Friday, January 30, 2009

Examiner: Michael Steele elected RNC Chairman

Georgia Congressional Oversight Examiner: Michael Steele elected RNC Chairman

Two years later than when it should have happened, but better late than never, I guess.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Able Cable

As I'm going through my taxes and trying to plan for the future, I'm also trying to determine again how best to leverage my time outside of work and school in an effective manner.

More and more, I've been spending lot sof time on the computer, whether it's for poker (which is less than before, but come May will go back up) or for several of the web pages I've begun writing for. After graduation, I'll also be hoping to do some independent work for programming or development for other folks - every penny counts.

Here is Georgia, the only option is generally AT & T, but should I make the move back to New York then one of the possibilities might be Time Warner Internet Service. Between writing, poker, and any other consulting/development work, I might have a big need for fast, reliable service. Time Warner high speed internet is pretty prevalent in the parts of New York I would consider moving back to, especially if I'm able to bundle everything together and achieve some sort of measurable savings - not just Time Warner internet, but also cable service, VoIP, and on-demand services.

It might be worth it - especially if I'm stuck paying a few thousand a month for an apartment.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And I'll kick your ass when I'm done, too

How Many 90 Year Olds Could You Take in a Fight?

Now get off my lawn.

Easing Off

It's become obvious I need to cut back on some things in order to retain my sanity over the next couple of months. So, I'm making some changes.
  1. With classes taking up Monday and Wednesday, I'll be knocking out any studying and assignments on Tuesday night, Thursday night, and Sundays.

  2. Any Examiner writing will come during lunchtime - which is where most of the political stuff is now going, as you may have noticed.

  3. Ditto for any writing here.

  4. Hopefully, this means I will not be on the computer to all hours of the night, as I have been the last couple of nights.

  5. I WILL STOP WORKING FROM HOME SO MUCH ON WORK. I need to put in some limits so I am not burning out by March on everything in my life. Which means...

  6. Aside from the NumBlowMe this Thursday night, I'm pretty much taking a break from poker. While I'll still be doing some writing on it over the next couple of months, I will barely be playing at all until the end of April.

This means almost no FTOPS XI events, and almost no BBT 4 events for the next three months. Once May 1 hits, though, I will pick it back up some more, but for now, there just isn't the time or energy available to donk around as much as I used to. Unless it's a Saturday and no one is around, or I'm not doing anything - which almost never happens - I probably won't be there.

And no, I haven't been running too bad - I've taken two 2nds on BoDog in theMTT's while running atrocious at Full Tilt. It evens out. I just don't have the time, energy, or patience to fit it in unless I'm going to go whole hog, and I'm not going to grind like that for a while. I'm not shutting down, I'll keep posting stuff as often as I was, but the poker content will continue to decrease over the next couple of months.

After that...well, the other eight months of the year should be VERY interesting...

Another turd sandwich - stopping another bailout

Georgia Congressional Oversight Examiner: Another turd sandwich - stopping another bailout

$900 billion - but not really directed at stimulus so much as it is devoted to a laundry list of pet causes.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Atlanta Businesses Host Dine Out to Raise Crime Stoppers’ Reward

Atlanta Businesses Host Dine Out to Raise Crime Stoppers’ Reward

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The math doesn't work

I wish I didn't do math so early in the morning. Unfortunately, I have to do that every Monday morning, in tallying up all the work from the past week.

Even when going on just three hours sleep.

So, for one week, here goes, from last Tuesday through Monday, including the end of tonight:

Work: 62 hours
Class: 16 hours
Studying: 15 hours

Total: 93 hours - AAUUUUGGGHHHHH!!

Only 14 more weeks....only 14 more weeks...if I just keep repeating this over and over, I won't lose my mind.

Well, what's left of my mind.

Atlanta Video Games Examiner: 2009 WSOP schedule released

Atlanta Video Games Examiner: 2009 WSOP schedule released

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Examiner: Tightening the belt with Georgia's budget

Georgia Congressional Oversight Examiner: Tightening the belt with Georgia's budget

A hundred million here, a hundred million there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money...

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A night at the museum

This might be fun to do. I need to get some culture and shit.


College Night at the High Museum of Art Atlanta - Saturday, January 24, 2009, 7 p.m. to Midnight

Cost: $8 for students with valid I.D., free for student members, $18 general public

The High Museum of Art Atlanta is hosting College Night giving Georgia State students discounted admission to view the best of the best of the Museum, dance with the DJ, hear live music, check out cult films, get crafty in the education center and more.

Free shuttles to/from the Student Center and the Commons and to/from the High will begin at 6:45 p.m. The last returning shuttle will leave the museum at 11:45 p.m.


7:15 – 8:15 p.m. Fuzzy Sound Collage Dance Party with Beatrix*JAR
8:15 – 11:30 p.m. The Grape Tree Collective featuring The Hotels, Supreeme, and No Face

7:30 p.m. Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon
9:30 p.m. Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon

7:30 – 10:30 p.m. Drawing in the Galleries
8:00 – 11:00 p.m. Craft Consortia: Fabric Fortune Cookies and Recycled Bags
8:30 – 10:30 p.m. Circuit Bending Workshop with Beatrix*JAR

7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Photobooth
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Tai Chi demonstrations

For information concerning the High Museum of Art Atlanta, please visit

For information concerning shuttles, please contact Campus Events, 404-413-1876 or

This event is sponsored by Campus Events and is supported by student activity fees.
No word if the night at the museum will involve epic battles and dinosaurs, but since it's an art museum I doubt it.

Combat pay to fight government waste

Georgia Congressional Oversight Examiner: Combat pay to fight government waste

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Guns' number one salesman

Up in November, up more in December, and probably a record today.

Original story on Examiner.

read more | digg story

Friday, January 16, 2009

Northward bound, again

For the 4th (!) time since September, I'm on my way back to New York for my nephew's Eagle Court of Honor in Beacon.

I'm heading into JFK tomorrow, will be in BEacon during the day Sunday, returning to the city Sunday night, and heading out on Monday back home - assuming our takeoff from LaGuardia doesn't end up in the Hudson river.

Play nice, enjoy the video, and I'll bring back some bagels or cannolis.

Here I go again...


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Keyword Mashup

New York Jets.

O. J. Simpson's lawyer.

Lesbians fighting.

Flames and fire.

Yes, that really happened. It's not the plot for some bad late night movie on Skinemax.

"Casey had a fight one night with her current girlfriend," heavily tattooed Lisa Marie Alvarez, a Los Angeles source, told Page Six. "Casey went to Courtenay's house, and Courtenay proceeded to beat the crap out of her, and then she lit her hair on fire. Casey had to be hospitalized."

Casey's mother, Sale Johnson, reportedly flew to LA and consulted with lawyer Robert Shapiro. No one returned calls except Courtenay, whose father Terry Semel ran Yahoo for years. Casey — who isn't speaking to her father, or her aunt, Libet Johnson — is the mother of an adopted girl from Kazakhstan.

And you thought throwing three picks against the Dolphins was bad.

Even more? Apparently Semel is involved with Tila Tequila and/or Lindsey Lohan. I can't tell for sure, and performing those sort of in-depth keyword searches would probably not be a good idea.

I can't tell and would rather not know.

This concludes your moron post of the day.

Kicking the can down the road

Last week, I started struggling with a very big decision for 2009.

I was seriously considering deferring graduation from May to December, for a whole bunch of reasons, a bunch of which I've just been writing about for the past few days and another few reasons y'all may or may not know.

Upon returning from the odyessy across fourteen states, I started to really look at whether or not it was a good idea to stick with my plan of taking four (!) courses this semester and graduate now, compared to taking two classes now and two classes in the Fall, and graduating in December.

It was a hard choice, which was due on Friday at the close-of-business, and I went back and forth all week debating the pros and cons of both, seeking advice (including from some of you), and weighing all different types of costs and benefits for both myself and the rest of the family.

There were a whole bunch of reasons to put off two of my classes until the Fall:

  • We would have more of a cushion if the job market remained poor for us into the latter part of the year.
  • We wouldn't feel as rushed in each semester to balance time
  • I could focus better on two classes at a time, rather than four
  • Less stress in the Spring, and possibly more time spent on each remaining class
  • A better focus on work and everyone/everthing else

I was struggling with the decision all week.

On Friday, I finally decided to keep things the same, and take four classes, for a bunch more reasons:

  • By extending, I'd have fewer chances to travel or take time off
  • By extending, I might be tied down to my current job through 2012 instead of 2011 - while I do like it here (and I'm not just saying that because some of you in the office read this) it's always best to keep options open because you don't know what will happen in the future.
  • More student loans to pay off when I'm done. Even though the amount is high now, making it higher isn't something I really want to do.
  • There's no guarantee I'd spend the extra time in Spring studying or doing something productive.
  • The classes I want/need might not be available in the Fall.
  • By extending, we are tied down to the same company and potentially the same city until 2012 instead of 2011.

So, in the end, I decided to bite the bullet and take all four classes this semester: Consulting Practices and a Capstone class on Monday, and Finance and IT Management on Wednesday.

My last day of classes will be April 29. Assuming I don't collapse under the workload, I will graduate on May 15, four months from today.

Perhaps I will reward myself by going somewhere in June. I think after the work I will have done by then, I deserve it. I'll be putting in 75-80 hours a week between work and school, I think that's enough of a down payment!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Road Worriers, Part 5 - The Voyage Home

January 1

Thank God the year is finally fucking over. I know I said that last post, but jeez, what a horrible year.

We checked in with my brother-in-law, and it was decided that it would just be easiest to start heading south that afternoon. The truck, though, had some other ideas, as it would not start up. We checked out things under the hood, and found that the antifreeze container was now EMPTY.

(Um, Big 10 Tires? You suck. Don’t touch my truck again.)

After about ten minutes, we were able to coax the truck into starting up. We got everyone in and loaded and I made the only rational move I could at that point - drive home.

Not to the current home. The old home. We drove to Stuyvesant Town to stop at R&S Strauss on 14th & Ave. C, where we got some coolant, tested the battery, and worked on the other fluids. (We also took some time to go to Ess-A-Bagel and stock up. Mmmm...bagels.) After getting filled up and checked, the truck responded much better, and behaved very well for the remainder of the trip.

(See, 2009 is looking better already!)

We parked the truck, took the subway to Toys R Us as we had promised Alex, and then got back on the train to return to Stuy Town and head home. We left just as the sun was setting in New York and everyone waved goodbye to the city as we entered the Holland Tunnel.

Fortunately, on this trip and since we've returned, there have been no further coolant problems. Again, 2009 is already looking better!)

After one long stop on the way in the beautiful Molly Pitcher rest stop in Cranbury, NJ, for a beautifully candlelit dinner of Nathan's, we settled for the night in Maryland after paying three or four tolls within 20 miles.

(Dear Delaware: You still suck, too.)

We were all tired, and we decided to pull off a little early that night instead of gunning it all the way to Washington as I had hoped to do.

Time to sleep - even if I don't remember where the hell it was.

January 2

The plan was to sleep until about 8 or 9, have some breakfast, then get all ready and pretty to meet up with Cranky in DC for some Dim Sum.

So, when we rolled over and saw the clock say 11:15, we decided to start moving pretty quickly. All four of us crashed, hard, and slept through an alarm clock, a wakeup call, and the alarms on both of our phones. I guess we were pretty damn tired.

We got in the truck a few minutes after 12, and burned it into DC, getting there around 1:30. No Dim Sum, but we did still have Chinese which everyone (including the kids) ate up heartily. We drove through downtown DC and snapped a few pictures of the monuments as well as the inauguration setup, and left town slightly after 4.

Just before Richmond, I finally had to concede the wheel when I started to doze off. So, after slightly more than 2000 miles, I let someone else drive for a little while, which Kim did, until dinnertime in South Hill, VA.

After a long stop accompanied by two children bouncing off walls, we decided we were going to gun for home. While we could stop along the way for one more night in a hotel, I just wanted to GET. HOME. NOW!!!! even though it was already 9 PM.

Everyone else agreed. The roads did not. Outside of Raleigh, we hit thick fog which limited us to a quarter-mile visibility THE ENTIRE WAY HOME.

Thankfully, since I've done this drive enough times along I-85 to be able to do it almost with my eyes closed, I was able to keep gunning through.

Sammie fell asleep around 10 PM.

Kim followed soon after.

Alex stayed up until midnight, at which point I made one more gas stop, got him a little dessert snack, and tucked him into his seat, after which he fell asleep.

We arrived home at 3:52 AM, Saturday morning. Everything at the house was OK. Even the goldfish were fine - slightly pale, but fed and mostly OK.

And after 2,701 miles, eight tanks of gas, twelve days, and fourteen states, we are back home. Fortunately, everyone had the good sense to sleep a little later on the 3rd.

Of course, not too much time to rest - back to work on the 5th, with two classes in the evening. Nothing like a 15-hour day to welcome you back!

As for life in 2009, let's just hope it doesn't resemble 2008 in very many ways. 2008 felt like it was about five years long by itself, but it's over and done with.

Thank God.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Road Worriers, Part 4


Click for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

December 30: Boston, MA > Fishkill, NY > Boston, MA

For once, I got an early start to the morning, waking up around 7:30 AM, though I didn't really sleep much during the night. I left Boston around 9:45 AM and arrived in Fishkill, NY around 1:00.

The church was completely packed - it probably seated about 200, but there were probably another 50-100 standing in the back of the church. It was a nice service, with some happy parts (including Ian's troop leading everyone in Grand Old Duke of York) and the sad moments which made a lot of us cry (for me, when Amazing Grace started.) We had a reception downstairs, after which I headed back to Boston.

It was strange, in that I didn't really know a lot of the people there, but I was glad so many were there to pay their respects to a great lady.

Back in Boston, the Atlanta bid team (led by Kim) won the vote to host the next APO Convention in 2010 - which a lot of people throughout the Region here have been working on for the last few years. I made it back to Boston just in time for the lead advisor and one of the main students of the bid team (as in, Kim and Emory's chapter president) go on stage for the handoff from the Boston team to the Atlanta team - so things will be busy for the next couple of years.

The vote had been conducted in the morning and came in around noon. Even though it had been something we'd all worked on for two years, I tried to put it out of my mind until I got back to the closing awards event. There was a time and place for it, and I was still trying to keep things separate so I could think somewhat clearly.

At the end of the banquet, some of the Brothers led a line from the Hynes center back to the hotel, with about 60 of us in tow. After so much work, it was a most enjoyable parade.

After walking around a bit and meeting with a lot of people around the convention (not all of the 1800 in attendance, but a large number) the kids and us said most of our goodbyes as we got ready to leave the following morning.

December 31: Boston, MA > An Undetermined Location in New York

We woke up on New Year's Eve morning to see several inches of snow on the streets and sidewalks outside of the hotel. We were planning on heading to Brewster to spend New Year's with the family after stopping in New York City to do the Toys R Us trip we had promised Alex.

Yes, there is glass there, on the 18th floor.

In order to avoid the snow that was coming down from Canada and off the Great Lakes, we decided to take I-95 along the water instead of driving through the mountains again. Surely, it would be easier driving right?

Hah. No.

It took us about 4-5 hours to get out of Massachusetts, and we had to start deciding what we would do that night. Since it looked like the weather was better downstate and it would still be rough driving with frozen roads if we cut back north, we decided around New Haven, CT that we would stay south and try to find someplace to stay rather than risk driving north through Hartford back to Brewster. Beacon, etc.

We started making some calls around, and didn't have much luck finding rooms. I decided to try Hilton HHonors again and see if perhaps the room I had just cancelled was somehow still available. Amazingly, it was - and it was the only one left in the hotel. We were able to get the room back for the reward stay I had originally booked.

(In case you haven't noticed, we really, REALLY like HHonors now. They came up huge for us twice in this trip.)

So, now the only problem was continuing the trek into NYC. On New Year's Eve.

The drive finally got easier when we reached New Rochelle, and we were able to go slightly faster until we got to the Deegan and crossed over into Manhattan. After missing the turn onto the FDR Drive, we took a shortcut through Harlem (!) and made it back over to the East River. We finally got to the hotel a little bit after 10 PM, in time to check in before New Year's exploded onto everybody.

You know it's a strange drive when the easiest part is driving through Manhattan.

It's funny, in a way. We planned on being in New York, then we didn't, then we did, then we didn't, and now, here we were, in New York, just as we had planned twelve months ago.

We did forget Alex's jacket hood, so he got mine for this picture.

Welcome home. Kinda.

And good riddance to 2008.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Last part to be posted tomorrow.

Road Worriers, Part 3

Part 1 here. Part 2 here.


December 27: Boston

Even though we didn't really want to leave New York after my sister died, we knew we had to continue on to Boston. Of course, my mind was not really there, so if you saw me (and many of you did) you know I didn't seem very focused.

On the other hand, I do want to say thank you to everyone for their well-wishes and their offers to help in any way possible. There were a couple of times where I need to get away and blow off some steam (you know who you are) and some folks were a really big help in helping me do so - either watching the kids so I could get a moment of fresh air, or over a drink at Sidebar.

Included on the 27th was a lot of research, printing, and assembling of bid books, as well as the kids' first attempt at walking out into Boston. With Nationals beginning that night, the first appearances for Kim and her team would begin late at night, so I was trying to prepare myself for three days of running around with the kids - while not losing my mind.

We were near Copley Square, off Boylston and a few blocks away from Boston Common. However, with it being so cold, all they got to see was a Dunkin Donuts (the first of several) and a row of places to eat on Dalton Street on the 27th. However, both kids enjoyed pulling around their little suitcases filled with their blankies and their toys.

The most notable event was word from the valet that the truck would not start and not work. Apparently, despite surviving a 1,161 mile trip with no problems at all, the hotel valet was not able to move the truck 200 feet to a parking spot. We called AAA, and of course the truck started fine for me and for them. No dead battery was found, nor was anything else found to be wrong. It seems that starting a truck is a very difficult maneuver for the hotel parking staff, so I took the truck out and put in self-parking after we made sure everything was OK.

(Dear Sheraton: Welcome to the shit list. Between the valet and charging a whole bunch of items which still haven't been fixed, you belong here.)

December 28: Boston

It was finalized by the family that the memorial service would take place on Dec. 30, at Fishkill United Methodist Church at 3 PM. My brother had, by this time, arrived back in Brewster and the service would be held while he and I were still in the area before heading back to Iowa and Georgia. Kim and I decided that I would head over solo, for several reasons:

1. Kids in a truck for 7 hours is not very relaxing, on top of all the other car time they'd had.
2. Toddlers at funeral may not do very well.
3. The drive would be 3 hours without kids, but probably 4 or 5 with the kids.
4. The kids would be in the car a bunch for the next three days, so no reason to add on more for them.

Also on the 28th was the APO alumni gathering, held in the Prudential Tower at the Skywalk with an overlook of all of Boston, and a fellowship dinner to which we brought the kids because we figured they would behave themselves fairly well - which they did. Some of the pictures are up on Facebook.

December 29th: Boston

With some free time today, I tried to take the kids around town a bit. The kids spent a bit of time in the play room so they could indulge in their tower-building and destroying tendencies, which allowed me time to walk around a slight bit. I was able to walk up a few blocks to Boston Common and to the Bull and Finch pub, where I ordered a Guinness and burger which turned out to be very tasty. However, everyone didn't know my name, unlike the theme song for the TV show. I needed an hour or two of quiet time, with kid radar turned off, so this helped a bit.

I took the kids out late in the afternoon to show them other sights of Boston. We drove past Fenway Park, and I showed them other parts of town - before getting completely turned around and lost. We ended up heading east, to Chestnut Hill, and ate pizza at a local joint - which was pretty good, but not as good as New York pizza! Also, it was good to make sure the truck still worked just fine before returning to NY the next day. We had decided that I would drive back for the memorial service by myself, and that we would cancel the hotel room we had by the Seaport in Manhattan and stay upstate instead for New Year's Eve.

For the third straight night, the kids and I went to sleep pretty late. By now, the kids were at least on a regular schedule for the trip. Basically, everything was pushed back about two hours from normal. Instead of waking at 7, they'd wake up at 9 or 10. Instead of bedtime at 9, it was bedtime at 12. Instead of lunch at 12 and a nap at 1, it was lunch at 3 and a nap at 4.

The kids were able to sleep quite well. I still couldn't sleep worth a damn.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunshine for Georgia

Georgia Congressional Oversight Examiner: Sunshine for Georgia

New site launch, which displays many public records for Georgia including salary and spending information for professional vendors.

Hooray for open records efforts....

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Road Worriers, Part 2

Part 1 here.

December 25: Brewster, NY

One of the good things about being up north for Christmas was the snow that we had tried to avoid on the drive in, but could now enjoy since we had reached our destination. In Brewster, there were still several inches of ice and snow on the ground. After breakfast, I went outside with Alex (and later, my brother-in-law's brother) to build a snow bridge which then served as a crossing point for many dinosaurs Alex had brought on the trip (and a few Santa had dropped off). We also had a fun snowball fight with my niece and nephew - who have grown a tremendous amount in the seven years since I had seen them last. It was fun watching the two of them and Alex and Sammie try to tire each other out throughout the day.

Later that day, I went to the hospital with another of my sisters and my niece and nephew. I would have driven the truck to the hospital with everyone in tow behind my sister, but it was out of gas - it made it up the mountain, but would not make it down.

At the hospital, my sister seemed to be in slightly better shape, but I had found out more about what had happened in the previous week. In addition to the platelet drop, the doctors had found cancerous cells throughout the body, including in the bone marrow. She had suffered several small strokes earlier in the week, which had caused the slurred speech and poor motor skills shown earlier in the week. Her blood chemistry was completely out of whack, and that was the biggest focus at the moment for the doctors besides making sure Jill was comfortable (for which she was now also taking morphine.)

There were a lot of us at the hospital that night - many family, many friends. My sister was in OK shape to receive them. She was even trying to eat some melon while I was there.

Now, in my family history, there have been many cases of people who have been hospitalized in near-death situations. With both parents and grandparents, we've seen ridiculous cases of recovery or at least short-term postponement. In my sister's case, we were not sure if the improvement we were seeing was the first step in a long recovery or preparation for something else while seeing everyone on Christmas Day.

Unfortunately, it was the latter. My sister passed away on December 26, in the early hours of the morning, as a result of her long fight with inflammatory breast cancer. While she was among the 40% of people who are able to survive past one year with the disease, she was not able to beat it in the end. Her platelet counts, which only surfaced as troublesome twice before, were the trigger that forced gaps in the chemotherapy which allowed the cancer to spread. The condition is actually called ITP, for Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. It spread throughout the body and forced the eventual wackiness of the rest of her blood chemistry and all the other symptoms which surfaced.

December 26: Brewster, NY > Boston, MA

We had been planning on going to the hospital before we left town for NYC and Boston in the morning. However, when Kim came in to tell me the news, we stayed around the house until late in the afternoon to do what we could do.

For me, it meant I ended up washing dishes. I don't know why. I hate doing dishes. I think I was just trying to focus on doing one thing rather than letting my mind race all over the place. The way I found out about Jill that morning was eerily similar to how I found out my mother had passed away, when I was 16 – go to sleep, expecting to still see them in the morning, even if they aren’t completely well, and find out upon waking up that they passed in the night. I don’t know if it’s easier than being at their bedside, as that has never happened, but it isn’t an easy thing to hear regardless of the situation.

I honestly don't remember too much else about the day. I was pretty much in a state of shock throughout the entire day. Jill was one of the few who took care of me and helped me out during high school and college when things were rough with my parents (including when my mother died) so it was all a bit shocking. I basically was in a stunned daze from everything that had developed over the past 96 hours.

The kids played some more with their cousins during the day as well, which might have been good for all of them to some extent. We also started making plans to return over the next few days for the memorial service. My sister was going to be cremated, but it was also decided to try and find out what the cancer had done in order to fight it in other cases in the future. The spread was very quick over the last few weeks, and hopefully some more answers and information could be gained in further research.

The service was set for Tuesday, December 30, with the exact place and time to be determined over the weekend once everything was finalized. We left for Boston around 4:30 in the afternoon, and took about 4.5 hours to get there.

The truck was all right and we got there pretty smoothly, while we also ran through some last-minute items we might need for the next few days. I think I slept that night, but it felt like I blinked and the morning had come. Obviously, it was not very restful.

Bad Service means no soup for you

One thing that I've been able to figure out over the past few weeks is who cares about their customers and who only cares about their dollars (and therefore, can fuck off)

Let's take hotels as an example.

Holiday Inn (Priority Club) decided to charge the **** out of us for a booked room, despite the fact we cancelled before their deadline. Two weeks later, still no resolution.

Sheraton (Starwood), while we had a great convention in Boston, has passed me around and around their customer service while I've tried to get miles posted and get a credit for being charged extra amounts which weren't ours.

Mariott gets to be on the shit list for being too damn expensive at every stop of our trip, compared to every hotel in the area.

Radisson (Country Inn) can be on the list for not finding any of my account information and improper booking, which again causes us to have to do calls after the fact (mostly unanswered) to get things reconciled.

Only one hotel chain actually seemed to care about us whenever we called and needed to make sudden changes or reservation. Hilton hotels (that included Doubletree, Hampton, and a few others) really came through when we needed to make changes to any booked rooms, find a room in a hurry, or post the stays correctly as needed.

Hey, I post when companies piss me off, so it's only fair I give credit to a company when they seem to do right by their customers. In our case, Hilton's HHonors program worked with us a bunch of times over a very short time frame.

So, we will be staying with them from now on, I think. They deserve it.

Everyone else can piss off.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Road Worriers, Part 1

Finally, I've almost written through all that happened over the past couple of weeks. I'm breaking it up for your time, and my sanity.

And if you don't like it very much, well, I think this might be more for my own therapeutic benefit than anyone else's.
Part 1

December 22

On Monday night, we were in the midst of doing some initial packing for heading to Allentown and Boston for Christmas and New Years. We were planning on spending a couple of days with my sister, Jill, and my brother-in-law's family in Allentown before heading to Boston for Nationals. We were also thinking of stopping in New York, either on the way up or the way back, to go to the Times Square Toys R Us as we had promised him we would do for a while (since September, when Sammie decided to throw up in the store and we had to cut it short). Perhaps we would even try to do the ball drop while there, and then have a slow trip back so as not to keep the kids ridiculously confined for more time than we deemed safe to all of our psyches.

However, I got a call from my nephew, Ian, around 11:30 PM which drastically changed things. Apparently, my sister had become very ill and was taken to the hospital in Mt. Kisco, NY. So, instead of planning on going to Allentown, we started planning on driving further north so that we could get to the hospital. While we didn't know quite how things were coming, we figured it had to be pretty bad.

December 23: Atlanta, GA > Roanoke, VA

I went in to work, but really didn't focus on too many work-related items. I checked in with a couple of people in the office, and finished up some loose ends, but left slightly early so we could get on the road. Since I wasn't sure of the condition of roads north (aside from probably being really bad), I tried to get out of the office ASAP. We got on the road around 4 PM after bundling up the truck and the kids and securing the house.

We had been planning on staying in Johnson City, TN (home of ETSU, where we have been before) but we decided that we needed to drive as far as we physically could that night. We had booked a free night in Johnson City, but after some bouncing around were able to switch it to a destination further north, which turned out to be Roanoke, VA. As we were both pretty exhausted, we pulled off to try to get some sleep before heading through the rest of the mountains the next day, as there were reports of ice, sleet, and severe winter weather on Christmas Eve when we would move into Pennsylvania and New York.

December 24: Roanoke, VA > Brewster, NY

We left Roanoke around 10:00, and made good time up I-81 through the rest of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. When we hit Pennsylvania, though, we really got slowed down by the combination of crappy weather and drivers who don't know what to do in crappy weather. Throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we were forced to go about half as fast as we had hoped.

Given the severe weather floating through northern PA and central NY, we made the decision to get off I-81 and, instead of heading through Scranton and Port Jervis on I-84, to go instead through the Lincoln Tunnel and New York City. So, instead of dealing with winter conditions, we dealt with long backups that took us an hour and a half to get from Secaucus into Manhattan.

We made it to Mt. Kisco around 8:00, and went in to see my sister. She did not appear to be in very good shape, as her platelet levels were alarmingly low - 2,000 instead of the normal 100,000. Despite transfusions, the platelet level was not going up as hoped, which precluded fighting any of the cancer cells which were popping up in other areas of the body with any sort of other treatment. Despite the low platelet counts, she had possibly had some small strokes – which precluded heavier amounts of transfusions to bring up the platelets, because they did not want to induce any more strokes. When we got there, they were trying to make her as comfortable as possible for the time being - pain medications, IV's, and many other tubes and measurements.

She seemed a bit better than we had been told in the previous couple of days, but was still in pretty serious shape. The kids stayed in the waiting room with a family friend while I, and then Kim, went in to see her. Alex did make a picture for her, which brought a smile to her face – my sister is a very gifted artist and illustrator, so I guess Alex got a little bit of those talents within family. Lord knows I was never a very good artist.

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my brother-in-law's parents' house. It was up some very big hills in Brewster, which is a little more than an hour north of NYC. The truck survived getting up the hills - barely. I think it was more tired than we were after going almost 1,000 miles through mountains, rain, sleet, ice, and the Lincoln Tunnel.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Atlanta: State of the city address

Georgia Congressional Oversight Examiner: Atlanta: State of the city address

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Rambling to follow later, and goals for now

OK, I just about finished the trip report - and it's clocked in at 11 pages and over 4000 words and no happy pictures yet to be added.

I think I'll be breaking it up into multiple posts and start putting them up tonight and tomorrow.

For now, though, since I already reviewed the goals from 2008, let's lay some out for 2009.

1. I will not make any resolutions with regards to my weight or diet. I am too damn stressed to worry about what this fast food might do to me. Besides, I actually went 30 days without fast food last year and lost a grand total of...ZERO POUNDS. So, diet isn't really going to change things. There are more important things to worry about in our lives than how many calories this milkshake has. In general, try not to stress so much about little things like food - though it can easily extend to other things as well.

2. Be a little more active, working out in some way at least once a week. One good thing about my current class schedule, if I keep it, is that it requires me to do two half-mile walks each day of class to go across campus. If nothing else, it is some forced exercise, and it beats laying on the couch.

However, that brings me to goal #3:

3. Graduate in 2009 in the Spring OR FALL semester. I had planned on taking four classes this Spring, but now I might not decide to take all four this term. I have until tomorrow to decide.

The past few months have been incredibly trying and stressful. There are pros and cons to both finishing out in the Spring, and taking two classes each in the Spring and Fall and graduating in December. I still have not decided, as there are just so many factors at work (family, time, work, money, stress, etc.) that this probably requires its own post after I do everything else tonight.

4. Go to a Blogger Gathering. I'm thinking about the Summer Vegas gathering, especially if I do finish all my classes this term. But I'm going to do one this year, dammit.

5. Give more to church and charities. Since we've been getting more involved in the St. Joseph's, we've really tried to be better about what we give. Hopefully circumstances will allow us to give a greater percentage in 2009 to match the time we already contribute.

6. Become a better writer. I occasionally have some good posts and articles up, but a lot of the time I fall into lazy habits, both here and elsewhere. I really would like to work on doing a better job and writing some more interesting content, though I'm not really sure where to find the time to really put in some work on it.

7. Clear at least $6,000 in net winnings at the tables this year. 2008 was a bit meh, but still barely positive thanks to Full Tilt and BoDog at the end of the year erasing some tilt losses from Beau Rivage. I want to get to the point of being able to make at least $500 a month, from both live and online poker play, to pull out for paying off other expenses or beginning to re-establish some kind of savings after a woebegone 2008.

I'm not going to differentiate between ring games and tourneys, online or live, Sit-and-goes or MTT's, bloggerments or circuit events. I'll do that later. But yes, I am resolving to play MORE in 2009, but also to play better and avoid the crazy monkey tilt I am prone to do.

8. No matter what the level of winnings, donate 50% of all poker winnings to Susan G. Komen, UT Cancer Center, and Avon Breast Cancer research. More on the reasons for this to follow later tonight, but it's more than just the work we did here for the Atlanta Making Strides Walk.

9. Whether on this site or on Examiner, do at least one post or article a day. Between this site and Examiner I did almost 500 real posts in 2008 (not counting adposts which I am not choosing to do anymore.)

Hopefully a few more in 2009 can actually be decent. Of course, I'm not declaring this one ready to go until right 2008 turned out to be a very beneficial year for me on this in ways I hadn't imagined at the beginning of the year, so hopefully it can continue.

10. Keep the house clean and tidy - because this is an area where we fall behind way too easily. Other things build up, and we let normal chores go, and before we know it the house looks like a tornado hit it. If we try harder on this (OK - if I try harder on this) perhaps we won't feel so stressed out about everything else going on.

OK, that's a good enough list for now, and it covers multiple areas of my life. Besides, I'm already at a thousand words. I think that's plenty to get a good picture of where I want to go this year.

Dammit, 3 and 10 just finished

I don't think I am ready for the eleventh version of this:
or the fourth version of this:

I'll probably be missing a bunch of these. Tuesdays are good nights; Mondays and Wednesdays suck horribly.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Georgia was the firewall after all

Saxby Chambliss' seat turned out to be just as important as Republicans thought it would be.

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After May...

I have no free time until May 9, at which point I'll be a fully-recognized, certified, and indentured MBA. However, after that time, I plan to celebrate and devote time to other things which don't involve sitting in a classroom for 12 hours a week.

1. I decided to get a little more involved again with APO, in a different way. I agreed to be the techie for the Region, which means more time building and fiddling with web pages, monitoring groups, and so on. I also agreed to serve on their Finance Committee. I'll probably have to make one trip to Kansas City the first weekend of June, but that should be a pretty easy trip.

But that doesn't quite fall under the category of celebrating. It falls more into preparing for other, more fun trips.

2. I've written the past couple of times about wanting to go to Vegas for a blogger get-together. Well, if it happens the SECOND weekend of June, I'm in. If it isn't the second weekend...well, I might go anyway. Why?

3. Here's why; I'm considering playing in one of the WSOP events, and there are three possibilities which go hand-in-hand with the second weekend of June:
  • Event 24, Noon: NL Hold Em, $1500, Thursday June 11
  • Event 25, 5 PM: Omaha 8/b & 7-Stud 8/b, $2500, Thursday June 11
  • Event 28, Noon: NL Hold Em, $1500, Saturday June 13

I picked the first two because if I go more than one day or to the end, I can still return on Sunday and miss minimal time from work - because even if I win, I can't leave and sit on my ass.

If I don't play in an event, and there's no blogger gathering, well we may all just head out and meet up out west with family in Vegas. It's a helluva lot cheaper than Southern California.

4. Alex and Sammie are going to get to visit two amusement parks this year. The second will occur over the summer, after classes end, before starting kindergarten. We won free passes to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania so we will be making a northward trek over the summer. We haven't quite figured out when, or if there will be any other stops on the way, or if we head out of the way to visit people in, say, Iowa, or New York.

5. The other big amusement park trip will occur on Alex's birthday, and should be a pretty special treat for him - especially since he's tall enough now to go for a ride on Space Mountain.

There may also be visits to see Grandma, or even a separate trip out west to see other family in Arizona or California or Vegas.

So, that should be enough fun for a little while - more than enough for kids young and old.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


We have returned, and I'm writing a long entry about the past two weeks, but I wasnted to put the picks up before the games started.

Round 1:
Falcons 34 Cardinals 13
Colts 38 Chargers 14
Eagles 24 Vikings 21
Dolphins 26 Ravens 7

Round 2: (subject to change depending how wrong I am about round 1)

Giants 27 Eagles 3
Falcons 31 Panthers 13
Colts 41 Titans 14
Dolphins 20 Steelers 13

Conference Championships:

Giants 27 Falcons 17
Colts 27 Dolphins 9

Super Bowl:

Giants 41, Colts 31
Manning Commercials: 1,264,946

I hope I'm partially wrong about the conference championships, but for now I'll just enjoy today's games and root for the Falcons to take down the Cardinals!