Friday, August 25, 2006

Political Incorrectness in Outer Space

Pluto the planet, 76, died Thursday in Prague, Czech Republic, when it was killed by the International Astronomical Union -- separated from the eight "classical planets" and lumped in with two similarly sized "dwarf planets."

In 1930, a private astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh, discovered the frozen mass and designated it Planet X. It soon orbited into the stratosphere's most exclusive club as the ninth planet. An English schoolgirl, Venetia Burney, 11, named the newest planet Pluto after the mythological lord of the underworld.
(Well, in the Roman pantheon, anyway- they were just ripping off the Greeks anyway...)

Then Disney names his lamest character after Pluto. Starring in such gay-porn sounding cartoon classics as Bone Trouble, T-Bone for Two, Squatter's Rights, Bone Bandit and In Dutch (I'm not making these titles up, people!), Pluto is the stupid dog of Disney's pantheon of retarded animals. That's right, the smart one is Goofy... Goofy. Go figure.

So now all of the pointy-headed geeks have decided to revoke Pluto's full-planet status. We are now to refer to it as a "dwarf planet," which incidently seems quite crass and politcally incorrect. Haven't we hurt Pluto enough already? Do we have to relegate the poor rock to the back of the bus?

So who makes out on this change in status? The International Astronomical Union gets 5 minutes of fame for voting Pluto off of the solar system. Text book publishers will make a few greenbacks selling updated school books. Evangelistic bible-beaters will use this news as proof that scientists don't know what they hell they're talking about. Pastafarians will yammer about Pluto being "touched by His noodly appendage". Otherwise, at the end of the day it just doesn't make a bit of difference, does it?

Now I guess we stop calling Austrailia a continent...
No offense to Oz, but using the IAU's oh-so-logical arguments, it's just a frigging island after all.

Amazing, Out-

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Family resemblance?

Amazing, grrar.

Air Travel - 2010

Let's take a trip into the future, shall we?

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine- August 20, 2010.

My flight out of Jacksonville is a 7:10 AM to Newark.
So, to be at the Air Travel Screening Facility the required 3 hours before flight time, I have to leave my home at 3:10 AM...
I arrive at the JIA Perimiter Screening checkpoint at 3:40 and it takes me 15 minutes for the inspection of my car, and once it is pronounced "clean", I can then drive to the ATSF secure parking facility. My car is sealed in plastic for the duration of my trip- so no one can siphon the gas and make a molotov cocktail that might be used against the ATSF. We're still 4 miles from the airport, so that risk is not present.

I enter the Air Travel Screening Facility and begin the ritual-
I'm assigned a changing/screening cubical number and time, stall 145, 3 minutes at 4:17.
At 4:15 I get my travel smock and take up my positon at stall 145.
The door opens at precisely 4:17 and I jump in with my bag and smock and as the door starts closing, I hurridly remove all clothing and put it in my bag, and put on the travel smock and booties.

(The travel smocks are a paper-based gown, not unlike the dressing gowns found in hospitals... They are paper based because back about 6 months ago, some random TSA Internet-scanner agent program found a discussion on some nameless Internet forum that discussed the possibility of using the cloth-based smock as a weapon to choke another passenger or one of the flight crew- Even though it was just conjecture, Homeland Security's Dynamic Threat Department decided to issue a mandate to make the travel smocks out of paper so they would tear before they could bring enough pressure in a garrote-style attack.)

So- now properly garbed for my flight, the puffer goes off- and all manner of particulates are aerosolized and are sucked into the scanner and analyzed for trace nitrates and other elements that may or may not be on the do-not-pass list.

(A couple weeks ago, I was detained for traces of nitrates while leaving Dallas. It took several hours for the TSA to verify that I had actually been working at the golf tournament and that our offices were back near the groundskeepers area, where we had to walk through the path the fertilizer spreader traveled every day. They finally cleared me to travel after they secured signed affadavits from the tournament, our corporate office, and the local TSA investigative offices in Jacksonville and Dallas that I hadn't been reported for "suspicious activities" in the previous 18 months.)

Once screened- the inner door to Level 2 of the ATSF opened and it was on to the next part of travel screening- interrogation.
I was grilled for 30 minutes on where I had traveled in the last 6 months, any issues that had occured during that travel, with special attention to the previously-mentioned incident. They brought up my last 6 months of travel, cross-referenced it with passenger lists from the flights, examined the upcoming flight manifest... No overt pairings or coincidences...
They grilled me on any connection to any recent terror incidents, and also reviewed my last 6 months of Internet use... (One of the reasons I quit keeping my Weblog in 2008.)

The seemed oddly interested in the time is spent logged into a Chinese language site that I use for pinyin translation of contracts on some of my events... They finally decided that is was OK since they found the permission notations in my "upcoming travel" dossier for my trips to Shanghai in November.
(I guess it doesn't matter that I make this trip every year...they always get bunged up on anything China-related since the Yellow Menace bio-scare 2 years ago.)
They finally realease me to Stage Three- X-ray and Search...
The baggage screeners take my bag and run it through an x-ray scanner, then through a gas chromatograph screener. When it doesn't trip any alarms, it is taken off to wherever bags go until we get them back on the other end of the travel segment.
(No one really knows- the TSA keeps that secret so the Terrorists can't use the information to plan an attack... As far as anyone knows they could be on the same plane as the owner, or they might be going as part of a cargo flight or taking two or three flights before getting to their destination. The TSA only guarantees that you will get your bags sometime within 24 hours of arriving in your destination city, hence the large number of clothing stores and drugstores built near the ATSF in each city, for those who are too impaitent to wait for their luggage.)
I get my x-ray and of course they don't find anything- and then I spend 15 minutes signing all the releases, waivers, and the 22 other pages of paperwork required of today's air travelers.

I finally get to the first step of real "travel" now... more than an hour after arriving at the ATSF... I am assigned to my seat.
All the Newark passengers are taken to departure lounge 21R, where there are several rows of seats. We all shuffle in in our travel smocks and take a seat. There is a short delay af the TSA is performing a deep-background investigation of anyone who was scheduled for this flight but didn't check in by the appropriate time...
Once all missing travelers are accounted for and their cancellation fines are levied, we are cleared for travel. We all get fingerprinted and retina scanned for one last ID check...
I hear the DNA insta-scanners are nearing certification, so we'll have that to look forward to in the next year or so... When that happens, if you have any DNA tags in common with anyone in the do-not-fly registry, be prepared for even more invasive scrutiny.
(And word around the Internet is that if you have anyone in your family with any history of mental illness, you'll wind up on the same list for close inspection.)
The TSA medics apply the general anesthetic and once we are under, we are strapped in and the seats are taken by tram to the aircraft and loaded into the plane. The seats are in six-seat modules and it takes about 5 minutes to load the 20 seat modules on the loader racks and in less than 10 minutes all 120 Newark passengers are on and the flight is ready to go.
After several more scares in 2008 and 2009, the TSA decided the only way to make travel safe was for all passengers to be under sedation. The mandate was issued.
"Don't like it?", people were told, "Drive your car to LA. Take a train or a bus."
(Trains and buses aren't much better- but at least you aren't knocked out for the duration.)

The flight crew is released from quarantine and take their positions for the trip and since the passengers are all asleep, there are no more flight attendants- The most welcome change (at least to the airline industry) since the time the TSA mandated the cessation of all food and beverage service. At that point, the Flight Attendants only duty was the safety briefing, but now since all air travelers must be unconscious, they are considered superfluous, and the airlines laid them all off.
(A bill was drafted and passed that let the airlines terminate their employment without severance, COBRA, unemployment, or pension. A little-know feature of the Patriot Act made it possible to pull that off "in the interest of public safety". Personally, I think the next airliner that goes down will be at the hands of a disgruntled ex-Flight Attendant.

So... all 120 sleepers are whisked off to Newark- a 2 hour flight, and once the plane is at the gate at 9:15, the seating units are dismounted and we are taken to the Recovery Area in the Newark ATSF and we are given a stimulant and we wake up...
As we come to our senses, our AirTrav ID numbers pop up on the information screen for baggage claim- My number T933, shows 10:22am, claim 20.
Only an hour... I have some time built into my schedule, so I can wait for my bag... Someone is cussing up a storm... G34223 shows 4:43 pm. Boy, it must suck not being Platinum Level.

I get my bag at 10:30 and I'm dressed and out of the Newark ATSF and heading for my noon meeting... And just think- I get to go through all this again 2 days from now.

I'm getting too old for this crap.

Ok Sherman- Set the Wayback. Get us back to 2006. Let's enjoy the trip while we can.


Letters..... DHS / TSA

Letters to people or organizations that are unlikely to respond, Number 3:

Dear Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration:

Given the most recent case of over-reaction: "no liquids"...

Please. Give me a break.

Let me get this straight- I can't take on-board a bottle of water I purchased IN THE AIRPORT, (presumably screened BEFORE if got to the kiosk or newsstand), little skippy can't have his juice box, no toothpaste, makeup or contact lens solution...
But it is OK for Kandy the Stripper to wear her giant gel/silicone/saline implants and carry a 4 ounce bottle or tube of KY Jelly, or Tiffany can wear her gel-filled bra, and The Old Geezer can have his gel-filled wheelchair cushion.

Anytime you bend, break, or fail to apply a "safety procedure" across the board, you put everyone at risk.
Stop being so hypocritical, you happy assholes.

Oh yeah... one more thing- carefully read the notices in the airport- the notices read:
"Passengers are prohibited..."
Doesn't apply to flight crews or flight attendants.
How does that work?

What are y'all going to over-react to next?
How long is it until we are prohibited from having a carry-on of any sort?
Or perhaps even more draconian measure are implemented...



Famous, out-

Letters... Avis Rental Cars

Letters to people or organizations that are unlikely to respond, Number 2:

Tuesday Aug 22, 2006

Dear Avis,
I appreciate the fact that you are trying to cut costs, and thus save me money, by employing illegal immigrants.
How do I know this?

Well, I can only assume you are using Oompa-Loompas to do your car cleaning and maintenance, including driving them to the pick-up area on the rental lot-
EVERY time in the last year I have rented a car from you, I expect to be able to get in the car, turn the key and go- and I find the seat is moved so far forward and jacked up so high that I can't even get in the car- in a couple cases the Oompa Loompa also dropped the adjustable steering column down so low that, between the seat position and elevation and the wheel position, I think it must have taken two or three of them to drive it into position...

Do me a favor- have them leave the seats and the steering in a neutral position...just enough room for me to get in...
Is that too much to ask?

Respectfully Yours-


Amazing, out- (outside, that is... On my knees, trying to adjust the seat so I can get in the car)

Letters... Jacksonville International Airport

Letters to people or organizations that are unlikely to respond, Number 1:

Tuesday Aug 22, 2006

Dear Jacksonville International Airport,
Remember the other night when I got in from Vegas? It took you guys 45 minutes to get the bags to the baggage claim carousel?
And a week ago when I came back from Montreal? 21 minutes- and of course my bag, the one labeled "Priority Handling" by Continental, was the second-to-last bag on the belt...

Take a lesson from Denver.

The plane hit the jetway at 12:07.
I was off by 12:09.
Walked down the concourse and took the tram to the main terminal and baggage claim.
I arrived at baggage claim at 12:16...
My bag was the third one out the chute at 12:18... total time: 9 minutes.

And I'll wager the distance from the plane to the baggage claim is more than twice what it is in Jacksonville...



(Addendum Wed Aug 23-
Off the plane at 10:29, my bag is number 42, at 10:56. 27 minutes- No suprise. I guess that Continental Airlines "priority handling" tag is just there for decoration.)

Amazing, out- (at baggage claim, still waiting for my bags)

Need to be careful in China this year...

From The Register

China bans strippers at funerals

So... I guess I won't be attending any funerals in Shanghai this year.

Guess I'll stick with drinking and hanging out in karaoke bars.

Famous, out-

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Welcome to Irony, population: Me

I got a paper cut opening a band-aid wrapper.

Famous, (bleeding) out-

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Montreal - City of One Thousand Saints


I've traveled quite a bit, as most Constsant Readers know, and I have to tell you the Montreal ranks pretty high in The Big Guy's City Index.

Curiously, I have found Toronto to be fairly bland, but Vancouver is probably my favorite city in North America. Not really sure why I like Canadian cities above US metropoli, but there it is.
(Don't get you knickers in a twist about *your* city. You need to pay a visit to the Jewel of British Columbia to really appreciate it.)

Now on this trip, I'm finding Montreal to be a place with charm, history, culture and ambiance.
Not that I'm really getting to immerse myself in the culture and charms of the city, but in traveling about the city you can get a taste of the style, the flair. Hopefully I will get to spend more time here on a subsequent trip to really get a full taste of the city.

Getting here was a chore... I had a ton o' crap to do on my 2 days in the office and it spilled over into Wednesday AM. I got to the airport right at 1 hour before flight time. Alas- No upgrade on the flight. I was bummed.
I did relish the full-size aircraft for a little while- knowing that I would be flying the hated Embraer 145 between Newark and Montreal.
The real blemish on the travel was The Man and his two-year-old daughter who sat next to me.
Initially, it was the man and his wife, each with a child in the lap. Five of us in the three-across seats in coach... The flight attendant came by and said they couldn't sit that way- not enough oxygen masks if there were to be a problem so Mom and the youngest youngun were moved a couple rows upstream. (Lucky lady. Saved her a ton of embarrasment.)
Dad had the window seat, and The Little Miss had the center seat- Everything was hunky-dory until it was time to put on the seat belt...
Little Miss I-Don't-Wanna pitched a complete pedal-to-the-metal conniption fit, complete with the kicking and the screaming and the ear-splitting squeals that had the passengers in the two rows fore and aft of us bleeding from the ears.
This child went completely ape-shit, and nothing Dad could do would pacify the critter. If was as if the mere suggestion of strapping-in flipped some cranial synapse- and she kept going and going and going until her batteries ran down. She screamed for a solid hour, by the end of which Dad was a frazzle and I was completely deaf in my left ear. My left arm was also having muscle spasms from being constantly tensed against the kicking that Miss Sunshine was doing... Had I had my ubiquitous roll of duct tape, I would have used it... Probably with Dad's help.
In case you are wondering, Mom never turned around... Never acknowledged our presence. I'm sure she was thinking her stars that she was away from the scene of the carnage.

Things weren't over when her batteries wore down, either. When we started our descent into the Newark airport, she was unable to clear her ears, so we were back with the screaming and the kicking... The little girl was kicking and screaming too...
Compared to that flight, the 56 minutes on the EJ145 between Newark and Montreal was heaven.

So much for The Travel Experience...

In Montreal, the real fun began.

We'd been running all-out since Thursday morning...

Jon Hart and I arrived at 6:50 in the morning, and our crane and riggers arrived at 7:00. As we looked at the site, my apprehention began to grow...
Our "crane" was a boom truck that at full extention couldn't lift one row of modules, let alone the full sized wall...

Then we had "issues" with ad panels, equipment locations, the size of the bolt holes for attaching the 4000lb video wall to the hanging structure...

Oh, we didn't just have issues, we had a whole subscription.
We finally got a real crane around 2:00, and in the midst of a cold rain, we were able to get the show on the road.

Hard to move the cases when the wheels aren't "wheels" any more...

Looks like the lid for that case is a bit off-center. Has *nothing* to do with the 600 pounds of video modules stacked on it.

4000lbs of flying hardware, with the reletive aerodynamics of a set of car keys.

Ready to lift off...

Did I mention the wind was really screaming as we were flying the walls?

We got the walls up on Thursday, and on Friday morning we concentrated on cabling and rigging said cables, then placing the processors and power distributors.
Lastly we dealt with rigging signal cables from our broadcast location to the processors...

That finished for the day, we hit the road and had dinner with the boys from Hawkeye- my friends from Newport, John and Chris, and two others, Raz and another Chris.
After an interesting sushi dinner at a take-out sushi place near McGill University, we wound up in a pub near the Fairmont...

Raz & Chris

Chris, Chris & John

And of course, Jon & Jennifer

Good times...Good times...

Saturday AM was videowall time to fine-tune our display of the signal and picture appearance-

A big shout-out to Ken "Redneck" Flanagan who provided tech support from a counter seat at a Waffle House in North Carolina, having a good ol' Southern breakfast while I swapped cables and tickled the switches on the Folsum and the processor on the Toshiba until we had a pretty picture.
(Bear in mind that I went to the site early, foregoing breakfast in hopes of getting the videowall tuned before 10:00- So I could barely hear his coaching over my stomach rumbling... And it didn't help to hear his running commentary about the fine Awful House food... ("It's an 'Awful House'" he told me "it was a Waffle House, but the W is missing from the sign.")
Joh and I spent the rest of the day in "cleanup" mode, moving empty cases, dressing cables, organizing the operations space, etc and headed out just after play was over for the day...
It is the rare day when you can leave a tennis event while the sun is still in the sky.
The Hawkeye guys were making a late night of it, they needed to do a night-time calibration of their hardware, so they stuck around after we left.

Bill "The Tennis Machine" Mitchell arrived that evening- We wound up at a pizza joint on University Avenue... Tasty stuff. We all walked around a bunch after that- Just people watching on Saint Catherine St. and avoiding the strip club barkers..
"C'mon in, and let the sin begin!"
"This is the place you can grab some titty!"
and the classic-
"It's like Disneyland for your hands!"


Needless to say, with Jenny Mac along, we kept our evening "PG rated".

Sunday involved getting Bill and his equipment situated, and doing more site organization.
It was my last day on-site so I was trying to get as much done to help get things situated for the event day-to-day stuff, and to give Jon a headstart with breakdown.
We moved some more cases and did a few more housekeeping chores, then we were in a holding pattern until the TV crews were in and did their setup...

Hey Event Staffers- Anyone recognize these gray cases hiding on the site?"

Sunday PM I got a chance to get re-acquainted with a loyal reader, Luc from Montreal- he and his family were on-site at the tennis centre- a long-time family tradition. I had met Luc nine years ago...(Wow. Nine years.) We were both in Pittsburgh for then NHL draft in 1997... Luc runs the Big Iron - the IBM Mainframes- for the NHL. Somehow, Luc and Dan-O and P-Squared were talking about my website a few months ago and Luc has been looking in now and again...

Luc & his peeps in the stands. Just my luck that he turned around as I shot the pic.
We shot the breeze on the upper deck of the centre court for a little while, until some folks started shooting us dirty looks for talking during play...
Luc and I will be crossing paths (and maybe swords) as our NHL project progresses later this year...

There were only 4 matches on Centre Court, so we were out before sundown again on Sunday, and after a bit of rest and a couple asprin we headed out.

We wound up in a bar called "Les 3 Brasseurs" for dinner- it's a microbrewery on St. Catherine St... They have some great beers- Jon was downing the Blonde ale like it was water- I was drinking with The Captain, and after one Captain and Coke, Bill switched to plain ol' Coke, as he mistakenly wore his "drinking skirt" out that evening...
They have a pseudo-pizza thing called "les flamms"... Tasty tasty...
And watch out for their "Meter of Beer" - 10 1/2 pint glasses of beer on a long wood rack.
Check out the menu on their website... Good stuff.
Yet another good time was had by all...

I retired from the field early- My flight was at 6:40 the following morning- so I was needing to leave the hotel between 4:15 and 4:30- I didn't know what the conditions at the airport were going to be like, given the latest brouhaha over in the UK.

I packed my bags and cleaned out my backpack so there was nothing that would catch the eye of the security screeners or the Customs dudes...
I got a reasonably good night sleep and only said 4 or 5 dirty words when the alarm went off at 4:00.
In the morning.
(I have GOT to quit taking morning flights.)

The trip to Jax was uneventful- the 50 minute flight from YUL to EWR was a EJR145 and I was able to grit my teeth and bear it... The EWR to JAX was a 737, and I got my upgrade- nice... except no food. Odd- they usually serve something on the moring flights. Oh well...
Not like missing a meal or two is going to hurt me, eh?

Prepping now for a trip to Denver at the end of this week with Dan-O...

Rodizio Grill... LoDo... The Cheshire Cat in Arvada...


Could be trouble...

Famous, out-


And people ask me why I don't go to church...

One Sunday morning, Fr. Flores noticed little Patrick standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names with small American flags mounted on either side of it.

The seven year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the Priest walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, “Good morning, Patrick.”

“Good morning, Father,” the boy replied, still focused on the plaque. Then he asked, “Father, what is this?”

The priest said, “Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.”

Soberly they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Finally, little Patrick’s voice, barely audible and trembling with fear, asked:

“Which service: the 8:30 or the 11:00?”


Says it all, I think.

Amazing, out-

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Watch out, Montreal...

TBG is on the way.

Lock up the wimmin & chilluns, and hide the farm animals.

Rogers Cup tennis will never be the same.

(Luc, this warning is especially for you.)

Amazing out-

A Week in Vegas

Orange County to Jacksonville to Vegas and back to Jax Again.

Las Vegas...
Bright lights. Free booze. Basketball.

Let's set the scene for Las Vegas, shall we?

I'll hit the important points and some words to live by...

Breakdown of the WTT Finals in Newport Beach, California was less than fun.
(To put it mildly, it was a monumental pain in the ass...)
It was a long, hot afternoon in the California sun, and after it was over, the Newport staff took off for the post-party with promises of "We'll be back in an hour to help you load the scoreboards into the shipping case..."
Note: Scoreboards are 8'long and weigh 400+lbs. It took six of us to wrestle them into place.

Lessons learned:
At the end of a long event, make sure the event staff on-site commit to helping with the breakdown of equipment, no matter what time it is. Don't let them leave before the job is finished.

Breakdown started about 5:30 in the afternoon; I had pulled all my cables, tarps, radar displays, and scoring systems and loaded it all into shipping crates. It had taken about two and a half hours- now it was just a waiting game... I figured the Newport Guys would be along shortly, ready and refreshed.
At about 8:00 I couldn't wait any more and shanghaied the Hawkeye guys, Chris Perry and John Mason, to help me with the boards... It about killed them, but we muscled the boards up to the ground level and got them into the shipping case.
Around the time I had finally put the final seals on the last shipping case and stacked it all for pickup, the Newport Guys showed up. Thouroughly buzzed.

"Well... Y'all ready for your workout? We need to move the scoreboards off the court." I told them.
"What? Now? You're kidding! We can't do it now..." they whined.
"Oh no... You said you'd be back to help-"
"But...but...what about in the morning?" they pleaded.
"Oh no. I have a flight to Florida in the morning. Do you have work gloves? These things will tear up your hands without gloves..." I told them, pushing them toward the center court.
They were about to cry...

I let them off the hook.
"Never mind- The Hawkeye guys helped me load them."

Lo, the rejoicing lasted for days.

Restaurants & Closing Times

We (Chris, John and Yours Truly) were starving- since end of play was about 4:30, we missed the dinner hour, and it was all asses and elbows until 9:00- we were racing to hit Agora before 9:30.
Why 9:30? Because that was the final seating time.

Restaurant folks- WTF is wrong with you people?
If you are open from 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM, BE OPEN FROM 4 UNTIL 10!
Agora- (which has great food, don't get me wrong..) opens at 4 but doesn't start serving until 5:30 (huh?) and closes at 10:00, but won't seat anyone after 9:30.
Restaurant staff get pissed off when a party of 4 rolls in 15 minutes before closing...
"But we've already started cleaning up." they complain.
Bullshit. You're sign says "open 'til 10". Serve me.

Don't lead me on with "Serving starts at-" and "Last seating-"...
And, by the way- if this happens to you, don't get snotty with the waitstaff once you are seated.... That is the best way to an order of the snot-flavored soup, and the urine vinegrette dressing on your salad.

So... Back to our hungry protagonists-
"No...we've already had last seating." she tells me at 9:10.
Needless to say, I went through my standard calming mantra:
Visualize the calm blue water off the Tortugas;

My hands holding the hostess' head under the clear cool water...
Count to ten in Hebrew.

Ah... much better.
Ok... we still need food.

Chris: "Look- There's a McDonalds."
Yours Truly: "I said 'food'. Do you know what the stuff from McD's is made out of? The crap that comes out of pencil sharpeners. We are NOT going to McDonalds."

Be careful of what you want.

So we cruised the outskirts of Irvine looking for a place to eat as the magic hour of 10:00 PM approached, we saw a neon sign advertising "Hamburger Mary's Bar and Grill".
Cool. Bar food. Can't go too far wrong.
(Boy was I mistaken.)
We piled into the restaurant and took a seat at a booth.
Then we got a good look around... Hmmm...
A couple pairs of guys on the dance floor. Several pairs of women that were sitting dangerously close to each other at the bar.
Decorations straight out of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". Some other props straight out of Rocky Horror.
"Uh, guys. I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
The Hawkeye guys were also coming to a realization that we were in some kind of Alternative Lifestyle watering hole. They didn't mind, and as for me, I could give a shit... As long as they were still serving food, I don't care what was going on to the beat of Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" over under the disco ball...
2 steak dinners and a chicken platter later we were outta there, none the worse for the wear...
If you're looking for a good time... (Depending on your own personal proclivities, of course,)
You might want to check out Hamburger Mary's, on McArthur, near the OC airport.
Tell 'em The Big Guy sent you.
(The one who threatened the poofy bartender with physical violence due to a overly suggestive leer.Heh.)

Airport fun.

Now, at some point in the previous few days a gig came up for USA Basketball, a game in Las Vegas between Team USA and the Purto Rico team. And, as per usual, I arranged for game ops and support for this little slice of heaven.
I needed a Statistician (Pat Gehm in Houston) for the game, along with the stats equipment, which was in Jacksonville. And the game was on Thursday night...
What with costs for one-way flights and all, it basically required me to go back to Florida for 6 hours rather than going straight to Vegas. Geez.

So this week's travel schedule-

Monday AM- Depart OC, through Houston, to Jax, arrive 10:30 PM.
Go to the office to pick up equipment prepared by the Help Desk.
Home at 12:00, midnight.
Repack bags.

Tuesday AM- Leave for airport at 5:30 AM. (Home for 5:30, sleep for 4 of those.)
7:10 flight- Jax, Houston, Vegas. Arrive 3:00PM.
Go to arena, see when ESPN truck is due- ETA:9:00AM tomorrow.
Go to hotel, check in, Dead asleep by 5:00.

Wednesday: Up at 4:00 AM.
Go to Hooters Casino, gamble until 6:30am. (Lose $50.00)
Got to Graybar for cable and hardware for install. Breakfast nearby.
9:00 AM Wed @ Thomas & Mack Arena, UNLV. Install wiring for USAB Game...
Depart at 6:00pm.
7:00 to 11:00, dinner & gambling at Mirage Casino.

Dinner- Samba at Mirage Casino

Yet another Churrascaria...
Passable, but nothing outstanding.

I'm not a fan of the Las Vegas rodizios.
At other churrascaria, they bring the meat around without ceasing until you throw in the towel. In Vegas, they bring each selection around once, then you have to request them to bring back the ones of which you want additional servings.
I'm not a fan of this process...
I want them to just keep bringing them to me, let me say "yea" or "nay"...don't make me beg.
This is the third rodizio I've tried in Vegas- Yoli's, Rumjungle in Mandalay Bay, and now Samba, and it seems to be a "Vegas Only" procedure.

Samba was nice...

Even though it felt a little like being inside a huge conch shell...

Oh well... Sunset was nice...

Game day was a bit stressful...
I was expecting Pat, my statisticaian, at around noonish...
I called to get his flight info... He wasn't going to make it at noon.
Let's just say "there were issues".
He called a bit later to let me know he'd be in at 4:00pm.
Cutting it a little fine, but knowing Pat I had confidence.
I was more concerned with Continental... If there were any flight complications or weather issues, I would the one trying to stat the game...
ESPN would not be pleased with the stats if I was to be the one driving the machine.
I set 'em up and make sure they work, I can even act a spotter, but it takes some specialized talent to keep running stats on an NBA/USAB game.

Pat and his better (much better, I might be so bold as to say) half, Mary, arrived at four and I got them to their hotel, the Venetian, tout suite then I hauled ass back to the arena to finish off some continutity problems I was having.

The Venetian

I shot this the night before from the parking deck of the Mirage.

Pat made it to the arena about 6 and started game night prep; The game started without a hitch at 8:00pm and I had all out equipment broken down and packed by 11:15- By Midnight we were losing our asses at a single-deck blackjack table in the Palms Hotel, drinking with The Captain and enjoying every minute of it.

We bailed around 2:30 and discovered that In-N-Out Burger is NOT open 24 hours...

Mary is a junkfood junkie... We hunted around until we found a McDs that was still open, where we were able to blunt the edge of her cravings with minimal bloodshed and only vague threats of violence if the fries were not "hot and fresh, damn it"...

I took them back to the Venetian, then rolled myself back to the Hampton Inn where I slept until 7:30-

My flight was at 12:30pm.
I was packed and out of the Hampton Inn by 8:00. We had breakfast at the Venetian (Very good, if a bit limited buffet at the Cafe Grand Lux)
I still had a couple hours to kill, and since the minimum bets at the Venetian were 15 dollars a hand, we decided on a casino with lower minimum bets...
That's right- the Hooters Casino.
When I left them at 11:20, they were at a $5 dollar blackjack table drinking vodka like water and betting $25 dollars a hand and winning a majority of the hands.

I hit the airport like it was on fire, went through the TSA checkpoint with nary even a raised eyebrow, and was settled into Biz Class like an Alabama tick... 2 rum and cokes, a tasty snack, and 2 DVD episodes of "Firefly" later found us in Houston, and a couple hours later I was standing in the baggage claim in Jax, fuming as to why it takes 40 minutes from the time the plane stops moving until I get my bags.
This is UN-F%@#*%ng-ACCEPTABLE.

Ah, the calming mantra...

The cool, clear waters of the Tortugas...

My hands around the neck of the baggage handler, holding him under water...

Count to ten in Greek...

Ah... Much better.

Famous, out.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ouch. I was tagged with a meme!

The March Hare, purveyor of fine conservative observations at The Mad Tea Party, tagged me with this Book Meme. I'm flattered she believes my literary opinions might be interesting...

1.) One book that changed your life:
The Way Things Work: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Technology (1973 edition)
I got this book for my 12th birthday and it opened my eyes to an understanding of not only "what" something did, but also showed the "why and how"... I also taught me never to be afraid to go after some piece of hardware with a screwdriver and a hacksaw. Or a hammer if those didn't work.

2.) One book you've read more than once:
So many to choose from... How about the one(s) I've re-read them most?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy...

3.) One book you'd want on a desert island:
Eschewing the obvious (Raft-building for Dummies, etc)
I'd have to go with "The Complete Works of Mark Twain".

4.) One book that made you laugh:
"The Screwtape Letters" by CS Lewis.

5.) One book that made you cry:
Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
"Suddenly he screamed, and it was as though this scream were being tossed from one tree to another, as it's echos returned, then, as though the trees themselves were crowding nearer huddled together, closing over him, pitying...

Somebody threw a dead dog after him down the ravine."

6.) One book that you wish had been written:
"How to understand and cope with idiots in your life without resorting to overt violence and/or dismemberment."
(Doubtless I will need this when Hunter starts dating.)

7.) One book that you wish had never been written:
"Flashback" by Nevada Barr- It has caused me *so* many dumb questions and stupid visitor encounters in the Dry Tortugas.

8.) One book you're currently reading:
"The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" by Neal Stephenson

9.) One book you've been meaning to read:
"Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation"
by Lynne Truss

10.) Tag five others:
Deidre at Time and Tides
Kim on The Mailboat
Jess at Jessica's Diary
Zach at The Wrong Way

Sorry-I can only come up with 4... Most of the other blogs that I frequent probably wouldn't participate.
(Or, we wouldn't want the feed back from, in the case of some sites like Reverse Cowgirl, etc.)

He didn't think it through completely...

Or maybe he did...?

I see my ex-wife finally found a new boyfriend...

Poor bastard.

Famous out-