Friday, March 30, 2007

Quickie - More than meets the eye!

All right, I'm torn. On the one hand, part of me thinks that these guys are complete losers (click twice to view video):



But then the other part of me - the one that made my own Optimus Prime Halloween costume in 5th grade that allowed me to transform into a semi-truck cab just like the real Optimus Prime - thinks it is the coolest thing ever.

The more I watch it, the more I think the "that's cool" part of me is winning. I so want one of these now...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stories from the airport

After spending almost three whole days in LA I can now conclusively state the following:
  • They don't have nearly as many earthquakes as they want us to believe. I didn't feel one the whole time I was there.
  • Downtown LA is the most uninteresting place on earth
  • The Wilshire Grand hotel is a toss-up. The restaurants are really good but the rooms are kinda "shabby-chic" - only without the "chic" part.

Normally, when I travel for work, half the fun is the show itself and half is getting to explore a new or interesting city. Even when I went to Baltimore, I had a tone of fun exploring old ships in the harbor and visiting Poe's grave. But downtown LA is a different animal. It's like the boring old uncle who gets up every morning and goes to work in some sort of office lit by harsh fluorescent lighting where he peruses actuarial tables all day or does data entry. He has pretty much given up on ever being as flashy as his cool neighbors. He's not depressed about it, I mean his life is nowhere near as depressing as Sad Kermit. But he's just given up ever being interesting himself.

The same is true of downtown LA. Honestly, I never left the hotel while I was there. This was partially due to the fact that there wasn't much to do outside of the hotel and partially to the fact I was trying to stay relatively close to central time in light of the fact I had to get up at 3:00 am this morning for my flight back to Chicago. Needless to say, this is time #127 that I wished I could sleep on planes. Weirder still was that while I expected LAX to be dead at 4:00 am, it was actually bustling with activity - seriously, the line for check-in was out the door by the time I arrived.

I presumed that it was just because of a lot of early-morning flights, but no, it turns out that American had yet to turn on the self-service check-in kiosks. Apparently, even though they scheduled the flights to leave at 6:00 am, the sudden arrival of 300+ people toting luggage and expecting boarding passes took them *completely* by surprise. And, of course, none of the people in line in front of me knew how to operate one*. Not to mention that once I was done there, I then had to walk all the way to the far side of the check-in area to drop off my checked luggage, and then turn around and walk all the way to the *other* side of the building to go through security. And the GF wonders why I always want to get to the airport more than two hours before departure time.

Of course, by the time I got to the gate, it was boarding about half-full of high schoolers on their way to Chicago for a choir competition. Mercifully, they were all remarkably well-behaved and seated well to the rear of the aircraft, where (I assume) they sat quietly and practiced their scales or read Joyce because they were forced to turn off their cell phones and had no other way of communicating with each other.

It's good to be home.

* Including one guy who kept trying to swipe his drivers license, and an older couple who stood in front of the terminal, apparently afraid to touch it for fear it would eat them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's like my own personal episode of "How That's Made"!

Yesterday I had to fly out to Los Angeles for work. Today I get to go wander around the floor of a trade show for the entire day*. Then, tomorrow, I get to take a tour of the factory where they make F/A-18 fighter jets for the Navy. I cannot tell you *how* excited I am for that! I mean, sure, I need to sit through a half-day of lectures on "The Machining of Composite Materials" before I get to go, but that's a small price to pay.

The information that the show sent out about the tour indicated that in order to get in I need to be a citizen and bring "necessary documents to prove U.S. citizenship". But yesterday I had forgot to bring my passport, so I called the information number of the association running the show to ask what exactly they meant by "proof". The woman told me that I could use my driver's license, but I was skeptical. I mean, I *know* that a driver's license only proves residency - not that I'm an expert, but I remember when I got my passport that my driver's license did not count as proof of citizenship**.

So I left work a little early to drive home and grab my passport. Sure, it's probably overkill, but on the off chance that I'm right - I might be the only person who's able to go to on the tour! I've already imagining getting to go on a test flight of one of the freshly-baked fighter jets***!

Of course, I was taking a little bit of a risk that traffic would be bad on the way out to O'Hare and I'd miss my flight. But true to form, all the flights from O'Hare to LAX were delayed by 2 hours, so not only did I have plenty of time to get to my flight, but I also had plenty of time to walk all the way to the end of three legs of the terminal, as the flight was bounced from Gate H9, to K18, to L8. Sheesh...

At least I got a nice walk in before I left.

* Anyone want to take bets on the over/under for the number booth babes I encounter?
** Hence why I had to send in my birth certificate.
*** ZOOOOMMM!!!!! Wheeee!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Plus, the cover is reflective so I can use it to check for stuff in my teeth!

After almost four years of devoted service, my trusty cell phone finally succumbed to old age this last week. He’d been a good phone, but lately had started refusing to pass along what people were saying. I’d be able to talk just fine but the person on the other end would remain completely silent, not unlike those commercials running these days where the call is dropped, leading to uncomfortable social situations. Only the calls aren’t dropped, I just sound like I’m deaf because I’m always yelling “WHAT?!? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!”.

When it comes to cell phones, my needs are very simple. I use them to make calls and send a text message now and again. But I don’t download music, I don’t surf the web, and I definitely don’t check my email on them. All I want is a phone with a metal housing* that is a flip-phone style** - and I want it to be small so that it will fit easily in a pocket. Oh, and I really didn’t want a RAZR – everybody has one of those these days and I feel like I’d just be a poseur if I got one this late in their run.

I went to a couple different stores before settling for one where the GF bought her phone a while back. She had a good experience there, and recommended it. As it turns out, their selection was pretty good, and I had it narrowed down to two models. At that point I waited for the sales guy, who was busy with another customer.

Therein lay the problem. The guy buying the phone was apparently battling buyer’s remorse even before the purchase was complete. Every minute or two he’d just start talking about how this new phone he was getting was going to “help him be more productive at work” and “maybe he could get his accounting department to pay for part of it” because “I use my phone a lot for work” and “This phone is really going to be great – even with the extra $30 a month for the data service”. Needless to say, it took almost forty-five minutes for him finish getting his phone set up.

But once that was done it took only about 10 minutes to get my new phone set up. I have a shiny new phone that has a much better camera in it than my old one, which means way better photo blogging! Plus I feel good knowing that my old phone was going to be refurbished and donated to a charity that gives free phones to low-income women who are victims of domestic violence (the phones are set up to call 911 for free but have no charges for service fees).

And sure my new phone looks like a RAZR, but it’s actually a KRZR, so I don’t look like a complete poseur…just…kinda like a complete poseur. But I shrug that off because it was the only phone they had that wasn't made out of plastic. I'll take looking poseur-ish if it means I don't break my phone multiple times during the year.

* I occasionally suffer from bouts of the “dropsies”.
** I had a “candy bar” style once and found it so annoying to have to lock and unlock the keyboard to prevent accidentally dialing Hong Kong when it was in my pocket.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I am a media king/queenmaker!

For a few years now I have been developing a theory that the best way for someone to become famous is to become my friend. I have this weird tendency for people I know to be famous writers, artists, actors, or other media darlings. For instance we all know about my friend the novelist, my friend and his trivia show, my friend the playwright, my friend the journalist, the GF*, and my friend the Arby's fishnet girl. [EDIT: *and* my friend the traffic reporter/sidekick on the 100.3 FM morning show in Chicago]

Well over lunch yesterday I found I have another one. Sitting in the restaurant eating my pad thai I looked up to see another old friend of mine on the television! It turns out that I went to high school with Mary Jo Mitchell who is now a sports reporter for CNN Headline News.

And on top of that, a guy that I used to work with at my job is now a fantasy sports reporter for Yahoo sports. This of course, is the same guy I whomped in my fantasy football league. Go figure.

* She's an award-winning screenwriter and former child star.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Think your boss is bad?

Back when I was in high school and college* I was a huge theater geek. I was an actor, I did set design/light design, I helped with props and costumes, I stage managed...but what I really did was direct. Directing a theater production is incredibly difficult because it is really hard to communicate your ideas correctly without seeming hyper-critical or obsessed with minutae.

During the three years of undergrad when I was doing theater** I either directed or assistant directed about 11 shows and a bunch of other smaller scene-stuff. During this time, I pretty much learned that I wasn't really a terribly good director. Mostly because I didn't have enough time to put in the work it needed but also because I lacked the serious training in how to do it.

But when I saw this "behind the scenes" footage of David O. Russell directing Lilly Tomlin in I Heart Huckabees, I felt a lot better about myself. I may have not been the best, but I never yelled at people like that. Maybe there's hope for my movie career yet!

Next stop...Hollywood!

* But not so much in grad school. For some reason business schools don't really provide a lot of support for extra-curriculars except those involving fund-raising.
** No directing freshman year, in fact I basically took off the whole year from theater.

Quickie - Because it's been a while since I used the "underwear" tag

The weird thing is that it was absolutely correct. It's kind of scary when the computers* know us better than we know ourselves.

The Underwear Quiz from JokesUnlimited.comAccording to The Underwear Quiz I am currently wearing :

Boxers

Take the Underwear Quiz at JokesUnlimited.com

* And web quizzes in particular

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quickie - Good thing they wear the sashes!

I know that everyone in a beauty pagent pretty much all look alike, but is it just me, or are they now becoming clones of each other? Take, for example, Ms Arizona and Ms. Arkansas - both of whom are competing in the Miss USA pagent:
Honestly, with the small exception for Ms. Arkansas' slightly more poofy hair - I'd never be able to differentiate them on the street.
Because obviously, they would both be wearing this particular outfit if I walked past them on Michigan Avenue. I mean, what else do pagent-women wear if not bikinis? And I bet they sleep in heels...

Monday, March 19, 2007

They don't have nearly enough realistic hair options though.

Because everyone else is doing it* I decided to try my hand at making a Meez over lunch today. Here I am, captured in my natural habitat, reading a book while waiting for the el. Notice how I keep looking up every second or so in order to see if the train is coming? That's sooo true-to-life. I lack all patience when traveling.

Honestly, I still think my Mii on the Wii is a more accurate represenation, but that might be because I've grown attached to my Mii after all our boxing bouts, bowling matches, and beating the GF in tennis.



The really odd thing is that I have this *exact* outfit in my wardrobe. In fact I wore it out to St. Patricks day fetes this weekend. But more on that later when I get home from work.

* Sophist, TOWWAS, J.Bro

Thursday, March 15, 2007

This is why I don't live in Lincoln Park

Today being day 1 of March madness, I'm playing host to my buddy T.Ma for the weekend. He arrived this afternoon and we headed down to pick up some lunch and watch the first round. Frankly, it wasn't all that interesting. The games went according to plan, for the most part, and therefore my bracket was shot all to heck by about 2:00 this afternoon.

I have mixed feelings about March Madness, honestly. On the one hand, I like having T.Ma come into town every year and getting to hang out like we did when I was in Cleveland. And I even like watching college basketball for an intermediate amount of time. But there are two problems: first, there is so *much* friggin basketball! I mean it never ends! At all times of the day there are like 3-4 games going on at once. I'm usually able to handle the first 7-9 hours okay, but I simply cannot bear to watch the 9:00 games. I just check out and start peoplewatching.

On that note, the other thing I hate about March Madness is how you always have to go out to the bars to watch it properly. It's nearly impossible to watch more than one game at a time anywhere *but* a sports bar. And sports bars become gathering places for the frat-boy bohunks this time of year in particular. At which point I get to enjoy overhearing them use the word "fuck" and all it's derivatives as though they were 12 and had just discovered how to use it corectly. Or, as tonight, I get to hear them treat their girlfriends like crap - like the group that arrived after the Ohio state game who proceeded to order beer and try to do so for the group of 4-5 women who had arrived with them by asking "Hey, someone ask the snatches what they want to drink!". I kept waiting for one of said "Snatches" to start beating them with a billy club* but none was forthcoming. That's when I remembered that I wasn't at OAM anymore. And I sort of missed it.

(Sigh). Only another three days to go...

* Or taser them, either would have been fine, really.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm sooo glad I have healthy teeth!

Admittedly, things have been kinda quiet around these parts for the past week or so. With the prep work for my presentation this week, to digging my way out of the mountain of catch-up reading and non-presentation-related work that I'd been putting off the the past few weeks - it's left little time for blogging.

One of the more unpleasant things about my job is one of the trade magazines I have to read - a dental products publication. In this magazine I'm treated each month to the sort of images only a dental professional should be exposed to. Broken teeth, teeth ground down to little nubs to prep them for veneers, horrible images of gum disease, you name it. Not an issue goes by where I don't flip a page only to stumble on some truly frightening and disgusting image that makes me want to floss once every hour.

But I keep reading, because in addition to disturbing mandibular machinations, there are also interesting dental products that I (as a non-dental professional) find extremely amusing. Sure, there are dozens of ads for various "whitening" products. But the great ones are like these:

First, I present the "Clentchstrap". It's designed, not as an implement of torture* but as a tool to train your teeth to prevent Bruxism while you sleep. Bruxism, for those of you who are not dentists, is the technical term for grinding your teeth. The strap attaches to the lower jaw, and the other end is then attached to an elastic band that is strapped around your chest.

Looks completely comfortable, no? I don't know why anyone would feel uncomfortable wearing a tight strap around your lungs. Isn't this why women don't sleep in bras?

The other great one that I saw today was the "Optra Gate Junior. If you were a dentist, I'd imagine the sales pitch woudl go something like this: "Like working with kids and charging obscene amounts for orthodonture, but hate their lips? Try the new "Baby Skeletor"!

Is it just me, or does this kid look *waaaaayyyy* too happy considering that the dentist has made his lips disappear completely? Maybe he's just thinking how cool he must look now that he looks like a baby Predator:



Either way, I think I'll keep reading.


* Despite looking exactly like something straight out of Abu Gahraib.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Just think how much crap a thief could steal in two weeks...

One of the bright spots to every spring for me is the annual "line up in the electronic queue to buy Cubs tickets" day. This year, that day fell on the 23rd of February. Naturally, I'm *still* sitting at #30125 on the season ticket list*. Since I was crazy busy with work that day, I didn't get to log in until the afternoon, but I was still able to buy ticket for myself, as well as some for friends, and some to be used as silent auction items for the theater company's benefit later this year.

Needless to say this ends up totalling up to an unusual looking statement. So, every year the credit card company calls me in a panic, concerned that somehow my card has been stolen and is being used by some hoodlum to buy tickets to some unnamed event in order to re-sell them on ebay for money to spend on meth. True to form, even though I switched to a new card this year** and two days later, they called me to verify. That process all went fine. I cleared everything and there were no problems.

But today, I received two letters from them (dated February 28th, btw) warning me that there had been "unusual activity" on my account. Obviously, security means so much to citibank that, if they can't call you - they obviously are okay with sending a letter (or two) through the Chicago Post office, which pretty much guarantees that it'll take another two weeks to get there.

At least if my experience is representative, that is.


* Apparently, *none* of the current season ticketholders failed to renew. Sheesh this is gonna take a while...
** Now I get frequent flyer miles - woot!

Monday, March 12, 2007

New York Story

I completely forgot to share a funny anecdote from the NYC trip. The GF and I met up with her friend (who was our Ecuadorian Tour Guide when we were down there) and my friend who has the awesome New York Show Saturday afternoon. We decided to walk around Central Park a little. It was a nice enough day and lots of people were out enjoying the warm weather*. As we were walking, I overheard a group of about 4-5 kids who looked to be in their mid- to late-teens walking behind us. Their conversation went something like this:
Girl #1: You know what I just learned? When you have the letters "L" and "K" next to each other in a word, you don't pronounce both of them - you just say the "K". So words like "folk" aren't pronounced "fowlk" it's just "foke". Isn't that weird?

Guy #1: Oh yeah, I just figured that out too.

Now, my theory was that the guy was just saying that in order to get with the girl. You know, playing the whole "sympathy will lead to 'he's-the-only-one-who-understands-me' sex" thing**. Either that, or they were a bunch of kids from Europe on vacation.

Either way. I pretty much laughed about it for the next three minutes.

* Before it vanished suddenly around 2:30 that afternoon.
** Let me tell you kid. It doesn't work.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sniffle, cough, sneeze...

I woke up this morning to find that the only clock in the house that actually knew what time it was was the clock on my MacBook. Even my cell phone (which usually gets its time from the network) is still showing the pre-daylight savings time*. My PC finally switched over an hour or so ago, but sheesh. Now I'm going to have to start wearing my watch again. I've pretty much switched over to using my cell phone as a watch on the weekends.

Both the GF and I have been sick all weekend - exactly the same symptoms, at exactly the same time. I'm not sure where we picked it up**, and I'm still not sure what exactly we have - but I ruled out Bird Flu, West Nile, and whatever that monkey-disease was that was in Outbreak. It's probably just a cold, but it's enough of a cold that I spent most of the day yesterday just laying around the house, napping, and taking so much Airborne that the GF is now convinced I have some sort of problem and is probably planning some sort of intervention.

* Damn you Cingular/AT&T Wireless/whatever the heck you're calling yourself these days!

** Possibly from NYC, possibly from her boss, who has small children and who was sick the week before we left.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Quickie - For the love of God, don't drink and fill out the birth certificate!

You know those crazy Hollywood parents who go around naming their kids ridiculous names like Apple, Kal-El, Suri, Moxi Crimefighter, Audio Science, and (my personal fave) Pilot Inspektor?

Well the trend finally seems to be making it's way down the fame ladder to America's regular moron-on-the-streets...ladies and gentlemen, I present:

Urhines Kendall Icy Eight Special K!!!!!!!!!!!

Good luck hauling *that* name around in Junior High...

I need a vacation from my vacation...

Well, the trip to NYC was amazingly fun, but could best be described as “whirlwind”. Both the GF and I had 3-5 friends (each) that we wanted to meet up with. And, naturally, by this point, we know enough of each other’s friends that we look forward to meeting the other’s friends too – so it makes it hard to split up. But between all the running around meeting up with folks for drinks and/or dinner we managed to walk around two areas of the city I’d never visited before (Harlem and Prospect Park), get really drunk at McSorley’s*, wander through neat little neighborhoods, and enjoy some really good food.

And then apparently the GF and I were on a plane full of plague, because we’ve both got colds now. So much for my belief that airborne made me immune from all disease. Then when we got back in the car to head home, I was startled by a scary-sounding squeal emanating from under my hood. I dropped the GF off at work before heading over to my new mechanic** who fixed it with a pair of new clamps for my first car repair under $100 in years.

Since then (Tuesday) I’ve been swept up in a work-craziness storm prepping for a big presentation yesterday. It went well, but now there’s all the catching up to do on all the stuff I’ve been putting off for weeks. Not to mention all the blogging I’ve missed. But now things should settle down for a while so I should be back in the saddle again.

* Where I apparently regaled the table with a stirring rendition of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” after losing a bet and drunk-dialed my friend A.Yo’s new guy to tell him how great she is.
** Thanks Car Talk website! No more over-inflated auto dealer repair bills, yay!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Quickie - Mad scramble to the end...then vacation!

After two weeks of crazy-busy work stuff I finally get a little break tomorrow when the GF and I will be winging our way to New York City on American Airlines $98 round-trip tickets*. It'll be a long weekend full of visiting friends on both sides. In fact, it might be so busy that I don't get a chance to go see a show while I'm in NYC for the first time ever. Weird.

So the bad news has been there hasn't been much to blog about in my life this week - too much work (which I don't blog about) and too little playtime. But I'm bringing the laptop along to New York, so maybe I'll get to blog about adventures while we're there! Yay!

In the meantime, go check out the video of Glenn Beck's sexual harassment theater! She was on his show to comment about some American Idol "scandal" that I'm unfamiliar with. But his comment made *me* feel uncomfortable. And that's saying something...

* Man, I love Jet Blue...even if I've never flown them.