Friday, June 29, 2007


I can't wait! The movie is only days away!!!

New Trailer just to get you a little more excited.

Slow connection :

Fast connection:

Plus, I guaranteed I'd get to see it in the theatres last night. Jeni and I were having a discussion about whether or not I needed to go outside in the heat and close her trunk. I assured her that she closed it when we were out there, she thought otherwise. I knew I was right, so agreed to go see a chick flick if I was wrong, but that we had to go see Transformers if I was right. It was a non-issue. I knew I was right before we talked out the door. Autobots and Decepticons, here we come!!

The Steak and Waffle - Life in SC

One of the good things about living in the south is the dual purpose stores. I can remember when I was in college, one of the guys I lived with, we'll call him Brunson for the sake of this post, we used to always joke about two particular stores in Seneca, SC. One was the "Steak and Waffle". What a combo. "Good Morning, would you like to try our Belgian Waffle and Sirloin Steak special". Brunson was particularly fond of "Talk and Tan". Where you could buy a new cell phone, or get a sun tan. I guess the cell phone business was slow so they added a few tanning beds in the back.

Well, I ran across a picture today that reminded me of those. I'm not sure that this picture is in SC, but it could be. I like it. The "Bible and Tire." Instant classic. I can only imagine the July 4th weekend specials now "Buy 4 tires, get a free Bible". Or, "FREE hubcap with purchase of a Bible - ANY version".


As I was driving by the fireworks shack near my house this morning, I couldn't help but think about my experience there last 4th of July. I'm sure you all know how most firework shacks and stores have big signs out front and inside that proclaim "No Smoking". Well, not this one. It's just a small metal building. And as I entered, I didn't even notice the lack of signs. The front desk clerk was smoking a cigarette the whole time. Smoking is bad enough for you as it is, much less smoking in a room full of explosives and fuses. Any health risks associated with smoking just became a little more meaningless. I'd say you are more likely to drop a few burning embers onto a fuse and blow up than to contract lung cancer in this situation. I mean, you have to smoke for years to get lung cancer, and I'm not sure that you could smoke multiple times every day for years in a firework store without some type of 'incident'. That's like walking across the Grand Canyon every day on a tight rope. You would get good at it and soon it would be second nature, but one day, one day you are going to make a mistake. Just one mistake, and kablooie.
I guess they think that if something happens, he'd just run out. I got news for him, I don't think there be time.
Anyway, hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July and remember, nothing says "God Bless America" like shooting stuff into the air and blowing stuff up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Bloggable, Loveable Wife

Recently, Jeni has been experiencing some deep sleep. What makes this entertaining for me is when I try to wake her. See, she speaks before she is all the way awake. So I get a little piece of her dream even though she doesn't remember it at all when she gets woken up. Sunday morning was a double whammy. I was already up and working on getting breakfast ready when it was time to wake her up. So I went in and before she told me "another 5 minutes" and hit me on my nose (her symbolic snooze button) she asked me "Did you get your car figured out?". I said, "Huh?". "So you can get everything done, did you get your car figured out?". I said, "Yes". Within a few seconds, she turned over and asked for another 5 minutes. A couple minutes later, I came back in and tried to wake her again. This time she asked me "What about the daises?". Not knowing anything about any daisies, I asked her to clarify. She didn't say anything and just turned back over and said "I think I need to go back to sleep". That was all she said. Of course, when I woke her a third time, she remembered none of this and still claims I'm making it all up. Although, I'm not really that creative.
Later that same day, we were napping. Suddenly, she pushes me away, sits up in the bed and asks me if I'm alone. I was bewildered and didn't answer right away with anything except "What are you talking about?" Seemingly freaked out at this point she said, "You have to tell me, are you alone in here?". I was thinking, no, you're here, the cats are here, it's pretty crowded at the moment. But decided the correct answer would be "Yes, it's just me, I'm alone". She said OK and laid back down and was out. I tried to ask her what was going on but she didn't answer so I didn't wake her. I thought I'd blog about it instead. So if you ever see Jeni sound asleep, approach slowly and be prepared for anything.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bird Smuggling

Whilst coming home from St Thomas last week, I had to go through Customs. The thing I found interesting was that they made quite a big deal about bird smuggling. I was asked about it by a Customs official and there were several posters and notices hanging on the walls warning against it. Apparantly, approximately 25,000 birds are smuggling in every year. My question is, how? that is A LOT of birds.
So, it got me thinking, I would never smuggle a bird, I have no need to. BUT, I was thinking, and I don't have any suitcases capable of smuggling birds. Plus, they search every bag and carry on, so you'd have to have some type of hidden contraption that would keep the bird from showing up on x-rays or from being visible in a search. Plus, you can't carry it on, it'd chirp the whole flight. Surely, that would tip someone off. How do you get the bird to be quiet during security checks? I wouldn't even have the know how. That many birds coming into the US, it has to be through non-commercials flights or something, cause I don't see TSA missing something like that these days.
In discussing this back on the mainland with Jeni though, she suggested that you "trank" (short for tranquilize) the bird and then you could carry it with you, like duct taped to your body or something. Not if you were beside the fat guy I was beside was my initial thought, but then as I pondered it more, I wondered how she knew so much about bird smuggling all the sudden. She even knew the lingo, like "trank" and "concealed bird". So then we had to have a talk about that. Boys and girls, I should warn you, if you are going to get married, always remember to have "the talk" about all your partners priors, bird smuggling expeditions that is. You don't want to get two years in and discover you are married to an international bird smuggler. In my case, Jeni claims she isn't Senorita Pájara or the infamous "Bird Lady", and still claims she has never been to St Thomas, but we don't have any vacation plans there anytime soon.
I still have my doubts about the ability to do it on a commercial flight or why you would even want to (maybe Greenville just doesn't have the bird black market that other cities do), but whatever. I know I wanted to suffocate a couple of birds outside my hotel window for making too much racket at 6 am, but smuggling them was not on my mind.

Fight Fire with Fire

Here are the Townsend Mansion, we are becoming acostome to fighting green bean fires. That's right, we burnt the beans again. We are becoming so good at it, we might even start teaching classes, "What to do if you forget about your green beans boiling 101" or "Cooking for Forgetful People". Yep, that makes 3 times for us burning green beans, not including a small french fry fire that was contained to a couple plates and a coffee table. We are sorely disappointed in ourselves to say the least. The sad part is that it was very sitcom like. We ate green beans for dinner, but had only let them cook about 1 hour, so we were planning on letting them cook another 2-3 hours before putting them away for leftovers. Well, we went outside to work on cleaning up the garage and putting together a work bench, and the next thing you know, "Do you smell something? Somebody is smoking something". After ruling out cigarettes, pot, and cigars, we determined that someone was either smoking or burning something nearby, but couldn't determine what. Moments later, I'm following Jeni into the house and as soon as she opens the door, she turns and give me a look of fear and shock. Suddenly, as we darted through the smoke filled house, we remembered the beans. We were maybe 1-2 minutes away from the fire alarm and a large fire. The green beans resembled charcoals more so than beans and the bottom of the pot was red hot. Luckily, we got it cooled quickly. The only trouble now is the smell. I don't know about you, but the smell of burnt green beans is not what you would call "pleasing". It no longer smells like the bed of roses that it once did. It smells like a mix of Febreze, ashes, rotten green beans, and vanilla scented candles. Mostly ashes and green beans. Good times. I'm looking forward to coming home tomorrow after a long day at work and breathing it the fresh burnt smell.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Avis "We Try Harder?"

I think Avis needs to try even harder. Their slogan is "We Try Harder", but I tend to think that they still don't try nearly hard enough. My last couple experiences with them have been below average. I guess I'm just spoiled by Thrifty (which is what I use when I'm paying) and Triangle Rent-a-car in Greenville. At Triangle, the worst thing I've ever driven is a Ford 500 or maybe a Chrysler Sebring. Both current models. Most of the time, they have you in a Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, or a Dodge Nitro. Thrifty, normally a new Kia or Hyundai, which I can handle that. Triangle, by the way, offers all of those models for less than the price of Avis.

My car from Avis in Miami, a Ford Taurus. They don't even make those anymore. It was like a 2004 model. In St Thomas, I'm in a beat up (seriously) Ford Focus. Which at first I didn't think I'd like it, but I'm kinda glad I'm in a small car now because of the narrow streets. It needs a tuneup pretty bad and a trip to the repair shop for some body damage.

That's just the car. In Miami, I had to pay with two credit cards, stand in the rain for 23 minutes (I timed it) waiting on a shuttle. Seriously, are you trying?
In St Thomas, no shuttle, but none of the rental car places had one, so I guess I can't fault them there except that they say they are trying harder. Being like everyone else is considered just trying. So, walking about 3/4 mile and up a flight of stairs in the sweltering St Thomas heat to my beat up Ford Focus, well, I'm just glad no Avis reps were around when I got there and tried to maneuver my way out of the parking lot through all the returned cars parked sporatically through the parking lot.

Driving in St Thomas

I'm in St Thomas this week for work, let me just say, you don't want to drive here. You don't. They are missing two crucial elements to being able to find your way around on a mysterious island, road signs and lines on the road. There are no street signs. In talking with the people in the office, they think it's funny. It's not. We invented road signs for a reason. They just find places "by feel" and by landmarks. Seriously. "Up and left" were directions to the mountaintop cafe. Really? I couldn't have figured that out on my own.
The other frustrating thing is that nothing is open. Yesterday was ok because the cruise ships were in town so stuff was open. Today, its a ghost town. The 5th restaraunt I went to I ate at. The first 4 were either closed or having a private party. Average opening time, 10 am. Average closing time, 4 pm. Even my bank is open more than that. I went out for lunch today and it was just weird to see so many things closed up just because there weren't any cruise ships in.
I won't even start on the "taxi's" (there are really F350's with bench seats in the bed and a canopy), narrow streets, people parking where ever they feel like it (including on the street) or the fact that they drive on the left and the cars aren't modified to be steered on the right.
If you come to St Thomas, bring money for a "taxi" and be prepared to walk. Oh, and dress cool, it's so hot here, that even I think its hot. Now, that's hot.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

New Feature

To the right, underneath the "other blogs" section, you will notice my newest feature. From time to time, I will update it with what I am currently listening to. Legally, I can't post any entire songs, just clips, but hopefully enough to give you an idea and hopefully introduce you to some new artists.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Miami Spray Paint

One of the new shows on TLC that has all the kids talking is Miami Ink. Well, I was recently in Miami, but instead of getting inked, I got spray painted. Mind you, not on purpose. As with all good stories, it begins with the phrase "It just so happened". It just so happens that I was in Miami on a quick 24 hour trip to install some DR measures and make sure the Miami office was ready for hurricane season. Our Miami office is in a about a 43 story tall building, so there are 15 elevators servicing it. We are on the 20th floor. After fighting with security to be allowed up to the 20th floor (apparently, being on the list means nothing), I was on my way up the elevator. Well, a crew of latinos were painting elevator doors that night. And it just so happened, that out of all the doors they could be painting, that's right, they were painting elevator door #3 on the 20th floor, right as the little bell dings and the door comes open. There I am, not thinking the door would open to a spray paint gun, poised to walk out of the elevator. But to my surprise, I got speckled. Luckily the damage was minimal. My firm issued laptop that I was holding and instinctly used as a shield once I realized what was happening got some speckle on it and my arm was slightly speckled, but it washed right off. The problem was that I was would be the only one of the floor that night that spoke English. After the door opened, the painter and his compadre began pointing and screaming in Spanish. I soon realized that as he pulled the gun away from me, he had gotten quite a bit of spray on the wood panelling between the elevators. But it didn't take but a minute or so for me to suddenly be extremely light hearted. I felt seconds away from passing out. I notice, I'm also the only one not wearing a mask. I head to the office and fiddle with the keys, but the lock is on the floor. Valuable lesson kids: You don't want to be leaning over trying to unlock a door inches from the floor when you are seconds ahead from headed to the floor anyway, unable to breath. Out of breath, light headed, and foggy, I stumbled to the back door and was able to get it.
In the office, the smell was not as bad, but I was as high as a kite within the hour. Jeni called, she thought I had taken something I think. She said I being goofy. Anyway, I performed what server work needed to be done in the office quicky and got out of there to work remotely and do final testing of everything from the hotel where I could breathe. I had to make a return trip in the morning to follow up, luckily, I left Miami on time and down from my contact high. I can only imagine what airport security would have been like had they thought I'd been sniffing paint. It was bad enough as it was as my computer bag got checked/screened for explosive material. At least they found that null modem cable I was missing.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Airports and Flying

I flew to Miami today (for work) and flying back tomorrow. I used to somewhat enjoy flying, as much as one can that is. It beats driving that's for sure. But all that has changed.
Security changes? No.
Terrorist threats? No.
Cramped airplanes? Nope, not that either.
Parking? Long check in lines? None of that.
It's the people. I can't stand people in airports. It's like everyone drops 100 IQ points when they walk in the door. Now, there are some people who get it. But many, no matter who many times they have flown, act they this is a surreal, confusing experience. They don't know how to act in public anymore. They can't control their children. They can't even follow simple signage and instructions.
This is what really gets me. How many hours does the average American spend in front a TV every week? Several, I would guess. Yet, the Departures/Arrivals TV screens, ug. They confuse people. I was at a gate near them today in Atlanta and people would just stand and stare at it. Many asked airport personnel for help reading it. Really? They are alphabetical!
The security checkpoint, oh now that is confusing to these folks. It bewilders the crap out of people. I'm not sure why either. They are millions of signs. They are tons of news reports and articles on it. There is a list of things they want you to put on the conveyor belt. You put those things in a bin and put it through. Simple. What part of "Put your belt on the conveyor belt" don't you understand. Yes, ma'am, you have to take the belt off to put it on the conveyor. The lady in front of me today took 3 tries to get through the metal detector. She knows she's going through a metal detector, right? It detects metal. You can't trick it. And after the first failure, why didn't she wisen up and remove all her metal instead of just some? Oh, the second time, it'll never figure out I still have metal. And then she wondered why they gave her a hard time. Cause you aren't smart enough to figure out to surrender any metal you have on you BEFORE you go through the metal detector!
And keep your kids from yelling and talking loud on the plane. It's a small enough space. Others can hear your uncontrolled kid. Shut them up. There's a 100 people on the plane, at least 97 of them don't care what your kid is talking about today.
And keep them from kicking the back of my seat. I can feel that.
So, please, if you do go to the airport to fly somewhere, security allows you to bring your brain along. Pay attention, follow the signs, and you'll be fine. Act like you've been in public before. Act like you've seen a sign before and can comprehend it.
On the bright side, I found out today that if you are too fat for your seat belt to close around you, they can give a seat belt extension. And, if you want to feel skinny, just be the only one in your row that doesn't need one.