavesdropping and wiretapping. What other right is going to be next? I've been thinking about this for a week or so since this all came out, and I've got to say, I've got an even better appreciation for the Constitution now than I did even a few weeks ago. And I also have a whole new respect that I didn't have before. Now I see that it's all of the rights afforded by the Constitution that are important. ALL of them. Take one down, the others may be next. What would stop the President from doing it? He's done it once already, said he'd do it again. He has to be stopped. If you haven't done it already, write your Congresspeople to let them know what you think about this whole issue, whether you support what has happened, or whether you're completely outraged by it like I am, either way, write them, and let them know. It's an important part of the process. I do think that this is a non-Partisan issue though, and that it can and has affected all Americans in its scope and presence. Do you really want to give the power to take away our rights to one person? Do you really want to throw that all away? I do honestly think that this is what is in the balance right now.

Rumors. I've heard rumors as well that it is possible that Bush maybe used these wiretaps and eavesdropping abilities to check in on political rivals and opposition groups, anti-war groups, and things like that. Now, this is all internet scuttlebutt, and is completely unfounded, but let's think of the ramifications if this is true. It would be worse than Watergate, or about the same thing, no, worse I think. Because remember, George W. was supposed to be the President that brought honor and integrity back to the White House post Clinton. Yeah, and if you believe that, I've got a large bunch of prime swamp land to sell you somewhere. If he used eavesdropping and surveillance to keep track of political opponents and PACs and other groups that dissent from his opinion of the way things ought to be, and anti war groups, and other things like that, well, damn. Then there would be no doubt in my mind that the man would have to go. Either resign, or get booted out the door. Let Dick take over (don't know how that would be worse, as he's more or less calling the shots anyway I think). Cheney wouldn't run for a second term anyway if he did take over the Presidency, and he'd probably have another heart attack before leaving office anyway. But these rumors if found to be true, disturbing, truly disturbing. It wouldn't be the first time such a thing had happened in the US though, so that wouldn't be without precedent. Back in the late 60's and early 70's, the US Army and military intelligence keep a watchful eye on dissent groups, and had a huge warehouse in Baltimore that was filled to the brim with information gathered on American citizens without a warrant being issue for any of it. Big brother eh? That's what we're going to get stuck with if we're not careful.

Christmas is coming this week, and to tell the truth, I almost decided to not go home for the holiday itself. Yeah, it's true. I decided against that though, because that would just be wrong. I have had a long year this year, and it's been, well, hard. I haven't had much of a break pretty much this entire year, and I'm just feeling downtrodden, and need to get back to center really. Chill out, relax, kick back, get some exercise for a change, and basically get back to feeling like myself again. Starting after the New Year with work, there are going to be lines drawn for myself, when I'm going to get out of there at decent times so that I can go home, ride the bike, and then if I have to, I'll do work at night, but I can't sacrifice another winter of training for bike racing, it'll kill me, and I miss it. So yeah, I almost stayed in NC for Christmas this year, because I wanted to get back and relax, but as mentioned, that would just be wrong. So don't worry Mom, I'll be home on Saturday. Not a problem. This year, the whole stupid thing about the war on Christmas has got me pissed off. I guess that is one reason why I'm not feeling it. I feel like this time of the year is usually so just nice, everyone is nice to everyone else for the most part, but you have a few certain individuals (cough-Bill O'Reilly-cough) pushing this agenda this time of the year, and as he is, being very nasty about it, and essentially ruining the season, at least for me. I'm sure heading home will fix this though, which will be nice.

Well, time to head to bed I think, getting later, and I've been rambling onward long enough for now.

16 December 2005


Ironic maybe that as you could see from a previous post I was in Philadelphia a couple of days before the President of the US was there making his case for the continuing war in Iraq, again. And repeating the same words, again. Invoking 9/11, again. Making veiled references that Iraq was maybe connected to 9/11 (he didn't make any direct references, but there was a lot of obfuscation, and if you weren't listening closely, you would think that Iraq perpetrated the entire 9/11 attack scenario), again. Pitching the same crap over and over again. So what was ironic about his being in the birthplace of our country and the birthplace of our beloved Constitution?

Bush makes an Oopsy!

Well it appears that a few days later it has now come out that he has been more or less trampling all over it since a few days after 9/11. Yes, if you haven't heard about it, President Bush, your President, my President issued an order saying that it was OK for the NSA to spy on Americans without having to get a court order to do so. Of course I have had discussions with Bush supporters who are right behind this. We need this for National security they say. Well, truly and honestly, if it means getting blown up by a terrorist and surrendering my own civil liberties for so-called "security", I'll take the bomb thank you very much. This is how these things get started. First, it's just a few people, and people support it, then it's a few more, and a few more, and more and more until it spins out of control, and then when it hits you, you then realize that it might be too late to do anything about. I for one I'm glad that this has come out now, when it has only been perpetrated upon 500 or so citizens of the US, and in a telling sign, there is no evidence that this helped stop terrorism in the United States or abroad. The Bush administration will tell you that it helped stop one attack that was being planned to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, but that is not the entire truth. The guy they eavesdropped on didn't get recorded and spied on until AFTER he had been taken in as a suspect in potential terrorist plots. They wanted to see who he called from his cell phone while he was in jail, or when they allowed him to use it, or something like that. Can you say big brother is watching? The NSA has some truly scary technology that I'm sure we don't know much or anything about for the most part. I have seen shows where they can pull cell phone calls right out of the ether, record them, translate them, and have a transcript in a short amount of time. Now, this order that Bush gave was so sketchy, that there were some NSA agents who refused, flat our refused to do it, because it was of a questionable legality, at least in their minds. Already, the Bush White House is spinning this, and it is an indefensible position, and nobody in their right mind should support this one either side of the political spectrum. Nobody. Not democrats, and not republicans. If a politician comes out and says that he or she supports this, the people should put their say in when that politician comes up for re-election either in 2006 or 2008, and vote he or she out of office. This is America isn't it? Once again, our government is doing things in the name of protecting us that takes away our civil liberties and freedoms, and as I said before, I rather take a bomb in the ass than give anything up. What is this guy thinking? Oh, that's right, the mealy mouthed son of a bitch (AKA George W. Bush) doesn't think. He just does what "he think is right for the American people," you know, without regard to that pesky little document called the Constitution of the United States of America. I hate it when that thing gets in the way of what our President wants to do. Can we impeach him now? Please? Can we, can we, please? Lets' look at the short list of bad things he's done since he's arrived in office:

1. Depleted the federal budget surplus
2. Created the largest deficit ever recorded
3. Took us to war (2x)
4. Signed secret orders to allow spying on Americans
5. 2 words, Valerie Plame
6. Destroyed most environmental protections put into place by previous administrations
7. Let N. Korea get nuclear weapons
8. Let Iran start up their nuclear program again
9. Gave massive tax cuts to the rich
10. Took funding from popular social programs
11. Lied to the American people about the reasons for war

And so on and so forth, I could go on for hours of things that he has done that I don't like. The one thing I know that he has done that I do live, extension of daylight savings time. In 2007, we'll get an extra month of an extra hour of light. Instead of the first week of April for the time to "spring" ahead, it will be the first week of March. That's a good thing. But that's about it for him, everything else he's done has turned to shit.

I would encourage anyone reading this to write to their Congresspeople and express your outrage at what has happened today, and what was revealed today, and make sure you ask that this be investigated to the fullest. If we don't hold our President accountable who will? It's time for people to stop being afraid of the President and that the terrorists are going to "get us", and it's time to call him to the carpet on his BS that he's espousing in the name of patriotism and America. Makes me sick, very sick. At the least though, today, the Patriot Act was not approved in the Senate, which means that there were some moderate republicans who turned to the "dark side" and voted with the democrats on this issue. This is good, very good. I think the tide is turning, and the Bush administration is starting to go down in flames little by little. It's bad though, because as the President fails, the nation starts to fail as well, and well, I like America and want it to be great again, but under the leadership of a muppet, I don't see how. Bush needs to go. I'll be holding my breath for the next 3 years on this administration, and hope that we don't invade Iran next. I think the Founding Fathers just turned over in their graves.

12 December 2005

Weddings and The Constitution...

This weekend a couple of old friends of mine from the Maine days got hitched. The SO and I drove up to the big city of Philadelphia to head to this one. Big congratulations go out to Les and Kathleen, now betrothed. Let me tell you guys something. This wedding was definitely one of those things you go to and say, "Damn, sure am glad I went to that." It was, for me at least, in a word, spectacular. The setting, the reception, the food, the damn Viennese dessert room (yes, I said room), the music, everything, unreal. I have to send out a big thanks to Les and Kathleen for inviting to the nuptials, glad I could come. Sure, it was a long ass drive, but in the end worth it. I got to see a couple of good friends of mine get married, and got to eat some good food, and drink some good booze. Hey, what are weddings for? I hope that they're having a good time in Hawaii (although I'm not really sure if they've left yet or not), and all Les could talk about the night of the reception was how he was planning on learning how to surf while he was there. I suggested he first watch the Brady Bunch episode where they go to Hawaii, and Greg finds the cursed tiki idol necklace thing, and then almost dies while trying to play the big man for the local ladies. Of course if there had been any local perspective on that episode, it would have revealed what really happened to Greg. I'm certain someone pulled the leash of his board when he was trying to take off to show him that only locals get to surf that certain break he was on. Damn mainlander coming over trying to steal their waves and their women. What the hell was he thinking? Anyway, I related this all to Les, who then had second thoughts about surfing (because you've got to respect the Brady lore). I also made mention that there are sharks around there, at which point Kathleen chimed in and said that maybe surfing, or learning to surf wasn't such a good idea. Ah yes, my fear of the sea paranoia is now getting the best of my friends. Look, a kid from Lincoln Maine should not be riding waves in Hawaii. That's it, end of story, I don't want to hear anything else about it. Although, I'm sure that if he does, he'll have a good time doing it.

Back in the summer of 1997 while still living in good old Bangor Maine, Les moved in with myself and my roommate at the time Troy Dayon (anyone know what happened to that kid because I sure don't). Anyway, he moved in and we promptly renamed him Laszlo. Why you might ask? Well, go back, review the movie Real Genius (with a very young Val Kilmer) and you'll see that the smartest guy in the movie was named Laszlo, but that he lived in the steam tunnels/basement underneath the dorms. Les moved into our basement, and hence the Laszlo moniker. Hey, it seemed like the right thing to call him. We also had an episode of an exploding car in our driveway, but that was just some crossed wires somewhere along the line. Les, unfortunately, was also the reason why I got kicked out of the apartment that I was living in. Seems as though the landlord didn't like him living in the basement, and since my landlord seemed to take a shine to coming into my apartment when nobody was there, and snooping around, he found out. Evicted us. Which was OK, since Les was moving over to Orono, and Troy was getting transferred to New York, and well, the landlord was kind of a dick anyway. I found a better place for less money, and everyone was happy, except the landlord, since the eviction notice was for like July or something like that, and I kept living there until September, but I wrote him a letter, asked him if it was OK, and he never said no, and he kept cashing the rent checks, so it couldn't have been too bad right? Aside from that I told him that I had retained legal counsel to possibly sue for infringement on my right to privacy since he entered the apartment when I wasn't there, and didn't notify me in writing 24 hours ahead of time (which is the law in Maine), and well, yeah, I almost sued him for that, but me not being the litigious sort decided to not do something like that. I just packed up my crap, cleaned the hell out of the apartment, and moved to Orono, which was the better choice anyway. Living in Bangor kind of sucks. Don't do it, and don't let Stephen King fool you when he says it's great living there. Sure, for him, he's one of the most famous authors on the face of the planet. If you're a young 20 something trying to have a good time, Bangor, not the place for it. Brewer, definitely not the place for it. After moving from Bangor back to the stomping grounds of Orono, that's when I met Kathleen for the first time, and that's when I got to be good friends with the both of them. So yeah, it all worked out for the best, and I didn't have to live under the watchful eye of the evil landlord. I had a "talk" with him one day, and I honestly thought he was going to knock me out, or well, try to knock me out. He had that crazed look in his eyes. That's when I changed the locks on him. Yeah, he didn't like that little move either.

Seeing as the SO and I were in Philadelphia, and staying a short walk away from where we declared our independence from England, and then where the founding fathers (some of them at least) wrote the Constitution, we figured it would be a good idea to do some sight seeing, tourist attraction kind of stuff. First on the list, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Security around there these days is a little tight, but not too bad. They won't be taking away your scissors or your nail files, but you've got to get a ticket (free), and then go through the metal detectors, and then you can walk through this building that has a lot of displays about the Liberty Bell, and houses the actual Liberty Bell. Good stuff no doubt. There is a lot of reading involved, so if you don't like to read, just by-pass the reading stuff, and go and see the bell at the end of the building. After you get to see the Liberty Bell, you pass back outside where you are let across the street to go and see Independence Hall and the other buildings around it. There is the first House of Representatives, and upstairs from that, the first Senate Chamber, and hence I suppose where they get the whole upper and lower house thing. Turns out the digs for the Senators were much nicer than the room for the Representatives. I guess having connections back in the day (Senators were chosen not elected) had its perks. We got a short little tour and run down of that building and some of the history of what happened there. Then we rolled over to the Independence Hall tour, which our tour was being run by this crazy haired woman named Patia (don't even remotely know if I spelled that correctly). Let's just say Patia was quirky, well spoken, knew her shit, and was pretty funny, and you could tell she loved her job. She was definitely the history geek sitting in the front row of whatever high school you went to. She gave a great tour though. We got to see the room where the Declaration was signed and written, and where the Constitution was hashed out. Pretty powerful stuff to be in the same room where that all took place. A lot of the furniture she told us, was original in there, including the head chair of the guy who was running the show during the writing of the Constitution, yeah, that's right, George Washington. You know, the father of our country, that guy. His chair, I was in the same room as it. On the same grounds as Independence Hall was the Philosophical Society building which held some weird and decent exhibits, and also the building that housed the first Supreme Court of the US. Imagine, all of that stuff crammed into 500 feet of road space along Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. A lot of people have gone to DC, but I think less people go to Philadelphia where it call came down. Shame really. Also, a couple of blocks away from Independence Hall is a newer museum dedicated entirely to just the Constitution, and the history behind it. Now that place you could spend a lot of time in there reading everything that they have in there. Also, there is a room in there where they have bronze full sized statues of the signers as they were depicted in the painting of them signing the Constitution. Now I don't know about you, but full sized bronze statues of our founding fathers, while kind of cool, was also kind of creepy. And here's the best part, one of the guys there from NC had a mullet.I swear to God. I'm pretty sure if you could get that coat off of him, he'd have a #3 Dale shirt underneath there even back in the 1700's. Yep, North Carolina, represent. Spaight, yep, he was kicking the business up front, and party in the back look even back then. If you are ever in Philly though, check out at least those few things. They're worth the time really. We took about 5 hours to walk around there, check things out, and we didn't even touch the rest of the historical stuff in Philadelphia, so for a couple of dorks like the SO and myself, this was a good day indeed. Oh, and forgot to mention that during the drive up, and part of the way home, we got to listen to some books on tape. Another good thing. Makes the driving go by nice and fast for the most part. I suggest it. I think even at Cracker Barrels, you can rent books on tape, and then turn them in at any other Cracker Barrel and get more. And in the South, as most of you are aware, there is a Cracker Barrel every 10 feet down here. You can't hardly swing a dead cat without hitting one. Going back to the Founding Fathers. No wonder the British weren't very scared of us. These guys are not what I would call imposing. I towered over most of them, and remember, I'm wicked short. The SO definitely towered over them, which is pretty easy since she is taller than I. With the exception of good old George Washington. He's one tall mo-fo. He stood around 6'4" tall (I wonder how many hands that is??), and you could see that he dominated the room just with his height and his presence. That's one other thing our crazy tour guide told us before. She mentioned that although he was smart, a decent politician, and a half decent General, Washington had one thing that was really working for him. His height. She said that when he strode into a room, people paid attention. Think about it now. You see some guy walking around who is about George Washington's height, and all eyes turn to that person. Right? Don't even deny it. My brother lived with this guy Nate who was what? 6'5" or maybe 6'6"? And when we went places out in town with him, and he walked in, everyone looked. I would imagine with a bunch of short guys running around founding the country, it was no different for George Washington.

Go to Philadelphia. Walk around. See the things they have there, and then come back and tell me that you're not impressed or enthralled with standing around in our history. I was.

09 December 2005

Another insane Friday night...

OK, maybe it's not that insane, or insane at all for that matter, but this evening, once again, I just want to lay down and go to sleep. Which is something that I am going to do in a short while, you can bet your sweet ass, but first, I must get something to eat, and kick back and watch TV, and of course pack for my trip this weekend to Philadelphia to see a couple of friends of mine get married this weekend in some wickedly posh ceremony, and posh reception (at least from what I can tell). It should be a rocking good time for one and all I'm certain of this. I mean, free booze. What more could a man want? Exactly. Even though I am going to be wearing a suit and all, I guess I can get past that. Shouldn't be an issue, and the place that the SO and I are staying in. Very nice, very nice indeed. And we got a pretty good deal on it as well, more than I would pay for a place to stay with a bunch of stinking bike racers, but since I'm not traveling with that type of person this weekend, that makes it OK. And aside from that, it was the SO's birthday yesterday, so she deserves a nice place to stay. All I can really say is that I hope that my allergy attacks go away and out of my head before tomorrow, because right now my left sinus cavity feels like it is making my entire head cave in, and that's not a nice feeling I can assure you. Lots of pressure, and lots of pain, it's not a nice thing. Not at all. Oh well, these things, they happen. If I go on my current cycle of allergy and non-allergy days, this should be all good tomorrow, but Sunday will probably suck once again. I hate it when this happens. It wears me down and out, and by the time I get home, there's no bike training, it's all about sitting down falling asleep early (which let me remind you is going to happen soon).

I decided to sell some of my cycling gear, just the stuff that I don't need or haven't used in a year or more. So there begins a slow trickle of stuff that I have getting placed onto the internet. I have a couple of frames that I don't need, and some other pieces and parts, so it's all going on there, in an attempt to make me some money and to get rid of the stuff that I don't need. If you want to see my goods, check 'dis link out here:

Giant TCX Cross Frame
Mavic Ksyrium Front Wheel

So do yourself a favor and place some bids on my stuff. I need to get some holiday cash in my pocket. Too many siblings and family members to buy stuff for. It happens when you come from a Roman Catholic family like that. And to think, my mother wanted to have more kids. I would think that 5 would be enough don't you think? Yeah, exactly.

I think that's all I've got in me for now. Look for some wedding pictures later on down the road here after this weekend. I'll get some stuff posted on here. We'll be attending the wedding tomorrow, and then doing the tourist thing on Sunday around Philly. Should be a good time. I've been there a bunch of times, but never have really walked around and checked out the sites and all, so Sunday will be entertaining. Saturday of course will be entertaining (remember, free alcohol) without a doubt. Weddings, eh, sometimes they're fun, sometimes they're not, I'm willing to wager this one will be a good time especially since I know Les knows a bunch of crazy folks from around Philly way. It might just be off the chain.

03 December 2005

Those crazy Belgians...

Thank God for monks, well, let's clarify, not just any old monk, but the ones that brew beer in Belgium. Thank God for those guys in their abbeys brewing away making some damn fine beer. Probably what most would consider the finest in the world. Now this is something I could get on board with. I was able to get some Chimay the other night when I went out to dinner with the SO to celebrate us being together for a year, and this stuff was expensive, but I thought since it was a special occasion and all, might as well drink up. Some might call me crazy for buying a 25 oz beer for $19, but I say it was worth it. It's not like I'm doing this everyday of the week, although as good as this stuff was, I would most definitely do it every day of the week. But, not only do they make fine ass beer, but all of the proceeds from what they make go to charitable organizations. So drink up for a couple of reasons:

1. It's damn good beer
2. It's for a good cause

Now if someone says that maybe you shouldn't be drinking beer, make sure you roll in some Chimay beer, and let them know you are supporting charitable endeavors by drinking this luxuriant beer. Until a short while ago in NC you couldn't get this stuff, mostly because of some stupid ancient laws that we had in place restricting the amount of alcohol that beer could contain. Why did they have this old blue law and why did it stay on the books so long? See my last post about the Bible belt. For some, this was a moral dilemma, but mostly, legislatures said that they didn't want to increase the amount of alcohol in beer because people would have to drink less to get drunk. Now, if this isn't a stupid reason, I don't know what is. I can even understand the so-called moral objections more than this one. Why? Because let's face it. If you're on a mission "from God" to get wasted, you're going to do it whether that means drinking 2 beers or 20. You're going to do it, so it doesn't matter what the alcohol level content is on the beverage you're drinking. This was also laughable coming from the State of NC in the mere fact that they run all of the hard alcohol stores in the State and highly regulate what is sold and where. I would dare say that it is a monopoly, but I neither have the time or money to challenge such a thing in Federal court, but I believe that it boils down to the State of NC being able to regulate beverages that have a higher alcohol content and to control their pricing and taxes so that more money would flow into the coffers. I mean damn, they sell corn liquor in the ABC stores in NC. What's wrong with having a little beer at or around 9% alcohol? Nothing I say, nothing at all.

Anyway, check out the good old Chimay website, yes, even the monks have a website. It is the 21st century after all:

Chimay beer and Cheese

What else are Belgians good at aside from making beer and cheese and well maybe some chocolate. Bike racing, oh yeah, bike racing indeed. Check out the current standings in the world cup of cyclocross, and you'll see what I mean. They dominate, especially this time of the year. Not to mention that they currently have the world road racing champion in Tom Boonen (chicks dig Boonen), and they are always at the sharp end of the race usually no matter what race we're talking about. Of course they love their Spring and sometimes the Fall classics, but mostly, they are hard men for the bad weather so common in Belgium and the North of France in the Spring and in the Fall and Winter when 'cross is going on. I think at world championships for cyclocross last year, they held the top 5 or 6 spots, or basically, every guy they took to the world championships as a country filled the top positions when everything was said and done. Who does the US have at this top level of the sport? Well, we have one Mr. Jonathan Page who has been making his way through Belgium the last few years as a struggling cyclocross pro. While all of the really top level guys get almost unlimited support, J. Page normally goes it alone with his wife and maybe a friend or 2 helping him out on race weekends. We also have an up and comer, and former NC resident Ryan Trebon, or Tree Farm as they call him (because he's tall). This kid should have been playing basketball instead of bike racing looking at the height of him (6' 5" or so), but instead, he took up racing of the bike. Now, he's probably the best cyclocrosser that we have from the US. J. Page is good, but I believe Trebon is going to surpass him either this year, or next year, and we will probably see him standing on the top step of the podium this year in RI at US National Championships, which are next weekend. Trebon has been across the pond slugging it out with the big boys of 'cross in Europe this season, and I'm sure that this is not making him any weaker. I predict a massive drag race between himself and J. Page when National Championships take place next weekend in RI. It's going to be a barn burner. There are also any other number of guys that could win that race next weekend as well. Amongst them, another homeboy of mine from Maine Adam Craig. Then you can never count out Mark McCormack, Barry Wicks, Tim Johnson (if the weather is really bad), and of course there are another 3 or 4 guys that are capable of winning the title, so it will be entertaining to say the least. Very entertaining.

Speaking of riding bikes, it's time for me to head out and ride mine. Training time starts again this weekend. I've tried to start before, but certain things have kept a brother down. Crashes, work, darkness, the weather, and so on and so forth. So NOW that it is December, off season can officially begin. Coach Rusty says December is a very good time to start. No need to start any earlier, unless you want to be really ready to throw down in say, mid February. So December it is. And today, is December.

02 December 2005

Christmas is under attack!!!

This is what I hear anyway from the blogosphere around the conservative side of things. And what is their apparent evidence that Christmas is under attack from the so-called "liberals" of the United States and from abroad? Yes, several companies have mandated that their employees use the more ubiquitous greeting of, "Happy Holidays" when speaking with customers this time of the year. And to that I ask, "What the hell is wrong with that?" Apparently Christians see this as an attack on Christmas itself, as in, these companies are trying to wipe out Christmas from the common vernacular and in turn, this is going to wipe out Christmas in America forever! Of course, as we are all well aware, this is not true, and this attacks Christmas not at all. In fact, why is it when people say that they want to include everyone in something, the Christians are usually the first ones out there screaming the loudest about this? I don't get it. Look, Happy Holidays means just that. It means Happy Freakin' Holidays. The holiday season spans from Thanksgiving through New Year's if you ask me, and to walk around wishing people a Merry Christmas when in fact it's still 3 weeks away from Christmas just sounds stupid anyway. And if someone wishes you a Merry Christmas anyway; who actually takes offense to something like that? Nobody that I would ever know of. Even if they were Jewish, Muslim, or some other religion that may or may not celebrate Christmas. It's just a greeting of good will, same as Happy Holidays. I never thought I would see the politicizing of Christmas and the holiday season, but it's there. Good old Dennis Hastert took most of one of his last work days in DC this week to make sure that the Capitol Holiday Tree (as it has been called since the late 80's) was re-named the Capitol Christmas Tree. And I mean listening to him speak about this, he was truly incensed. Now if he were truly incensed about running the country and how that's gone down the shitter, I could get behind him on that. But belly aching because someone called their tree a "holiday" tree instead of a Christmas tree. Come on man. Don't you have better things to do? I'd say so. Let's say you get cracking on a balanced budget, decreasing the deficit, bettering our economy, protecting the US, and oh, there is this little thing called the Iraq war going on as well. Dumb ass. How do such idiotic people get to lead our country? Oh yeah, look at the head office. Exhibit #1 of a dumb ass made good.

I learned a long time ago from my high school English teacher, Richard Kent, that during the holiday season, it's just better to say Happy Holidays. Why? Because it will offend nobody, well, that's not the case these days, but it used to be that way. Saying Happy Holidays is nothing new folks. Why get all crazy about it these days. Why is it better? Well, first off, you never know who isn't a Christian amongst you, and might not share your views about Christmas. If you're Jewish, of course, it's going to Hanukkah. African American, maybe Kwanzaa. I don't know. It's just a lot easier to say Happy Holidays. As I said before, saying Merry Christmas the weekend of Thanksgiving just doesn't sound right anyway, because, um, hey, it's not Christmas. I swear. If these people I have been hearing bitching about this pithy issue channeled some of these energies into doing something positive we'd have every major problem in the world solved already. Instead, you have people claiming, wrongly of course, that the big bad liberals are trying to take away Christmas just because a few of my bretheren want to include everybody into the holiday season.

And while these high and mighty people are getting all indignant about Christmas being taken away from them; where is their outrage about how commercialized the birth of their savior has become? Trees aren't part of Christmas really, they're pagan symbols. Santa is not a Christian symbol once again, he's pagan as well. Christmas isn't about trees, presents, drinking, partying, and basically spending a wad of cash (or it's not supposed to be to the Christians amongst us), it's supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. So if they really want to be pissed off about something, they should start there instead of this little attack about people taking Christmas away from them. Which, once again, nobody is saying DON'T celebrate Christmas. I swear, these folks.. I swear. Case and point. The other day at work, we normally have some sort of holiday meal that our company provides to everyone for free right before the holiday shutdown. The woman who sent out the e-mail advising everyone of this made sure to put in bold the Christ in Christmas. I had a response all written down and ready to roll out when I thought better of it, and I probably would have gotten fired for that one. There was some other schlock in there as well about celebrating the birth of our lord, blah, blah, blah... Mostly, it's funny, because scholars and researchers generally agree that Jesus Christ was born somewhere in late February or March, and hence that damn stupid fish symbol you see everywhere indicating he was a Pieces. The man wasn't born in December people, it was just placed there to coincide with other religious events from other religions at the time. I love telling the hard core Christian folks that I work with that tid bit of information. It drives them over the edge normally. I can't help it. I'm an instigator.

In the Bible belt it is different. Religion, specifically Christianity (of lots of different forms) is constantly in your face all of the time. They don't call it the Bible Belt for nothing. Things up North were more simple I think. People there are just as religious as they are here, but they don't feel the need to slam you over the head with it. Look, walking distance from my parent's house (and by walking distance I mean less than a 5 minute walk) there are 3 churches. This might not seem like a lot, until you consider that there are less than 4000 people living in the entire town. Then all of the churches in town, not sure how many there are, but there are a shit ton for a very small population. So the argument that folks in the North aren't as religious hold 0 water. I just don't like being confronted with it 24/7. OK, so maybe it's not 24/7, but it's lot. People with Bibles on their desks at work. Crosses on the cubicles. Signing their work e-mails "Have a Blessed Day." It's amazing how much of it there is around me. People wearing t-shirts on the floor. Preaching to me when I tell them I don't go to church. My boss telling us she needs to witness to the gay guy that works in the office so that he won't go to hell. The guy I work with that has a "Praise Jesus" cover over his 3rd brake light in his car so that everytime he hits the brakes it lights up in your face. The Mormons and Jehovah's witnesses who keep stopping at my house (I tell them I worship Satan and they leave). It is utterly amazing. The kooks I see standing on the corners protesting against abortion every weekend. The list is really endless. These are just things that I might see on a fairly daily basis. Back home in Maine, no such thing. That being said though, the folks are nice, almost too nice, and there is something about Southern hospitality in there that is so very true. They are a welcoming group of people for the most part (as long as you're not gay), but I just don't need to be rundown by that stuff all of the time. It wears a boy out. Look folks. Overwhelmingly, America is a nation full of Christians. This isn't going to change anytime soon. As a matter of fact, there might be more of them here as time rolls forward. Why do I say that? Well, look at the illegal aliens. By and far, the vast majority of those folks crossing the border are good Christian folks subverted by the early Spanish settlers. They're bringing their religion with them. No questions asked. I just hope that we don't roll down the path of a theocratic nation. That would be horrible, and then I'd have to move to Canada for sure. I don't believe that we'll go that way, but the religious right have been emboldened by their victories over the last few years, and they are getting stronger. Ah, religion and politics. Something our founding fathers didn't want mixed together, and now they are more and more so on a daily basis. I think that they are rolling over in their graves as we speak.

I've got to tell you, I've come to a new low when it comes to work. Almost as soon as I walk in the door, my head starts pounding and won't stop no matter how many painkillers I take throughout the day. The only cure is to leave. When I left for lunch today, my head felt better, when I came back, it started thumping again. By the end of the day, I had a splitter going on. When I left this evening though, by the time I made the turn for home (about 10 minutes into my drive) my head was feeling better again. By the time I got home, nothing. No apparent trace of a splitting headache I had had 40 minutes previous. Nothing. I think that the tension and the stress that is going on with this job is getting to me, and a lot of other people in the plant right. I have a good feeling that there might not be too many people standing when all is said and done, meaning, there are going to be lots of people quitting and changing jobs, and I might be one of them. I think when I go home for Christmas, one of my little tasks will be to re-write my resume again, and start really searching for new job opportunities, because as it stands right now, the amount of pressure and stress that I'm incurring on a daily basis appears that it's going to continue for a long ass time down the road since other new programs that I have coming in are as messed up, or even more messed up than the one that I'm working on right now. I had to jump ship, but that place is killing me. Even if I arrive at the joint by 6AM, I'm not leaving before 6PM most nights. The earliest that I have left lately was this evening, 6:00PM even. I got there at 6 this morning. They have been pretty solid 12 hour work days for the most part, and I'm not even the worst case scenario. No sir. We have guys working on this project that have been working weekends for months now. So not only do they get to come in and do their regular 10 hour shift (which really isn't regular), they are also there every weekend for 8-12 hours on Saturday and Sunday. At least I get to have some resemblance of a life on the weekend, but these guys, no, they're strapped down. At least most of those guys are getting paid overtime, not so much for me. But still, they'd rather be at the house on the weekend than in the plant, and for that, I can't blame them at all, not one bit. This excess of work has led me to be constantly stressed out, and leaves little time for anything else in my life. I have the SO, but I haven't exercised much in the last few months, and that has been mostly because of work. This needs to change. So yeah, during Christmas when I'm at home, much research into new ventures and opportunities. It will be a good time to do it because after the New Year, I'll have a full complement of vacation time to be able to take a day here and there for interviews, hopefully. We'll see what I can dig up.