Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bringing Back the Fire

Ramblings Post #191
Find something you like to do, figure out how to make money at it, and you'll never work a day in your life is how the saying goes. This assumes that the thing you really like to involves wood working, teaching or farming. You know, ... productive things. Not killing zombies, being an nearly unkillable secret agent or becoming the greatest space marine the world has ever seen. Not that I enjoy killing zombies as creatively as possible, but these things have to be done. Luckily, I also enjoy making people happy. Maybe I should have been a concierge. Or a mime.

Sunday I studied. Well kinda studied. I fully intended to study. I did some laundry, cleaned up what I'm going to turn into my home office (it will resemble a home office eventually - no really!) - bumbled around the kitchen, played some video games and occasionally looked at my tax law book picking my way through the problems and code sections. The class is uninspiring. During the break in Thursday's class, someone said something that I ended up using as my Facebook status - "I want to understand, but the professor won't let me." Not only is the subject matter mentally brutal, his teaching style isn't helping. A number of students have already dropped the class. But I will suffer through, which is why on Sunday I tried to decipher tax rules regarding what is and what isn't alimony for the purposes of taxation, and the theory and mathematics of recapture.

I did this so on Monday, I could go play chef.

Me? I like cooking out. I enjoy getting on the grill, watching the meat cook...seasoning, tenderizing, watching people eat it, the whole schmear. And because I have been on a self imposed social lock down because, well, I know how I can get, I haven't been doing it much lately. But it was a holiday, my RP had asked, I showed up ready to burn. And burn I did, for four or five hours. Burgers, hotdogs, kabobs, chicken, turkey burgers, ribs, brats, etc. I got into a grilling groove. And since it turned out to be less a party - and more this chick's family gathering it was good that I found something to do.

So for the holiday, I didn't hit five or six cookouts. I didn't end up at bistro on the deck trying to drink my way back to sober. I didn't end up at a jazz club at 2am, trying to figure where else I could go. I did not once see the inside of a Waffle House. I didn't end up hoping the work week would start so I could stop hanging out.

When it was all said and done, I didn't end up doing anything I would have done five years ago, except maybe grill. But that was okay.

Note: I just realized I haven't been to the movies since Sporty moved/going to Law School. And I really want to see the Hangover II. Hmmmmm...

Barkeep. I'm gonna need whatever they was drinking in that movie...I'm joking, joking. Let me just have a sprite. In a can.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bad Concepts - Revisited

Ramblings Post #190
There was a time when Saturday Night Live was funny. Okay, maybe I was thirteen and my finely tuned sensor humor still had some growing to do. But there was a time a long long time ago when Saturday Night meant a bowl of snacks and large glass of Kool-aid. Not much longer after that it meant beer and babes, loud music and a greasy breakfast at a roadside diner. Its someplace else now, but I'm not quite sure where that is.

Bill Murray on SNL's Weekend Update...sometime in the Late 70's

A few years ago, some friends of mine trying to make a few quick bucks, decided to throw a party on a Sunday. Because in Georgia you can't buy liquor on Sunday, the rule was bring a bottle or give up $20. After they charged for "PREMIUM" parking they made quite a pretty penny.

However, when you throw a party and charge - people expect a party. So the people who arrived at 11pm and paid $20 expected a party to still be going on until they got done. Which might have as been as late...as till they're ready to go home. And since the people throwing the party had these things called JOBS to go to Monday morning, this eventually turned into a BAD CONCEPT.

Earlier this week I updated Sporty to my weekend plans - A pool party an old partner of mine was throwing, studying all day Sunday, and a helping my RP cookout on Monday. Not as ambitious as say, five or six years ago, when Friday would have been two or three functions, Saturday would have been three or four cookouts, Sunday my home town crew would have rolled in and we'd have ended up somewhere until 3 or 4am, and then Monday an easy breezy recovery cookout somewhere else. I used to send out a newsletter at work. I guess I've gotten slow in my old age. Well, not really, I've just changed my priorities and taken myself out of the mix so I can concentrate.

So today is Saturday. And the party is today starting at 3pm. At Piedmont Park.

If you live in Atlanta, you know why that statement makes this party - a BAD CONCEPT.

Piedmont Park is Atlanta's way downmarket version of Central Park. It does however have a just finished remodeling Pool Complex. Unfortunately, the people who designed the park figured that at most 25 or 30 folks would ever want to use it at one time. Maybe 50 on a sunny day. Because there is NO parking. And the streets that surround it a small and narrow. And it's four blocks from the Atlanta Metro Transportation system. And the second the sun comes out on a Saturday, an estimated 2 billion people immediately try to squeeze into the space. Or something like that. Traffic is a nightmare. Parking, as I mentioned before, is non-existent. None of this came to mine until I was in the car...on the way. At 6pm.

I had gotten the email with the rules for the party on Friday, an had become a little less than excited. The term "party" had been mis-used, as in reality this was a closed market situation - pay to get in, pay for drinks, pay for food, pay for towels, etc. But I hadn't been out in a while, so meh. In and out. I waited until the sun started going down, figuring most of the crowds would have dissipated. But traffic was still bumper to bumper. There was no parking. Even the secret lot I used to use was full. And I wasn't about to park on a side street and risk getting towed by an over zealous someone who felt I shouldn't be parking on their street...despite the fact they moved next to the park knowing people would park on their street.

So, I'm not going to the pool party.

Thank god I have that bottle of Knob Creek in my liquor closet.

Barkeep, I'm gonna need a little cola to go with this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Five Minutes Watching : Too Big to Fail.

I don't watch a lot of movies, because I don't have time. But at the end of day of work, then class, then reading for the next class, and writing down what I wrote so I can remember it all, I'll turn on one of them pay channels I have for just such an emergency and catch five minutes of something.

William Hurt as Hank Paulson in HBO's "Too Big To Fail"

Hank Paulson sure was great guy. Yeah, right.

One day, when I have time I'm going to go back through and see if this movie was financed by Goldman Sachs. Because in it the masters of modern finance - the aforementioned Goldman - look like ordinary bankers, and their former head, and then Treasury guy Paulson is a selfless paragon of patriotic virtue. Um, you don't get to be the head of Goldman Sachs, the dominant financial beast on Wall Street of the last two decades, by being a selfless paragon of virtue. You just don't.

Other than that, it does a fair job of explaining what happened to cause the failure. And if you watched the last few seconds, yes, that number is about right. That's what Duke and Harvard have it figured at.

Friday, May 20, 2011

They should have been finished before they got started

This is a political post.

Newt Gingrich.

President Newt Gingrich.

Nope. Just doesn't feel right.

I still remember the opening of the Olympics held in Atlanta. There was a moment after I got misty when Ali appeared to light the torch and the stadium screamed his name, during the majestic international pageantry, that the organizers had twenty or so Chevy 4x4s driven into the stadium. With headlights blazing it looked almost bizarre. Mentally, it was as jarring as if as if in the middle of the royal wedding, Kate had emerged from the limo wearing Juggalo makeup. Which brings us brings year's field of Republican nominees, or specifically Newt Gingrich.

As it's been pointed out around the web, it's been a rough week for Mr. Gingrich. First he goes onto a political show and denounces his own party's budget plan, calling it radical right-wing social engineering. He opposes it on the basic premise that we just shouldn't be radical in our governance, liberal or conservative. He for the moment sounds respectable, almost thoughtful and intelligent.

It doesn't last.

The people he's trying to get the nomination from castigate him for not towing the party line. Which sounds peculiar for people screaming for freedom from having the government "shove things down their throat". Apparently they don't mind shoving things down throats, as long as they get to be the top. Some random guy denounces him on camera after meeting and it skitters all over the web. The pundits who welcomed him as a candidate less than 10 days earlier act as if Newt said that this skirt really does make their butt look big. So to try and fix things, Gingrich goes on another television show and says with a straight face that the show he's been on 35 times unexpectedly tricked him and if you quote exactly what he said, in context, you are misrepresenting him.

Note: If you really want to make a daming commercial, forget the statement Sunday. It would be more damaging to use the "if you quote me then you've quoted me wrong" statement. Autotune it and put a funky little beat to it. You don't even have to say anything, just end it after 30 seconds on a loop with the tag line..."For President. Really?"

Newt, who quietly has been for years appeared to be the intelligent conservative option (minus the whole getting his wife to sign the divorce papers right after her surgery in the hospital recovery room fiasco) suddenly appeared dumb as a post. He misread the party, and his likability. The party wasn't looking for new ideas, or even a re-framing of the ones they already have. They just wanted a name to stand out front.

Plus he missed his Joe the Plumber moment - that moment when you could show you know more than the other guy without belittling him. When the random guy stopped him the hall, it was a moment to showcase his argument to the general public. When confronted as a candidate, Obama stopped and tried to explain the finer points of his plan to Joe. He didn't just smile and walk away. Its a way of looking at the world. A leader of men, even if he knows he's smarter than them, must still respect those men. You can't just tell people stuff is better, you have to explain to them why.

Newt's response, as has been those of a number of this year's candidates have been that of ideologues, rather than leaders. Community organizer was probably the most important thing Obama did to win the Presidency. I think of more of our politicians did a little of that, helping folks with the basic fabric of their lives, we'd live in a different country.

We're not even going to comment on the glitter incident.

To finish off the week, his campaign put out a press release that made ridiculous images of action hero Newt come to mind. Written in a style that would have made Shakespeare giggle and has to have two or three comedians practically salivating to get on stage, one almost has to wonder were they serious? Have the past few years of serious and thoughtfulness been the facade?

For years, the Republicans, the party of rich and powerful, have somehow managed to create the image of underdog of people like Gingrich. But his egotistical, almost insistent "I am Great, and you should bow down" attitude promises to make this harder. And if they pull it off, you'll realize that they've really earned their money.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Walked up on Bucket of Chicken

Aw, why not Post #1
The other day, visiting my where my old desk was, in
talking to someone we walked into the break room , and saw what looked like one of those old KFC buckets, the ones that come with 10 or 12 pieces that your mother would buy on Sundays when she didn't want to cook. It was a promotional bucket for somebody trying to see the company something, and I joked that for a second "it looked like I'd just walked up on a bucket of chicken." We were all black, it was cool. Someone commented, that my quip sounded like the start of blues song. That stuck in my head, and since the dude that said it actually is a musician, and because it wouldn't get out of my head until I did, I wrote some lyrics. Now, I only know one blues riff. That "da da da da dump" basic if you want blues in your movie riff. That's what we're using. I imagine there's a guitar solo in there too. Who knows.

"Walked up on Bucket of Chicken"

So I went down to Miss Mary's
round a quarter to twelve
do me lil dranking and dancing
and raise me a lil hell

I got me my drank
and started looking for Mabel
so I eased around the club
and came up on Skeeter's table.

I walked up on a bucket of chicken and I knew it was gonna be a good night... I tell you I walked up on a bucket of chicken.. and everything was gonna be alright

I knew Skeeter's have a bottle
and half a pack of black and mild's
and if he was eating chicken at midnight
I knows it's about to get buck wild

Then along come Mabel
wearing her tight red dress
I wish I could tell you the rest of the story
but the whole thing was a mess...

You see I walked up on a bucket of chicken and I knew it was gonna be a good night... I tell you I walked up on a bucket of chicken.. and everything was gonna be alright

[guitar solo]

You see that whole night was blur
but I remember shiny chicken bones
and I think Skeeter got married
and some chick putting her draws back on

I woke up early the next morning
got out of jail 'round noon
found Mabel and got us some pork chops
then headed back to the saloon

You betta know, I walked up on a bucket of chicken and I knew it was gonna be a good night... I tell you I walked up on a bucket of chicken..and everything was gonna be alright

Monday, May 16, 2011

Computer Issues

Ramblings Post #189
Chicken wings. Fried hard. Crinkle cut fries. Warm ketchup. A tall cold Beer. Some good friends, on a deck outside under a setting sun, where the breeze isn't too bad. Not that this has anything at all to do with post that follows, but it sure is a nice mental picture. Okay, maybe some BBQ, instead. I'm not allowed to have pork anymore, and it really ain't BBQ if its not pork.

I'm big on computers. When I first started messing with computers, it was the mid-80's, you had to bring your own copy of MS-DOS on a floppy diskette, everything was a command line function, and my parents Commodore was a magic device because it came preloaded with games - if a football game with four different plays per side constituted a "game." Now, as I grew older I developed other interests, but I kept an eye on computing. I was the "unofficial" computer lab tech in college, and my father still calls for help from time to time.

In the end, I didn't end up a fat bulk huddled over a screen hacking to systems world wide because I could. I could have, but instead I ended up a fat bulk chasing women I couldn't have, drinking too much and trying to skate through reality until the good part started. But that is the whole rest of this blog, so I shant bore you with this.

But my aloofness fades and it all seems to come rushing back to me in an instant when I have a computer issue.

Currently, at some point when I wasn't paying attention ( probably from one of those stealth update), my Windows stopped talking to the modem on my home system. I plug the modem in directly, it talks to the Vista machine, but not the Windows 7. I've been tinkering with it for about a day or so, and hopefully will have it all sorted out in the next day or so.

I'm pissed because as a pseudo techie, I should have had this licked in the first five minutes. But because everything is so dumbed down, and finding the actual controls to anything in Windows now takes a veritable roadmap (not to mention nothing comes with "Worst Case" instructions) I've been less than effective.

There really is no other point to this post.

Oh, and classes just started for the summer. I'm still not too sure about this. But then again, this is the largest class I've taken in a while - more than 30 people!

Barkeep...whatever it is you drink to make it all chill. Wait, that's also legal to drink. Yeah, that.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Updates, Fill-ins, and French Fries...

Ramblings Post #188
Confidence is a good thing. Cocky is bad. I'm still a little cocky, as evidenced by my continuing inclusion of the occasional eye opener in an other wise well crafted legal brief. As a 1L sticking it in was a cross between a show of false bravado and a smile when you think you're holding all the aces. As a 2L I did it when I was either completely frustrated or exasperated (or just done). Now it seems like habit, and I need to stop it. Let me note now that my sometimes funny, sometimes snide remarks have never helped.

I guess that fix worked. So, onto the updates...


The semester is OVA!! Not "over", but the incorrect ethnic pronunciation that is normally proceeded by expletives I used. I took a week off to do my two finals, a 24 hour progressively harder situation and then a 72 hour that was either fairly easy or I really was paying attention in class. Weird. That is another semester down, and I'm looking at what could be four to go. With this semester, I'm at 60 hours total, and you need 90 to graduate. I'm taking 5 this summer, and staying in the part time program I can do a 9, a 10, and 6 and be done by the end of next summer.

It's amazing how fast this all has passed.

But no time to rest or slack off. One of the great missed messages is exactly how many people I know who took a year of law school. And one of my most gut wrenching discoveries was that people still flunk out in their 3rd year. So its not over. Not by a long shot.

And since summer school kicks off on May 16th, roughly 4 days after all finals are over, ain't no time to slack off.


Where to start?

I went to Serve's for a cookout on the Saturday before finals to stay for "a couple of hours". But that trick never works! This time for sure. So, after 4 or 5 hours I finally made myself leave. It was a chill little affair - a little spades playing, Trini food, more than a little noise talking. And its moments like that, that remind me why I stay home to make sure I get what I need to get.

After finals , went home for mother's day and saw the family, ate good, went to Church. It's odd watching people you've known your whole life grow old, but as my father likes to say, its better than the alternative. We discussed my folks retirement, and my father again brought up my going to law school full time. The difference in this case now down to a achingly long 3 months difference in graduation, while adding 9 months of personal expenses to any student loan. I told him I'd think about it.

To get to the country I spent several hours in the car with my brother, a man of many talents most of them wasted, much like myself. My brother's a talker, I'm a good listener, it's a good fit. He's got something new on the books that just might be worth something, but we'll see. You see, I think where my father gave us an understanding and appreciation of hard work, he may have unintentionally sapped the ambition out of us. We go in spurts.

Spanky is still seeing the butcher boy, that last temp, much to my personal distaste. But then its her life, so I'm just gonna shut up and keep it moving. And get the emotional mop ready.

Slim needed a shoulder cry on. Her job was apparently out to get her because she's making them look bad with a client - by actually getting the job done when they indicated it couldn't be done. She "womaned" up and its cool now, but she looked hemmed up for a minute.

Sporty and I still converse on the semi-daily if not daily, with emails and forwards. Someone on the internet once wrote that we shouldn't be mad our people fill our inboxes, because its them wanting to talk but having nothing to say. She can have nothing to say all day to me.

And my "junior drinking buddy" came back. It was odd, just out of the blue like that. She'd mysteriously booted me off her FB friends list last year with only the most cryptic of explanations. And surprisingly, it actually hurt. There are few people who if I woke up tomorrow and found out I'd been defriended would I really be concerned (#1. Sporty), and apparently she's one of them. Not that I've actually seen her after this re-friending... which is weird. Yet the friending is oddly comforting.


So I amble back into the job after being gone a week. I turn my stuff on and make the joke that "Hey, my password still works. I guess I still have a job." A few people chuckle. Fifteen minutes later my section person calls me into her office to let me know that on the previous Friday, the company decided it needed a few less "chicken pluckers". One of the senior people in my new department was let go. He'd been here...let's see, through at least five or six company names (over a decade). So my joke really wasn't.


It's always odd after a purge. People you know and like suddenly having to scramble. I've often thought that I'd be next, as my erstwhile assistant (and current backup) Hugo just happens to married to a director. So that would have been how that works. I realize where I am.

I guess that's why I told my dad I'd think about full time.

I'm going to spend the summer looking around for something in the legal field. In any case I'll need to start moving in that direction soon. Starting over. Man I'll miss these five weeks of vacation I mostly never get to take.


That finals week I had burgers, chicken fingers, fried fish, and other food I ain't had not business eating. And I don't feel good about it. My belt is still at the same loop, and my slim shirts still fit. But still, I'm going back to my basics...the wheat bread, the grilled chicken, the fruit, the salads...and I feel better already.

Damn these diet folks have got me trained.

Barkeep. Carrot Juice and Gin. I'm going back on this diet dealie. Um, no, this ain't on it, but it's a start. Kinda.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #22
Sometimes it just ain't enough to make a post, but it's still needs to go out....it's just bar chatter.

I'm having computer issues.

My Firefox ate something it didn't like, and now its acting all funny. Pages I visit regularly keep popping up the just the source code, my blog page won't load right so I can update, the sites I occasionally frequent to, er..."examine the wondrous beauty of the human condition", I can't reach.

On a side note, I qualified for the Master's on the new Tiger Woods, and I now fully understand why it is called the Masters.

The past few days I've been scouring the web for an answer to my issue. I've started in safe mode, unloaded and reloaded FF, switched to IE (which just looks at me funny) and then Opera (which has the same issue) and was about to reload Windows. I'm giving something else a whirl tonight first.

This post may not see the light of day until after everything else is working.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Late night on CNN...

This is a political post.

THE President of the United States of America....Motherf****

I've been prepping for my first exam for the past two days, reading the book, then going back and reading my notes, then going through the printouts of the power-points the prof used in class. Its a vicious circle, but since I'm currently in the middle of the the exam - don't worry, it's a take home and I've got 24 hours to finish - it seems to have paid off. I'm through two thirds of it, and I've still got more than 17 hours to go.

But last night, as I made a last swoop through the internet before turning it all off so I could get a good night's sleep, one of those many lil' messages caught my eye.

So I clicked over to CNN which had it on the front page. More than a little skeptical, and concerned that somebody was trying to punk my President, I immediately surfed over to Al-Jazzera. I mean, if they said he was dead, then damnit he was dead.

I was up another two hours watching the revolving pundits who knew absolutely nothing, but felt compelled to keep talking. I got on Google Maps and looked for the house, which I didn't find. I flipped over to Fox news to listen how they gonna make this bad for the President, but they never did. At least not while I was watching.

The whole thing was a little surreal.

This morning it all came back to normal when the first of those who just cannot find a reason to like the President took umbrage with his wording of the decision to go forward, as though in making the decision meant he was trying to claim all the glory for himself. It was a cheap shot, the only shot they had really. Because it's a situation where if it all had gone wrong, the President would have borne the brunt of the blame, but in triumph he was supposed to take none of the credit. It was his political career on the limb here, and even so, he like every President before him, he properly thanked the troops and those behind the scenes, whose names we may never know, who worked so hard to make this thing happened.

At the end he even asked God to bless America.

I mean, come'on.

Those who don't like the President never will. This thing that literally caused cheering in the streets did not sway them. He can do nothing to curry their favor and should probably stop trying. The problem is he's not just the President of those who elected him. He's also President of those who did not. And he knows that more than they do.

Now, I got an exam to finish.