Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don't deliver to an intoxicated person

So Karin and I ordered some wine recently from wine.com (they had a sale we just couldn't refuse) which arrived today. On the label was the following:


I grok why they would want someone at least 21 years old, and why they don't want to simply leave the package.

What Karin and I really love is the "Do not deliver to an intoxicated person".

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Five

Another week in Rogers, AR down. Once again, thanks out to Rod who entertained me for the week. No stories about sushi places attached to gas stations this week. Was pretty mundane. Don't get me wrong - mundane is a good thing at times.

My travel note of the week is a good one - I've reached the point where I'll occasionally get a bump up to first class, and this past Sunday was my first time getting the bump. Part of me thinks is cool that business has been so good that I've reached that point. The other part is bewildered by the fact that I've flown over 35,000 miles so far this year, and we're not even out of April.

I struggled to come up with a list this week. Again - hard to come up with ideas. But the nice part is it keeps me connected with the blog, and makes sure I have at least one post a week. Travel has been on my mind quite a bit lately, so here's my favorite cities to vist:

  1. One word: Vegas - Nothing else need be said.
  2. Washington, DC - Everyone should make at least one trip to our nation's capitol. There's tons to see, tons to do, and a trip there helps you reconnect with what this nation is really about, and not the divisive politics that rules the news.
  3. New York City - You feel like you're in the center of the world there. The culture, the food, the people watching, everything.
  4. San Francisco - For anyone who visits, you need to keep in mind that their idea of summer is very different than ours - bring a sweatshirt, or plan on buying one there. Anytime you see someone walking around in a fleece that says San Francisco on it, they bought it because they didn't realize how cold it was going to be in July.
  5. Thunder Bay, Ontario - This is a sentimental pick. There's nothing up there, but it was the getaway spot for Karin and I when we were living in Minnesota. We were lucky enough to get back there last summer and had a blast. And the drive up is just amazing, cruising along the north side of Lake Superior.

Strange Stats

Entering Thursday night's game, the Padres had scored 3 runs in their last 35 innings at home. I'm not quite sure what the most amazing part of that stat is - that over 4 games worth of innings they've only managed to plate 3 runners, or that those 35 innings were only 2 games (a 22 inning epic and a 13 inning quickie (in comparison)).

After Thursday's game, that number went to 44 innings, and still 3 runs.

Maybe it's time to bring the fences is a tad. Just a thought.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Five

I have to say, this is my 3rd trip to Rogers, AR and the place is starting to grow on me. I'm not saying I want to move here, but it's a cute little area. It's also growing like crazy because of WalMart being headquartered here, and the infrastructure can't keep up. It was strange getting stuck in traffic in the middle of nowhere.

And let me tell you, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport is actually bigger than you would expect. Don't get me wrong, it's not large by any imagination, but it's decent sized all things considered. The airport bar is nice because they have a departures screen up so I can track my flight, and they play the airport announcements inside. Very slick.

This week was nice because I had someone to hang out with this week. The MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) community is rather tight knit all things considered, and there are MCT's scattered all through the nation. Quite often I can get together with someone. There's a trainer (Rod) who moved out here to take a job with Microsoft (supporting WalMart). He's a bachelor at the moment (fam will move out when their house sells (sound familiar?)).

Rod was kind enough to entertain me all week, and show me some of the local flavor. We went to a local sushi place that was attached to a gas station. Rod insists that I say the Shell station as that sounds better. I'm not convinced. Either way, though, the sushi was great. Yes - there is good sushi in Bentonville, AR. The chef doesn't have the widest selection being in the middle of the country and all, but he does a great job with what he has.

My travel note involves the bar at the Holiday Inn in Springdale. I often go down there as I work/study better there than locked up in the room. In any event, there was a guy next to me, very talkative, who found out I do computers. Sure as the sun rises in the East, "If I buy you a beer will you fix my computer?" I'm too polite to say no. I fix his problem in about 30 seconds. He buys me a beer, and talks my ear off for the next half hour. Let me tell you - not worth the beer.

The five this week will be a "mini-tag". Sarah "tagged" me, meaning that I'm supposed to link back to her blog, say 10 deep dark secrets about me and then tag other people. I'm not going to tag anyone, mostly because there isn't many people I know personally that blog, and those that do wouldn't appreciate it. So I figure I'll do 5 things, not tag anyone else, and call it good. (Chances are, most people who know me will know all of this already.)

  1. I used to shoplift as a young teenager. Nothing big - candy and things like that. We also used to swipe soda cases from outside the local store. I'd like to point out they'd leave the cases out overnight, so they were almost asking for it. Yes, that's justification.
  2. I screen my calls. Well, if I don't recognize the number, or it's "blocked", I'm not answering it.
  3. I've been in a handful of fights as a kid. I was 4'11", 90 pounds, and constantly picked on. Makes you a tad feisty.
  4. Up until about 10 years ago I really wanted kids. Now, I can't even imagine the concept.
  5. I once got a letter from the state of MN that my license was going to be suspended if I got one more ticket. I had received 3 (2 speeding, one rolling stop) in the span of 6 months.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Five

Boise, ID this week. I have heard that Boise is a surprisingly hip town. I can't attest to that, as I really didn't do much exploring. I had time, but me being a San Diegan, I didn't bring a coat or fleece. It was a bit cold this week, so I wasn't inclined to go roaming around "downtown". Snowed on Wednesday - about an inch of wet snow. Not much, but just enough for me to realize that I don't miss snow. The one thing I will say is they love their Boise St. Broncos here. I couldn't go 20 feet without seeing a bumper sticker, shirt, logo, etc.

My travel note involves a clueless lady on the leg from Reno to Boise. I was on a Southwest plane, in the exit row. The window seat doesn't have a seat in front of it, so the person sitting there is supposed to put their bag under the seat of the next row. Yeah, it's a little far away, but that's what your supposed to do. She puts her bag under the middle seat.

Fast forward to a little old lady getting on the plane and sitting in the middle seat, trying to figure out where to put her bag. The woman in the window is completely ignoring the plight of the old lady trying to stow her carry-on. Finally, I have to ask the clueless woman to move her bag. Seriously people - have a little common sense.

With Deadliest Catch starting on Tuesday (I love Deadliest Catch), this week will be my favorite "documentary"/reality shows.

  1. Deadliest Catch - Discovery Channel show about crab fishing on the Bering Sea. The guys who make sure I can get king crab are crazy, but I'm glad they do it.
  2. Mythbusters - Adam and Jamie have a very simple set of steps when trying to disprove a myth: 1) Run through the myth as it's written 2) If you don't get the desired results, do whatever it takes to get the desired results 3) the bigger the explosion the better. (And, yes, I have a thing for Kari)
  3. Ice Road Truckers - Watching them drive trucks over lakes frozen solid makes me appreciate where I live. There is a part of me that also wonders what it would be like to live in an area that remote - but not enough to actually move there.
  4. Fight Quest - I don't normally do fighting shows, but watching these guys get pounded on by masters of a particular discipline is very cool. (And the lady instructor in the Krav Maga episode is certifiably insane.)
  5. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy - Very simple premise - take some clueless straight guy and show him how to have a little more class. My favorite episode by far was the guy who broke this very nice martini pitcher and started muttering to himself Rain Man style, "This is why you don't buy nice things. This is why you don't buy nice things..." Priceless.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Two separate debates

This is a political post. You have been warned.

I consider myself a moderate, mostly because I come down on opposite ends of the spectrum on numerous topics. Neither of the major political parties come close to matching my beliefs. I've long since accepted this, and trend towards whichever candidate I agree with most.

But above that, I like to consider myself a realist. I understand that we don't live in a panacea, where a perfect solution exists. Every debate over every current crisis - New Orleans, Iraq, climate change, etc - is dominated by the extremes, and we see time and time again that the extremes refuse to compromise.

The immigration bill is a great example of this - it was a great piece of legislation that dealt with the problem. Was it perfect? No. But it worked to handle both sides - what do we do about the illegal immigrants currently in this country, and what do we do going forward. Alas, politics killed this.

I can think of no greater issue where the reality is being ignored than our involvement in Iraq. George Packer of the New Yorker made several observations (warning, long) about Iraq, the coverage of it, and the debate revolving around it. One great point that he makes is that before the war even started, people had drawn up sides, and those sides clouded their opinions of what happened from there on forward. And we are now left with two camps - ones that say we should have never been there and let's leave, and others that say the war is just and we need to continue to fight it.

I don't see those as the same debate. Wether we should have gone to war and wether we should leave Iraq are two completely separate debates.

If people want to debate if Saddam needed to go, if we should have gone in after him, if we lied about our pre-war intelligence, if we went in illegally, if we violated UN policy or the spirit of the UN, if the war up until now has been mismanaged, that's fine.

But none of those debates changes one very simple, cold, hard fact - The United States created the situation in Iraq.

Barak Obama put it succinctly recently in response to a John McCain speech- Al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq until we invaded. He scored some great political points, but he missed the reality of the situation.

Yes, the US did this. President Bush ordered troops into the country, and we swatted that hornet's nest, but good.

The fact of the matter is that the US responsible for the current situation in Iraq. And, as a result, we are responsible for cleaning the mess up. We cannot - must not - simply pack up and leave. To do so would put both this nation, and, arguably more importantly, Iraq at great peril.

I don't for the life of me grok the thought that if we leave the violence will cease. The government that is in place has shown no signs of being able to protect its people.

I don't for the life of me grok the thought that leaving will force the Iraqi government to step up and do what needs to be done. What has the Iraqi government shown us up to this point that they're capable of changing?

I don't for the life of me grok the thought that leaving will make this nation more secure. We will have shown the world that we are unable to follow through on a commitment. We lost in Vietnam. We lost in Somalia. And we will have lost in Iraq.

I don't for the life of me grok how leaving Iraq isn't losing the war. We went in with a stated purpose of eliminating a regime and rebuilding a nation. We will not have accomplished that task (regardless of what banners on aircraft carriers might say).

We can't abandon the Iraqi people. We can't abandon our commitment. We can't abandon the situation we created.

Now, if you'd like to debate how the war is being waged, I am willing to have that discussion. We need to go back to the UN [with our tail between our legs] and ask for their support. We need to engage every nation (including Iran) in the region and begin working towards solutions. We need to secure the borders to prevent unwanted influences.

And, above all, we must prevail. Iraq must prevail.

The alternative is frightening.

(side note - I know I just turned on "moderation" of comments. Please know that I will not kill any comment except spam - if you disagree with me (and it's PG rated) I'll still post your comment.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

General announcement

I wound up with a spam comment the other day. As a result, I enabled "moderation", which simply means I get an e-mail before a posting goes live. Please, feel free to comment. Just note that it may take a couple of hours before it shows up.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled nonsense.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Friday Five

Well, I've got to run off to a flight in 60 minutes. If you are reading this on Friday, I was able to get it posted in time. I'm trying to close off a few items and eat before I board the plane. (Editor's note: Since I am now typing on the plane, I can guarantee you you're not reading this on Friday (unless of course you're time traveling)).

This past weekend was a quick trip to Minnesota to see some friends. Was a great weekend, and a good chance to connect with everyone up there.

I know that my Friday Five recently has included a life update, anecdote about my trip or otherwise. This week it will be a bit longer than normal. You have been warned.

Today (Friday) marked a bit of a closing of a page in our (Karin and I) lives. Up until today, I've been staying in our apartment in Houston when I travel out there. I wound up reworking my contract with my Houston client, and as part of that, I gave up the apartment. That closes off the last connection that we have from the move to Houston.

Also, this is roughly the one year anniversary of Karin and I making it official that we wanted to move to Houston - even though my brother kept reminding us that they keep Houston in Texas.

Obviously, our move to Houston didn't turn out quite the way we expected. We were very confident that we could sell our house (this was literally just before the housing market cratered). We had begun house hunting in Houston, and found "our" house. (It's still available, if you're interested.) And then, we wound up moving back.

I don't "believe" in regrets. The word "regret" implies to me that it's something you wish didn't happen in the first place. I'm certainly disappointed that things didn't work out the way that we had hoped, but we couldn't be happier with the actual result.

Karin's job is now much more manageable. She went back to a manager who's not working full time, and has a reduced load. I'm "free" again, contracting and having the flexibility to "do what I want". Karin has also been able to reconnect with friends in San Diego and form a "clique" of sorts.

We've also learned quite a bit about ourselves. We learned how to "survive" on our own - we had one couple friend out here and that was it. We learned the value of friendship in general - we missed everyone in San Diego more than we can possibly express. And we learned that we are San Diegans. San Diego is where we were meant to be.

In all, while there are times that we certainly dream of the large house, yard, and white picket fence, we know we're right where we need to be.

On a side note, having the apartment in Houston was also the first time that I "lived by myself". Granted, I was only there when I was in Houston for business, but it was an apartment all to myself. I learned that if Karin were to ever leave me, I could never survive on my own. I vacuumed a collective 0 times, never shopped, and only did the bare necessities around the house. (Yeah, I'm pretty worthless.)

My travel note for the week takes me back to the Minneapolis airport. They were asking for volunteers to take a later flight and offering a voucher. I wound up taking it, and taking up station at the bar to watch both of the Elite Eight basketball games on Sunday. Also got to know the bartender, and found out she's very proud of her daughter - she's going to Tulane, and is very "brilliant" at both math and science. I wish her a very successful future.

My 5 this week was suggested by Sarah - ballparks. The only qualification I have for the list is I have to have seen a game there.[1]

  1. IMG_1047 Best ballpark - Yankee Stadium. Don't get me wrong, I hate the Yankees as much as any normal human being. But there's no denying the history of both the club and the park. This is sadly scheduled to be its last season as home to the Evil Empire, but if you have the chance you must go. If you do go, make sure you get there early so you have a chance to tour Monument Park, which has numerous plaques and other items honoring the history of the Yankees.[2]
  2. IMG_0269  Best new ballpark - PacBell SBC AT&T Park. While the name has changed twice, the park itself has remained the same. It's right on the water, and done nearly perfectly. They also have garlic fries with garlic from Gilroy that you can smell throughout the entire place. If you go, get a ticket in the upper deck behind home plate - you'll be treated with a gorgeous view of the park, bay, and McCovey Cove. (On a side note, Karin and I have only been there when it was PacBell Park.)
  3. First ballpark I saw a game at - Olympic Stadium in Montreal. As a kid, I was just jazzed to be at a game. When I got older, I realized what a hole the place is. It's cavernous, lifeless, and when there are only 2,000 fans in the park (as there were towards the end of Bud Selig's screwing over of the city) it's just atrocious. But it will always hold a special place in my heart. (Alas, I have no pictures)
  4. First ballpark in the US I saw a game in - The HHH Metrodome. Speaking of holes... The Metrodome is home to the "Dome Double" - the roof is white, which makes it difficult to see a high fly ball. On occasion, a fielder will lose track of the ball, it will hit the turf, and by the time someone gets a glove on it, the runner is on second. (Alas, I have no pictures)
  5. IMG_2331 Best atmosphere - Any Spring Training park. Small (12,000ish capacity) parks. Ample access to the players. Watching players try to make the major league club. Every baseball fan must make it to Spring Training at least once.

If you're a baseball fan, I'd love to find out your favorite park, so please feel free to comment. (Yes, this is a shameless plug for comments on my blog.)

[1]That rule excluded Fenway Park. I have been there for a concert that was hosted by Microsoft for a conference, so that doesn't IMG_0386 count. Don't get me wrong, it was an awesome experience. We had free run of the place, including food and beer. There's something very cool about being able to walk up to a booth, order 2 beers, 2 dogs and a pretzel and not have to fill out a credit application. (And the back story on the picture (which is one of my favorites - that's Whitey (friend) Abram (brother) Me (Me) Brenda (friend) on the top of the Green Monster). At the end of the night we asked someone to take a picture. The guy wanted the perfect shot, so he climbed up on a stool (putting him above the safety rail) to take the shot - one shot, and he risked his life to get it. I'm still amazed at how well it came out.)

[2]Feel free to mock how young we look in that picture, and how terrible that goatee was (and how misguided I was to actually keep it).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal

Baseball season has started.

Let me just say that again so it can settle in.

Baseball season has started.

There's something about the beginning of baseball season. Winter is coming to a close. Spring is at hand. Summer is just around the corner.

If you're lucky enough to be in one of the cities where your home team can actually compete for the title (read: not Tampa Bay or Kansas City), you have great expectations. The entire season lays before you, waiting to be written.

Now is the time to focus on the sport, and not on the scandals. Discussions of Barry and Roger are for another time.

It's comforting to have baseball back on the television. On almost every night from now until October you can find a game on.

I love football. By far it's my favorite sport. But there will always be a special place in my heart for baseball.

Play ball!