Saturday, January 28, 2006

Got work?

With my eyes crossed and looking comatose, I'm headed to Pittsburgh.

I'm finding that there's not enough time in the day lately. I took a 10 minute break from writing a document today to make a Wal-mart run. There I ran into one of my old state employee coworkers. I haven't seen her in about a year and the first thing out of her mouth was "wow, you look tired." I told her how I've been on 8 flights in two weeks. I believe her response was something to the order of "holy shit."

I think it's about time for one of those retreats out into nature again. Man, I would just love to join some expedition to somewhere and be gone for months. I'm realizing now that I should have taken my folks up on that offer to join them on their cruise to Alaska in August.

And I dare not say "maybe work will slow down", because that's grounds for dismissal in my line of work. (And saying that won't get me a nicer office either.)

During my trip to St. Louis, those two hours I got to spend on my own seeing the Arch felt like a shot of adrenaline. I felt like a prisoner who had just escaped from his cell. I knew I'd get caught and would have to eventually have to go back, but those two hours were mine.

It's kind of like that scene in The Shawshank Redemption...

You know, come to think of it, I should change this blog's name to "I bitch a lot."

I remember when I used to load heavy bags of potting soil into people's cars over the scorching hot summer. I'd come home covered in dirt and smelling like cow manure. Man, those were the days...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

It's all about the presentation

If you're like me and have no life outside of work, then you've probably seen or heard of the recent phenomenon of recutting classic movie trailers and putting a whole new spin on a movie.

This was first made popular, and was probably best accomplished, by taking the classic horror movie, The Shining, and turning it into the feel good movie of the year. The new trailer can be seen here. In fact, I believe reading somewhere that the guy responsible won an award and a nice fat job doing this as a career because it worked so well.

Another one of the better ones is taking the classic comedy, A Christmas Story, and twisting it in to a horror film. Many have tried this and some are funny. But then they had to go and mess with Top Gun. Ok, so Tom Cruise is a little on the weird side now, but back in 1986, Top Gun was a kick-ass fighter pilot movie that the guys could enjoy for the action and the women loved for the "love story".

Now, I don't think I'll ever be able to watch this movie again after seeing this. I give you Top Gun 2: Brokeback Squadron...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Death and Taxes

Other than that, nothing is certain.

It's that time of year again when we, the working class, gets our W2s, 1099-Rs and any other financial document reminding you of just exactly how much the government is keeping tabs on you.

I've never been one to be excited about doing my taxes. Not that it's that hard. In fact, it usually only takes me a few minutes because I'm single and I rent. Nothing deducted from nothing usually returns nothing. It doesn't take a rocket scientist.

However, this is the first year I had a decent job, that wasn't working for the public sector. All my friends would talk about their big tax returns and I always thought I was doing something wrong because I only got a few hundred bucks.

But now, it's different. I haven't even worked for a full year and already I've shocked myself at the return I'll be getting. And to think it'd be even more if I claimed zero exemptions. I'll admit it. I'm a little fired up. Yay capitalism!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Stabbing Westward...

  • Mt. Rushmore.
  • Washington Monument.
  • Lincoln and Jefferson Memorial.
  • D-Day Memorial.
  • Vietnam Wall.
  • Statue of Liberty.
  • And now, the St. Louis Arch.

Well, it took me 28 years, but I have managed to cross another national monument off my list. My recent trip to St. Louis was brief, and I was afraid I was going to miss an opportunity. But as luck would have it, I finished work a bit early and was able to have a few hours to myself.

First off, let me just say that this thing is HUGE. In the following pictures, anywhere you see the Arch from the outside was at LEAST three blocks away to even fit it in the frame. Massive. This shot was about 5-6 blocks away in the park surrounding the Arch.

The Arch is covered with stainless steel panels and structured with composite steel and parts of concrete in the base for support. At 630 feet tall, it is the tallest U.S. man-made national monument and the 2nd tallest national monument in the world after the Eiffel Tower.

By the way, that^, was about 3 blocks and I'm cutting off 1/4 of the bottom. For ten dollars one can hitch a pod ride to the top. And I do mean "pod". You literally ride to top in a train of 5 pod cars. As you increase the elevation, the pod train levels itself out incrementally.

At the top, tourists are presented with about 16 windows to look out over the city. It's a very uneasy feeling on windy days. And naturally, the wind was blowing like crazy on my trip. Standing still in the Arch, you could feel it sway back and forth in the wind. The park ranger informed me that it was nothing and that I should see it on "really" windy days. He also told me that the Arch is built to sway 6 inches east and west and to withstand 150 mph winds. I looked out over the city and fixed my eyes on a point directly below me. I watched as the Arch leaned over that point and back. Talk about your "holy shit" moments.

The view was quite amazing, but after a few minutes you're ready to descend. Back into the pods you go. And no one bothers to tell you that you drop descend about twice as fast as you ascend.

I took some time to walk through the museum, gift shop, theaters, and displays which are all located underground at the base of the Arch. And then I left with a great feeling of accomplishment. I could now cross off another one of those "places to see" from my list.

What's next, you may ask? I've got several more things on my list, such as the Alamo, the Space Needle and the Grand Canyon. But in reality it could possibly be the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in March. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Not going anywhere for a while?

So I'm sitting here in the Pittsburgh International Airport waiting for my flight to Baltimore that has been delayed by almost three hours, and I'm laughing at the irony because I could actually drive to Dover by the time my flight lands at BWI and I drive back home. Sad.

One can only people watch so much. One thing that surprises me is the amount of travelers that pamper themselves. I'm sitting across from an XpresSpa. Now, you don't have to tell me how stressful life can be. And you're preaching to the choir if you think I don't understand how good a massage feels. But maybe I'm weird when I say that the last place I want to get a massage, facial, mudbath, or whatever else metrosexuals get, is in a freakin airport.

But I'll be damned if that place isn't pulling in travelers one by one. And it's not just women. I've watched just about the same amount of men stop in for "the treatment" as well. Is this really necessary? I can just imagine how other countries view us as they travel through here.

I don't know about you, but I'm in an airport for one reason; to board a plane. I don't need a peticure. I don't need to do my Christmas shopping. Yes, there's a GAP in here too. It's next to the store of expensive pottery and trinkets. (another thing I wouldn't buy in an airport.)

Man, those people sure do looked relaxed though.

Ugh, another hour until my flight.

Another cramped plane seat next to some big smelly person. Then I have an hour and a half drive from Baltimore. Man, I sure could use a massage...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Snow Business

Here's a thought; Is it ever going snow this year? Seriously, this is getting rediculous. Every time I buy a 4x4, the following winter is weak and pitiful. It's 55 degrees in January, WTF? I swear, if I bought a new 4x4 each year, I'd never see snow again in my life. I swear I'm starting to believe those global warming freaks.

I'm from northern PA. Snow doesn't scare me. Where I'm from, a snowstorm wouldn't even make the local weather/news broadcast. If it didn't measure over 6 inches nobody even cared. It never fails to amaze me that Delawareans panic when it comes to snow. Expecially given that they're not that far from the massive snowfalls of PA. You'd think by now, God forbid, some of them would even learn to drive in it.

I am even further perplexed by this because there are a great deal of rednecks in this state. You know, good ol' boys. And rednecks can usually drive anything. Especially if it involves having a sticker of Calvin pissing on something. (Because we all know how powerful his urine is.)

Ok, enough venting. Back to work, then off to visit the Arch. Pics to follow.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fly like an eagle...

That's it. I'm outta here for a bit. I probably won't be posting for a few days. (As if there's some massive conglomerate that's waiting for me to post here.)

Until then, ponder this: (as seen on the Armed Technician)

The brilliant folks at Google must not be too keen on our president. I'm guessing they didn't vote Republican. Try it yourself. Perform a Google search on the word "failure" and look at the top result.

Want to bet that they get audited every year?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The story of a man and his dog...

I really hate it when people call you with the wrong number and then get all kinds of disgusted and rude when you tell them it's the wrong number like it's YOUR fault. My perpetrators usually come in the form of uneducated hicks or ebonic tongues that do nothing other than annoy me. And this is exponentially more fun when you don't have a land line and have used the SAME cell number for the past 5 years. When this happens, I'm generally still nice but there is that extreme occasion where the mood catches me right and I mess with them because they just won't drop it.

Case in point, tonight's call. The wonderful pillar of society calls my cell phone. This was our conversation:

Me: Hello
Ignorant Hick: Ah, yeah, is Angie there?
Me: No, I'm sorry you must have the wrong number.
IH: Huh? Isn't this 4567?
Me: Yes, but there's not an Angie here. Sorry man.
IH: Well, I just called THIS number 'bout an hour ago and talk to her.
Me: Well, I'm sorry, because I've had this number for over 5 years and it's assigned to my cell phone.
IH: Who is this? Let me talk to Angie. (In a rather unpleasant tone)

Now, I have two basic options: Simply hang up the phone or fire back. I've had a long day. Game on.

Me: You know what buddy, you might as well forget it, because Angie doesn't want to talk to you right now.
IH: (Getting angry) Why the hell not? Who is this?
Me: Because she's tired of your shit. This is Tyler Durden (from the movie Fight Club. It's the first thing that popped into me head).
IH: Put Angie on the G-D phone!
Me: You know what buddy? Angie is going to stay with me for a while. In fact, I have to go now because we need to finish unpacking her car and moving her stuff in. Oh, and she's taking the dog too. (I just guessed at that one. All rednecks have mutts tied out back of their houses.)
IH: Bullshit she is. I've had that G-D dog since before I knew her. He's my dog!
Me: Well, not anymore. Because tomorrow he's going to the vet to be neutered. I'm tired of him humping my leg. (At this point, I'm almost cracking up.)
IH: Look, I don't care if Angie wants to move in with you. We need a break. Tell her that's ok, but I just want my dog. (Awww. He's now gone from angry to almost being in tears about his dog. No doubt with the influence of alcohol.)
Me: So your dog means more to you than Angie?
IH: Hell yeah. She even knows that.
Me: Ok. I'll tell you what. Angie and I will talk about it tonight and we'll give you a call tomorrow. And Angie says go to bed and sleep it off. Call her when you're sober and apologize for everything. She says that's the only way you're getting him back.
IH: Ok man. Be good to him.
Me: I will. Later

That just goes to show you how nothing comes between a man and his dog.

See there. Now with any luck this fool will call this Angie person and apologize for whatever he did and everyone will live happily ever after. I swear, I'm like the Batman of the telecom industry.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The St. Louis "Blues"

Next stop on my whirlwind tour of the U.S. is St. Louis. Well, actually that's a lie. My next stop is Jackson, MS (again), then I'm off to St. Louis.

I'm not going to lie. The only reason I was looking forward to going was because I've always wanted to tour the Archway. Call me a nerd, but I watch the Discovery/History Channel just to learn how and why things like this are built.

My only problem is, that being the winter season, the Arch closes down at 6pm. And that may prevent me from traveling to the top. That just plain sucks. Ever since I was little, I wanted to go up in that arch. This damn work thing is screwing up my sight seeing.

But nevertheless, I'm 95% sure I can at least go there and take some photos of the outside. I guess for now I'll just have to fake it and lie to my family by photoshopping myself in to this guy's vacation. It's nice to see that some other fine Dover resident made it to the top...

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Oranges: the secret to youth.

This morning I watched the end to the undisputed best college football game ever. It may not have been the prettiest or the cleanest, but as a fan, you couldn't ask for more.

It's not every year my alma mater gets to play in the 2nd best BCS game in the country. In fact, this year was unexpected and earned. And any true PSU fan has been there through the ups and downs. This was a year of redemption. For fans, for players, and for a man that has run one of the most honorable collegiate football programs in the country. For a man who has given back more to Penn State than any one else. For someone I once had a short conversation with but was left with a memory that will last my lifetime.

Joe Paterno lives in a medium size house in a normal residential neighborhood in State College, PA. Oh, sure, he could have a mansion. He could live the elite life. But that's not JoePa. He's a humble man. Across the street from JoePa's house is a nice park. It's never busy and there's rarely anyone there.

When I was in school I used to go for runs past that park and down the trails. I ran in to JoePa one day during a run. He was out going for a walk. I stopped and said hello. He said "hey there". I told him it was nice to meet him and thanked him for all he's done for the school. (At the time, they were adding on to the Paterno Library via his donations). He asked me my name and what my major was. I always hated answering that question because, at the time, I hadn't figured out what I wanted to do with my life yet, so I was undeclared.

In the most sincerest manner, and far better than any advisor or guidance counselor, JoePa said: "Well, if you can do it, keep looking at all your options and don't just settle. You'll learn a lot of things here, but the most important will be who you are. And from there you know exactly what you want to do."

The man is my Yoda.

I followed his advice and changed majors five times. I dabbled in many different disciplines, from marketing and computer science, to mircobiology and business administration, until I found one that fit me. And I wouldn't change a thing.

So my hat is off to JoePa. It's nice to see the good guy win once in a while. And it's nice to see a school that actually has football players that can read win a title.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

All good things have sequels...

Like they said in the movie Terminator, "I'll be back..." or as they said in Star Wars Ep. 1, "There are always two; a master and an apprentice."

Well, ever since Episode 1 of the mouse fiasco I've been very anal about keeping my place clean. Not that I was a dirty person, but it freaked me out a little.

So I was cleaning again today and I notice some tiny mouse droppings under my wine rack next to the stove. New. Fresh. Ugh. And the CSI inside of me said those were not there the last time I cleaned just before my Xmas trip.

Long story short, it's a good thing they sell mouse traps in pairs because the second one got a workout tonight. I'll spare you the pictures this time. But I will say that this one fought harder than the last. And like all good sequels, it's got me fired up for a trilogy!

Ok, not really.

But I am asking myself at what point is this going to get totally out of hand? What if there's a horde of thousands under my building? And what if they get pissed off I'm sniping them one by one and they gang kill me in my sleep? I don't have life insurance to cover that!

Seriously though, when do I draw the line? It's not my responsibility to deal with this. I don't mean to sound like a prick but that's why I pay to live in an apartment and not a house. So I don't have to deal with this. I pay someone else to.

All I know is Del 2, Mice 0. That the best you got?

Editors Note: This is not the first criter I've dealt with here. Two summers ago I found this outside my door and almost stepped on it.

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And they say Dover is boring...