Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Here's hoping that you don't mysteriously find yourself trapped in the Insurmountable Stairwell of Sadness (physically located in Phipps Plaza Mall). If you are in the stairwell, keep pushing deeper and deeper into the bowels of the building into you are expelled into the cold night air. Then, dear friend, run as fast as you can toward the MARTA station and get yourself to The Majestic for a soothing Patty Melt.

Regardless of what or how you celebrate, I wish you the happiest of holidays.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A definition? That's the best argument you have?

As usual, Jon Stewart cuts though the crap to the heart of the matter.


"It seems like semantics is cold comfort when it comes to humanity." Indeed.

Well-played, Jon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winning Friends, Influencing People

Or: Shitting the Bed in Which I Sleep (Title pending outcome.)

Yesterday afternoon, I received a call from the director of admissions at PCOM. She mentioned that she received a note to call me regarding my application. I quickly filled her in on my previous conversation with the admissions office. She explained how the admissions committee designs the requirements and the requirement for a recommendation from the institution that granted your bachelor's degree. She continued to describe how she constantly gets questions on this topic from applicants.
"Well, the letter is intended to get feedback from your pre-med advisor or, failing that, the dean of the college in order to prove that you graduated in good academic standing without disciplinary problems."

"Ma'am, I graduated in 1995 with degrees in liberal arts. The deans who are there now have no idea who I am. I fail to see how a letter from someone who doesn't know me or, much less, have any recollection of me will be of any benefit to you guys."

"That's the requirement as designed by the committee."

"I graduated with honors. Shouldn't my transcripts prove that I graduated in 'good academic standing?' "

"We don't have your transcripts."

"But I submitted my transcripts to AACOMAS* and they're included on my primary application."

"We never get the transcripts. All we receive from AACOMAS are a printout of your classes and grades."

"Would you like me to send you my official transcripts from UGA?"

"No. That's not necessary."

"Well, it seems to me that your requirement is biased against older, non-traditional applicants."
Finally, she agreed to accept the letters that I submitted and consider my application complete for the Philly campus. She explained that the GA campus is governed by a separate admissions committee over which she, the director of admissions, has no authority to deem my application complete. She would, however, make a note on my file to let them know her decision regarding my other app with them.

To recap, here's my simple three-step method of problem resolution:
  1. Phone the office and complain
  2. Tell the admissions director that the requirement they drafted sucks and is biased against you
  3. Offer to send an official copy of information that they currently possess
And that, my friends, is how to make yourself known to the admissions committee and to ensure that a director of admissions scrawls the word "ASSHOLE" across your application in thick magic marker. I can't wait to get their rejection letters.

*AACOMAS is the application service of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. All applicants to osteopathic medical schools must use this service. In addition to essays that detail your motivation for applying to med school and detailed histories of your life, work, volunteer, and academic career, the application service requires that you submit official transcripts from every college or university you attended. Submitted official transcripts are authenticated and validated against information entered on the application. When complete, this "primary"application is submitted to each school to which you apply and is the basis for their decision to invite you to complete a supplemental application.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Three Cheers for Bureacracy!

After submitting all of my required letters to the schools, I've received interviews from 3/5 of them. I've yet to hear from both PCOM campuses (Philly and GA). Thinking it strange that I've heard nothing, I rang them today to follow up regarding why I've receive no contact from them. Here's a recap:
"Hi. I'm trying to follow up on my application status. I've submitted everything and heard nothing from you guys."

"Is your application complete? Have you submitted everything?"

"That's what I'm trying to find out. It should be complete because I submitted everything via Interfolio last month."

"Hold please."

[Holiday music plays while I'm on hold for a few minutes.]

"Okay, I see that we received a letter from [private women's college] and looks like one other one..."

"That would be from the D.O. that I shadowed Dr. [name withheld]."

"Okay, just let me look and I can tell you who it's from."

"It's from the D.O.; it's the only other letter that I've submitted."

"It's from the D.O., you're right."

"So, you guys have had these for a month, can you tell me what's going on with the application?"

"It's incomplete."

"What? Why? You have all of my letters."

"We don't have a letter from the institution where you got your Bachelor degrees."

"I graduated almost fifteen years ago with liberal arts degrees. I submitted a letter from my post-bacc program that I recently completed. They are much more familiar with my sciences work."

"I'm sorry but we require a recommendation letter from the institution that granted your bachelor's degree."

"You want a letter from UGA by someone that I don't know -- and who certainly doesn't know me -- from a department that has nothing to do with science to write a recommendation letter for me? How will that help anything?"

"That's what we require, sir."

"That doesn't really make any sense. Every other school to which I've applied has happily accepted my letters from my post-bacc program."

"I'm sorry, sir, that's our requirement. Can I take your information and have someone get back to you on this?"

"You better believe it."
Evidently, they don't have too many older applicants. I find it ludicrous that they are holding things up because I didn't submit a letter from my undergrad institution. Also, I think it's pretty shitty that I've received no notification that my application wasn't complete.

By the way, after giving them my information, I've not received a call. I can't wait to continually hound them on this.

Friday, December 05, 2008

One down, more to go

A few hours ago, I returned from my interview in Ft. Lauderdale. Happy to be back home and away from the stress that is med school interview day.

After spending the night waking hourly between 2:00am and 5:00, I finally got up. I showered and shaved. If they only knew how much it pains me to be clean-shaven, they'd give me bonus points. Around 8:30am, I made my way over to campus and found a parking spot near the building. A few minutes before 9:00, I opened the door to the admissions office and was surprised to see about forty people nervously sitting there, staring at everyone who walked into the room. Apparently, they were interviewing other professional schools (optometry, dentistry, etc.) on the same day.

After waiting and waiting in what was becoming a sweltering room, we separated into two large groups of about 20 and began the process. Usually, this involves an admissions counselor speaking about the awesomeness of their school, someone from financial aid to scare the shit out of you about the $150,000 worth of debt you'll incur, and someone to toot your horn about how good you should feel that you're even on campus for an interview. Turns out that they receive about 2300 applications, invite 500 to interview, and accept about 230. So, sure, I guess that I could feel good about almost making it. Problem is, I don't really hope to be "runner-up."

We heard about the clinical education program they run, their awesome rural medicine effort, and their international medical missions. I was on the edge of my seat when they mentioned a three-month elective rotation in Argentina in which the lodging was provided by the school. Pretty nifty, I thought.

The Interview
After leaving the initial meeting, we were taken to meet our interviewers. I met with two faculty members who were tasked with interviewing me in order to present an evaluation to the admission committee. Per the schedule, I was supposed to interview with them for nearly an hour. Turns out that after waiting for 40 minutes, we chatted for about 15, and then I was on my way. The conversation was pleasant but I'm still trying to process how I felt about it. I was not asked directly about any of my background or anything about the interesting things I've done. Essentially, I got another "tell us how you got here" approaches. This was followed by a "why osteopathic medicine?," and "do you think you'll be able to manage the study load of medical school?" question. My reactions to all of these inquiries were, simply, to curse a lot, insinuate that the interviewers were racist and sexist, and throw my chair across the room. Personally, I think it's going to work out well for me.

Honestly, though, I felt like they weren't all that well prepared for me or - and here's where the neurotic applicant mindset takes root - that they'd already formed an opinion of me prior to my arrival in the room for the interview. What opinion they held escapes me. If they were biased against me, I think I would've detected a little antagonism. If they were biased in my favor, could they not have offered an innocent high-five or a terrorist fist bump? Anyway, I might be over thinking it a little bit. The point is that I could've phoned in for a fifteen minute interview and saved the several hundred dollars that it took to get my ass down there.

The Jackass
During these things, there is always at least one person who does their best to show off their pedigree. Usually, this is either in the form of bragging about an MCAT score, discussing their awesome research, detailing how many interviews they have, loudly asking overly detailed questions or raising points for the purpose of being noticed. This one guy from "suburban New Jersey" was this jackass. Not only did he have a voice that would make Fran Drescher nauseaous, he never shut his pie hole during the entire lunch session. He made it a point to loudly contradict or question everything that the two female 1st year students said during lunch. Keep in mind that they're joining us, in part to evaluate us, but, most likely, for a free lunch. Still everything they said was challenged or met by a overly-detailed follow-up question. Example:
"This chicken wrap is tasty. I love the tomato tortilla." [Takes bite of sandwich.]
"Actually, it's a sun-dried tomato tortilla. A tomato tortilla has a different hue."
"Umm, okay." [Rolls eyes, continues eating.]
"C'mon, you have to know the difference. You can also tell by the different texture it has."
"Umm, okay." [Fastens rope to ceiling, affixes noose to own neck, steps out of chair.]
The Dean
After lunch and an endless wait for someone to tell us something about what was going on, the Dean of the college stopped in for a conversation. If I were the school, I definitely would've put him on stage early in the day. He was enthusiastic and gregarious; a perfect salve for the rash of obsessive/compulsive, Type A applicants. (For the record, I'm not nearly as OCD or Type A as the majority of these folks. I'm quietly confident not loud and boastful.) To top it off, the guy wears quite the mustache and, I might add, he effing nails it. Personally, I'd like to believe that he enters any room though a cloud of white smoke that immediately follows a magician's explosion. Ideally, he'd be out of breath and muttering about leaving the damsel bound in rope on the railroad tracks in the desert with no hopes of the hero liberating her before the 3:10 passed.

It's so much better in person.

His talk with us was rambling but very engaging. Essentially, it was this: don't give up on your dream of being a doctor. If someone is trying to talk you out of going to medical school, don't listen to them. Also, if someone is trying to talk you into going to medical school, don't do it. It must be your dream to pursue for your own reasons.

Honestly, it was nice to have someone in his position eliminate a lot of the bullshit that gets thrown at you during these things. It was pretty refreshing to witness that degree of candor. He's a friendly, outgoing guy with a fascinating life history.

Afterward
We were told to expect a decision by the DEC 17th or so. If accepted, we have 30 days to pay a deposit to hold a place in class. The good thing (sic) is that my other interviews (WA and CA) are just on the other side of a 30-day window. :(

While waiting in the airport for my flight, I had a couple of beers with one of the guys from the interview who was from Boston. It's nice to talk about the Sox and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." For the record, I think that Sunny has a disproportionately loyal following in New England.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ready, Set...

I'm in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Tomorrow, I'm interviewing at the local Osteopathic medical school for a spot in their incoming class. So, I'm a bit anxious and excited and hopeful. This South Florida thing is sort of strange. It's pretty flat and strip-mallish. The thing is that I'm not in Lauderdale proper but Davie which is akin to telling people you're in Atlanta but really hanging out in Alpharetta: close but not quite the same.

Anywho, I interview for most of the day tomorrow. Hopefully, all will go well. I've already taped a note to the door tomorrow morning reminding me to wear pants. Yep, that should do it.

More later.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Auditorium

Anyone else heard of or played Auditorium? Check it out; it's strangely relaxing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

School Updates

Well, I have interviews with at least two D.O. schools. Later this week, I'll head to Ft. Lauderdale for my first D.O. interview. In February, I'll head out to the San Francisco area for another one.

In the meantime, I'm waiting to hear from schools in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Yakima, WA. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I need at least one stinking offer of acceptance.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Just watched "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" for the second time in the last few days. It's really an amazing documentary.

The film's trailer.

Like many, I'd been peripherally aware of Daniel Johnston's music via others' performances of it. During the mid-80s, I was just cutting my teeth on music that was off the beaten path. As a result, he was off my radar until many years later; his story was one about which I new a few details but nothing comprehensive. I'm awed by the peaks and valleys of his musical career and, even more importantly, of his life.

I must admit that, while viewing the special features on the DVD, the filmed reunion between Laurie and Daniel made me cry. I'm not so sure that it should've happened (the reunion, not my tears) or, at the very least, that it should've been filmed. It broke my heart.

I can't get his songs out of my head. "Speeding Motorcycle" has been stuck there for days.

Anyway, give this one a shot.

I'm Thankful For...

UGA's utter refusal to play defense in the second half. Nice job, guys.

Old Friends

Many moons ago, I worked as a camp counselor at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. During my three summers as a counselor, I met many kids from across Georgia, worked until I was exhausted, and made the friends that I still cherish today. Without hesitation, I'd do it all again for free.

During my second summer as a counselor, 1993, I met a little girl who was there for a week of camp. At the time, she was homesick, crying, and ready to throw in the towel and go home. I spent a few minutes with her to cheer her up and calm her down. I'm pretty sure that we pinky-swore to be friends and for her to stick it out a few more days. After her week at camp ended, she wrote me as did many of the campers that we got to know. The next summer, she returned to camp for what was a better time than the previous year.

Since 1993, we've traded letters with one another. Through our correspondence, I've witnessed her grow from a homesick little girl, to a high-school student facing adversity, to a college student choosing a path in life, and into a wonderful, confident woman.

"A Skunk Went Around My Leg."

Last week, I went to the wedding of my penpal, my friend through fifteen years of letters. I felt quite happy, if old.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If You Look at Only One More Web Site Today...

Make it this one. Bookmark it. You must learn all that you can about your enemy.*

*Thanks to Dr.J3K for passing along the site and the encouragement to study it.

Facebook Faux Pas

A few months back, at the behest of a good friend, I joined Facebook. At times, I think it's pretty cool. At many others, I find it to be pretty creepy or annoying. For the record, I'm one of those people who never updates a status and never ever sends or accepts flair or pokes or drinks or anything. At most, I'll log in and check it about twice a week for about ten minutes. It is, in my opinion, just one more thing to manage. Personally, I already have enough things that deserve my attention.

In spite of all of the annoyances, there are some redeeming qualities about it. There are some folks from high school with whom I'd lost touch that I've traded a few emails. Unfortunately, after not hearing from or, in many cases, thinking about someone for fifteen years, I now have the ability to know what they are doing at any given moment courtesy of the Facebook's wretched Status updates. Is it critical, for example, to know that someone has paused "The View" to run to the restroom? Methinks not.

Anyway, it can be a better way to email someone than email, you know? There's no bother of remembering an email address. If you're connected to someone, you can send them a message. I've probably done this about ten times.

Several days ago, I emailed a buddy that I've know for many years. I told him how I missed seeing him at the bachelor party/tailgate for K's bachelor party weekend, that he picked the right game to miss because Alabama kicked our ass, that I hoped to catch up with him and his family soon, and that we should go snowboarding again this winter. It felt nice to email him. After I, I did miss seeing him there. Yesterday, I popped into my Facebook account and got his reply:
Dude, I was there! We had our picture made together. Guess I was just that forgettable.LOL. Still trying to figure out if I can go on the ski trip. I really want to. Keep me posted on the updates.
I'll have no recollection of this moment in 3 ... 2... 1...

So, not only did we have our photo made but, I recall that we talked at length about snowboarding again this winter. On top of that, I walked to the stadium with him and his buddy from back home.

My only explanation is that, yes, the tailgate was that good. Yes, I am just that idiotic. Yes, I had a blast.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

School Update

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted the next batch of supplemental applications and recommendation letters for osteopathic schools. Now, I'm waiting to hear back from everyone. At this point, I have, hopefully, what will be the first of several interview offers. Currently, I'm trying to get it on the books for next week but it might get pushed until after Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Chasing My Shadow

I thought I'd share more from last week's shadowing experience, including a bit that I frantically wrote prior to the start of my first day. That morning, I arrived at the doctor's office, talked with him a bit, then went to the hospital to meet the resident that I'd follow for the day. While waiting, I decided to jot down some things in my journal. Here's what I wrote:
I'm sitting here in the doctor's cafeteria. Man, do I feel like a fish out of water. I have this white coat crumpled in my lap and am sitting here alone at the table: the new kid on the school playground. The problem is that I don't even go to this school. My fear: putting on the white coat, walking across the parking lot, being caught in the middle of some big accident or something, and having someone yell "Doctor! Doctor!" while I just freak out. Yep. This is my terrible fear. At the very least, I should get my community CPR and First Aid renewed pretty quickly. This might help me feel a little more comfortable in my own skin.

As it is now, I'm sitting here waiting, waiting for my contact to show up. The room is full of docs scarfing down breakfast and just being normal. SportsCenter is on in the technology noon, pleasantly low volume, recounting the Phillies win last night. So, I'm here. Consciously trying to blend into the background but feeling like I might as well be standing on the table screaming. Just a perception really; things are probably fine. I'm likely unnoticed by most. What will the day hold for me? Will I see crazy things or just a normal day?

The awesome thing is that I nearly crapped myself this morning. Nerves? Probably. I was on a military strike mission to find and destroy a nearby toilet. Using the facility inside the office wasn't an option. No easier way to thoroughly alienate people than to violently defecate in a small office toilet. Seriously, it would've been something from Dumb and Dumber: me with a branch clinched in my teeth levitating over the seat. Anywho, after the initial "shock and ewww," I met with Dr. B who told me about today's assignment.
Pulitzer worthy stream-of-consciousness stuff, isn't it?

Anyway, as I mentioned previously, I saw a fantastic amount of stuff on the first day. The next day, however, seemed to be much more subdued. I worked with a doctor in a clinic seeing patients for most of the day. Here are few notes from my journal regarding day two:
Spent the night at mom and dad's place. This morning, I slept in a little and made my way to the doctor's office. Surprisingly, I've had no violent ass-plosions this morning. I think yesterday made me feel a good deal better about everything. So, at the moment, I 'm waiting for the doctor with whom I'll be paired to show up and take me to the clinic.

[Six hours later...]

Today has been pretty cool. I've been with a doc who's pretty close to my age. He'd been giving me some very helpful insight into D.O. schools. Seems like a lot of the patients we've seen today have diabetic conditions that require medications. We've given the 1200-calorie ADA (American Diabetic Assn.) diet to about half of the folks we've seen.
So, that's about it. It was pretty cool and has gotten me really jazzed about school again. All of my secondary apps have been submitted and I'm awaiting recommendation letters to be sent. Then, the ball is rolling once more. Keep your fingers crossed that I won't have to retake that damned MCAT.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

Holy shit. I'm so proud of our country.

All the Way!

This morning, we got up around 5:45, threw on some clothes, and walked a few blocks to our polling place. Instead of early voting, we decided to go on election day to get the full experience. We walked up to the polling location at about 6:00 and took our place in line. The place was buzzing with excitement and hope. The gaggle of elderly African American women in front of us were a riot. They were as giddy as schoolgirls, full of smiles, and teasing one another. One lady offered her friend a baggie stuffed with Cheerios, demanded that she take some, and said "Don't ask me for them later. You won't get none." They all laughed.

On the walk home, we passed a gentleman that I see often in the village during my walks with the dog. Typically, he looks a little unkempt. Mostly, he keeps to himself as he rummages through the trash cans on the sidewalk. This morning, he looked up from digging through the trash. We said our "good mornings" to each other, introduced ourselves, and shook hands. I'm not sure if he has some learning disability or some other disability but his speech is affected and difficult to understand.

"Good morning," he said.

"Good morning."

"You guys smoke? You have a cigarette?"

"Sorry. We don't smoke," I replied, convinced that this was going to be a run-of-the-mill bait-and-switch for money.

"I'm going to the store to buy some cigarettes," he confided.

"Well, you're almost there. It's not too much farther."

"I pick up cans for money," he told us. Then, he asked "You guys vote?"

"Sure did. Just got finished. We've been in line since six o'clock this morning."

"Who'd you vote for?"

We told him and his face lit up.

"He's going all the way! All the waaaaayyyyy! All the waaaaayyyyyy!," he cheered. "He's going to change everything, make things better!," he added with a smile absolutely beaming across his face.

"I certainly hope so. That'd be nice, wouldn't it?," I added. "How about you? Did you vote?"

"I voted early for Obama."

"You vote over in Decatur? You have to stand in line for a long time?"

"Yeah. Had to wait about three hours."

The three of us meandered down the sidewalk toward the store and toward our street. When we turned off, he told us goodbye and kept going. I had to fight back my emotions to stave off welling up on the last block of the walk.

What a statement it is that a guy with some type of disability and likely living with some assistance, who's visibly impoverished and on the societal fringe, not only takes the time to vote but is genuinely concerned about the election and moved to hopefulness and cheer by a candidate.

Although I'm sure that my recollection of it doesn't really capture the power of this simple conversation, I know that it is why I voted. Simply put, it is the promise of America where everyone has a voice. It is the embodiment of hope and of potential. It is the power of a unifying, uplifting message based on hope instead of fear and divisiveness. We're on the edge of something wonderful.

Please, please, please don't let the Dems lose this one.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Shadow!

Today, I've shadowed a DO resident at a hospital near my hometown. Essentially, shadowing means that you follow a doctor around all day, watching everything, trying to soak up everything, and convincing residents that, yes, you've really thought it through and, of course, you want to go to medical school.

Without going into too much detail, I'll just make a quick list of the highlights of the things I witnessed today: a rectal exam (yep, the ol' finger poke), an NG tube being shoved into someone's stomach via the nose, and some poor guy who's balls had swollen to the size of a grapefruit.

Super awesome!

Tomorrow, I follow a different doc around. More later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Your Business Card Isn't As Impressive

An old camp counselor buddy who now works for the Atlanta Police Department dropped by the house the other day. I knew it was him from the way he knocked on the door: a loud, authoritative pounding. It was the opposite of a Jehovah's Witness knock; honestly, they could learn a thing or two from the APD.

Anywho, he left me with his business card. When I looked at it, I immediately felt that no matter what I did, my card would never be as badass as his.

His card has the elements of every kick-ass action movie.

Mine might say "Man of Leisure" or something but nothing nearly as cool as having the combination of S.W.A.T., Bomb Tech, or freaking Rappel Master.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Action Figures

The other night, I dreamed that I was in a store full of old toys and discovered the old Star Wars action figures from my youth. When I started playing with them, I realized that they actually had "The Force" in them. I could make the action figures actually levitate things or convince others that these were not the droids they were looking for.

I was pretty impressed until someone told me that the action figures were made from injection-molded Mitichlorians. Damn you, George Lucas, damn you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What I Did on My Vacation, Part 3

For the final portion of our vacation, we returned to San Francisco for a birthday celebration for our friend Smitty. The cornerstone of her celebration was a visit to several vineyards in Napa.

Smithwicks for Smitty
Thursday evening when everyone arrived, we headed out for some drinks. What innocently began as an evening of Smithwicks Irish Ale, ended as a high octane evening. When my friend, Soulsby (a.k.a. Martin Van Buren due to the mutton chops he was starting), started ordering "Jack & Cokes," I took it as a sign that I should follow suit. After all, I'd not seen him in a few years and we were having a good time catching up. For the record, I rarely drink liquor these days; if I do, it's often a clear variety. Also, I've been caffeine-free for almost two years now. So, it should be stated for the record that bourbon and Coke makes me crazy or, if you prefer, crazier.

Van Buren, Bad Joe, and J3K

The evening ended in the hotel suite with my surprise homage to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Winning Run had gotten ready for bed and I decided to walk into J3K and Bad Joe's*** room wearing three socks. After standing there watching TV with them for what seemed to me like a minute, they both looked over and recoiled in horror. I laughed like a child and immediately went to bed and fell asleep. Winning Run has never been more sure of the correctness of her decision to marry me; she was so proud. By "proud," I mean "shaking her head with soul-crushing disappointment." The next day, the I received a petition letter from J3K and Bad Joe to avoid future "sock" visits to their room. I told them I'd do my best to honor their wishes but I just couldn't promise anything for sure. (And that my friends, is how the legend of "Two on the Feet, One on the Meat" was born.) I am a man-child. Seriously, though, it was really funny.

***For the record, Bad Joe is not "bad" but one of the best guys out there.

California Academy of Sciences and Sausalito
The next morning, we began with an awesome breakfast at Sears Fine Food before heading off. Several of us headed over to the newly opened California Academy of Sciences, a kick-ass Renzo Piano building, complete with 2.5 acres of living roof. In a few short hours, we got our "learn" on. It is a fantastic building and a great museum.

A dome on the living roof with skylights.

J3K surveying the wildlife in the gift shop.

Later, we caught the ferry to meet up with the gang in Sausalito. Shortly after arriving, we three guys realized that we'd been duped into a shopping trip. We had a nice pizza lunch in a fly-infested pizzeria overlooking the bay before heading back to the city without buying anything.

Wine Country
On Saturday, a limo picked eight of us up from our hotel and took us to several vineyards. En route, J3K and Bad Joe had assembled a mobile football viewing station so they could watch their alma mater's football game. If you've never been to a winery, here's the skinny: you head into their tasting room, pay a nominal feel ($10 - $35, depending on the vintner), and receive a taste of several of their wines. Also, depending on the winery, you might have to deflect a ton of pretension and douche-baggery.

Buena Visa Carneros
Our first vineyard was Buena Vista. Their tasting was seven wines moving from a Pinot Gris to a Merlot. (Note that we didn't get a full glass but probably about maximum of 2 oz. per taste.) Their white wines were fantastic. Winning Run, who generally doesn't care for whites, suggested that we get a couple of bottles. We did. On leaving the vineyard, we scarfed some breadsticks, cheese, and salami in the back of the limo. Coincidentally, many people commented that they were feeling a little loopy.

The snack of champions: breadstick and Havarti.

Silver Oak
Our next stop was Silver Oak. These wines are fantastic and expensive. The gent at the main bar in the tasting room was a little "stuffy," so we migrated over to a smaller bar with a cooler cat.

Silver Oak for Smitty!

By the end of the tasting, everyone was pretty well lit. J3K and I decided to reenact "The Lady and the Tramp" spaghetti scene with a complementary bread stick from the bar. (Yep, leave it to us to class up a joint.) Furthermore, we developed a hand signal to let everyone in the group know that we'd turned a corner, "The Fun Corner." The signal: three fingers extended and placed on your left shoulder. That way, if someone (me?) in the group began to get belligerent, one could just show the "three on the left" and, immediately, any potential situation would be diffused. On returning to the limo, we decided to open another roadie (a bottle of Cabernet) to tide us over to the next vineyard.

We've turned the Fun Corner. Three on the left.

Franciscan
The third stop was the Franciscan winery. At this place, we had a fantastic time and continued our descent into chaos. Winning Run continued to gather flowers for her straw hat and become more opinionated and vocal about the wines she tried.

Winning Run discussing a particular vintage she tasted.

After unsuccessfully trying to get service by a major-league a-hole on one side of the bar, we went to the back of the tasting room and found Fred, a cool California hippie-type. Fred took care of us as we did a tasting of some incredible reds. Due to less than rational thought-processes, J3K and I decided to buy several bottles.

When Hippie Fred gave us the price list, J3K looked at me and exclaimed, "We can't afford this, we're paupers!"

"Not today," I replied, draining the last of my Cabernet. "Not today."

Because we bought so much wine, Hippie Fred gave us a few complimentary tastings of port which we obviously needed. As we were heading out, J3K thanked Hippie Fred for his help and congratulated him on "not being a douchebag like his co-worker on the other side of the bar." Hippie Fred looked a little puzzled but uttered "Thank You" in such a way that it sounded as much of a question as it did an affirmation. Then, it was back to the limo for more food and another roadie.

St. Supery
St. Supery was heralded by Tom, our driver, as a very nice winery. After what seemed like an eternity to physically exit the limo, I made my way into the tasting room and joined the gang. It was during this tasting that Winning Run shared that she enjoyed the previous wines a little more and that, although she appreciated these, she didn't feel that we should buy any of them. Thinking back on it, she said something like "This stuff is terrible. We're not getting any of this; it's piss." My tasting didn't leave me with nearly the same impression. I thought the wines were good but preferred the offerings from the earlier vineyards.

During my second taste, J3K managed to pour his glass of red wine all over the bar and menu. I think that I managed to yell something like "A little club soda will take that right out!" He felt pretty bad about it but managed to suck it up and continue with the tasting. He and Smitty got involved in a conversation while Bad Joe, Miller, a tasting room employee, and I looked at a book about the dogs of wine country.

In the tasting room at St. Supery.

Domaine Chandon
Our final stop was the famous Chandon winery. We ducked in for some sparkling wines and some heavy-duty douchery.

Tilted due to pretentious asses but still pretty.

Evidently, all the pretentious asses migrated to this particular location. Winning Run surveyed the scene for about 30 seconds before announcing that she'd wait for us in the limo. We gave her the "three on the left" sign of approval.

After walking in and bellying up to the bar, I thought about how Chandon is so frequently name-dropped in hip-hop and rap songs and wondered how this place would react if Snoop Dogg walked through the doors. Brushing aside my thought, I managed to order a tasting of sparkling wines and a half dozen raw oysters to complement them. Bad Joe, Smitty, and I repeatedly offered J3K money to eat a raw oyster. At the end of our bidding war, he would've made $600 for eating six of them. For us, it seemed a safe bet that he wouldn't do it as he's terribly allergic to shellfish. For a brief moment, it seemed like he was really considering it.

Hungry Like the Wolf
(but not for raw oysters)


After leaving Chandon, we climbed in the limo, uncorked another roadie and began the drive back to San Francisco for our dinner reservations. At one point during the ride, J3K threw a giant chocolate bar as hard as he could from one end of the limo to the other, missing the six other riders, and hitting me squarely in the figs. When imbibing, his throws are deadly accurate. It was definitely not a "three on the left" sort of move.

Tom, the Limo Driver, and Smitty, the Birthday Girl
(Not pictured: Joe, the Plumber)

Trattoria Contadina
For dinner, Bad Joe made reservations as this great Italian place. We managed to get there, head upstairs, have even more wine, and incredible meals. After dinner, Smitty, Bad Joe, and I hopped a trolley back toward the hotel. Thank goodness those things move slowly because I was hanging off of it the entire ride. It was pretty damned cool.

The San Francisco Treat!

The next day, I had the wine hangover that I'd been expecting, only worse. Evidently, the body does not appreciate drinking wine and eating rich foods all day. It let me know. Message received, loud and clear.


Photos from wine country and the weekend in SF.
(Click photo for a larger view.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What I Did on My Vacation, Part 2

When you're in the middle of a bunch of giant redwoods, you hear absolutely nothing. An overwhelming silence surrounds you. Everything is dimly lit and muted. It's peaceful but a little unnerving. You sort of half expect to be attached by a velociraptor, or swept up by Treebeard at any moment.

During our hike, the wind hit the top of the trees. All I can say is that our mouths dropped open and we turned to gaze to the tree tops. Honestly, the trees serenaded us with a song that sounded like that of a blue whale. We listened for a while before we decided to move on in the event that something fell.

The Lost Coast
After leaving the redwoods, we headed about 30 miles east to an area known as The Lost Coast. Several years back, I did a multi-day hike there with KDawg, Blackass, and Griffer. The scenery was fantastic: miles of protected, undeveloped coastline with rugged mountains almost meeting the ocean. Although we didn't have the time to really stay and explore like I wanted to do, I wanted Winning Run to at least glimpse it. You know, plant the seed for a return trip and all.

Last time I was there, I got a great photo. This time, I took another one that I love.

Starfish from my first trip.

Hike-in surfing from the recent visit.

It's a place that you should visit at some point during your life. It's awesome.


Photos from The Lost Coast.
(Click a photo for a larger view.)

A Visit with C-Dub and Family
We spent Wednesday night with one of my old roommates and his family. He and his wife just had their third child! All of them are super cute and outgoing. On arriving, his son put on an airshow with his favorite camo jet that coincided with the first 10 minutes of "Top Gun." It was awesome. That night, we dined on fare from The Dutch Goose. The next day, we tromped around "The Dish" at Stanford which, I suspect, was on top of part of the linear accellerator.
We had a fantastic visit. It was great to see C-Dub, C, and the kids.


Photos of the kids.
(Click photo for a larger view.)

A review of our wine country antics to come.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What I Did On My Vacation, Part 1

On the 11 OCT, Winning Run and I flew out to San Francisco a week in advance of a close friend's birthday celebration. We took the extra time to visit a few friends, get to the northern part of the state for some great hikes, and take some R&R.

Driving across the Golden Gate, heading north from San Francisco.

Fleet Week in San Francisco
On arriving Saturday morning, we met up with your friend Eric (a.k.a. Blackass) and his wife, G, at their place in the city, near the Ferry Building. As we were pretty beat that night, we went out for a bite to eat and ended up just hanging out with them, catching up, and watching the Red Sox game. The next morning, we had fantastic Dim Sum nearby and then drove to Tiburon, caught the ferry to Angel Island State Park, hiked to the top, and watched the Blue Angels Air Show over the bay.

One of the views of San Francisco Bay on the way to the top of Angel Island.

View of S.F. with Alcatraz in the foreground.
The jet has just flown out of the top right of the frame.

The jets screamed into view from our left, taking everyone by surprise.

It was pretty cool. Later that night, a wildfire hit the island and scorched over 350 acres, included the area from where we watched the airshow. Guess we were pretty lucky to have made it off the island before anything started. Anyway, we considered it a close call.

That evening, we drove up Hwy 1, through the Muir Woods.

An overlook at Muir Beach.

As darkness fell, Winning Run got ridiculously freaked out by the hairpin turns of the coastal highway which prompted us to bolt for the freeway and head north.

Photos from Angel Island and Muir Beach Overlook.
(Click the photos for a larger view.)

The Giant Redwoods of Humboldt County
For our redwood portion of the trip, we decided to make Garberville our base for hiking and driving through the groves of giant trees. We did an 8-mile hike through an old growth redwood forest. Holy crap, did we feel small. Honestly, there was nothing in there except for these giant trees and tiny, tiny us. The problem with our photos is that, although they show beautiful trees, they do not present the scale or depth of field in a way to accurately show how damned big these things were. Anywho, hopefully the following photos help out a little:

Winning Run inside a "goose pen," a hollow area in the base of a tree.

Me inside the base of a fallen tree.

At the base of a large tree that was at least 300 feet tall.

A forest full of trees that were that big!

Garberville seemed to be a quaint little mountain town with more than its fair share of dirty, unshowered hippie drifters. In fact, one could sense the "subtle" antagonism between the locals and the drifters by simply looking around a little.

These days, I'm with them on the patchouli oil.


Photos from Humboldt Redwoods State Park
(Click the photos for a larger view.)

More to come on the trip.

Monday, October 20, 2008

West Coast Vacation

So, Winning Run and I are just getting back from a West Coast vacation. I'll recap our visit with friends and our jaunt from San Francisco up to the Humboldt County area and back for a descent into Napa/Sonoma wine country. I'm getting photos uploaded and will post more about the trip very soon.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Chicken Little and The Barry Bonds Incident

After my last post regarding my chin's affinity for softballs, a good friend reminded me that I have a clearly defined history of saying exactly the wrong thing at precisely the wrong time. So, I thought I'd share this thoroughly embarrassing gem from my past***. Readers, I give you "The Barry Bonds Incident."

***It is important to note that at the time of the incident, Barry Bonds was pursuing the single-season home run record. In those heady days, he was considered one of baseball's premier assholes but was neither the poster child for baseball's steroid era or the ruination of the sport.

The Barry Bonds Incident
At the dawn of this millennium, I was working for a start-up software company. My job was to design and develop a training curriculum to teach our customers how to use and administer our software. Glamorous stuff, I know. It was a fun job; I met a lot of people and had a blast teaching classes. Frequently, I'd teach a multi-day system administrator class. Often, class participants would be a mix of our customers and our newly hired employees who would eventually be helping our customers to configure and administer the software.

Generally, the system admin class was uneventful. I taught people about the structure of the database, the nature of what could be configured in the software, and provided some examples of how to quickly customize the software. Then, we'd do a ton of exercises that let class participants make the changes. As an instructor, I quickly noticed that participants could be categorized based on their behavior in class.
  • One type of person, for example, would always be about 15 pages ahead in the text, doing their own thing, rarely listening or contributing to any group discussion.
  • Another type vocally asked questions or declared answers in an attempt to paint themselves as the "most knowledgeable" in the room. Mostly, they were not.
  • Another type was the ideal class participant: attentive, responsive, polite, and intelligent. On the whole, most participants fell into this group.
  • Perhaps the worst participant type, however, was "The Chicken Little." Often, this person was a customer who had a deer-in-the-headlights expression that was a mix of genuine surprise and barely suppressed terror. Frequently, Chicken Little had been randomly selected to configure or administer the software, a set of tasks that might've been far above their skill level.
During one class, I'd spent a great deal of time with a Chicken Little from one of our new and prominent customers: a small-framed lady with a Noriega face and glasses. With each topic I introduced, I felt like I had to talk her down off the ledge because everything I said seemed to drive her toward jumping. I was in a bizarre juggling act of roles: part instructor, part sedative, part self-esteem coach. Honestly, the subject matter could be overwhelming but, at the very least, it was logical and well-documented. If you didn't understand everything discussed in the class, you had a great text to guide you through it. If you could read, you could get it done.

After a couple of days of teaching, I grew tired of seeing the horrified expression on her face with each new topic I introduced. The other participants seemed to be getting everything just fine. They'd ask appropriate questions and would trust that it would make sense (eventually) and that they would master it. This was absolutely not the case with Chicken Little.

Near the end of the course, I introduced a complex concept. The reality of it was that our administrator software greatly simplified the tasks required to implement such a concept into the software. So, the "a-ha" moment of this section was set to be when people understood the complexity of the concept and how that complexity was greatly reduced by our software tool. Well, wouldn't you know it? This was lost on my favorite student. So, I decided to use a little metaphor.

As the class had been chatting about baseball during one of the breaks, I decided that I'd use a baseball reference to highlight the value of our software. Mentally, I formulated my approach: If you were in the Major Leagues, hitting a home run would be pretty tough. This would be the equivalent of life without our administrator software tool. Using our software, however, would be like putting a ball on a tee and having Barry Bonds take a whack at it; it makes hitting a homer very easy. So, I ran through my checklist. Highlight the difficulty without? Check. Use metaphor for how easy it is with? Check. Get a little laugh from everyone? Check.

Time to go to work.

With this in mind, I began to speak. Everything was going pretty well, I thought, until I heard myself say: "It's like putting a ball on a tee and having Barry Bonds whack off on it."

As those words tumbled from my lips out into the ether, I immediately felt the rush of the air being sucked from the room as everyone there gasped. In slow-motion, I saw people staring at me, open-mouthed in disbelief at what they heard. Others were starting their guffaws, tears beginning to stream down their faces. My gaze fixed on Chicken Little: the light in the room danced on her pock-marked cheeks, glinted off her glasses. She became rigid in her seat; her mouth contorted as her face twisted into a confused expression.

"Actually, it's nothing like that. Not at all like that," I immediately said, trying to wipe away the image that I'd just created for everyone. "If a ball was on a tee and he took a whack at it. That's what I meant. The other thing is completely different."

"Why are you looking at me?," Chicken Little implored as if I was in the midst of some freaky fetish fantasy. "Why are you looking at me when you say that?"

After that exchange, the details get a little fuzzy. I do remember that I abruptly concluded class and went to tell my boss, Larry, why I'd be fired in the very near future. To this day, I can't look at Barry Bonds without blushing.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Of Course, I Mean Softballs

Sunday, in the aftermath of K's bachelor party, I played softball with my neighborhood team. I knew that playing while running on only a few hours of sleep wasn't a good idea, I owed it to the team to be there to give them my support.

Boy, I was wrong. How was I wrong? Let me count the ways from The Scholar's E6 Spectacular:
  • Overthrew 1B on a routine play.
  • Underthrew 1B on a routine play.
  • Overthrew 3B on a routine play.
  • Made an amazing over-the-shoulder catch while running toward LF, promptly turned and overthrew 2B.
  • Bounced hard-hit grounder off of my arm.
  • Bounced hard-hit grounder off of my hip.
The best inept play of the day, came on a sharply hit grounder to my side of second base. I shuffled a few steps to my left toward the bag and bent to field the ball. It takes a nasty, nasty hop and pops me squarely in the chin as it rolls up my face, knocking off my hat and glasses, and standing me straight up. Everyone at the field made a wincing noise. Hell, even the base-runners stopped running. I felt something dripping from my chin and looked over at the second baseman to ask if I was bleeding. When she said that I wasn't, it just pissed me off a little more. Hell, I at least needed a little injury to the insult, you know?

When we got back to the dugout, everyone was asking if I was okay and checking on me.

"I'm fine," I confided. "Just a little pissed off at how I'm playing."

"Don't worry about it," one friend told me. "We can tell you're not your normal self out there today."

"Guess not," I said. "Seems like I'm getting tons of bad hops and just not playing well. Damn, it's like my chin is a magnet for balls."

As soon as the last phrase left my mouth, I kid you not, several heads whipped around to look at me, mouths agape, grins spreading across their faces.

"Softballs. I'm talking about softballs."

The important life lesson: don't perform activities requiring coordination if severely sleep-deprived. Also, do not speak in front of a group of people.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm Pretty Sure We Partied, I Really Don't Remember

Last weekend was the bachelor party for my friend, K. It was, all things considered, a great success for a four-day event that took place nearly a year before his wedding will occur. Here's a brief recap:

THURSDAY
K and a handful of guys fly in from various places around the country. Winning Run and I host a cookout at our place for the guys, some old 4-H counselor friends, and a few of K's med-school classmates still here in Atlanta. We fired up the grill to cook some brats and burgers, cracked open some cold beverages, and caught up with one another. At one point in the evening, there were as many kids under age 7 as there were adults. As the party wound down, we cleaned up and headed inside to watch USC being dismantled by the Beavers. Bedtime: 3:30 a.m.

FRIDAY
The majority of the 20 guys arrived later in the afternoon. A few of us grabbed lunch together. Prior to returning home to take a much needed nap, I dropped K and company off at the Emory campus so they could meet up with K's brother and play flag football against some law students. A few hours later, I was roused from my nap by a phone call telling me that K was in the E.R. with a dislocated shoulder from the two-hand touch football game. He'd be late for dinner and would be hopped up on morphine until around midnight. Those of us who weren't football casualties met for an amazing dinner at Rathbun's in Innman Park; K joined us a little later. After dinner, we headed to Virginia Highlands for a drink or two in one of our old watering holes. It was purely nostalgia and lasted about twenty minutes; we're far too old to be in a ridiculously crowded, noisy bar. So, we decided to sneak away for a quiet glass of wine to discuss our book club selection, "The Choice" by Nicolas Sparks, author of "The Notebook." After that, we headed over to Wired and Fired to paint some pottery. We ended the evening with an impromptu chess tournament prior to heading out to breakfast at the Metro Cafe downtown.

As a social experiment, I took all the Strawberry Jam from our table after paying our tab and tried to give random strangers a packet of free jam. In the elevator up to the hotel room, I tried to offer Suge Knight's twin the opportunity to buy a packet of jam for a dollar. When he declined, I upped the offer to two packets of jam. Then, three packets of jam. Finally, five packets of jam. Luckily, Suge thought this was funny but still declined an incredible offer. My experiment results show that people are generally wary of anyone offering them jam in the wee hours of the morning.

Bedtime: 5:30a.m.

SATURDAY
I chartered a bus to pick everyone up at the hotel and drive us to UGA for a day of tailgating at Crazy Greg's famous annual tailgate. We caught up with a bunch of our old camp counselor buddies and introduced the bachelor party to the unique rituals of SEC football. There were a few early casualties (as the following photos attest) and some that bit it hard on the bus ride back to Atlanta. In all, it was a great day with a few guys playing cornhole (a.k.a. beanbag toss) with some strangers and dominating them after the strangers wanted to play for $20 per point. One member of the party went AWOL at game time and wasn't found until moments before the bus was pulling out; turns out he went somewhere and took a nap for several hours.

Oh, we went to the game. K got everyone tickets...in the Alabama section. (Boo!) In retrospect, we could've picked a better game to see as UGA was destroyed during the first half. Again, boo. Nothing like sitting among a bunch of annoying fans. We grew so tired of having to explain how to count higher than "10." What we wouldn't have given for a simple arithmetic textbook!

The following photos are from the game.



Bedtime: 3:30 a.m.

SUNDAY
Although I wasn't really hungover on Sunday morning, the cumulative effects of having drinks and staying up really late for three straight night left me feeling run-down and ill. In fact, I'm still feeling like I'm on the cusp of coming down with a flu or something a few days later. Trust me, I was one of the lucky ones who felt great on Sunday. Others didn't fare so lucky. For example, if you took a nap at the tailgate and had random shit stacked on you without your knowledge, chances are that you'd feel pretty rotten the next day.

Looking forward to living clean and going to sleep early for the next year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Don't Bullsh*t Me

This morning, Winning Run was pretty sore from last night's car accident. Honestly, we figured that would probably be the case. So, we'd made plans for her to get in to see the doctor just to be sure that her wrist was okay and there was no greater damage than cosmetic.

I went to walk Dylan and left her to make the calls to set up the appointment. During my walk, I get a call from Winning Run who was terribly upset because the doctor's office had told her that "auto accidents" aren't covered by insurance and that she'd have to pay out-of-pocket for any office visit.

"What?," I asked in disbelief.

"We'll have to pay for it. They said 'it's not covered.' Why are we paying so much if they won't cover an auto accident?," my wife said, fighting back tears.

"That's bullshit. If you fell down, they'd cover it. I don't understand how the cause of the injury makes any difference."

We ended our conversation and I headed back home. I was fuming. Seriously, was her doctor's office refusing treatment because she'd been in an auto accident? Were they just trying to distance themselves from the litigiousness that accompanies accidents? What the hell?

By the time, I got home I was effing pissed off and looking for someone's head on a platter. So, Winning Run kindly gave me the number to the doctor's office and I called for a little chat. First, I spoke with the receptionist.

"Hi. My wife called a little while ago to make an appointment to be see for some minor injuries as a result of an accident last night. You guys told her that you wouldn't see her or that it wasn't covered?"

"I remember, I...," the receptionist began.

"You can tell her it's not covered without ever asking her name or what insurance we have or knowing any other details?," I interrupted.

The poor receptionist tried to fumble through an explanation of their office billing policies. I cut to the chase and got the office manager, Sue, on the phone. In an asinine explanation attempt, Sue said that the office never "declined service" to my wife. They had offered to see her but we'd have to pay for the service ourselves because "insurance" doesn't cover it.

"You're telling me that insurance doesn't cover someone who's been in an auto accident?," I asked incredulously.

"That's right," sayeth the dumb ass.

"What if my wife fell down the steps last night and wanted to come it to see you guys today? Would you see her for that?"

"We'd call 911 and send you to the emergency room."

"For a scrape and a wrist sprain?," I asked.

"Absolutely," she confirmed.

"Ma'am, the paramedics saw her last night and everything was fine. This morning, she's sore and we'd like to get it checked out. You're telling me that insurance doesn't cover it?"

"You'd have to go the ER."

"I'm pretty sure that the insurance company would prefer that we see our PCP instead of going for an expensive ER visit."

"Sir, there is a law that says that insurance doesn't cover auto accidents."

"A law? You're telling me that there is a legislative mandate that prevents coverage? It's not a personal decision by your office but a law?"

"Yes. We share all required information with the insurance companies about visits relating to auto accidents but the visit isn't covered."

This went on for a while and I heard most every explanation under the sun to explain why the "system" prevents insured patients involved in car accidents from being covered for an office visit.

Here's the best/worst part: It's all horseshit. There is no law that prevents anything of the sort. I phoned the insurance company and spoke with them. The guy was pretty surprised that they wouldn't see her***. After confirming with him and his supervisor that there is no law to prevent them from taking insurance for visits relating to auto accident, I ask to formally note a complaint about it. So, he decided to get the office manager on the phone. I wasn't privy to the call but, after being on hold for a while, he returned to share the details of the conversation. Turns out, old dumb-ass Sue was pretty shocked that the insurance company would call and ask her about the issue so quickly. Evidently, she adamantly denied that she'd ever mentioned anything about a law preventing them from billing patients involved in car accidents. It was clear to the guy that she was backpedaling.

Whatever. If you don't want to deal with the hassle of it, don't. Don't feed me a bunch of lines about it being some law's fault. At the very least, buck up and take responsibility. Level with me, don't bullshit me.

*** I know that, by the letter of the law, the doctor didn't refuse to see her. The reality of it, though, seems to be that if you decline to accept insurance coverage for an exam or treatment, you are effectively denying to see someone by forcing patients to opt out of treatment due to the prohibitive cost. (Isn't that why we have insurance?) That, my friends, is infuriating.

Think You Might Have Better Luck?
If anyone out there has been in an auto accident or is purely interested in gathering information, I would not recommend that you call 404.255.5774 and try to book an appointment that is covered by insurance. I would also not recommend that you have a long discussion with Sue regarding the reasons patients must pay out-of-pocket for these visits. Finally, I strongly advise against anyone trying to get their friends to do this at least once or twice a week; I'm pretty sure there are laws against it.

Last Flight of the Red Baron?

Last night, my wife, a.k.a. "Winning Run," was in a car accident. Seems that someone wanted their car to occupy the same physical space as her car at the same time. Trust me, it doesn't work that well. She and Dylan were shaken up but, otherwise, no worse for the wear. Winning Run has the normal cuts and bruises that you'd see as a result of the violent deployment of an airbag and the restraint of a seat belt but that's about it. Dylan was thrown around a little but is his usual playful self this morning.

The great new is that after we put a good amount of money into fixing the air conditioner, the insurance company may simply decide to total the car. So, because some jackass doesn't look (or presumably signal) before leaping, we'll get to rid ourselves of the pain of not having a car payment and, most likely, receive a check for less than the value of our car! Sweet.


Never good when your hood has a "gangsta lean."


When in gear, the car won't go.
Instead, smoke billows from the engine.
Is that bad?


You can't see the floor but these were "hairbags."
Drivers are left bruised and itchy.


The important thing is that Winning Run and Dylan are unharmed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

That Old Familiar Feeling

So, I left a pound of flesh on the field at tonight's East Atlanta Pillage game. When at risk of being tagged out at second base, I decided (against my better judgement) to slide into the bag. I was safe. Unfortunately, we still lost the damned game.

On the bright side, I didn't get an ass-berry.

Cool points earned for a blood leg wound: +1000

Killa McD

Last Sunday, my sister-in-law had a baby. When my wife returned from a business trip, we drove up to Spartanburg to visit the newbie and his parents. FYI: I love the shell-shocked look worn by brand-new parents in the immediate chaos and ectasy of realizing that they are completely responsible for a brand new person, a blank slate, a life they created.

I'm not so naive that I think it won't happen to me; I'm fully aware that, one day, I'll have the same damned countenance on my ugly mug.

Here are a few photos of the new little man.

Killa McD

Killa practicing the gang signs of the Spartanburg Cribs.


Barely a week old and he's already mastered sing-alongs.

Welcome to the world, kiddo.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fishing While Kayaking is Tough

Over the weekend, I migrated 30 miles south of the city to meet my pal, Randy, for some good old fishing. We dined on a Waffle House breakfast at 6am and them made our way over to the water. He provided me with a sit-on-top kayak and all the fishing gear I could possibly need. Immediately, an image popped into my head: me paddling under low-hanging branches with a gaudy fishing lure lodged in my cheek. I opted for the most basic reel that he had; it made the Snoopy Rod from my youth seem like an advanced contraption. I couldn't be too careful, you know?

We paddled for most of the morning, casting up and down the banks. Randy, the sage that he is, would give me the go-ahead to cast in the virgin water and point out exactly where I should put the lure and how I should bring it back. Hopefully, I didn't disappoint him with my poor casting and overall withered fishing skill. Honestly, it was fun just to get out and paddle. At one point, I was sure that we'd be ambushed by a heretofore unknown cannibal tribe. Hell, we'd paddled so far back into the wilderness, I was sure that we'd been sent to terminate Colonel Kurtz' command.


The boats that took us into the jungle: the Wilderness and the Cobra.

At the end of the day, I was pretty wiped out. I had managed to catch two trees, two submerged branches, and the crotch area of my pants. I did, however, make it out alive with all my digits and my ability to see. I considered it a victory.

Randy pulling boats out of the water.
I was busy making an ibuprofen sandwich.