Friday, May 14, 2010

REAL quick....

Remember that scene in Kill Bill when Beatrix decends into Okinawa (or Tokyo?).... That song that plays in the background?

As I'm currently descending into Logan Airport in Boston, you can guess what I'm listening to on a loop....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I love it

I love boarding the plane wearing my UGA shirt, looking around for that familiar logo.

I love sitting restlessly through the flight, contemplating the weekend to come.

I love looking out the airplane window as some strange, new place gradually gets larger and more detailed.

I love joking with the person at the rental car counter, asking questions like "Does your loss damage waiver cover intentional acts?" or "If you're not going to charge my credit card until I bring the car back, why should I?"

I love attaching my UGA car flag to the rental car window.

I love crusing down some new street in some new city, seeing everything for the very first time.

I love that first meal in the new place, so hungry am I after the flight and drive.

I love eating at some small, local place for said first meal, some place where I may never dine again.

I love how MapQuest leads me right to the hotel.

I love seeing a new stadium for the first time, seeing familiar faces and that familiar logo in a sea of stangers.

I love the Friday night dinner, rehashing the game and other things over cold beers.

I love going to bed on Friday night, on the soft hotel pillows and crisp hotel sheets and wondering what the next two days will bring.

I love how the hotel room soap dries out my hands. It means I'm on the road.

I love having breakfast Saturday morning at some hole in the wall.

I love exploring before the game.

I love seeing the stadium again.

I love Saturday night in a new town.

I love "get-away day", repacking, checking out, and loading "my" economy car.

I love seeing the stadium again and this time, taking a mental picture of it.

I love taking one last look around on my way out of town and marveling at how well I've gotten to "know" the place over 48 hours.

I love a quiet Sunday night dinner.

I love seeing Atlanta again through the airplane window.

I love thinking about it doing it all over again.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I would highly encourage everyone to view the "Fake MARTA" Facebook page. For those who don't know, MARTA stands for "Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority" and consists of bus service and rail service. It's basically a joke. The rail service is meant to look and function like a subway, but for all intents and purposes is a commuter train. There simply aren't enough stops on the rail lines to make the rail a viable means of transport unless you live within walking distance of one rail station are going to a place within walking distance of another rail station. I know you're thinking "well duh"... but consider that the city of Atlanta is 132 sq miles and MARTA's rail system features all of four rail lines and 38 rail stations, an average of a whopping one rail station per 3.47 sq miles. Only that's not even accurate either, since at least 13 stations are located outside of the city limits of Atlanta, so it's more like one rail station every 5.28 sq miles inside the city of Atlanta.

Thanks to chronic mismanagement, inadequate infrastructure, and a bad reputation, MARTA is facing a fairly sizeable budget shortfall (this is discussed on the Fake MARTA facebook page). With the shortfall looming, MARTA is now forced to evaluate different alternatives for cutting costs. In order to gauge consumer impact, MARTA crafted this
brilliant survey. I've taken the liberty of inserting some of the questions and possible responses below.

How would the following affect your MARTA ridership?

18 * Stop bus and rail service at midnight during weekends.

Would ride MARTA the same
Would ride MARTA more
Would ride MARTA less
Would not ride MARTA at all

19 * Stop bus and rail service at midnight 7 days a week.

Would ride MARTA the same
Would ride MARTA more
Would ride MARTA less
Would not ride MARTA at all

20 * Start bus and rail service after 6:00 a.m. on weekends

Would ride MARTA the same
Would ride MARTA more
Would ride MARTA less
Would not ride MARTA at all

21 * Start bus and rail service after 6:00 a.m. 7 days a week.

Would ride MARTA the same
Would ride MARTA more
Would ride MARTA less
Would not ride MARTA at all

Who designed these questions, some remedial 7th graders? I almost fell over when I read this. Who would ride the system MORE if LESS service was offered? Is there really a person who says "I'd certainly ride MARTA more frequently if they stopped service at midnight each night/ after 6:00a each day/ stopped rail service at midnight on the weekends, but not on weeknights"??? It's like asking someone if they would go to Wal Mart more frequently if Wal Mart decided to close at 5:00p on Tuesdays. It's a completely illogical scenario! And to think, the results of THIS survey are going aid MARTA in determining which, if any, services to cut? No wonder they're going broke.

I do ride MARTA on occasion. A rail station is across the street from my condo and $4.00 round trip to the airport is a lot better than $9/ day to park; $4.00 round trip to Turner Field is a lot better than $15 to park and not allowing myself to have a few extra beers for fear of the drive home, etc. Below are some of my more memorable MARTA rail experiences:

-Riding the airport last summer, a couple of overweight, blue collar looking guys boarded the train at one of the south Atlanta stops, which isn't a very good area. One of the guys was a drinking a beer from a tall boy can wrapped in a slim brown paper bag. The guy sat there and drank his beer, other than the bag, not even trying to conceal it. At one point, he half burped/ half gagged and spit half a mouth full of beer onto his shirt, which, for the sake of consistency, was about half the size and cleanliness that one would expect for public wear. The best part was that a MARTA cop was on that rail car, standing 15 feet from the guy at the most, looking straight at him during his "spill" and didn't even say anything.

-Following UGA's win over tech in Atlanta, I left the Omni Hotel after a few post game beers, hoping to take the train back to my place in Midtown. I entered the Philips Arena/ Ga Dome rail station. It was a little after 2:00a at this time. The station was empty, but I figured it was because it was late, nothing was going on at the Dome, and the the hockey game at Philips had concluded hours ago. I bought a ticket from the vending machine and proceeded to the platform. Nobody was down there, but the sign said that the next eastbound train was due in 15 minutes. I had a feeling something was wrong, but decided to wait it out, giving the situation 10 minutes to show some signs of life. About 5 minutes later, I hear a voice from the other end of the platform saying "Hey, what are you doing?" I look up and see a cop. I say "Waiting on the train." He says "Trains stopped running a few hours ago man. How'd you get down here?" I said "I bought a ticket and rode the escalator." He said "Ah man, I don't know why they don't lock this place. Next train won't run until the morning. You can't stay down here. Probably ought to get a cab." I said "Well, why did the machine sell me a ticket and why do these signs say that the next train is due in 15 minutes, and how was I just able to come down here?" He responded with "I don't know man. I guess the sign just defaults to that."

-"Hey man, think you could help me out?" This is a phrase heard often during a MARTA rail ride. I always chuckle at the irony of someone asking for extra change after they've (presumably) paid $2.00 to board the train in the first place.

-NOT passing my "Breeze Card" back. Fares are paid through a "Breeze Card", which is, either a paper or hard plastic card. The paper cards are not reusable, but the hard plastic cards, credit card sized, are "reloadable." Ever ridden the subway in New York? You know how you swipe your MTA card and pass it back to your friend, s/he swipes it too, and card is debited two fares (instead of one)? No dice on MARTA. After you "tap" your Breeze Card, the system "locks out" the card for 5-10 minutes, meaning that it can't be used again in that time. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. I wonder how much it costs to print all those extra paper and plastic Breeze Cards anyway.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Looks Askance

It's hard to believe that it's now been over a month since the Waco Texas adventure. My brother and I flew out there in late February to see UGA play Baylor and Duke in a three team round robin weekend to begin the baseball season. You spend so much time looking forward to a trip, then it comes and goes, and before you know it, it's getting small in the rear view mirror.

We each arrived in Dallas Friday mid-morning; me from Atlanta and him from Boston. Knowing that it was a good bet that the rental car would not have an iPod adapter, I made a CD for the trip. It's my 2010 Baseball CD, and each track has something to do, in some way, with Georgia baseball (for example - "Bleed it Out" by Linkin Park was used on a YouTube highlight video of the 2007 UGA v. tech football game. I watched that video numerous times in spring 2008 when that baseball season was underway, so I associate it with both). I only mention this because I want to be able to mention how awesome it is to drive around on the freeways in Dallas, past Texas Stadium and through their skyline, all while blaring the theme song to "Dallas" through the economy car. The "Dallas" theme song is track #2 on my CD. "The Yellow Rose of Texas" is track #1, you see, Texas is where this baseball season began.

The drive down to Waco was about two hours on I-35 and the ride went quickly. We arrived at the team hotel (that's right) around lunchtime. We wanted to eat some authentic Texas cuisine while we were visiting, so we tried to seek out small, local BBQ places as well as steakhouses. I think that's the best way to do it when you travel... Find the places with the local license plates in the parking lot. It's tough to go wrong there. And both being hungry on this Friday afternoon, we decided to head out to find some "real" Waco fare.

It didn't take long to find a place called "Vitek's BBQ". This particular place offered something called a "Gut Pak" as their main menu item. A "Gut Pak" is, remarkably, even less healthy than it sounds, you see it's a styrofoam box filled with Fritos, cheese, chopped beef, beans, sausage, pickles, onions, and jalapenos. You also get two slices of loaf bread for good measure. It comes in two sizes; regular and large. My brother had to have one. I decided to go a different route...

The line in Vitek's was long, a good sign. This was the kind of joint where you order your plate at the counter and then find a table to consume it, should such a table exist. Given that it was the lunch hour on Friday, such a table didn't really exist. Another good sign... People want to hang around Vitek's. I'm pretty hungry by this point. My alarm had gone off before 5:00a (Eastern) that morning and I hadn't had anything yet to eat (if you don't count the feast that was served on the flight, which I don't). Whenever I fly, I'm usually so focused on "getting there" that I don't eat before I go to the airport or when I'm there, a shame in itself that I deprive myself of delicious airport cuisine. Anyway, I'm eight hours into this day, nothing in my stomach except for six peanuts and I'm ready to eat a meal, a real Texas sized payday lunch. So, when it's my turn at the counter, I know what I want:

"Let me get a chopped beef sandwich and a hot link."

"You want the hot link sandwich?"

[Trouble. I didn't know the hot link came as a sandwich. This sounds interesting. I'll go with it.]

"Yeah, hot link sandwich."

"Peppers or onions?"

"Nothing on the chopped beef. Both on the hot link.... sandwich."

"Just to make sure, you want two sandwiches, right?"


"Chopped beef and a hot link?"

"Yes." I say this part emphatically, with the half nod, half thrust of my entire head.

The guy paused for a second and looked askance at me. He then proceeded to prepare my order.

I'll admit, every once in a while, something comes along that truly gives me pause. This was such a time. I mean, it's not up to this guy to piece together that since I was wearing a UGA shirt, I probably came from a long way, maybe had a long day already, maybe not, but obviously wasn't from around there (come on, even without the UGA shirt, even I don't believe that I'm great enough to appear to be from Texas) and thus, was either really hungry or wanted to try a couple of different things. But no, that's not what gave me pause. What irked me about that situation was that this guy looked at me like I had two heads (one head representing each sandwich that I'd ordered) when I gave my order. I wanted to scream "Eight out of every ten people come into this place and order something called a 'Large Gut Pak' and you're going to look funny at me for order two sandwiches?!"

Anyway, we get back to the hotel and pass a couple of Georgia people I'd met on the rental car bus at DFW. Proudly boasting our styrofoam treasures, we got a good laugh out of the perceived caloric content this meal, and I highly recommended Vitek's to these others, although I hadn't yet taken a bit out of either of my sandwiches. Even though I was (and still am) floored to receive that look for ordering for two sandwiches, that experience reinforced something that I love about Texas; it's just fine and well without me. I can really respect that.

The sandwiches of mine were awesome, no other way to describe them. About a half hour after we finished, my brother declared that he didn't "feel so hot" after consuming the vast majority of his large Gut Pak.

It was a good trip, all in all. It's hard to imagine going to school for four years in Waco, but I say that about every campus I visit, and that list is now becoming respectable. I guess that just means that I love UGA and our campus. Baylor Ballpark was nice too. It seats around 5,000 and is built on the Brazos River, such that the river is visible beyond the right field to center field wall. AND, in the top of the 7th, they play "Deep in the Heart of Texas" over the PA.

Baseball plays at UCLA next season and I'm already looking forward to making my first ever trip to Los Angeles. I'm thinking that track #1 on the 2011 Baseball CD will be "I love LA" by Randy Newman.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Many Thanks

Many thanks to Anne E. Hull for her "Kreativ Blogger" award given to me today in the afternoon hours. Just to prove that this is legit, I am posting a picture of the award within this very text.

I had a visit a pawn shop today. The visit was not to pawn or sell any personal belongings or anything like that, rather the visit was work related. I had these two sewing machines that were part of a claim I worked on two summers ago that, to make a long story short, were later discovered as damaged. My company paid to replace the subject machines and I got to make a drive to lovely Cobb County to hand deliver the check and collect the subject machines. You see, when we pay to replace something, we get to take possession of it and do with it what we will. We've paid you for a new one. We get the old one (if the old one hasn't been discarded, which it almost always has). Anyway, the idea is that we take the old item and sell it for salvage value and credit whatever cash we generate back to our claim file. So, every once in a while, I get charged with trying to sell some bizarre item for pennies on the dollar. I used to just list things on eBay, trying my best to write comedic descriptions (For a set of four Mercedes wheels: "4 Mercedes wheels ON THE CHEAP". For a single diamond stud earring: "Perfect for the one-eared woman").

These sewing machines were heavy though, like 30-40lbs a pop, bulky, and just generally difficult to carry around. As such, I decided to leave them in my car after I collected them and would attempt to sell them directly to a third party (so as to avoid carrying them up to the office, putting them in the supply room, waiting 14 months, and then having someone ask me why they're in the supply room, then carrying them back down to my car to try and sell). I'm not lazy, it's not that, but the reality is that I have more pressing things to do most days than to try and sell two water damaged sewing machines. So, they sat on my backseat for several weeks, although I was going to places one or twice a week attempting to sell the subject machines, with no luck.

I was motivated today following a large cup of McDonalds coffee and several glasses of sweet tea at lunch time and a very productive morning that saw my knock out all of today's work and all of tomorrow's as well.

I wound up at a lovely place in Norcross called "The Pawn Shop, Inc." I walked inside and asked one of the shop keeps if he was interested in buying some sewing machines. He doubted that he would be. I bolstered my case by explaining that the machines were water damaged, I didn't know if they'd actually been repaired, and that based on their weight, they seemed really nice (I also told him what we paid to replace them which confirmed how nice they were; very nice).

A few minutes later, I have both sewing machines sitting on the glass counter above some pistols, each machine plugged in, and me clumsily trying to figure out how they worked, to prove that they did work. Upon randomly pressing some buttons on the larger machine and watching the needle suddenly come to life and pound like a piston in a race car I proudly exclaimed "Well, I'll be damned, it does work...."

I may have been the worst "pawner" ever, which I guess is inevitable when it's someone else's money that's being dealt. I started amusing myself at the dialogue that was taking place in front of the used DVDs.

"Why are you trying to sell these things?"

"Because I'm tired of seeing them on my back seat."

"Have they been repaired?"

"I have no idea. I don't know how long they'll work either."

"How much do you think they retail for?"


"How much you want for them?"

"I don't know. $30 a piece? $60 total?"

"If you paid (redacted) for them and you're selling them for $60, something must be wrong."

"Yeah, what's wrong is that I'm tired of looking at them."

"It says here [from online research] that the bigger one should have a foot pedal. Does it have one?"

"You're asking the wrong guy. I don't see one in the box, so I guess it doesn't have one."

Finally, after some debate, they agreed to buy the subject machines for $40 total. I was happy with that. This is when the fun really started. They asked for my driver's license, which I provided. Then for my social security number. After giving it to the clerk, I smiled and said "you think these are hot?"

He replied with "Well, we report everything. So if they are, we'll know." He looked at my very seriously, almost sternly, and added "OK?"

I said "Well, if I was going to steal something and then pawn it, I'd at least take something that I knew the value of...." He found this mildly funny and at this point, I think he dropped any concern he may have had.

They printed the invoice and asked me to sign at the bottom. I wrote my signature with our company name right beside it. Then the clerk asked for my right index finger. He pressed it onto an ink pad and rolled it across the invoice near my signature. Take no chances.

The topper came next. The clerk wrote a number, it was 13, in a big red letters at the top of the invoice. He then handed the invoice to me and said "Hold this up by your face". I did as I was told, laughing at this point, while the clerk, I kid you not, took my picture holding this invoice. I said "Do you want to take another one with me holding today's newspaper in the other hand?" which really amused one of the other clerks.

All in all, I was happy. I got some money back for the company and cleaned up my backseat. I managed to have a good time in doing both of those things and now, should I ever want to buy some used power tools or mircowaves, I know exactly where to go. It's a win for everyone, really.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Killin' Time

So, I'm sitting in the parking lot at the West Cobb Marketplace as I type this. It's 9:52a. I have to be in Woodstock, which my GPS tells me is about 30 minutes away, for appointment between 11:00a and noon. I've already been told that it's going to be closer to noon. In other words, I find myself with some time to kill.

I've already been to Dallas GA this morning. It was a rare set of circumstances that lead me to two appointments in the same day and so far this morning has reminded me how much I enjoy being "on the road" as they say in our company's vernacular. The stress of getting to your first stop on time, the chemically induced jitters that come with a large cup of coffee, the thoughts, work related and not, that go through your head mixed in with the sounds of the AM radio. I love that.

If you need to make a restroom stop, use a Publix (if you're in Georgia or the southeast). The bathrooms are clean and you won't get hassled for using the restroom and not buying anything. Quick Trip works well for that purpose too. Maybe I'll even grab some Arby's for lunch today... it'll be just like "old time" when I was "on the road" constantly.

I woke up Saturday morning iching to go on another trip. By Saturday night, I'd booked my plane tickets and set everything in motion. I love having that degree of flexibility. I made myself wait about 12 hours to book the plane tickets, just in case I needed to talk myself out of it, but I wound up bolstering the case for myself mentally. Who knows that the situtaion will be next year... maybe I won't have those options then. You just never know. That was the same mindset that lead me to take the job with Amica, and its required relocation, out of college. I knew that there may never be another time for me to relocate and it was something that I wanted to be able to experience. It's easy to justify things to myself that way, prudent a person as I may be.

I feel like I could jump over this car right now. I don't drink coffee all that often, so on days that I do, it's like shooting cocaine directly into my aorta. Could you even do that with cocaine? I guess you'd have to mix it with something, I don't know.

It would be nice if I had a wireless card, I could get some work done while I sit here. I'm just too far out to head to the office, so there really isn't much I can do at this point except wait. I couldn't justify the cost of a wireless card to the company, no more roadwork than I do these days. But days like today, I would be nice to have.

Do you remember that scene on "Stand by Me" when Gordy wakes up early and is writing in his journal by the train tracks? He sees that deer stumble out of the woods and stand for a minute near the tracks. Gordy and the deer lock eyes for a few seconds and the deer trots away. In the movie, Gordy's monologue is "The passing freight train woke the others and it was on the tip of my tongue to tell them about the deer, but I didn't. That was the one thing that I kept to myself. I've never spoken of it or written of it until now." I can think of a couple of things that happened in my life that are along those same lines, that immediately after they occur, I grab my phone or blackberry so I can tell someone. But then I stop and decide to keep it to myself, to hide it. I don't know why. Some things I just feel better about if they're "mine" and that alone. There's no real reason for it, I suppose that I just find more peace that way. I wouldn't want someone to think that I was bragging or given to hyperbole or anything else. And on days like today, when I'm killing time, I can revist those places in my mind and remember them and they're mine, they haven't been disturbed. They may not always stay that way... one thing that I greatly enjoy when I'm becoming emotionally close to someone is to ask them to tell me something that nobody else knows. I love having that degree of trust with someone and in those moments, some of my hidden things become revealed. And some stay hidden, waiting for other moments.

I don't like it when people compliment me very much. Well, I do like it some, but I don't have peace with it. When they tell me how well I do with work or how funny I am or that I should do this, that, or the other because I'm good at it, I just want to change the subject. I know why that's the case, I've figured out why I react that way. Maybe you know that too, although if you don't, I guess you can figure it out for yourself, if you like.

Potenially I have jury duty tomorrow. I'm a standby. I'll find out tonight if I have to report in the morning (edit: I do have to report). I wonder, given my occupation, if they'll let me sit. I think I'd have a hard time being selected for almost any civil matter. It will be interesting to say though. I'm 50/50 on it... I knew for about two weeks that I may be called tomorrow, so I scheduled tomorrow kind of lightly work wise. If I have to sit for one day, it won't put me behind. Beyond that though, it may get complicated. We'll see what happens. My gut feel is that I won't be called.

It's 10:23a now. I'll just keep killing time until.... there's no time to kill. That's all well and good, except that I do have a lot of work to do this afternoon and I wish I could get a jump on it now. What are you going to do? That's just life.

When it's time, I'll be ready.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Roundin' third and heading for home....

A little less than a year ago I bought this book on a Saturday afternoon in Athens. After reading the first couple of pages I knew that I was for a few late nights. I think it was Monday night when I finished the book and I only put it down when I literally couldn't stay awake any longer, or, as was the case that Sunday, I had a baseball game to go to. It was that good.

Basically, the book is about a guy named Matt McCarthy. He played college baseball at Yale and was drafted in the 21st round by the Anaheim Angels organization. The book details his year of playing rookie league baseball in Provo Utah, as well as his experience at the next season's spring training.

I'll share now a little secret that is not so much of one because I've already shared it with a few people. Soon, I'll share it with the boss man.

This year, I will be declaring myself eligible for the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. While I harbor no illusions of being drafted based on talent (seeing as that I've never played competitive baseball beyond the little league level), my hope is that some orgaization out there will spend their 50th (last) round pick on a nice kid who loves the game and will most certainly serve as a bullpen catcher for his assigned minor league team. I have no ego when it comes to playing time, "signability" will not be an issue for me, and you'll never once hear me bitch about having to ride 11 hours one way on a bus to sleep at a Motel 6 and play four games in the middle of the week in front of a few hundred fans. SIGN ME UP.

If I am drafted, I will sign. I will resign from my beloved career, I will take their $1,000.00 mandatory signing bonus, I will figure out what to do with my current housing (probably nothing) and will report where assigned. Each MLB team has a spring training facility in Florida or Arizona. I hope its the latter. I think I'd like the desert a little bit more, but I really don't care. I really don't.

Look, the odds of it happening are non-existant. Decent college players (you know, who actually do play baseball) don't get picked. UGA had a senior left handed starting pitcher back in 2006. He was our Friday night starter, meaning that he was the #1 pitcher on the staff. He didn't get picked. Granted, he had some issues with his shoulder and labrum and couldn't throw very hard, but still, he wasn't drafted. It doesn't look good for me. But I'll still declare myself and see what happens. It may be the start of something fantastic.

And look at it this way... an MLB team is going to draft tons of kids who won't sign. UGA had three juniors last year to be drafted who all chose not to sign and came back. Usually about half of our signing class each year is drafted out of HS and they don't sign. Here's what I have going for me.... I WILL sign. You won't waste your pick, even your 50th round pick, on me. For $1,000.00, plus the league mandated $850.00 per month, I'll be dad gum happy to take the most thankless spot on the whole roster and sit night after night in the bullpen and play catch with relief pitchers. From a financial standpoint, I think that's a steal, to say nothing of the headaches I WON'T cause the manager by carping over my lack of playing time.

Pick me, tell me where to go, and I'll be the first one standing in line. Send me to an outpost. We've already established that I don't have a problem going to such a place. No reason that this shouldn't happen (well, except the reason of me not actually being a baseball player).

And if not, hey, the current gig ain't so bad either.