Friday, September 30, 2005

MB's NASCAR Fever...

Well, here's a long awaited new blog, it's only been 2 1/2 months since I last wrote anything (that wasn't a draft...). This one's going to be short, though. I have way too much other stuff going on, so this Blog thing is way on the back burner. I will try to get some pictures in here when I get a hold of them.

Don't know if you realized it, but I wasn't around last week because I was in Delaware attending the NASCAR race and visiting college friends. I'll just talk about the race itself since I don't have enough time to write about other stuff right now.

The race wasn't until 1:30 PM. We left for the racetrack (40 miles away) at about 6:30 AM. I figured by leaving this early, we would be there by 8 for sure. Well, after stopping for gas and then hitting the unbelieveably huge traffic log-jam outside the track, we were on the road for an extra 90 minutes. :-[ I could not believe the traffic was that bad...guess I should have realized that when 100,000 people are all trying to go to the same place at the same time we would have problems.

Anyway, there were all sorts of neat things to do outside the actual race. Basically all of the teams have trailers parked outside the track where they peddle all sorts of souveneirs. There was free stuff also which was cool...unfortunately, most of the free stuff we found were samples of chewing tobacco. :-P I did get a nice keychain, though. We also got to see quite a few show cars there too.

Certain drivers would go to the haulers at certain times of day to sign stuff. The only problem was that you had to have a "line ticket," and they were all gone by the time we got there. I got to see Kurt Busch up pretty close and Dave Blaney also (woo hoo...although he is sort of a local celeb - he's from Sharon, OH which is only 20 miles from Mercer).

Anyway, onto the track. Driver introductions were soon as Gordon was announced, 3/4 of the people booed like crazy. It was hilarious. :-b And of course, when Earnhardt Jr. was announced, it was 3/4 of the people cheering. The drivers all rode around the track in trucks and waved to the crowd. Every turn that Gordon's truck went into had a huge burst of was just classic!

I'd say one of the coolest things that happened all day was the fly-over after the National Anthem. I always turn the station before they do all that pomp and circumstance, but being there when it happens definitely made it worthy. There were four F-16s that flew right over the track and made a humungous sonic boom. About 5 minutes later, they flew over again! I had never experienced that before, so it was pretty cool and got you hyped up for the race itself.
As the race started, there was one thing I really picked up on...the smell. Now, I think that the smell was from the racing fuel because it only smelled like that when the cars were at full speed. I don't think it was from some other "foreign substances" (i.e. drugs) anyway. The smell was just odd; it was sort of sweet, but you knew it was from gas. Oh well...that's what certain groups of consumed petroleum distillate hydrocarbons will give you.

Matt had a scanner that we programmed for all the cars before the race. There really wasn't a whole lot said unless they were passing a car (spotter saying "clear") or if they were coming in for a pit stop. Still, there was some funny things said. At one point during the race, I was listening to Gordon's radio, and about 5 seconds later he wrecked...right in front of where we were sitting. I just stood up and yelled "WHOOOOAAA!!!" That was probably the best part about the actual race. There were only like 3 wrecks in total...most of the cautions were from stupid debris on the track. What a waste of time.

Jimmy Johnson won the race. I don't really care for him, but it was better than Kyle Busch winning it. I was hoping Rusty Wallace would win, but oh well. He was doing some donuts and what-not as we exited from the track. Luckily we were on the side of the track facing the exit, so we skedaddled our way out so that we would not get stuck in the mass exodus leaving the track. It still took a little while to get out, but it wasn't nearly as bad as coming in.

I liked the race in total. There were just a lot of neat feelings to the track - the smells, the wind coming from the cars going so fast, and of course, Gordon wrecking. Matt said he liked it also, but if he goes again, he wants to go to Richmond or Bristol (super short tracks where people wreck constantly) because there were not enough wrecks at this race. I thought there would be a few more myself, but oh well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Keeping The Seed Alive...

One month since I last blogged...this is the type of stuff I envisioned when I started this thing. Passing fancies, starting to get new interests, all sorts of other things to do except update this. Well, here comes another feeble attempt at entertaining the viewership...

So, what has been going on for the past month? Well, mainly fantasy baseball drafting and team management. First it was going to be just two teams. Then, a person I talked to at the baseball site wanted me to do another draft. Then, another draft...things just spiraled out of control, and now I have nine fantasy baseball teams. It's quite ridiculous, really. I can't remember what players I have on each team. All I can do is scroll through them each day and change what I can to get me more stats. Then there is my so-called "Super Team." This is a team I am managing for a friend of mine from college, Lisa Cooper. She signed up for a baseball team, but she has no idea how to play fantasy baseball. For this auto-draft, I plotted a strategy of getting top hitters and above average/average pitchers. Well, I succeeded in the top hitters part as I landed three of the top 10 offensive players in fantasy baseball. The problem is that pitchers are more important in this league, and the ones I picked started out pretty poorly. I actually have since dumped one of said pitchers for a rolling two-start pitcher strategy. It worked out tonight, actually...the guy I acquired pitched a four-hit complete game shutout while the guy I dumped got tagged for 4 runs in 7 IP.

Speaking of baseball, I went up to an Indians game two Saturdays ago. The trip up was quite an interesting journey. We were fine until we got close to Cleveland, but then we took a business route instead of a normal highway and ended up in a partial slum area. I mean, it really wasn't that bad, it was just that half of the road was completely torn up, and all that was there was a three foot dirt hole in the middle of every block. It was definitely something I had never seen before. There were construction vehicles everywhere, makeshift crossings with mounds of dirt, and lots of fenced off stuff to keep people from driving into the places where there was no road. Man, I thought the road construction in Pennsylvania was bad; this area really took the cake.

The game itself wasn't too bad. I had Cleveland's pitcher on one of my fantasy teams, so I was hoping he would do well. He did all right...until he gave up a three-run homer to Torii Hunter in the 7th inning (who I actually have on two teams, so I really didn't care). Cleveland lost by two runs, and one of my closers (Joe Nathan from Minnesota) got the save. Overall, it was a decent day for my fantasy guys. It was also a decent day for me to get horribly, horribly sunburnt. We were sitting out in the outfield. There were absolutely no clouds in the sky, and the sun was bearing straight down on the right side of my face all day. I didn't leave my seating area the whole day, so that's what I get. Of course, the portion of my face that was burnt has already peeled and the color faded back to my absolutely pale-as-white-can-be skin tone. It's so pointless for me to try to get a tan. It lasts for two days as a burn, and then it goes away. I don't feel like getting skin cancer, so I don't have any desire to lay out in the sun for any extended period of time. I give myself about two hours a day in Vegas, and that's all I can take. Besides, I have baseball games to bet on, and I can't do that at the pool (to my knowledge).

Torii has been "torriid" so far this year for two of my fantasy baseball teams.

Right now, I'm "apartment sitting" for Matt. He took a trip to Scotland/Northern Ireland/Iceland this year. I'm sure he'll have fun with that. In the meantime, I'm having fun cleaning out fish crap and getting random mail. I like being by myself for a while. It makes me actually feel like I have a life. The only drawback is the whole fish thing. It's not really that bad...I just have to wash off the two huge filters for his humongous goldfish once a day (he says he does it three times a day, but I don't find that necessary) and give them food two or three times a day (once again, he gives them food five or six times a day - also unnecessary). I find that if I use this schedule, they don't crap as much nor do I have to clean the crap as often. At the same time, the fish still live and don't smell up the tank too badly.

One of the hardest parts about living at his place is trying to make food. I have no problem making microwave junk (Banquet meals are now only $0.90 - that's what I call low, low warehouse outlet pricing), but if I actually want to use the oven for something, it's nearly impossible to produce an edible piece of food. The dial has four settings - preheat, bake, timed bake, and broil. Of course, if you turn the dial to "bake," the oven light saying that it's on goes out. So, you have to guess which of the other dials will actually cook your food at the desired temperature. Well, for whatever reason, the oven broils everything no matter where you put the dial.

The brownie is worth the $ really is. Too bad they were out of these at Giant Eagle.

Since I like to eat pizza, I throw a pizza in there. Of course I tell myself, I better keep checking this thing to make sure it doesn't burn. It was supposed to cook for 25 minutes at 375 °F. I decided not to use a pizza pan because I was hoping the the bottom of the pizza would get harder if I just let it go by itself. After 10 minutes, I opened the oven, and the pepperoni was starting to totally char and the cheese was completely melted on the top. Conveniently, the crust of the pizza was still like dough and was starting to collapse under the weight of the pizza toppings - I had nice little rack marks forming on a melting pizza crust that could fall apart at any moment...not good. So, I got a spatula out and attempted to drag the pizza out of the oven. I threw it on a pizza pan and said, "What the heck am I going to do now?" Then I remembered Iron Chef. What would Ken Kenichi do with this? Of course! He'd flip it over like his super-omelet from the beginning of each show in order to cook the other side equally! So, I got the pizza moving underneath a little bit and proceeded to throw it up into the air and catch it topping side down. Now we were in business. I fired the thing back in there and said, "All right, ten minutes this crust better be done." I came back over and checked the pizza, and it seemed as though the crust had been fairly toasted. Of course, the topping fat was starting to cover the pan I had underneath it, but that was not important to me. I took the pan back out, did a re-flip of the pizza to put it back on its correct side, and then dined on finely broiled pizza. I really think this is the way to use the oven at this point...but if they replaced that old piece of crap, I wouldn't mind at all.

The amount of IE windows I have open on any given night is just wrong. I don't know what normal people do as far as internetting, but I think I am a little overboard. I have at least five IE browsers going at the same time - one with my home page, one with the Football Cafe, one with the Baseball Cafe, another with the live scoring on my "Super Team," and another one with the Java Scoreboard showing the scores of every game in MLB that night. If I have to look something up, I could have 8 or 9 going. Add to this my huge fan base from the Cafe and my other friends talking to me on AIM...I have anywhere from 1 to 7 AIM windows open with conversations ranging from how much I hate Braden Looper to commenting on random human stupidity stories I have found to my theories on women and which ones I think are "bangable." It's a lot of fun, but it's also a lot of work. The ALT+Tab (switching between windows) command gets used about 1000 times a night.

So yeah, work is pretty's still pretty dead on midnight shift. I listen to music on LaunchCast Radio off of My Yahoo! page. It's not bad for a free music service. Every so often you get a junko song you don't want to hear, but for the most part they play stuff I like. I get to program my own station for 600 songs a month, but those run out in a week or two. I think I can circumvent the system by using my account for the two weeks of midnight and using the old Ricker Mail junk account for the other two weeks. It already said I was over the limit for my normal account when I got here tonight...that's a little surprising since I only used it for five days of midnight this month. Oh well, it just means I have to listen to one specific type of songs and on low quality. It's really not even that bad on low quality, so it's still pretty good. If you like to listen to music, I would recommend it (and I may have actually written about it before, but these days I can't remember what I wrote because I only do this once a month).

Well, that should take care of you guys for a little while. It'll be nice to advertise a full blog entry on the Football and Baseball Cafes again. Hopefully I'll get a little return audience from it - if you're one of those folks, thanks for reading about my pitiful existence. Kiss your girlfriend for me or something (or more if you're so inclined).

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Top Gun Guy Was Right...

I am a blogging for almost two months. That's a heck of a run. I'm not going to type much tonight since it's almost bedtime for me, but I wanted to at least mention that I'm alive and kicking. Don't expect this to be overly funny either...sorry about that.

Unfortuantely, one of my uncles passed away yesterday. I have to attend services Saturday and Monday, so that will be a fairly somber time for me.

This week I also found out that my boss of almost five years got promoted to another position. I would have thought about applying for his job, but they basically gave it to someone else that works with me. She's only been there two years, but she has been in the business for over 25 years. I wasn't really that mad, but if he or she quits, I would like to be considered for the opening. I am patiently waiting for my time to come at that place, and I'm hoping it will mean a wage increase (something that has been put on hold presently due to the increase in the cost of fuel and low sales).

I just drafted my 6th fantasy baseball team tonight...I really don't know why I keep making teams. Well, most of them are favors for other people I know from the Cafes. I really don't know if I will be able to keep up with all of them since I've never done fantasy baseball before. Hopefully one that I'm doing will turn into something good. If I win this one league, I will get $75. I have a dang good team in that league, also...people didn't rank players which helped me get some big-name fantasy studs like Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Bobby Abreu. I really hope I win this league.

There is talk about another Cafe barbeque (yeah, so if anyone on the Cafe reads this, you're getting insider info...don't go spreading it around) in July this year, so I will be looking forward to that. There weren't many participants last time around, and the owners of the site won't be present, but hopefully we can get a decent group of guys from the NY/PA/OH/VA area together. I was sort of scared the first time I did this, but since I met so many nice people the last time, I can't expect it to be any different if others that I talk to come.

I have to do my taxes sometime. I have all the papers (I think); I just haven't sat down to look at any of it. I suppose that could be something I can do next week on midnight shift...along with maybe writing a more interesting blog. That's all I have for now. Sorry for the matter-of-factness of this one, but I'm trying my best to get back into the swing.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I Hate Driving - Part 43,298

I'm just not keeping up with this thing as much as I could or should, I suppose. It's not that I've been doing a whole lot more...I'm just lazy. I know some of you like to read this thing periodically, and so I'm attempting to give you a little taste now and then to keep you interested.

I'd say my blog is about as exciting as The Seraph right now...there's just nothing going on there. We had a nice influx of members to start, but no one has come since, and no one is talking about anything. We had a neat Survivor game started there, but after the third week (during the Christmas/New Year's holiday) people stopped coming due to various things - school, computer trouble, etc. It sort of bothers me that Matt, Anna, and I have put in quite a bit of work to make the place a fun site to visit, but extenuating circumstances have just put the fire out. It also doesn't help when the site's originator goes off and stops doing anything relating to the site for a few months. I think he's making a movie or something...I really don't want to ditch the site, but unless we have a huge recruitment drive of some sort, I'm afraid the place will be officially dead in a matter of months. So, if you're reading this and aren't aware of the site, please visit and see what you think. It's just a normal forum where we talk about music, movies, television shows, and video games. Who might meet some folks in there who interest you.

OK, so why did I start this edition of the blog? Oh yeah...driving. Why can't I win the lottery so that I can hire someone to drive me everywhere? If I could have four things right now, they would be a big-ass TV, a computer, a place to live (by myself), and a chauffeur. That way I would avoid crap like this...

I was driving home one night last week from being in New Castle. The roads were totally clear of the snow that we had in the past week. So, I'm going up a fairly sizable hill on a back road, and this red Escort-type car is in front of me. For some reason, the driver has his hazard lights on and is going about 25 MPH up the hill. Apparently this old rat-trap car wasn't able to get up a hill very fast. All right, I'll give him that one if he really can't make it up a hill. So, I crawled behind him (at a safe distance as always) and waited for the car to go back to normal speed after the hill. Well, this never happened. We got to a 45 MPH zone, and the car was still going 30-35 MPH. The driver also kept stopping and starting again because the brake lights (one of which was quite dim) kept going on and off. At this point, I started to get annoyed. I normally drive 5-10 MPH over the speed limit on a back road, but if there is someone ahead of me going the posted speed limit, I normally don't care. But, when they are going 10 MPH under the speed limit on a completely clear road, my anger level starts to go up.

At this point, drunkenness started to enter my mind as a possible reason for this slow driving. But, I opted for the less stupid reason of "this person is lost." They were stopping and starting quite a bit, and it wasn't like the driver was weaving all over the road. I've seen that before, too. I held back for another mile or so, and I entered a sparsely populated residential area. Then, the car started to brake again and pull off to the side of the road - the car's right side wheels were well past the white lines. "Ah," I said, "apparently the driver isn't sure where he is and is going to stop." So, since I was already fairly aggravated by the slow driving speeds, I decided to pass the car. OK, so it was a "No Passing Zone," but I could see down the road quite a ways and didn't see anyone in sight. So, I pulled over into the left lane and gunned the gas in order to get up to a more "normal" speed.

As I started to pass the car (that I thought was pulled off to the side of the road), the car suddenly started to drift over into the left lane while I was trying to pass. I probably swore and slammed on the brakes. Luckily, I did not hit the guy. The driver did not turn on his turn signal, and I had no idea that he was trying to turn into a driveway across the road. Had I not completely went into the left lane to pass the car, I would have surely been sideswiped by the car. The driver swerved back into the right lane as I stayed over in the left getting my wits back. Of course, due to the new human "I'm going to kill you" attitude on driving, the driver of the other car shot out of his seat in about 1.3 seconds after stopping. He held his hands up in the air and probably said some smart remark towards me. He was probably about 5 years younger than me and thought he was a "tough guy." As you probably all know, I am not the most menacing of individuals myself, and I had no intention of talking to this person since I'm sure it would have erupted into some horrible shouting match. I just put out my hands in a "whoa, calm down" motion. I hoped that would be enough to say "hey, sorry man, didn't know what the hell you were trying to do there since you didn't use a turn signal."

About 3 seconds after he got out, another even bigger guy got out of the passenger side. He was talking on a cellular phone (of course - I would venture to say about 35% of all people aged 13 - 30 are on a cellular phone between the hours of 4 PM and 12 PM every day) and talking with the driver. So I'm sitting in my car, backing back into the right lane and getting a fair distance away from their car so that they could take care of whatever business they had to do. All I was hoping was that the two guys would not try to confront me in my car. They kept acting like they were coming my way, and every time they did I said to myself, "I'm screwed if they come back here because there isn't a house on my side of the road for about 1000 feet that I can turn around at." Thank goodness the passenger just walked over to the driveway on the left side of the road, all the while talking with the driver...I'm sure they were swearing and saying I was an idiot or something to that effect. That took about 2 minutes to do. I was surprised that no other cars came in either direction while this whole thing took place. Finally, the driver got back in his car, turned down a side street, and tore off at about 60 MPH. Gee, there went the "his car sucks" theory.

Semis - yes...Compact Cars - no.

I started thinking about which of us would be at fault had we wrecked. The guy did not use a turn signal at all and had pulled off the road. What I didn't understand was that he was attempting to make some sort of "trucker-style" turn into a driveway. Why the hell do you need to make a wide-ass turn into a driveway with a Ford Escort? I think that people try to wait until the very last second to make turns in order to make themselves look "cool" to the passenger by making some expert looking square turn. I'm sorry, but unless you are driving a 4x4 truck or a semi, you don't need to be taking a wide left turn. Anyway, the point is that not only did he do this, but he did not use a turn signal. So, since he was pulling off the road, I wanted to pass. I was doing it in a no-passing zone, which I'm sure isn't legal, plus I would have smacked him in the side/back of his car. Matt tells me that if you hit someone in the back, you're always at fault. So, I had to ask him anyway. He said we probably would have both been at fault to some degree. I guess I could live with that, but stupid college punks that think they are "big and bad" by not using turn signals and making dumbass drift turns into a person's driveway aren't very good drivers. I'll still take a guess that the driver had some alcohol that night.

A few weeks ago I found out that Matt had found some other girl on the Internet. Her name is Jen. She's actually pretty cool. She doesn't seem to mind me, which is always a good thing since I'm over at Matt's apartment roughly 1/2 of the week. I'm one of those "leech" type people who tend to hang around a place when I know that it's better to be there than wherever else I am. Matt's very lenient with my housing antics, and I'm glad for that. Anyway, I guess she asked Matt one day about why I stay there so much. She said, "Why doesn't he stay at his own apartment instead of sleeping here?" (I sleep on an air matress in another room - thank you very much.) That's when Matt told her that I still live at home. I think she understood my horribly sad situation at that point.

But yes, she's quite tolerant with me as well. I've pretty much done all of my normal "gross-out" tactics (bodily noises, limited clothing, making scary non-snoring breathing noises/talking/twiching while sleeping - that's the word on the street anyway) in her presence, and she hasn't left him yet. That's a good sign...An even better sign is that she has stated that her new goal in life is to "find me a girlfriend." While this is a very nice gesture and a nice thing to say, I'm fairly certain this won't happen. Of course, at the same time, I'm fairly certain this would be the only way I'll ever find a girlfriend...

Last weekend we watched this movie called "Napoleon Dynamite." Of course, I had doubts about the movie since I normally don't watch them, but if it's free, I'll give it a shot as long as it isn't a horror movie. This movie was pretty dang funny. It was about this dorky looking tall kid who kind of looked like this one dude from my old high school (no, I'm not talking about me). He always wore these old looking puffy winter boots like I used to wear when I was 10 years old (that's the only similarity...I promise). Anyhow, he would always say these weird things without actually looking at people. He also tried to feed a llama different types of food and put tater tots in his zipper pants. You don't see that every day.

The greatest part of the movie was when he went to a Goodwill to find stuff and brought home one of those "dance groove" video tapes. Then later on in the movie, he started doing this crazy hip-hop dance routine to try to help his friend become class president. It was absolutely hilarious seeing this tall, uncoordinated, dorky looking tall guy (ok, the only other similarity) doing this Justin Timberlake dance. I wondered if he could actually dance like that before the movie or whether he had to learn how to do it after he took the role. It looked pretty difficult to be able to do some of those weird gyrations, but he actually did a really good job pulling it off. Anyhow, the movie is cool, there's little to no swearing (I think the worst word in the movie is "flipping"), and if you want to have a good laugh with a fairly true-to-life high school movie told from the dork's perspective, check it out.

That'll probably take care of the blogging for another couple weeks...until next time, friends.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Fantasy Roundup and Recent Flummoxes.

OK, I'm going to write this...right now. It might start out slow, but it gets better.

This year was my fourth year of playing fantasy football. A few of my friends from college play fantasy football, and so they and I along with a few of their family members have a fantasy football league. Most of the people in there are fairly knowledgable, but I doubt any of them spend nearly as much time on it as I do. So of course, I hold myself to a high standard of fantasy football play. My goal this year was to win the league...normally it is to just make the playoffs, but since I had finished second for two straight years, I really wanted to win. I made a lot of good moves during the season...finding good players like Drew Brees, Nate Burleson, Willis McGahee, and Michael Pittman on the waiver wire helped. They pretty much saved my season after having a draft that I thought would tear the other teams apart totally bust on me. All of my starting WR's totally sucked (even Ward...Roethlisberger killed him this year), and Travis Henry got screwed over by Buffalo stinking up the NFL in the first half of the year. Even Ahman Green underperformed much more than I thought he would this year. Luckily I did draft Reggie Wayne (as a backup...haha) who benefitted greatly from Peyton Manning's record setting year. I also drafted Julius Jones who might have done really well had he not busted his shoulder blade a few weeks into the year. I got him back the week he returned, so no harm no foul there.

Anyway, I made the playoffs (of course) as the #1 seed. But, I was playing a team in the semis that started out really poorly but had players that were really heating up. From the looks of the team, I assumed I was dead meat - I assumed correctly. No matter how much you work at getting to the playoffs, there's nothing you can do when you run into a hot team and have players that underperform in the one or two weeks you need them to do well. I must also blame myself though...I benched a number of players who did better than the guys I started. At least I salvaged a win in the 3rd place game in order to make the top three. Still, it was my worst ever fantasy finish.

I also was involved in a so-called "junk league" that I attempted a weird draft strategy in (that didn't work). By the end of the year, I had the same team as my other league plus/minus a few players. I started out 3-4 and was in 7th place after week 7. I then rattled off 7 straight wins to get the #1 seed and the top point total for the regular season. In the first round of the playoffs, I was against the Manning owner. I wasn't too thrilled with Drew Brees' chances in snowy-as-hell Cleveland, so I picked up Billy Volek for the week. If you can't remember, he pretty much had the best fantasy day any QB had all year. He threw for 4 TD's, ran for a TD, and threw for almost 500 yards. Had I not used him, I would have lost.

So, I figured in the Fantasy Bowl I would stay with the "hot hand." Boy, was I wrong about that move. Brees threw 3 TD's, and Volek got me negative points thanks to his 100 yard, 0 TD, 2 INT performance. He went from best week ever to worst timing ever. I lost the championship game by three points. Much like the other league, I benched players I normally used for better matchups, and it blew up in my face. Needless to say, I was pretty pissed off at myself there, too. Next year, I don't care who my guys are playing in the fantasy playoffs - if they were on my team for the majority of the year, they are getting used. That way I can live and die by the guys who got me to the playoffs. Four years of fantasy football - One win, three seconds, and a third in five tries. I'd say that's a pretty good indication that I'm doing something right in the game.

Thanks, went from stud to dud in one week's time.

Now onto what you all come to read - me ranting about some horrible thing that happened to me.

We had the day off work the Monday after Christmas. My mom had an appointment scheduled with a doctor in Pittsburgh that day, and I was the only person available to drive her to the hospital. The words "me," "drive," "Pittsburgh," and "hospital" do not ever, ever go together. As you are all aware, I have a disdain of driving anywhere...especially unfamiliar areas and/or big cities. I'm really surprised I managed to drive to Maryland for the Cafe Picnic last year. Mom told me the hospital was "right off the interstate," and since that phrase is in my driving vocabulary, I figured it wouldn't be too bad.

So, I got up at 7 AM (on my day off) to get ready to drive to the hospital. We had to pick up my grandmother because mom didn't want me to be sitting there by myself. The test she had to take was only supposed to take a half an hour (that's real-world time, not hospital time), so I really didn't know if it was necessary...but, I do what I have to. There I am, driving down Interstate 79 to get to the hospital in Pittsburgh. The traffic really wasn't bad most of the way down there, but I still unduly nervous. This is where the story takes an aside...

I have a problem controlling stressors, and my body always finds interesting ways to deal with it. I don't generally get nervous in the normal way (butterflies); I have to take it to the extreme. When I was in high school competing in speech and debate, we would go on these long bus rides down 79 into Pittsburgh. This was when 79 was in really bad shape. There was a crack in the road at a completely measurable interval for a long stretch of road. You would sit there while the tires went "bumbahDUM...bumbahDUM...bumbahDUM...etc." for 5 straight miles. I would feel OK and I wouldn't be thinking about the tournament, but my subconcious mind knew that I was going to be competing in something. So, said subconcious mind decided to make me throw up several times going down to these tournaments. I was then forced to take some sort of motion sedative before the trip for a few years. It never seemed to put me to sleep, but at least I wasn't barfing.

Then a few years ago, I was forced to work long shifts at work in order for us to catch up on piled up work. We couldn't control it since someone just quit, and our company had just acquired a large account that doubled the sample testing load. I didn't really mind working 11 or 12 hours a day, and once again, I didn't really think about it at all. My body sure didn't like it, though. After doing that for about a month, I started developing weird reactions as soon as I stepped into the warehouse at work. My armpits would get itchy, and at about 6 AM every night (I was working straight afternoon-midnight shifts) I would start having difficulty breathing. It was like some invisible person came to the lab at that specific time every day and started choking me. I went to the doctor for that little problem...what a surprise - it was a stress related illness.

Back to the story at hand...the whole trip had me a little on edge, and another new stress response showed up - I had this pain that made me feel like that guy having chest pains in the Life Call commercial ("I've fallen, and I can't get up!" - Mrs. Fletcher). I don't think it was as bad a response as the not breathing well or the chunk blowing, but it was not at all pleasant. At one point during the trip, Interstate 79 splits into two parts - 79 and 279. I knew this, but since I didn't know where the hospital was, I asked my mom whether I was supposed to stay on 79 or go onto 279. She told me to stay on 79, so I stayed in my lane and continued on. About two miles later, my mom says, "I don't think we're supposed to be on this road." My stress level immediately jumped into warp overdrive. I started spazzing out on my mom (with my grandmother in the car, remember). How she could not remember how to get a place she has gone several times was beyond me.

So, I had to try to get back on 79 North, find an exit before 279 South, and get back on 79 South so I could take the exit for 279. I had to go through Cranberry (the suburb with almost all the big shopping centers and fast food restaurants outside of Pittsburgh) and its four lane drags in order to get back on 79. It wasn't bad, but it was not my idea of a detour. Then, once we hit the three lane part of 279, it started to look like Philadelphia highways to me. Cars were going every which way and cutting across every lane to pass people. This is not my idea of fun.

We finally got to the hospital at about 9:30. She didn't have to be there until 10, so the detour didn't mess us up too bad. So, mom got ready, and we sat in the waiting room. Now, if the test (which once again, was supposed to take 30 minutes) my mom was taking came back bad, then she would have to actually have a surgery done that day which would take an hour or two. I tried to fall asleep, but I couldn't get comfortable in the chair I was sitting in. We didn't hear anything during the first hour, so we were starting to think she was getting the other thing done. My grandmother went to the bathroom. About two minutes later, a nurse came by and called out my grandmother's last name. I really didn't think anything about it since I would assume if they were talking about my mom they would use my last name, plus it's a fairly common last name (Taylor), so I didn't say anything. No one responded, so the nurse left. A minute later, my grandmother comes back. I told her someone called her last name, but she didn't think anything of it either. Then we sat there for another hour.

At this point, I was getting a little mad that no one told us what was going on. About fifteen minutes later, a nurse called out my last name (pronounced incorrectly of course - apparently people don't know how to say "vines" or "dines" or "lines," because you'd think the name "Sines" would be pronounced the same way as those words. Instead, people insist on saying it like the word "sins." You'd think no one would have wanted that as a last name, so why do you think that's how it's said?). So, we go down the hall into this hospital room, and there is my mother...still sitting there...waiting to have the original test done. It was supposed to be done at 10 AM, and it was now 12:15 PM. So, she had been sitting there for two hours by herself while we sat in the waiting room for nothing. Classic Mercer Boy life story.

So, we then sat and talked for a while. 1 PM came and went. 1:30 PM did the same. By the time 2 PM rolled around, my mom was getting really mad. She got out of the bed and demanded to know why she hadn't been taken for the test yet. The nurse's lame excuse: "The doctor isn't seeing people in order today." What the heck does that mean? All she had to say was, "There are people dying or are sicker than you, so you will have to wait." But no, they pull the stewardess angle on you to try to make you feel more at ease. About 20 minutes later, she finally was taken for the test. I then told my grandmother that there was no way she would be done with the test before 3:30. What do you about 3:30 the doctor came out to tell us the results. She was OK (about the only good news of the whole day) and there weren't any major problems. He then says, "So, we'll let her lay still for three hours and then get her up to eat." That totally made my day an official "day from hell."

We went back up to the room where mom was and watched TV for three hours. I could not sit in those chairs; I was sitting on the hard carpeted floor for about two and a half hours watching a tsunami attempt to swallow up a bunch of people. At 6:30 PM mom got up, and they started giving her food. She cannot eat very fast because of her health problems, so it took her about an hour to eat all the stuff they were giving her. I hadn't eaten all day either, so I was eating most of the stuff she couldn't eat. Finally around 7:45 PM, she was allowed to leave. That meant that a supposed 30 minute exam took us approximately nine hours to complete. Don't you love hospital time? I sure didn't. I almost went on the wrong road to get home due to some slow direction dictation, but I managed to find my way to 279.

After we dropped off my grandmother, I got a sub at Sheetz and drove home. We got home at 9:00 PM which meant I was either driving or in a hospital for 13 hours. I didn't even bother to watch the football game that was on...Philly using all its reserve players vs. St. Louis really didn't appeal to me. I had about all I could stand for that day anyway; why make it even more dismal by watching a game where one team didn't even bother to try? I went to sleep shortly thereafter since I had to get up at 6:45 AM the next day to go to work. What a great way to prepare to go back to work on a day that was supposed to be a "vacation." Now I know how Chevy Chase felt...kind of.

"Sorry folks, we're not taking patients in order today...uh huh uh huh uh huh..."

I hope that was enough of a return to blogging form for my loyal readers. Now that the fantasy football season is over, I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things. Later days...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Long Time...No Blog.

OK guys, so I sort of sluffed off the blog after the election...Work is getting a little more hectic, fantasy football was getting intense, and I got into starting up a new website and forums for entertainment talk - - check it out!

Now that the fantasy season is over, it should be easier for me to find time to blog. I was all ready to get into a big return blog right now, but I was distracted a little bit by one of my friends at work. I'll have to edit this when I get a chance to write something a little more constructive. Just a little while longer, fellow readers...Mercer Boy's Unrickerizable Blog (of Death) will return soon.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Election and Random Annoyances.

How could I live without writing something about the election? I just hope I don't cheese off any readers with my political stance. I try to keep it pretty low key in order to avoid confrontation with people who may not feel the same way. I'm a Republican, and I supported President Bush...don't hate me because I'm beautiful.

I woke up at about noon on Tuesday since I had to work a rare afternoon shift. I drove over to the polling place, cast my votes, and went back home. When I got to work, I got all set to watch the returns on the internet. Luckily, MSNBC was showing the NBC election coverage, so I turned it on to hear who was winning. Time went on, Bush won states, Kerry won states, but then it came down to the nitty-gritty. By the time the important states were up, the midnight worker (whose name is Paul) was coming in. I told him that I would be staying in the lab so that I didn't miss anything. I was supposed to work in the day on Wednesday, but I told them I would probably not be in until 10 or so. Thankfully I have a boss that is pretty lenient on work...

So, we were watching the election returns. I was glad Paul was pulling for Bush also...I really didn't want a confrontation during the night. As I expected, Pennsylvania was the first of "the big three" to be decided. I knew well ahead of time (like four years ago) that PA would go to the Democrats. There are too many Dems in the big cities, and their votes outweigh pretty much everyone else in the state. The first big state to fall for Bush was Florida. That was key knowing that there was no way some stupid chads and old people would cause the election to go berzerk this time. Bush only needed a few more states to win the thing, so I was hoping Ohio would be the one to do it.

Here's where we start talking about the annoying things. Most of them had to do with NBC's coverage. The thing that pissed me off the most was where Tom Brokaw was broadcasting from. The NBC studios are located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. But tonight, they were broadcasting from Democracy Plaza. Apparently it's some "exhibit" that they put up in New York for the election. Ooohhhh, I'm in awe of the name of your TV building that you just invented for one night of the year...I think I want to keep watching just because of the name of the place! Yeah, right. It wasn't just the fact that they were broadcasting there; it was that every single time they went to commercial or came back from commercial, they had to tell us "Welcome back to Democracy Plaza and the 2004 election" or "We'll be back from Democracy Plaza after these words." Seriously, make me want to kill you faster.

I think I'd like to send Tom Brokaw to "Communist Plaza" for over-referencing this place.

Slight Aside - I can't stand when networks try to make it seem like an event is more important by giving it some stupid name. NBC did it during the election, but ESPN does it all the time. During college sporting events, the weeks of the season have to have stupid alliterative names or some other drama-inspiring monniker. How many times have we heard about "Showdown Saturday" or "Survival Saturday" or "Rivalry Week?"'re not going to make me want to watch more just because you slapped some stupid dramatic storyline on the games of that week.

If I got to name the things, random weeks during the year would be known as "Superfluous Saturdays." Or, maybe near the end of the year when teams get eliminated from contention we can call it "Stick A Fork In Them Saturday." Hey, when good college basketball teams are playing those crappy schools that have no business playing them, we can call it "Stupid Non-Conference Games That We Are Forced To Play To Appease Other Schools That Think They Are Good Week." I think that will really increase the ratings...I know I'd be watching to see the announcers screw up the name of the week like Pat Summerall did while trying to pronounce T.J. Houshmanzadeh's name. Idiots!

For as much as the Democracy Plaza thing pissed me off, the musical interludes during commercials made me happy. I wish I could describe the music, but it was just like a set of snare drums and cymbals creating some sort of snazzy upbeat riff. Every time it came on, I started dancing around the lab and singing along with the thing. I'm sure someone thought I was weird, but it can't be any different than how people view me normally.

Back on the subject. It's now about 1:30 AM, and I'm still at work. I was supposed to be done at about 12:30, but like I said, I wasn't missing anything. Bush is winning Ohio by like 130,000 votes. 99% of the votes were in, so there wasn't much chance of Kerry winning the thing. Finally, I saw that ABC and NBC gave Bush Ohio. I was going nuts! I knew that was the major key to the whole thing. He only needed one more state to win! But, the other two stations (CBS and FOX) had not called the state yet. So, I waited for Bush to win another state...and I waited...and I waited.

Now it's about 4 AM. I'm still sitting at work, and I had to go back there in about 6 hours. At that point, I decided I wouldn't be going to work until 11 AM...

It was quite annoying. Even though 99% (or even 100%) of the votes were done in three states, they would not give them to Bush since the Kerry side said they would wait until all these weirdo provisional ballots would be counted. That really annoyed me, since I knew there was no way all of them would be for Kerry and that he would lose. So, then FOX and CBS got this bright idea...they gave Bush Nevada and kept Ohio as a tossup. The funny thing was that since ABC and NBC had already committed themselves to Ohio, they refused to give Bush any more states. Either way, Bush still didn't have enough votes to win the whole thing. The networks wussed out so much...they didn't want to be the first station to step up to the plate and possibly be discredited by calling the election when it wasn't done. But, the fact that two stations gave him one state and the others gave him another was just stupid.

Now it's 5 AM. I'm still at work. At this point, it was pretty obvious that we were going to have some sort of stupid controversy on this election as well...that was the last thing I wanted. So, I drove home and went back to work at 11 AM. I got about 4 hours of sleep, but it was pretty fun since I got to yell at Tom Brokaw and jam to some sweet commercial music. Thank goodness the next day Kerry conceded and the election was over. I think it's better that way.

Enough of the election. Now onto an annoyance of mine - Estes Trucking Company. You see, when I leave work every day, I now use Route 60 to hit the exit for Rt. 318. I have found that by using this road I can make it home in 17 minutes instead of 22 - 25 minutes. The fact that I have to deal with 0 traffic lights instead of 3 helps immensely. I can go about 60 MPH or faster on this "back road" and save tons of time...or so I figure. I have been noticing a disturbing trend over the past month. Dang near every time I hit the exit for Rt. 318, there is a double-trailer semi-truck in my way, and every time it's an Estes (or as I call them, Testes) truck.

These trucks bother me because they have to make a super-wide turn to get onto 318, then go about 20 MPH up a slightly inclined road, and then they turn off onto a side street about a mile down the road. When I'm behind one of these trucks, my time advantage goes away. The problem is that it happens every time I take the exit! I have tried leaving later, leaving earlier, going doesn't matter! They are in front of me every stinking time!
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I'd really, really like to punch these guys in the T-Estes.

The camel's back was broken the day I went home after the election. It was like 5:15 AM, way after my shift ended (like almost 5 hours). Guess what was in front of me going home? You got it - a damn Testes truck. I could not believe that even at an ungodly hour of the day that I could still get stuck behind one of these dumb trucks. To make matters worse, a few days later I was going home and a Testes truck was entering Rt. 60 from Interstate 80 going the exact same speed as me (about 65 miles an hour). They are supposed to yield to traffic on 60, but the driver never did. The truck never actually went onto the road, he just totally hogged up the exiting lane to 318. So, there was no way I could make the exit without completely stopping on the road, which I was not going to do. I ended up going to New Castle (an extra 35 miles of driving) when I really didn't want to. What a freaking waste of a gallon of gas...all because of those stupid Testes trucks. One of these days I'm going to go down there and blow up all their freaking trucks. Maybe that would stop them from getting in front of me for once.

I feel better now. Once again, I apologize for the long amount of time between blogs. Moderator duties, Burnout 3 playing, and working day shift are all deterring factors to the blog. I do what I can for you!