Friday, January 30, 2009

tampa day 1

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so today we woke up early (i guess) 7:30 here is 6:30 at home. had a rather good breakfast at the hotel (we are staying in a residence inn...the NFL so far really has done a nice job putting us up both this year and in 2007) and headed out early to busch gardens...we got there 10 min before the park opened and I am really glad i bought a sweatshirt last night because it was raining and cold! we hit the two big coasters within 10 minutes of each other...there were NO lines all day. we rode every coaster once, hit some shows and saw the whole park....all in all as dale said, "it doesnt even feel like we have been here for 8 hours!"

I asserted that since we had no kids to yell at , keep track of, feed, cajole, carry, or help go potty it made ofr a fun day...thanks to Juan and Justin for the hints about the park/weather!

we decided to go out to dinner (as the yling lang beer and doritos in the room were not enought for me) and went to this pizza place called cici's. BEST PIZZA BUFFET EVER.

the traffic down here is mental. the lights take about 5 min between cycles and people drive worse than illinois drivers, if that is possible.

tonight we decided to sit around in our jammies, drink beer (dale) eat baskin robbins (me) and watch Hitman and BSG. Great fraking episode. dont worry, it was a flash bang.

tomorrow we have free tickets (thanks NFL) to the NFL fan experience. plan on doing that all day and then maybe hitting the Mons Venus (best nudie bar in tampa) if i can stomach the $50.00 cover (lets hope ladies enter free)...if not we will hit either the penthouse club or the hard rock.

or neither, i dunno.

dale's dad should be here sunday aruond noon with mum, planning on staying in the room and watching the game with her.

i will post many many pictures after i get home.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

chris made me go bowling and get hit on by drunk rednecks

my neighbor Chris (whom I quite like) asked me to go out bowling with her, even after my long ass day at the waterpark i said sure, lets go was moonlight bowling which started at 11pm...we got dinner at la estacion before hand and then went bowling...all is good and one irish coffee later i am perked up a bit...a few frames in we notice these horribly creepy guys just standing behind and to the side of our lane staring at us..

chris goes on to describe how whenever she goes out she ALWAYS gets hit on by losers or drunks, even when she is with Dave (her husband).

and about 6 sets later the very hot Goth waitress comes over and says something to Chris as I am bowling yet another gutterbal/spare set.

I ask Chris whats up, she said "i told you so, the waitress said those guys want to buy us a drink!"

I said, "I am pretty sure they want to buy you a drink and feel they have to buy your friend one too."

Chris is tiny, thin, blonde and quite cute; for those who know me, I haven't been cute since sometime in the mid 90s.

Chris tells the waitress no and the waitress says "good call."

we keep bowling...

2 sets later drunk #1 comes over and asks me "can we buy you drinks."

"no im pretty sure we're ok, thanks."

3 frames later drunk #2 comes over and repeats process

"nope, we are all good."

then i bowl and the 1st drunk guy comes over and explains he is from the south, his friend likes chris blah blah.

nope, were good, thanks buh-bye.

then chris goes to bowl and the guy walks over again,
i lead off with "so we are back to the drink thing again huh?"

"awww dont be like that, why cant we buy you drinks?"

"because i dont think our two husbands, 5 kids, 1 dog, 1 cat and 2 mortgages would like us having a drink from you."

so this pretty much caps it off for us and the guys still stood behind us staring all night. chris thought we might have to ask for an escort out since they really couldnt take a hint...we leave about 1:45am and as we are sitting in the van (you know, the large minivan with carseats and cheerios on the floor and blankies) waiting to get warm we see drunk #1 being tossed out of the bowling alley by 4 bouncers.

and hes yelling about something and chris and I are just dying.

now after an irish coffee and a pepsi, I am too wired to sleep.

my kids will be awake in 4 hours.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

uno nugget before i to bed

it is baby birthing season, kelly just popped out her twins...on her birthday (way to start the twin birth process out right by being ORGANIZED and ECONOMICAL!) Kris is @ the hospital now popping out hers (hooray Kris)

i, however will remain chemically barren for the entire length of my fertile days.

weekend wrap up:

today took family over to chris and dave's, had dale help dave put in new dishwasher, watched the kids play with every toy in the place...came home made dinner and magic cookie bars, found two things on craigs list (pushing daisies season one and a bookcase which i need to repaint tomorrow) and then went out and got them.

yesterdy ran errands (mya to doctor, Library, post office, bank, walmart, gas) and corralled matt into babysitting for an hour (i paid in cookies) so dale and I could run to half price books..bought books (shocking for me, I know)

friday, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, everything else was just so much noise. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA!!!!

tomorrow i have off and have an all day date with my son. we are going to the movies together and seeing something at 12:35, i think bedtime stories with adam sandler. then chris and i are taking the boys to the girl scout counsel shop (weird) we have to get some stuff for the girls.

weekend update on what reading/listening/watching

reading: backup by jim butcher (pretty cool if you like the dresden files and very short) and my annual slog through lord of the rings, still on the fellowship of the ring, book 2....

listening: old 97's "adelaide", two death cab for cutie albums (i am now somewhat very into this emo band), "so what" by pink (she always puts out good poppy rockers)

watching: get smart, fred claus, veronica mars season 3 disc 2, battlestar galactica (sigh...ellen as the final of the final 5)

only 10 days til i leave for Tampa.

addendum, there are now 5 people i went to high school with who have had twins, gretchen, myself, mandy, kelly, and jessica....i also went to school with 3 sets of twins, twins must be my lot in life.

Friday, January 16, 2009

5 yrs?

from my archives i have been logging time on here since 2003. that is just fucked up.
wil wheaton watch your back-beeotch (i kid, because i love)

i got an email from an old attorney i worked with at GE....he's still litigating the heck out of cases for GE and STILL working on a case i passed to him in early 2001.

god bless the fast movin', always groovy legal system.

on todays theme, its also crazy when i get a call from one of my old attorney buddies about cases we worked years ago.

its even more crazy that i recollect the details.

and if i get one more attorney buddy telling me i should go to law school again, i'm gonna yak. i had a long discussion with one of them once about law school, he said this (and i think it was one of the more intelligent things Id ever heard....or possibly it wasnt and the wine made me think it was) about law school

law school didnt teach me how to become a good lawyer, you can learn how to be a lawyer and pass the bar just from reading books and studying your ass off. you learn how to argue and reason in law school and that carries on in your practice.

which makes sense. i told him i would by pass the law school and take the bar in a state that doesnt require a law degree to practice..i said i bet i could study like an MF-er and pass somewhere and hang my shingle doing estates and trusts. its my contention that death is where the money is...well that and patent attorneys, those guys make boocoo cash.

no matter what, very little makes me miss the days of paralegal-ing/litigation analyst-ing against deadbeat hospitals, imaging centers, and debtors. but it is always fun to tell crazy collection stories and to impress people at cocktail parties by saying things like "yes i have been deposed. yes i have testified in open court. yes i have won all the cases i sent down to trial. why yes i do have an attorney on speed dial, actually i have 5 who i could call if the shit hit the fan (although all of them live in either NY, NJ, or LA)

i have very cold hands

if anyone else does too let me know.
it must be woodwork week in the world 'cause old friends are crawlin' out of it....its very strange the number (which isnt that many) of xboyfriends i now speak with on myspace/facebook...

its funny how people think i'm carrying a grudge or torch you know, like 15-20 years later over shit that happened when i was like 12. dude, i cant even remember what i ate for lunch yesterday much less the details of crap that happened in the late 80s and early 90s.

i really only actively have some hate/dislike/anger/unresolved issues for maybe 3 people/former lovers/former friends. since i think those have been well documented over the years, not really needing to get into it again.

there are prob. more people who i wonder where they are now (and thanks wayne for checking in :) ) and havent been able to track down, or find out anything about (even using all the skip tracing tools at my disposal from back in the day....)

it has been a riot to talk with people from elementary school, kara ann you know i mean you girly girl.

one of the coolest things i ever attended was Dale's elementary school reunion, about 25 people showed up (st agnes was k-8) and we all looked at pictures and chatted and whatnot, it was very fun and i didnt know anyone, but dale. it was still cool to see all those old friends get together.


so we have been sold to morgan stanley at work...nothing should change before 3rd qtr but people are still yippie at work...just hoping i wont get redacted or moved to tosa or mequon. also hoping that our ops mgr doesnt get asked to retire, that would just be horrible.

other crap thats going on:

dale got the final trip details from the NFL: we are flying into orlando since renting a car in tampa: 678.00 for 4 days, renting a car in orlando, 119.00 for 4 days (for the same fucking car!) its only an hour or so to drive to tampa....

superbowl ticks should arrive after this sundays games...

i just want some sunshine and some relaxing away from the kids with possible chocolate martini time.

since it has been so cold i have been watching uber amounts of tv and movies so far:


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Monday, January 12, 2009

sometimes you feel like a nut...

Nut allergies -- a Yuppie invention
Some kids really do have food allergies. But most just have bad reactions to their parents' mass hysteria.
Joel Stein
January 9, 2009
» Discuss Article (138 Comments)

Your kid doesn't have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special. Your kid also spends recess running and screaming, "No! Stop! Don't rub my head with peanut butter!"

Yes, a tiny number of kids have severe peanut allergies that cause anaphylactic shock, and all their teachers should be warned, handed EpiPens and given a really expensive gift at Christmas. But unless you're a character on "Heroes," genes don't mutate fast enough to have caused an 18% increase in childhood food allergies between 1997 and 2007. And genes certainly don't cause 25% of parents to believe that their kids have food allergies, when 4% do. Yuppiedom does.

I first had this thought seven years ago, when I wrote a short story that very few people read because, unlike most people, I was kind enough not to show it to anyone. In one pointless digression, I described a future allergy epidemic in which not only nuts but malt, guar gum, gluten and corn cause kids to blow up like balloons in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It subsides only after the FDA declares the allergies entirely psychosomatic.

You can see why I didn't send that story to the New Yorker.

But an essay by Harvard doctor and social scientist Nicholas Christakis in the British Medical Journal -- which I read in between my perusal of Classical Philology and the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics -- makes more or less the same argument. Christakis, who did a famous study showing that having fat friends makes you fat, wrote that parental responses "bear many of the hallmarks of mass psychogenic illness."

If you don't think allergic reactions can be caused by mass hysteria, then you don't know about the uncontrollable dancing that gripped thousands of Europeans between the 14th and 18th centuries, or that the South Korean government recently issued a consumer safety alert saying that electric fans can asphyxiate you if left running overnight, after news reports of several deaths. You, in short, have never looked up "mass hysteria" on Wikipedia.

Since food allergies kill about as many people as lightning strikes each year, we probably don't need to ban peanuts from schools or put warnings on every product saying it was "made in a factory that also has a break room where a guy named Dave often sneaks in a King Size Snickers despite this 'diet' he says he's on."

When I talked to Christakis, he made it clear that -- unlike me -- he doesn't think peanut allergies represent a mass hysteria. That's because scientists believe in rigorous study and proof, while opinion columnists believe in saying something outrageous to get attention.

But we did agree that it is strange how peanut allergies are only an issue in rich, lefty communities.

"We don't see this problem much in African American or poor communities. So there's something going on here. We don't see them in Ecuador and Guatemala," Christakis said.

A study of Jews of similar demographics and genetics in Britain and Israel found that British kids were 10 times more likely to have peanut allergies than Israelis. That's probably because Israeli kids have other things to be afraid of. I would like to see a study that measures one's increased likelihood of peanut allergies if you're an American kid named Oliver, Aidan, Spencer or Finn.

Parents may think they are doing their kids a favor by testing them and being hyper-vigilant about monitoring what they eat, but it's not cool to freak kids out. Only 20% of kids who get a positive allergy test result need treatment. And a 2003 study showed that kids who were told they were allergic to peanuts had more anxiety and felt more physically restricted than if they had diabetes. "It's anxiety-producing to imagine that having a snack in kindergarten could be deadly," Christakis said. Remember, this is a demographic so easily panicked that, equipped with only circles and dots, it invented an inoculation to cooties.

A few years ago, I was at a bar without food, so I started downing peanuts. Around the third bowl, I started coughing and felt this itchiness in the back of my throat, which I quickly treated with beer. Still, for a few minutes, I was convinced that a peanut allergy was about to kill me. If the beer had not made me forget the incident, I might have avoided nuts for the rest of my life. Or, worse, bored everyone at the table with my questions about nut allergies.

So bring back nuts to schools. If parents need to panic about a food, at least go with seafood allergies. Those fish sticks are disgusting.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

braille is awesome

Few inventions have been as simple yet liberating as Braille. To mark the 200th birthday of its inventor Louis Braille, former British home secretary David Blunkett explains how it shaped his life by providing him from an early age with a window on the world.

Picture a little boy of four. He arrives at school - boarding school - for the first time. Worried, sometimes even frightened, but determined not to cry.

Picture then a little boy with a contraption in front of him on his desk the following morning. A stylus (to him, a pin with a wooden knob on the top) in which he's expected not only to press downwards to make what he considers to be a "hole" in thick paper, but the daunting prospect of being told that he's going to operate from right to left.

The reason why it was necessary to write from right to left was that, in those days, without the sophistication firstly of mechanical and then of electronic Braille production, the dots had to be pressed downwards and, when turned over, would provide a mirror image.

It was therefore not only necessary to write from right to left, but also to reverse the actual letters so that with the exception of letters like A and C, other parts of the alphabet had to be reversed. D had to be written as an F. In Braille, this is exactly the mirror image - and therefore came out on the opposite side exactly as you'd read it left to right. If all this sounds complicated, it damn well was! Thankfully, new systems were developed as I went through the education system which allowed the production to be bottom-up (with the dots punctured upwards from left to right, immediately readable by the user).

Despite all its difficulties in those early days, this system was nevertheless a liberator for me and hundreds of thousands of blind men and women like me.

Invented by Louis Braille at the age of 15, the idea came from a soldier who had served in the Napoleonic army in Poland and had attempted to devise a system that could, with night-time manoeuvres, allow messages to be sent and instructions to be passed from hand to hand.

It didn't work, because the system was too complex and the soldiers didn't get it. Not surprisingly, because to read Braille without being able to see you need to develop sensitive finger ends.

Finger ends which, unlike mine, need to be protected from burns developed whilst cooking, or rough handling of gardening implements and the like. My fingers have developed what in a sighted person might be called "cataracts", but I still plough on.

Art of oratory

All those years ago, Louis Braille decided that it was crucial that he should be able to read and, above all, to be able to write down his thoughts.

Two hundred years later, when chairing a meeting it is vital that I have an agenda on my own that I can refer to without reference to someone else. It is vital that I have notes even when I shy away from actually reading speeches verbatim.

It's no secret that I found reading statements at the Despatch Box in the Commons a trial. Statements have to be read verbatim because the print version has been handed out, whereas of course speeches are an entirely different matter and much more up my street - as, of course, with answering questions.

With a set of notes you can make a speech having learnt the art of oratory at a very early age. In fact it's probably a question of cause and effect. My own development of oratory came from the fact that by using notes I could overcome the difficulty of not being able quite so fluently as I would wish to skim over a written page of Braille - for Braille doesn't have the opportunity to provide highlights.

You can't simply write Braille in large form so that as with print you can "catch your eye" on something that it is absolutely vital to deliver or to emphasise. Underlining is possible, but more out of technical form than in terms of being able to quickly highlight what needs to be referred to and at what point.

Therefore, for me, Braille has been a method of ensuring that I can work on equal terms, using my own initiative and doing it in my own way.

For others, it has been an absolutely vital way of ensuring private correspondence and, with more recent developments, being able to demand bank statements which allow privacy rather than relying on someone else to read them (perhaps a neighbour) at a time when confidentiality could be crucial.

In the future, so many of the public forms and communications we receive could easily be put in Braille by the use of computer software and the transcription equipment now readily available to public authorities.

My staff use exactly such software, along with Braille embossers, in order to be able to produce material for me on a regular basis.

So, as we celebrate the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, we lift a glass at the New Year to thank him for the ingenuity, the confidence and the determination that ensured that others like him sought and gained independence, equality and dignity.

Whilst doing so, we should recognise the critical role of organisations working with and on behalf of blind people, such as the Royal National Institute of the Blind here in the UK, whose support and resource base is crucial to making this old invention come alive in imaginatively new ways.

The year 2009 will indeed, here and across the world, be a chance to recognise this form of communication as an essential liberator, a window on the world for children reading their books (under their bedcovers, as I did), or adults being able to go about their business with confidence - and with the certainty that very few other people will be able to read their secrets.

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