Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Tale of Three Christmases

One of the blessings/curses of having divorced parents means dual holidays.  Usually when the kids are younger, the parents do some sort of swap, like Dad's for Christmas and Mom's for Thanksgiving.  I vividly remember getting gifts on Christmas morning that had to be put down at noon, because my Dad was there at 12:00 PM sharp.  Ahhh...memories.  So this December, I actually had three Christmases.  Let's look at them, shall we?

Christmas #1: Mom and Stepfather

This is the house that I most identify Christmas with, having grown up there.  Generally the home is full of Christmas music and Christmas cookies and egg nog.  We did Secret Santa to cut down on costs, but everyone gets a stocking stuffer.  I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, but it turns out that stocking stuffers are often a lot cooler than actual presents.  I got running headphones.  My stocking stuffers included Gummy Bacon, a NYC survival guide, and assorted other useful things.  We ended up giving out lots of gifts from ThinkGeek, like stuffed animals shaped like microbes and I gave my Step-Dad an F bomb.  I thought it was a pretty cool gift.  Tons of food and wine and laughs.  Oh, and the pullout couch they recently got is muuuuch better than the last one. 

Christmas #2: Dad and Stepmother

Given the fact that Allyson and I were leaving very early on Saturday morning, we did our Christmas with Mom on Christmas Eve and Christmas with Dad on the 23rd.  Generally Christmas here consists of a poultry dish, wine and then gifts.  The gifts are special, and not the good kind of special.  Last year I got an IPad charger.  I do not own an IPad.  If I got this gift at the other house, I would believe that clearly an IPad would be the next gift.  Not so much in this house.  Having heard that my brother had gotten Spanx for Men, I was eagerly awaiting the spoils from this Christmas.  Here is what I got this Christmas:
  • An assortment of Olive Oils: Not sure about why I got this.  Allyson was pretty happy about it.  I can barely make cereal, so these clearly won't be used by me.  
  • Clinique Eye Care For Men: I got some sort of anti-wrinkle cream.  Not sure again what the message was there.  
  • A gift certificate for a local restaurant: I was pretty stoked about this actually.  Looking forward to using it.  
  • A charger for multiple devices: So this is pretty cool.  I can charge two cell phones and a Kindle. However, it does say Ameriprise Financial on the front of it.  So I'm guessing this was free.  
I didn't get any Spanx though, so I've got that going for me.

Christmas #3: Allyson's Parents

Was airborne super early in the morning on Christmas Morning to the Sunshine State on a direct dawn flight from JFK to FLL.  It was 80 degrees in Florida which was quite a shock, but I somehow managed to deal with it.  :) We ate well, at our favorite restaurants, Publix, LaSpada's, Larry's Ice Cream.  And they were kind enough to get me presents also.  I got:
  • A Belt: I insist my belt is fine, but Allyson says it's looking a little shabby.  
  • A Dunkin Donuts gift card: God bless these people who understand my need for coffee
  • A T-shirt: Its long-sleeved and I think makes me look a little hip.  
I read the first Game of Thrones book on my Kindle Fire.  Don't do it.  You won't be able to stop.  It's a problem.  I also got to play bingo and eat a lot of amazing food.

All in all, it was a great Christmas.  I am happy for the gifts I got, though I really don't need anything else.  I've got health, love, friends and family.  And apparently some anti-wrinkle cream.  So that's pretty nice.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Christmas Miracle

Well, miracle might be a strong term.  But as a born and raised New Yorker, I often have conflicted feelings when I go home.  Both missing the city I knew and being bewildered and feeling distant from the city I encounter now.  But over the past few days I've had some great reminders of why I love the city.  However, my experience on Xmas morning really sealed the deal and made my year.

Due to cost concerns, my girlfriend Allyson and I had elected to take an 8:30 flight from JFK to Fort Lauderdale to hang out with her folks for a few days.  Those in New York, understand that flying out of JFK is only second to Newark when it comes to convenience.  Van Wyck, is Dutch, for traffic.  Little known fact.  So, we had to get a cab at 6:30 on Christmas Morning.  Not as easy as it sounds.

We finally get a cab and immediately the driver asked where we were going and whether we had coffee yet and bagels to take to Florida.  We sadly said we didn't have time.  Then he replied "I got a place, it won't take any more time.  Best bagels in the city." What a NY response.  So we go to H&H Midtown and he waits in the taxi.  Lest you think we're being gouged, it's a flat $45 to JFK from anywhere in Manhattan. I loved when he said, sometimes they fill the coffee up all the way, so take a few sips to make sure you don't spill.  And then he asked if we needed more napkins.  The grin on my butter covered chin was monstrous.

So he explains he's been driving a cab for 42 years and just retired down to Puerto Rico, but he had "anxiety" and couldn't take it so he came back 3 weeks ago.  We were his first fare of the day.  I mentioned I used to be a cop, and he said his brother was on the job in the 34 and got 3/4 disability.  We talked about the crooks at Port Authority and we talked about how he bought a taxi medallion at 22 for $9,000 that is now worth over $700,000.

It was the best cab ride I've ever had.  We just talked and he knew everything.  When the cab ride ended, I gave him a 30% tip, because it was Christmas and he deserved it.  Wally gave me a hug and cried as he wished me a Merry Christmas.  I really hope I can get into his cab again.

Wally, don't retire again.  Or retire here.  New York needs you so that it can stay the New York that I know and love.

Merry Christmas Everybody.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 Things

Happy Tuesday.  In light of my desire to catch up on stuff and also some important topical things happening, that you might have missed in your busy lives.
  1. The Euro is in big trouble.  Asides from the EU's open borders, the common currency is probably the biggest thing the group has done.  That currency is in jeopardy due to things that my college roommate could explain a lot better than me.  So, if you're like me and don't really understand the world of sovereign debt, JP Morgan explains it in Legos. If you want to read the article, I've linked it here.
  2. Patrice O'Neal has died of complications following complications following a stroke he had in October.  His last public appearance was on Charlie Sheen's roast. If I asked you who the best comic from Massachusetts, who would you say?  If the words Dane Cook came out of your mouth, find the tallest structure where you're reading this and jump off it.  Bill Burr and Patrice O'Neal are two of my favorite comics and they both hail from Boston.  Below is one on my favorite clips from Patrice.  Rest easy, big fella. 
  3. I ran my third 5K on Thanksgiving.  So I am thankful that I didn't die.  But allow me to tell you this, but if I can run a 5K, anyone can.  One of the best things about it is that you will always run faster than someone else, be they morbidly obese or 100 years old.  Passing people makes you feel like a rockstar.  Also, don't be fooled by the small kids.  They have tons of energy, but they don't understand pacing, so you will end up playing a yo-yo game with them all race.  Most important, don't let any walkers pass you.  That way you can wear your free t-shirt with pride. 
  4. Wegman's is my new favorite place.  It's seriously the best grocery store ever.  They're a Buffalo-based chain, and they are slowly making their way south.  They have a whole side of pre-made food that you can eat in a cafe.  Mine even is a singles hangout that has live music.  Their store brand is terrific.  So, watch out Massholes as there's one coming to Northborough. 
  5. Finally, as you probably do know, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) is retiring after this term.  His sexual preference allowed for one of my favorite sayings I learned from my pal Steve.  "I'm out like Barney Frank" which he would say when he had to depart.  The best thing to come out of the news cycle today on this was the New York Times correction to their article.  
Correction: November 28, 2011
An earlier version of the article called Mr. Frank the first openly gay member of Congress. He was the first member of Congress to voluntarily acknowledge he was gay.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Final Day in Budapest


I'd apologize for not blogging more.  But I'm not really sorry.  Very rarely while walking around, or being out at dinner, or cuddling in bed, did the words "I really should blog now" come out of my mouth.  Alas, I thought I would write on our final day in the Pest.  Technically I can say this, as we are on the Pest side.  Tomorrow morning, Lufthansa takes us back to the Motherland at 6AM, before we get on a flight operated by Continited for the final leg home. 

The last few days have seen bathing in the public baths, which really are quite awesome.  Then we saw where they put all the communist statues after the communists were kicked out and then we saw the HQ of the Secret Police (both Nazi and Communist) Chuck, I did buy you something and it's on the way shortly. 

Today we're going to check out Parliament and the Great Synagogue, second only in size to my personal favorite and site of many barmitzvahs, Temple Emanu-el in NYC.  First though, to get some breakfast and a cappucino.

Coolest thing:  A good friend of Ross's has a vineyard here and he had two bottles of wine dropped off at the hotel.  So that's awesome.  Sauska Vineyards.  Funniest part was the guy called from downstairs and Allyson picked up the phone after 11 (We were watching Sons of Anarchy) and he kept saying in a whisper voice "I have your package." She thought it was a pervert.  Thanks Christian!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Greetings from Pest

So we're on our third night in Budapest.  Our hotel is on the Pest side of the Danube.  They just opened up their Christmas market right behind the hotel, which is really nice.  I remember a similar one in Prague.  Mulled wine always is a great treat.  Tomorrow I'm going for a run along the Danube.  Partly because I haven't run at all this week, but mostly so I can use the phrase "when I ran along the Danube" in conversation. 

Interesting things about Hungary:
  • They've gotten the fuzzy end of the lollipop.  Beaten by the Ottomans, choosing the wrong side in WWI and losing half of their country, siding with the Germans only to have them invade and kill all their Jews in WWII, and then to have the Russians introduce them to concrete as architecture and dreary propaganda
  • The escalators on their subway are really fast.  And they work.  Do you hear that Metro?  They not only have escalators, but they are speedy.  Odd that the capital of Hungary can get this right, but not the capital of the US.  
  • At the Xmas market today, we bought some sort of pizza like thing except is was sour cream on warm dough with a topping.  Allyson got sausage.  I got cracklins, which is supposedly a Hungarian specialty.  I loved it, and I hope to never find out what cracklins are.  
  • It gets dark here really early.  Like 4PM early.  And cold.  It's no wonder goulash is the national food.  Cheap and hot. 
Tomorrow is a tour of Memento Park to check out communist statues, and then a dip in the famous public baths.  Oh, and tonight we went to a great place called the For Sale Bar where thousands of people have left business cards.  I didn't have any of mine.  But I added our names to my friend Chuck's.  So if you see a Booz Allen card with the word "Blumpkins" written on it, that was me.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 1...or is it Day 2?

So currently sitting in the Munich Airport at the Lufthansa Senator Lounge, which is their lounge.  Allow me to geek out here for a second and say that international lounges are far superior to those in the United States.  Most everything is self-service, which means you get treated like an adult.  And they have real food.  The snacks at US Air's Clubs make me feel like lining up for feed time to get some Sun Chips.  Star Alliance Gold status is awesome when traveling internationally. 

Allyson and I are on the way to Budapest.  Lots of people ask why Budapest.  And quite simply, the dates worked and the airfare worked.  I used Starwood points for the hotel, which is supposed to be pretty swanky.  We're waiting for our connection to Budapest which isn't for about 2 hours.  And we already took showers.  Because we're ballers.  Nothing makes you feel more refreshed than a shower when you land.  God bless excess. 

More from Hungary soon.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday Thoughts

As I sit in the US Air Club in the Philadelphia Airport, waiting for my tin can to leave for DCA, I had some thoughts.  Not that anyone hopefully is home and reading this at 8PM.

  • When on a plane, don't mention things you learn from airport firefighters.  The guy in the seat behind me asked why they had to close their shades for takeoff and landing.  The FA said it was airline policy.  I turned around and said it was so that firefighters could see where the fire and injuries were, so they could use the piercing nozzle correctly and put out the fire.  
  • Never get into the game with your partner of "who cares less," which sounds a lot like this song by Ben Folds Five. Eventually you both play bad cop enough to make the other person really think you don't care, when in fact all you're trying to do is make the other person care. The result is two people disconnected, which is a little awkward.  
  • Bailey's and coffee is genius.  Even though I drink decaf now because Allyson says I have the "jimmy leg" which I think is a made up term, it still tastes like warm heaven.  Thank you, booze gods, for making my body more flexible before I get onto the worst plane in the history of the world.  And one, mind you, that doesn't even stop at a gate at DCA.  I have to take a bus.  The most inhuman of all transportation.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The same and yet not

I returned to my alma mater, Vassar College, this past Friday to see my freshman year roommate speak on a career panel.  It also provided an opportunity to show Allyson where I went to college.  I went to my 5-year reunion and then skipped the 10 year.  So this was my first time back in a while. There are a few things that had changed at my fair school. 
  • The Dutch Cabin, which was the nearest bar to campus and had terrific mexican food, has closed, and has been replaced by Billy Bob's Barbeque.  The Dutch was never a Vassar bar, in fact there were probably more kids from Marist or the CIA there.  But I had some great times there.  And to have it replaced by some schlock barbeque place is a crying shame.  I'm betting it won't last. 
  • The Mug no longer serves alcohol.  The Mug was an on-campus bar that was in the basement of the college center.  A dark, dank place that saw many hook-ups begin with Shaggy singing while people grinded.  However, this hot passion was fueled by alcohol.  Ironically, the bar used to be managed by students also, but soon the college required that they were hemorrhaging money.  So Aramark took over the management and got rid of pitchers and made other changes.  So the college apparently realized that there was a liability to having a college-owned and operated bar, so they stopped serving alcohol.  And now it's just a dance club.  But one with far less love. 
  • Campus Patrol no longer patrols.  Vassar had a student job that allowed students to basically be extra security on paths and around the campus.  The group was a special lot that gave each other nicknames and prized jackets.  Apparently, Res Life found out that the students didn't have any oversight and were signing their own checks, and took them over.  They are now inside the dorm sitting as desks.  No more running with maglites....
But the thing that struck me most about being back was how connected I felt to the campus and how disconnected I felt from the students.  They looked and seemed so young.  It really was like entering a bubble. A beautiful and expensive bubble, but a bubble nonetheless.

Go Brewers....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Biggie didn't really wish he was poor.

In 1997, Notorious BIG released a rap song called "Mo Money, Mo Problems." That fine work can be viewed here.  (And I don't know if you get the Pooh ad in the beginning, but I think it's awesome)

So I'm not sure what Biggie really knows what he's talking about.  It's like when parents tell the kids that they'd love to go to school if the kids would go to work.  School is much harder than work.  No one pushes you into a locker at work, and no one assigns me homework that has no point.

I thought of this as my debit card was declined tonight.  Note: If my parents are reading this blog, please do not call me or send me a check.  I make good money.  $85,000 a year.  And what I do isn't really work, like roofing in the summer or being a septic tank cleaner.  So where the crap does it all go. Let's see....
  • Rent: $750, now that I'm living with Allyson
  • Student Loans: $362
  • Car loan: $307
  • Insurance (Renters and Car): $87.25
  • Gym: $69
  • Cable: $100
  • Phone: $80
  • Shrink: $280
And that's basically all my big bills, which total up to.......$2035 a month.  This essentially leaves me with a whole paycheck to spend on food, alcohol, anything really.  Yet the only way I save money is through payroll deduction to my 401K or by direct deposit to my ING Direct account.  Are there things in the above list that could be knocked off the list.  I could get a worse cable package, and I could cancel my gym membership and I could get a cheaper phone plan. But most of it is stuff that's mandatory or is stuff that keeps me sane. 

And while I could get paid more to alleviate some of this, I have no doubt that I would simply adjust my standard of living to meet my new income level.  It happens insidiously.  I was talking with a good friend about how she lived in Boston for $30,000 when she first moved.  She did admit she ate only oatmeal for the whole summer.  But the idea of eating ramen noodles seems kind of nuts when my salary puts me in the 74th percent of wealth in this country.

I think about how lucky I am to have what I do, from my family and friends, to my girlfriend, to my worldly possessions.  And I think if I''m bouncing checks at a bar, how hard up must people be who are really hurting.  It puts it all in perspective.  But it still doesn't change the fact that I've got 9 days until payday.  Good thing I can eat fluffernutters all the time. 

Anybody else amazed at how little you save or is it just me?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mortality and Meat Packing

I was told last week that my cousin Susan's husband died of a massive heart attack.  They lived in Appleton, Wisconsin and had three children.  He was 44 and a really terrific guy.  So I flew into Milwaukee, met my brother who lived there and drove up.  My other brother flew in from Columbus, Ohio.  People were grateful we came, but it didn't really occur to me not to go.  Maybe it was because he was so young, or that it was all so sudden, but I just felt I should be there. 

The service was done at the funeral home.  Paul was cremated and his ashes were placed in a box that his children helped make and decorate.  It had their three handprints on it and "We love you Daddy" written on it.  That was hard.  But not as hard as seeing the kids have to be taken out halfway through the service with tears in their eyes.

Wisconsin is a pretty Catholic state I realized.  The signs that all said "Friday Fish Fry" outside the bars were a good hint.  The memorial ceremony was a Catholic one, but without communion.  I have been to a bunch of Catholic funerals as a police officer, so I knew the drill.  I even took communion at them, so I didn't stick out.  It turns out I'm apparently going to burn in eternal hell for that. 

And as I sat and listened to the priest deliver the homily and sing the psalms, I had a thought.  I don't like Catholic ceremonies.  In fairness, I was baptised  Protestant (I think) and grew up going to Unitarian Sunday School, so I guess that's the religion that I identify with most.  The only time I usually go to church is around Christmas to the one near my parent's place because they have live animals in the pagent. 

But unsurprisingly I suppose, Catholic funerals are all about God.  God didn't make this happen, but don't worry because the deceased is with God now.  God is love and all you need to do is look to God to feel better and be made whole.  The grieving family is told that they should look to friends for comfort, but really the Holy Trinity are the ones who will bring you the most comfort. 

I call bullshit.  Sure, many may turn to God and say that it's his will.  Or that now they get to hang out with their parents or kids or whatever.  But I think that's all just a way of putting your happiness and thoughts in someone else's hands.  Very religious.  Don't worry about anything.  It's all God's plan.  So just relax and be a good person, and Heaven is going to be awesome.  Here's what I would have said at the front of that room:

"Paul left us far too soon.  And it hurts.  And it's not fair.  And there is no way to spin this so it makes sense or makes the pain go away.  But that pain isn't a bad thing.  It's Paul.  It's his memory.  It's our sadness at losing an amazing person.  So we mourn and we cry and we ache.  And we live with that for awhile.  And then time passes and the brain moves to other things, because it needs to protect us from hurting so much.  And yet, as it does that, we catch ourself feeling guilty that we're not thinking of the person or not feeling those "carpe diem" moments like we did right after their death.

So how do we reconcile our sadness and our inevitable moving on.  We honor that person.  I think everyone that has kids should teach them something that exemplifies Paul.  And let them know where it came from. Change your behavior or influence others so that the person lives on in you.  Then you don't have to worry about not thinking about them, because there's a piece of them in you at all times."

I had a friend from college, Erin Schlather, die at 26.  And one of the things I loved about Erin was how she could listen to you and make you feel like you were the only one in the room, no matter how loud it was or how many people were around.  She would lock eyes and just listen, not hear, but listen to you.  And I have tried to copy that as best I can when I listen to people.  I'll never lose Erin.  She's a part of me.

Goodbye Paul.  I'll carry you with me too.  Thanks for giving yourself to me. 

Monday, October 03, 2011

We're Here. We Sneer. Get Used to It.

So most people have heard of the Occupy Wall Street protest which is comprised of about 500 core protesters that have taken over Liberty Plaza in downtown Manhattan to protest....everything it seems.  The main issue seems to be the anger with fat cat bankers.  But overall, I think Wall Street is just a geographic place that the protestors can go to vent their anger about income inequality, their lack of a voice in politics, our position in the war and so on.

The group has copied the organizational structure of the Arab Spring uprisings.  It's a headless group that is like a collective and makes decisions using committees and strict representational democracy.  There's also an Occupy the Fed movement which is more of a libertarian thing happening concurrently and sort of related.  You can see live footage of the Occupy Wall Street peeps here. 

The big question is: What do they want?  And the group says it's not about that, but that's exactly what it's about.  If this is the lefty version of the Tea Party, then they need to push for things.  They need to prove that they vote.  For as much as they want this to be like V is for Vendetta, it can't be.  We'll need to make the process change either through legislation or capitalism.  Legislation means that this collective needs to find candidates that speak for them and get them elected.  I'm not a huge fan of this, because this will make Congress, and this sounds crazy, but even more divided than it is now.

Of course, if they want to try through capitalism and either boycott certain companies or work to educate others about writing to their Congressman.  See, this is really an image problem.  The Occupy Wall Street people are for income equality, and for consumer protection and for lowering the debt and for letting their kids have the same opportunities they did.  So why can't we all get along?   Well probably because it's hard for middle America to connect with these people who aren't showering and protesting against the cops and using IPhones to tweet instantly.  Not that I'm judging any of this, but this isn't going to make people feel closer.  Nor are the Free Mumia signs.  That's not what we're talking about.  And besides, he's a killer.  Rest in Peace, Danny Faulkner. 

Also, there's a lot of press about the NYPD's handling of these protestors.  Some seem to be outraged by these strong arm tactics, like locking up the protestors from the Brooklyn Bridge.  In the video, it's clear that the supervisor is telling them they could be arrested.  The crowd is so loud, it's hard to hear the guy, but whose fault is that?  Should they be required to get louder speakers if the crowd is large?  I don't think so.  I'd just like to say that when the cops move on the protestors, that decision is made by guys much higher up than those in blue shirts. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Power and Humility of Spectacles

So I've been running a few days a week for this whole Couch to 5K thing.  It's pretty cool and it's not that taxing.  It also allows me to work out three times a week and feel somewhat satisfied.  So normally I run with my glasses on until I sweat too much and then I put them in my pocket. But late last week, I put them in my pocket and now there is probably some mentally unstable homeless person in Dupont Circle wearing some dashing specs.  He better hope he has near sightedness in his right eye and far sightedness in his left eye, poor bastard.

So I was without glasses for the first time in a long time, and I realized that glasses can make you feel like you're 5 years old.  First, when you come in from the cold and your glasses fog up, thus making you look like an idiot.  Second, when you lose them and you can't see anything.  I like to imagine that famous men who wore glasses also have misplaced them, and looked foolish.  Like Jesus turning wine into water while squinting, and people throwing rocks at him.  Or Einstein* getting electrocuted while flying the kite because he misplaces his eyeglasses.

So I went yesterday to Lenscrafters and was again totally bewildered.  Choosing glasses is impossible.  They all seem to look the same after awhile.  Thank God Allyson was there with my to tell me what looked okay.  Lenscrafters also has this screen that takes photos of you in 4 pairs of glasses for you to compare.  It really works.  So I chose a pair.  Does anyone knows how much glasses cost?  I'm not talking the lenses, but the frames.  The thing that holds the actual medical devices to allow you to see were $290.

Because my eyes are so screwed, the glasses will take two weeks.  You know how Lenscrafters says you can get glasses in about an hour? I'm clearly the about part.

* My friend Nicole, who recently moved from Philadelphia, reminded me that it was Ben Franklin who actually flew the kite to test electricity.  But I like to think that he looks like Einstein if you're not wearing your glasses. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 9/11 Post

So in thinking about this post, I looked back at previous posts.  It turns out that 5 years ago, I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that people didn't think of this day like they should have.  And then after that I just posted photos of people and remembered. 

So this year, the 10th anniversary, I put on the NYPD bike shirt, a stylish shirt with patches on both sleeves and reflective letters reading out "NYPD" on the back.  And I went to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at Judiciary Square and just sat.  I sat down and remembered.  Not only those officers who we lost on 9/11, but also those we lost after.  I feel a special connection to Moira Smith, as I heard her put over the 10-13 in the rubble, and that has always made me feel closer to her, even though we never met and I only saw her daughter on the day that she was awarded the Medal of Honor. 

I cried.  For awhile.  For a bunch of reasons . Survivor guilt, sadness, and also the memories of that day.  And I thought about all of them, including James Godbee and Bobby Grossman who we lost later, after breathing in the air at Ground Zero.  God I miss those guys.  I then met up with friends and my girlfriend for beers at a local bar.  My NYPD shirt didn't get a second look, and I think that would have bothered me a few years ago.  And I've realized something important over these past years. 

It's not about me. 

I miss my friends and I will never forget them.  Even though remembering parts of that day are harder and harder for me, it doesn't mean I wasn't there.  I am so proud to have worn the same uniform as my fallen brothers and sisters.  When asked later in life, what job I most identify myself with, there's no doubt that the NYPD is it.  Best people I've ever worked with. 

I hope that wherever you are, you're surrounded by love.  And that you realize that you are special.  If not, email me and I'll tell you how special you are.  We honor their memory by toasting them and being phenomenal people. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How to handle 9/11

So it's currently 9/10/2011.  Tomorrow, of course is the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.  And I called my friend Caleb a few weeks ago and asked what he was doing for 9/11, and he paused and said he hadn't thought of it like that.  I guess it is weird to ask people what they're doing for that day, like it was Labor Day weekend or something like that. 

But I guess it makes sense to me as I knew I was going to do something different that day.  I suppose that I've always thought that 9/11 was different.  And as I left New York for Boston and then now for DC, I felt somewhat distant when people aren't as connected to that day as I am. 

Don't get me wrong.  I don't go to the public ceremonies of remembrance on that day.  I think that people do most of their personal remembering and thinking in small groups and not large ceremonies.  It always made me feel out of place though, when people would be bothered by dumb work shit on 9/11 or like today, seeing all the girls with their huge sunglasses at brunch.  I was thinking that those girls will be back tomorrow morning to talk about their Saturday night exploits without a second thought about what happened 10 years ago.  Of course, for many of them, they were barely in high school probably. 

So tomorrow, I'm planning on going to the Law Enforcement Memorial in the morning.  I'm going to wear my NYPD bike shirt, just because I feel like wearing my colors.  Granted, it's probably illegal to wear a uniform shirt when you're not an active officer, but I'm not really thinking anyone will care tomorrow.  After spending some time at the memorial and thinking about the events of that day and those after it, I'm going to find a bar.  There's a place that's a bar that does brunch, but should be pretty quiet.  Well, as quiet as a bar that on the first Sunday of football can be. I'm mostly just looking to avoid people eating doing "brunch" on 9/11. 

But I think that people will remember that day in a variety of different ways.  Memorials, ceremonies, etc.  My friend is going to the see the Giants take on the Redskins at FedEx Field, which I think is an equally good way to celebrate the City of New York.  For while 9/11 is a memory of a horrible scar on the city, it's also a celebration of the city that it was right after that terrible day.  So overpaying for beer and screaming on the boys in blue is quite appropriate.

I think some people won't think twice about 9/11 tomorrow unless it's jammed down their throat by Facebook messages or CNN.  But others will need no reminding and will find their own way to mourn and celebrate the events of 10 years ago.  And those are the people that I'll raise a glass to, tomorrow afternoon. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Early Morning Travel

So this morning, I'm on the way to Atlanta very early.  One of the reasons it's so early is that I needed to connect in Charlotte, where I currently am.  Now, Delta has a direct flight which takes two hours, but I'm not a Delta frequent flyer.  I'm a US Air flyer.  And I need all of my miles in order to get to 50,000 by November which is when the girlfriend and I go to Budapest.  And 50,000 miles puts me at Star Alliance Gold, and lounge access through Europe.  So that's why I have time to blog this morning. Here are a few early morning thoughts:

  • When I left DCA, it was rainy and very foggy.  The top of the Washington Monument was even obscured by fog.  But within 3 minutes of our taking off, we broke through the cloud layer and were in crystal blue skies.  I love that.  Its nice to remember that even in the worst weather, it's beautiful just above.  
  • I'm at the US Airways lounge, which I have access to through my Amex Platinum Card.  It grants access to US, Delta, and American lounges when flying those airlines.  And the TV is showing Headline News.  I don't like CNN.  I find it to be a network with lots of gimmicks and not much heart.  But CNN Headline News is terrible.  I think when CNN used to have stories of substance and length, Headline News was designed to give you the important news quickly and continuously.  
          However, with CNN in a 30-second news cycle itself, that turns Headline News into some sort of ADD  paradise with stories in 15 seconds, pop music and over the top hosts.  This woman, who is some sort of spawn of perky hucksterism and vapid USA Today journalism, could report on a school bus fire with a smile and then pass it to Tony with the weather. No Robin, I won't tweet you a hello that I will hope you read on air.  I have....what's that word...dignity.  Headline News is the terrible.
  • I'm off to find a Starbucks to find my latest new thing.  Iced Quad Venti.  This is four shots of espresso in a large cup, filled to the top with ice.  You pour milk to the top to finish it off.  It's around $3.50 and it's a jolt in the morning.  I must thank my old partner Will for this find.  My fear of course is that if not taken in some moderation, I will eventually need 5 shots.  
Photo of Canary Wharf in London courtesy of the Daily Mail. 

Saturday, September 03, 2011

I'm currently in Burlington, Vermont, working at the recently moved Vermont EOC.  The original EOC is inaccessible due to flooding.  So I'm working on the midnight shift and it's pretty slow.  So I found this headline.

Man accused of having sex with pool raft had also violated inflatable pumpkin

I think there's nothing more I need to say about that.  

See the story here....


This is the face of a pool/pumpkin lover.....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good Morning

So as the sun broke on the District this morning, my air conditioner was blowing freezing cold air and the sun was shining.  I put my feet down on the floor and they didn't get wet, so I'm alright.  I think the hurricane passed without much to do. 

I might be headed down to Virginia for work today.  Rented my SUV and I should be all set.  I'm glad to see that New York City is not underwater. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Watch LiveBlog

I thought it would be kind of fun to do a live blog like other actual news sites, even though I don't know what I'm doing.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

8:58 AM: All is quiet here.  The Starbucks is apparently doing good business and my air conditioner is keeping my apartment like a meat locker, just the way I like it.  I'm closely monitoring the storm down in the Hampton Roads area, where I've done work and have some friends. I hope they do alright.

9:48: Just returned from Starbucks.  You can smell the desperation and the fear in the long line that people might be without their passionfruit lemonade or no-whip, half-caf, sugar-free mocha for 16 hours or more.  God knows what people are going to do without  Sunday brunch?  The rending of the garments has begun.  Also stopped by the ATM bolted into the pizza place to get cash.  I realize that I might need gold in the post-landfall environment, but cash will have to do.  I also realize that my card could have been skimmed and is now being used in Albania, but I'm okay with that.

9:50: Stiff breeze for about 14 seconds at 16th St. and U St. NW, I'm pretty sure Pepco dropped 12,000 customers right then.

10:52: I realized I took out $150 and spent $9 at Starbucks.  I'm not very good at this preparedness.  But I am caffeinated. Also, my friend who lives literally a block north of me as lost power, and there's still no rain.  This does not bode well.  Oh, and there's some jackass named Mike Seidel who reports from The Weather Channel and he's standing on Nag's Head beach getting pelted with sand.  He's clearly the dumbest man I know, and I hope that Darwin takes care of him.

11:35: The rain has begun.  God have mercy on all our souls.

12:23: It occurs to me that if we do lose power, this blog will go kaput.  So if I don't post for a few hours, that means I'm looking for the fattest people in my building to eat.  Which reminds me of the awesome South Park episode where they get snowed in and Jimbo wants to resort to cannibalism  because he wants a snack. 

12:30: The weather bunny on our NBC affiliate was on a remote shoot and said she felt stupid standing out there without any rain, but she's glad now that the rain has picked up.  We're getting some harder rain, but apparently not enough to stop soccer tryouts in Pentagon City.  Clearly this storm is terrifying people.

1353: There are reports of roving gangs in polo shirts looting stores in Georgetown for brown flip-flops.  Also, this hurricane is a flop so far.  It's raining but I'm going to probably hit the store for beer later.

1458: Going out for a drink at the local bar and maybe a bite.  You know what the worst thing about this hurricane is?  There is no good TV on.  I mean seriously?  Everyone is indoors.  Points to the naked guys in Virginia Beach though.  One love.

1740: Back from the bar.  It's good to know that you can get a great bocadillo at a nice bar that is still open.  Also we had hurricanes, which are sooo funny to have during a hurricane.  Very meta.  Now back home, though the rain has picked up with the wind a bit.  I think we'll still go out tonight, because in a city you only need to walk two blocks to drink and eat.

1918: The Starbucks has closed early, probably for the "safety" of their "staff." I think we've hit full panic mode now.  Even though the rain still doesn't seem that bad. You know what I found out tonight, there is some bad TV on. Like Community, for example.

2039: We have ordered chinese food for delivery.  I think we did it just to test the fortitude of the local asian community.  I love living in a city.  In the country, you probably wouldn't get delivery in a hurricane, though granted this feels mainly like a Noreaster.

2233: We also ordered Uno's. I'm toying with the idea of testing the fortitude of the delivery community over the course of the hurricane.  Also, the NYT has a current headline that reads "Wall of Water Rushes Toward NYC"  I'm sure this headline either scares people or makes them into disbelievers.  A lot of people wonder how Battery Park can flood.  It's called storm surge and the short explanation is as follows:

Water is pushed just like the air.  And so the water gets pushed towards the shore, which is okay when the water is deep, but as it gets closer to the shore, the land rises and pushes the water up and over the land.  Here's a cool animated graphic to show it.  There are also SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surge to Hurricanes) maps for coastal jurisdictions.  Here is the report on NYC's vulnerability to hurricanes.  The city has a bight which makes it particularly susceptible.

Sunday August 28, 2011 

0030: Watched two movies on Netflix.  The rain is expected to continue and thousands of people are out of power.  I'm turning in.  Hopefully my air conditioner runs faithfully through the night and I can update you that I haven't floated away.  But so far, so good.  Goodnight Irene.

On the Sidelines

So it's Saturday morning, and I just went for a run at around 7:45 AM.  I hate running.  And I love sleeping.  Indeed, the idea of leaving my beautiful girlfriend in the bed while I go sweat outside seems highly counter-intuitive.  But running clears my head.  And I'm distracted and couldn't sleep.  And it was a woman that had me all wrapped up.  This woman.....

Yes, Hurricane Irene has me feeling down.  Not because I'm scared of losing electricity or my roof falling off.  Though our power company is so awful it's like their Satan's Electricians. If you see the track of the storm, not only does it pass over my current city of Washington, DC, but it also passes over the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for whom I used to work.  And right now, I'd be 40 feet underground in a Cold War bunker west of Boston, preparing for landfall with a bunch of other people.  But instead, I'm sitting sweating on my couch. 

This is the first time in my professional career that I've not had a position that is working when other people aren't.  Living in Massachusetts, I never had to worry about my power going out or having enough food during Noreasters or blizzards.  Because where I would be was powered by huge Cat generators and there was always food 24 hours a day.  Don't get me wrong, I'm engaged in storm activities at my current job, but it's different.  It's about getting business and not helping people, though I suppose some could frame it as getting people's business will be helping them.  But I can't.

Even in DC, I want to know how where the city floods and how many boats we have and what the power outages are.  Although I should give Satan's Electricians credit for telling you in great detail where their customers are burning them in effigy.  I see I have neighbors out already.  This does not bode well, considering it's not yet started to rain. 

I want to be in a room with no windows and glowing plasma screens and terrible coffee.  And I want to sleep on an aerobed for 4 hours and consider myself well-rested.  I want to brief the Governor and have him know my name and trust my thoughts, because I had all that.  And it's hard sitting on the sidelines. 

I need to get back in...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I am Norwegian and I am sad

To the four people who read this blog, I'm sure you don't read it for news.  If you did, you would probably not know that we're at war or that the Arab Spring happened.  So I'm sure people know about the tragedy in Norway.  Currently the death toll stands at  92, with over 80 of those being children gunned down at a summer camp by a guy dressed as a police officer.  Now I have plenty of thoughts about the fact that because this guy is white, no one seems to be calling him a terrorist, but I'll save that for later. 

Now I'd just like to say that this day is probably akin to 9/11 in Norway, except there won't be tons of Americans waving Norwegian flags or leaving flowers and posters at embassies and consulates.  And that saddens me.  As we approach the 10th anniversary of a terrible day in our history, where the world stood with us and we are so insulated as a nation, people care more about the NFL season going through, much less thinking of outward displays of solidarity with the people of Norway. 

Well I was there at 9/11.  I dug through the pile and I stood down there and remember all of it.  And I remember the English Bobbies of the Met lined up in full dress uniform to pay respects, and firehouses all over the world draped in black bunting.  And I want to tell Norway, that today I am Norwegian,  and I am with you.  You are not alone and we do remember our friends. 

God bless you. You'll get through this.  We always do. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Weekend Your Primary Care Physician Warned You About

So this weekend, I flew to Columbus to meet up with my brother Ross and continue on our epic quest to win a satin jacket from a bar by drinking 100 beers in one year.  The three brothers started this quest in January, which was designed to coincide with visits to visit our 2 year old niece who lives in Colum time, bus where my brother teaches at OSU.  However this time, the family is in China where Broxton has been doing research on lakes.  So, with our beer count at 37, Ross and I decided to fly out to Columbus, stay at a hotel nearby one of the bars, and get it down.  So lets get down to the numbers, shall we?

  • Number of miles traveled: 646 miles
  • Number of beers imbibed: 30 (actually 32 if you count the airport bar waiting for Ross to show up)
  • Number of sprained ankles: 1 (Ross thought he was Superman)
  • Current Beer Total: 67 
  • Numbers of Baconaters consumed: 1
  • Number of plush toys won in the claw game: 2
So I don't advise you to do this.  Drinking 30 beers doesn't seem like a lot, but these are not Miller Lites.  These beers are Belgian and English and have names like Tripel and Doublebock.  Drinking for two days straight and missing daylight, which while necessary to the task at hand, is not for the feint of heart.  And I will never be doing that again.  I can't even look at beer.

It's a good thing that I have a lovely family out there, because it gives us reasons to slow down and drink leisurely.  I'm flying out to Atlanta tomorrow for work.  I am going to sleep the Odin sleep tonight. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saturday Saturday Saturday!!!

So this Saturday found me at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for Monster Truck Jam.  I got these tickets through Goldstar which is like Groupon for events, shows and other stuff.  I am a large fan.  Anyway, when I saw they were available, I immediately snatched them up and sent an email to all my DC friends to the effect of "ZOMG! Monster Truck Fest!  Let's all go!" And you know what?  Not that many people in my friend circle are apparently into monster trucks. 

I did wrangle another couple to come with my gf and I and we had a great time.  I learned a lot.  Here are some highlights. 
  • There was a lot more diversity than I thought there was going to be.  I was expecting mullets and guinea T's, but it turns out that every race's kids apparently like watching giant trucks drive over things.  Except the asians.  Probably too busy studying...
  • Some people actually follow this stuff and individual drivers, which is kind of sad because while I understand that it can't be easy to drive a giant truck over a bus, I'm pretty sure it involves more luck than skill.  
  • Grave Digger is very big.  Last night, there were three Grave Diggers
    • Grave Digger (The original apparently)
    • Grave Digger Legend (Oddly not the original)
    • Son of a Digger (Not making this up.  Driven by the son of the guy driving Grave Digger) 
So that was a little strange because you figure there's a much better chance of one of them winning, since there's three of them. 

  •  Feld Entertainment, owners of Ringling Brothers, also runs this event around the country and....owns Grave Digger.  So I would imagine they have a lot more invested in one of the 45 Grave Diggers winning, to increase t-shirt sales
  • The drivers are all very, very thankful for the crowd, as they yell into the microphone over and over again.  One of them even called Baltimore a mini Las Vegas.  Which tells me that this guy hasn't been to either Vegas or Baltimore. If you Google Image Search for Baltimore here are the two cities.  Which one would you rather visit? 

So you can see the similarity.  All in all, it was a good time.  Loud and different.  Though the announcer, who was like the Mean Gene Okerlund of monster trucks, was a buffoon who kept telling people how excited they should be that we were going to be on Speed TV

My final thought is that when the trucks crash in spectacular fashion, everyone loves it, but before the crowd can get concerned for the driver, this truck with lights flashing comes out.   I thought it was a fire crew truck, but then some dude started shooting T-shirts out of the bed of it.  You would have thought they were UN Food Shipments in Haiti.  Mind Boggling. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I got a Groupon or Living Social deal for two months of Sunday delivery of the Washington Post.  And I love it.  Not probably enough to actually order it without a discount, but you never know.  As a sidebar, I think the fact that I can't remember whether it was a Groupon or a Living Social deal probably doesn't bode well for their branding. 

Anyway, it reminded me of college where on Sundays, we would go get brunch and all gather around the tables and someone would buy the Times (or more likely you'd find spare copies left) and we'd read and pass sections around.  They even had a guy playing on the piano.  Looking back on it, I'm reminded once again of how awesome college was.  I wonder if in the future the kids will all have their heads buried in their tablets, which is slightly depressing.  But maybe it's not. 

Sunday is the day of rest and I think its probably the only day that everyone, religious or not, listens to God.  It literally is a day where they shifted a whole meal period at least 4 hours later and added alcohol.  As an aside, I hate brunch.  I find it annoyingly filled with lots of people who have brown flip-flops on their feet and sunglasses on the back of their head.  Besides, I like eating breakfast at a diner stool for about $6.  The idea that people regularly pay three times that for basically the same food seems ridiculous. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I have now realized why a red-eye is a red-eye.  I slept probably for around 3 hours or so on the flight from San Francisco to Charlotte.  I'm going to be totally useless today.  Which is unfortunate as I have a training to give in 5 hours. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Treatment Excuse

So in the long amount of time that has passed since blog posts, there was a scandal that everyone knows about.  Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was busted texting and using social media to flirt with women all around the country.  Single mothers, blackjack dealers, college students, and apparently a 17 year old in Delaware. The bizarre thing is that the interactions all went the same way, from 5 mph to 88 mph.

Random Girl: Hey!! OMG You are the coolest rep ever.  Way to stick it to the Republicans!!!
Weiner: Thanks.  What are you doing?
RG: Hanging out.  About to make dinner
W: About to make dinner naked?

Everyone is outraged.  Liberals, conservatives.  And Weiner is taking a leave of absence and entering treatment.  This is what pisses me off.  I'm not exactly sure what treatment he's going to get, but I'm guessing some form of therapy.

I've been in therapy for most of my adult life.  Starting when I was a kid and my parents got divorced and put me into therapy I think to assuage their guilt that they might screw me up.  Didn't work, mostly because 50 minutes a week doesn't negate all the crap that your kids witness and get the rest of the week.  I've had good therapists and bad therapists, but the fact of the matter is that therapy is work and it takes time to identify patterns and histories and to work to change those you can and to accept those you can't.  And being self-aware can suck.  It results in much more thinking and processing and sometimes you just wish you could float through life.  Though I know that in the long run, its better to work through this all before it squeezes out later in life.

So with all that being said, Weiner knew what he was doing was wrong.  He could have sought therapy at any point in the last 3 years to talk about it with someone and identify why he was doing that, what it did for him and what he could do to try and change it.  Instead he got caught in a really bad way and is entering treatment, which could be meds or therapy.  But either way, it takes time.  It's taken me over a decade to get at issues that are much less acute than Weiner's, so he could be in "treatment" for awhile.  Or maybe he could be as lucky as Ted Haggard who went from gay to straight in 3 weeks.  Maybe I should see those people for 50 minutes a week. 

The fact is that therapy takes real work and dedication.  When celebrities or politicians get caught doing something untoward and then enter treatment, it tells people that you don't have to work on the problem before it explodes.  Which, to use a term not in the DSM-IV, is bullshit.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Given that this is Memorial Day, I'd like to take a little bit of time today to highlight the sacrifice of those we're supposed to be remembering.  There was an article in the now defunct Rocky Mountain Times from 2008 that won the Pulitzer.  It's called "Final Salute, written by Jim Sheeler, and details the story of a Marine Corps Casualty Assistance Officer.  This is the position that is the liaison between the deceased's family and the military.

Click here for the article. 

Here is the pulitzer prize winning photo set. 

I know nobody reads newspapers anymore, but articles like this think that maybe we should.

Have a happy and safe day, everybody.

Photo courtesy of Todd Heisler

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Capitol Limited: West Virginia

Greetings from Martinsville, West Virginia.  Of course, the town is actually rolling by me right now.  I'm sitting in a Sleeper car with my girlfriend Allyson and it's a little tight.  We're essentially in two seats facing each other with a big picture window and some hooks for clothing. It's called a Roomette, which you can tell by the suffix means its pretty small.  

The Lounge car is pretty cool.  It has panoramic seats.  We have 7 PM reservations in the dining car, which I'm looking forward to.  So far most of the passengers seem to be tourists from the UK and seniors.  I'll write more in a bit.  It's rude to type on the computer when you're 2 feet from another person who's looking right at you. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Best Week for Kids with Aspergers

I think the only person who might know what week this is would be my friend Nicole, who is a child psychologist who works with autistic kids.  It's National Transportation Week.  Even the President says so. So I have some transportation posts this week, and by week I mean Thursday through Sunday.  I've been playing LA Noire nonstop since I got it and it's essentially taken over my life. 

So most people know about Zipcar.  It's a car sharing program that allows you to basically borrow a car for an hourly fee to run errands to see people.  Zipcar takes care of the insurance and the gas.  They'll even pay you if you wash the car.  And they're parked all over the place.  Well, last fall DC got this concept for bikes.  It's called Capital Bikeshare and it has changed my life.

Allow me to be honest.  I think the last time I rode my bike was in high school.  I'm pretty sure I haven't ridden a bicycle since then.  As a New Yorker, you pretty much walk or take mass transit.  And as a cop and then a Masshole, I ended up driving most places.  But when these bright red bikes started appearing all over DC, and they had a yearly rate of $50 for a limited time, I jumped on it.  I thought, even if I don't ride it, I'll support it.
They give you this cool little RFID fob that you place inside a bike dock, which looks like this: 
And then you hear a little bike bell ring, the light turns green and you remove the bike from the dock.  The first 30 minutes are free.  And then it's $1.50 for the next 30 minutes and like $3 for the next 30 minutes, steadily increasing as the time goes on.  They tell you flat out that this is not meant for bike tours.  This system is designed to run down to the grocery store, or to ride 6 minutes to your girlfriend's apartment.  In my 8 months of using the system, I've gone over 30 minutes once.  Some people are compulsive about it and end up docking and undocking their bikes mid-journey to restart the clock, but I don't really mind giving to a good cause.  Besides, my out of shape ass can't tolerate more than 60 minutes on a bicycle.

My first time riding to work, I remember pedaling down this hill towards Dupont Circle and I had this huge grin on my face and I think I actually screamed out "Wheee" which I'm sure got some looks.  But it just brought me right back to that joy of speed that you reveled in as a child.

The system has become wildly popular, which has it's ups and downs.  On the upside, more people are biking which is good for the roads because it increases awareness and drivers get more accustomed to seeing bikes and sharing space.  It also proves that this concept works , which wasn't a foregone conclusion given the last experiment in the district. And the downside is that it can be harder to find a bike when you want one, especially because all the traffic flows south in the mornings to the government buidings and then north in the evenings to the residential areas.  Also, there's a bunch of rubes pedaling around without helmets on their cellphones, so they could use some socialization as well.

I think that Capital Bikeshare is a definite perk of living in DC and it has changed the way I look at traveling short distances, because biking is always more fun and always faster.  It's coming to Boston this summer, and I hope my former neighbors have as much fun with it as I do.  Shout out to all the hard working people at Alta who actually operate the system and fix and move the bikes.  They are like the unseen gnomes of this entire process.  Though I'm sure some of them are quite tall. 

Stay tuned for my next entry as I take my first long distance train ride in a sleeper car this weekend. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Eating cottage cheese makes me want to vomit.  I woke up too late to make eggs and so I'm trying to get down this stuff.  I can tolerate it, but it's not pleasant.  They should make some bib that goes from the bottom of your nose to the top of a dish or a container, to prevent you from looking at what you're eating.  Because cottage cheese looks like something you eject and not ingest.  It also looks like the beginning stage for all of those things you love, but don't want to know how it's made, like Cheese Doodles. 

This is still better than that greek plain fat-free yogurt.  I need to wash my mouth out now.  Excuse me.  .

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm on South Beach

Not in Miami, but in my kitchen 

I'm on the second week of the acclaimed South Beach Diet, which is a 3-phase test.  The first phase lasts two weeks and denies me:
  • Carbs
  • Fruit
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
This, I'll admit sounds terrible.  But when you're able to eat a bacon and cheese omelet in the morning, it's okay.  I will admit it's weird eating deli meats out of the container and not in a sandwich.  I feel like a kid in Lord of the Flies as ham falls off my chin.  Salads are my friend.  Especially when you can have chef's salads and buffalo chicken salads.  Feels wrong, but it is sooo right. 

And the drinking thing isn't too tough.  Except for this past Saturday when I attended a wedding.  Now at the risk of sounding like a member of a 12-step program,  let me say that weddings without booze aren't much fun.  Everyone is drinking, hell the toasts require a drink.  I relied on the old AA standby of club soda with a lime.  Looks like a gin and tonic, but in no way does it smell or taste like a gin and tonic. 

And to top it all off, my bathroom scale is broken.  Well, that's somewhat inaccurate.  It works, but it just gives about 2-3 different amounts for your weight when you step on it.  But I have stepped on the scale a week into the diet and averaged the results from both weeks and it looks like I'm losing weight, even though I don't feel like it. 

I will clear Phase 1 just in time for a trip to Chicago, so I can have pizza and a hot dog in a bun at Wrigley, so I don't look like some freak. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Clubs are like work....

So I promised to write about why I hate clubs and one of my few fans even said she was looking forward to it, so here gors.  I went to this club in AC called Mur Mur,  Yes, it's a dumb name.  I actually had to buy shoes to go in there because I was wearing sneakers.  I tried to explain that they were casual hiking boots, but that didn't fly with the woman with lots of cleavage.  So the group of guys and I went to the store at the Bellagio, where my old partner (who felt bad I had to buy shoes) bought me a pair of Calvin Klein slippers for $100.  Actually these shoes, which Zappos is selling for $98, so it's not as terrible a deal as I thought.  However I did end up looking like some sort of Italian jabroni.  For those not Italian or from Hawaii or the Pacific Northwest, the definition for that word is here. So I go into the club and there's a sign saying that men pay $25 and women pay $20.  I ask if it matters if I'm a pre-op tranny who may look like a woman but feels like a man.  This girl gives me a look like I went to her house, punched her mother in the stomach and told her Nonnie that she couldn't cook.  I paid the $25.

And now I'm in the club and there's lots of girls wearing not a lot of clothing.  And lots of guys with enough product in their hair to straighten Weird Al's hair.  And it's dark and loud and the fog machine is on overdrive. 

The guys I'm with wanted to get bottle service.  If you don't know what that is, because you're normal, it's when the club will sell you a bottle of liquor and allow you to sit at a table.  Let's say you like Grey Goose, and can buy the bottle for $40 at any store.  At a club, that bottle will run you $400, without tax and tip (which is mandatory 20%).  I should mention that they throw in the mixers for free, so they're practically giving it away.  The allureof bottle service is that you get to sit and look cool.  And many times girls will come over to drink your bottle and pretend to talk to you.  And you get to feel like a baller for one night before you go back to your job as an Asst Branch Manager for Enterprise or something.  The club wanted us to get 3 bottles which we declined. 

Things I don't like:
  • Douchebags
  • Expensive drinks
  • Noisy ass places
  • Cool, hip places
And I don't dance.  I dance the hell out of weddings, but I don't dance in the way that's supposed to attract the opposite sex.  Which is fine because I have a lovely girlfriend.  But I fully believe in dancing like no one is watching. And when drunk, I use moves like rubbing my nipples and biting the collar of my shirt.  Very hot, I assure you.

So I spent the night drinking $9 rum and diet cokes, and standing up against a wall with my arms folded and one foot propped agaist the wall, bent at the knee. Just like old times as a cop.  I look totally unapproachable, which is okay, because I'd have to yell at the top of my lungs to talk to anyone.  So I just sit there and marvel at the show, and how people can be having so much fun.

Fatburger at 5AM made up for it though......Faaattbuuuurgeeer (Said in affect of a zombie)  

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Vegas of the Mid-Atlantic

This Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Atlantic City, New Jersey for a good friend's bachelor party.  This was probably only my second time in AC where I actually spent any time there.  When I was in high school, I had a friend who lived in Ocean City, NJ and I'd travel down there on the bus.  The buses would leave from the bus terminal in NYC and cost about $20 and then they would give you $18 in chips or quarters for the slots.  So if you're not going to play in AC, its essentially a $2-3 bus ride.

So we stayed at the Bellagio which was pretty nice.  I don't gamble as a general rule, but I'll dabble in the slots.  Atlantic City is a pretty interesting place.  It's hey day was back in the early 1900's where there were tons of huge hotels on the boardwalk and the city was an actual destination place where families would come from Philly and New York to spend a few weeks to recuperate and soak in the sun and the water.  There wasn't legalized gambling back then.  If you've seen Boardwalk Empire on HBO, it's set in this period.

The city then saw tourism drop off, until casino gambling was legalized.  Of course now, it's under attack from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun for gamblers.  The actual city itself is pretty sad.  Apart from the casinos, the city is a pretty poor place. It still doesn't have a supermarket.  Seriously.  And I know that Vegas isn't all glitz either, but the transition in AC is so stark, it makes it depressing to go there.  Asides from some of the ugliest people you've ever seen. 

Coming up next....I'll talk about why I hate nightclubs so much.  Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

We Had to Defrost this Revenge on Setting 2

Good Evening.  I'm sitting in my hotel in Burlington, VT listening to Styx streaming on my computer and I have promised to be better at blogging, so I thought I'd knock out a post before I turned in.

As everyone knows, Osama Bin Laden was killed last night.  And I, like many Americans, was happy to hear that he's not on this earth anymore.  I think being a born and raised New Yorker and working for the NYPD on September 11th, his death was extra sweet.  I harbor no illusions that this means we've turned the corner on the war on terror.  I think we are still very much at risk and have spent huge amounts of money on security theater to prevent what really is unpreventable.  We should have been spending more time planning for what happens after something does happen, but that's not as sexy as toys.  I mean, look at this thing.  It's called a Bear.  It's fricken cool looking.  Who wouldn't want that over a paper plan?  I get it.

So I am glad he is dead.  It was odd how many students gathered in front of the White House last night to chant U-S-A.  Given that they were probably 8 when the Towers fell, it's been most of their lives that we've been looking for this guy.  So maybe this feels to them like how it felt for me when the Berlin Wall fell.  But even I understood in 89 (I was 13) that this was a game changer and things like communism don't end every day.

I lost some colleagues in the Towers.  None from my precinct, thank God, but a couple of guys from ESU Truck 2, which was located about 6 blocks from us.  So I used to see them around for jobs a fair amount.  I have however lost 2 men I worked closely with in the almost 10 years following the attack due to illnesses sustained while down there.  There were 23 MOS (Members of the Service) from the NYPD killed on 9/11/01.  There have been 29 killed since due to illness or disease.  Their badges are displayed at the top of the post.  Breathing the air we all breathed down there.  And the Republicans didn't want to fund the health fund.  And now, they have to make sure that you're not on the terrorist watch list before they give you benefits?  Seriously?   I get madder than Anthony Weiner about this stuff.  I personally think that only members of the NY/NJ/CT delegations should be able to vote on any 9/11 related bills.  What does Cliff Stearns know about what those men and women did?  Nada.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things I Hate Edition: Number 312

This, dear readers, is the 4 door Wrangler.  It was introduced in 2007 and already makes up 60% of all Wranglers.  The Wrangler as many of you know is the vehicle of the young and male and white.  Or female lacrosse players, my empirical evidence shows.  My Dad had one in 1994, that I used to drive.  It was a stick shift that was loud and got terrible gas mileage.  But you could take the top off and drive up and down the main drag until someone noticed you.  Usually it was my Dad who noticed that I was wasting gas. 

For years, seeing a Wrangler in your rear-view mirror meant you should pull over.  Not because the vehicle demanded respect, but because the driver was clearly an 18 year old hopped up on Mountain Dew and Accutane and would probably ram into the back of you and not even notice. 

There are two rules with the Wrangler: 
  1. You need to get a stick shift.  Period.  It's a Jeep, descendant from the original workhorse of World War 2.  If you need an automatic, you should get a crossover with blue tooth built in.  The jeep is meant to go off the road, even if you never let it.  And automatics don't do serious four wheeling.
  2. Never get a four door Jeep.  Listen, if you're getting a 4 door Jeep it's for a couple of reasons.  You either have a bunch of friends, or you have a family.  If you have a bunch of friends, tell them to pile their fat asses in the back.  If you were a real Jeep owner, you'd have the top down and they'd be climbing over the tire anyway.  
If you own a family, you need to give it up man.  Yes, you had a Jeep in high school/college/the military, but now you're older and fatter.  And you can't recapture that youth.  Not by buying a vehicle you once had and putting a car seat in the back.  You are a sellout.  If you want a Jeep, have two cars.  The minivan/station wagon that you need to carry around your snowflake, and the Jeep that gets muddy and has knobby tires.  But stop disgracing a vehicle with a proud long history of utility and power. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sex can be scary for 5th graders

Found this on Fark.  This is from a Chicago Tribune photographer, Chuck Berman, at a 5th grade sex ed class in Illinois.   I just love the kid on the right.  God knows what photo they're showing.  The girl behind him looks like he's going to puke.  I'll run a caption contest in the comments. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Hate Times Square

I am a New Yorker.  I was born there 34 years ago and lived there for 27 years, with a 4 year stint about two hours north of it for college.  I love New York City so very much.  I like to say that if you live in New York City, you always live with another person, and that's New York City.  A living and breathing thing. 

Having said that, I hate Times Square.  I was in a cab that took me through Times Square and it reminded me of how much I missed the old New York. 

Some history for people, Times Square was originally named Longacre Square until the New York Times moved their headquarters there to 1 Times Square, which is the building they drop the ball from every year.  They are no longer in that building.  They actually moved out of it 10 years after they moved in..  The area was very popular in the 1900's, and fell into decline around the 60's and through the 80's.  In the early 90's the state took control of some of the historical theaters and a group of corporations and the city turned the tide between 1995 and 2000.  The Disney Store opened and that was when you knew the Square was different. 

I hate Times Square for two reasons.  The first is that I froze my ass off there as a cop for 4 years, surrounded by morons from out of town who were confused why there were so many people there.  I had some girl in 2000 tell me she needed to meet her friends about 10 blocks away but there were people in the way.  I was like "Lady, it's the millenium.  You should have thought ahead."  And it took forever to warm up and 30 seconds to get cold again. 

But the real reason I hate Times Square is because it's not part of New York City.  It's full of tourists all surrounded by dazzling lights of chains that they have 10 miles from their homes.  I took some photos in the cab. 

These are what I'm sure are the flagship locations for these middling restaurant chains.  I totally understand why tourists eat here.  The city can be so confusing and loud and there are so many choices, that you end up choosing something familiar.

But that's not why you come to New York City.  You come here to marvel at it being the city that never sleeps. And that doesn't mean Times Square where you tourists choose not to sleep.  A place where you can get anything you want anytime day or night.  A place that's different.  This is not different.  I saw a line at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.  Are you fucking kidding me?  Do the people going there even remember the movie that title comes from?

Times Square used to be seedy and dangerous.  With hookers and porno theaters.  It wasn't really dangerous, but it kept the tourists away.  Times Square was a rude awakening for people arriving to the city for the first time.  And it should be.  The city should give you a gut punch, almost as if to say, "You sure you're ready for this?" So that when you do make it, you feel an accomplishment.  You can call yourself a New Yorker.  Navigating Times Square is no more exciting or dangerous than walking from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom now and it's sad.  But the saddest thing is that those people who marvel at it, don't even know how special it used to be. Here's a video. of how it used to look before it got "cleaned up"