Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

Allegedly You're Using it Wrong

I know our society is very litigious and I feel bad for news reports and such that have to deal with the worry of slander, defamation, and libel lawsuits.  I know when they are reporting an arrest that they have to say something like "The suspect allegedly killed the victim."  That is a fine statement.  Obviously, the person has not been convicted yet, so allegedly works great and keeps the news team out of trouble.

However, more and more, there are more "allegedlys" being thrown into news reports.  The other night I heard something like "...when the victim was allegedly murdered."  Wrong.  The victim was definitely murdered,  he didn't stab himself in the back three times.  I laughed the first time I heard something like this because it just seemed like a dumb mistake.  "Stupid news person, mixed their words and thoughts around."  But it is happening about once a week now.

Is it due to fear of being proven wrong like in the Duke Lacrosse Rape Scandal thing from a few years ago...where the victim ended up being discredited?  (Personally, I think there was probably some incident and I am not sure the lady deserved the mud dragging she received, but I am also not sure that the boys deserved to be accused of what they were either.) I know there has been a lot of liars in the news making false claims - Susan Smith, the Balloon Boy's parents, etc...but are all victims and crimes to be considered suspect because of this?

I don't like it.  To me it seems like further victimizing the victim.  Of course, there are some stories that just don't sound plausible in the first place and should be scrutinized and doubted - I am looking in your direction Jeremy London (I don't care if someone has been arrested or not, it still sounds fishy to me).  However, I think most victims do not need to have an "allegedly" thrown in front of their crime.  That guy really was murdered, nothing alleged about it.

End Hate

Friday, August 27, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #9

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

9. Operation Rock N Roll (Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, Motorhead, Metal Church, Dangerous Toys) - Five Seasons Center, Cedar Rapids 1991

I had high hopes for this concert.  A little over a month earlier we had seen The Clash of the Titans tour featuring Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, with Alice in Chains (Man in the Box had been released as a single only a short time earlier) as an opening act.  It is one of my top five favorite concerts.  I knew Operation Rock N Roll wouldn't be as good but it had potential.  I didn't care for Judas Priest but was a big fan of Alice Cooper, Motorhead, Metal Church, and Dangerous Toys.  Four out of five ain't too bad...and I hadn't seen any in concert yet...it should be great!

But this concert had some factors working against it - A) it was on a Thursday, B) it started at 5pm.  My friend Steve and I were prepared to over come these obstacles and have a great time.  We both took off work and around 1pm, we loaded the car with Coke, Minute Maid Orange, Cap'N Crunch Crunch Berries, beef jerky, and other miscellaneous snacking items.  It was a two hour drive, but we wanted to get there early and hang out with some of the other metalheads and hopefully meet women (a lofty goal since I was - and still am - horrible at meeting women).  Leaving at one would give us an hour to hang out outside of the arena and meet others as they arrived and also leave us an hour to hang out inside before the show.  A perfect plan right?

It was hot that day...110 degree heat index hot (milk was a bad choice).  The air conditioning in my car didn't work well and after the two hour drive, standing in the blistering sun was no fun either.  We walked to the arena entrance and were surprised at how quiet it was.  There were a few roadie-type people walking around, moving equipment, etc... but that was it.  Not really anyone that really looked to much like a young metal fan.  "Man, we must be here REALLY early, maybe doors open at 5pm and concert is at 6pm," I thought.  I've had this happen to me many times, they print the door-time instead of show-time on the ticket...it is always annoying because I am a person that likes to arrive early anyways and oftentimes there is not much to do to fill that extra one to two hours.

We were sweating profusely in the sun.  Having already paid the fee to park, we didn't really want to drive any place and have to pay again (we were poor students after all), so we started walking around trying to find some place to get out of the heat.  At this time in Cedar Rapids history, there was really not much around the arena, it was in the middle of the downtown area surrounded by office buildings and factories.  Not really any place that we could waste time.  We found a small strip mall that was barely air conditioned but at least out of the sun.  There was nothing in there that could hold our attention and soon we were out walking again.  We eventually decided to go hand out in hotel lobby of the Five Seasons Hotel (which was connected to the arena), it was small and there wasn't anything to do but at least it had air conditioning.

After sitting in the chairs for a few minutes, the desk clerk strikes up conversation with us and we tell him that we are sorry for hanging out in the lobby but we just needed some time out of the sun.  "That's fine, we're not that busy.  There was actually a group of guys here earlier doing the same thing.  The fools drove 100 miles for a metal concert...but they didn't know it had been rescheduled to tomorrow."  WTF?!?  "Ha ha, yeah what idiots...well we got to go," we muttered as we walked out.  How were we supposed to know it was rescheduled?  It wasn't on the Des Moines radio stations or in the paper.  We drive back home defeated and pissed.

Pretty good show
The next day, we take off work again and head back to Cedar Rapids.  We are not nearly as excited this time...but trying to keep up hope.  We don't leave as early...just early enough to make it on time for the show.  We have had enough of Cedar Rapids for a while.  We enter the arena and I immediately go over and buy a concert shirt -$30.  I was really into concert tees at this time...so it was almost essential to me, plus I was still hoping for a good show.  Dangerous Toys came on and they did a decent job...not great but very good.  Things were looking up.  We go up to sit in the balcony while waiting for the next band because we had enough standing and walking the day before.  I look over and see the Dangerous Toys guys sitting next to us, relaxing after their set.  Steve and I start talking to them.  Steve doesn't realize who they are...thinks they are just some fans,  and makes a couple somewhat sarcastic quips after the singer says that he thinks he threw his back out a little going wild during the set.  DTs don't really notice but take off after a while to head back to their bus.  "Ummm....you do know that was the Dangerous Toys guys that you were mocking right?"  We both had a good laugh about that while heading back down for the next act.

This was not the Alice I was looking for...
Alice Cooper comes on stage.  I am surprised.  I was certain that Metal Church was next.  Alice Cooper is a much bigger star than Metal Church, but maybe he wanted an early slot to get his rest or something...he is old after all.  It is not the Alice Cooper show that I had been hoping for.  I had been a fan for several years and was hoping for makeup and pyrotechnics, and the snake, and guillotines, and fake blood, and all that stuff from the classic Alice Cooper Show.  Alice Cooper comes out in a Hawaiian-type shirt and a panama hat.  Really?  I'd say that he looked like he just stepped off the golf course but I had seen him dress more metal while playing golf.  I know this was the kind-of mainstream Hey Stoopid days but still.  A couple songs into his set the power to the stage goes out for like 40 minutes.  Eventually, they get it working again and Alice does to some boring skit where he electrocutes a female photographer but it all seems phoned in.  I think Alice's total playing time was 30 minutes, pretty sure they just skipped everything that was supposed to be played during the power outage.  It wasn't that Alice was bad, I liked the show for what it was...it was just disappointing when you are hoping for THE SHOW and it ends up being so short due to technical glitches.

At least they showed up.
"Metal Church and Motorhead will be awesome," I tell myself over and over during the changeover.  But they didn't come on...Judas Priest came on.  I might not no much but I know that Alice Cooper could have played after Judas Priest but there is no way that Metal Church would be playing after Judas Priest.  Did I mention that I didn't like Judas Priest...actually at this time it wasn't even dislike, it was closer to hate.  We found a roadie and confirmed our fears...Metal Church and Motorhead were not going to be playing but he didn't know why.  We hung out for a little bit and told the bad news to a couple girls we had been talking to during the break.  They were not happy either, but they didn't believe us 100% and stayed through the Judas Priest set hoping we were wrong.  Steve and I were ready to go as soon as Judas Priest finished Breaking the Law (one of the few songs that I halfway liked, but liked because it was silly).  It was barely even 8pm and we were headed home.  That was not metal, not metal at all.

Fuck you, you MTV whore
wannabe...I am embarrassed
for you.
Fuck you too.
Disappointing on so many levels.  We saw more down time than actual concert. I half-convinced myself that maybe Motorhead and Metal Church guys were really sick and couldn't play...they must have had a good reason, right? The next night, I flipped on Headbanger's Ball and they were showing film from a movie premier or a MTV party or something the night before.  I don't remember the exacts because I was shocked at who I saw attending.  That's right Lemmy from Motorhead...and although I didn't specifically see them, I assume the Metal Church guys.  I just felt betrayed.  These were the guys that I paid to see but they thought they could skip the show to attend some stupid MTV function.  It was one of the first times as a fan that I felt stupid for being a fan.  In this operation there was very little rock and/or roll...it became known in my mind as Operation Suck and I felt a little bitter every time I wore the t-shirt.  With the two days off work, two trips to Cedar Rapids and back, tickets, and t-shirt...this has to be one of the most expensive worst concerts ever.   PS - Lemmy & Metal Church, you each owe me $6 for your share of the t-shirt and $4 for your share of the ticket.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

"Free Gifts" From Charities

Every year, I tend to donate to quite a few charities and causes.  Because of this, I tend to get placed on a lot of mailing lists...especially for charities.  I don't have a problem with them trying to solicit donations, but I really, really think they need to upgrade their business models and especially their enticements.  Maybe some people donate to charities when the receive random letters from the charity but I am not one of those people.

Even worse are the random letters the try to entice me into donating by including a "free gift."  I am not sure of their reasoning here but to me their "Thank You Gift" seems more like a way to guilt people into donating.  It just seems weird.  Also their gifts are total junk.  Decals, magnets, and worst of all address labels.  Really address labels?  Do you have any idea how many letters I send?  Next to zero.  I average maybe 1 or 2 letters a year, your one sheet of address labels will last me the next decade.  Maybe address labels impressed in the 1950s -1990s...but they seem so antiquated to me now.  It makes your charity seem antiquated too.

I know you are just trying to raise money and maybe these stupid little gifts help...personally, I would rather that you save your money and use it for your stated charitable purpose.  If you do have to include some cheap gift, use your shear numbers to get something decent but cheap from China.  If you are buying in large quantities, you could probably get a neat little giveaway for few pennies.  I would think the better the gift the more people would donate.  Please stop sending me address labels...I have enough to last several lifetimes.

End Hate.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hackers Delight - Noonan!

Saturday was my company's annual golf outing.  During last year's outing, my team came in first place team in the second flight.  No trophy, but we did get a medals and gift cards.  Big deal, it's only the second flight, right?  That is true, but the prizes for the second flight were the same as the first flight...plus we didn't have to try nearly as hard.  To me that is a greater return on investment.  Hopes were high for a repeat this year.

Admittedly, I am not a great golfer.  It's just one of those things that I don't really get excited about.  I don't mind golfing.  I think it is kind of fun, and I like getting out in nice green grass and trees.  My dad is a big golfer, so I have been around golf most my life.  I took lessons as a young kid and I played on the high school golf team.  Well, I practiced on the high school golf team.  I never came close to making the competition team as I didn't take it serious at all.  I would drive with my putter, I would do dances to the rain gods, I would dump the basket of balls at the driving range and take a swing at the pile.  I didn't take the game seriously, for me it was more about screwing around and having fun.  Mini-golf had a lot more draw for me that regular golf.

It's not badminton...but still I dominate.
I am slightly better now...I try a little bit.  I don't play much and practice even less.  It had been almost a year since I had last played before Saturday's tournament.  Of course, I knew I would do awesome.  The tournament was a 4 person, best shot in which I competed with my dad, my brother Ryan, and another gentleman from work.  Even though I expected to play awesome, I figured I would let the other three do most of the work...so they felt like they were contributing to the effort.  I wanted them to feel that they were doing well.

We started on a  122 yard par 3.  This hole was a prize hole with a contest for closest to the pin on their first shot.  I'm all for prizes, so I pulled out my 8 iron, took a single practice swing and hit the ball onto the green.  I was a little disappointed that it was still about 25 feet from the hole...but for my first shot in about it year, I thought that was pretty decent.  I was the only one on my team to make the green.  Seriously?  These were supposed to be some serious ball strikers.  But don't worry, I'll handle it.  We walk up to the green, I grab my putter and sink the 25 foot putt completely cold for a birdie.  This game is TOO easy.

Since we were the first team to play the hole, I was the first one to be marked for closest to the pin...even though I personally didn't think it was a great shot.  The putt was awesome though, so I right down my name more for the effort on the putt than the drive.  I figure I have done enough to carry my team for the day and I start slacking off.  I through in a brilliant shot every now and again when they struggle but for the most part I work on perfecting my sweet slice when I swing.  I figure why make it so difficult for everyone else to keep up by hitting the ball straight down the fairway?  I am up for a little challenge and will take the challenging  shots from the rough and the woods...just to make it interesting.

Chupacrabra...not nearly as good
as he claims to be.
When we return to the clubhouse and the scores are added up, I realized that a terrible mistake had been made.  I had overestimated how well the rest of the teams would do.  We did one stroke too well to win the second flight again.  Dang it!  I wanted a trophy...you all suck for sucking so bad!  I can't be expected to reign in my natural talent enough to do THAT bad.  Do you want me to do the Tin Cup thing and only play with my 7 iron?  So unfortunately, I was not good enough for my team to win this time...I am sure they doubted my skills so I am going to blame them for not having faith.

All hope was not gone however.  We did not get the trophy but there were still the prize holes to consider and I know I was in the running for closest to the pin.  Sure, it was a pretty horrible shot.  Sure, there had to be no way that my shot could have been closest out of everyone competing.  You must keep faith however, and just believe that you will win.  I was not disappointed.  The official 'winner' of closest to the pin was within 12 inches and wrote their name down as "El Chupacabra."  Everyone knows that the El Chupacabra is a liar and horrible at golf (plus not officially enlisted in the tournament).  The next golfer in line for closest to the pin with a drive about 6 feet from the hole was the tournament organizer.  To avoid any appearance of cheating or unfairness, the organizer always declines any prizes.

I was the next and the last on the list to claim the "Closest to the Pin" prize.  You may say, "But you just won by default..."  And you would be right.  I will gladly claim any "By Default" prize.  You will also be mistaken because there were some pretty extraordinary factors involved in my winning of this "By Default" prize.  I supposed it could all be coincidence, but I prefer to think of it as fate.  I was destined to win.  After all, how often does the mythical El Chupacabra make an appearance to help someone win a prize?  Fate.

I won my choice of putters.  I had three to choose from.  I chose the Wilson Harmonized Center Line Mallet Putter.  I usually use a banana-style putter than I got from Chipshot.com for $1 about 10 years ago.  It works well for me but I have always been interested in trying one of the bigger mallet style putters just to see what it is like.  Mostly, I chose it because it had a very cool looking grip...black and white with red stitching.  I thought it was very stylish looking.  I figure I am good enough already, it is now time to look good while I am playing.

You know you want to touch my shaft.

I'm golden, I tell you...it is near impossible for me to lose.  Maybe I should play the lottery (or as I like to call it - tax on the mathematically challenged).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #10

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

10. Marilyn Manson - Five Seasons Center, Cedar Rapids

I hate to call this one of the worst shows ever because it was truly amazing.  It was the Rock is Dead Tour...one third of the show consisted of stuff from the Mechanical Animals album and two thirds consisted of Antichrist Super Star and earlier.  The remainder of the tour had just been canceled a few days before due to pressure after the Columbine shootings, so I was hoping for a longer than normal, all stops pulled out "End of tour/Farewell" show.  I live in Iowa...no one ends there tour here, I was hoping for something special.  I got something special alright, a nice big kick to the furry beanbag (or so it seemed).

A grainy picture of the Marilyn Manson show.

This was a BIG production.  Pyrotechnics, elaborate sets, back-up singers, people on stilts, and awesome music.  It was really shaping up to be a great show.  I liked the Mechanical Animal stuff and was impressed with the performances of Drugs, The Dope Show, etc...  But I was really looking forward to the Antichrist stuff.  I had seen the Antichrist tour a couple times and it was always amazing.  Plus, Antichrist Superstar was still my favorite album at the time.  During the Antichrist set, a podium/pulpit is set up and Marilyn Mason "preaches" through the songs and at one point acts like a puppet master for the audience.  There is this sort of Nazi propaganda type feel with all the bands in matching suits, boots, and lightning bolt armbands...with big lightning bolt banners hanging behind them.  It's hard to convey if you haven't seen it in person but it is stunning and very powerful.  I never believed in Manson as a leader or role model but as a entertainer he is great.

A poor recreation of the smiley face incident.
The band just starts playing, and Manson is singing from his podium.  It is great.  I really couldn't be happier with the show.  Then all of a sudden it all ended.  I can't tell you what happened for sure, but here is what looked like happened from our vantage point.  It looked like one of the roadies or someone from the tour had placed a large smiley face sticker over the lightning bolt symbol on Manson's podium.  I actually thought it was funny and seemed like the kind of gag that someone would play on the last show of a major tour.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.  Manson noticed about halfway through the song and didn't look happy about it.  Like it was ruining his evil reputation or something.  He tries to peel the sticker off but is unsuccessful.  He finishes the song and walks off stage.  The band stands on stage a couple minutes then walks off.  We wait about 15 minutes for Manson to come back on stage but the house lights come on and the security people start herding people to the door.

WHAT?  It was 40 minutes into a concert that should have been two hours at the least.  Walking out of the concert hall, all the fans were talking about "What an amazing show it was" and all I could was that they must have never seen Marilyn Manson before because they just got screwed out of the majority of the show.  I had seen Manson as an opening act perform a show this long.  Sure what we saw was good, but it was still only 1/3 of the show...like paying full price to only see the first three innings of a baseball game.  I wish I was like the younger kids seeing Marilyn Manson for the first time so I wouldn't know what I was missing because I felt totally ripped off.  All because of a smiley face sticker.  Seriously?  You take yourself so seriously that you end a concert (a concert that like 10,000 kids paid $30 each to see) because of a smiley face sticker.  I lost a lot of respect for Marilyn Manson that day.  He no longer seemed like the misfit that I could relate to, he now seemed like spoiled prima donna rockstar.  I expected this type of behavior from Axl Rose not Marilyn Manson.

It doesn't help that a couple years later, we drive to Omaha to see Marilyn Manson on the Coma Tour...but it was canceled due to a blizzard in Wisconsin.  Supposedly the equipment trailers couldn't make it in time to set up.  I know that is not Manson's fault but it was a disappointment...the bigger disappointment was that it wasn't announced on the radio or anything.  We didn't find out until we drove 2 hours to the arena, walked up and read a note on the door.  Really?  I have seen him in concert since, but I am always a little hesitant to commit to a long distance drive and am not nearly as enthusiastic about it as I once was.  I am still a fan, but the behavior from the Cedar Rapids show made me not want to be the hardcore fan that I had previously been.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

Wow...weeks since a Two Minutes Hate?  What can I say?  I haven't been in the hateful mood lately.  I know that doesn't sound like me.  I've been really busy with both work and personal life and haven't really had much time to post anything.  I hate that, makes me feel even lazier than I normally feel.  Plus I kind of like writing.  Don't worry, still have plenty to talk about, just no time...so taking a couple minutes to vent, just to get back in the rhythm.

Did You Get My Email?

I have this happen to me all the time.  I am working and someone in the office sends me an email.  Since I am in the middle of something, I don't answer right away.  Two minutes pass (maybe Hate minutes, maybe not) and the person comes by my desk and says "Hey, did you get my email?"

Email systems are pretty darn reliable most days.  Yes, I got your email.  I didn't answer because A) I am in the middle of another project and I don't want to be interrupted - but you just did anyways, B) what you are asking is something you should know, especially if you thought about it for the two minutes before coming to see me, C) I know if I answer it is just going to encourage you to ask me more questions, D) just because you sent me an email doesn't I drop everything to answer you right away.

I can't even remember the last time that I didn't receive an email, especially an interoffice email.  It is just stupid to ask...especially minutes later.  If I don't answer in 24 hours, maybe say something to remind me otherwise just hold on.  I will get to you.  Plus if you didn't mind walking to my office, why didn't you just do that and ask your question?

Of course, I got your email...I just don't care.

End Hate.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Some Light Summer Reading

Earlier this summer I decided to read Alcoholics Anonymous (AKA The Big Book).  Most people think this is pretty weird for a non-drinker (and admittedly I am weird) but I had a few reasons for wanting to read it.

My first reason being that a good friend is trying to quit drinking and I thought that it might offer me some tips/advice for helping or offering some support.  I also planned on passing this book to her in hopes that she would read it and maybe find some strength and solace to help her quit.

I also thought it might help me understand my parents and my childhood.  I am still not sure if they were alcoholics at the time but it definitely seemed like a problem to me.  They are much better now but still I would like more insight on the past.

Finally, I always found addiction interesting.  I may have never been an addict but I think I have some addictive tendencies. When I find interest in something - music, movies, pinball, books, etc... I tend to push it farther than most other people would.  Often times I become a collector and it becomes more about completely a collection rather than about the content itself.  I'm sure it's some kind of C.D.O. (it's like O.C.D. but the letters are in alphabetical order like this should be!)  I have long recognized this in myself and it has definitely shaped my life.  I don't drink because I think I wouldn't like it.  I don't drink because I am afraid of what might happen if I do like it.  PS - it is the same reason why I don't play WoW.   Sorry Cam, I really think I would be one of those people that spends all their free time playing.

I picked up a used copy of the 1980 printing of the third edition at Salvation Army.  There was a plastic bookmark inside with a printed prayer on one side and a hand-written note on the other saying something like "I will always love and support you.  Love, xxxx."  It made me a little sad, I wonder if the gentleman survived his alcohol problem and if she really did always love and support him.  To me, finding this book in Salvation Army suggests maybe not.  There was also dog eared pages only through about 2/3 of the book...was it ever finished?  These are answers that I'll never know, but I do know that they were smokers because the book smelled horrible and every time I turned the page it almost gave me the feeling of being in a bar.

As I first started reading it, I thought AA (the book) was a boring bunch of crap.  The beginning of the book is slow (at least to me)...giving the history and story of the founders and then the process and 12 steps and what have you.  It took a long time to read because I couldn't really connect with this and my mind would quickly start to wander.

AA (the book) also seemed very hypocritical to me...seeming to say "In any other program Alcoholics won't get better and will eventually relapse and ruin their life, but if they are in AA a relapse is just a stumbling block on the way to quitting forever."  There were several stories about people who drank, then quit for a while, then drank again...but in AA they are now different.  Like the story about the guy who drank, then quit for 13 years on his own but eventually drank again but now has now been sober in AA for 4 years (or something like that)...how is that 4 years different than the 13 years that he quit on his own?  There were lots of similar stories with different time lines but they always said that quitting with AA was different than the previous times they quit.  It almost seemed self-delusional to me...the person wanting it to be different.

I was surprised at how short many of the stories came from people that only seemed to be in AA and not drinking for, what I consider, a relatively short time.  Like 1 to 3 years.  I suppose if you are an alcoholic that 1 to 3 years is a long time...but for me, it doesn't seem that long.  Again, most of these people have had other instances of quitting, so to me it seemed a little soon to be claiming a changed life.

The book also seemed a little dated.  Most stories take place in the 1930s and 40s.  Although they are probably good enough illustrations of drinking to the drinker, I again had a hard time relating.  Calling getting drunk "Getting Tight" and talking about the D.T.s (delirium tremens) just seemed old fashioned.  Really?  The DTs?  I hadn't heard that in a long time.  There were many other instances about what things were called or how instances were treated that maybe it seem non-current.  Again, I am probably noticing the things that aren't important to the drinker because they are relating more to the character and their drinking than I was.

Eventually, I started changing my mind a little...and seeing that maybe the although the people had quit before, maybe this time was different because they felt different.  Maybe the feeling of not being alone with this problem, the support from the AA groups and meetings, and the spiritual awakening can lead a person to change their lives and beat their addictions.  I still think there was too many stories about people just suddenly feeling this great change inside themselves, but I think it could be a slowly, growing change in many people that makes the difference.  I can see how this support and feeling of belonging could help bring about big changes in some people.

AA (the book) left me with several thoughts.  It made me even more scared to drink than I already was but at the same time kind of made me want to drink too.  Why did it make me want to drink?  All the talk about using alcohol to fit in socially and the sense of community and feeling of belonging when these people are in a group.  Often feeling socially awkward, this has some appeal for me, I would love to feel part of a community instead of constantly being an outsider.  AA also made me feel sad, because although I would love to be able to help my friend more, I don't think I can provide the kind of understanding, feeling of not being alone, and feeling of belonging that other drinkers are able to provide.

I think it would be beneficial for anyone who is or knows an alcoholic to read.  I can't really relate to the spiritual awakening that makes many of these people change their lives as I have never had one myself, but I can see how this book my give them some some hope and understanding.  Now, I need something fast, fun, and probably sci-fi-ish to cleanse my palate.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

For a Good Cause

Yesterday I participated in an Easter Seals walk with my good friend Angie (you may remember me talking about it here).  Even with a 110 degree heat index and a last minute location change due to flooding,  it ended up being a good walk (thankfully we did not sign up for the 5K run this year!).  A fun time with great people.  Overall, something around $20,000 was raised for Easter Seals to help Iowans who are disabled, autistic, or have special needs.  This was the first year of the Walk With Me event in central Iowa and a lot of money was raised for a good cause, so I am looking forward to this being an annual event.

Thank you so much to everyone that donated, your help is much appreciated by me, Angie, and everyone on our team and with Easter Seals.  Our team's goal this year was to raise $500, we raised closer to $1500!  This placed our small team in the top 5 of all teams.  I hope we can count on your support next year, or even have you join our team and walk with us.

Much like that time I crushed the the family with 8 year old kids at NTN/Buzztime trivia, this event was not all about having fun, doing good, and helping people.  It is about trophies and more importantly...me.  I am arrogant enough to have my own blog after all.

Angie and I basking in the glow of my
newest trophy...if only it was a little
more eagle-ish.
I'll tell you straight, just like Ovaltine - I'm gold, Jerry! Gold!  I knocked this walk out of the freaking park.    Originally, I set out to raise $100, increased to $250, then to $500...and eventually raised around $700.  This placed me as the third highest money raiser in the competition.  The two above me?  One (I believe) was a high ranking employee for Easter Seals of Iowa itself, and the other received a single donation greater than any other team's total amount.  I call shenanigans!  Shenanigans, I say!  

It's OK...well, as okay as cheating ever is (especially since I am cheated and not the cheater); there is no prize for being the top money raiser, I was just saying that I am awesome.  I was a little disappointed when there were no trophies* for the walk because I am an awesome walker.  Right, left, right, left, right, left, left...damn!  They did have 'Spirit Award' plaques which translates to me as awards for losers, but losers with matching t-shirts.  Our team leader went out of her way and got me a trophy for being the top money raiser on our team (Thanks Becky!)...that's right another trophy to put next to the eagle trophy.  

Two completely different events, two trophies.  I can't lose!  In the past 30 days, I have won more trophies (2) than I have in the rest of my life (0), although I have won several medals and awards in my younger days...mostly for Academic Decathlon (yep, I am that type of dork).  Mostly though, I think this means that if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find me...maybe you can hire the Gubby-Team.  I am a golden god right now, you want me on your team...rub my chubby tummy for good luck!

* All events should now have some kind of awesome trophy...eagle or otherwise.  I think this will now be a requirement for almost anything I do.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wasn't Me...

I've been on a space kick the past couple months.  I am re-watching the TV series Defying Gravity, one of my favorite new shows that ABC decided to cancel.  ABC, why do you always do this to me?  Pushing Daisies, Happy Town, Better Off Ted, Invasion, Flash Forward, Middleman (ABC Family), etc...  Congratulations ABC, I think you have now taken over the top spot for most frustrating TV station.  I am getting to the point where I am not sure why I even give you a chance because I know you will leave me hanging.  I guess you need to make room for all your Bachelor/ette/pad shows.


There are many great movies about space and space travel.  Movies that inspire, movies about the human spirit, movies that make me believe in humanity and give me hope that we aren't doomed.  I'm sure you know the ones that I am talking about: Apollo 13, 2001: A Space Oddity, The Right Stuff, From Earth to the Moon, Mission to Mars...realistic movies and movies that could be possible in the near future, not pure sci-fi like Star Trek or Star Wars.  There is always one movie that is left off the list.  In fact, most people haven't even heard of it but everyone I know that has seen it has loved it.  I first saw it about 10 years ago but forgot about it in the following years.  However, when I saw it on my friend Angie's bookshelf last week, I was very excited and knew we had to watch it soon.

This movie is of course: Rocketman starring Harland Williams (I know, you've probably never heard of it).

You may think that I am joking, but I am not (mostly).  It may not be the same kind of movie as the others but it is still great.  This is one of the funniest movies - it is like Ace Ventura in space.  You will laugh the entire time.  Idiotic humor, fart jokes, a monkey...this movie has it all.  I guarantee that you will be saying "It wasn't me..." for the next two weeks.  If you are in the mood for something fun and you have watched Borat too many times, give Rocketman a try.  Oscar winner it is not, but it will make you laugh (unless you are one of those New Yorker cartoon people, then this is too lowbrow for you).  Thanks to Angie for reminding me of this *classic*.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Give Me Your Money

Angie Plager - go ahead and google her.
Dear Readers, Friends, and Family;

Thank you to everyone that has already donated. It is greatly appreciated. I hate raising money and I have had to increase my personal goal 3 times. THANK YOU.

The Easter Seals walk is only a week away on Aug 10th and we are looking for more donations to help out Easter Seals in their mission to help those that are less fortunate. Even the smallest amounts can help. Thanks again for your time and consideration. Below is a little info about Angie and why I believe in this cause.

I am helping my friend Angie raise money for Easter Seals. Angie was injured in a car accident a few years ago becoming paralyzed and wheelchair bound. Angie is a quadriplegic; she has total loss of use below the mid-chest area, and partial loss of use of her arms.

After her injury and rehabilitation, Easter Seals was really able to help her family out by providing a hospital style bed, and accessible shower benches for her home, among other items and assistive programs. Besides the obvious help of material needs for someone in a wheelchair, Easter Seals provides support and hope for a more normal life.

With the help of Easter Seals, many other charity organizations, and the help of friends and family; Angie is now able lead a good quality life. Angie has gone on to graduate college, volunteers for many organizations that help the disabled like the Spinal Cord Association of Iowa, helps disabled and newly injured people find the resources that they need, and was voted Ms Wheelchair Iowa of 2009. You can read a little more about Angie here and here.

I know times are tough for everyone and if you are able to donate, any amount would be greatly appreciated. If you are not able to donate, please keep Easter Seals in mind for the future. Easter Seals really does a great job of helping disabled, autistic, and people with special needs.

Please Donate if you can.

You may donate to Team A.W.O.L. (Access With Out Limitations) with your credit card:

click here and then click ‘support me’ or ‘make a gift’

If you have any questions, please ask.  It is a worthy cause. Thank you for any donation you are able to make.

Thank you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Totals are In

Last week Cadbury Egg season officially ended for me.  It was a sad day even though it was officially 3 months longer than a normal Cadbury Egg season which runs New Years Day through Easter.  I was also kind of glad because they started losing their specialness.  Usually when you eat one, it is like god has created heaven in your mouth...so rich, so creamy, chocolately sweet gooiness.  The last few didn't do this for me...they were just there.  Good yes, but not amazing.  My taste buds were worn out and overloaded.  Man was not meant to eat Cadbury Eggs for six months.

This season's grand totals:

Full Size Regular Eggs: 46
Full Size Caramel Eggs: 8
Full Size Orange Eggs: 8
Mini-Size Regular Eggs: 10
Mini-Size Caramel Eggs: 10

Approximate total of diabetes inducing calories: 6500

That's a lot of calories...but not as bad as I would have guessed.  Now I just hope that my taste buds are ready for next years season...I think I will cut number of eggs in half so that they retain their specialness...unless of course the bring some of the more exotic flavors to my area.  Now to finish the last box of Girl Scout Samoas (Carmel deLites).