General Blog
Corporate 5K - it begins! PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 12 March 2014 07:03

I like trains, but not training. Big difference!

We've got that corporate 5k coming up and that means jogging so I don't totally humiliate myself. This time, the wife is coming (for the walk). Me, I'm jogging again. Hopefully, with better shoes and stretching exercises, I won't suffer a repeat of last year (cramps, pulled muscles, a month of pain and a slow jog in the event (but, dammit, I made it)).

So now, Tuesday and Thursday noontime, my work friend Manjula and I are training together (Omar, he's somewhere back there someplace). We'll jog around the neighborhood behind the building, just trying to get to the point where we can do the three miles without stopping.

Yesterday was pretty nice - sunny and hot but good for jogging. Manjula had her iPod with Indian beat music, which was better to listen to than my "wheeze-wheeze-wheeze" soundtrack. It was actually a nice time (and it made me reflect on where life takes us sometimes), jogging with my Indian co-trainer with Bollywood music blasting from her pocket, figuring that with the bike riding I'd get three showers that day.

More to come as we continue our efforts to run this fractional marathon.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 07:13
The new car PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 01 March 2014 20:23

I'm out of Orlando, driving over to Palm Bay for a fun model railroad ops session. Nobody else could go - the invite list is tight and my buddy has a cold and backed out. So it's just me. And that's fine.

I'm finally getting a chance to get my new Mini Cooper out of the city, to let it loose on the wide open road. I've got the windows down, the sunroof open, and its a balmy 74 degrees. The sun's just overhead, so sliding the shade forward screens me. The car's flying along at 80+mph, sipping gas in the upper 30's range, and the ride is solid. I've got Heavy Metal on the CD, all the asshole FUV riders stayed at home, so it's just brilliant.

Yes, this is my new car.

I love this mini. It gets 10mph better mileage than my old beetle (how could Volkswagen not pursue a greener path with their later bugs, given their client base?). This car is polished and waxed and just slides through the air. When I need to, I can boost around slower traffic easily enough. And I'm comfortable with all the controls in reach.

Yeah, I love this car.

Of course, on the trip back, I picked up a couple of bugs (not the VW kind, but the squishy kind) on the front end, so I'll be washing her tomorrow. But still, fun.


Disnificartion PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 19 February 2014 09:08

I’m getting rid of my little yellow bug.

I loved that car. Got it back in 2000, back when they were new and different. When we drove up through Georgia, people came out of the service station to gawk at it. I was the coolest uncle ever. On the road it handled well, and after all these years the controls feel as comfortable to me as the hilt of a samurai’s sword. My fingers know where everything is. No fumbling. Second nature.

But over the recent years the relationship soured. There was the fact that even though that car spends 99% of the time in the shade (carport or parking garage) the plastic interior broke down, turning as sticky as Barton Fink’s hotel wallpaper and pulling free in chunks. And the falling headliner. And then this year, a massive number of repairs (including a dealership who put me on the side of the road three times, once with a car fire).

And then there is the green angle. Since 2000, this entire climate change thing has picked up speed. Regardless of me liking this car or not, it only gets 27mpg (in freefall, I think) and I need to do better. So I’ve looked around and think I found what I want. Details to follow.

The interesting thing is my feelings for this thing of metal. I’m actually feeling the same way one does with an ailing pet. I’m not riding the bike in this week – I want to spend as much time as possible in my punch buggy. My feelings range from melancholy to guilt. And this is for a car, a thing of metal.

Funny thing is that I talked to my southern truck-owner friend who replaced his truck with an even bigger truck a few years back (no comment). He’s a blunt fellow, as level and solid as a plank, and even he said that he felt that way when he sold the old one. I’ve only had three cars in my life and each one I part with in sorrow.

Then again, I think the new car will be even better. So I’ll even freak out more when it goes to that great dealer lot in the sky.


(P.S. Talked to my best buddy Jesse last night and mentioned this. He's had a lot more cars then I have had, he's got an MBA and is a logical fellow. And even he gets a little choked by these things). 

Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 22:01
Rhine - Day Twelve - Homeward Bound and Travel Thoughts PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 07 October 2013 18:14

I think it was the dread of traveling again via air that kept me awake most the night. After all, I’m dealing with all the crap, along with a wife with a broken wing. In preparation, we repacked everything down and condensed it into our two checkins and one carry bag. One very heavy carry bag. And I’m the bag who carries it.

The driver was on time – thank goodness – but dropped us at the wrong terminal. Yes, we were flying UNITED AIRLINES but it was actually Lufthansa. This mean a good hike to our checkin gate. I found a cart so we could move the bags quicker, had JB tuck into my back (protecting her arm) and off we went. Got the tickets okay, then the guy at the counter pulled a fast one – he moved our flight up from 11am to 7:10am, now boarding. We should be able to make it. Sharp kid.

Security was light, we moved quickly, we walked the treadways, and made the gate just at final boarding. Whew. I mother-henned JB all the way to Frankfurt (giving the guy next to her the evil eye – nudge my wife and I’ll keeel you). But no stress, and the Indians say – we got onto Frankfurt with hours to spare, got through customs, and did a little final shopping for the folks back home.

The final flight was pretty easy (as transatlantic flights with a broken arm can be). We lucked out – on a packed flight, the seat next to JB was empty. She could rest her arm on pillows and sleep. Got home on time, the limo was there, we were in the door as expected.

The cat lingered around the corner of the door frame, watching, clearly thinking, “Who the F…?”



Overall, we had a pretty fun trip. The cruise with Avalon was everything we could have imagined it to be. Wonderful food, wonderful friends, great sights, and our own little room every night. Perfect.

Corporations I’m pissed off:

UNITED AIRLINES: Couldn’t find their asses with both hands. Four chances to get us to Zurich and they blew the lot of them. I finally got one of their help desk people to write me, and after two tries and the picture of their mismarked tram sign, they finally agreed to forward it to the group that manages the Newark Concourse. It’s not that I’m simply unhappy – I’m a lifetime enemy now.

TRAVEL INSURED INTL: If this wasn’t a corporation, if it was a person, I would call them out on the street and beat them. What were you thinking, quibbling and ducking like you did while my wife suffered a broken arm 4000 miles from home? I’ve let my travel agent know exactly what you did, everyone on the cruise knows what you did, and I’ll pass it along (by word and blog) until I die.

AVALON CRUISE LINES: Okay, I’m pissed with your lack of contingency planning – nobody knew what to do for an on-board injury. We wasted a lot of time trying to work a trip home through you, wasted time that could have been spent better. On the other hand, Cruise Director Ninki showed up at our room to check on JB. While this might have been corporate damage control, I’m thankful enough for her compassion to give you a break on this one. We’ll probably book with you in future. Just get the laundry up out of the halls, okay?

GO TRAVEL: Lucienne set us up for our vacation, booklets, travel books, advice, everything. She got us on our ship for our anniversary when all other means were closed. She’s a dynamite lady and I’m grateful for her in her following up with the insurance trolls.

So, fellow travelers – some advice:

1)      Use travel agencies. They can really do a lot of that self-service work for you, and can get you ins that the internet can’t.

2)      If flying overseas, always make your transatlantic flight first, then short-hop it to your final destination. Why? If you miss a connection, there are more alternatives for that short hop (even trains). When we missed our Zurich flight, we had to wait 20 hours for the next.

3)      When coming home, always make your transatlantic flight last. American Security is an officious impediment, and you will have trouble making connections and going through customs, security, and so on. Last time, when we came through Charlotte, we went through five levels of customs/security/anal probes, just to get dumped outside the security perimeter and have to come back through.

4)      If anything happens, an injury or sickness, DON’T try to work it through the carrier or insurance. Just get your loved one home. Call the airline, get that seat, get them flying. Corporations have a vested interest in screwing you. I experienced this first hand.

5)      Don’t fly UNITED AIRLINES.

6)      Don’t insure throughTRAVEL INSURED INTL.

And that’s it! JB has had surgery and had a screw installed in her left shoulderblade. She’s in mild pain but healing rapidly. We see the doctor again on Tuesday. Currently, we are thinking of another Amsterdam trip (to catch up on what we missed), and looking towards 2014/15 or so for that.

Thanks for coming on our trip with us. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.



Last Updated on Saturday, 27 December 2014 09:29

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