Sunday, November 30, 2008

Results - 24 hours without Internet

Well, the bet is over...and it has ended in a push

We both held out.

24 hours without computers or Internet for me, and 24 hours without boozing for Ryan.

I am, however, protesting the decision of the judges.

I didn't find the task difficult. I woke up, watched some TV, walked Rosie, we went to the dog park, I made it to the gym, bought a Christmas tree, cleaned up, had friends over, made lasagne and spiked hot apple cider, watched a movie, and cleaned up.


I do think it's peculiar that two of the impartial judges who witnessed the genesis of the bet quickly advocated against me.

What is under protest is Ryan's consumption of O'Douls. I went to the gym, only to return to find him having purchased a six pack of O'Douls and having consumed 2 1/2 of the already.

Immediately, I declared that O'Douls has a little alcohol in it, even though it is marketed as a Non-Alcoholic beer. I knew that even before inspecting the bottle. On the label, it calls itself non-alcoholic, but in the phrase beneath contradicts itself, stating that it had up to 0.5% alcohol.

Doing some simply Googling, it's obvious that O'Douls does indeed have between 0.4% and 0.5% alcohol depending. It appears that the FDA considers beer below 0.5% to be non-alcoholic (most beers start around 4.0% and go upwards into the low double-digits for some craft brews).

Hence the protest. I don't care what the FDA says, in its purely elemental state, O'Douls has alcohol. The bet was simple - no alcohol for 24 hours.

But when you have judges against you, any rational argument will fall on deaf ears.

I was robbed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Bet - 24 Hours Without Internet

I learned at dinner today that my friends think I'm addicted to the Internet and computers.

Unreal. It's simply not true.

Sure I'm online all day at work. I blog. I stay connected. I use iPhone apps.

But I'm not addicted.

So, the gauntlet has been thrown down. I have been bet $150 that I cannot go an entire 24 hours - midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday - without using a computer or the Internet.

No syncing music on iTunes.
Playing the Wii is allowed, but playing online with others is not.
Using my iPhone for texting, calls, camera, or any offline apps is allowed. Everything else is not.
No paying bills online.
No iPhoto.
No online shopping.
I'm told I can't even go to the movies and use the DIY kiosk.

Fine. Not a problem.

I made a counter-bet with Ryan, an action that I regret simply because I feel like we're going to have a push and I won't win $150.

Ryan cannot drink for 24 hours, the same midnight-to-midnight. There's another clause to what he cannot do during the bet that shall remain offline; needless to say, it's not dirty or sordid.

I made the counter-bet a bit impetuously, but I know how much Ryan enjoys kicking back a few, especially on weekends. It usually begins around noon, and is a fairly constant string of drinks throughout the day.

I know I won't be miserable without my standard technology, though my friends vehemently disagree. I also know how irritated Ryan will be tomorrow without booze, which is exactly why I decided to make the bet. He threatened to hang around me for my every move on Saturday, ensuring that I do not use the Internet, computers, or online capabilities of my iPhone.

I was told that I must surrender my phone when I use the bathroom. That's a bit excessive and strangely distrusting of me after I pledged that I stay on the up-and-up during all bets, but so be it.

Under 3 hours until I'm off the grid for a bit...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Southie Turkey has a Name! gave Platinum Elite a mention today on page 2 of their amusing story about The Southie Turkey.

The author, Billy Baker, actually reached out to me last week seeking permission to use some of the turkey photos on this blog (to which I told him absolutely).

It appears that they opted for this cartoon instead, but still pulled a couple quotes from past postings. Overall, the story turned out well. Great seasonal tie-in.

I never realized that The Southie Turkey had a name.

It's Sully! How appropriate.

I have always joked that come Thanksgiving, if the economy didn't take a turn for the better, The Southie Turkey might end up in the bellies of some locals.

While Sully appears to have departed our fair neighborhood, I sure hope that he won't be the centerpiece of a dinner this Thursday. I can't imagine that a wild turkey wandering around Southie would be tasty, let alone healthy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

MBTA Drivers Drunk or High On the Job

I'm pretty angry at what I learned from this story about how two T drivers involved in recent separate collisions tested positive for drugs or alcohol.

Allow me to stand on my soap box for a bit.

No, I am not holier than thou.

But, I don't do drugs.

My job is a desk job. I'm in front of a computer or in meetings for most of the day.

Unlike train operators, I don't make life or death decisions affecting the well-being and health of others. Even without the risk of killing others while working, it wouldn't even occur to me to drink before heading to or while at work.

I should be thankful enough that a company has elected to employ me for my abilities and contributions to its business, that I have the decency not to impair my ability to perform my job well while on the clock.

I hope those affected in these crashed pursue legal action against the drivers and the MBTA. I don't care that the T is bankrupt and that this would raise fares for me even more.

When I ride the T or the bus, I don't expect to be harmed or, worse yet, die on the way to my destination. I expect that the vehicle operators are well-trained and without physical abilities or cognitive judgment impaired by drugs or alcohol.

But, maybe that's too much to ask.

No excuse in the world is good enough to explain this away. The MBTA needs to be testing its workers far more frequently. As patrons of the service and residents of the Boston metro area, we should demand it.

Anyone found under the influence should be suspended without pay, and/or fired.

Why can't people take more personal responsibility for their actions, especially when they directly affect the safety and well-being of others.

Rosie's Boyfriend

I always wonder if Rosie knows the dogs that we encounter during our walks. I'm sure there have been times when, during our walks, she bumps into a playgroup friend - unbeknownst to me - and wonders why they can't run free like they way that they normally would be interacting.

Well, it appears that Rosie has a boyfriend.

I feel a bit shafted, but then again it's probably best that as a dog, she date within her genus and species.

His name is Bodie, and I am told he is a retriever of sort.

I will admit that it's a bit odd for one's dog to have this alternate life, but I suppose that's what happens during doggie play group when I'm at work.

Working from home on Tuesday, I saw Renee when she came by to pick up Rosie for playgroup. I asked about this boyfriend (who I learned about from her daily recap notes), and she confirmed that, yes, it was Bodie.

I can tell that they're in a serious relationship.

Why? Because Rosie looks bigger.


She's gaining weight and nesting. Seems to care less about her image now that she has a significant other.

She hasn't told me much about Bodie. Maybe she's afraid I'll make her sleep in her doggie bed. I'll have to do some investigation.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Birthday Weekend

What I thought would have been an uneventful Monday birthday turned into a pretty full weekend of celebration.

We started on Friday with a train ride to Worcester to check out the play Take Me Out. We caught a 6:21 PM train from Back Bay station, and wound up in Worcester just about an hour later. While I have always maintained that Worcester is the kind of city in need of a complete paint job, I thought that the train station itself was a pretty cool building - gleaming pillars in the night rising above an otherwise kinda dark and kinda not-inviting city.

Saturday was football. We limped into the playoffs with a meaningless loss (win or lose, we would have finished 5th out of 14 teams). Ken from my team bought a cake, and I heard my first "Happy Birthday" of the weekend. When the skies opened up with a downpour, someone fittingly said that "someone left a cake out in the rain" and then commented that he never thought he would be able to quote that line and have it apply.

After the requisite post-football boozing, we went to Salsa's for dinner on Saturday night, where Mike graciously and unexpectedly picked up the tab for the whole table. He didn't have to do that, and he knows that I'll get him back when he least expects it.

Sunday was yet another impressive Giants win - so much so that CBS bailed on their coverage of the game and switched to a much closer matchup. I went out for a few more drinks, then came home to a stoup that Ryan made in the crock (stoup = not quite stew, not quite soup).

And then yesterday, the actual day, we went to Redbones in Davis Square. I love Barbecue, and Redbones is always delicious. I should go there more often. I'm fortunate to have had Barbecue in many places - Memphis, Austin, and Atlanta to name a few - and yes, I can tell the difference between authentic southern Barbecue, and a northern interpretation of Barbecue. Nonetheless, my bowl of meat was delicious.

And Kevin wins the award in the "dress like Jason" category. I swear, we didn't plan this.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Real Estate Downfall

I saw this on John Keith's excellent Boston Real Estate Blog this morning.

I feel bad if anyone reading this is in mortgage trouble. You're not alone. Even Hitler is having trouble.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another Car Repair Afoot

I do love my gas guzzling Jeep.

I've owned three vehicles in my life, two of them Jeeps. I bought my first one in 1996.

My current Jeep is an '03 with 68,500 miles on it. It typifies the definition of a "city car" - it's been bumped, nudged, scratched, dented, and lord knows what else. It received its first imperfection shortly after I bought it, when it scored its first of two bumper-corner dimples. I was a touch angry, but let it go soon thereafter.

Its chassis is far from perfect. But it still runs well....and it's fully paid off.

I had to put about $2,500 into it earlier this year, and have been delaying another repair for about five months now. Unfortunately, I think it's time to bring it back into the shop.


Because my feet are freezing.

The heat works. The air conditioning works too. The blower, however, does not. Regardless of the setting, all air blows from the defrost vents. It makes my torso and head comfortably warm on these 30 degree mornings.

Unfortunately, heat rises.

When the heat begins at my head, it stays there. It never reaches my tootsies.

And they are cold.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Asheville, NC is not Greenville, SC

I had a very strange moment at dinner yesterday.

Jamen's friend Tempest is in town for a few days. She too is from North Carolina. We were talking about Asheville, NC and how cool of a city it is.

I'm agreeing - "yeah, quaint, pretty liberal, neat little downtown"

Until something hit me.

"Wait, I've never been to Asheville. I'm thinking of Greenville."

"Do you mean Greenville, NC or Greenville, SC"

:: crickets ::

"Well...I don't know."

My final year in the 18-34 demo is upon me. It's happening. Here goes the memory.

How can I forget having visited entire cities? I mean, I did travel a ton for work, and I have been to many places, but not enough places that I can't remember all of them. Or at least most of them.

I had to dig back into my project files from my old job and find my expense reports from 2005 to see which city I was thinking of.

It was indeed Greenville, SC - which admittedly is a cool little city in SC, more liberal than the back country, and complete with a quaint little downtown.

But my God!

How can I have mistaken a never-was trip to Asheville, NC with a just-about-three-years-ago trip to Greenville, SC.

I am not ready for my birthday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Prisoners Dance to Laura Branigan's "Gloria"

This gets funny about a minute in. I swear, I just stumbled across this. It did not inspire the events of last Thursday evening. Ruined My Poker Viewing

I love USA Today. Fast news organized well, complete with pie charts, color, and an easy crossword puzzle. And while traveling on business, it's often what greeted me when I opened my hotel room door each morning.

During those years when I was on the road constantly for work, on Thursday mornings I used to avoid reading the upper right hand corner of the Life section in USA Today. I would literally tear the corner off and throw it away so I could read the rest of the newspaper.


American Idol.

I didn't want to know who was voted off. I wanted to watch it on my TiVo (or later, DVR).

I had a tear-the-corner moment this morning, but unfortunately the surprise has been ruined.

It involves the World Series of Poker Main Event.

This year, the format was a bit different. Rather than the entire tournament be held over the summer and then be televised months later, results already in the bag, the tournament structure this year was unique and conducive to a suspenseful finale.

They played down to the final table of nine players, paid them all 9th place winnings, threw the rest of the cash in an interest-bearing account, and told them all to come back in November, once ESPN has televised the rest of the tournament. Anyone finishing above 9th place earned additional cash, escalating quickly to $9 million for 1st place.

The final table was going to be telecast held mere hours after its conclusion.

Or so I thought.

I was looking forward to watching the final table tonight. I have been skipping my poker magazines over the past few months - literally allowing them to pile up so I didn't even know who was on the final table. Last week's WSOP episode on ESPN finally revealed the final nine, so I have once again been reading the magazines this week.

I logged onto this morning, and sure enough, first thing I see on the right hand side is...

...SPOILER ALERT....(stop reading if you care)

"Dane, 22, wins poker's $9 million grand prize"


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Final Box This Season from The Food Project

I am a bit sad today because it's Thursday, and I have no vegetable box to retrieve in Jamaica Plain.

22 weeks after it started, my fresh vegetable share with The Food Project has ended.

I must say that they totally blew away my expectations for what $425 bought me - a great variety and quantity of produce picked just before distribution. Luckily, I'll eat mostly all vegetables - though I learned that I ran out of things to do with chard rather quickly.

Every week, I picked up a heavy box of produce containing about 12 different vegetables. More often than not, they left items outside of the box which were also ours to take - huge bunches of basil, massive brussels sprouts on their stalks, squash, raspberries, and melons.

My fridge is still packed with a number of vegetables that keep well over time - beets, turnips, potatoes, garlic, cabbage, celeriac, and this massive kohlrabi bulb.

I'm certainly going to miss my locally grown fresh pre-paid produce. Just last week I had to purchase a bag of lettuce, and it was so uninspiring. I never thought I'd feel this way about produce and become a veggie snob, but The Food Project has done that to me.

Next year, the prices are going up to $500 for weekly pickup ($480 if I put a deposit in by December 1st). I'm still deciding my plan, but I think I'm going to do it again. It sounds like a lot of money, but it balances out to a good weekly value of fresh nutritious food (assuming I eat it and don't rely on pizza).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

South End Voting

I saw this video on this afternoon - love this lady!

Get Out and Vote

I do solemnly swear to avoid wearing my newsies driver's cap today, as it brought terrible luck to the Kerry campaign, followed by four years of economic and political turmoil. (This was Brian and I at the Copley Square Kerry rally, which quickly turned from a fun celebration to confusion to utter disappointment).

Instead I will sip coffee from my United States of America Starbucks mug, and hope for the best.

Yes Obama

No elimination of Massachusetts state income tax

No greyhound racing

No to more lenient pot laws (remnants of my conservative past, what can I say?)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

No Trick-or-Treating at the Godiva Store

After work yesterday, I went for a haircut at a Supercuts across from South Shore Plaza. Upon leaving, Karin called me, warning that traffic on 93 North was quite awful. So I decided to duck into South Shore Plaza in search of some mylar balloons for Chris' birthday last night.

While that trip was unsuccessful (how could nobody in a mall sell mylar balloons?!), I discovered that lots of kids trick-or-treat at the mall. Who knew? It was fun seeing a ton of little ones being paraded around store to store, parents in tow, all trick-or-treating in an entirely safe environment. I thought it was a great idea.

Just before I left, I had to grab a couple chocolate bars for Joe, our football quarterback. He seems to require them for better play on Saturday mornings.

I went into Godiva, a small storefront filled with chocolate and no patrons. I walked up to the counter, asked about a few of their chocolate bars, and then realized that a some kids walked in behind me in search of trick-or-treating loot.

Me to store clerk: "Oh, you can help these guys first"

Kids to store clerk: "TRICK OR TREAT!"

Store clerk to kids: "Sorry guys, we're not participating in that this year."


Me to store clerk: "You're not?"

Store clerk to me: "No, the mall sent something around to the stores that we should not be giving out candy this year."

Me to store clerk: "Really? All the other stores are doing it. And you're not? Aren't you a candy store??"

Yeah, no joke. Godiva chocolates - a candy store - was one of the few candy holdouts on Halloween, a day when everyone and their mother hands out free candy.

At first, I found it funny and ironic, but then I realized how idiotic and stupid the folks from Godiva were. Instead of being the store that handed out the best trick-or-treating candy in the mall - a great PR move with nominal costs - they instead became the fancy candy store that refused to give away candy to kids on Halloween.

When they had the opportunity to give candy to both the kids AND their parents - the ones with the wallets and pocketbooks who will soon be searching for holidays gifts - they created an entirely memorable yet unfavorable experience.