Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Reader Email(4)

Time to get caught up on reader email.

Cheryl M. from St.Louis wants to know why I switched to blogspot from Mainly, it was due to a sea change at that site. Some of their policy changes did not sit well with me and they were more restrictive with published content and wanted to start charging me $$ for previously free services. In fact, last I checked, they were shut down. I did save most of my old posts, but am not anxious to put them up here at blogspot. I might post them later at one of my own sites. I will update everyone if and when I do.

Alan D. from Richardson TX blasts me for a blog entry written last year. "Hey you jug-eared jackass! Next time you open your trap about Liverpool FC, you better get your facts straight. It was Steven Gerrard, not Pepe Reina who forced the extra-time against West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup Final." Alan, you are absolutely correct. I had to listen to that game on Internet radio as my cable provider didn't carry the game and I didn't feel like going to Fado to watch it. Had I watched it, the images of Gerrard would have been more ingrained. Reina had a great game and I had assumed it was he who scored that miraculous goal.

Andreas R. from San Antonio. Thanks for the kind words, Andreas, Andreas wants to know what was the last really great wine I had that just buckled my knees. Well Andreas, it has been a while since I have had a wine that really knocked me out. One of the more memorable wines from last year was a Chateau Montelena Estate Zinfandel 2004. I was in the home of a fairly prominent Austin attorney at a dinner party and this wine was served with our meal. Looking back on my notes from that evening, I noted that it was a darker than usual Zin with beautiful nose with hints of strawberry candy and burnt pine cone. It really explodes on the palate. After it was sitting in my glass for 20 minutes, I then noticed a black raspberry component on the mid-palate; little hints of black pepper. This complimented the meal of roast duck and chick peas quite beautifully. I maintain that this wine would also be sutiable by itself or with a chocolate bar. Highly recommend, but I could never find a bottle.

Karen A. from Carlsbad (didn't get if that was New Mexico or California) asks if I still have Luke as I haven't mentioned him in some time. Karen, Luke is indeed still with us. He developed arthritis in November and can't get out as much, but doing well nonetheless. Here's a nice shot of him. Thanks for asking.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cafe Hijinks

Another potentially wonderful weekend crushed by Fortuna.

Friday around 1:30, I head down to the lone cafe in our building for a late lunch. It is a decent size establishment with some exotic items on the menu as well as American favorites. The owner is is Russian and the head cook is Cuban and they have a wonderful Jerk Chicken sandwich. Виктор (I call him Vic) talks me into trying the Friday lunch special. I honestly forgot the name of the dish, but it's main ingredients are Mexican ham and oysters tucked inside a pita pocket.

After ordering at the counter, I find a seat in the spacious cafe and began reading a newspaper left behind by the previous diner. A few minutes into a riveting article on Kevin Keegan (it was London paper), I looked up and saw Angela.

Angela and I worked in the same organization at Dell eight years ago. For a few months, we sat across the aisle from each other (cubicle city) and we were pretty friendly with each other as well, but nothing more than flirting, as she was married. I lost track of her after I was laid off (February 15th, 2001 @ 10:32 AM) and I think I saw her once since then at Dave and Busters.

I invite her to join me at my table and we catch up on each others lives. She now works on the 2nd floor of my building for a mortgage broker AND she is no longer married. The conversation flows easily as I get caught up in an excursive diatribe, as I am want to do when excessively stimulated by a female. Before we realize it, its 3:00 and Виктор wants to close his cafe.

Angela rather easily talks me into ditching work and finding a bar to continue our reunion, of sorts. After clearing it with her boss, Angela and I meet at the Jollyville Tavern. Once again, I am forsaking my vow of sobriety in this month of January. She orders two Grey Goose martinis while I am in the restroom. Long time readers will recall my preference is for bourbon, but what the heck!

Midway through the cocktail, I feel an uncertain rumbling and tremor in my body. Then it became very certain as I staggered and tripped my way back to the men's room, vomit spewing from my mouth and nose.

What is it about Mexican ham, oysters and vodka that would cause that? I cradled the crusty commode for several minutes before I was able to get up. And then, a repeat performance. And another.

I then am finally able to leave the bathroom and return to the bar. Angela is gone. I look up at the clock behind the bartender and see its nearly 5:00. I was in there over an hour. I manage to make it back home and go to bed.

I woke up the next day (Saturday) and felt much better, but had to work all day to get caught up on the work I avoided Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Road

I might be embarking on a new career with my company. The past 18 months, I have been a dedicated FTE for CA (one of our clients.) CA uses our company's product to train their clients (internal and external) on all the products and services they sell. And I manage all their images they use for such training (with our product.)

Due to internal struggles and politics within the division of their company we deal with, funding for my work is on hold and I have nothing to do. My boss asked me yesterday if I would like to start doing UI work for the Services team (which carries a different skill set than UI work for Engineering.) "Of course!", I yelped.

So I will spend the next few days learning XSLT. XSLT stands for XSL Transformations, by the way. In order to fully grasp XSLT, I must have firm understanding of XPath, so I start now.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wagon Train Ho

Gentle reader,

I have a confession to make. That temperance wagon I was riding earlier this month has bucked me. I have had two occasions where I have succumbed to the drink. Yes, I am a recidivist, but at least I am a resipiscent recidivist (and that goes a long way towards a lifetime of happiness.) I defy anyone to willingly, and of their own free will, engage in the boredom I endured the first two weeks of this year.

I will not drink tomorrow, or the day after but I am drinking now (even as I type this.) Four whiskey drinks and a bottle of wine have returned my dull bioscape into a carnival of delights.


Hank and the Girls

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream where I was in an episode of the Golden Girls, along with Hank Stram. He and I were on a double date with the two pretty sisters. At the restaurant, he and I started talking about football. This angered the girls and Hank's date grabbed her steak knife and threatened us. The waiter grabbed it from her and the manager asked us all to leave.

In my dream, there wasn't a studio audience or laugh track, so we filed solemnly out of the restaurant and rode to the hotel where the girls live. Kind of depressing.

That was the end of the dream. The next morning when I woke up, I ordered Season 1 of the Golden Girls online and it arrived in the mail yesterday. I could only get through six episodes before I had to turn it off. The pacing of each episode became tedious and soporific. So, if anyone is interested in buying Season 1 DVD, its for sale.

By the way, after actually watching the show, I discovered the girls don't live in a hotel, but a nice one story home.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wasted Season

Cowboys loss to the mighty New York football Giants was no surprise. Romo did NOT play well for the most part. He was mediocre (18 out of 36). This is fairly understandable considering NY pass rush. Yet Manning has twice the QB rating for this game over Romo 132.4 to 64.7. Romo did have some dropped passes, but the ball floated and fluttered on him also. He has been pretty bad since the Philly game.

I don't really like Manning, but I am happy for him, oddly enough.

Now to Phillips. Who thinks Wade Phillips is good coach in the NFL?

They got softer by the game over the past 5 games. Discipline was gone (all those crushing penalties.) Phillips is the proverbial substitute teacher. At least we don't have Tony "Underachiever" Dungy as a coach.

And then there's the 13 day break between games. He told his players to "forget about football". Wouldn't have happened if Jimmy Johnson style coach was there. Nice guy coaches are ultimately losers.

It might surprise long time readers that I wasn't all that upset about yesterday's game. I saw it coming. The wheels on this Cowboy wagon began to fall off with the Detroit game. That perception was obfuscated by the miraculous come from behind win in the last 18 seconds.

The Philly game should have been the wake up call, but they never got back to mid season form. This is all about coaching.

I can't emphasize enough how bad a job Wade Phillips did this year. I put it up there with Switzer's first year as a Cowboy coach.

Back to Jones.

Jerry Jones is a fool for handing out NFC Championship tickets to all his players before that game yesterday. IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!

Jerry Jones is an idiot for declaring Wade Phillips the definitive coach before hand. IDIOT. I am not saying Jason Garrett should be crowned head coach, but Phillips is BAD. Garrett, by the way, should shoulder a lot of blame for this team's demise, too.

The good football people on Dallas' staff are being picked apart by other clubs (Jeff Ireland and probably Sporano.)

How embarrassing Phillips and Jones are!!!!!


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mr. Trashman

Last Monday evening after work, I stopped off at my friend Loren's house for a visit. His wife and one of their neighbors were in the garage when I arrived sorting out clothes and other items for a garage sale they are having today.

Off to the side was a pile of items they deemed unsuitable for sale and had decided to throw away. I pawed my way through the clutter and found several things to interest me. Loren's wife is a doctor, and in the pile, I found several things related to her field. There were several books from her pre-med days at Rutgers that I snapped up. I also found an old suitcase on wheels that didn't look too bad. The last thing I grabbed was a hospital gown that was wadded up on the bottom of the pile. I threw the books and gown into the suitcase and put them in my car before going in the house.

So last night, I go out to my car to retrieve something and spy the suitcase. I had forgotten all about it. I brought the suitcase in the house and started examining the items more carefully.

It turns out, none of the items held my interest after all. The suitcase was frayed on the inside and there was a large hole near one of the wheels. The books were filled with anachronistic taxonomy, the likes of which will never mesh with my lifestyle or worldview. And worst of all, the hospital gown had a large stain on it in the groinal area. (Yeah, I made that word up.)

I tossed everything. The suitcase was too big to fit in my trash-can, so I leaned it up against the fence.

So this morning, I let the boys out in the backyard. I am at my computer enjoying a cup of coffee and scanning the news when I hear vociferous barking from both of them. I look out the back window and see some guy pulling the suitcase up and over the back fence. I was about to phone 311, but decided not to. That was trash after all.

But the dogs continue to bark. I look out again and I see him changing into that hospital gown. I bang on the window to let him know he is being watched and for him to leave. He takes his sweet time in leaving. In the meantime, I grab my camera and go out the front door to the side of the house just as he is walking away. I didn't get a good shot, but this will have to do.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Rock and Roll news

While flipping through the Interweb this morning, I stumbled upon this little news item.

REM frontman and gay vegetarian Michael Stipe recently confessed to being seduced by Mike Huckabee. He told Jane Pratt on her Sirius radio show:

"I've never seen the guy [Huckabee] talk, not even online. I have never seen him talk for 30 seconds...[and] he's really charming. I instantly wanted to call [Generation X author] Doug Coupland and say 'OK, project one year into the future for me: what the hell does this mean?' Because he's a creationist, he's a Baptist minister. I can't think of probably a single issue in which I am even remotely in the same universe as that guy.and yet, he was kind of charming and self-deprecating. He was actually kind of a good sport, and funny, and I don't know what that means. Maybe it's a good thing that's he's being lauded right now by the right. He's an evangelical. May God bless all living creatures but my god, how weird."

/rant deleted/

They called him a gay vegetarian. I was so mad when I saw Michael being slandered by this irresponsible site. Well, I was mad until I saw that it was a gay site. But still, did they have to call him a vegetarian?


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Escaping ennui

I write this, a quarter of the way through my newfound abstemious modus vivendi, with a greater understanding of my drinking ways. Drinking was, and I suppose has been for 25 years, my hobby; my source of recreation.

I haven't found a suitable replacement yet. Past pursuits are no longer as interesting to me as in years past. These include: listening to records on the hi-fi (or the modern day equivalent), watching TV, movies, concerts, cycling, running, scrap booking and even geocaching. Poker still holds interest with me, but not on a daily basis. I still do all these things (except running), but the experience is usually rote.

And what about women? Well, there is a significant coterie of lasses out there that consider yours truly to be a virile beast. Yet my interest in the majority of them wanes after a brief time.

Volunteer work hasn't exactly panned out either. I am unable to find a niche where I have an expertise (or something to offer) and would be able to avoid or minimize human interaction.

It isn't even like I go home and crave a beer or glass of wine. I don't. Its just that if I were drinking, I would have more fun. Period.

Finally, the local economy seems to be taking a hit by my interlude as well. The GM at Houston's restaurant emailed me this morning offering me a 25% discount on food and 15% off on drinks if I agree to return and just show up twice a week for the next month. That's tempting, but I have to stick to my guns.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Welcome New Year 08

I came home last night really early (around 9:00). Soon after I got home, there was a knock on the door. It was my neighbor, Randy, who lives two houses down inviting me to his New Year's Eve party. I told him I didn't think I wanted to go, but if I changed my mind I might bop over. Randy and Dave rent that house and they are nice guys, but kind of annoying and kind of dumb. Well, I did change my mind after I found nothing I wanted to watch on TV. They had plenty of beer, but there were no girls. It was just a bunch of guys in their mid 20's who have been heavily influenced by the Jackass series. I didn't stay long, but I did manage to get a series of pictures of one of the guests trying to kick the keg through the dining room wall. That was my signal to leave. Here is a nice shot of the barrel-chested chimney ape...

With the New Year upon us, my annual abstinence program begins. I am going to go the whole month of January without alcohol I started this in 2005 to give my liver a break. So far so good, as my physical last summer indicated my liver was in fine shape. I would like to extend it past January this year, but am making no promises.

The first year I attempted this, I was apprehensive as to what I would discover about myself. It had been 7 years since I had last gone so much as 2 days without drinking and I was leery about my ability to withstand a prolonged interval of temperance.

What I found out was that I had developed a psychological (or even emotional) dependency to drinking. I found that I had a window of vulnerability for not drinking and that window was roughly around 5:30 to 8:30 PM. This is the time I get off work and would generally head off a favorite bar/restaurant. Going home was not as much fun as going to a bar. After 8:30 or so, any thought of having a drink was gone until 5:30 the next day.

So today is the first day back on the wagon. In addition to not drinking, I have decided to start dining at home most every evening too. I spend(t) ~$1500 per month (at least) in food and drink out on the town as an entertainment expense.

In honor of my savings this month, I went out and bought an iPod Touch. I consider this the only real present I got this year (besides the grill light Chris gave me.) So this was my gift to myself. After I got home, I went out to the Newsgroups and downloaded Amy Winehouse's Back to Black album onto the Touch. First song I heard was "Rehab". Coincidence?