Sunday, August 8, 2010

i'm your aunt flo

I don't know how many times I have to admit to sucking at this 'weekly post' thing. I know it's been at least a month since I logged in here and scratched out anything worth reading. Heck, even this post might not be worth reading... won't know 'til I'm done yammering.

I have many excuses for not writing, but basically excuses are just reasons for failure. Seriously, every Friday for the past too-many-to-count weeks has been whipping my tail. I've got lots & lots of stories in my head, but I won't do any one of them justice. This is definitely the McD of blog posts today... quantity trumps quality today.

Here we go, in no particular order. I can't keep the weekends or events straight in my head, so I won't even attempt to write down the sequence.

Happy (not) 60th birthday to Uncle Kirk! Yasha planned a surprise party for him. To avoid the extra attention of partying on a landmark year, she scheduled it a whole year early. Who has a 59th birthday party with all sorts of family and old friends? KIRK! It was lots of fun chatting with all of his ex-roommates and hearing redacted versions of their stories.

There are a few redacted stories from my trip to OBX, too. James & Affie planned their wedding on Manteo, so a bunch of us guys went down early and rented a beach house for the week. 5 guys, no burgers or fries, just lots of sunshine & partying. It's probably been 10 years since I had that much free time. I did have to teach the young'uns a thing or two... I was down there 4 nights, and they each took a turn trying to keep up.

Having free time in the morning was pretty cool, too. I got out for a swim/bike/run every single day, without having to worry about getting stuff done at the office. Very niiice.

After spending Sunday-Wednesday at the beach house, I drove back to VA on Thursday. Samantha got all of her stuff packed up in the truck, and we set off for Radford Friday morning. Move-in went pretty well, she already knew her roommate, and the weather was beautiful. She's been down there a couple weeks now, and seems to be chugging right along. She told me last night she's got an oh-point-four GPA, which is a good thing, right?

Back home from Radford move-in on Friday night, so Missy, Megan, and I could drive back down to OBX Saturday morning for the wedding. We got into town early, and had enough time to run around a bit. We jumped the dunes at Jockey's Ridge, spent some money at Kitty Hawk Kites, bought some fudge, splashed in the ocean, and saw some guy get rescued by the real-life Baywatch people.

The wedding was really really cool. Services and reception were both at the Manteo Aquarium. They have a park overlooking the sound. The wedding was held on the shore of the park with the sunsetting in the background. Afterwards, we went inside for a few private hours in the aquarium, plus catered dinner. The family's tables were under the curving arch of a million-gallon shark tank. I've been to a lot of weddings, and this was one of the most memorable. Big love to James & Affie!

While running all over the east coast, I got the message the my Uncle Bill had passed up in OH. I made drive up there on Monday morning. Bill was definitely one-of-a-kind. He worked concrete construction for the county 'til he was at least 70. After he retired, he went around town helping all the old people! He took care of their recycling, brought 'em meals & snacks, but mostly shared time and attention with folks. Aunt Nova said it best when we were at the viewing, "I knew Bill had a lot of friends, but this is ridiculous... I didn't know there were this many!"

Labor Day weekend was packed with the traditional celebrations: Buffett all day on Saturday, Block Party on Sunday, and a relaxed neighborhood BBQ on Monday.

I was nervous about Buffett bc of the change from Nissan Pavilion to JiffyLube Live. The venue has a lot of 'official' rules, but they've always looked away when Buffett comes to town. We weren't sure if JiffyLube would be so relaxed. It all worked out well. The show was at 8pm, the lot opened at 6, but by 1pm we were done setting up furniture, doing decorations, and had the grill lit. Other than a slow parking experience, JiffyLube gets 4 stars for the day.

Block Party on Sunday was a mad scramble. I was completely unprepared for the day. Mostly, preparations included telling people to come out and play, then letting it happen. So many people helped with so many aspects of the day, it really did go very well. The over/under on a police presence was 330 in the afternoon; Deputy McGruff and her trainee were there an hour before. You pays your money and you takes your chances. They saw we were all responsible adults, so they let the party roll on.

Big shout outs and lots of love to this year's musical guests: The 300-Proof Band, Byrn, Augur, and The Pocket Band (at least Big-T and Matt). Without these guys, the whole atmosphere would have been so much weaker. There's just something perfect about good grooving live music to make the day sparkle.

Yes, we did break out the wizard sticks again this year. See for yourselves:

Last Sunday morning, I ran my first Olympic-distance triathlon. It was also my first open-water swim and my first 10k run, too. It was cold and rainy all morning, but once I was wet it didn't really matter too much anymore. My target was 3 hours, which I barely missed at 3:04:14. What I learned... Reston's Lake Audubon was dark, dirty, crowded, choppy, and hard to swim in. The rain didn't slow down my bike nearly as much as my fear of the 10k. I didn't want to blow out my legs before the run started. A 10k is a long way to run; not so much meaning I was worn out, but that I just seemed to be running and running and running and the rowers keep on rowing but there's really no way of knowing when the damn run would ever end.

Next tri - this coming Sunday! It's my third time running the Taylor Love race in Worldgate. It's a shorter distance tri, with a pool swim instead of the lake. I'm totally stoked for this race... after surviving the Reston Tri last weekend I'm ready to slam this one. If I stay motivated and write again next Friday, I'll tell ya all about it.

One new toy to tell ya about before I finish scrambling this mess. Twitter's FastFollow lets you follow my ramblings, without having to register an account. Text "follow pj_haas" to 40404, and you'll have direct access to the inner workings of my brain.

Have a great weekend, and I hope to be here with you next week!

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Game credit to Dom, again. I'm starting to think I should just give him an admin password to the Waster. Spin the Circle.

Hue Shift ... takes a minute to understand the functions, then it gets good.

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Manage your own data, issue 1
QuickenOnline data was destroyed on 29 August. No workaround. Everyone was effed.

Manage your own data, issue 2
Napster DRM data destroyed on 1 Sept 2010 - All wma files purchased thru Napster are no longer supported. They have DRM encoding, which proves your Napster account paid for the music. Napster no longer supports DRM, so there's no proof of ownership. (Note: does NOT affect mp3s purchased after 2008.)
"Napster, a part of BestBuy"... just great.

Manage your own data, issue 3
If you use Bloglines as your RSS reader, get off now. Bloglines is shutting down on 1 October. Your config and all backed up links will be gone. At least their website provides directions to export your settings to another RSS reader.

It's football season!

I really hate the music industry. Thanks for calling them out, Rolling Stone.

Amurricans are stupid. Really really stupid.

List of the bazillion records held by Jerry Rice.

Fingerprints? What?

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Friday, August 6, 2010


December 1984 - I was 14 years old, and nervous as hell, sitting in the breakroom of the McDonald's on Elden Street. Me & a couple other teenage boneheads were there for our first-day paperwork & orientation. That's where I met my friend, Brad.

The Herndon McD employed a lot of teenagers, but at 14 we were two of the youngest. The managers abused the crap out of the lot of us, but we were too young, dumb, & inexperienced to know any better. We spent 20-25 hours every weekend cracking eggs & flipping burgers. (Guys worked in the kitchen, girls worked the counter & drive thru. We had to try really hard to flirt bc the girls were kept 10' away at all times.)

Like every restaurant, there was a bunch of turnover. For whatever reason, Brad & I never left. A year later, we'd trained a lot of the staff (older teens, adults on work-release, immigrants, etc.) We were only 15, but we ran that effing kitchen on the weekends.

We started hanging out with a third guy, Gerald, who followed the same progression on the night shift. He was maybe 1/2 year older, but a grade ahead in school.

When we finally got old enough to drive, we bought way too many cars, mostly Mustangs. Gerald had a '68 Fastback 302 and a '69 Grande 351. I had a '71 & '73 Grandes, both 302s, and a '73 Thunderbird (with a 460ci Police Interceptor!) Brad had a '65 Coupe 6-cyl and a '73 Grande 351. He also had the coolest ride of all: 1956 DeSoto with a push-button transmission on the dash.

Gerald was 17 when his parents were getting ready to move. He was trying to finish his senior year in Herndon. Brad's mom's basement was set up like a private apt: bedroom, bath, living room, private entrance, closed door to the rest of the house. Brad already lived down there. Gerald moved in when his parents left. I wound up there a short while later after some typical teenage stress at home.

The bedroom had a queen-size waterbed + a lazy-boy. We took turns sleeping in the chair.

So we're too young, we're out on our own, we have too much money, too many cars, lots of freedom at work, and a constant rotation of fresh cashiers to chase after. Life, as we knew it, was pretty damn good. :)

Obviously, not all of the stories from that era can or will be made public. Here are a couple quick-hitters...

Rafi & Safi, the Afghani brothers, worked at McD in the morning & 7-11 in the evening. They were happy to give us suitcases of beer from the cooler. When they weren't working, we just stole it from Dave's back porch.

Brad was the first person I ever saw puke thru his nose. We were bonging beers in Paul's kitchen out of a stupid-large funnel. He did 3 cans in one shot. Straight down the funnel to his belly, straight back up thru his nose into the kitchen sink. If I hadn't seen it, I never would have believed it was possible.

There was a cute little runaway chick living with us for a while. The cops came to the house looking for her. We knew she was upstairs, the cops searched, but never found her. She was hiding under the fiberglass insulation in the attic. Balls.

Driving to King's Dominion, in the rain, somewhere on I-95 southbound. Brad's in the lead, driving a rack of people in his mom's wood-paneled station wagon. I'm right behind with just as many in the thunderbird. Rounding a curve at about 90mph, the rear of the station wagon breaks loose. He's sliding sideways down the interstate; I'm face-to-face with the peeling vinyl wood of the passenger door. A couple of fishtails later, he got it back under control. The weather cleared, and we had a great day at the park.

Waiting for Pink Floyd tickets to go on sale at Fair Oaks Mall. We camped in the parking lot for three straight days, and we weren't even the first people there. We were #3, 4, and 5 in line. It was a hella good party with lots of fun people. We didn't want to hold cash in that situation, so on TicketMorning, I had to make a run to the bank. Stupid move. I was beyond tired. I crashed in super-slo-mo; I saw it happening but my reactions had taken a nap (like I should have done).

I smashed my head into the glass, my face into the steering wheel, and my car all to hell. I regained conscious thought standing in the middle of the road talking to the paramedic. My mouth was full of gravel, so I spit it into my hand. The rocks were my teeth. I threw 'em somewhere on Rt 50.

After spending 3 days with the same group of people, everyone was pretty tight. Somebody spotted my car all smashed up, and reported it to Brad & Gerald. They bailed out of their place in line to track me down. After an ambulance ride, a face full of stitches, and a hospital call to my mom, I found them back in Herndon. I tried to smile at their concern, but my face wasn't working right.

(We eventually got tix to the show later, at a much higher price.)

Brad & I double-dated with sisters, except we were each with the sister that the other wanted to hook up with. I think he succeeded later; I got close but didn't seal the deal.

Brad & I, two high-schoolers, crashing in Gerald's college dorm for the weekend.

Trick-or-treating the Herndon cops, drunk out of my skull, dressed as Father Guido Sarducci.

So why the random babbling about all the memories? Brad's 16yo son, Zach, passed away a couple weeks ago in a car crash. I can't even pretend to understand the feeling.

Brad and I had fallen out of touch. Too many miles between, too much work, too many distractions, not enough effort. The first time we'd talked in ~5 years was at Zach's services.

Friendships try to fade away. Don't let it happen. Continue to share the good times and everyday life. Otherwise, tragedies will be the only reason you get back together.

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Dom's saving my a$$ once again. You all know that I've been slacking with the game shares lately. Here are a couple quick-hitters that are totally worth it... Snake Game - It's a snake game. Eat mice, grow bigger. Don't bite yourself.

Drench - Change all the blocks to the same color in the least number of clicks. Easy, huh?

Adverputt - More challenging than the other games, but still rather brainless fun. You should be good at it.

And a little tasteless entertainment from the movie trailer first. Finish throwing up. Now enjoy the game.

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Say hello to my little dancing disney friend...

What kinna engine you got in there? A diesel?

Emily sent me this old vid a while back, but it's still right on point.

Eddi's dad was a bit crazy in his youth. I heard rumors about getting plastered and breaking into the zoo to chase the animals. He caught one of the peacocks and did very unnatural things to the poor bird. Eddi's wondering if this is his sister...

If you haven't seen this vid yet, get out of your cave.

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