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Showing posts from March, 2008

House Concert - Mulligan, McGuire and Seiler

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Gary, Kelly and Mark

I was finally in town to catch the annual Cave Creek concert with Mark Mulligan, Kelly McGuire and Gary Seiler. It was the third one and it was great. They held it outside and the weather was perfect. Sunny and not too hot.

There were 250 people on the RSVP list and I think I knew over 100 of them. I got to meet some more, too, so I was excited about that. I also got to see some old friends from Colorado, California and Southern Arizona.



The three guys really work well together. There's lots of chatting and verbal sparring going on between them which makes it fun. They took turns doing the leads on their various songs and they played together on several more.

They're going to do another show in California in August that I got invited to...another road trip. I really won't be staying home this year.

Book Review - The Deportees and Other Stories

I love reading Roddy Doyle. I don't think there's anything of his writings that I haven't enjoyed. In fact, I would love to sit down with a pint or two with Doyle and talk about his inspirations.

The Deportees is a collection of short stories with the common theme being someone from Ireland meeting someone who's come to live there. There's a huge immigration movement there these days since their economy is doing so well.

All of the stories are great and different. There's a long one featuring Jimmy Rabbitte of The Commitments which was really good. It was fun to see where he is now and that he's still putting a band together. There was a creepy story involving a Polish nanny that was pretty haunting and I really liked the first story about a Dad trying not to be racist when one of his daughters brings home a Black man for dinner.

Book Review - Dead Man Rising

Dead Man Rising - A Dante Valentine Novel by Lilith Saintcrow is the second in the series. It starts up a year after the first book ended with Dante still grieving from the loss of her lover and recovering physically from her battle to the death with a demon.

I like the world that Saintcrow has created. I like the supporting characters. But, I don't like Dante that much. Or, at least I didn't. She just was too much of a bee-atch to her friends, always angry and bitter and self absorbed.

In this book though, we get insight into Dante's past that explains a lot about her psyche. She has to face her past in a horrific boarding school while tracking down someone who's killing (in an exceptionally gruesome way) some of her former schoolmates.

It was a good story with some real surprises in it. I look forward to the next book and I hope we find a less gloomy Dante in it.

It's All In The Cow

I've been getting my butt whipped in the boy poker game lately so I decided to change it up. No, not changing my game at all. I decided to start using a card marker. Some players consider them good luck charms and I figured I could use some luck. As Pirate Rick likes to say about poker, "I'd rather be lucky than good".

The marker I chose was a small ceramic cow that Rhett sent me from Utah. It's small enough to not be in the way and cute (of course). Besides going for the luck factor, I thought using a marker would get me to slow down a little bit. I tend to bet quickly, especially when I have a good hand. That's a tell I'd like to get rid of and taking the time to mark the cards each time would make my moves less obvious.

I had some good cards and I made some good position bets. I bluffed several players with an 8 high but that's about as wild as I got. I built up a pretty good chip stack and was one of the leaders when we condensed to one ta…

Big Fat Losers

I have to give my company credit, they really do care about the employees' health around there. They've had several weight loss programs onsite, built a gym, held smoking cessation classes and give us mini-checkups twice a year on our cholesterol, sugar and body fat.

The latest activity to encourage us to be healthy is a Biggest Loser contest. Teams of four employees will weigh in once a month for six months and the percentage weight loss for the group will determine the winners. No one sees your weight except for the outside company running the contest, not even your team members. The group with the biggest loss at three months will get $100 per member and the winners at six months get $500 each. That's a pretty good incentive.

My buddy Dave decided to put together a team and T, Sugar Daddy and I joined him. Based on the other teams I've heard about, we have the most total poundage to lose. But, it's the percentage that matters.

We've spent an inordinate a…

Beer Update

We racked the beer last night. To the beer-making ignorant (as I was/am), that might sound like something complicated. It's not. Basically, we siphoned the beer from one container to another. It helped clear out the sediment at the bottom and I'm sure there's some scientific reason to do it, too.

Next step in two weeks or so, bottling!

Coolness

I was talking to a good friend of Mark Mulligan's last night, Susan. She's working with him on a great organization called Castaway Kids. I told her I had learned from her assistant last year that she's from Wisconsin and said I was, too. Of course, we had to share with each other how sad we were that Favre retired.

She then told me a great story.

Apparently, Marcos Mulligan has become a huge Packers fan. He knows the scores from the games, recalls specific plays and says to Mark, "Can we go play Brett Favre?" when he wants to play football. Susan got both Marcos and Luis #4 t-shirts that they love.

She then followed with the fact that San Diego is now a very distant second favorite team and said, "Take that, Gary Seiler." She was kinda joking.

I was all like, "You tell him, Sistah!" I was not so much joking.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Maybe I'm traveling too much…

I just ran into our Sales VP in the lobby. He asked, "How was your vacation?"

I started to say, "Good" but it came out, "Goo…wait, which vacation are you talking about?" I honestly didn't know since I feel like I've been gone more than I've been home of late. He meant the latest Vegas trip so I told him it was an expensive trip and conceded that perhaps it was worth it.

Our receptionist asked me when my next trip was and I rattled off three of them and that only takes me through early June. I started to walk away then remembered PHINS at the beginning of May so there are actually four on the horizon.

Maybe I'll stay home in the second half of the year. Of course I do have Iowa and Key West and probably another Vegas trip already on the books.

How Was Vegas

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The cliche is that a picture is worth a thousand words. The above shows all of my money as of 11:30 PM on Saturday night in Vegas. That makes it worth about $400.

I Think This Makes Me Old

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I'm using a new conditioner on my hair. The bottle has a pump on it (whereas my old one had a squeeze top) and as I pumped some into my hand the first time, it reminded me of something that I just couldn't place. It took the little man in my head a while to retrieve the data but it looked exactly like Silly Sand.


Silly Sand is soooo old that I had a heck of a time even finding an image for it. I'm not sure what the purpose was except we made lots of weird spires of various colors. Apparently, it hasn't lasted the test of time very well since it's not even in Wikipedia.


I don't think I ever owned Silly Sand. I have a very vague recollection of playing with it at some older cousins' house when I was a wee lass. They had Creepy Crawlers, too. I thought those were way cool but I didn't like making the bugs. Even back then, I was more into the pretty flowers.

Ka Was Kinda Blah

I'm not a musical person. I just find it ridiculous that people are talking then suddenly decide to break out into song. Dumb.

So, what did I end up seeing in Vegas? A show where they don't even talk at all.

Ka is a Cirque du Soleil show. It had lots of movement and music and they chittered and yelled a lot to get the story line across. It's a pretty basic one. Twin Prince and Princess get attacked and separated then try to get back together while a love story for the Prince develops. Oh, and apparently the bad guy is a wizard.

I give them props for the pre-show entertainment. They have "villagers" working the crowd while also helping people find their seats. It was a nice way to provide interaction while waiting for the show start.

The opening scene was great. Lots of cool acrobatic moves that were incredibly coordinated. The set was nifty, too. There was a huge platform that was in motion most of the time. I liked watching it just to see what was next.…

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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I got to play Lewie and go with his daughter Ashley to the NASCAR races in Vegas earlier this month. They have great seats and it was my first time to LVMS so I was excited.

They have a really cool feature at the Speedway called The Neon Garage. It's a plaza of sorts in the middle of the track and all of the garage spots are spread around it. There are plexiglass windows on two levels so you have a really intimate view of the garage stalls.


It should be no surprise that there was a constant crowd by Junior's stall. I'm still trying to reconcile the fact that he's a teammate now. I'm getting close to accepting the situation.


The Neon Garage from our seats. The haulers are right outside the driver's stall and we could see the cars drive in and out.

The view of the 48's engine from the lower level of The Neon Garage. I never got a good picture of Jimmie nor Chad, dang it.


Ashley's favorite driver is Kasey Kahne. It's not just in the Allstate commercials tha…

Vegas Tales

I figured since I'm off to Vegas tomorrow, I better get my last trip posted before I go. I've been slacking because work has been heck and I've had my usual social activities to keep the non-work hours full. I need a vacation!

So, let me start the stories with a personal highlight. One that will make some people say, "Oh brother, there she goes again. I can't wait for this to stop happening."

You may have guessed it...I got carded!!!

Ashley and I were having dinner at Margaritaville after a long day at the track. We both ordered sodas to start. I was in total caffeine withdrawal and Ashley, well, teenagers don't have much choice in what they can drink.

We were chatting with our waiter who was from Utah and had lived in Arizona, too. We were getting along quite well, actually. I ordered a Miller Lite with dinner and he said the magical words, "Can I see your ID?"

Hell, yes, you can see my ID!

I handed my driver's license to him and he was v…

March Madness

My March Madness stuff is all set. I've got my bracket filled out for the AZPHC League where we just play for fun. I've also got my bracket filled out for work where it cost me $5 to play. And, this year, I'm in a new contest.

Picture a Superbowl grid with numbers 0-9 randomly assigned to each row and column. Instead of specific teams on each axis, it's Winning Team and Losing Team. If the last digit of each score matches your numbers, you win. The nifty thing is that we're paying out something on every tournament game!

My numbers are 6-0 and 9-7. So, if any team wins #6 to #0 or #9 to #7 where # is any number at all, I collect some dough. Total buy in was $20 for two squares and, doing the math, the total payout is $1,000.

6-0 and 9-7 would have been great Superbowl numbers. I had crappy numbers this year like 5-8 and 2-5 or something highly unlikely. So, I think I'm due to win some major bucks in this game.

I sent the grid to The Rocket Scientist in ca…

I Think This Makes Me a Dork

I logged some computer time last night updating the Parrot Grande registration process for this year. As part of that, I had to test out various event registration types and volunteer options.

When I'm just registering as one person, I generally just use Kathy for the first name and P as the last. Or, I'll use "test" in both fields.

If I'm testing registration for two people, though, I fill in real names (for the most part). Last night, I signed up as Kathy Pfister for person one and George Clooney as person two. Then, because I was getting confused at to what I had tested last, I switched over to Kathy Johnson and Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie and I ended up with badge names of Kathy's Boy and Jimmie's Girl, BTW.

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to use Jimmie's last name and not George's. I also have a test customer account at work under Jimmie's name with Kathy Johnson as a contact name. No George account, though. Guess it all just shows …

Go Devils!

I'm really jazzed about ASU sports right now.
Both the Men's and Women's Track and Field teams are NCAA Champions. The Men's Baseball team is ranked number 1, is undefeated and beat that other school from Arizona last night.The Women's Basketball team made is seeded 6 in its NCAA Tournament bracket.The Men's Basketball team is seeded number 1 in its NIT bracket and won a first round game last night.

Of course I believe the Men's Basketball team should have been invited to the NCAA tournament. They beat U of A twice, for gosh sakes! Why U of A is there and we're not, I cannot tell you. Having said that, we had the chance to clinch a spot by winning just one of several key games at the end of the season and didn't get it done. Hopefully, the NCAA snub will inspire an NIT Championship.

I alternated between the NIT game and the baseball game last night. Good stuff!

The basketball game started out as a rout but it ended up being a little more of a competitiv…

Can't Fight Nature

What's that expression about best laid plans…? I think they don't work out so well when you're as easily swayed as I am.

There are three nights of the year that I really don't like to be out late and driving. New Year's Eve, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and St. Patrick's Day. Those of us who are veteran drinkers seem to be able to control ourselves but the amateurs are out in droves on these nights binge drinking and doing generally stupid things.

So, I hadn't planned anything for last night except a quiet night at home doing some much needed practice on my bass. But, I got an offer to go out from Doona and some pals of hers which I accepted. Social butterflies are genetically wired to accept all engagement offers. Clearly, it's my biology, not any weakness in the willpower department on my part.

We agreed it would be a two beer night at a little neighborhood bar fairly close to my work. I figured I'd be home around 8 or so since we were me…

Book Review - It's Called Work for a Reason!

Loved It's Called Work for a Reason!: Your Success Is Your Own Damn Fault! Larry Winget (who lives here in the Valley) is pretty out there but very easy to read.

There are some pretty harsh statements in it but it boils down to take care of your customer, quit screwing around at work and just get the job done and stop blaming others if you're not successful. He includes some great anecdotes on customer service, or disservice as the case may be, and provides bullet point summaries of the chapters' lessons.

The language is a bit coarse (not for me, I actually didn't notice it but then I'm a potty mouth) so if you're put off by that, I'd give this book a miss. Having said that, I just ordered 15 copies for my department. I think they'll be able to get past the language and get to the message.

At Least He's Not On The Roof, Not Wanting To Come Down

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Packers Tell Fans They Gave Favre To A Nice Farm FamilyGREEN BAY, WI—The Green Bay Packers addressed questions concerning the current status, future plans, and whereabouts of recently retired quarterback Brett Favre by announcing Monday that they had sent him to the country to live on a... Too funny...

Did That Just Happen?

I went to the grocery store after work and had too many bags to carry in on one trip. Some of the time, I close my trunk between trips but I didn't tonight. It's probably less than 100 steps between the car and my front door so it's not like I'm away for long.

As I walked back out, I saw two guys walking down the back alley where I park. One of the guys said, "Hi" and I instinctively said "Hi" back. I am friendly after all.

Then I noticed he was carrying a six pack of 12 Oz. Diet Pepsis. I asked, "Did you just take that out of my trunk?" And he said, "Yes, ma'am." And just kept walking. By that point, he was probably 40 feet away and by the time I got to my car to verify that it was my soda, he was another 20 feet down the road.

A lot of options when through my head at that point. Yell, "Hey fucker, give it back!" Hop in my car and chase them down. Call 911. Do nothing.

I figured the first two were just ask…

Book Review - Septimus Heap, Book Two: Flyte

Flyte picks up Septimus' story a year later than when the first book of the series ended. It's really Jenna's story, too, as we learn more about the Princess. (She wears a gold circlet all the time which is much more subtle than a tiara. I wish I could get away with that. )

In this one, Simon Heap (Septimus' older brother) is the villian as he kidnaps Jenna, attacks the Dragon Boat and tries to bring back Domdaniel, the evil Extraordinary Wizard. Good continuation of the series and nice introduction to more characters that I expect we'll see going forward.

These are nice books for young adult readers - pretty clean but dramatic.

Book Review - The Alexandria Link

The third Steve Berry book I've read. Nice read. It was more polished than The Templar Legacy and the characters became more developed. I like that - it bugs me in series where the characters are static. There were lots of twists and turns in who's good and who's bad and the ending was good but not all lollipops and roses. That's another thing I like. Life doesn't have neatly tied up endings nor should books.

The Gauntlet

Jiminy Christmas, I'm all about our democratic process but sometimes I just want to get to the library!

I decided to make a quick trip to Scottsdale Public Library today at lunch to drop off some books, pay my fines and pick up my holds. (What on earth made me think I could read six more books in the next three weeks when I still have five at home!?!?) My goal was a quick in and out. What I hadn't counted on was that there would be three petition gatherers camped out between the parking garage and the front door.

If I'm not in a hurry, I always stop and listen to what they're pushing. Sometimes I sign, sometimes I don't. I used to always sign thinking it's best to leave it up to the people but I've come to the conclusion that there are a lot of not so bright folks in Arizona and it's safer to not give them options.

One guy got me on my way in. There was really no way to get by based on the geography. I tried to deflect that I'm not registered i…

My Friends Are Weird

While I was getting ready for work on Monday morning, I opened the cabinet under my bathroom sink to get a cotton swab. Sitting right in front on top of the swab box was an omelet maker in a box.

That stumped me.

I couldn't imagine how it got there nor could I recall ever owning an omelet maker. I'm slightly allergic to eggs so omelets make me feel really crappy. I wondered if someone had given it me and I'd just stuffed it under the sink because I lack storage but then I couldn't figure out how it had moved to the front. Unless a fairly big critter had been crawling under there and moved it. Those damn raccoons. They get into everything!

I took the box out and put it on my kitchen counter to examine it. It was pretty dusty so it could have been under there a while. I was actually afraid to open it and found its sudden appearance creepy so I just left it there and went to work.

My first query was to Steven. "Do you know anything about the omelet maker under t…

I Just Spend Them

Tkay found this quiz on the new US quarter designs. I got 12 out of 20 right. I swear I haven't seen half of the designs.

I Fit Too Many of These

Check out this selection of Geeks. You're probably surrounded by these folks. I know I am. :-)

Sunday Fun

I'm not sure exactly how the plan got agreed to but The Rocket Scientist and I made beer today. We've talked about it before and it became an official plan on Friday night. He's got all of the hardware already and went to the brewery place yesterday to get the fixings. The recipe is called Midnight Marzen and it's supposed to resemble Negro Modelo.

We cooked it all up while watching the Atlanta race. Good thing I had beer to concentrate on because Jimmie had a rough day which translates into Kathy having a rough day along with a big dose of profanity. Man, his car looked bad and I would have been really gloomy if all I did today was watch the race.

Fortunately, I got to play with hops (they look like rabbit pellets), barley, Irish Moss and other assorted grains. It was one big science experiment to me. We have two weeks before we transfer it to a secondary fermenter then another two weeks until bottling.

I can't wait to see how it turns out!

I Love Suited Connectors

We played chick poker tonight. It's dealer's choice but most of us pick Texas Hold 'Em. The bets are limited and the small blind is a quarter, big is fifty cents.

I looked at my hold cards and had 8-10 of spades so I called. There was a raise and re-raise between Cyndi and Angela so it was $1 to see the flop. I paid it and two more spades came out. More raises and re-raises as we got to the river which was the king of spades, giving me the flush.

The both very, very proudly turned over their pocket Aces. Yep, each of them had pocket rockets. And they lost to my flush on the river. I've never gotten to crack two pairs of Aces before. That was sweet!

Morgan told me I had no business staying in after the initial raises before the flop and he's right. I just can't help myself with suited connectors and I know I can often outplay them so I stayed in and it worked.

What also worked for me is they had the Aces. I know the odds say that's the best starting hand in Hol…

The Things We'll Do For Swag

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A few of us from work attended our annual Friday spring training game this weekend. We saw the Angels whip the White Sox 11-1 at Tempe Diablo Stadium. It was a beautiful afternoon, not too hot but with plenty of sun.

My buddy Dave and I went wandering during the game. Neither of us had any allegiance to either team so we headed up to the concession area to grab another beer. There was a group of people hanging around some Miller Lite girls playing the bean bag game for prizes. Many Midwesterners will recognize the game as Corn Hole.

The catch? You had to dress up as a Miller Lite to play. Like they had to persuade me to do that...
We got four bags to throw. I lined my first two up right at the edge of the hole then slid three in at once with my third throw. It was quite impressive, if I do say so myself. I totall overshot the fourth one though.

Dave wasn't quite as efficient as I was but he still won a prize. He got a Miller Lite Baseballville ball cap. I got a ball cap an…

Sad Day

What kind of Cheesehead would I be if I didn't comment on Brett Favre's retirement? Not a very good one, I think.

I actually thought he would come back another year since he had so much fun this past season but I also wasn't surprised that he's getting out. He's got an incredible career behind him. 17 years of thrills, lots of records and a season that ended on a high. Well, sort of on a high. Losing to the Giants was a bummer but no one expected the Pack to do very well last year and they were awesome. OK, losing to the Bears twice was bad but still...

Did I say years of thrills? I did and they weren't always good ones. I remember the pain of the early years when, just when it couldn't possibly be a worse time, Brett would throw one of his many interceptions. Hmmmm, kind of like that Giants game.

We suffered through some rough seasons but we had some great ones, too. You can't argue with winning a Super Bowl and 3 MVPs. I do have to admit that…

Book Review - Middlesex

One of my work bookmates had been trying to get me to read Middlesex for quite a while but it wasn't until it got picked for book club that I actually did so. I'm sorry I waited so long - I really liked this book!

The story is told by Cal, a 41 year old man who spent the first 14 years of his life as Calliope, a girl growing up in Detroit. Cal provides a genetics lesson by telling the stories of his great-grandparents, grandparents and parents. Their history is interwoven with his own story of growing up as a girl and his relationships as a child and adult.

Calliope was the Greek muse of poetry and this book is truly poetic. The writing was beautifully descriptive. I wish I could write a tenth as well. Really, it's that good.