Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu: "The Sky is Falling." We now take you to our ace reporter Chicken Little.

Vertically Striped Socks is proud to have unparalleled photographic coverage of how this whole virus got started.

I am so over Swine Flu. Not that I have had it, but if you look through the news in the past week, you would think that we are dealing with a scourge that is going to decimate human population on earth, and there will only be a handful of survivors. "Run for the hills, the pig virus is gonna get you!"

I don't mean to make light of the people who have died as a result of Swine Flu, and I am sorry for their families and friends, but is it really as bad as the mainstream media is making it seem? Every few years some weird disease gains momentum in the news be it SARS or Bird Flu or Mad Cow disease. The media then has a colossal hissy fit, then things pretty much go back to normal. I imagine that this will be the case with Swine Flu as well. It is a little bit scary, because some people are dying from it, but the highest number of deaths that I have seen reported is 46. By all means, take normal precautions like washing your hands regularly (with soap, people) and if you start feeling ill, don't try to be a hero or anything, but lets not all start living in bubbles just yet.

The best part of this story are the conspiracy theorists who are having a field day. Obama is behind this to help usher in nationalized health care, the terrorist are behind this, this is the beginning of the end of days. I guess anything is possible, but I think the most likely reading of the situation is that a nasty bug is running wild and some people are getting sick. I am a pessimist when it comes to the Broncos season that is upcoming, but I'm optimistic that the sky is not falling. I now return you to a world of Chicken Littles.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I would like a mulligan on the Denver Broncos draft.

On the plus side, the Broncos first pick immediately becomes the most successful Knowshon in NFL history

The scroll along the bottom of the screen during the ESPN draft coverage encapsulated the Broncos' glaring need need perfectly…

Denver Broncos 2008 Final Rankings – Offensive 2nd Defensive 29th.

This means that last season there was only one team with a better ranked offense than the Broncos, and only three teams with a worse ranked defense. I know I’m being a bit speculative here, but perhaps that suggests that the biggest needs for the Broncos lie on the defensive side of the ball. Josh McDaniels, the very young and very new coach of the Denver Broncos apparently has a very different view of the Broncos needs. Holding the 12th and 18th overall picks in the draft, he only used one of them on a defensive player and of the ten picks the Broncos made, he used 60% of them on offensive players. The Broncos front seven, who are pretty much universally regarded as the weakest part of the team added exactly one player.

When you are a young coach at your first draft and many people are questioning your abilities as a head coach, I suppose you can go in a few directions. You can make defensible picks which address your weaknesses and have the people who discuss NFL drafts saying things like “solid draft” when they discuss your moves and get people believing that you have a good football head on your shoulders. The other option is you can make random and head scratching picks such as taking a running back with your highest pick and have people wonder if you’re in over your head. Don't get me wrong, I like Knowshon Moreno as a player, and I'm excited about watching him play for my team, but the Broncos taking a running back is like buying a Rolex even though your house doesn't currently have indoor plumbing. Sure, it's a nice thing to have, but there are more pressing concerns.

The thoughts I have heard and read regarding the Broncos draft fall somewhere along the line of “McDaniels is an idiot” on the least forgiving side to “perhaps he is a genius and sees something no one else can see yet.” When the best case scenario is that you’re a genius but no one else can see it yet, you haven’t had a very good draft. Add that to the fact that Josh chased away Jay Cutler, and I’m ready to wash my hands of him. Has a coach ever been fired before he actually coaches a single game? I’m ready to make history here.

Here is a recap of the Broncos offseason. Coaching icon Mike Shannahan kicked to the curb like a old bad of moldy tangerines, Josh McDaniels is hired and alienates the best player on the team to the point that he has to be traded away, coach then goes out and signs three free agent running backs but goes ahead and makes his first overall pick in the draft a running back. Coach trades away next years number one pick in a year when the Broncos may be one of the worst teams in the league, meaning that he may have traded away a top 5 pick in next years draft for number 37 overall. Team uses more than half of it’s picks on the side of the ball where they were strongest last season, and trades away two picks from next year leaving the Broncos with a league low 5 picks for next years draft as of right now. Oh yeah, they also have a brutal schedule coming up in which I have to really stretch to come up with as many as five or six wins. WORST. OFFSEASON. EVER.

At least the Nuggets are playing well right now. I remain a Broncos fan, but much like the United States government…I’m not too keen on the new regime. I hope McDaniels puts everything together and they make a playoff run, but as of now I wouldn’t be even a little bit surprised if he is looking for work this time next year after a 3-13 season.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Magnificent Seven: 7 Random Things that make me Insane.

As always, the inspiration for the Magnificent Seven is the Magnificent 7, Mr. Elway.

If you are a regular reader of the Vertically Striped Socks you may find this hard to believe, but I am truly a sensitive soul. Yes, I am a sensitive, but it’s usually only about oddest things. Generally, I am laid back to a fault, but I also have my strange trigger points. There are so many perfectly harmless things in this world which make me insane. I realize that this is a problem I have, and in no way do I hold liable anyone who perpetrates these crimes against my sensibilities. I realize logically that these issues shouldn’t get me all worked up, and yet emotionally I have a visceral reaction when I come across items on this list that no amount of logic and calm reasoning can assuage.

I have decided that part of my self-prescribed therapy is to create my second installment of The Magnificent Seven be a list of seven perfectly harmless things that make me crazy. As always with the Magnificent Seven, these lists are neither a comprehensive nor consecutive lists, but are merely lists of seven things that come to mind on each particular topic. Unfortunately, It should probably be noted that there a great many other things which make me loopy, these just happen to be seven of them.

Passwords – One of the downfalls of living in the computer age is that we have to remember roughly forty-seven billion passwords. At my job alone, I have a password to log into my computer, a password to log on to our asset management system, a password to log into our title order system, a password for our appraisal management company system, a password for our property work management company, a password for our payroll system, a password for our secondary valuation group, and probably eight more that I can’t think of off the top of my head. Add these to passwords and user names that I have to have for pretty much every web application and account that I use (and there are a ton of those), and PIN numbers for credit cards and ATM’s and before long, I am easily over one hundred passwords to access things in my life. The human mind was not intended to remember this many passwords and it doesn’t help that in order to get your passwords reset, you have to remember others meaningless drivel. It gets old.

The straw that finally breaks this camel’s back is that at my company we have to change all of our passwords every ninety days. First of all, I have to have a password on the off chance that someone can’t wait to order hundreds of appraisals with my user name, and then I have to change that password every three months in order to keep that person from figuring out my password just in case they were actually crazy enough to want to get it in the first place. In my office, people are doing well to actually wear two socks that match each other, and we’re worried about a criminal mastermind ordering extra appraisal reports?? I’m so over passwords, and the thing is that they keep getting more and more annoying. Now for many of my passwords, I have to use both upper and lower case letters along with a special character and a number. I swear it’s draining my will to live some days. I want to just make all of my passwords be the actual word “password” and be done with it. All this needless secrecy is maddening. I barely have the power to make a cup of tea without prior approval, and yet we have to guard my tiny level of access like I have intimate access to the holding bays of Fort Knox.

Security checks at stadiums - Ever since September 11th happened eight years ago, our nation has been assaulted with good hearted empty headed policies designed to make us feel safer. Many of these efforts do little to actually keep us safe, but I guess as long as we’re trying we get an A for effort. One of the most bizarre and annoying (apart from having to take off our shoes at the airport) is the security check that everyone must pass through before entering a sporting event. The place where this gives me the biggest fit is at Invesco Field when I go to a Broncos game. The preposterous lack of thought that has been instituted at this particular security check is appalling.

To avoid claims of sexual harassment, there are men’s lines manned by men security personnel, and women’s lines womenned (I love making up new words) by female security folk. Keep in mind that this is an NFL game, and a generous estimate says that maybe fifteen percent of the clientele are female, however for some reason (Gender Equality?) we have an equal number of male and female gates. Gender equality is all fine and good, but sometimes a little common sense would be much more appreciated. If I were going to a taping of the Oprah Winfrey show and had to go through gender divided security checks, I would be fine with one men’s gate for every eight women’s gates, because I would expect that would be how the demographics would break down. With that line of thought, could we at least do a two to one ratio of men’s gates to women’s gates at the football game? The unintended consequence of this equality is that women fly through the security gates, but then have to wait for their guys to get through anyway, and it ends up holding up everyone except for all female groups.

That’s asinine enough, but then when you finally get through the ludicrously long wait and get up to the guy who is checking you, it’s usually some high school kid who is bored out of his mind and who reaches around your chest area in some sort of pseudo hug and then lets you move along. Unless the terrorist is wearing some type of chest holster, or he has his bomb in his chest pocket, I don’t think that this minimum wage flunky is going to thwart Al Qaeda. So, unless the terrorists are unable figure out that they should probably put their weapons in their pants, perhaps we are not as safe as they would like us to feel at the security checkpoint. So stupid.

Professional Wrestling – I will tread as lightly as possible here, because I know I have many friends and acquaintances who love pro wrestling, but I have to say that I do not get it, not at all. It’s sort of like sports, only the outcomes are predetermined and it’s all as phony as the badge on the guy driving the security truck at the mall (the one with the constantly flashing yellow lights.) It’s sort of like a soap opera, except louder and with even worse acting. It boggles my mind to think that there could be worse acting that on a soap opera until I watch wrestling. I honestly don’t understand the appeal. I realize that the wrestlers do amazing stunts and they are very athletic, and I get that the violence and loudness definitely appeals to a certain demographic. My issue with it is that when you boil it down to its essence, it’s a loud, obnoxious soap opera with roided up dudes who can’t act performing their little dramas in which the winners and losers as best as I can figure are determined by a public opinion focus group and some writers. Again, I’m not attacking you nor calling you stupid if you like it, I just don’t get it myself. When I watch it, it makes me angry because of how little I understand the appeal and how little I want to see even a commercial for it on TV as I flip channels. Wrestling has not done anything to hurt me, and yet I find a disgust in my soul for it that few things in life can match.

Kamikaze Bicyclists – Most people on bicycles are just fine. My problem is with the ones who do one of the two following things, and I have named these crazy people Bicycle Kamikazes. 1. Bikers who get into major streets despite the fact that there is a perfectly good and wide sidewalk for them to ride down. These people are moving at fourteen miles per hour, yet are cruising down a street where the posted speed limit is 45 MPH, and expect everyone driving to just pass them. I call this brand of Kamikaze the “Bike Car” guy. He thinks his Bike is a car. 2. This second Kamikaze is has completely taken leave of his senses. He believes that although he is driving down the same street as cars, he does not need to stop at red lights. I see this Bicycle Kamikaze the most when I am walking around downtown Denver. He is moving along with traffic, but the light turns and although every car stops, he powers right on through the intersection. First of all, he is legally obligated to stop, but more importantly, HE IS GOING TO GET FLATTENED BY A TRUCK!!! I cannot control my angry thoughts when I see this second brand of Kamikaze do his thing. I don’t really care that he is breaking traffic law, but I can’t help but think that some poor soul is going to have to explain to his mom why her little Johnny got demolished by a Flat Bed. I am angry for that guy who has to comfort a grieving mother due to Darwin’s law being enacted.

Guys who use the toilet when a urinal is available – Girls will not relate to this one at all, I understand. I will also grant you that this one is just plain weird, and perhaps it’s just me. However, when a guy needs to urinate, and he goes into the stall to use the toilet rather than just using the open urinal that is just sitting there, it really angers me. Doesn’t he realize that he is less likely to leave a mess at the urinal, doesn’t he realize that he might be monopolizing some valuable territory for someone who might need that toilet for an emergency situation in which some serious sitting down will be necessary, and wouldn’t you just rather use the trough over the bowl anyway??? These are the questions that enter my head EVERY TIME I see a guy walk into a stall and then I hear the telltale splashing sounds but don’t hear someone sit. I am amazed at how many guys pull this move, actually it’s probably more shock than amazement. I personally prefer the urinal, and find it to be a more pleasant alternative for many reasons. None of which I will detail here, but suffice to say, I think it’s better than a toilet. The only other thing I can think of is that guy wants a little more privacy or is a little insecure, which I don’t get either, because one of the cardinal rules of the men’s room is that you look at the wall in front of you or at the ceiling, no other alternatives are acceptable. Whatever the reason is, I dismiss it out of hand propose the following rule to my fellow men…If you have to sit down, use the stall, if you’re going to stand up, be a man and use the urinal. I am going to move on now…

Driving slow in the left lane – “Slower traffic keep right.” That is not a suggestion, it is the law. If you are driving slower than the people around you, even if you are driving the speed limit, get your little Hyundai or Kia into the right lane. I realize that you may think that because you are moving at the posted speed limit, and that legally people shouldn’t drive any faster than that. So you feel justified being in the left lane because you are driving as fast as the law allows. You may feel justified, but you are also WRONG! Newsflash…a lot of people like to drive faster than the limit. If we get caught by Joe Law and his radar gun of shame, we will be the ones who have to deal with the repercussions, and we are prepared to do so if necessary. However, at the moment we are running late for something (be it work, a date, or the tipoff of the Nuggets game) and we want to get where we are going as fast as we can. We do not want or appreciate your little law abiding butt clogging up the lane that is supposed to be for the fastest and most aggressive of the cars. Move over, or so help me if I ever develop Jedi powers, you will find your car being raised up into the air and deposited on the side of the road in a most unpleasant (but not life threatening, because I’m not THAT mean) way. Actually it’s probably not likely that I develop any Star Wars related powers anytime soon, and the world may be a better place as a result, but seriously…can you just drive in the right hand lane like you’re supposed to? I don’t feel like I’m asking for too much here.

Parking Lot Lurkers –The Parking Lot Lurker can be identified by their signature move of hovering behind you as you are walking through a crowded parking lot. Much like a remora on a shark they attach themselves to unwitting pedestrians like a parasite and feed off of the parking accomplishments of others. There are times such as Christmas at the mall when this activity cannot be avoided, and at those times this behavior does not bother me. However, when it’s a random April day and the parking lot is only half full I feel like punching these people in the nose. These people have an unholy amount of patience and a deathly fear of walking an extra forty yards in a parking lot. Even in situations when they are preparing to engage in an activity which will require a ton of walking such as going to the mall, these people would rather wait for ten minutes for you to pull out of your parking spot than drive down eight more spots and park in the empty space and do slightly more walking. This is one of the few things that make me nuts on this list that I have the ability to do something about. It may be a bit passive aggressive, but it feels so good. Getting into my vehicle with my two little kids isn’t something that is a quick process anyway, but I make sure that it is an extra slow process when someone is waiting for my spot when there is an available space not too far away. I go around to both sides and make sure that my kids are correctly positioned in their car seats, then I check again and perhaps see if either of the children need a drink or perhaps a snack, I’ll check the mirrors and adjust them once or twice, check my tire pressure, adjust my seat a few times, and just sit in my seat for a few minutes to collect my thoughts and emotions. Basically, I’ll do anything I can think of to make the lurker rethink their decision to wait for my spot. The thing that I find to be absolutely insane is that the lurker hardly ever moves on to another spot, it’s like they shut off all brain activity other than making sure they get my spot once I move. I had a lurker a couple of weeks ago wait for about five minutes for my spot when there was literally four spaces further down. Madness!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Best Brother's Wedding: Part 2

On the heels of the longest blog post in recorded history, (seriously that thing was like the blog version of War and Peace) I have decided to do more of a quick hits segment for day 2 of the wedding. One because I don’t feel like writing that much again and two because well, I just don’t feel like writing that much again.

Bruce cleans up pretty well, I'd say. A striking groom, although not quite as good looking as his brother.

-I need to give big Kudos to my wife who is in the running for Super Duper Person of the year as a result of the fact that she let me sleep in until 10:30, and took the kids to go get breakfast so that I was able to get some good rest before the wedding. Big props to you, Jen!! I love you!

-The guy at the tux shop not only remembered who I was from the day before, he had everything fixed and ready to roll the minute I walked into the shop. If you have to get fancy for a special occasion, I highly recommend Men’s Wearhouse. They haven’t even paid me to say that, although perhaps I could work something out with their corporate office since I’m delivering literally tens of eyes to them for this pseudo commercial. Have your people call my people, Men’s Wearhouse.

-One of the biggest blessing of the weekend was the fact that there is an In-N-Out Burger in Tucson. There are few things in life more fulfilling than a Double-Double animal style. If you've never experienced In-N-Out, you really need to take a good hard look at your life and re-examine your priorities. It's a life changing burger, and I'm not even kidding.

-The Saguaro National Forest is a really cool place, it is home to some gigantic Saguaro cacti, and I highly recommend checking it out if you're ever in Tucson. Very pretty.

If you happen to run across this guy in the desert, run. He is considered goofy and probably dangerous!

More Saguaro Beauty

Beauty and the Beast.

-I have to give my brother a little credit, the tux that he picked out wasn't cheap to rent, but it was easily the most comfortable tux I have ever worn.

-I got a little bit of a Nostradamus in me...Before the wedding I was talking with someone and said, "Something will go wrong, something always goes wrong with wedding ceremonies, that's part of what makes them memorable." I was of course correct...something did go wrong. My brother and his bride had arranged a ceremonial exchange of roses as a first gift to symbolize their love and when it was time for the roses...WHOOPS, they had been left upstairs, and were nowhere to be found. Thanks to some quick thinking by one of the bridesmaids, disaster was averted. She noticed that there were roses in one of the flower displays up front, she pulled a couple of roses from that vase, handed them to the couple, and BOOM, crisis averted. (I pulled out the BOOM in honor of John Madden retiring today.)

-I have decided that my little girl Ellie is maybe not the most ideal flower girl for a wedding. She and another little girl were the flower girls, and they walked in okay, although they accidentally walked around the front of the seating instead of down the aisle, but that worked. This biggest problem occurred when Ellie realized that the whole room was looking at her. Ellie is a bit shy, and when she realized that she was the focus of the entire audience, she got a little freaked out and started crying and had to be taken out of the room.

-My brother's wedding was well done, and the reception was fun, but if there was one thing to complain about, it was the DJ. This was one of the worst DJ's I had ever heard. He was playing a ton of schlocky 70's Singer/Songwriter garbage, and Bruce went over to him and asked him to knock it off, but the guy wouldn't know a good song if someone tossed an iPod at him. Sadly the dance wasn't all it could have been thanks to an inept DJ who seemed blissfully unaware that music has been written since 1978.

-I gave a toast to my brother, and someone said that it was more like a roast than a toast. I didn't mean for it to be that, so if I offended you Bruce or Melisa, I'm very sorry. I do wish you guys the best. I also ended it by saying, "Live long and prosper." Which was a very dorky Star Trek thing, and I totally didn't mean to do it, but it's something I'm going to have to live with since it happened. I don't know what I was thinking there, I couldn't have felt more nerdy if I had been wearing an official issue Starfleet Uniform.

Only a Goober like this would toast his brother and new sister-in-law by saying, "Live long and prosper."

-At the end of the day, my brother and his new wife were married, so I guess the mission was accomplished. George Bush didn't show up on the deck of an aircraft carrier to announce the mission was successful, but perhaps that's for the best anyway, as that didn't work out so great the last time it happened. I had a great time in Tucson, and I'm happy that my brother is happy. All the best to you guys. As my Jewish friends would say...Mazel Tov!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Best Brother's Wedding: Part 1

The water was every bit as cold as Luke's face would lead you to believe.

(Before you start reading, I just want to warn you that even though this post is ridiculously long, it is amazingly only the first half of this story. Yes, there is even more to come. If you don’t feel like reading this small book, I can understand, but I think if you do read it, you may enjoy it. I wanted to get my thoughts down on an extremely fun weekend, and this was the logical place. Like the obnoxious Mountain Dew Voltage commercial with the giant mosquito says, I hope you enjoy it, but fully understand if you do not. In a lot of ways, this post is like an entry into a journal for me.)

I sojourned to Tucson, AZ this past weekend for my brother’s wedding. I didn’t run into JoJo, so he must have ignored the advice and not gotten back. (Bonus points to anyone who gets that rather obscure and mostly unfunny joke.) Bruce was getting married, and since he wanted me to be in his wedding, I figured it’d probably be a good idea to show up. Plus since I put down the $20 deposit on the tux, it’s not like I could just let that money go to waste. I took off Friday from work, which hardly required anyone to twist my arm, and got up even earlier than normal to head to the airport with my family. When Jen woke me at 4:30 in the morning on Friday so that I could leave my warm cozy bed and get ready, I had some severe second thoughts. I decided I may as well get rolling as my wonderful wife wasn’t going to let me sleep anymore anyway. Jen is very good at getting me up and going, which Bruce can be thankful for. If left to my own devices, I’m not sure he would have had all four of his groomsmen for the ceremony. My daughter was even less enthused about waking up at O’Dark Thirty. With a little bit of coaxing and a little bit of picking her up and carrying her against her will eventually the whole family was buckled in and on our way to my parent’s house.

We loaded up the grandparents and their luggage and soon our over-stuffed Toyota Sienna was rumbling on its way to Denver International Airport. There were no terrible airport horror stories in the usual, expected places. We breezed through the security line so easily I was almost was cheery despite having to remove my shoes and have my belongings picked through with a fine-toothed comb. I had a sunny disposition right up to the point I arrived at the McDonald's in Terminal A. This McDonald's was staffed by people from some Sub-Saharan country where learning English is apparently not encouraged so much as is learning how to give poor service without a smile. I have come to expect ridiculously inflated prices at airports, but paying $21.50 for three extra value meals seemed to be more than a smidge excessive, even at the airport. I looked at my receipt, and it appeared that in addition to charging me for my breakfast value meals, they also charged me the full two dollars apiece for each of the orange juices which were supposed to come with the meal. It was at this point that I became the ugly American inside of America, which was a bit surreal. I started out friendly enough by simply questioning the woman at the counter on this seeming mischarge. At this point I will allow that there is every possibility that I may have been mistaken, but in my defense it takes an advanced accounting degree to make sense of a McDonald’s receipt these days. I was willing to accept the possibility that this amount of food which would cost about eight dollars in the real world would cost me $21.50 at the airport. However, I at least wanted an explanation as the charge seemed excessive to me and the receipt did little to assuage my doubt. The woman at the counter either barely spoke English or she didn’t want to deal with a hostile customer situation, possibly both of these statements were true. Either way it took her all of about four milliseconds to call for her manager to come over. The manager did her best to explain the situation. And to clarify, when I say, “Did her best to explain the situation.” What I mean is, “She told me to shove off in the least pleasant way possible for her to express without losing her job.” Then she followed it up in her thick accent with a condescending; “Now you understand?”

Now, you can call me a xenophobe if you want, but I only ask for two things in a McDonald’s employee. The first is “Be Friendly” and the second is, if possible, “Be able to speak English plainly enough to explain why I’m taking out a second mortgage for an Egg McMuffin.” I don’t even need (or expect) the English thing if they are friendly, but this woman failed so miserably at the friendly part, that the being unable to communicate in English part pushed me over the edge. I angrily took my food, and replied to her condescending remark with a nasty, “Yes, I understand that I’m being screwed!” and I walked off in a huff. Now, I’m hardly ever this obnoxious and I felt guilty about it about three seconds after I walked away, and I wished I never had gone off for such a silly reason. However, I found myself wishing that McDonald’s could have at least ONE designated friendly employee able to explain situations to their customers in English. I don’t feel like I’m asking for too much here. Oh well.

Our flight went off without incident and was actually quite pleasant. Our luggage dropped onto the carousel so quickly that my mother only had time to take twenty or thirty pictures of us before we were on our way. (Our luggage actually did come quickly, but my mom REALLY likes to take digital pictures.) We met up with our friend Kevin who was another groomsman in the wedding. We were giving him a ride from the airport to Bruce’s place since he wasn't planning on renting a car. It appeared that we were on our way to having a quick and pleasant airport experience in Tucson when we arrived at the (cue ominous music) Hertz rental counter. We entered the car rental area and there were five or six different companies represented, every single one of them had no line and four people standing behind the counter. Every one that is, except for Hertz. Hertz had two ladies working at the counter and a small line waiting for help. I wasn’t worried about the line, as there was only one person standing in front of us. I estimated it would take between three and five minutes before we were loading up our rental cars and driving off to Bruce’s house. That was before I realized that Hertz of Tucson measures the speed of their agents with a sundial. These women were so slow that either of them would be the perfect mate for the character that Ben Stein plays in “Ferris Beuller's Day Off”. "Beuller?? Beuller??" If these two women were one of Aesop's fables it would be entitled, "The Tortoise and the other Tortoise."

After waiting for what felt like an hour, (although, to be fair it probably wasn't much more than 58 minutes) the sloth twins finally got to us. My parents had rented two cars, one for my family and one for them, and to my horror, the woman at the counter said that she had to dispense the vehicles one at a time. I think the hamster nearly fell off the wheel in her brain when my mother also mentioned that she had reserved two car seats for our car. After painstakingly detailing every scratch that was mentioned on the liability report for my father's car and going through a Dead Sea Scroll's worth of waivers and insurance forms, they finally gave my dad his keys about fifteen minutes later.

Then it was my turn, and despite the fact that I had just listened to the entire massive and painful spiel, I was required to listen to it for a second time. Just as we were about to get our keys, she disappeared into the back for ten minutes to go get our car seats. This woman was draining my will to live, and my kids had apparently had enough and were beginning to lie on the ground directly in the path of foot traffic. This made the situation even more fun, because if waiting for a rental car agent to return from the secret room as if she was Moses on Mount Sinai returning with the Ten Commandments wasn't fun enough, having two bored and tired kids under the age of five lying on the airport floor really topped off the festivities. Mercifully, our sluggish friend eventually returned and told us that someone would meet us shortly at our car with the child seats.

I was beginning to feel the effects of not having much sleep, but I felt renewed now that we were on our way to my brother's place. My mother had been quite hungry before the odyssey at the rental counter. She was now ready to eat just about anything up to and including the car seats that were thankfully delivered quickly by a representative of Hertz of Tucson. (Not by one of the two turtle sisters, thankfully.) We now had our cars, car seats, directions to Bruce's house, and powerful appetites ready to roll.

We arrived at Bruce's house in just a few minutes and were introduced for the first time to
Bruce's stepson-to-be, a sweet little 7-year-old boy named Malachi. We toured the home as we had never been there before, and we took about half an hour to chat in his newly manicured back yard. Relatively shortly, we were able to get Bruce, Melisa (his bride-to-be) and Malachi piled into the car and the whole group of us made our way to a delicious spot called "My Big Fat Greek Restaurant." I don't know if it was the fact that we were approaching dangerous starvation levels or the food was just really that good, but everyone devoured their gyros and Greek salads with reckless abandon as we debated who amongst the men at the table was the most "Man Pretty." The delicious meals were followed by an amazing flambĂ© desert which had to be brought out twice because the first time it was ignited the ice cream fell on the floor. We didn’t mind that it took extra time because our appetites had been mostly abated by lamb and feta cheese, plus this gave us more time for our silly debate in which the near unanimous decision was that I am quite Man Pretty. Yes, we were slightly delirious.

After lunch, we split up into teams to accomplish the goals that were before us. Kevin, my Dad and I made our way to the tux shop to pick up our rented clothing for the next day's ceremony whilst everyone else headed to the Hilton to do our part to support Paris' retirement fund by checking in to our various rooms scattered amongst the seven floors of the hotel.
At the tux shop, Kevin had no problem and quickly picked up his tux. However, my tux had several issues including the fact that the top button of my tuxedo shirt was broken in two, a seam in my pants was all bunched up, and my tux shoes were so scratched and dinged it looked like they had seen a tour of duty during Desert Storm. The guy at the tux shop was amazing. He had a friendly and calm demeanor and he was pretty much all the things that the employees at the airport McDonald's were not. He calmly told me that he would take care of everything and that I could pick up everything the next morning, including a nice new pair of shoes that he would order right away for me. He didn't even flinch when Kevin and I were trying on our clothes and I yelled to Kevin from inside the dressing room, "I think we may have a problem, I'm too sexy for my shirt." The tux place was wonderful, even if the tux they delivered had a few issues.

From there, we were off to the hotel. The rehearsal would be later that afternoon, but we had a few hours to kill. My four-year-old daughter had gotten dressed in her bathing suit and was desperately campaigning for a trip to the swimming pool. Who was I to argue with a great idea like that? Although we were in Southern Arizona the weather was unseasonably cool, but a dip in the pool still sounded like a decent idea. My mom, my daughter, my son, Malachi and I donned our suits and headed out to take a dip in what turned out to be one of the coldest swimming pools in recorded history. Jumping into this pool actually qualified you for the Polar Bear's club. I somehow survived in the icy pool for almost forty minutes before I decided that I wanted to avoid the embarrassment of having to explain how I lost three fingers to frostbite in Arizona in April. I retreated to my room and a wonderfully hot shower, got dressed and made my way downstairs to prepare for the rehearsal.

That is a look of shock from the cold after I jumped into the pool.

People were beginning to arrive and many hugs and smiles were exchanged in the lobby while I was plopped on a cozy couch exhaustedly watching the festivities. Although it was fun to watch, I lacked the will to forcibly remove myself from the couch to say hello myself. Somehow I was able to stay awake as I sat and waited for the rehearsal which started about half an hour later than scheduled. The wedding was going to take place outside adjacent to the same pool in which I narrowly escaped disfigurement only hours earlier. The rehearsal was held with most of the participants having all the focus and attention of airline passengers during a safety demonstration. I vaguely knew where I was supposed to walk in and where I would stand. The rest of the time the other groomsmen and I stood around and debated whether or not we would shove Bruce into the pool the next day or if perhaps he would faint and fall in all on his own.

The rehearsal dinner was held back at Bruce's place and it had a luau theme since they were going to honeymoon in Hawaii. I was given a lei but it was itchy and pink so I only wore it for about twelve seconds. One Sam Adams and several cold cuts later, I was feeling much better about life. The rehearsal dinner was very relaxed and I had some wonderful conversations with friends and family. There was some talk of heading to downtown Tucson with the guys for an impromptu bachelor celebration of sorts. After several hours of celebrating at the rehearsal dinner, I was nearly conked out on another squishy sofa. I had been up since 3:30 AM local time and it was now around 9:00 PM. At this point people were taking bets on whether or not I would make it out for the night on the town, and my making it downtown was a huge underdog.

I am either a hardy soul, or an idiot. (Probably both) I headed back to the hotel, took a brief look at the warm and inviting bed, and quickly peeled out of the hotel room and down to the lobby to join the guys that were heading out for a night of revelry. There were eight of us, including my Uncle Mark who used to travel with the Grateful Dead. We piled into two cars and drove to downtown Tucson. I will say this about the bars in Tucson, they are unique. The first place we headed was called “Che’s.” It had an odd theme which I would describe as surrealist Communist with a thrash metal twist. I had a Newcastle and wandered through the place checking out the art which included several pictures of Chairman Mau. There were other strange pictures such as the painting of a two-headed goat and our favorite piece of art which had a guy holding his finger under his nose and his finger had a mustache drawn on it. The greatest moment for us at Che’s was watching two old and unattractive people hook up and then proceed to heavily make out with each other. It was painful to watch, but had a humorous train wreck type quality which made it nearly impossible to turn away from. After about twenty minutes at Che’s we decided to bolt and try our luck with another bar.

The next bar we found was called the Surly Wench; to say this place was out there barely begins to describe the vibe. The best description I could come up with was that it was a Goth bar with lots of skulls and skeletons with a hint of Roller Derby. While the atmosphere at Che’s was deafening, the Wench had a much mellower, albeit slightly sinister, atmosphere. I had a shot of Crown Royal here and quickly decided that I didn’t feel like going any further with the alcohol for the rest of the evening. I am a bit of a lightweight drinker. I have also never seen the appeal in getting drunk or in drinking so much that you get sick. I decided that I would strictly be a drinking spectator for the rest of the evening. Naturally, that didn’t stop the rest of the crew and after a few drinks at the Surly Wench we began discussing the important questions of life such as, “What is this cheesy 80’s movie that they are showing on the television.” The answer was “Manhunter” from 1986, as we discovered through the magic of our friend Ryan’s iPhone. It felt like it was starting to get late although I had no real sense of what time it was, but the evening was showing no sign of slowing. We decided that forty-five minutes was about as long as the Surly Wench maintained her charms, and once again we hit the street in search of adventure in the form of another bar.

The next place we passed looked very boring and preppy, so we decided to avoid it and try the tropical looking bar across the street. It turned out that they had a live bluegrass band and a three dollar cover. I had no cash, but my uncle generously paid for everyone and we walked on in. I have no idea what this bar was called, but it was definitely the best place we visited. The bluegrass band wasn’t highly talented, but they were fun, and it set a great mood. I must have spent almost two hours just hanging out, listening to music, having conversations about life and watching my crew get more and more inebriated. Shortly before we left, my brother’s best man Eric bought shots for everyone. Unfortunately he made the decision to have the bartender decide what we would drink. The fluid that the bartender filled the shot glasses with was some purplish swill that the bar business manager must have ordered on accident and was having a hard time getting anyone to drink. The drinks looked foul lined up in their ominous purple lines. Although I had pretty much finished drinking for the evening hours earlier, I felt like I needed to partake in this bonding moment, but I took a small sip as I didn’t want to partake too fully. That decision proved to be wise as my eyes did not deceive me. The small sip I drank tasted like stale Gatorade mixed with gasoline. I never heard what the drink was called officially, but I believe that the unofficial name we all agreed upon was Blueberry Windex. Shortly after partaking of this unique taste experience, we left the bar to head back to the hotel.

We got back to the hotel a few minutes after one in the morning. Although most everyone smartly decided to head to bed, Uncle Mark and I decided that we were hungry and were not yet ready to head to our hotel beds. We called up Bruce and Eric who had stopped at In-n-Out Burger on the way home and asked if they wanted to join us. Bruce said that he wouldn’t eat anything, but that he’d love to come along. Bruce was Eric’s ride, so Eric had no choice but to also join us. The four of us stumbled into Denny’s at 1:30 in the morning.

At this point I had been up for nearly twenty-two consecutive hours, and the other guys were still feeling the effects of the Blueberry Windex, needless to say we were more than a little bit giddy. We were at that point where just about anything that anyone would say was hilarious, and we were in no mood to stifle the laughter. Bruce, Eric and I all ordered milkshakes, and they came in glass mugs with the old-school mixing cup that had the extra milkshake in it that didn’t fit in our cups. Both Bruce and Eric spilled a significant amount of ice cream onto the table when they tried to refill their cups, and somehow I managed to bite my tongue chewing my shake. We couldn’t control our laughter at any of these blunders. Truth be told we couldn’t stop giggling at just about anything that was said. We were quite obnoxious, and I’m pretty sure that our waitress was ready for us to leave long before she delivered our Grand Slam breakfasts. Yes, even Bruce ordered a full meal, even though he had just polished off a Double-Double only minutes earlier and it was two in the morning. I was impressed at the gastro-intestinal courage being displayed by a man who was only hours away from getting married. Mercifully, we made it back to the hotel, although we were drenched as we had to run through a torrential downpour to get back to Mark’s car. Heavy rain the night before a wedding was an omen of weather to come, but we thought nothing of it at the time. I walked into my dark hotel room where the rest of my family was blissfully asleep, and twenty-three hours after I had gotten up that morning, I finally made it to bed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New and Improved: Detroit Lions

I love sports logos and uniforms, possibly even more than I love sports, which is weird. One of my favorite events is when sports teams change their logos and or uniforms, which makes me feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve right now as several NFL teams are about to announce some uniform or logo changes. This group of new and improved teams is rumored to include the 49ers, Jaguars and Dolphins. One team that has not officially announced their change is that group of lovable losers from Detroit known as the Lions. Yes, apparently the Lions versus Packers game I atteneded in Green Bay last December where Detroit put the finishing touches on the first 0-16 season in NFL history is apparently historic for two reasons. Firstly, because it was the first time a team finished a sixteen game season without a win, and secondly because it was apparently the final time that the Lions will wear that logo on their helmets.

The Lions haven't OFFICIALLY announced their new logo, but an item on the NFL shop was prematurely listed for sale with the new logo, and since that happened a ton of new information and pictures have slipped out over the internets, so basically it has been leaked. Here is the photo of the new logo (on the left) juxtaposed with the old logo (On the right)...

My opinion is that the Lions hit a home run with this change. Their old logo definitely needed an update, but it also had a classic look to it that shouldn't have been totally scrapped. This new logo keeps the spirit of the old logo, but makes it better, always a plus in my book. Plus it looks more like a Lion now to me, if that makes sense. Since I'm such a sports logo nerd, I was reading up on the Detroit Free Press website (That newspaper has one of the coolest domain names about the new logo, and also reading fans' opinions of the new look. As I was reading people's opinions, I came across this opinion which brought me to tears with laughter...

immahustlababy90 wrote:
o wow. that new logo is really misleading. at first it just seems like a bunch of lines on the old logo but his mouth has now turnt into the legs and right above the legs is his smaller head. I just noticed that today after seeing a close up of the image. pretty nice. not bad. its kinda an optical illusion though. i wonder if its just me or a lot of people are confused. look closely. ya there needs to be more of a neck. no separation between the legs and the head really hurt it. hopefully this is just rough although i doubt it

I can't be certain, but I'm guessing immahustlababy90 isn't a rocket scientist, neurosurgeon, or even a rocket surgeon. Now, I'm not one to openly mock others...(Okay, yes I am) But, SERIOUSLY? This guy mistook the legs on the old logo for the lion's mouth? That would make the little dot the eye, apparently. I can sort of see what this guy was seeing if I try to look REALLY hard, but I am stunned that this guy has gone this long thinking that was the correct interpretation of the logo and he continued to miss the rather straightforward Lion outline. Somehow he instead saw some sort of awkward mentally handicapped Lion with a beaufont hairdo and no front legs.

The Lions logo has been the same without any changes or updates for my entire life. So this mental giant has had a long time to interpret the logo the correctly, and yet he has never been able to see that the legs were not the mouth. Not only that, but he also created the word "turnt" which I suppose is how you write the word "turned" in Stupid. So immahustlababy90, I salute you. In a world of stupid people, your level of idiocy rose above the common moron to achieve a special place in the Stupid Hall of Fame. I'm sorry, but his post was just too good, and I had to share...

Friday, April 3, 2009

How to lose a Quarterback in 10 days - Disceminating the Jay Cutler fiasco


My football team has descended into madness. Rarely in the history of football has a team so quickly alienated a young stud quarterback just entering his prime to the point that he needed to be shipped out of town. How did we get here so quickly? Let us retrace the inept steps...

Flash back to early December, Mike Shanahan was in control of the Denver Broncos. Jay Cutler was the young stud quarterback with tons of upside who was still growing into his potential for the team. The defense was pretty awful, but they still held a three game lead over the 5-8 Chargers with three games to play and all the Broncos needed was one win or one Chargers loss, and they would clinch a playoff birth. No one was expecting them to make it very far into the postseason, but it was pretty much expected that they would make it.

Let us review the carnage since…

The Broncos get popped by the Panthers in Carolina 30-10 a few hours after the Chargers convert an onside kick and come all the way back to defeat the Chiefs, they lose to a dreadful Buffalo Bills team at Invesco Field while the Chargers throttle Tampa Bay, and then in the final week of the regular season, the Broncos get lambasted in San Diego 52-21. A few days later, Pat Bowlen decides that franchise stability is overrated and it is time for a change. Shanahan is kicked to the curb, and twelve days later a fresh faced 32 year old assistant named Josh McDaniels from the mighty New England Patriots is plopped into the situation and declared Head Coach and chief bottle washer. Bronco Country is skeptical of the young buck, but hope for the best.

In his first signature move as head coach of the Broncos, Josh alienates his young stud quarterback by being a day late and a dollar short on a less talented but more familiar quarterback. In his play to reunite with Matt Cassell whom he had, “done coached up real good back in Boston” Coach McD ticked off the talented but moody Cutler. This non-trade set off a month of he said she said stories in which Cutler came off as a whiny baby and the coach came off as a manipulative liar incapable of appearing truthful. Cutler keeps whining and demanding a trade, and then it is revealed that the Broncos will keep Cutler as their quarterback until a few days ago when the owner came out and said that Cutler hadn’t returned anyone’s calls, and the Broncos had no choice but to seek a trade. Followed by a story the next day in which an apparently shocked Cutler says that no one has tried to call him, and he is shocked by this whole turn of events and he never really wanted to leave.

Then, yesterday afternoon, the Broncos announced that they had traded Jay and a 5th round pick in next year’s draft to Chicago for Kyle Orton (shudder) along with the eighteenth overall pick this year, a third round pick this year, and the Bear’s first round pick next year. I actually feel that is a pretty good trade for the Broncos, and hope that Josh does a better job of scouting players in the draft than he does of coach-quarterback relations. However, I can’t help but feel sad that the situation has come to this. There is a shortage of rocket armed 25 year old Pro Bowl quarterbacks in the league, and Kyle Orton does little to excite this Bronco fan.

This has been an ugly situation in which no one comes out the winner. Jay Cutler has now earned a reputation as an entitled cry baby, Josh McDaniels has blown through his honeymoon period faster than any coach in recorded history, and Pat Bowlen has lost a little luster as one of the stalwart owners in the NFL. The only winners I can see in this thing are the Chicago Bears who, although they paid a high price for it, now have their first legitimate quarterback since Jim McMahon.

My prediction for the upcoming season? Pain. At least pain if you are a Broncos fan. I have much hope, but little faith in Josh McDaniels. I remember how bad the defense was last season, and now I am looking at an offense that will likely be lacking Brandon Marshall for half the season and be quarterbacked by Kyle Orton. This is not a prescription for success, and my guess is that the 2009-2010 Broncos will not find much in the way of wins in the upcoming season. As for the Bears, I see them winning the NFC North and maybe a game in the playoffs, but not having quite enough to contend for a Super Bowl Championship.

I learned this week that to honor the 50th anniversary of the AFL that the Broncos would be wearing their Brown and Yellow vertically striped sock uniforms from 1960. In that season the Broncos finished 4-9-1 and in last place in the AFL Western Division, apparently the plan for the Broncos this season is to honor the memory of those uniforms by being as terrible in present day as they were when they last wore the brown helmets. Best case scenario, the Broncos have a great draft, Kyle Orton matures under Josh McDaniels leadership, and the Broncos eek out an 8-8 season. Worst case (and sadly, not entirely unlikely) scenario…”With the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, the Denver Broncos select…”

The saddest part of all is that in a period of four months, my team has gone from a solid NFL team to the new Oakland Raiders. It’s going to take a while to wash the stink of this whole affair off of the franchise. We may be hearing, “Fire Josh” chants before October even gets underway. I’m so depressed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Video of a Huge Dead Snake found by an Realtor I Work with in Florida

I work in an office that sells off properties that have been foreclosed upon. Angry homeowners who are upset at the bank that their homes are going through foreclosure often leave their homes in terrible condition with all sorts of problems left behind. Stacks of trash are normal, dead pets and animals are not unheard of, and I even have seen evidence that one angry former homeowner took a golf club and a golf ball and pretended that his home was a driving range. I see all sorts of crazy stories, but this is one of the most interesting I have ever come across. One of my best agents down in Florida found this gigantic dead snake right along one of our properties, he sent us this video so that we could get an idea of just how big this carcass is. I thought it was amazing how enormous it was, so I thought I'd share the video with everyone. You wouldn't believe how expensive it was to get the dead snake hauled away, but I imagine seeing something like that wouldn't make the home easier to sell. Anywho, enjoy the enormity of the body in the video!