Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sounds of laughter shades of life are ringing through my open ears, exciting and inviting me

I spent a good part of the weekend working for the man. And the man's name is JoHnathan Lewis. Yes, he and Grace lured me to town to "hang out" which apparently translates to "move our stuff to storage" in Vietnamese. Not only did they make me do all the heavy lifting, but they withheld food ("We only have microwave popcorn and not enough to share") and, in what is surely recognized by the Geneva Convention as torture, only provided Miller Lite. It was hellish treatment.

Then again, I may exaggerate a bit.

I tend to be really negative on my job, but there is the one huge benefit that keeps me from searching for employment outside the airline industry. The ability to decide at 4 PM that I want to fly to Atlanta on the 6:05 flight. In all fairness, it doesn't always work out. I've planned ahead to make flights only to be left with 6 hours or airport appreciation time trying to get a seat. But, more often then not tit works out pretty well, and the idea of planning a trip and making a ticket purchase 21 days out to get a good price is totally foreign.

And riding the jumpseat can be pretty neat. Or frightening depending on the crew.

But I digress. Grace invited me down this past weekend. And I had a prior commitment here in Louisville, but I blew that off. So at 4:05 pm I left work, sped home and packed a bag. Then i sped back to the airport to try and catch the last flight to ATL that left at 6:05. I'm really impressed with myself since I actually made it with time to spare. Grace had found us a traditional Vietnamese place to dine, and we had some tasty pho, once we decided it was ok to put the random greenery piled on the table int he bowls.

This week as involved a lot of moving about of other peoples stuff. Monday I assisted the Mutt family in loading their house into a 25' truck. Again on Saturday, it was time to relocate the Lewii apartment to a storage area. Luckily, they did not require the 25' truck. I think we did pretty well with time, and was even able to catch a Brave's game afterward, mostly for free :-).

So, now with most of they're earthly belongings spread hither and yon across the south Metro area, the Lewii are spending their last week in he US before embarking on a grand adventure to the Mekong Delta. I'm really kind of jealous, thinking it'll be something really cool to experience, with moments of sheer fright at moving into a totally new culture. But that's part of the excitement. But, I'm still hoping I can win the powerball and maybe entice them with monetary rewards to stick around here.

SO, back to that Brave's game thing. Jersey and Genna were planning to go see a game, and invited us to come join. We finished the moving (after a quick trip to the Tanjoe Manor to drop off some items and rummage through the fridge and bedroom drawers since they weren't home) an headed back to the Ted. While we were standing in 45 minute line for tickets, a random guy walks up to me and asks how many people in our group. I almost just blew him off with a "we're not interested in buying" comment, but I went with "3". At which point he handed me 3 tickets, and turned and sped off. he was lost in the crowd before we could thank him. And they were $28 tickets.. outfield pavilion. There was concern voiced as to whether they were real tickets, but since we hadn't paid.. nothing lost but some time in line. They weren't fakes, and we went.

A blast was had at the Chophouse. There was a game in the background but mostly it was just hanging with good friends. After the game, the Lewii and I ended up at Verisano's for pizza and "whorey" martinis. After doing a little side work and flirting with the waitress, it was home to J's old apartment. Probably for the last time...

SO, that's the narrative for the weekend. This weekend should be more fun. Back to ATL for DragonCon and the bon voyage fun.

I just wrote a long social/political commentary here, but decided against it. Not the time for such seriousness.

This week will hopefully go pretty fast and painless. It's all midnight shifts which is kind of a drag, but I like them better than day shifts. I still feel like I'm behind in the world, like there's something I should be taking care of. Maybe its the cleaning I'm continually not doing or the money I feel like I'm missing. Since changing from one a month pay to weekly, it feels like I'm missing some pay. I know that there there's the matter of the 10%ish paycut i took this year (in the form or voluntary time off), but it should have balanced out with the latest raise. Somehow, it just isn't. Again, its nothing that a lottery win couldn't rectify :-)

I suppose that's it, look for DragonCon pics next week. Should be interesting and not for the faint of heart. Everyone in the ATL area should consider being at the Marriott Marquis atrium bar at about 7 PM Friday.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eclectical Electrical Enigmas

The house I live in has issues. It's completely understandable really, given the place is just over 100 years old. So good you'll not look when 100 years you reach. Hell, I'm knocking on 34 and feel like I'm falling apart. Apparently my apartment and me have a similar wiring issue going on. Mine has to do with the sciatic nerve (which apparently is now being compressed against the bone by recent muscular developments and causing some discomfort... so my trainer thinks.) WebMD says I either have bone marrow cancer or the same sciatic issue. Let's go with option 2. The cure.. well, it'll go away on it's own eventually, and I should stretch more.

Now the house... last night I was about to cook me a nice chicken breast on my handy Foreman grill and alas.. no power. But the fridge is running and the lights are on. But the outlets in the kitchen were dead. So instead of dragging the grill and microwave (reheat some veggies) into the living room, i elected for a detour on the way to work and grab a grilled chicken and pesto sammich.

I've had electrical issues a in my new abode from time to time. I think the place was initially wired by Thomas Edison, who I can only guess became distracted by all the inventing he had to do and left the finishing work to Rube Goldberg, who worked of wiring diagrams drawn up by M.C. Escher.

After resetting all the GFI outlets, and flipping the breakers on box #1 in the attic, no luck. The attic breaker box has four breakers in it, two which seem to control nothing. The other two split the load equally between the refrigerator on one and everything else on the other. That seems fair and practical. Every now and then the A/C will trip the "everything else" breaker my place is plunged into darkness or, even worse, hotness. But the fridge still works.

OK, I get it, it's 100year old house and they had no idea in a century people were going to have giant insulted boxes for cooling food, smaller less insulted boxes for heating it back up, big metallic contraptions for washing and drying clothes (and the builders would probably pummel for bitching about how "doing laundry" sucks without the effort of a washboard, bucket, and clothes line), or a 42" flat screen HDTV with accompanying surround sound DVD/iPod/Stereo system. How some one building a house in 1908 didn't plan for this sort of thing just shows severe shortsightedness.

Anyways, back to the problem at hand... no power from the outlets. Today, when I woke up I texted my one of my landlords about the issue, who returned a call immediately. We went through the problems and what I had already done. He suggested I check the other 2 breaker boxes.... excuse me?? There's two more breaker boxes to my apartment?? Yes... one outside and one in the basement. Like I mentioned, M.C. Escher and Mr. Goldberg did a bang up job on the wiring. Mick (or Nick, 2 out of 3 of my landlords are identical twins and I'm never really sure which one I'm talking to) said he'd be over in a bit to check it out. About 3 minutes after the first call, Mick (or Nick) called back and suggested I check with the girls downstairs to see the basement fuse box. OK, well... this is going to require me to be at least partially presentable. And I had to the shower and get dressed.

As a result of 3 seasons of drum corps, I can be in and out of a shower in like 5 minutes and dressed ready to go. In that time, Mick (or Nick) had called back. Turns out he had just called the downstairs girls and they had indeed found a tripped breaker. Woohoo, I had microwave power back.

But I'm left confused about why one breaker in the Attic would control almost everything, but one in the basement would control kitchen outlets. And no doubt there's a few more breakers down there controlling something. Or hell, maybe not... maybe they just wired the kitchen outlets through the basement and everything else is on the upstairs cirtcuit, which is controlled via a relay on the outside breaker box.

It's fun little facts like this that make living in an old house both entertaining and annoying. Luckily, I have first time landlords who seem to be bending over backwards whenever I call with a problem. Mind you, this is only the second one I've ever called about, the last being a leaky roof. Turned out it was the furnace drain for condensation was frozen and the pan was overflowing. But Mick (or Nick) came rolling over at 10 PM to check it out (on cold January night) after I told them it could probably wait till the next day.

I was once told my place had character and personality... yeah that's it.

With all the personality in my house, you'd think I'd be really creative and write these literary masterpieces there. Turns out, not so much. I'm not sure if it's the intelligence sapping wall sized HDTV or the general air of clutter and messiness that stifles my creativity there. So, instead of cleaning and turning off the TV, I leave the place. It's a nice 1/2 mile walk to the corner coffee shop. It'd be nicer without the oppressive heat, but I just look forward to the large ice coffee and cold water. And here I sit looking around at the eclecticness of the little place. It's nice to live in a neighborhood where no one really seems to fit in. The cross section of people in here now vary form the "hippyesque" guy with the full scraggly beard and dreads to the almost yuppyish guys in khaki shorts and polos. Luckily no collars are popped. Mostly its just sandals, T-shirts, and tattoos all around. The majority of laptops on the tables were brought to you by Mr. Jobs and his folks in Cupertino (via China). Except for the girl in front of me who's stuck an Apple sticker on her PC netbook... poser!

In other news, the Austrian wrote today and told us he had accepted the job in the desert. So, it looks like I'm not packing my bags for a big move. I'm a little disappointed not only because I'm not setting of a grand Arabian adventure, but also not being informed by said company of the results. It's not unique to them, I've been through that before. Even asking to please let me know either way. Inconsiderate.

So, looks like it's a while longer living with bad wiring and draftiness in Kentucky. I spent this weekend here in town partly for a break in traveling (and the accompanying spending) and partly because I agreed to be on call to work Monday morning. I ended up picking up a shift for the injured roommate last night. In a departure from the usual viewing fare of Fox News or the Weather Channel (I'm not sure which one becomes more mind numbing after 8 hours, at least the Weather Channel just tells me the weather, and not what I should think about it) we were treated to a new version of Sherlock Holmes. It's a great show that will be appearing on PBS soon (we had bootlegged BBC DVD's), and too bad I was kind of pissed off at the suspenseful ending to the last episode since there's no plans at this time to keep producing more episodes.

So, next on the agenda... Labor Day weekend I'm making the trip to ATL for DragonCon and what I'm thinking may be the last time I see Gracathan before they ship off to the jungles of Vietnam. I'm also working on getting together a trip over to visit during the winter. It's sort of a pain to get to Saigon these days, probably because it's called Ho Chi Minh City now and for some reason there's not a lot of direct flights between here and there... some historical cultural differences I think. And I'm looking at planning a March jaunt to South America. The Lonely Planet South America on a Shoestring looks like the guide of choice. For some reason when I tell people I'm thinking of bussing from Santiago to Ushuaia and back up to Buenos Aries (And telling them these places are indeed not in Texas or New Mexico) they always look at me like I'm growing a fourth foot out of my forehead (The third foot looks came when I told people I was thinking of moving to Dubai... well they thought I was nuts only after again explaining geography and where Dubai is located). Yeah, so maybe I'm a little crazy... keeps me from going insane.

Well, i think that's enough for today. I need to find some sustenance and wait for the call to work tomorrow. Later people.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If you want to be a passenger, climb aboard with me we're leaving now to step oustide and see another world

Seems a lot of people are getting married these days. I, being the rebel of our little group, am fighting the power and resisting becoming a follower. We'll go with that. But, I would like to throw a big congrats out to Grace and Jonathan (that's the only time you'll see me spell his full name out correctly). They took their vows this past Saturday amongst the scenery of the North Georgia mountains. And to be fair, Grace took a lot more vows than J :-).

I think this wedding will go down as the most amusing, most relaxed, and most unpredictable of all time. I apologize to anyone who may have been distracted by the snickering and laughter from the peanut gallery on the upstairs balcony, but it couldn't be helped. I now know that the secret to a long successful marriage is good.... genes. I do think that the ceremony was typical Grace and J, and wouldn't have been more perfect any other way.

The whole weekend was fantastic really. It started with my small altercation with the local TSA ("we need to confirm you have access, is there anyone we can call?", "Sure, here's the number"... they had no idea who they were calling...ugh). But I was soon aboard an airplane whisking my way south. In an unusual for me circumstance, I wasn't traveling completely exhausted, having slept the night before.

Thanx to some accumulated skymiles, I booked a room at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. Ever since I was young I always wanted to stay there. It's the former record holder for the worlds tallest hotel, and right in the center of downtown. For future reference, not that nice of a place anymore. It didn't suck, but it was no suite at the Aria. But for the price, I couldn't beat it. After check in I discovered two things; the T-Mobile service sucks ore than a foot form the windows (I think the building is made of lead with lead glass) and that Charity was hanging out across the street in a bank. Some call that "casing the joint", but she didn't rob it... yet.

I met up with her and spent some pool time with a coworker of hers. I'm amazed that when I meet Argyle Sillystring Argyle flight attendants through my friends, they are all gorgeous. But when I get on the planes, it's always some old guy or older lady. Is there a quota on cute flight attendants to Louisville, or is that some kind of weird senior trip???

Anyways, later we met up with Grace, J, his family, and some of his friends. This began the meeting of interesting and new people who's names I can't quite remember phase of the weekend. We all had dinner at Verisano's pizza, which was yummy. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for pizza done differently. After a some time at J's apartment embarrassing him with pictures from his youth (I'm still waiting to see the leather pants and eyeliner shots), Grace, Charity and I went out for some stress relief. Seems that this past weekend everyone was flying to Atlanta, making the transit of all the family into town a challenge. Christine and Scott's adventures in nonrevving have probably fixed them from trying that one again, but that's my life... you get used to it.

So, after a couple pitchers of margarita, we were calmed down and hopefully alleviated some of Grace's worrying. I'm always amazed how such a special fun day can become a huge ball of stress just waiting to explode. But it all worked out, almost everyone made it in time.

So, after sharing my room that night with a gorgeous brunette, the next day started the process of heading to my homeland. Well, sort of.

Grace found aplace in Dahlonega to get married. My mother's family is from that very area. I'm amazed how touristy the place is now, compared to the barely functioning town of my youth. Still, once you get beyond the scenic square and new Walmart, it's the name backwoods town it's always been. Tanya found us a fantasticly rustic cabin near town, the Yahoola lodge. Apparently people in the 1800's were much shorter than today judging by the door heights. i think everyone hit there heads on something at one point. But the 8 and 1/2 of us had a great time I think.

It shows a little that we're grown ups when it comes time to check out, and we pretty much manage to have the place cleaned, everything packed, and everyone ready an hour early. When I travel with my family we can't accomplish such a feat. Everyone was so helpful in cooking and cleaning and bartending (my specialty) for the weekend. Of course, not to think us too mature... we did put Brinley (the 1/2 person) up to things that responsible adults shouldn't do.

Then there was the whole reason we went. WHat a great night of dancing and company. I have the aches and pains still to prove it. I was so happy to see people I haven't seen in a long time and meet new and itneresting people. I'm hoping that the family's are looking at Grace's wedding crashing friends and thinking "OMG! Where did she meet these freaks!"

I really can't say how great of a weekend it was, and how fantastic the wedding went. Best ever! I think if I ever get married, I'm going to hire G to plan it... minus the buddy passes part :-)

In other news, nothing has officially come out of the desert people. I'm guessing that's that and I'm not going to live amongst the camels. I'm a little sad about it, but after last couple weekends I'm feeling better about being domestic. It's nice that so many people wanted me to go, but wanted me to stay more. Now, we just need to figure out a way to get J on with big D (and maybe Joe and I with him) and keep them in country.

So it's back in the ville with me for the foreseeable future. The next plans I have for travel are labor day weekend. If anyone is around, I strongly suggest.. no I demand you come check out the Marriott Marquis lobby bar for DragonCon. It's one of the most random best times you'll ever have. I've burned a vacation day on the schedule for a year just to go... and we all know that when i plan vacation days they usually go for something amazing (Thailand, Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, and Vegas in the last year alone)... so you can see the worth of such an outing.

I need to start planning a vacation again. I'm trying to find the cheapest way to Vietnam, and then I still have the month of March to plan for. It's keeps me happy having such things to look forward to. Perhaps I am descended from gypsy's or explorers... but I'm always happier when moving around. I can settle down when I'm old :-).

Time to walk through blast furnace that seems to encompass my neighborhood and head back home. Then off to work. Later!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Now and forever...

Inevitably this time of year, I look back to the summers spent marching around random grassy knolls carrying what is best described as the chrome bumper not good enough to actually make it in a career as a 1972 Cadillac bumper. So instead, the hunk survived on in the curved conical shape of G bugle. Not the best craftsmanship in musical instrumentation... Stradivarius it was not. But it was mine for the summer and always within visual range.

Back when it took real talent to make a beautiful noise... or a lot of practice. I fell into the "a lot of practice" category.

Why the nostalgia? Part of the past weeks fun included a visit to the Georgia Dome for the Drum Corps International Southeastern Championship. The trip was partially inspired by the love of the activity and wanting to see some quality music set to motion. More so, it was a chance to see some old friends who, though almost 20 years now (man I'm getting old), I've been keeping in touch with. Or at least trying to. I know there were more folks in the dome I didn't get to see, or maybe did but time has changed us beyond easy recognition. But when you do recognize some one and start talking, it's like we just got off that last bus ride home. It's the part of you that never really grew up, and every so often you think you could run back on the field and do it all again... an be famous :p
Yes that's me with my face so well covered by the other (thinner, though slightly less suave :-)) Jamie! Somewhere in the background of the picture, you may find Jamey Johnson, of country music fame.

So, I was able to spend some enjoyable time with Maggie (mello 94), Brian (Soprano, Contra 91, 94, 95????), Tommy (Cymbalist extraordinaire from 94 until...). We also ran into to Shelley (marching diva 93-97), Chad (all around good guy and Baritone player... and he's still at it), and Big Dave (the man who ran the place, played father to 100+ kids, made sure we were all fed, housed, transported in an occasionally timely manner, and kept us mostly out of trouble). And it's really embarrassing when you see some one you know is familiar, she's waving at you, and you just can't place them face. My bad Angela, but next time I'll know!

Of course the time was too short, and it always will be. For people you spend every waking, and sleeping moment, with for 3 months or so, you tend to miss them when they're not around. Even when you couldn't stand to look at their face at times.

While I was there, I was looking at the kids who were meandering about after they finished their performances and wondering if I looked that young. I mean tiny kids, in amazing physical shape and tan lines you'd never find anywhere else (i like the random white knee brace tan).

So maybe I did look that young. I almost started grabbing random kids to tell them to really live it up.. it'll be over before they know it. Jobs and kids will take over, but they'll always have this support group to fall back on. But I think they'd just look at me like some kind of delusional whacko... and they may be right :-)

I can without hesitation say those were some of the best times of my life, and thus far some of the most trying times. The challenges today are different, but being a "band geek" was the best preparation possible. I've been probably a million miles since then, and seen a lot of really cool things, done a lot of really fun stuff, and met some wonderful friends. But there's stilla fondness for the people I knew in my youth. And I hope to continue to see them for years to come, and I really want to do it more often... stupid real life getting in the way. That always seems to be a constant.

The last couple pictures... the brassline in 1994, and some of the reunited gang in 2007.