Friday, September 30, 2005

Camera Fun

Since I got the new phone, I've been pretty busy trying to set up all the functions and applications. It's amazing how many things that thing can do. It's also pretty amazing that I haven't yet thrown it out the friggin' window. For the types of things I want it to do (I'm a power gadget user), the instructions are seriously lacking, so I've been using the trial and error method. Think "restart" as the theme for the day.

I have been able to get the camera to work, though. And it's much better than my previous camera phone. The phone's even got a camcorder on it, but I haven't gotten far enough to try to get that figured out. Watch for something soon, though. Throughout the day I snapped a few interesting shots and thought I'd share them. Are you getting sick of these photo things? I'm kind of getting into it a little bit.

On the ride home, I picked up a hitch-hiker. This little fella rode all the way from the office to Target, including a 70+mph ride along Interstate 35. After his heroic ride, I rewarded him by gently flicking him into the bushes.

Then I stopped for gas. $3.09 a gallon. That makes me want to hurt someone. Almost fifty bucks to fill my tank. Unbelievable.

And since we're talking about critters, I found this poor fella hopping inches from the lawnmower in the back yard. Yup, I saved his little froggy life. I briefly considered kissing him thinking that he might turn into a hot prince, but then I figured all I'd do with a hot prince these days is ask him to finish mowing the lawn.

After my outdoor chores, I thought I'd take a few pictures inside to see how the camera did with indoor light. The one below is of my dining room table. Please ignore the stacks of unread mail.

And this is the living room. I thought the camera picked up the colors in the rug nicely. And I hate the stupid chair on the left. It was one of those "friend" gifts that I put in there the first week I moved in the house. I think we should revisit that.

And finally, a quick stop to the bookstore garnished the evening with a new book, "The Devil in the White City." I have no idea why I felt compelled to take this shot. Maybe because I think the cover looks cool. The book is set in 1893 Chicago during the World's Fair and juxtaposes two key characters--the architect of the Fair and a serial killer running amok. I love historical fiction, so it should be good.

Time for bed now. I've got people coming over tomorrow evening for a little pre-bar, so I've got to get all my laundry and house stuff done during the day, as Sunday will likely be a "recovery" day. Who knows, you may even see a few more pics. And if I get lucky you're lucky, maybe a video!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Airport Cast

I love airports. The thing I like most about them is the opportunity for people watching. Now that flying is something just about anyone can afford to do at least once or twice in their lives, the airport becomes a veritable potpourri of cultures and personalities. There are some, though, that you see on a regular basis:

The Salesperson. You can spot a sales person a mile away. They’re always polished, appear confident and are unusually pretty (even the guys). They have nice luggage and expensive shoes. They talk loudly—usually into the microphone on their earpiece, or worse, have an incredibly dorky Bluetooth device clipped to their ear. They’ll talk to anyone that’s nearby, and usually are pretty skilled at meaningless conversation.

The Old Couple. They’ve not taken many flights in their day. They’re likely to be heading to one of three places: 1) Vegas; 2) Florida; or 3) the grandkids’ house (or returning home from any of these destinations). They cling to each other as if to shield themselves from all the hustle and bustle. They have luggage from Target, or worse, from Woolworth’s purchased nearly 30 years ago. They don’t care about that, either. The husband wears a hat of some sort, and the wife sports an extra-large purse (which she MUST keep in her lap). If they happen to be returning from vacation, one of them—if not both—will be wearing a new sweatshirt that documents their trip.

The New Flyer. I’ve been stuck next to several new flyers in my day. One time, after having a good-natured and genuine conversation with a lady on a flight to Chicago, she asked if she could hold my hand during the landing. I obliged. It was actually pretty sweet. It’s entertaining to watch how people deal with the stress in these situations. Some are talkers. Some are fidgeters. Others pray or grind the gloss off their rosary. They rarely get sick, and at least in the instances where I’ve been a witness, none of them have died, either.

The Military. Young and dumb with crewcuts. Mmmmm.

The Rule Breaker. This guy (almost always a guy) usually comes from the salesperson genus, but he is a specie on his own. He’s always late, but expects to be treated specially. He complains about the security process. He talks on his cell phone after the flight attendant tells him to turn it off. He stands up before the plane comes to a complete stop. He usually has a cocktail or two. He always asks for a third, or a fourth, but generally gets turned down. He treats flight attendants like the “help.” He always appears angry. He’s probably on blood-pressure medicine. The whole plane is embarassed for him. He thinks he's cool.

The Big Guy. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people that struggle keeping their weight down. But I’ll be goddamn if I don’t always get stuck sitting next to the biggest guy on the plane. Once, on a 3-hour flight from NY to FL, I sat next to a 300 lbs. Hasidic Rabbi that sweated profusely and hadn’t used deodorant since his people fled the Holy Land. This scarred me. I’ve never quite recovered.

The Talker. I like to do my own thing during a flight, like reading or working or sleeping. Unless I’m trapped next to a talker, I don’t typically engage my rowmates in small talk. The Talker engages you, though. You are captive. They ask probing questions. They don’t take a hint that you don’t want to talk. They just think you’re shy, which makes them work even harder. They talk about unimportant things. “You heading home or heading somewhere else? What do you do? How long you staying? Oh I love that place. I’ve got a nephew that lives there. I haven’t been there in years. How’s the weather in Kansas City? Boy, those Royals really suck, huh?" Kill. Me.

The Recliner. This is the guy that leans his seat back into your lap. I have a very hard time controlling my rage against these people. Do they not get enough sleep at home? Are they so selfish that in order to eek out 5% more comfort for themselves, they're willing to take away 70% of my workspace? Aside from the mental daggers I send them, I also find that on some planes (especially older ones), you can put your air vent on High and point it directly on their head. This has worked for me several times. I've also been known to wait until they're sound asleep, then give their chair an incredibly agressive whack with my knee (followed by a "sorry" shrug if they turn around in disgust). If you're a regular Recliner: F*ck Off!

Then there’s me. I’m The Disillusioned Traveler. I'd rather not fly, but I know I have to since trains and horse-drawn carriages just aren't what they used to be. I scoff at people that say "I'd love to travel with my job like you do." I reluctantly stuff my 36” shoulders into a 30” seat. My 6'3" legs get folded into a space designed for someone that's 5'9". I'd rather be at home with my dog. My laptop battery always runs out. Since I fly at the last minute a lot, I sometimes have to sit in the middle. This makes me want to open a vein.

BUT... I’m always polite at the airport. I understand that sanity and patience are the two most important ingredients in air travel (besides lift and drag, of course). I keep my tray-table stowed appropriately, and pretend to listen to the flight attendants when they tell me where the exits are. I don't throw paper products into the toilet. I turn my phone off (most of the time). I won’t bother you if you’re sitting next to me, and there’s a good chance I’ll help you with your luggage. Heck, I’ll even swap seats with you (especially if you’re sitting next to a sailor in uniform!).

If you ever sit next to another Disillusioned Travel, give him/her a knowing nod. It just might be me, and I'll definitely nod back.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Sprawling downtown Louisville, from the fast lane.

Random Thoughts 2

--I can’t figure out my f*ucking DVR. It’s always about 5 seconds behind my other TVs and it is driving me absolutely nuts. When I press "Live" I expect it to be, um, "Live." But apparently, "Live" means "Kind of Live." If any of you expert DVR users have any advice, I’d love to hear it.

--It is 8:00pm and I’m getting ready for bed. Not because I’m tired, but because I have to get up at 4:30am to catch a flight to Louisville, KY. Under normal circumstances I would have been there tonight, but my travel lady couldn’t find me any places to stay. You think there are evacuees all the way up in Kentucky? Surely not. It’s probably an FFA convention.

--My schedule tomorrow:

6:40am – Flight leaves KC.
9:55am – Land in Louisville.
10:15am – Drive to meeting in downtown L-ville.
11:00am-1:00pm – Meet with people. Eat fatty food. And cookies.
1:15pm – Drive to L-ville offices to meet with one of my employees.
1:30pm–3:00pm – Meet with Tom. Hope there are cookies.
3:00pm – Walk around, say Hi to people I always talk to but never see.
3:15pm – Drive to airport.
4:00pm – Leave L-ville.
5:15pm – Land in Chicago.
6:48pm – Depart Chicago.

7:05pm - Arrive in KC.
7:30pm - Hitchhike to the terminal I departed from.
8:15pm - Arrive home.

--I think Casey rolled around in a dead animal in the backyard. He smells like ass. I don’t have time to give him a bath tonight. I guess I’ll smell like ass tonight, too. Wait. Are there dead animals in my backyard? Eww.

--Tonight on The Biggest Loser the men’s team got to call home and talk to their wives and families. I actually got a little sad watching that. Not for them, but for me. These guys were SO excited to talk to their wives--crying and getting really emotional. As I was watching, I realized there’s no one in my life with whom I would be THAT excited to talk. I wonder if that’s because I’ve developed a cold, bitter heart that doesn’t allow myself to feel or express emotion. If I had about $14,242.00 for therapy, I could probably figure that out.

--I got a call from D. tonight, which I admit I was happy about. He called to see if I had DVR’d Laguna Beach. Now seriously. Could you imagine a gayer question? I couldn’t decide what was funnier, the fact that he asked me that, or that fact that my answer was "of course I did." We made tentative plans for dinner later, but then his Mom invited him for dinner instead, so he had to cancel. The nerve of that woman! Doesn’t she know I have needs? Maybe Friday.

--I stayed up until midnight last night writing a response to an RFP. I didn’t have to, but I figured we needed to send something to our prospective client that remotely resembles our products and services. It’s amazing how people that have worked for our company for three or four years can’t articulate how our services solve various business problems. Or maybe it’s just that that RFP responses require more than 10 brain cells to complete. Ugh.

--I've got to do something about Casey. He's so stinky. "Come here, boy. Pull Daddy's finger."

--Did I mention I'm not a morning person? Ugh.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Art Fair pics

This weekend my frend Doug and I went to the Plaza Art Fair. It's an annual event that attracts hundreds of art vendors peddling their goods in the middle of the blocked off streets of Kansas City's premier shopping disctrict--the Plaza. While there, I captured a few shots on my camera phone. Somewhere along the line, I accidentally switched to black and white (that was obviously after we stopped for alcohol), so a few aren't in color.

While I was there I realized several things:

  • It can still be HOT in September
  • Shade is your friend
  • There aren't a lot of places to park around the Plaza
  • I need a new camera phone
  • I cannot afford art
  • Besides art, there ain't a whole lot to look at at the Plaza Art Fair

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Burrito Bitch

On Saturday I was out running some errands and decided to swing into Chipotle to grab a quick bite to eat. It was around 4pm and there was hardly anyone inside. Only two people were in line in front of me--a young couple and another guy. By the time I started to order, the girl was at the register paying and something had gone wrong with her transaction. You could feel the tension in the air. Voices were raised. The line was at a stand still.

Generally, on Saturday's I'm pretty relaxed and not in a hurry to go anywhere, so I waited patiently while the only register was being occupied to fix the girl's problem. But then things started to get ugly. This girl started to go ballistic. She was cursing at the Chipotle employees, cursing at her boyfriend across the restaurant (he had already gone to sit down--can't say that I blame him). The Manager had come out by this time and was trying to keep the other customers moving, but the girl was barking "NO, I want my f*cking problem FIXED, NOW, before you help anyboy else!" In about a 2 minute period she had escalated to a steady yell and dropped about ten F-bombs aimed directly at the Chipotle employees.

Now let me be upfront about the fact that I have chewed an ass or two in my day. I've complained. I've raised my voice. I've probably even cursed. But never, ever like this girl. She wasn't angry at the problem. She was angry at the employee, and she was directing her rage directly at her. I didn't like that. Soooo, the only thing I could think to do was to jump in and show some support to the employee. I looked the girl directly in the eye and said in a voice loud enough for everyone in the store to hear:

"I'll pay for your lunch if you just shut up and quit being so obnoxious."

Suffice to say, she didn't like this at all. But everyone else in the store did. I actually got a "me too" from someone in line behind me, and I think the employee snickered. The angry young girl looked me directly in the eye, obviously in a complete state of rage and says "Kiss my ass." Rather than stoop to her level of insults, I just continued to stare her down. Then, to my utter delight, the Manager slides my burrito into a bag, hands me my drink cup and says, "Sir, thanks for your patience, this is on us today."

I can't begin to tell you how good it felt as I grabbed my bag, gave the burrito bitch a "HA HA" look and left her standing in disgust. Next time I get mad at something or someone in that type of situation, I'm going to remember this experience, and the immortal words of some annonymous wise man: "You get a lot further with sugar than you do with vinegar." Or, in this case, hot sauce.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Park Painter

I went to nearby Loose Park for my walk with Casey today. Loose Park is one of my favorite places in Kansas City. It's surrounded by beautiful homes on all sides, and has a huge, grassy lawn in the center. Perfect for a picnic on sunny summer days. It also has a really nice track around it, which takes exactly 30 minutes to walk. Just perfect for us.

We walked up on an elderly gentleman who was standing in the middle of the field painting the landscape. I thought it was a really nice scene, so I snapped a shot with my phone to share.

I'm staying in tonight and watching "The Green Mile." Last night I went over to my friends Kurt and Mark's house and really tied one on. After tossing and turning with a near-migraine from all the Jack Daniels and cigarettes, I thought I'd take the night off. I'm exhausted. When am I gonna learn??

Friday, September 23, 2005

Group Fantasy

I'll admit that I'm not an avid football fan. I don't watch it on TV, nor do I pay much attention to scores or player drama reported on the news (e.g., getting arrested for beating their wives or drunk driving). When someone mentions the Chiefs or the Cowboys, I usually reply with something that shows I'm completely uninterested such as, "Yeah, um, I don't watch baseball all that much."

The reason I don't like football is because football sucks. Not the game itself, necessarily, but the lack-luster teams, and the commercialization and those ridiculous flags people stick on their cars to show their loyalty, and those god-awful fan jerseys. There is even more evidence that football sucks by the new phenomenon of Fantasy Football. My read on this is that the teams suck so badly on their own, they've designed a system to take just the best few players and let them compete head-to-head. The fantasy, apparently, is that you actually have a good team.

A friend of mine from the office is an avid Football Fantasizer. He's even in charge of a group of fellow Fantasizers. Each Fantasizer pays a participation fee to see who can be the best Fantasizer. At the end of the season, the top Fantasizer (or Grand Master Fantasizer) wins the pool of money. Sometimes this is referred to as "gambling," but that's only in the real world. This is Fantasy world. So it's OK. I’m certain there is a special ritual at the end of the season that honors the GMF—my guess is that it involves chanting, silken robes, a crown made from beer cans and a mandatory trip to Hooters.

But hey--I'm an open-minded guy. I shouldn't knock it 'til I try it, right? I’m really not sure what the rules are, or how many people are on a fantasy team, but MY group fantasy looks like this:

Quarter Back: Ryan Phillippe
Running Back: Hayden Christensen
Wide Receiver: Matthew Fox
Tight End: Jake Gyllenhall
Kicker: Ethan Hawke
Defense: Me

Do I get a jersey?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Love/Hate Fast Food Orders

I'm in another "list" mood today, and decided to catalog my favorite orders by restaurant. I'm sticking to national fast-food joints so you can identify with me and thus further strengthen our love.

Pick any 5: Three Roast beef sandwiches, medium curly fry and a medium Diet Dr. Pepper.

Three hamburgers, no onions and a large Diet Dr. Pepper.

[Anyname] Chinese Food Joint
Chicken Lo Mein or Chicken and Broccoli

Foot-long Chicken Terriyaki on wheat, untoasted with lettuce, tomato, pickle and banana peppers.

Carnitas Burrito with black beans, mild sauce, and a little bit of cheese and lettuce.

Regular Turkey Lite on wheat, no onions with extra pickles and banana peppers.

Number 4 (chicken) with a side-salad and large Diet Coke. Sometimes medium frosty.

Here's a list of few items I might order at my less favorite places:

Burger King
Flame-broiled Whopper with a side of rat stew.

Taco Bell
Big heaping colon torpedo.

Luke-warm foot-long chili cheese dog prepared by teenage skanks in roller skates.

Extra-large bucket of fried animal parts so disgusting they can no longer legally use the word "Chicken" in their name.

Extra-large bucket of fried animal parts stolen from KFC's dumpster, sprinkled with hot spicy stuff.

Long John Silver's
Fried ocean roaches soaked in rancid tartar sauce with a side of tepid clams.

Mmmmmm, I'm hungry now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Proud Dads

This morning at the coffee machine I [reluctantly] took part in a conversation of two father's discussing their kids' athletic accomplishments. One has a daughter, a freshman in high school, and she is the state champion in her sport (she also set the state record I was reminded). The other guy's son, a sophomore in high school, did his "PR" (personal record I think) in the cross-country meet by a minute. Blah, blah, blah. Blah. Blah. Did I mention Casey got a new crate for his birthday?

And, when did my peers all of a sudden get kids in HIGH SCHOOL? Jeez.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My first mobile post

Literally no time to blog today. But this is my first mobile post from my cell phone! Yay technology!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Violent Fingers

Saturday night a friend and I went to a small bar named “Grand Emporium” where some of our friends usually hang out. We know the DJ there and the music is always excellent. As usual, we had a great time. But at one point in the evening something happened to me that only until this morning I realized may have been something more than innocent fun.

I was sitting in one of the posh velvety booths (Elvis-style) with maybe six or seven of us around the table. At the table were two friends that I have cozied up to in the past, and still hang out with on a fairly regular basis (separately, of course). I happened to be sitting next to one of the friends and may have been imparting a bit more attention to one than the other. At the time, I didn’t think in a million years that either one of them would notice that fact, or even care.

While I was showering this morning, I was lathering up the old tummy and as I ran my hands down my washboard abs stomach, I felt a dull but obvious pain. Then, upon inspection, I noticed not one bruise, but two. Now truth be told, this would not be the first time I’ve found mysterious bruises on my body after a night of rebel-rousing. In fact, I think I may have even had emergency surgeries that I can’t remember. But not this time. I remembered immediately where this came from. Flash back to Saturday evening.

While getting up from the booth to use the little boys room, the friend not getting any attention gave me a couple of finger-pokes in the side (ala goochi-goo). I remember these “tickles” not just because they hurt, but because I HATE when people poke me in the side—especially this one particular friend that I’ve asked repeatedly not to do that. But then it dawned on me. This was no ordinary goochi-goo. This was aggression disguised as playfulness. This guy poked me hard enough to bruise my ribs [ignore obvious joke here]. And god knows I’m not exactly skin and bones in my mid-section.

I’m not a whiner, and I’m not one to scream foul play when I’m not even sure of people’s true intentions. But I’m also not one to put up with violence, or even aggression—especially if it’s targeted at me. And frankly, I kind of feel a little more scared of how his rage was manifested through something playful. Kind of like Jeffrey Dahmer asking you to play hopscotch. Scary. With that, I say this with deep conviction both literally and figuratively: That was the last time he ever lays a finger on me.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Happy Birthday to Casey

Today was Casey's birthday. One year old!!!! I can't believe the year went so fast. We walked and played and went to the park (twice) and went to PetSmart and opened presents and broke in his new crate. What a day! I know he had a great day because it's only 8:30pm and he's crashed right next to me here on the bed.

Sadly, I'm a bit tired too and I've still got to get ready to go out for some cocktails. This means no more time to write. Instead, I've captured a few shots of us playing today.

Hope you enjoy them.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A.M. Frustrations

Most of my mornings start off without a hitch. But sometimes there are little things that I do to myself (not purposefully) that make me grumble. Here's a short list, by topic:

1. Coffee. I religiously set up the coffee pot to make a fresh pot of coffee in the morning. But sometimes I forget to press the "auto" button. I hate that. I appreciate that it only takes a couple minutes to brew a new one, but not having the wonderful scent of coffee waft up the stairs to lure me out of bed makes me grumpy. The only worse thing is that I think I hit the auto button, but actually hit the brew button, and then realize that I just made a fresh pot of coffee at 11pm.

2. Toothbrush. I'm a vigorous brusher. And I always brush my tongue. The combination of these two things sometimes causes me to gag myself. I do this WAY too often considering I should have brushed my teeth at least 20,000 times in my life [(age*365*2) - (newborn years and college)]. You'd think I'd learn there's no need to brush that dangling thing in the back of my throat.

3. Alarm clock. Couple issues here. The worst is getting out of bed and going all the way downstairs and hearing the alarm remind me I've only hit 'snooze' and not 'off.' And don't think that I haven't been so lazy as to just eat breakfast with the damn thing buzzing over and over. I also hate when I forget to turn it off on Saturdays, especially when it goes off just a couple of hours after I've gone to bed. I also just hate the whole concept of waking up, so the alarm clock bears the brunt of my hostilities in that respect.

4. Shower. I recently remodeled my bathroom and now have a big, fancy walk-in shower that I absolutely love. So when it's nice, warm and steamy in the shower, I HATE having to get out for any reason. This includes, but not limited to: a) forgetting to hang the towel on the hook by the door; b) forgetting to turn on the exhaust fan; c) running out of shaving cream/shampoo/soap; and d) answering the phone (this I rarely do, unless it's someone I want to let know I'm completely naked).

5. Dressing. There are several things that can annoy me when I get dressed. First is humid/hot days where I must get dressed while sweating post-shower (even with the A/C on). I've been known to be late to work because of sitting in front of a fan to cool off. Of course, I've been known to be late to work for a whole bunch of reasons, but that's another post. Next is ironing a dark-colored shirt and having the bouncing fur-ball plop down right on top of it. But my most famous trick is getting completely dressed and then spilling something on myself. Especially if it's coffee on my last pair of clean jeans. I hate it when I have to just wear boxer shorts to the office.

Did I miss any?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

7 Things

7 Things I plan to do before I die:
1. Buy a cabin on/near a lake
2. Retire early
3. Drive really fast on the Autobahn
4. Figure it all out
5. Make better plans
6. Make peace with my demons
7. Love someone more than life itself

7 Things I can do:
1. Listen
2. Negotiate
3. Write a complete sentence
4. Talk about difficult issues
5. Make people laugh (and then roll their eyes)
6. Speak in front of large groups of people
7. Kiss

7 Things I cannot do:
1. Believe there’s a magical power controlling the universe
2. Put bumper stickers on my car
3. Talk my way out of a speeding ticket
4. Wait patiently
5. Go commando
6. Skateboard/Snowboard
7. Be average

7 Things that attract me to the same sex:
1. A sense of style
2. Beautiful features: hands/teeth/skin/eyes
3. Intelligence
4. Worldliness
5. Willingness to show affection, but not too much
6. Ability to put me in my place
7. Ability to communicate effectively

7 Things I say most often:
1. Actually…
2. OK
3. Yeah, about that…
4. Go do your business.
5. Yes, um, I’d like a [insert food order here].
6. Sounds good to me.
7. I think we need to revisit that.

7 celebrity crushes:
1. Ryan Phillippe
2. Hayden Christensen
3. Ethan Hawke
4. Jake Gyllenhall
5. Ashton Kutcher
6. Ewan MacGregor
7. Michael Phelps (Olympic Swimmer)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

School is in session

OK class, let's sit down and get ready for our next lesson. Today we're going to talk about health insurance. Just for fun, we're going to pretend that we're starting our very own health insurance company (also called a health plan, or in some cases, a "payer"). We're going to name our company "Very Own Health Plan" or VOHP. Is everyone excited?? Great, let's get started.

There are several things VOHP has to do before we can open for business. First, we've got to get some doctors and other health care providers to agree to give services to the people that buy our insurance. We're going to call them our "provider network." Then we've got to find some places where these providers can take you if you get sick, like hospitals, clinics and minor surgical centers. We'll call these places our "facility network." Because these providers and facilities expect VOHP is going to send them a lot of new customers, they're going to give us big discounts on their standard prices. We'll put those prices (called a "fee schedule") into a contract, and we'll make the providers and facilities sign it. This way we'll be sure to know how much to pay them, and they know how to act properly with our customers.

Next, we've got to get ready to sell our health insurance. Because we're really not that great at selling yet, we're going to work with some other people that will sell our insurance for us. They're called "brokers," and it's their job to help companies buying insurance figure out which plan is best for them. Sometimes this is complicated. We'll have to tell these employers about our networks, and how geographically close/far they are to their employees, and whether or not switching health plans will cause a lot of employees to go to different doctors. To compete with other insurance companies, we'll have to prove to the employer that we can make their lives a lot easier with cool services like a 24-Nurse Line, online access to their records, fast, courteous customer service and even an online database of health conditions so they can look up information about their aches and pains. We'll call all of these things "differentiators" that we use to set ourselves apart for our competition.

Last, we need to be ready to manage paying the providers and facilities for the care they provide to our clients. People get sick a lot. We'll need to set up a database of our providers and facilities and the prices we've agreed to pay them so we don't pay the wrong people or worse, pay too much. It's no big deal if we forget to pay, because someone will eventually remind us. We're also going to have to figure out how to keep all this data up-to-date, because those silly doctors are always moving and changing their names and dying. Dead doctors are the worst because sometimes really unscrupulous people figure out we don't know they're dead and submit fake claims to us. And sadly, we'll keep paying them until we know otherwise. So, these systems are really important, because if we can pay a claim automatically, and detect fraud easily, it'll save us a lot of money. And that's a good thing.

Now for purposes of this class, we're not going to go into much more detail. We've actually skipped a BUNCH of stuff we have to do to be in business. Things like HIPAA privacy and security compliance, accreditation, Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement, federal/state-mandated reporting, pharmacy formularies, credentialing, peer review, etc. This health insurance stuff can be HARD sometimes.

OK, so let's open for business! Everyone still awake? Someone please wake up SLP on the back row.

Now that we're open, we've got to make money. If we offer great services, have a lot of doctors in our network and have low PMPM prices, the brokers will sell a LOT of insurance for us. This is good, because every company that signs up is going to pay us a per member, per month (PMPM) fee for all of their employees. This is our revenue. In return, we're going to have to provide several services:

1) A network of providers and facilities with reduced rates
2) A guarantee to pay portions of certain types of care under certain conditions
3) Certain prescription medications for certain conditions
4) Administrative services (i.e., claims processing, service differentiators, etc.).

These are our expenses. To be profitable, VOHP has to make sure we take in more revenue than we spend on the above four things. Here's where it gets tricky. The revenue we take in is FIXED, but any one of our client's employees can get sick at any time. So there's a chance that we may have to spend a LOT more than we make. We'll call that "risk." The way we're going to make sure we stay afloat is by trying to predict this risk the best we can.

We'll accomplish this by hiring an outside firm with super-smart geeks with super-fast computers and green-shaded visors (also called actuaries) that use mathematical probability to predict, with great precision, how often people from any demographic group are likely to stub their toe, have a heart attack, need chemotherapy, have a kidney stone, etc. They'll do this by studying data from millions and millions of previously submitted health care claims. Based on what they tell us, we'll set our PMPM price accordingly. So by managing risk and keeping our expenses low, we can make healthcare affordable, amass huge sums of money and always show positive growth (people get sick, even in recessions). Ta Da!

So I know this was boring, but I hope you liked the class. I just wanted to have a diversion from the ordinary ramblings, and god knows you needed to give your brain a break from reading about people's dogs and what time they pee in the morning. Maybe one day I'll tell you about the trends going on in health care right now that will soon make you go broke. Woo hoo!

Class dismissed. And hey... who took my apple?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Random Thoughts

We're under a severe thunderstorm watch in Kansas City right now, so I'm homebound watching TV and smelling the god-awful cow hoof Casey is chewing. So I thought it'd be a good time to just free associate on a few things, just to fuel this new addiction of mine...

-- I forgot two of my nephew's birthdays in August (the 4th and the 30th). I SUCK at remembering birthdays. One year as a Christmas gift my mother gave me the "service" of mailing all my cards for me (on time). She made and printed the cards on her computer (she has a lot of free time) and I signed them in advance. When they were due, she stuck in a $20 and we settled up after the fact. Probably the best gift I ever got.

-- I got a voice mail from the Volvo dealer yesterday. She said it was my "three year and six month" call (on a 4-year lease). They never call me just to say "Hi." They always want something from me. If they did call to just tell me "Hi," I'm sure I'd tell them not to call until my lease was almost up.

-- I need to figure out which new car I'm going to get. I think I want a hybrid, but all the current hybrids are cheap pieces of crap. I'm shocked (and pissed) Volvo doesn't have one.

-- I bought some new Lucky jeans this weekend, thinking I could wear them to work. I was shopping with two friends at the time and they INSISTED they looked OK for the office. When I put them on Monday morning I decided they accentuated certain details that should otherwise not be accentuated at the office. I probably should take them back, but given their fit, I'm sure they'll be fine to wear Out.

-- I'm either getting a cold or my allergies are acting up. I've been coughing and sneezing all day long in spite of taking 20-30 packets of Tylenol Sinus. I hate not feeling 100%.

-- I'm watching The Biggest Loser and each of the team members are wearing T-shirts with their reason for losing weight printed on them. They say things like "To be healthy," or "To turn heads." If I was on there, mine would say "To get laid."

-- For dinner tonight I stopped at Wendy's and ordered one of their "healthy" sandwiches and Baked Lays chips. In addition to my sandwich, they accidentally gave me a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. I ate that damn thing like there was no tomorrow.

-- I just got an e-mail from my secret crush in San Francisco. This makes me happy. I want to tell you about it, but I can't. It's a secret crush.

-- My new Vanity Fair came in yesterday. I never really realized how hot Paris Hilton is. But then again, a photographer like Mario Testino and an army of photoshop experts could make even ME look hot on the cover of VF. And damn... her finance (also named Paris) is something to behold. In the only photo with him, they placed him behind her, mostly hidden. This is obviously to keep the focus on, um, what's her face.

-- Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive makes me want to open a vein. Thank GOD I can watch Tommy Lee go to college instead.

-- OK, it's thundering and lightning. Sadly, I'm more scared about losing this post than it striking my house and blowing up all my electronic equipment. I need a generator. Or maybe a little Beagle-sized hampster wheel Casey could use to power my cable modem and wireless LAN.

Anywho, I'm gonna go puke now. The smell of hoof has overtaken me. Plus, rain makes me sleepy.

Puppy Park Pick-ups

Like most males, I have the uncanny ability to create subtle sexual innuendo from just about any context. Here are a few lines I've been practicing in the mirror for when I'm at the dog park. Not that I've ever muttered ANY of these words, but you never know... Be sure you wink after you say each one, it adds to the effect.

1. Nice tail.

2. Boy, I think he really likes me.

3. Very cute, how big will it get?

4. It's OK, humping is natural.

5. Sure, you can pet him all you want.

6. I'd howl too.

7. Come!

8. Nice bone.

9. The choke collar is the only thing that seems to work.

10. You know, you don't have to beg.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Pyramids and Mexican She-Devils

One of my favorite vacation memories is a time I went to Mexico and took a self-guided tour off the beaten path. My ex, Steven, and I stayed at one of the posh, all-inclusive resorts just South of Playa del Carmen (about 45 minutes South of Cancun, on the Caribbean coast). In spite of the resort being owned and mostly occupied by Germans (who, coincidentally are totally obnoxious), the accommodations were very nice and the food was superb. Not to mention, who can argue with free drinks 24/7?

Having indulged our inclinations to sit beach- and pool-side while sipping free cocktails, I started to get a bit itchy for some excitement. We met with the concierge who gave us directions to some of the standard attractions: swimming with dolphins, picture opportunities at Maya ruins, and of course, shopping in Playa del Carmen (which is a lot like shopping at a crappy flea market). I wasn't taking the bait. What I wanted to do was rent a car, take the camera and a lunch and DRIVE. We were cautioned by Seenyor Concierge that this might be highly dangerous. I convinced him that was exactly what I wanted. Within an hour, our dark-blue Volkswagen Golf was idling just outside the front doors.

We decided we wanted to visit a National Park named "Coba," about an hour inland. The drive to Coba was down a long, narrow and unevenly paved road. Along the way was a series of three to four large man-made speed bumps which we quickly learned were designed to strategically slow traffic for solicitation. As we slowly made our way over the mammoth bumps, we were approached by several angelic little girls with flowery dresses who tapped lightly on the windows and pleaded with us softly in Spanish. They were just adorable.

But within a tenth of a second after determining we weren't going to roll down our windows and donate, these little angels sprouted horns, revealed long, blood soaked fangs, and after several 360 degree spins on their heads, began to POUND on the car. I can only imagine how much damage was caused to the Golf's suspension after Steven and I screamed "HOLY SHIT" and sped the car--sparks flying--across the rest of the bumps. I can only imagine their padre sitting on the porch laughing at the site of two American queens fleeing the clutches of such awful seven year-olds.

Once at the park, we loaded up on water and snacks and started touring the grounds. It was absolutely fantastic. Here's a good description I found on the internet:

Spread across 80 square miles lies the site of an ancient Mayan city where shallow lakes are intertwined with ancient limestone roads called sacbe, and rising from the rainforest are some of the most impressive ruins in the Yucatan. Nearly 20,000 structures spread out over this city, most still engulfed by jungle, but a few have been excavated. Nearly a dozen major trails lead to marked ruins at Coba so be prepared to walk about 5km to 7km through lush rainforest while visiting the structures. Bigger then Chichen Itza and older then Tulum, the ancient city of Coba is the ultimate Mayan archaeological site in the Mexican Caribbean. Down the main path you will come to the spectacular temple of Nohoch Mul. It is one of the tallest pyramids in the Yucatan at 140 steep feet. Gather your stamina and courage and set forth to climb to the top of the pyramid. Once on the top the view is breath-taking! From the summit you can see the pyramid Iglesia protruding from the thick green jungle that seems to go on forever.

Of course, I had to climb this pyramid. Little did we know, it involved a several-mile hike down the path you see below. As we walked, listenening to scores of insects, monkeys and (in my mind) tigers and elephants, we commented that if we got lost out here, no one would ever find us. There were lots of unfamiliar noises and invisible things jumping in the trees, not to mention the rodent-sized ants making their way across the path. But the scariest creature came directly at us from behind a large tree. We were totally unprepared to encounter such a beast and I think we may have over-reacted. There, standing in front of us was yet another ferocious seven year-old girl--in the similar white flowered dress we had encountered earlier. She offered to sell us a cute little hand-made hankerchief. Naturally, we bought two, and though I don't recall the price, I'm sure it was every single cent I had on me.

When we got to the pryamid, it was much larger than we expected. If you look closely in the picture below, those little white spots near the top are people. The steps up the pyramid were unbelievably dangeous. Each step was a different combination of width and height--some nearly a foot and a half wide and three inches up to the next step, and others were five inches wide and two feet to the next step. And since the Mayan people obviously didn't have a liability-based legal system, there are no handrails or wheelchair ramps. My Spanish isn't great, but I'm pretty sure the sign at the base said, "If you fall, clean up your blood." I wonder how many tourists marched all the way out there to ultimately decided it was way too scary to climb. I'm sure it happened--even I was pretty nervous going up.

The view at the top was incredible. You could see across the entire Yucatan. There were dozens of unearthed pyramids sticking out of the canopy of trees, much like the one below. It was hard to imagine that they've been sitting there for thousands of years, collecting dust and earth as the elements made their mark upon them. Part of me was sad to think how so much history was hidden beneath the grass and trees, but the other part of me was thrilled this hadn't been convereted to an American-style theme park--complete with trams, $4 bottles of water and tour guides telling us to watch our step.

Luckily, we made it back down and all the way back to the car without incident. We even ate at a nearby restaurant complete with a waiter with a monkey on his shoulder. I don't even think Montezuma got any revenege upon us (but I think that burrito did--it was obvious the monkey cooked it). And if you ever make the trek out there yourself, know that if you hit the first speed bump at 40mph, you can actually jump the other two and miss the little devil girls altogether.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Honoring New Orleans (in my own special way)

I was going through some old pictures today and came across something I thought I should share. What better way to pay tribute to the great city of New Orleans than a humiliating picture of yourself celebrating Halloween in the greatest "dress up" city on earth. I mean, seriously... you can't wear a sequined tuxedo just ANYWHERE.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Morning Routine

I've seen a few blogs with this type of post, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

6:00am Alarm Rings, Hit Snooze
6:09am Alarm Rings, Hit Snooze
6:18am Alarm Rings, Hit Snooze
6:27am Alarm Rings, Hit Snooze
6:36am Alarm Rings, Hit Snooze
6:40am Give Casey-bear morning puppy lovin’
6:42am Pee
6:43am Put on shorts, t-shirt, shoes/socks, head downstairs, pup in tow
6:45am Chug OJ from container
6:46am Attach leash to Casey, begin walking
6:53am Pick up dog poop
6:56am Dodge sprinklers, chase squirrels, smile/wave to neighbors
7:13am Super-short chit-chatty small talk with neighbor who's watering flowers
7:16am Arrive back home

7:16am Turn on kitchen TV to Matt and Katie
7:17am Feed Dog
7:18am Pour, prepare, drink coffee
7:20am Let dog outside
7:21am Prepare, eat 2 pieces of toast with Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam
7:25am Let dog inside
7:26am Tidy up kitchen, turn off TV
7:29am Chug more OJ from container
7:30am Head upstairs, pup in tow
7:31am Turn on bedroom TV to Matt and Katie
7:32am Appease whining puppy by tossing ball (drink coffee during this time, too)
7:40am Publish daily blog post, check e-mail
7:45am Iron clothes
7:55am Put Casey in his crate
7:56am Turn on bathroom TV to Matt and Katie
7:56am Take vitamins
7:57am Get in shower
7:59am Shampoo
8:00am Lather, shave
8:04am Wash/scrub/exfoliate
8:08am Stand in warm water, not wanting to get out
8:15am Dry off
8:17am Apply deodorant
8:18am Moisturize
8:19am Brush teeth
8:21am Turn off bathroom TV
8:21am Put on clothes, shoes. Finish coffee
8:28am Change TV station to Disney Channel for pup (yay Wiggles!)
8:30am Head downstairs
8:31am Pour travel coffee or Diet Dr. Pepper
8:33am Raise garage door
8:34am Leave for work

It’s really pretty sad, but as I was writing this, I realized that I hardly EVER deviate from this schedule. For a second I was thinking I was in a rut, but I just realized it's really just organized consistency.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Spanish Soap Opera

(Open on: Dave's Upstairs Bedroom.) E. (the housekeeper) is vaccuming intently. A Spanish soap opera is turned ridiculously loud on all televisions in the house.

Me: [Over the vacuum]. Hi E., Can we talk for a second?

E: [With a VERY thick Guatemalan accent.] Hi, Mr. Dabid. Ju sneak up on me! [Vaccum turns off].

Me: Sorry, E., I just want to talk to you about a few things that I’d like you to do differently when you clean the house.

E: OK, Mr. Dabid. I hope ju are happy weeth my cleaning. [Both sit down slowly].

Me: Oh I am, I definitely am, it's just that I’ve noticed a few things we should change. Like, when the shelves and side tables are dusted, my pictures are always completely rearranged. I’d like you to try your best to put them back in the same place you got them.

E: Ju no wants me to touch de peekchures, Mr. Dabid?

Me: No, no. It’s not about touching the pictures; it’s about putting them in the same spot where they were before. I’m just really anal-retentive, and they’re always rearranged after you clean and that stimulates my pathologies.

E: [Blank stare].

Me: Um, OK. Let’s move on to the next one.

E: [Points to Casey's crate.] Ju know I let Casey out of hees box and talk to heem in Spanish, jes?

Me: Yes, I do, and I know he appreciates that. He told me that he likes you very much.

E: [Eyes wide, slapping my knee] Mr. Dabid!! Casey does NOT talk?!?!

Me: OK, I was just kidding. But I'm sure he does like you very much.

E: Oooooh, HA HA HA. Ju skeered me there, Mr. Dabid.

Me: OK, now the shower.

E: Ju wants me to geev Casey a chower?

Me: No, no. No shower for Casey. It’s just that the new stone tile in the shower really shouldn’t have harsh chemicals on it. Last time it was cleaned there was a whitish residue on the floor, and I was a bit concerned about that.

E: [Blank stare]. Ju no like de way I clean de chower?

Me: No, the shower is always very clean; I’d just like you to use regular soap and water.

E: [Laughing]. Mr. Dabid, I no use soap and water, I use de Tilex for de chower.

Me: Yes, I know that, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to use that on the stone.

E: [Blank stare]. [Pause]. How wheel de shower get de cleaning, den?

Me: Well, just soap and water would work, right? And maybe a soft brush?

E: Ohhhh. Well ju gotta buy dat for me den, Mr. Dabid.

Me: Yes, I will. I’ll get you some special soap and a really good brush.

E: I lie de brushes weeth de robber handles. And I need more vacuum bags. And Weendex. I only have left a leetle in de bottle.

Me: OK, I’ll be sure to pick those up for you, too.


E: Are ju CHOOR you lie my cleaning, Mr. Dabid?

Me: I absolutely do, E. I couldn’t keep this house up without you.

E: [Big Smile] Dats nice for ju to say dis.

Me: No problem. I really appreciate all you do for me.

[Long pause].

E: For all thees new stuff, do ju think my cleaning is worth anudder tweenty dollars?

Me: [Blank stare].

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Neighborhood Newsletter (sort of)

Members of the Fairway Squirrel Association (FSA):

We hope that each of your summers have been chocked full of nuts and that this letter finds your teeth sharp and tails bushy. I am writing to congratulate each of you on your excellent representation of the rodent community in Fairway this summer. It was one of our best in years!

First, I want to congratulate the Grey Squirrels on Canterbury Lane. It appears that they dug over 10,000 holes in the yards of the humans and didn’t lose ONE family member to trapping or poison. Way to go guys—an FSA record! Also, the Red Squirrels on Windsor living in old lady Smith’s garage got her so mad that she tried to shoot them with a pellet gun. We think she accidentally shot her grandson instead!! We had a good laugh over that one at the lodge. Nice work, Reds!

In memorandum, we’d like to take a moment of silence for the 53 FSA “runners” trying to bring supplies to the other side of the road. Though your rotting carcasses are now just black spots in the cement of life, we thank you for your service to the Cause. Also, let’s spend another 10 seconds for Frankie, whose desperate search for a modern apartment sparked [literally] the worst transformer incident we’ve had in years. You never would have expected such a smart guy to touch both the wires. NEVER touch both the wires!

Last, and the most important reason I write to you today is to warn you about what could be the most serious threat to the FSA in years. And I think you ALL know who I’m talking about—that completely deranged tall guy with the goofy looking Beagle. Though they may seem mild-mannered while on their walks or doing business in the back yard, I assure you that they are extremely dangerous. Fellow citizens, this man is out to get us.

Word has it that he believes we were responsible for the destruction of his soaker hose in his flowerbeds (though we have evidence it was the Chipmunks) and the occasionally flickering spotlight on the far side of the house. Granted, the nasty turf war with the Gophers did cause some flower fatalities, and the VERY nasty Fox Squirrel divorce didn’t exactly make his yard look presentable, but that is no reason to be so angry. Our field officers on his roof claim that he has been spotted throwing plastic footballs and ice cubes at our citizens, and frequently encourages the Beagle to “Get ‘Em” (though that never seems to work). He has also been overheard making threats to capture and torture one of us until all other squirrels agree to get off his property. Be prepared for this--we will not negotiate with savages!

Just be careful out there, folks. We know he’s got some great oak trees, and one HELL of fertile garden. But watch your tails. This man is armed and dangerous, and we believe he may be harboring Weapons of Squirrel Destruction that may harm or displace hundreds of squirrels in the surrounding area. Good luck, and please be reminded that dues should be paid in full by the first snow.

Nutfully yours,

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Rules By Which I Blog

I admit I’m new to the blogging thing. I am also quite certain that those that have been blogging for years are wary of Johnny-blog-lately’s that are new to the blogging thing (I would be). I acknowledge this fact and intend to tread lightly until I learn the ropes. The dilemma: There are really no ropes to learn.

There are rules at my job, rules in my house, rules at my dry cleaners, rules of the road and even rules of attraction. But apparently the only rule that seems to apply universally in the blog world is that there are no rules in the blog world. This is slightly unsettling to the left side of my brain. But not to worry. To make peace inside my head (well, at least with this issue), I’ve taken a stab at self-regulation. Here they are:

I will:

  1. Attempt to be interesting.
  2. Adhere to most known rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  3. Vary my content.
  4. Only curse for emphasis, dammit.
  5. Attempt to stimulate chuckles (and no, not the clown, silly).
  6. Respond to e-mail.
  7. Include photos where possible.
  8. Learn from other blogs, but not imitate them.
  9. Be friendly.
  10. Hope for readers.
I will NOT:

  1. Betray confidences.
  2. Attempt to join the blogger community until I have done this for a while.
  3. Drone on about my dreams or my dog.
  4. Make up silly pseudonyms for the important people in my life.
  5. Use my blog as a pulpit.
  6. Take myself too seriously.
  7. Steer people to my site just because they happen to be gay.
  8. Advertise anything.
  9. Publish naked pictures of myself (I prefer to e-mail them). :P
  10. Cry when no one shows up to read.

We'll see how things go with these. I hope I'll stick to this long enough to look back someday and see just how naive (or perceptive) I once was.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Drinking Problem

Saturday night I went to a new bar/club here in town with some friends and I noticed that there were a lot of obviously underage kids drinking. Personally, I could care less as long as they don't spill anything on me, but it got me to thinking about my very serious problem with drinking when I was in high school. Now to be clear, my problem with drinking was not that I drank a lot, or even often. The problem I had with drinking was getting CAUGHT.

The first time I got "busted" was by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (beer Nazis) at age 15. I was hanging out with some older kids (with cars) in an not-yet-completed strip mall parking lot (there's not a lot to do in my home town). I was leaning against a friend's truck holding a can of Miller Light when three TABC cruisers drove up with their lights off. By the time I noticed they were there, I was in a spotlight. With few options, I dropped my beer and kicked it under the truck. (Apparently, this deft maneuver has been used before and did not foil the TABC Officers.) I was issued a citation for "Minor in Possession," and as I signed it, launched a short-lived string of alcohol related misdeeds. Ultimately, since my Dad knew the judge, I got the ticket dismissed. In retrospect, I would have gladly taken the local governments punishment over my fathers.

My next transgression happened on school property. Several friends and I decided we were too cool for beer that evening and procured some Rum and mixers from the first store that accepted our fake IDs. We came prepared with a blender and ice and fancy cups from which to drink our forbidden fruit (punch). The problem was, we didn't have a place to do the blending--we needed electricity. My friend Joel, the captain of our water polo team, had a key to the pool. We figured that a carefully executed plug-and-blend would only take a few minutes, and no one was expected to be at the pool at 10:30 at night on a Friday evening. So while Joel and others went for a quick swim, I took on the role of bartender. So there I sat in all my 16 year-old splendor on the tile floor of the pool lobby with a huge bottle of Rum, a large bag of ice, empty mixer cans strewn about, blending on high speed when I heard the front door close loudly. It was my coach. He was clearly not pleased by the sight of my makeshift mini-bar. He walked aggressively towards me and said, with severely clinched teeth as he passed me, "You have exactly one minute to get the fuck out of here. Leave everything."

Needless to say, the combination of my coach's personal relationship with my parents, his desire to keep his best athletes on the team and [I'm sure] not wanting to explain to the school board how a student ended up with a key to the pool, we compromised. He wouldn't "turn me in" to the principal to face certain expulsion, and I would--for an entire year--single-handedly put in and take out all eight lanelines before and after every swim practice. I would also carry all equipment (usually reserved for freshmen) to/from games, clean bathrooms, pick up bleachers after events and be formally reprimanded in front of the entire team (very similar to a Salem witch trial). I did this for an entire year to keep my spot on the team.

The very next summer, my club water polo team traveled to Austin for a tournament. It was the first event where I was officially off my so-called punishment duty. We stayed at a high-rise Holiday Inn near the lake. My roommates and I decided at about 10pm that we needed sodas, and because the machine on our floor was out of order, headed several floors down to the lobby. On the way back up, the elevator stopped on the second floor. As the doors opened, we were greeted with about six young guys on their way up to the top floor where a bachelor party was taking place. Oh, and they also had a large gray garbage can filled with ice and a keg of beer.

I don't exactly remember the exchange with the guys in the elevator, but it basically involved them offering beer to minors to seem cool, and the minors taking them up on it to be cool. While one bachelor pumped the keg, the other passed the spout over each of our mouths. First, my friend David. Then my friend Mike. Then my friend Scott. Then me. At this very second, with my mouth wide open, eyes peering upward to ensure no spillage, the elevator stopped at our floor. Now, had that spout been over anyone else's mouth, we would have simply exited the elevator, said thank you, and spent the rest of the evening gloating over our coolness. But of course, since the spout was over MY mouth, the Bad-Luck Gods saw a great opportunity for a quick laugh at my expense. There, on the other side of the doors was my coach.

I have no idea if my former coach is still coaching or teaching. I don't think he is. But if I was to describe the manner in which he pulled me into his room, and then recounted the things that he said to me, he would surely never be working with children again. It was pretty tough. But alas, since this wasn't a school-sponsored event, and my mother was in another room down the hall, he decided this would be best handled internally. Specifically, I would ride the bench for the entire tournament, and my punishment would be left to my mother. Which, since my father wasn't present, was also handled internally (my mother collected things to hold over my head like other mothers collect dolls).

Ironically, these experiences had little effect on my long-term alcohol consumption. I was never much of a drinker in the first place, and I rarely drink beer. What it DID do was instill a deep-seeded belief that I have the crappiest luck of any human being I know. Thankfully, this has saved me thousands of dollars over my lifetime avoiding casinos and lottery tickets. Thanks coach!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Um, you suck at your job

If I screwed up at my job to the extent that hundreds of people starved to death, I guessing that I'd be impeached fired.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Park Personalities

Casey and I go to our local dog park 3-4 times a week. Usually in the evenings after work. He absolutely loves it for the exercise and social interaction with his fellow pawed peers. I like it because of the interesting people that the dogs bring along with them. It's a pretty regular cast of characters, and in spite of them being quite the mish-mash of cultures and lifestyles, I feel connected to them through the unspoken fraternity of dog ownership. Here are some examples of those with whom I spend most of my evenings, in no particular order:

Danny. Danny is one of the few people to whom I've actually introduced myself, and we chat fairly often. He's a pleasant-but-talkative older gentleman that frequently wears suspenders. He likes to reminisce about the old days and I encourage him to do this. Danny belongs to "Sparky," a two-year-old Beagle, who has an uncontrollable urge to hump Casey. This is how Danny and I met. I'm glad Danny doesn't have the same problem. That would've been awkward for me since he's not attractive.

Volvo lady. Right after I got my car, a lady in the parking garage of the lofts where I was renting approached me and asked how I liked it. We chatted for a while about the pros/cons of Volvo ownership and I invited her to sit in it and play with the radio and adjust the seats, etc. Fast-forward three years to the dog park picnic table... "Do you live in the River Market and drive a Volvo?" Long story short, she points down to the parking lot where her silver S60 was just a few spaces down from my silver S60. How quaint. Volvo lady is pretty nice and she's always good for a chat when no one else is around. She belongs to a slightly overweight Border Collie that always has a tattered pink bandana around it's neck. Poor thing. And, um, my car has nicer rims.

Lesbian twins. Now I've never met these two. Truth is, I'm not sure if they're lovers or twins. All I know is that they're hilariously similar. They have matching waist-length brown hair that is always pulled back in pony-tails. I've never inspected closely, but I suspect they also sport matching barrettes. Each have slightly dirty white Keds. They both wear closely matching khaki shorts, rolled tastefully into cuffs at the bottom. Instead of parking in the dirt lot like the rest of us, they drive their BIG-ASS Suburban directly to the bottom of the hill, just feet from the gate. I think they do this because they're lazy they have trouble managing all SIX of their ugly mutts dogs. Casey never plays with them.

Bald guy with no underwear. I'm not sure this guy even HAS a dog. I think he comes with his girlfriend. I wouldn't otherwise even notice him if not for his conspicuous attire.

Vietnam Vet Smoker. This guy is a piece of work. He never speaks--to the humans at least. He wears the same off-white outfit (maybe a uniform?) every day including a beige military-like vest with lots of pockets. He drives an older (but strangely official looking) white minivan with no windows on the sides and lots of intimidating CB-radio antennas. With the same sense of entitlement as the lesbians, he also parks right by the fence. He belongs to a gorgeous White Husky that is the park watch dog. White Husky only interacts with other dogs if there's a fight or a particularly unruly dog in the park--and let me tell you, no one can make other dogs behave like he can. For this, White Husky has earned my respect and admiration. I have no doubt that this skill set came only after years of intense training from the Vietnam Vet Smoker. I extend this respect to Vietnam Vet Smoker as well, because I suspect that if I got unruly, he'd put me in a head-lock and growl at me just like White Husky does.

Gay Couple. I only recently started chit-chatting with them, but they seem nice. I mention them not because they're gay, but because they belong to Katie, the Boxer mix, who is Casey's favorite wrestling/chasing/romping buddy.

Beat-up 1967 Chevy truck guy. Beat up truck guy belongs to Dutch, the Chocolate Lab. Dutch is a fantastic frisbee catcher. His baseball playing, backward hat-wearing owner with very nice teeth is a fantastic frisbee thrower. And while Casey never really plays with Dutch, I admit to shamelessly flirting talking a lot with his owner, in spite of his choice in automobiles.

Hot straight guy. I haven't yet met this guy. He's new. But I can't keep my eyes off his ass dog. It's obviously a pure-bred and in great shape. Maybe one day I'll say "Hi," but only if he stops wearing pooka-shell necklaces.

The Whiner. The Whiner has two dogs, a Chihuahua named Tanner and a tiny little fluffy thing named Morgan. Tanner and Morgan are yappers. They bark incessantly at a randomly selected dog each time they're at the park. Thankfully, Casey has not yet been the target of this freakish behavior. The Whiner is compelled to try to stop the barking (which is admirable), but she does it by wandering around the park with a nasally, high-pitched Midwest accent saying "Taaaaaner--no barking! Taaaaaner--no barking." Honestly, I'd rather hear my own flesh being seared by a hot iron. I have mixed emotions about this young lady. We've chatted several times and she's actually pretty nice. But if she doesn't shut those goddamn little rats up get them under control, I'm going to kick them both through the nearest goal post complain.

Fat lady that doesn't pick up poop. This woman needs no further comment, really. Just know that one day, when I accidentally step in her dog's shit, she's going to be scrubbing fecal matter from her hair for weeks.

Smart dirty rock star guy. Dirty rock star belongs to a gorgeous Weimaraner whose name I forget Sorin and Marco the recently-rescued mutt. I like this guy. I've been in a couple of group chats at the picnic table with him and he's an interesting fella. He's obviously bright, well-read and an appears to be a responsible dog owner. But he is always wearing the rock star grunge outfit of black (dirty) Converse high-tops, black (dirty) jeans that are held up only by the waistband of his visible boxers, a thick silver chain connected to his wallet (and god knows what else), and a T-shirt that's 20 years old and two sizes too small. Oh, and the T-shirt is also dirty. And so is his hair. But I think he really is in a band, which makes it all OK.

And then there's how I think I might be described in someone else's blog.

Casey's Dad. Casey is a very popular dog, primarily because he's cute and sociable. And, well, he likes to jump up on the table and give kisses. Casey's Dad seems like a pretty nice guy, too. After all, he picks up his poop (and Casey's too). Every time he comes to the park, he fills 3-4 of the one-gallon water jugs from the fountain at the bottom of the hill. This is nice because we lazy-ass freeloaders think that these water jugs fill themselves. Casey's Dad is not particularly talkative. He usually walks around by himself or reads a book against the fence (doesn't he know dogs PEE there?). He has his hands in his pockets a lot, especially when he talks to Dutch's owner. This one time when he was wearing flip-flops, he busted his ass while walking down the hill to the gate. We all laughed, but not out loud because Casey's Dad is kind of big and mean-looking. One time he was very cross with my friend Bertha about not picking up her dog's poop. Please, like anyone really does that. All in all, we like him because of Casey. Casey is definitely cute, and really PlaysWellWithOthers. He's not, however, a very good hunting dog, as evidenced by this week's Park Pic of the Month:

P.S. That's not really Casey. hehe