I guess it's about time for 2007 post. I reckon I could start off with the cheesy "oh 2006 was such a great year" intro and then go into how it was a good year, but I'll skip all that. If you've been reading this blog you know what a wonderful year it was. I have to say though, I'm ready for 2007. I already have some big stuff planned for this year and am ready to get it started. I've got a trip to Europe, a couple motorcycle trips, some camping, and several other projects already lined up. You'll just have to wait and hear about those though.
I did a quick search through my postings from 2006 and it looks like I wrote 141 post last year, and had 202 comments left. I'll be looking to improve on those numbers, though I haven't gotten off to a great start.
I have knocked out one thing already this year. I went shopping the other day for some new clothes and was able to get 3 pants and 3 shirts all within an hour. Not bad if I do say so myself. So I've knocked out one of my two clothes shopping trips a year. Now I only have to go one more time in the summer and get some new summer clothes.
Now I just have to keep working on this Project 365 I talked about. I should have started this when I first posted about it because I was doing something neat almost every day. Now that the new year has come, I'm back in my work routine and not much exciting is going on. I'm hoping that changes real soon.
So Stu and I decided to catch a movie this weekend and saw "Children of Men." It is a sci-fi flick about how in the future women have become infertile and a new child hasn't been born in over 18 years. I think they did a great job with the story. There are a thousand ways they could have gone and they picked a good, realistic one. I'm not normally a sci-fi movie type guy, but this was good. There were a few things I noticed though that Stu and I found interesting.
The movie takes place in England which seems to be a growing trend. It maybe that I am just getting into all of this, but V for Vendetta, 28 Days later, and now this movie all have very deep social issues arising and they all take place in Great Britian. Interesting. Two of them are also about how the world has "failed" but GB has survived.
If you've seen it let me know what you think, but don't leave any spoilers in the comments.
I found this video on the internet where a film group goes around and asks what appear to be college students, how much money would it take for them to kill a puppy with their bare hands. Now I know what you're thinking, What a ridiculous question, right? They get a wide range of answers from $1000 to 1 billion, but what is interesting is what happens when they bring a big novelty check and a puppy. While it's a very morbid thing to think about, I think the video show some interesting sociological perspectives. There are those that say they wouldn't do it for any amount of money and then there are those that are actually able to put a price tag on killing a puppy. But when the dog comes out you see how easy people say one thing and do or not do another.
While this is an extreme example, think of how many times you say one thing and do or don't do that same thing when it comes down to the line. I think about this a lot. One particular, and very personal, example I can give is about gossip. I love to talk gossip with, or about people. Most of the time it's nothing big, but every now and then it is. One rule I have personally set is that I never say anything behind someone's back that I wouldn't be willing to say to their face. Now I've never been called out on it, but I really do think to myself, "Would I be willing to say this to their face" before talking about someone. Most of the time it keeps me in check and keeps me from saying things that I don't really mean.
So how much would it cost for you to kill a puppy with your bare hands?
The following video is morbid and don't watch it if you have a soft-spot for puppies, or money.
I got to thinking the other day and noticed something. It has been a while since I've heard someone go thumping by in their car. It seems like in high school and especially in college I was always listening to other car's music. I wonder if it something about living in Buckhead with all the big wigs and trophy wifes or just something that has become "less cool" over the years. Either way I'm glad it's changed.
I have to admit that at first I thought TV shows on DVD were totally lame, but I'm hooked now. When someone tells me that I should catch this "new show" that is just a couple seasons old, I often wonder if it is good, "will I have to rent all the previous seasons on DVD to catch up?" I know too many people that are hooked on "24", my parents included. I've watched some of it, and it is good, but everyone I know rents/borrows all the previous seasons to watch and catch up. That's a lot of TV to watch to catch up and as we all know I already watch too much TV. I have resisted the "24" bug, but I do like renting TV shows that sound good but got canceled before I could see them. My latest is "Undeclared" about a bunch of college freshman experiencing college.
So when I saw an article on CNN about DVD-itis I was intrigued. The writer describes how someone last year recommended that she and her husband start watching "24" and how it became an obsession. Spoiler alert: The first two paragraphs give away the ending of one of the seasons to 24. Season 4 or 5 I'm not sure. But it got me thinking there are so many people who have DVD-itis, myself included. I can't help but think that the TV show suits are just laughing all the way to the bank. Not only are people buying these DVDs to shows that they have already paid for in advertisements, but people are getting hooked and picking up all the new episodes too. I wish I had thought of it.
From the article:
So do you have DVD-itis? If so what are you hooked on? You can find the article on CNN.com
As you all know I've been taking a lot of pictures lately and you can find all my Project 365 photos on the right part of the page, but I wanted to share some more photos that I took this weekend.
The first set is from my family's annual punt, pass, and kick competition. We have a blast each year and even though I am one of the least-athletic members of our family I was able to come in third this year! wahoo!
The next set of pictures is from that same day at the Monster Truck Jam 07 in Phillips Arena. I went with several friends and if you have never been you don't know what you are missing. I have several photos but I am also including two videos. The first one is of one of the races they have and the second one is of one of the trucks in the freestyle event. It is such a blast each year.
I had an incredible weekend, which I'll write about later, but tonight was Chris's Birthday and a couple of us went to Ru San's to celebrate. While we were there we couldn't let Chris get out of having the restaurant sing Happy Birthday to him, and apparently at Ru San's this involves the guest of honor dancing on a table. It was too funny not to post here. I present to you Chris's Dance:
I don't think I could have asked for a better weekend than this past one. Friends, Family and Relaxing.
The weekend started Friday night, as they usually do. Friday Night the turtles all gathered for a dinner at Panahar, a Bangladesh restaurant that Stuart had been to once before. The food was good, even though it was a long dinner (3+ hours), but what was really fun was having just the four turtles (Stu, Chris, Isaac, and myself) together. We get to see each other often, but it is usually in the company of others. Which don't get me wrong is awesome too, but it's just been a while since we all went out just the four of us.
Then Saturday came with promises of hard work with a sweet sweet reward. For Christmas I had given Brandon and Bradley tickets to the upcoming Cowboy Mouth concert and also arranged for our cousins Kyle and Claire to come with us. So with all these folks coming over to my apartment, it had to be cleaned. So I spent most of Saturday picking up and cleaning the place. Then Saturday night we had an amazing time at the concert. I've said it many times, and will say it again. Cowboy Mouth puts on the best performance I've ever seen! I have never worked so hard at a concert in my life. The audience is clapping, yelling, jumping sitting, etc... the whole show. And If you don't do so, Fred the drummer and kinda head of the band, will get out in the crowd and embarrass you until you stand up and participate. It was a really good time and I know Kyle, Claire, B&B had a good time. We did find it funny that Claire was by far the youngest person there, quickly followed by Kyle, Bradley and Brandon. But if you ever get the chance to go to a Cowboy Mouth concert, do it!. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Then on Sunday was my day of relaxation. I don't know what I was relaxing from, but it was nice not to do a single thing all day. I think I watched 4 movies and two football games. Leaving me well rested for this week.
As the week comes to a close, and I begin ramping up for the upcoming weekend, I can only hope that this one will be close to as much fun as last weekend.
So Sunday I awoke with an amazing craving for pancakes. Where better to fill this urge than IHOP right? So I headed over to IHOP, hit up some pancakes and just as I was about to leave I learned that they were turning away customers because they had no water. I thought that was pretty weird, but quickly learned how it happened. On my ride back home I had to drive through about 2 feet of rushing water on Roswell Road. There had been a water main break at a construction site on Roswell and it was flooding the street.
I didn't think much more about it until last night when I saw on the news that there was a boil water advisory in our area. The real problem presented itself today at work. While most of the buildings had water, though not drinkable, our building did not. The real problem here is the restrooms. With no water, there is no way to flush so we were told we had to walk across two parking lots to go to another building and use the restroom. With this news, I quickly decided the best place to work was from home today.
So here I sit, boiling some drinking water finishing my work day. I can't complain too much as I like working from home, but it sure is a pain to have to boil water so I can have my afternoon cup of coffee. I guess it could be worse; I could have no water! Oh and boiling water is a good way to heat the apartment on this coldest day of the year.
You can watch a video report using my work's video searching technology on 11alive.com
My cousin Kyle got inspired by doing the project 365 thing and came up with a similar project for music. His idea was to get a group of people to each buy at least 1 CD each month and share it. This month I've bought 4 (through iTunes) that I'd like to share.
The Weepies - I found these from a TV show I watch. They are good but not spectacular.
Royksopp - This is a technoish type band very similar to "The Postal Service." They have a killer track "Remind Me" that I think is in some commercial.
Cowboy Mouth - I bought this one after hearing them live. It had a few tracks that I hadn't heard before the concert but really liked.
Boys Like Girls - This my new favorite CD. I've been told they are "punk" but it's more emo-rock I think. The whole CD is really killer.
Want to join Project12? Leave a comment on what CD's you've purchased in January and continue to buy them through the year.
How's this for luck?
Today I woke up late for work (11 AM). Yesterday was my annual performance review.
FON, the spanish wifi sharing system is giving away 10,000 free FON access points to Americans. I just signed up and ordered mine and it is completely free. The deal is, FON will give you this access point allowing you to connect wirelessly to your home network, and in return you agree to share a small amount of your internet with other FON users. The other great thing is since you are sharing your internet connection, anywhere you go in the world you can connect to other's FON access points for free. I'm really hoping this works out when the brothers and I go to europe this summer.
I encourage all of you to give this a shot. What do you have to loose? Chances are you will never have anyone use your internet, but it would be awesome if one day there are enough of these access points around that traveling and looking for wifi is a thing of the past.
[found via BoingBoing]
Reasons I hate MySpace
1. it is a breeding ground for crappy website design. I've never seen as horrible websites as I have found on MySpace.
2. The ads are inappropriate. They have all these ads on the site for something called "True" something another. I can't even view a MySpace site at work for fear that one of my co-workers will walk by and see a half naked girl on my screen and get the wrong impression of where I'm hanging on the internet. Since I think a majority of their users are in the 12-22 age range, I think it is a little inappropriate to have all these half naked women spread all over the site.
3. It NEVER remembers my login. No matter how many times I tell it to remember my username and password, I have to login every-time I come to the site.
4. When I go to do something that requires a user to be logged in, after I login (see #3) I am taken to my "home" screen and not to the page I was trying to get to. Here's an example. If I am on my friend's page and going to leave a comment. I click "comment" link and am taken to the login page. I successfully log in, and am taken to my "home" page. WHY would I want to go there? I was trying to leave a comment. They should put me on the leave a comment page that I was attempting to visit. So many other sites are capable of doing this, why not MySpace???
It absolutely drives me crazy to have to click 14 more times, cut off 5 songs that automatically start playing and see 7 more "true" ads just to get back to where I was before they made me login again!
I found this the other day. It is a map of all the private jets leaving Miami after the super bowl.
I couldn't have asked for a better birthday celebration. This year for my 25th birthday several of my buds and I went hiking on the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama. We loaded up on Saturday and did a easy 4 mile hike to camp where we built a ripping fire. I also practiced my lashings by building a mini chair/table with Stu. Getting to camp this early allows you to have plenty of time to do such things. We had lots of fun and were able to stay warm most of the time.
My favorite part of the trip was that night. After cooking dinner and getting ready for bed we all sat around the campfire staying warm. Then the guys each took turns telling their favorite "Ben stories." Most of which were quite embarrassing but fun to laugh and talk about none-the-less. The Ben stories quickly lead to Stu stories, Isaac stories, Vilas stories and Adam stories. It was a lot of fun.
The one heart racing moment we had we were able to capture on video for your enjoyment. Isaac had brought with him the makings of a home made hot air balloon. It basically consist of two cross beams, a candle, and a trash bag. The hot air balloon was super cool when it was hovering about 5-10 feet high. It then just kept going and going. We were certain that we all were about to go running up and down mountains chasing this thing to make sure it didn't start a forest fire. Thankfully we didn't have to go running but it definitely scared us a bit, well most of us anyway.
You can see the video below, and pictures are in the gallery.
So you all have probably heard about the peanut butter recall by now. Well when I came into work last Thursday apparently my peanut butter at work was one of the "infected" jars. Good thing that it was almost empty! On their website it says that I can return the cap for a refund/exchange on my peanut butter. Guess who's returning year old peanut butter.... This guy!
In a follow up to my MySpace rant I found this picture on the Intraweb™ that illustrates my point exactly.
I did this! Yesterday afternoon, I was selecting my drivers for my fantasy NASCAR league and noticed the announcement that they would be taking down the servers on the 22nd and that they wouldn't be back up until the 23rd at 4am. The previous deadline was Friday the 23rd at 5am. This meant, users who waited to pick their drivers until Thursday evening (Vilas, I'm looking at you), wouldn't be able to pick their drivers but for 1 hour in the wee morning. I sent yahoo a email explaining how this was ridiculous and that they needed to change the final registration time until later. Looks like it worked!
Update: It was apparently late when I read/wrote this. I guess I actually cost people an hour, but who really is going to be choosing racers at 4 am?
Word around the intraweb is that March is going to be the official "boycott the RIAA" month. If you are unfamiliar, the RIAA is the Recording Industry Association of America. In other words they represent the big four recording labels and are responsible for all the lawsuits against "music pirates", aka music sharers. Their incredibly dirty tactics have tainted the music industry for years, and now it's time for some action. One of the easiest ways you can help is to refuse to buy RIAA represented music. This is in noway a movement to encourage pirating music, but rather to show the RIAA that there is a lot of good independent music out there and if the record industry insist on making it difficult their customers (the consumers) to use the music the way they want to, and support their favorite artist, we as a group will move on.
As far as I can tell this has been started by the people at Gizmodo who has written an Anti-RIAA Manifesto. Some interesting points of interest related to this are:
For a while now I have been actively seeking out new indie music. In fact my February project 12 by is by a indie band "The Monkery" and they are awesome. Much like "Boys like Girls" that I wrote about in January.
I encourage you all to think about it, and if you are up to the challenge, before you buy your next CD check out RIAARadar.com and see if that artist is represented by the RIAA. If so think about finding a different CD, consider going to see them live, buy some of their swag off their website, or stream their music legally instead.
With ties to yesterday's article about boycotting the RIAA, I have a perfect example of how music should be shared. Jim has written up a great review of a new service we found called DiscRevolt.com. The idea is that artist put up their music on the site, then get these custom cards printed that they can then sell or give away so their fans can download their music. The way the creators are intending on it being used is that instead of selling CD's at the merchandise table after a concert, the band could sell these little cards for much cheaper and allow people to go home and download the non-DRM'ed mp3's.
There are two problems I see though. 1) There is no way to buy more credits. I have been searching around the site and found several bands that sound pretty awesome and would like to download their stuff. But I can't. I only have 15 credits from the card I have and can't find a way to buy more. I've emailed the people at discrevolt to see if they can help me out. 2) The selection is limited. It's definitely a new service, so there aren't too many bands, but it seems to be growing.
I would say here, go check them out and buy some indie music, but I guess you can't. You can go check them out and email the creators and ask them to allow you to buy some music! But I guess the real reason for this post is to show you that there are alternatives to the RIAA's monopolistic grip on the music scene you just have to know where to look. Which raises a good question... Do you know a good place to get some good indie music? Leave a comment and let us know!
Update: As you can see from Mike's comments below, DiscRevolt is going to be adding a way for users to purchase cards individually soon.
I found this video of the guy who survived a 12,000 ft skydiving accident. The first part show's his point of view including hitting the ground, then it shows his friends view as he watches his buddy go spinning down to the ground. The best part was when his friend is talking to him trying to get him set up for the paramedics and the guy who fell is like "oh yeah I think it's just like a sprained ankle. My spine feels sweet." haha!
So I'm watching 24 the other night and they have this guy with his mouth duct-tapped closed so that he can't scream for help. I'm watching and thinking to myself that it can't really be that hard to get the duct-tape off. So I decided to try it and video tape the results. I was going to try and get it off in less than ten minutes, but it was a lot easier than that!
I am so so sore at the moment. We played our first softball game last night and got beat pretty bad. I had a pretty decent game with a base hit, a fielder's choice, and a pop out. I did get to score twice which is the reason I am so sore.
I am playing with a team from work and we can all hit pretty decent which is always a big worry. It's the fielding that we aren't so good at. Hopefully we can move some people around and fix some of that. And of course we'll get better with more practice... It's just pretty sad to get beat 19-7 in 4 innings.
Google may have a real contender in the search engine market. Go ahead and switch your default search engine. You'll thank me later!
So I'm just now getting over a cold I've been fighting since Thursday and just now feeling up to blogging. I know you're thinking, "how much energy does it really take to blog?". Well it takes some energy and some is more than I had this weekend.
Any who.... What being sick has afforded me, is plenty of time to watch TV and movies. And I'm here to say, if you haven't started watching "Planet Earth" on Discovery, you are missing out on *the coolest* tv show ever produced. It is truly amazing the camera angles and shots they have captured all over the globe. 2000 days of shooting, 204 locations and so far I've seen about 4 different "never before caught on film" type events. My favorite episode so far is the "Pole to Pole" which is about how the sun changes the world. This series just might drive me to buy an HDTV. Seriously, check it out Sundays at 8 (I think).
The moment you all have been waiting for is finally here. 9 months after our trip to Europe last summer I have finally finished editing all the videos and put together an entire website to document our trip. On the site you will see all the blog post that I did while traveling, all of the pictures that I posted in the gallery, and the all of the new videos that we recoreded as we traveled around Europe. The videos are pretty short and are quite funny in my opinion.
I have learned that this summer when I go, I'm going to have to do something different. I think the plan will be to set everything up before I leave so that I can edit videos on the trip and post them whenever I can find wireless internet.
Let me know what you think of the videos in the comments!
So this weekend I was able to do something on my "lifetime to-do list." My father, brother and I went to the Final Four games this weekend! Dad and Bradley had been planning it for a while, and when I heard they would be going I thought I'd tag along and see if I could score a ticket. As luck would have it, I was able to get a ticket (well my dad got it for me) and was able to attend all 3 sessions. It was an amazing experience and even though we were in the nosebleeds, it was such an energetic experience the place was shaking with excitement and cheers.
It also just so happens that this week is "Videoblogging week" so all week I will be trying to get short little video blog post up here each day. To kick things off I have some video from last night's championship game!
At my work, we have a lot of coffee aficionados. We drink a lot of starbucks coffee (go stock go!), and have an art to making it. This morning I had my friend Maria demonstrate how to make Nexidia coffee. Video Below.
Yesterday my friend Jim posted on his blog what he called "The Christian Paradox." The post consist of Jim's thoughts and reasoning on why he believes that God is evil. As he mentions in the post, some might not agree with his arguments but it is however his blog and the thoughts he presents have meaning for him.
As I too have a blog and harbor many thoughts on this same topic, I thought I would share a contrasting opinion. As a Christian, I believe I can offer an opinion from the inside-out, if you will. I am in no way claiming that this is what all Christians believe, but what I personally believe to be true.
Before reading, to gain a clear understanding of the context of my arguments presented below, I suggest you go read Jim's post and come back to read mine.
Psalms 145 reads:
All that being said, I want to make sure it is clear that this is no way an attack on Jim or his thoughts on the matter. It is simply my Christian opinion on "The Christian Paradox." It is these types of questions, misunderstandings, or inquiries that open the floor to discussion and in return allow us all to decide what we each believe.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments.
MARTA (Atlanta's Transit System), is okay, but I don't think I would ever love a metro system enough to get it tattooed on my body. Apparently someone out there did. My dad collects other city's metro memoribilia, but with his strong dislike of tattoos I'm certain he wouldn't get one either. What do you think would drive someone to get THIS tattoo?
I forgot to say that I posted my easter pictures over the weekend. That is all for now.
I'm so ticked right now...
Here's the back story. I am a gadget freak. I love Apple computers. I love my Apple iBook. I've had my iBook for almost 3 years now and it has everything I do on it. I also am not a patient guy when it comes to gadgets. I am constantly looking at the newest gadget, the newest computer, the newest camera, etc... and wanting to buy it.
While I love my iBook, it is getting a little long in the tooth. Not for everyday task per se, but these videos I have been making take a while to encode. Then about 2 weeks ago, the battery on it just died. It won't hold a charge at all meaning that if I want to change rooms with it I have to shut it all down and boot again when I plug it back in. Not fun.
In an exercise of patience, I have been forgoing a new apple laptop (called a macbook now) for almost a year. The last two weeks have been especially hard as I have been checking the site almost daily. I've been pricing it out with this option and that option, figuring out if I could save money buy upgrading the hard-drive myself, searching for deals, etc. Finally I settled on all I want. I decided that I could save money buying a hard-drive from somewhere else and upgrade it myself and that I would order that first and then when it came in, go to the Apple store at Lenox and buy the machine. That way I wouldn't spend too much time setting it up on the smaller hard-drive only to upgrade it and have to move everything over again. So this weekend I purchased the hard-drive, and went today to the Apple store to pick up my new macbook. I knew I was going to make some salesman a happy man by getting a new laptop, a case, a new mouse, and a printer (which after rebate is free).
Just to show you how obsessive I am over all this, I went to bed early last night, so that I could get up early today, go in to work early and leave earlier to have more time at night to spend with my new toy. I was giddy with excitement this morning.
So five o'clock FINALLY rolls around and I dash out to the Apple store. I get there and find the first sales rep to fill my order. I tell him which model I want and that I would like to upgrade the RAM to the 2 gb size. It's at that moment I see the dash of concern in his eyes. The rep proceeds to tell me that by ordering it online I can save $175 because they replace the RAM rather than just installing it and giving me back what was shipped in the box. My heart sinks as I realize that $175 is too much money to pay just so I can have my new laptop four days sooner.
I left the store feeling quite ticked. I am still a little ticked but not at Apple, at myself. Here I am trying to be a little more patient and responsible and it bites me in the end. I wish Apple said somewhere that upgrades cost more in the store than they do online, but they don't. Then again the rep could have not told me and just charged me the extra. I was so blind with excitement I probably would have paid it.
Nevertheless, I've ordered my new machine and all the accessories. It should be arriving either this weekend or first thing next week. Now I've gotta just find some way to keep my mind occupied until it arrives. I can tell you this though... UPS.com will be getting tons more hits this next week as I frantically refresh the page to see where my shipment is.
Well after a grueling week of no apple, I am back in business. I got my macbook in today and am busy setting it all up. Here's the kicker though. Right after I posted my last update and ordered this new laptop, my old one's hard drive died. I tried to back it up as best I could, and think I've managed to save almost everything, but it's still going to take me a while to get everything set back up. Not to mention that I'm going to have to do it twice. I ordered the wrong upgrade hard drive so now I have to order another one and then set everything back up again once I have the right one. Oh the life of a computer nerd.
Here is a funny conversation I had with Felipe the other day...
I got a bad haircut this past week so this weekend I fixed it. What do you think?
Isaac sent me this, and as you all know I am a huge Seinfeld fan. I just had to post it.
I was watching the season finale of "Scrubs" tonight and J.D. talks about how he is a story topper. You know, that guy that always has a better story to tell than you? I was thinking about it, and I have thought about it in the pass and I am often telling stories right after someone tells one that is similar but better. I try not to do it too much and have actually not told stories because I didn't want to be 'that guy'. So what do you think, am I story topper or do I just have better stories to tell?
This past weekend my friend Brian got hitched. This picture is all of Brian's groomsmen at the rehearsal dinner.
This was my first time being part of a wedding and it was a blast. All of Brian and Sarah's family and friends were very welcoming which is a big plus when you don't really know anyone except the groom and bride. The only other person I knew was Mark, another of Brian's groomsmen, who happened to have gone to high school with me and roomed with Brian at Auburn. We had a big time the whole weekend, and one of the weirdest things happened to me. I was introduced to Sarah's father and he started to go on about how he was glad my hair had started to grow back. Apparently he keeps up with my blog. Who knew more than my family and a few friends read this thing? After that I told many more folks there about it so hopefully some of them will check it out (Hi guys!).
So to recap, wedding was good, friends were nice and I'm an internet-semi-superstar!
I do a lot of internet surfing and every now and then I come across something truly mind blowing. I found this article this morning and have been thinking about it all day. It's about what has to be the most bizarre disaster of the 20th century. Head over and check it out.
So the other night I had a crazy dream. I woke up and thought to myself, "No one is going to believe how crazy this dream was" and quickly decided to type it up. My laptop was next to the bed so half asleep I typed up every detail that I could remember. I present it to you here in an almost unedited form. I did a spell check on it and added a few punctuation's. What do you think? Do I dream like a movie or what?
As many of you all know, I've been trying to follow the Braves a bit more than usual this season. Well tonight was a night I was glad I was watching. Braves pitcher John Smoltz secured win number 200 (exactly 11 years after winning number 100). For a pitcher to win 200 games is quite an accomplishment. Only 106 pitchers have ever done so. This will almost definitely secure him a spot in the Hall of Fame.
He joins former Braves pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddox, all whom won their 200th game here in Atlanta.
I have had the great fortune to meet John Smoltz a few times and he is one of the nicest sports figures I have ever met. My mom does a charity event called "Spring Training" where she gets lots of professional sports figures to come and help raise some money for the Georgia Transplant Foundation. This year at the live auction, one of the items up for bid was the chance to throw out a first pitch. The bids weren't really coming in as much as the foundation had hoped and I will never forget Smoltz jumping up there and agreeing to sign the ball for who ever won the bid. When it still didn't as much as they had hoped he agreed to do something else. I think it was to take a picture with the winner or maybe even bid several thousand more than the current bid. Whatever it was, it was the perfect example of what a nice guy he was.
I just wanted to share that story. I'm very happy for Smoltz; He certainly deserves it!
I am so lazy with this blog. Everyday I think of a story and am all "That will be a great blog post." Then I slack off and never post it. I'm gonna work on that.
In keeping with my last post about not blogging enough I wanted to share a story with you that for some reason I can't stop thinking about.
A few weeks ago I was coming back from somewhere and began to pull into my complex. As I'm pulling in, I see the woman in front of me slowing down an absurd amount. She comes to a complete stop right as you pull of the major road into our complex. Not the smartest place to stop seeing as anyone could have turned right in and would have either been hit my on coming traffic or hit her car. She gets out and picks up this gold shiny box that is laying in the street. I suddenly realize what she is doing and forgive her for being stupid. She's doing a good deed picking up whatever is laying in the street. She picks up the box only to find it is empty. I think it was an empty Kleenex box. When she discovers it's just trash what does she do? Does she toss it in her car and throw it away later? No. She sits it right back on the ground just like she found it! I want to know what kind of person takes the time to stop in a dangerous spot to pick something off the street and then upon realizing it is trash THROWS IT BACK DOWN! Lazy Americans!
I don't know why that has been weighing on me so much lately but I am really coming to grips with how stupid/ignorant/careless some people are.
Man, what a drag booking European hostels is. We are finalizing our trip and have waited too late to book a lot of hostels. The big cities (Athens, Rome, etc) aren't that big of a problem as they have lots of choices, but we ran into a big problem with Pamplona, Spain (where the running of the bulls is). It's a small town and doesn't have many places to stay. It also is quite famous the week we are there, obviously. We have had to make accommodations outside the city in San Sebastian, Spain and will take a bus to Pamplona. Even this has been trouble. There are plenty of empty beds, but there is no good way to search for any 3 beds at the cheapest rate for 4 days. We are open to splitting up to sleep and changing hostels each night, but there is no way to tell the search engines this. We still have 3 rooms left to book, but we WILL have them done by tomorrow night. I wish there was just an easier way. Someone out there want to give me some money to build it?
I'm sure you've noticed the lack of updates on Project 365 pictures. That is because I deleted all my pictures the other weekend. I have recovered most of them and have been working on getting all of them organized again so I can see which ones I want to use. Never fear, they are coming.
Like I predicted yesterday, we have completed booking our hostels for our Europe trip. Well all the ones we had planned to book ahead of time. We have bookings for the beginning and ending of our trip and have left the middle free so that we can make our plans willy-nilly as we determine where and what we want to see. I'm just glad to have the Pamplona bit done. That was stressing me out!
Last night was our last game of the season in softball. I've been playing with some folks from work and we finished 0-14. Not to good. I still had lots of fun playing and hope that next year we'll get a team together again or I'll be able to find another team to play on. Being our last game I decided to step it up a bit, and hit 2 doubles and a single. Which is typical for me. Not that I hit that good every game, but rather I always seem to do better at the end of a season. I haven't decided if I just get lucky that way or it takes me most of a season to find my groove. I think I like the latter better. Well I guess I have my Wednesday evenings free again.
The other night we had a fantastic lightning storm and I was quick enough to set up my camera to grab a few pictures. You have to be quick though. You can find a few more shots at my flickr account.
So the other weekend I got a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. I normally wear mine, but had just pulled out of a parking lot on the phone and was late, but enough with excuses. What I want to talk about is how ridiculous it is that the government gets to tell me that I must wear my seat belt. You've surely all seen the "click-it or ticket" campaigns. However, the purpose of government (police) is to serve and protect it's people. So someone tell me why they should be able to tell me (and fine me) for not wearing a device that serves only to protect my health. I am endangering only myself when I choose to not put on my seat belt and I think it should be my personal decision. I think this is a perfect example of government getting too big and meddling with citizen's rights.
That being said, I do want to make some things clear and throw in some exceptions. I DO wear a seat belt. I simply forgot this time and was going to put it on when I got off the phone. Secondly, I believe that the government should have the right to enforce seat belts for some people. They should enforce it on government employees, children, and people with out insurance. Government employees because they are on the government (read: the tax payers) insurance. Children because they lack the mental ability to make that decision and people without insurance because, once again, if they get hurt it's the taxpayers (or insurance payers) bill that goes up. Obviously they don't know who has insurance or not, so a simple solution would be if someone gets pulled over for any other reason and the officer comes to find out they don't have insurance and aren't wearing a seat belt slap them with a fine.
I know what most of you are going to say. "People are stupid and if they get hurt by not wearing a seat belt and don't have insurance then I have to pay for it." You are right but there are many things where the government could use this excuse to further tighten their grip on private citizens. Take pregnancy for example. If someone gets pregnant without insurance who do you think pays for that person's labor expenses? Us. So should the government be able to control who gets pregnant? I don't think anyone would agree with that. So why use this excuse regarding seat belts?
My final point is the fact that the ticket I received is only $10. Who is that going to convince to wear a seat belt next time? Nobody. It is just a money maker for the government.
I know you all will have opinions so sound off in the comments. And believe it or not, Stu and I actually agree on this (for the most part) which might just be a first!
I often get asked about which digital camera someone should buy, or is this or that camera better. So when I came across this article titled "Digital Cameras: The Top 10 Things You Need To Know", I thought about all of you (how sweet, eh?). The article has some really good advice and touches on some subjects that you might not have thought about. To add to the article I would recommend if you are buying a digital camera find a store that has a display model. Go hold the camera and ask to take some pictures with it. My first digital camera had all the neat features I wanted but when I started taking pictures I soon realized that it was a pain in the butt to use because it would take 4-10 seconds after one picture before you could take another. I lost many moments simply because my camera wasn't fast enough. And had I gone to a store and tried it out I would have not bought the camera.
OK you guys can breath a sigh of relief. My phone isn't ruined. I took it swimming with me this past weekend and thought it would be ruined but with a little luck and a lot of drying I was able to boot it up this morning.
This is the second time for me, that by simply letting my phone dry for a couple days (3+), I have been able to use the phone again. While I waited, I read around on the internet and found some helpful tips should this ever happen to you.
The other night we battled traffic and made it to the Turner Field to see the Braves take on the Red Sox. The tickets were our gift to my dad for father's day and turned out to be a gift really for everyone. We had a ton of fun and had some very enjoyable seats. The best part was, the Braves won! I would say nearly half of the stadium was Red Sox fans, so it was quite exciting to shut up all of them.
Two other slightly interesting things happened. Isaac and the Fusion group were at the game and made it on the big screen. And the old ladies that Bradley and I sat next to last game were apparently long time season ticket holders and they won some contest at this past game to sit in a suite or something. It was just odd to recognize the people who won the contest.
I spent last night doing one of my least favorite task on the face of this earth. Laundry. I have so many clothes it's ridiculous and for the past 6 months or so I've just been doing laundry on an as needed basis resulting in a massive mountain of dirty clothes in my closet. I finally decided that I was tired of wearing the same 4 t-shirts over and over and that for Europe I should pack exactly what shirts I want, not just the few I have clean. So I set out to wash all my clothes. It's been 3 nights now and I'm almost done. I can actually see the carpet in my closet!
On the subject of packing, who knew that leaving for a 3 week trip would take an additional week of planning and packing. I've spent the last week or so doing 3-4 things in preparation for our trip every day. Calling Credit Cards, washing clothes, checking camera equipment, buying new shoes, wrapping everything up at work, etc.... I just hope it isn't like this when I return! That being said, I am giddy with excitement. I just got a call from my mom and the boys are at the airport and getting ready to take off.
Well I've made it through the atlanta airport and am waiting to board the plane. I don't know how people like Stu fly every week. I guess it's not as bad if you don't check a bag but I had to wait for over an hour to check my bag then another 30 min to go through security. oi vey! I've heard from the bros. I don't know if they had trouble finding the hostel or not but they emailed me instructions with some extra tips. so glad to hear they are in athens and I am anxious to board they plane. Good news about the flight though... over half ove the passengers are army soldiers! I'll update when I land.
I just got into Athens and man is it hot. I've showered and changed and we are about to hit the sights. My only complaint so far is that it's hard to navigate around here. Even though I only speak and read English, in most European countries I can guess at what words mean, and even take a stab at pronouncing them. Here since they use the Greek Alphabet I have no idea how to pronounce or read anything. It is only by pure luck I was able to meet the Bros at the train station. Well I guess that's all for now. I did make a
We are pretty much done with Athens and wanted to post a quick video of how things have been. It is a little quiet so you might have to crank up your speakers. Pictures and blog post are coming soon....
Here is my journal of our time in Athens.
I had a nice flight from Atlanta, I sat next to another computer nerd on his way to India and we had a good time chatting. I was able to actually get some sleep but arrived in Amsterdam really early in the morning (like 1am ATL time) and had several hours to kill. I walked around a bit but mostly sat and watched the planes come in and out. Where I was sitting was near the end of one of those people movers and every time someone got to the end, a machine said "Please mind your step", I swear I must have heard that thing 150 times. It enough to drive a man mad.
I have posted Athens pictures here. You will find all our pictures as we post them under the "Europe 07" album in the gallery.
We are now in Rome, Italy. Our hostel doesn't have internet and it's kinda expensive down here at the laundromat. Unlike Felipe last year, we are NOT pulling out the laptop every 5 minutes to check for wifi. Unfortunately that means that we aren't getting to update as often. Enjoying the trip is my number one priority so the updates will just have to stay infrequent.
As far as Rome is concerned, we have seen the National Museum and all of the Ancient Roman sites today. Tomorrow is the Vatican and anything along the way.
We are in Cinque Terre and having a blast. We just got done hiking the whole trail between the 5 towns with some friends we made last night. One of the coolest things so far is last night when we were walking to some beach party they were having we ran into some locals who offered to give us a boat ride over to the party. We felt like VIP riding up on the beach as everyone watched.
Having a good time but paying out the nose for internet. Nice, France is next, but after one more day on the beach...
We woke up at 5 AM on Tuesday morning in order to catch our 9 AM flight from Athens to Rome. We had a 15 min walk to the train station, a hour long train ride to the Airport (plus waiting time for the train) and then 2 hours to get through all the security and ticketing lines. We planned it perfect and were soon on our way to Rome. The flight was uneventful, but it was nice to start hearing some Italian. I can at least make an educated guess at what is being said in Italian.
We landed, got our bags, and made our way to the hostel. Having not showered the night before or the morning we left, by this point *I* am smelling like a Greek! I was in desperate need of a shower and was eager to get to the hostel. This is where we ran into a problem. The hostel was closed for cleaning and would be until 3. It was about noon when we arrived so we had to stink for another three hours. We decided that the best place to kill some time was at the National Museum where it would be air conditioned and right across the street.
The national museum turned out to be a great idea. We saw lots of old statues and tile work the best of which was the Roman copy of the famous discus statue. By the time we left we had killed just enough time and were able to get up to our room and finally get a shower. There are only a few other showers that rival how well that one felt. The shower itself sucked, but it was a great feeling to be clean again.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing, walking around the neighborhood and grabbing some pizza for dinner. We hit the sack early for our busy next day.
The next day we hit up all the ancient Roman sights. We woke up a little before 7, grabbed our free breakfast downstairs and headed straight for the Coliseum. We got there just as the gate was opening and were able to knock off probably 45 minutes of the wait time by being there so early. Arriving early also meant there were less people in the Coliseum to get in my pictures. Having been before Brandon elected to wait on us outside and Bradley and I had a great time walking around. We chose to get the audio tour to help us make some sense out of all we were seeing. We agreed that while some of the audio was repetitive and boring it did give us some insights that we would have otherwise not known. We also eavesdropped on a few of the guided tours for some more info. Which by the way is a great way to save a few Euros. Bet you won't find that in any Rick Steves' book!
We learned some really cool facts like how the Coliseum isn't named for its massive size, but rather a huge statue that used to adorn the entrance. The most interesting part of the audio tour was the descriptions of the fights that used to take place there. It told of how extravagant the ancient Romans could be. A whale washed up on one of Italy's beaches and to commemorate the event, they put on a show where a giant whale was raised to the Coliseum floor and when it's mouth was opened, 50 bears climbed out. How's that for theatrics! They also mentioned how in the first 100 days of games when it opened over 5000 animals were slaughtered. You'd think that would raise ticket prices, but it was all free!
From the Coliseum we took note of the Arch of Constantine who was built to commemorate Constantine, the ruler who brought Christianity to Rome and made it the official religion. The Arch is neat, but what was really interesting is that all of the markings and statues around the arch are from other older buildings. They were scavenged to adorn the arch. We made our way up the hill past the Palacestine Hill, and through the Roman Forum. Most of the forum is in ruins but you could quickly see how this would have been teeming with people in it's heyday.
We made our way through the rest of the ancient sights stopping at each place to read about what square we were in, how Michaelangelo designed this staircase or this building layout, and eventually made our way to the Pantheon. Of the places we saw this day, the Pantheon was probably my favorite. It was really awesome to see the roof I had heard so much about and studied in school, to see the final resting place of Raphael, and all of the art work around the one large room. One interesting side note was the fact that the Pantheon atrium is known as "Rome's Umbrella" for the massive overhang can be come quite crowded when it rains.
One thing we all had to be very aware of was pick-pockets. It is well known that they are everywhere in Rome. I guess with so many tourist taking pictures or video it's easy to slip your hand in their pocket and take it all. The interesting thing is, they are mostly children under the age of 10. They are too young to be prosecuted so they just run wild. I didn't see any action myself, but we did talk to some girls that saw a lady getting picked and said something to her. The little boy then proceeded to spit at them and throw rocks. I guess he takes his job seriously.
The next day we dedicated to Vatican city, starting with the Sistine Chapel. We took a crazy taxi ride across town and waited in line for about 30 minutes to get inside. Once inside we knew this was going to take awhile. At the Sistine Chapel, they have put up a huge museum to make sure they can justify the 13 euro admission, and it takes around an hour to get all the way through it to the famous ceiling. This place was packed with every single tourist group you can imagine. The worst part being that they were all inconceivably rude. Here are these 40-50 person groups taking up entire rooms of the museum blocking anyone from passing for tens of minutes at a time. It seemed as though they thought since they paid extra to have some guide tell them everything, wherever they went became their space. I saw, more than once, one of these tour group members literally push people out of the way to get in front of a piece of art, snap one amateur photo, then walk away. They never took the time to actually admire the artwork or think about waiting their turn. By the time we made it to the famous ceiling the three of us were pretty furious. The ceiling itself was amazing. To think that he lay on his back for so much time to paint such a masterpiece is mind blowing. We stuck around enough in there to enjoy where we were, but not long enough to kill anyone.
From there we made our way to St. Peter's square, each of us sharing our "tourist jerk" stories. My favorite being how two French teenagers thought it was fine to walk past the huge line to get into the Sistine Chapel and cut right in front of me. Having gotten separated from french speaking bro, Brandon, I had no way to tell them to get behind me, so I innocently kicked the kid's ankles on every step of the staircase we went down. I think he got the point.
Alright, back to what we did. We had made it St. Peter's and just spent a few minutes sitting on the stairs soaking it all in and drinking some water. Oh, there are big public fountains all over the place in Rome with really good cold water. It saved us a ton of money from buying water everywhere. We eventually made it into St. Peter's Basilica where it was much less crowded and quite breathtaking. The church is massive. As we walked through every corner I turned, I swore would be a dead end, but it wasn't. It is easily the biggest open aired building I have ever been in. We spent a good amount of time walking around admiring all the statues when we heard singing. We apparently had timed it perfect to see a procession of the choir, clergy and audience for a mass. We watched a while before deciding to climb to the top of the Cupola. Brad and I wanted to go and Brandon, having done it before, elected to pass. While entrance into St. Peter's is free, they do make money by charging people to climb to the top of the Basilica. It's 4 euro if you want to walk the whole 551 steps, or 7 if you want to take a elevator (lift) bypassing 230 of them. We elected to walk the whole thing. The stairs weren't bad, what was bad is the fact the whole thing is a spiral staircase. By the time we made it to the top we were both very dizzy. We only stayed a little while at the top, but enough time to get some great pictures, and watch part of the mass from above.
The rest of that afternoon we took it easy and got cleaned up for a nice dinner in town. We got a recommendation from our hostel concierge which turned out fantastic. We had a nice dinner of roasted and grilled lamb and lots of good conversation. Towards the end of dinner we began talking to some Aussies seated next to us and stayed until the restaurant was getting ready to close talking with them.
After dinner we packed our bags and went to bed. We had a 7 o'clock train scheduled for the next day to take us to Cirque Terre.
The morning after our nice dinner in Rome, we had a 7 AM train to catch for Cirque Terre, Italy. Cirque Terre is along the Mediterranean sea and consist of 5 towns all laid out in a row. Each having its own little culture, it's own dialect and generations of families living there. The towns are known for their wine and you can see huge vineyards stacked on terraces above each town. Recently they have begun to cash in on all the tourism and have become a national park. The national park service keeps the area from getting too over developed and maintains the hiking trails between the five towns.
The train ride was nice, and I was able to get a hour or so of sleep waking a few times to watch the passing sunflower fields and to make sure we hadn't missed our stop. We decided to stay in the northern most town, Montorosso. There are very few hotels and hostels in each town, and the way you get a place to stay is by walking around and asking people in restaurants and bars if they know of any free rooms. We tried the place Brandon had stayed at last year but he was full and proceeded to follow leads from locals until we found a hotel that had a little bungalow that we could rent. The price was right so we jumped on it. So far it has turned out to be the best place we've stayed. It's basically a little shack with running water, 3 beds, and our own bathroom. We are set back from the rest of the hotel among lemon trees and flowers and had a little patio outside to just sit in the shade and listen to all the birds.
We quickly unpacked and changed into our bathing suits. We spent that first afternoon lazing around on the beach with the other tourist and locals just soaking it all in. We met some Canadian girls that were traveling too and who would become our hiking buddies the next day, but first dinner. Brandon had discovered a place last year that if you bought something to drink you could help yourself to the all-you-can-eat buffet for free. It sounded like a good deal, and for basically free it was good food. We ate up and stuck around to see what the night life was like. We eventually ran into the Canadian girls who told us about a beach party they had heard about. Which explained why all through town we saw people dressed as cowboys and indians. We agreed to join them, and as we were walking to the party we met two locals. The locals, Danielo and Alfonso, were also heading to the party, but they were traveling in their boat. They offered us a ride, and when put to the choice of walking more, or getting a sweet boat ride to the party, it was easy. Their boat was a tiny little thing and the engine strained with the heavy load but we made it and felt like rock-stars pulling up to the party VIP style on the boat. We got a little wet jumping off, but I think Danielo and Alfonso got a good deal as we had to help them pull the boat completely out of the water and on to the beach. The actual beach party was pretty fun. It was mostly locals dancing to a DJ but we had a good time swapping travel stories with the Canadians.... and maybe doing a little dancing. We retired for the night and agreed to meet the girls the next day to do the hike between the five towns.
The next morning we put on our hiking clothes and met the girls to start the day. One of the main attractions for Cirque Terre, aside from the beaches, is the 9 km hike through all the towns. Some of it is easy, basically walking on a sidewalk, and other parts are much more difficult. We started on the very difficult end to get it over while our legs were fresh and I am really glad we did. The first section was straight up the side of a mountain and not by switchbacks, but rather monstrous stairs. I was pouring sweat by the time we reached the top. The rest were manageable and offered amazing views of each town. The towns themselves each had their own flare that you could easily see just walking through. Some were more touristy than others while others were filed lazy locals shooting the breeze in the cool shade. One of the highlights was a sweet air-conditioned cafe at the top of the second section of the hike. The shop owner was just raking in money with all the hikers stopping for an ice cold powerade. I know that it was the best powerade I have ever had. Not only did he have cold drinks but the cafe over looked the third town just downhill! After the five or six hours we took to complete the hike we caught a train back to Montorosso and headed for the free buffet. We made it just before they were about to close down and the five of us ate everything they had left. I felt a little guilty but realized the do this everyday, so I'm sure we aren't the only people who have eaten there in two consecutive days. We bid adieu to our hiking buddies and went to reserve a place to stay in Nice, France. We were planning to leave the next morning but found out when we were booking that if we stayed in Cirque Terre for one more night we could save about 40 euros a person on the hostel in Nice. This is one of the really nice things about not planning too much stuff ahead of time. We were staying in an amazing bungalow, relaxing having a good time, and there was no need to rush things. We checked with the hotel owners and they said we could keep the bungalow another night and go to Nice the next day. After all that it was time for bed. The hike drained the energy right out of us.
The next day was a complete lazy day. We slept in a bit, picked up our laundry, walked the markets and eventually made it to the beach. Being Sunday the beaches were packed with people working on their tan. Being the white boy I am, I had bathed in sunscreen and was ready to pretend I could soak it in like the rest of them. Oh and sunscreen was one of the things I forgot. I had brought a little container for my nose when we went sightseeing but completely forgot that we were spending half our trip on the beaches and was forced to pick up a bigger bottle (for almost 17 euros mind you!). The day was spent switching between tanning and cooling off in the Mediterranean. We even swam out to the breakwater a few times to lay out on the rocks. The day was topped off with a nice Italian meal and sitting on the beach watching the sunset. Yes we actually paid for food this night, though we did stop by the buffet a little earlier to get a little plate of food. It was a great way to end our time in Cirque Terre.
I have uploaded pictures of both Rome and Cirque Terre. You can check them out in the Europe Trip Picture section
We are currently in Nice, France having just arrived today. We left this morning from Cirque Terre and had about 5 hour train ride here where we have showered and eaten. Tonight we decided to take it easy and go to the grocery store for our food. And now we are just catching up online. I've posted some really long write ups so plan some time to read them all! Ciao!
Today we went to Monaco and visited the famous Monte Carlo Casino. Not being big gamblers we each put down 50 euros and played Roulette for a good while. Here is a short video about our adventures today.
We are just outside Barcelona, Spain now. We took a night train last night from Nice and arrived here this morning. We are staying in a little campsite where we have rented a trailer. We get a whole trailer to ourselves, with a kitchen, picnic table, wifi, and are right near the beach.
Brandon had a little trouble with his bank card this morning as the ATM ate it and the bank said they have to send it to the states. He spent about 2 hours talking to Wachovia (dropped calls a lot) but has finally gotten everything worked out.
We will be here for the next 3 days then we head into Barcelona for a night where we will see what this city has to offer.
We arrived in San Sebastian this morning after taking a night train from Barcelona. The plan was to stay here and go early each morning to Pamplona for the running of the bulls. We had heard that there were buses that ran each morning and all day from here, and they do, but the first one isn't until 7am. We planned on going at about 2am. So we've canceled our reservation here in San Sebastian and are heading to Pamplona tonight. We are all three going to try and run tomorrow morning and spend the day at the festival. The next day we will watch the running and then head towards Toulouse.
Wish us luck!
So I'm back in Atlanta. I landed today around 2 and spent the evening with the folks going through our 1200+ pictures. By far the best part of our trip was the running of the bulls. We three ran together and made it. Tonight, even though I am exhausted, I had to check and see if there were any pictures of us running. Guess what, there are a few. The best one is this one. Look for us in the lower left hand corner. There are a few more that you can browse.
Now I must sleep. I've slept 1 night out of the last 6 and it's starting to get to me. I'll be posting write ups, pictures, and movies as soon as I can.
I have finished uploading all the good pictures from our trip to Europe. No doubt the ones you are most interested in are the Pamplona (Running of the Bulls) pictures, but be sure to check out the other albums as well.
Yesterday I was forced to go back to the Atlanta airport to have my baggage from Europe inspected for damage. My brand new backpack had come home with a hole in the top and a broke strap. After reading up on the procedures on the internet it was clear that I must return to the airport to have it inspected before a claim could be completed. It was after leaving the airport last night that I realized how there is not one single thing nice about the airport.
I began to think about it and came up with a pretty serious list of all the things I hate about ATL airport.
Getting to the airport can be a real pain unless you take MARTA. While there are several signs around, it is still confusing driving to the airport. Then when you get there, parking is miserable. I drove around for almost half an hour trying to find a parking space. Most of that time is sitting in lines of cars who wait five minutes for someone to load up their luggage, get in their car, start the car, and then back out. Just so they can get a spot. And I'm not talking about driving around for half an hour looking for a great up-front parking spot. I'm talking about looking for *any* parking spot. Then, after I get done in the airport, I go to pay my parking fee and not one of the 3 machines they have is working. I had to track one down on another level of the deck to use, or I would have been forced to sit another half hour in line to pay the cashier.
Then once my car is parked, I am forced to deal with stupid people inside the airport. While not certain, I am pretty sure they do not hire anyone with an education above a G.E.D. in any airport position other than ticketing. And even those positions are on a sliding scale. I have learned the best thing to do is not ask anyone anything. On my flight over to Europe I asked the ticketing lady if they had a big bag that I could wrap around my backpack. Almost every airline I have ever flown on with a backpack offers these bags so that all the straps don't get caught when transporting the luggage. The lady looked at me like she had never heard of a plastic bag before.
Then when I got back in the States, after passing through customs, you must check your bag again before it can be sent to the baggage claims area of the airport. There are three conveyer belts you can put your bag on, depending on where you departed. They have massive signs over each of the belts with all the cities listed for that belt. Easy enough right? I see that baggage from Amsterdam flights go on belt 1. I proceed to walk by the guy helping others to put my bag on belt one, when he begins to yell at me that I need to talk to him. I go over and he asks where my flight originate. "Amsterdam" I say, and what does he do, point me to belt 1. Why in the world does he need to hold me and others up when I am clearly capable of reading!?
Finally comes the lady I spoke with yesterday. She was an NWA luggage claims specialist (I use the term loosely). I walk in, tell her I am here to fill out a damaged luggage claim for my KLM flight and that the KLM website says that NWA handles all claims for KLM in the United States. She then tells me that in fact KLM is supposed to handle those claims in the Atlanta airport. Fair enough, I ask where is the KLM luggage office. "Oh they don't have one." Nice. I finally tell her how I can handle everything by phone if she will just sign something saying that she has inspected the bag and it is in fact damaged and she agrees to do so. What a pain.
I'll say it again, I don't know how you folks that travel often can put up with it.
I have had to make some changes to how comments are handled here on benmcmath.com. Unfortunately spammers have been hitting the system pretty hard and it's causing me all kinds of headaches. So from now on whenever you leave a comment an email address will be required. I will be approving email addresses from non-spammers and those approved email addresses will be allowed to leave comments. Unapproved email addresses will not be able to leave comments.
This shouldn't be much of a henderance, as long as you know these two things.
1) Always use the same email address when leaving comments. Otherwise your comment will have to be moderated each time before it can be seen by others.
2) Your first comment will not be seen until I have a chance to add your email to the approved list. It shouldn't take too long, but don't try to keep adding the same comment.
I'm sorry for the the extra step but it's something that had to be done. You can read more about the policy here.
It's about time someone stood up and said something. That little Wendy has been giving us red-heads a bad name!
Earlier this week a community run improve group, called "Improv Everywhere", set up a little joke on the city of New York. Seeing as us red-heads make up less than 1% of the population someone asked, what would it be like to get on a subway to realize that you are the only non-red-head there? The group did this then took it a bit farther by setting up a picketing line in front of a local Wendy's. They were picketing that Wendy's mascot, Wendy, has been giving us a bad name. It turned out to be quite funny. Read the full report with pictures on their site.
One of my favorite cartoons as a kid was "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and the other day I saw that they are going to make a full-length feature film out of the show. I guess there goes another $10!
Scanning through CNN, I saw that the bulk of the proceeds from the sale of O.J. Simpson's book "If I Did It" have been awarded to the Goldman Family. I thought this book was not going to be published, so I wasn't going to say anything, but now that it looks like publishing might be in the works I wanted to warn you all. I had a chance to read this book and it is simply the worst piece of writing I have ever read. 90% of the book is stupid stuff about how they fell in love and what not. It's only in the last 30 pages do you get to the "good stuff" and even then it's a huge let down. If you want to know what happens, just ask me, but please don't buy this book. It's not worth your time or money.
I spent a couple hours last night going through and catching up with my Project 365 pictures. You can check them all out on Flickr. I have now crossed the #200 marker!
Tonight we had a bit of a scare. There was a fire alarm in the building next to ours and the entire fire department showed up. There were at least 6 trucks in the parking lot, and rumors of more lined up on the street right out side the complex. While it wasn't in mine and Stuart's building it was in Candace's building, Stu's fiancee. She was just moving in today, and when helping her with her bags, we had a bit of trouble with the elevator and just chalked it up to a power outage that we had. Apparently it was more than that. The elevator motor smoked up tonight and caused the fire alarm. Everyone seems to be okay, but I sure hope that elevator is fixed by this weekend when we are moving in all her furniture.
I was there taking pictures!
If you are like me, you want to do your duty and vote but have a hard time keeping up with who agrees with you on key issues. Well today I found this chart and found it extremely helpful. I hope you will find it equally helpful.
It's a sad day. Barry Bonds has hit home run 756 now holding the record for most home runs hit by a pro baseball player. I am not sad because of the allegations that he used steroids, but rather that Hank Aaron has held the record for so long and it just seemed fitting that he would always hold the record.
While we are on the subject, I found an interesting news article showing how it might not be steroids that is giving Bonds an unfair advantage, but rather his elbow guard....
Over on the AJC they are running an interesting poll...
Took this one for 365...
My main man, Bobby Cox (Braves Manager), set a new record tonight. He now holds the record for the coach that has been ejected from the most major league baseball games with 132 ejections. There are many things I like about Bobby and one of them is certainly the way he believes and argues for his players. Tonight he got ejected arguing a strike called on Chipper Jones that was way off the plate. Way to go Bobby!
Every now and then something really revolutionary comes along on the internet to make it better. There was google, wikipedia, and of course benmcmath.com. Well I've found a new one. It is Mahalo.com a.k.a. "the human powered search". I know this will sound a lot like an advertisement for Mahalo, and it kinda is, but trust me it's worth checking out.
Installation is pretty basic. The two things to watch for, is when you first click the link you might see a little yellow bar at the top of the window saying you need to add www.mahalo.com to the list of sites allowed to install plug-ins. Do that. You might also have to click the link again after allowing www.mahalo.com to install plug-ins. If you have any other questions, leave a comment or shoot me an email!
I finally got around to cutting the video from our visit to Pamplona, Spain. There is some footage of us waiting to run, after running with the bulls, a bullfight, and of course the goring we caught on film the day after we ran. There is some gory footage from the bullfight and goring, so be warned, and it's just over 10 minutes long.
Stu asked me to post about a meeting he has coming up with a security professionals group he is a part of. If you are interested in network security you should check it out. I went to one of his other meetings and really learned a lot (not to mention got a free book!)
Here are the details:
If you have questions contact: conf2007 [at] gaissa [period] org
This past weekend while my parents and my aunt and uncle were all preparing for their trip to Italy, my brothers, cousins, and I all met down at our lake house for some R&R. It was a really relaxing weekend mostly just bumming around together sharing stories and doing nothing. I took some pictures of us chilling and have put them online. The one above is definitely my favorite. It captures the weekend perfectly. Hanging out with the grandparents, relaxing by putting together a puzzle.
Last night our dinner club ate at "Gladys Knight & Ron Winan's Chicken & Waffles." I've never had chicken and waffles together in one meal, so it sounded interesting but turned out to be far from it. As my buddy Jim put it, "you know you are in trouble when Popeye's has your 'famous' chicken beat." The chicken was dry, and my gravy smothered chicken had some sort of canned gravy on it. How are you going to be a soul food restaurant and serve canned gravy? I've had better at Hardee's! On top of that the service was no good. We literally had half our meals before our appetizers came out.
The only good things I can admit, were the fried green tomatoes, iced tea, and it was only a $25 lesson learned.
I wish I could recommend you guys check it out. If the idea of chicken and waffles sounds like something you would like to try, just make a quick run to Popeye's for some chicken and waffle house for a waffle. Not only will you have a better meal but you'll save about $18 bucks too!
So the last two weeks have been all about chili. I'm so tired of eating chili it's ridiculous. So most of you might remember how we've talked about entering the chili cook-off at Stone Mountain for years now. Well this year we are doing it. We've chosen a "Heaven and Hell" theme and will be entering our "hell" chili into the competition. We are also creating a "dessert chili" for the heaven side of our theme that won't be judged but that we are hoping will help us win the popular vote.
In preparation for the even we have been experimenting with recipes the last few weeks. We had a "work weekend" last weekend where we all brought recipes to try and built part of our booth. Then last week Chris helped me try another recipe which I brought to my work's Chili pot-luck. I told everyone that we were entering the chili I brought to a chili cook-off and we got some great feedback. Most people liked it but it looks like we could add some more chili powder (possibly homemade), and salt. The dessert chili was a bit hit as well.
We've still got some more tweaking to do, but are almost there. Wish us luck!
If you haven't see what happened in the Braves game check out the video below. This is one of the strangest things I have seen in a while, and what stinks is I didn't watch this game at all.
So I was thinking today about what all I have going on this weekend. I have lots of little things to do, several appointments, football games to watch, etc. I knew everything I had to do and thought about how a year ago I would probably be racking my brain trying to think about what I might have forgotten about. Last year I was so completely unorganized and realized that I had some serious changes to make if I wanted to keep my sanity past the age of 30. I've change a lot of my habits and wanted to share some of those with you.
I used to have a really bad habit of forgetting about when bills were due. I solved this problem with some email magic and a calendar. First off I have each of my bills email me when a new bill is due. I don't open snail mail very often so sending me paper bills was worthless. Almost every company has some sort of online bill pay system. They also allow you to receive email reminders about bills and stop paper billing (save the trees!). So by doing this I get email reminders when bills are due and use my email management system (I'll get to this later) to keep them organized. Secondly I set dates on my calendar when bills are typically due to have a fail safe should I forget.
This used to be something I kept all in my head and would wake up every morning and have to walk through my week of appointments to keep them fresh. I solved this with my calendar software and my phone. Anytime I set up anything with friends I open my calendar, check it and if I set a date I add it *immediately* to the calendar with a reminder usually 1 day before. This keeps me from double booking and alerts me with plenty of time to remember. I then sync my calendar with my phone and have all my schedule right at my fingertips. This is easily accomplished with any computer/phone with bluetooth and a little software. This might seem obvious to most folks who are used to keeping day planners, but the real key is setting reminders just to pop up and alert you of upcoming appointments. Then I don't have to remember anything except the next days activities. I even set little reminders for things like "write post about how you keep things organized."
I'm not a huge sports nut, but have been following the Braves all season and obviously want to watch all the Auburn football games. This used to require me going to espn.com and looking up schedules every time I wanted to watch a game. I solved this again with my calendar and some helpful people on the net. Almost every pro or college sports team offers a downloadable schedule for the year. You just download it, import it into your calendar, and then all of your games are right there where you keep up with your other activities.
I'm a big internet news reader. I used to have a list of sites that I would check daily and read all the new articles. This took a lot of time and required me to go to multiple sites, multiple times a day to see if anything was new. I solved this problem with an RSS reader. If you aren't familiar with RSS it stands for Real Simple Syndication. With the help of any free RSS reader you can subscribe to virtually any site and be able to get the latest news all in one view. I now can keep track of about 30 sites with one click and only read the new articles. Even BenMcMath.com has an RSS feed (Still waiting on Felipe to get one). This keeps me from having to check sites that are only updated every few weeks each day. When I find a new site that I enjoy, I add the RSS feed to my reader and keep track of it.
Another thing you can do is use Google News to generate your own RSS news feed. I like to keep track of anything that is published about where I work. So I went to Google News, searched for "Nexidia" and downloaded the RSS feed. Now anytime any news agency mentions Nexidia I know about it. I often know about it even before my companies internal PR sends out emails about our mention.
Email (The biggest help):
One of my major crutches is email management. While I don't get hundreds of emails a day I do get a lot of them that often require a response or some sort of action on my part. I solved my email management woes with the help of Thunderbird, tags, and some search folders. Thunderbird is an email management application (like Outlook) made by the same people who make FireFox. It allows me to download all my email from ALL my email addresses to one place. I have my benmcmath.com email, and email for a NPO I help, and some for various other sites I run. Instead of checking all these addresses I just download them all into Thunderbird and mange them in one place.
Thunderbird has a really neat feature called tags. I set up a few color coded tags like "Important", "Needs Action", and "Needs Reply." Then as email comes in I read them, if they need immediate response I respond otherwise I tag them, and move on with my stuff. I also set ups some "smart folders" that basically just go through my inbox and keep an updated list of emails that match search requirements. I have one for all emails tagged "Important", tagged "Needs Action" and tagged "Needs Reply". Then I set aside some time to go through my emails all at once. I can click the smart folder for all emails that need a reply and do them all at once. I can also keep up with anything I need to do something outside of email and anything important all at one glance. It has easily been the biggest improvement I have made in keeping organized.
So those are the ways I have help retain some of my sanity. I hope they might help you, and if you have any suggestions for further improving my work flow let me know in the comments.
Seeing as some of you thought my last post was too lengthy and I really couldn't spare a lot of time to type up all that happened this weekend, I chose to shoot a quick video about my weekend. Don't worry it's only 2 minutes long.
We are nearing the final hours. I think we have everything ready, but I guess we won't know until we get there and find out. The only thing we are allowed to do before the 6 AM start time tomorrow is pre-chop some of our ingredients and that is just what I did last night. For good measure I made a quick video of the process. You can watch it here. (If it doesn't open you may need to right-click and choose "save as" and download it.)