31 May 2006

Quick update on work...

Just another quick update on work (see previous post below for something more in depth)...

We have one of our co-workers who took another job and is leaving on Monday. In the infinite wisdom of my boss, I now have to take care of the following customers:

AM General (Military Humvees)

I have now added GM to my repetoire. Oh joy... They are the most hideous customer, and the worst part about that, is that we are adding some new GM programs which promise to be almost unmanageable. I'm. So. Happy... OK, maybe I'm not. Now all we have to do is find 3, yes, count them, 3 new quality engineers. So if there happens to me anyone out there reading this, who has an engineering degree and would be willing to work in automotive supply in the quality department, drop me a resume, and we'll get you hooked up. But before you do, again, read the previous post.

Over and out.

More work crap...

Who are these people that like their workplaces and how do I become one of those people? That’s the question that I have had on my mind now for a long time running, like for weeks on end now. OK, no not weeks, make that months. My workplace sucks. I know that it sucks more than yours does, I guarantee it. For those of you out there looking for a job, and using a recruiter, by all means, if they call you ask if you would like to work for a company called GKN, just be like Nancy Regan, and just say no. You’ll be better off for it. Trust me on that one. Now there was a time, a time indeed when I liked, well, like is a strong word, but I didn’t mind heading into work every single day. I came in, did my job, had a few stressful moments here and there, and then went home at the end of the day, rode the bike for awhile, had a shower, hung out with friends, and then went to bed and repeated the next day. It wasn’t a bad life, not that my life is bad now, but work is a monster in the closet, and it’s killing me. OK, not killing me, but making me one unhappy boy. And when Tommy is unhappy, well, life in general is just not that happy. So I’ve resigned myself to yet again start looking for new job opportunities this weekend. Yes, I’m going to look again. I’ve said it before, and never followed through, but now, I’m at the end of my rope, and just about everyone else around me is looking for a new position here and there, and trying their damndest to get out of there ASAP. When the exodus does happen, it’s going to be sudden, and it’s going to be extensive. There are going to be a lot of people left holding the bag, and when the exodus does happen, I personally don’t want to be one of the folks left holding the bag. That would be a fate worse than death, because now instead of doing the job of 2 people, it would be more like 3 or 4. That would be super. Yeah, maybe it wouldn’t be super. I am betting that they wouldn’t be paying me the same as 3 or 4 people, I’d still be making the same low ass wages that I’m pulling in now. OK, maybe I’m not making low wages, actually I’m doing OK, but I should still be making more for the experience that I have and frankly the time that I put in at the office and in the plant. My health has taken a hit for it, because right now, when I come home from work, last thing I normally want to do is to exercise, and the times that I have been getting home allow me to not exercise actually. The days leave me drained. More from an emotional and frustration level than from actual physical exertion, but stress is tiring.

The stress from work of course carries over into my regular life as well, since I’m stressed at work and thinking about it almost all of the time, this leaves little time for that thing that everyone needs, sleep. Yes, I’m a raging insomniac these days, and no matter what I do, I can’t shake it really. I take some good sleep drugs once in awhile, but I don’t want to take too much of that, especially since it makes me feel funny, which is a good and bad thing. Funny feelings good, no bad feeling hangover good, and, well, what was the bad side again? Oh yeah, the narcotic effect of some of those drugs in that they can pull you in and hook you, so I use sparingly, and only when I’ve not gotten good sleep for several nights in a row. Since I am in the realm of quality for work, bottom line, and root cause of most of my problems in life is work. Pure and simple, contribution to the problems? I stake it at 100% No doubt. Would a new job solve all of my problems? Hell no it wouldn’t, but it wouldn’t be a bad start at all. It might relieve some of the symptoms at least for a short while. And even if a new job just takes the edge off, well, I’m all for it. What I really need to do is to move out of automotive, but recruiters don’t seem to follow my line of reasoning. Why? They ask. Why do you want to get out of automotive? Well chief, have you ever worked in a quality department for a tier one automotive supplier for over 10 years? I have, and honestly, it’s starting to suck. Are there other options for me within the same company that I work for now? I don’t think so. Not that I can see. I want a little less stress, a little less workload, and the same or more money. Does this sound like an ideal situation? You bet your ass it does, and maybe somewhere I can make it work. Myself, and just about everyone else around me at work, save a few very “special” people are doing a lot more work, with a lot more hours, with a lot less resources, and everyone, I repeat, everyone is essentially and fundamentally at the breaking point now. Like I said before, exodus baby, exodus. Or as Bob Marley would say, movement of the people. Damn it, I hate it when I quote Bob Marley, I hate that reggae bullshit. Oh, and Bob, if you are listening somewhere, you should have shot the deputy too, because he’s coming at your ass for payback.

Alright, I know, stop ‘yer griping about work and do something about it already. I will try to not talk about work unless I have something good to report. Remember, the key operative word here is “try”. I can’t promise anything more than that right now.

Hockey game was on this evening. Carolina Hurricanes trying to clinch their berth in the Lord Stanley’s Cup finals against Edmonton. Of course, they blew it in overtime. Tight game. Lots of hitting on both ends of the ice, and great goaltending on both ends, but there was a powerplay, and Buffalo capitalized on it 5 minutes into overtime, so now, they’re looking at a game 7, but in Raleigh, which doesn’t really mean anything since the ‘Canes have lost in Raleigh before during the playoffs. We’ll see if they can pull it off. I hope that they can. Playing for the Cup is awesome, and to think that it might be happening in my neck of the woods. Awesome. I’d like to be able to go to a Cup game, but I don’t think that this will happen. I’m too cheap to shell out the coin to pay to get in. And I’m sure that the cheap seats are even going to be expensive of course. It’s the biggest draw the entire year for the hockey fans around the country, and from Canada. Some people will pay immense amounts of money to get into those games, and this asshole, ain’t one of them. I’d rather drop that coin on something else, although the games are a good time, it’s just that I’m not a “super fan” or have the drive to go to those games. Last game I went to for instance, I got into for free. I like me some free sporting events. Which reminds me I need to get some Durham Bulls tickets from work, also free.

Interesting fact. Today in history was the day that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake (30-May-1431). Got that off of my “This Day in History” widget. That thing comes in useful. Another useful fact, on my Birthday, Kentucky became a US State. Which stands to reason, if you can figure out when Kentucky became a State, you’d then of course know when this kid’s Birthday is. Last year’s Birthday was spent in airports between here and Maine. Don’t know what this year’s Birthday is to hold for me. I won’t be in an airport, that much I can say for sure, other than that, don’t rightly know. I suppose I’ll do a whole lot of nothing, as most people don’t know when my Birthday is around here, and that’s good. I hate being made a fuss over. Don’t like the attention, and actually most people at work have no idea when my Birthday is. When my co-worker is making a big production of her Birthday for weeks on end before it happens, I make not even a peep about mine, which is the way I like it. Some folks might have known at one point in time when my Birthday was, but they have forgotten, and I’m hoping that they don’t really find out. I’d rather have it that way honestly.

It’s fast approaching “late” again as I write this, so time to wrap it up, hit the sheets, and get some rest that I need. Last night, another case of insomnia, and many episodes of Sopranos later, I was able to get to sleep around about, oh, 2:30 or so this morning. We’re fast approaching Wednesday morning. Time to call it a day.

29 May 2006

Basso and the Giro...

Now I've been paying attention to grand tours for awhile now, probably since the time of Indurain's influence was wielded over le Tour de France. And I haven't seen such a dominating performance in a grand tour in a long time such as Ivan Basso's during the Giro this year. He THREW IT DOWN. He essentially just rode away from everyone else, and left some of the best climbers in the world in his wake. He was simply a vortex unto himself I think. Take for instance, stage 20 yesterday. Himself and Simoni (the best of the rest this year) took off up the road. When it came time to hit the final climb, Basso pulled and Armstrong, and just left Simoni gasping and trying to catch his wheel when the road went up. It was, amazing. Simoni is no slouch when it comes to going uphill either. I say that he was the best of the rest, simply because like Basso following Armstrong, Simoni was the only one who could follow Basso when the going got tough, and the roads got steep. Or at least it seemed that way to me. Someone I am worried about though is one Mr. Damiano Cunego. He showed so much promise a couple of years ago, yet, since then, he's been in nowheresville. Is it because maybe his medical program has been cut back? I still have hope for him, because he is still young, and still has plenty of time to really make something of himself. I might be overly critical, but he was hailed as the second coming really, and for one year, he lived up to that billing, but now, he's been kind of flailing and grasping for straws, and second tier wins the last couple of years. Of course, you can't take away from the man that he did win the Giro one year, and in a very impressive fashion. I'm just wondering when the rest of his brilliance is going to come about though. We can only hope.

Back to Ivan though. Dominating, totally dominating performance this year. Could he be the first rider to do the double since Pantani in 1998?? Honestly, I would like to see him win le Tour, even though my heart rests with Jan Ullrich to take it this year, and Jan did show some flashes of brilliance when he was riding the Giro this year. Namely his long course TT win during the stage race showed that Her Kaiser is still the man to beat when it comes to going to against the clock (when Armstrong isn't around of course). I could see a few people beating Ullrich in the Tour time trials, but they won't also be challenging for the overall GC that he'll be riding for. Ullrich did put a half minute into Basso in the time trial, which a couple of years ago probably would have been more like 2 minutes, but Basso has improved his time trialing ability greatly. Working with Mr. 60%, also known as Bjarne Riis, he has improved his weaknesses greatly. I'm sure that the wind tunnel work, and having the best equipment possible (Cervelo Carbon P3 is THE TT bike to have in my opinion, although the Scott Plasma looks not too bad either) has made it a little easier, but it's still a matter of how you can put the power down, and he has improved this greatly. There are not too many high mountain passes in le Tour this year, and not too many high mountain finishes, and long TTs. The problem with that is that Basso will have less chances to drop Ullrich in the hills, but Ullrich will have more chances to put time into Basso when riding against the clock. It's going to be interesting, very interesting. I would love to see Ullrich strike the first blow come July 1, and take the prologue in his full glory, and in full flight. As if to say, "Yeah, I'm a bad ass, and I'm here to crush the weak." Not like last year when Armstrong passed him during the prologue, which was the equivalent of saying, "Yep, race is over on day one. Thanks for playing." If Basso can keep it close during the prologue, or even, and I know this seems like a long shot, beat Ullrich during the prologue, the ramifications of that would ring throughout the rest of the race. I think that it is going to get interesting, really quick. Not to mention the other contenders. Landis, who I passed on during his Spring campaign, but have now come to realize that he could be more than ready, will mount a serious challenge to the throne of Tour champion. If Landis were to win, that would be 8 years in a row an American will have won the biggest bike race in the world. His climbing looks top notch right now, and his TT skills look fast. He's always been a decent time trialer, but as of late, he's been knocking them back. He didn't go to the Giro like he was going to, but that just means he's been able to recon the Tour routes, check out the major climbs, probably the time trial courses as well, and he'll have been training hard to be in top form for le Tour. If he can rally Phonak around him, and to ride for only him, he has a great shot at winning. Then there is Valverde who is strong, but still sort of a wild card himself, as he has never finished the Tour. Not yet at least. He has great climbing ability, can win a sprint, and can ride strong against the clock. He's got all the tools, now he just has to wrap his head around it, and get into the mental game. I still think he pales in comparison to Landis, Ullrich, and Basso when it comes to time trialing, but time will tell. Then again, it could all come unscrewed for any one of these guys, and then someone else will take the win. There are no lack of people lining up who would want to win the most prestigious race in the world. It's going to be a battle this year I hope, and I also hope that the race is not decided on the first mountain day like it has been in the past. Last thing we need right now is a boring Tour de France.

Regardless if it is boring or not, people will pay attention to the race come July. We'll get daily coverage of it via OLN, and that will be good, especially with the advent of TiVo, it's especially good. I'm just getting anxious for it to get started. Only another month or so away now. Just one more month...

Ah, moving...

Ah moving…

I don’t like moving, I really don’t like moving. I got a distaste for it back when I first moved down here to NC when in the first 4 years or so of living here, I moved about, oh 6 or 7 different times. The last time before this move was to move in with Doug, which lasted a good long time actually. So that was a good one, I haven’t had to move in more than 4 years. The good thing about moving though, is that when you do move a lot, you tend to pare down your worldly possessions. I have done this. It took me about 9 hours to get everything sorted and packed up and in boxes, which wasn’t bad considering I re-sorted the stuff I had already packed, threw away some stuff, gave away some other stuff, and re-packed some for the move. Once I had my stuff packed, I was able to throw it all into a pick-up truck, and transfer it all over to my new living quarters. I was able to pack the truck, unload the truck, and bring everything into the new house in about, oh, less than 2 hours. That’s not bad if you ask me. Now, the fiancé’s stuff, that was a horse of a different color.

The fiancé has lived in the same location for quite some time as well, and in her living there she was acquired a substantial amount of “stuff” which was both bad and good. Bad because that was a lot of stuff that I had to haul, with the help of the The Chad, up and down the stairs of the house we’re moving into. See, the house we moved into, she was living in the basement portion of the house, and we took the upstairs portion that had been formerly occupied by a dirty hippy, and a large fuzzy dog, but I digress about that. The good part about her having all of this stuff was that the stuff that she had, I didn’t have, so that worked out well, in the sense that we don’t really need to purchase anything new. She has plenty of plates, cups, glasses, kitchen utensils, and so on. Again, the bad thing about this, myself and The Chad had to move it all. Which to transfer it from downstairs to upstairs took on the order of 5 or 6 hours, on the hottest day of the year so far. It was sweaty and dirty work. The fiancé was at a conference this weekend, so she missed the moving and going up and down the stairs portion of the move, but since The Chad helped out, it brought levity and humor to the situation. If I had done it myself, there would have been one disgruntled employee by the end of the day, but instead, it was an OK situation. Sure, it was work, and a lot of it, but we were able to cut up, joke about it, and sort of bitch and complain a little bit, but overall, we had not too bad of a time of it. It was definitely a work out, and by the end of the schlepping, I was worn out. The legs and arms felt like jelly, and the head was pounding. Of course, once the moving portion was done, the unpacking portion then began.

Unpacking took the better part of 2 days, but now, it is almost done. Sure, there are a few more things to put away, some pictures to hang, and some furniture to move in (when we get it), but for the most part, the major trials and tribulations are done. I worked at putting together the “office” portion of the house, and putting away my stuff, and clothes, and finding places for storage of other things. The fiancé set up the kitchen and other various places within the house, and sorted everything out there. I think we worked well together to get it done, even though she had to pack up some more clothes and other stuff, and head off to Ohio for another conference. Sure, she had just gotten back, and we have only spent one night together in our house, but she had to pack up and head back out. This time, driving to her conference. Ugg… That’s a strong desire to get to where she was going that’s for sure. It was about an 8 hour drive or so from here to Columbus, which isn’t too bad, unless you’ve been working all morning long unpacking your kitchen items, getting some breakfast, and then scrambling around to get everything together for the conference that you’re presenting at. It was unenviable that’s for sure. I’m just glad that she made it there without incident, and then she got checked into her assigned dorm room. I’m impressed with her endurance on that front. Amazing stuff right there. I’m just glad that it was her, and not me. I wouldn’t have made it. I would have had to stop and sleep somewhere on the side of the road for a few hours if I had made that drive.

So yes, indeed, the fiancé and myself, we’re what you would call “shacking up”. Or, that’s what some people would call it. I would call it living with the person I love and am going to spend the rest of my life with, so I’m more than OK with it. Sure, The Chad tried to talk me out of it, but he mentioned that with a caveat. That being, “You shouldn’t take my advice on just about anything.” Hey, I’ll get some cooking tips from him, but yeah, when it comes to living with the fiancé, I’ll just trust myself on that one.

The bad thing about moving is that I’ve had to give up “The Big TV”. Those of you that have been to my house, know exactly what I’m talking about. I have gone from world of boy toys, to a world of where I have to start stocking up on them myself. It was good living with Doug since he had all of the toys that I wanted, except I didn’t have to purchase them. He already had them, or obtained them during the time that I lived there. Now that’s something that nobody could complain about. Although I will say, we have this fireplace, and above the fireplace is a big blank wall with nothing on it. Behind it, there is a large window. The space above the fireplace is perfect for a flat screen TV in the 42-60 inch range of things. Since my Birthday is coming up, and if you are still thinking about something you can get for me, think about a nice flat panel 60 inch TV for my living room. Is it expensive? Sure. But if purchased for me, you will be more than welcome to come on over and watch it anytime you want, even when I’m not here. I’ll leave a key outside for you. It would be sweet. If you come over and check out the new pad, you’ll know what I mean. I don’t think that it is in the cards though, as I just don’t have it like that as far as funds go, but if I did, you know I’d be over at Best Buy today, purchasing said TV, and would have it installed today. Maybe when I win the lottery, which will be starting here soon. Yes, we have the scratch tickets, but I’m waiting for the big powerball stuff to come on through, then I’ll start playing. I know the chances of winning are slim and none, but hey, you can’t win if you don’t play right? A few dollars per week can’t hurt too bad.

Well, time to run some errands, pick a few things up, and get out of the house for the morning. Maybe go over to the bookstore so I can take advantage of their free internet services, since we don’t have ours installed yet (or cable for that matter). We’ll be getting the hook up this week, on Friday. Soon, we’ll be ready to roll again. Internet, cable, and phone, all bundled into one package, which doesn’t seem so bad actually. See, it’s been so long that I’ve had to actually subscribe to these services, I don’t know the deals anymore. In 2001 when I moved into a house in Chapel Hill, the women I moved in with already had the services installed and operating. Same thing for when I moved in with Doug. Not so with this house, but that’s OK. Getting through 5 years without having to subscribe to these services, that’s not bad really. Not too bad at all.

Oh, and I have to send out the following messages while I’m at it.

1. Happy Memorial Day. To all veterans out there, thanks for your service to us and the country.
2. Happy Anniversary to Kelly and Doug. 1 year already.
3. Happy Birthday Adrienne. Hope you’re having a good one.

That’s it for now.

16 May 2006

Vegas, part deux...

Sunday in Vegas, we had a good day I’d say. Busy, but good, no, make that great.

Started off with another stellar buffet for breakfast, and this one was cheap actually. $13 for some outstanding food. You name it, they had it for breakfast there. Made to order omelets, crepes, blintzes, pastries, flaky buttery croissants, eggs, bacon, sausages, fruit, salmon, capers, and many other delicious treats were to be found at this place. And, to top it all off, since we slept so much the day before, we beat all of the crowds to the joint, and got in pretty easily. Once we were stuffed, we took off for the day to explore other parts of the Strip that we hadn’t seen yet.

Moved South down the road to check out New York – New York, mostly because we wanted to ride the roller coaster there. In Vegas, they put in a new monorail system, with no charge to the taxpayers (I’m sure that the casinos paid for it because it stops at all of the major ones, and you have to walk through them to get to it, and you have to walk through them when you get off of it), and for $15/day you can ride all you want, we being fans of the mass and rapid transit systems of the world decided that indeed, that would be much better than walking all the way down the strip when it’s 100 degrees outside. Even with the monorail, there was still plenty o’ walking to be had, so much so, I probably should have been wearing the old running the shoes the entire time, of course, me being me, I decided to wear flip flops, which by the end of last night were tending to hurt my feet a touch. But anyway, we made it eventually to New York – New York, and made our way to the roller coaster which winds itself around the outside of the casino, and whips and loops, and drops and swoops, in other words, it was a pretty kick ass roller coaster, and I’ve been on a few of them in my time after all. The first drop on that thing was pretty sweet. Nice steep climb going up, and a long steep drop coming down the back side. Corkscrews, loops, and all sorts of other good stuff. It was actually a pretty rough ride even for a steel coaster, but it still kicked ass. I love me some roller coasters. I think that the fiancé and I need to head down to Tampa (her hometown) in the near future to spend some quality time at Busch Gardens and ride the roller coasters there. I forgot almost really how much I liked riding those things.

Post coaster whiplash, we headed back North on the Strip, but first we walked through the MGM Grand, and we were in luck, they had the lions out in their little habitat. Essentially, 3 lady lionesses sitting in the enclosure, basking in the sun, sitting around for “the people” doing some performance stuff. Meaning their handlers were tossing balls at them, and they were swatting them around, without moving too much. From what I’ve read about lions, they were behaving as normal. Sitting around, basking in the warm sun, not paying too much attention to anything other than their leisure time. Of course, they being lions, and we being people, they were mobbed and the star attraction, think Mr. Alex from Madagascar (if you’ve seen it). Then again, there were no other animals around, but they were just cool to see, since it’s not really often that you get to see such huge powerful animals so close. Which reminds me about the Carnivore Preservation Trust out in Pittsboro North Carolina, and I need to go out there and see the big cats that they have hanging around out there, which I hear is a lot of them. Something about big oversized cats is cool, even though they could tear your head off with a smooth swipe of their paw, but hey, that’s why they’re top predators right? Heading back towards our stomping grounds of Ballys and Paris we decided that it was time to take the open container laws of Las Vegas into account and more seriously. Large frozen drinks in hand, ice cream headaches on board, we were hammering back Margaritas and Pina Colodas in fine fashion while riding back on the monorail, and I mean, those things were big drinks. They were the plastic yards of frozen drinks, which on a hot day in Las Vegas tasted pretty good. The downside, the alcohol of course all pooled at the bottom, and before you finished, it was more of a slushy than anything else. When the contents were emptied though, it was hard core alcohol time. And that shit hit like a ton o’ bricks.

Somewhere in our thought process, we thought it a good idea to go to Circus-Circus to ride the roller coaster there, as we had heard that that coaster was pretty good as well. Looking at our old reliable monorail map, it said take a few stops North on the Strip, get off at the Hilton (were Barry Manilow resides and performs – talk about some cheese). Looking at the map, it looked like Circus-Circus was “right there”. Walking outside of the largest Hilton Hotel I’ve ever seen, it was nowhere near there. It looked like it was a mile away, so we being sort of drunk and sort of not wanting to walk that far just to ride a roller coaster, hopped back on the train, came back to the hotel, changed into the old swimsuits, and went back to the pool for more sun, and more large drinks with large amounts of alcohol in them. More swimming. More drinking. Ah, the good life right there.

Now, we were getting ready to head off to see the show that we had gotten tickets for. The Blue Man Group. Yes, I know you’re thinking, man that is some pure crap right there. But seriously, you’ve got to see it. This show honestly kicks ass. It’s funny. It’s different. It’s good a beat you can dance to, and best of all, it’s very different. Essentially it’s a few guys with blue masks on, with a kick ass backing band consisting mostly of a lot of percussion doing some performance art, that really isn’t performance art at all, but more of a stand up act with little or no words, well, at least coming from the guys wearing the Blue stuff. They don’t talk, but play a bunch of different percussion instruments made mostly from PVC tubing and other normal everyday stuff. There’s a bunch of audience participation, and the finale consists of a lot of paper being streamed over the crowd to a very loud and hard techno beat. The light show is good, and the show in general was just awesome. If you ever have a chance of checking it out live, do it, just do it, and don’t ask questions about it. You’ll like it. Only the most jaded of us out there wouldn’t like this show. The audience was filled with people of all ages, colors, and creeds, and the place was going nuts at the end. Although, there was a woman sitting next to me who asked the small child sitting in front of her to sit down, well, she asked his mother. Which, even if that had been me, as much as I don’t like kids, this little kid was getting into it. He was bouncing up and down, yelling a little bit, dancing around, having a great time, and this old fuddy duddy behind him rained on his parade just because he was bouncing into her view every once in awhile. I mean, this kid couldn’t have been more than say, 4 or 5, maybe 6. Give the kid a break. There is a good beat, there are funny guys in blue masks, and he’s having a good time. Other than that though, as far as I could tell, all was well, and everyone was having a great time in there.

We cruised around the Venetian after the show was over, and checked that place out. It was amazing really. The place looked like the pictures I’ve seen of Venice before. The canals, the streets, almost everything. It was amazing in there. I got some good pictures. Lots of fake frescoes, fountains, and other neat looking stuff in there. I like how they painted the ceilings as well, and lighted them, they made it look sort of early morning, or late afternoon, where the skies are still blue, but the sun is starting to go down, and if you don’t look too close, the clouds look like they’re moving in the fake skies. They’re not, but they do look like it, sort of. Post Venetian, we came back, the fiancé was tired, and a little worn out from having the hiccups, and from a migraine headache that was coming on, so we headed back to the room, hung out for awhile, and then she went to bed, I went to gamble some more of my money away. Yeah, I’m not good at gambling, so I think I’ll just not do it anymore. It is kind of fun though, as long as you know where to draw the line I think. I think I know where to draw it, as when I start taking an ass kicking, I just stop and walk away. Which is better methinks. Lose a little bit of money instead of a lot. Much better of course. It is fun to play though. I could see how it would be addicting to some people for sure. I remember being in high school playing cards with my friends for hours on end on a Saturday night at the house. Sure, we were playing for quarters, which was still a good time, and when a bad night of gambling meant losing say, $10, maybe $15 if you really took a beating. Good times. Good times.

Me, once again, being a raging insomniac from way back, decided that instead of being able to fall asleep on Sunday night / Monday morning, it was time to lay awake and look at the dark ceiling in the hotel room, and listen to the hotel elevator go up, and then down, and then up again, and then down again. Knowing almost immediately that I wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon, I got dressed again, threw the shoes back on, and went wandering around our little section of the Strip where we were staying. Walked over to the Bellagio which is right across the street from where we are, waited for the fountain show, but after waiting awhile, I decided that it was probably not going to happen since it was sort of late. Got some good pictures of where we’re staying, the joint across the street from us, Barbary Coast, which has some good old fashioned flashing lights stuff going on, and then over to Caesars again to walk around there, and get some more pictures of the fake sculptures, fountains, and things like that they have tossed all over the place over there. The reproductions of the art that they have over there is really incredible if you ask me. Whoever did the castings of those things knew what they were doing. They looked like they should have somewhere on the streets of Rome, or in the museums over there. After wandering around there for a bit, I got caught on the moving walkways heading back towards Ballys behind what I like to refer to as “annoying girls”. Girls, and make no mistake about it, they were girls, who were most likely not much older than 21, who had come to Vegas for a good time, and were now heading home from clubbing, because, they couldn’t get in. Ha! This is funny to me. They got all dressed up, put on their best sorority girl wear, and they still wouldn’t let them into the club. How do I know this? Well, I got stuck behind them on the people mover walkway thingies, so I know. I heard them gripe and complain about it the entire way back to Ballys. What I wanted to do was to throw something at them, but I didn’t. There was a lot of “woo-hooing” going on though on the way back as well. As well as just about any guy who passed them was checking them out and undressing them as they all walked by. It was pretty amusing to see actually from my perspective of a few feet back. These flock of girls approach, boys approaching from the opposite angle, they cross, and the guys just keep gaping, making rude ass comments, and the girls just keep on walking. Do they hear this stuff? I’m betting that they do, and just brush it off, which is something I can respect, at least just a little bit. They were still annoying though. I hope that I wasn’t that annoying when I was aged 21-26.

Anyway, I kept walking around different casinos for about 2 hours before I decided to head back to the room to try and sleep some more. I finally got to sleep around 3 or so in the morning, maybe it was closer to 4, I don’t know. We were supposed to take off and go ride ATVs in the desert this morning, but my fiancé had a severe migraine this morning, so we had to knock that trip off the schedule, which is OK. A major headache, and a turny stomach, not good things to have when you’re riding 4 wheelers in the desert outside of Las Vegas, so we bagged the trip. Maybe next time we can get that one in there. Overall, we have crammed a lot of stuff into a very few short days really, and we’ve had a really good time doing it, that’s for sure. I think maybe we’ll be back, but next time, we’ll stay at one of the nicer and or newer hotels I think, like Caesars or something like that. Ballys is a good place to stay on the cheap though, and the location, couldn’t be better. It is front and center to most of the larger places and better known places around here. Like I said before, the Bellagio is directly across the street, Caesars is off to the left just a little bit, the Flamingo is right nearby, the Rio is a short walk through Caesars, and just about everything else is a short tram ride away, and Ballys has its own tram station, so it all worked out for the best. I think when this placed opened, like 30 some odd years ago, sure, it was top notch then, but times have changed of course, and it’s not the top o’ the heap anymore. Although, it is what I would call adequate. I could use a less noisy room, but now, the moving elevators sound more like distant thunder than, well, elevators, and that, I can sleep with.

We’re heading back tomorrow, and then back to work on Wednesday. I mean, I can hardly wait… Yeah, right.

Vegas, the arrival...

Vegas, days one and or two, and three. Got to say, at first, I was more than a little disappointed. Here is the list of things that happened on day one as far as I can tell…

1. It’s hot. This is a given of course for the mere fact that Vegas is in the desert.

2. Room check in took about 15 minutes, and then the woman who checked us in didn’t give very good directions as to where everything was, like, the elevators.

3. We were assigned a handicapped room, which all and of itself is not too bad of a thing, except for the fact again, that the shower tends to spray water all over the bathroom floor, since there is nothing there to keep it inside the shower area.

4, The handicapped room is closest to the elevator, which means, all day, and all night, the elevator can be heard through the wall of our room. This, I have gotten used to in just a couple of days though.

5. During our first night in-house, there was a false fire alarm. And fire alarms here for some reason tend to talk to you, in a very loud voice. The jury is still out, if you ask me, on whether or not this is a good thing, or an improvement to the normal flashing lights and loud klaxon that normally accompanies fire alarms. But if you’re in a place you’ve never been before, and it’s 4 in the morning, yeah, it’s kind of freaky.

6. Then something simple comes along. Such as, the door lock to your room doesn’t want to work too well. Allegedly, you insert your key card, and a green light flashes, and the door pops open. Those of you who have stayed in a hotel before know the drill. Here though, insert key card about 15-30 times, and THEN the door pops open. Yeah, we can still get into our room but what a pain in the arse that is.

7. The TV is fuzzy. Just about every channel on there has some sort of interference with the reception of the channel. It’s like we have bunny ears on the back of this rig or something like that. I thought cable TV was supposed to eliminate issues such as this?

Other than the above mentioned items though, it’s been a hoot thus far.

After we got through the crazy check in thing, and found our room, it was immediately to the pool and large drinks in each of our hands, which was nice. There is something to be said about large drinks and laying by the pool, normally not my bag, but this was nice. The water was of course, nice as could be expected in the pool and all. Swam a couple of laps, actually very few laps, and then we were back to the room to shower, and then to take in what is classic Vegas. A buffet dinner. The buffet was not your run of the mill Golden Corral affair as most of us in the South now all about. The good was pretty good quality, and tasty, it’s just that there was too much of it. Good desserts. Good chow. Good booze. And then we got to gamble. After observing a few hands of blackjack on the casino floor, we decided to sit down and have a shot at it. The fiancé, almost immediately, doubled her money, and then went back to the room to have some well deserved sleep after traveling all day. I decided to stay a little longer, like 3 more hours longer, and played for a good part of the night. I only ended up losing like $30 or so, at least on the first day. We won’t talk about the other days, for now.

The town is of course, as one would expect extremely cheesy, but I love cheese. The fiancé and I walked around the Forum Shops over at Caesar’s Palace yesterday for what seemed like a couple of days. Think, mall, except bigger and larger, and more excessive in everything. There were fountains every 10 feet or so with huge ass fake sculptures that sort of looked real, and then there was the loss of Atlantis show that we say. Fire, animatronics, loud stuff, explosions, and all of that stuff, and get this, yeah, it was free. Good stuff seeing the kids of Atlantis battle it out between themselves. Of course, there was an audience interaction thing going on. Vote with your voices who you think should run the town of Atlantis. At the end though, no matter if you voted for the Viking looking woman, or the metro sexual prince, they both lost, and the place was sucked back down into the fountain from whence it came. As a sort of sad side note to that. Sitting just 10 feet away from this spectacle was the best hitter baseball ever produced, Pete Rose (OK, well Ted Williams was the best hitter ever, whereas Pete Rose had the most hits ever, but you know what I mean here). Although, the line to get his autograph was huge, Rose will forever be related by his gambling problem he had. Ironic that a man who had a gambling problem is now sitting in the middle of one of the biggest casinos in the world signing autographs for money. Sure the man belongs in the Hall of Fame, but he’ll never get there. It’s too bad, that just one issue, or one problem can get a man banned from the sport he gave his entire life to, he can never again participate in. I guess you make your bed, you have to lie in it. Right?

After getting back from the Forum, we decided to take a little nap, which turned into a long nap, which turned into just staying in on Saturday night. Hey, we were tired, well, I was exhausted since I didn’t get to sleep very much or at all Friday night / Saturday morning (even on vacation insomnia rules my life I think). I slept, a lot, which of course led to more not sleeping on Sunday night, which is another story.

And here we go with some pictures that I took whilst out here. Enjoy...

08 May 2006

Jerm's bachelor party...

In a one word description, awesome.

Those of you who went, you know what I'm talking about.

Those of you who wimped out, and didn't even show up for the "pre" party, you missed out. This list would include, but not be limited to the following people:


Those were the key missing figures. You missed out boys, you missed out.

This party had all the elements of the great bachelor parties. Lots of booze, lots of good people, debauchery, naked dancing girls, and of course silly string. Suffice to say, I won't go into details because what happens in Greensboro stays in Greensboro (at least on this special occassion). Now, I'm off to work, which of course will be nothing short of being a pure downer for the rest of the week.

06 May 2006

And now for the Giro d'Italia...

Yeah, it's that time of the year again. The Giro is upon us folks. That means Italians lining mountain roads, drinking too much wine, eating tons o' cheese, and waiting for their heroes to fly by on bicycles on their way to possibly ultimate victory. Unlike the Tour de France, which the French haven't won since the days of Bernard Hinnault, the Italians have won the Giro a lot. Something like 60+ times in its over 80 runnings over the years, that's a pretty good track record. It, like the Vuelta in the fall, seems to bring out the nationalistic pride in the guys riding it. Most Italians would prefer winning the Giro to just about any other race out there over the remainder of the season. Just like the Spanish guys would love to win la Vuelta. It was knock down drag out last year, and I think this year's route will prove to be treacherous and of course hard as all get out. They are sending them up into the mountain roads that turn into goat paths near the top, dirt, gravel, and steep grades. I think we'll see some guys walking at some points in time on these high roads. When you have pro cyclists talking about running a 27 or a 29 toothed cog in their rear cassette, that means the shit is going to hit the fan. Couple that with a compact crankset up front, yeah, it all equals pain for those boys. And those are the good climbers. Then you have everyone else that has to pedal through that crap as well. I think we'll see a high rate of attrition on that day, namely, most of the sprinters are going to bail out, and let the rest of the GC guys have at it. Even as I write this now, they are running the prologue for the Giro.

I've got to go with the Giro being my favorite race, just more for the scenery than anything else, well, and the racing has been very animated the last few years as well. Skinny Italian guys trying to kick each other in the teeth while riding up these roads is an amazing thing to watch. Attack after attack, last year, it was unpredictable at best, and we had a semi surprise winner in Paolo Salvodelli, who essentially went there with Discovery without hardly any support, and yet, he dug in, and ended up winning. It was an amazing ride, and he's looking in good form. There are too many high mountain passes though for him this year I think, and this could prove to be difficult for him I think. The climbing specialists, will have a field day in the mountains this year, and once they drop the others, I don't think they'll be looking back. As I said before, it's going to be knock down and drag out. I can't wait. I'm pulling for Mr. Bassoto take the win, more because I would love to see someone take the double this year, the Giro and le Tour. It hasn't been done since Marco did it back in 1998, so here is hoping that something like that could come about. It's getting harder in these days of specializing, but if anyone could do it, it could be Basso. He's got the tools for the most part, and his time trialing has come along very nicely, but le Tour's route this year is less climbing, more time trialing, so he might be at a loss there. Which then plays into Jan's hands, and also, be on the lookout for Mr. Floyd Landis of the US this year in the Tour. With more time trialing, I still think he's an outside shot at taking the win, mostly because his time trialing, thus far this year, has been pretty damn good. Regardless, it's going to be a good grand tour season this year.

In other news, for those of you who have been following my lack of riding, and the reasons behind it this year (namely the cyst growing in the old sensitive region of my undercarriage) I had another doctor's appointment this past week, and indeed, it's still there. Like I didn't know this. It has gotten smaller, best I can tell, but it's going to have to come out, which means, someone is going to have to cut it out. Me, not having serious skills as a surgeon have decided that it's a better bet for someone else with the proper training to do that. I'll go get a consult next week for having it removed. Which could get me back on the bike just in time for cross season. But wait. I don't have a cross bike, so never mind. It'll get me back on the bike just in time for the off season, and just in time to maybe get strong again, and make another run at racing these things we call bikes. I am missing it this year. What can you do though? I have a feeling even if I were completely healthy, work would be a big block in getting to train properly, and to ride, as things there have gotten crazy again. People getting yelled at, managers stressed way the hell out, the plant manager looking hard to fire someone on the leadership team to make a name for himself, and just a general feeling of crappiness pervades the workspace on a daily basis. Now look. I know we don't go to work to have fun, well, most of us anyway, but there are times when you at least want to go to work, and like your work. The general feeling throughout our plant right now is one of ever increasing negativity. The machine operators, the staff, the managers, the HR department, just about everyone is feeling a little under the gun, and feeling like the rug could get pulled out from underneath anyone, at just about any point in time. It's no longer a good place to work really, it has become somewhere we have to go because we need to pay the bills. The comment I most often here is that if someone were to get fired, they wouldn't even care at this point in time. Which says a lot actually. It says to me that people are ever more not caring about what happens at their workplace, and that indeed, they are doing enough to not get fired, but trying to do not too much extra. In an environment like that, it's going to fail miserably, very soon. Our leadership and our managers are scared of their boss, and don't want to ever actually tell him the truth of situations. And to maybe tell him negative things. I've been in meetings where I've been asked a direct question from the plant manager, given him the answer that I know to be true, and then have been reprimanded for it later on in the day by my boss, because it makes her "look bad", which the answers I gave really didn't, but in her mind, it did. It's starting to border on the insane, and everyone is playing the good old game of CYA (cover your ass), which means that they're not doing what might be best for the business, or for the company, but they're trying to do what would be best for themselves, and covering their ass so that they don't get fired. Which, means that a lot of innocent people have been getting tossed into oncoming traffic for no other reason than their bosses don't want to look bad. It's happened to me, and I'm sure it will continue to happen. When you walk into the place in the morning, you can feel the bad vibes in the office environment. It hangs over everything like a thick haze. It's just no good. Got to get out of the place. Sure, I've said this before mostly because I was just being worked to death, but now, it's just getting unhealthy. Everyone is tired. Everyone is stressed. It's just no good.