Sick leave

Sorry for the disappearance. I’ve been sick. I’m seriously debating the merits of a medically induced coma. Two weeks vacation and wake me up when the allergy index is below 100.

2010 Airfest

Sam and I had the BEST day yesterday with one exception (scroll down to the next entry for details). We attended the MacDill 2010 Airfest and spent the entire day together wandering around the tarmac checking out airplanes, eating junk food, and staring into the sky. Reading about it this morning in the paper it seems that there were approximately 100,000 people there with us, but it was so huge there wasn’t that crush of people usually associated with other 100K events. It was basically a 6 years olds dream. We rode the bus there, climbed in and out of planes of all shapes and sizes, saw men in uniform with weapons and had hot dogs for lunch. What’s not to love? Oh, did I mention the Blue Angels were there? About ten minutes into the Blue Angels show Sam observed that having them fly overhead was simply making the other lines really short, so we missed some of the Blue Angels appearance. This event is best described in pictures. Here ya go.

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Cut me Mick!

Yes, we are going to revisit line-cutting. It takes a certain something to decide that the rules don’t apply to you and not only don’t they apply, but you are going to break said rules in front of the peons just to show them who’s boss. Sam and I attended the 2010 Airfest at the MacDill Airforce base here in Tampa which is where we witnessed this despicable act. More on the Airshow, which by the way this blog is formatted, you have likely already read.

I won’t get into the details of the act of line cutting but let me expose the techniques that you might see, and secondly I’ll tell you that the actual line that was cut…was an hour long. The length of the line is key in many ways.

Caveat #1 before the list – The longer the line, the more desperate people are to not stand in it, This is human nature, but it does not change the basic facts. Also, the longer the line, the more determined people are to defend it against line cutters. Here are some things to look out for.

- “Confused look” or “Special needs” approach – People think that if they act completely ignorant that there is even a line that they might get away with cutting it. This also sets up the “What? There’s a line? Really?” defense. This way you can semi-gracefully move on to the next vulnerable part of the line and try again without being physically accosted. I witnessed this one yesterday by a group of 4 people that thought if they just spun around endlessly looking like they didn’t even know how to find the end of the line people would just let them in. Since this line was over an hour long this is not a good approach.

- “The saunter” – This move can really only be pulled off by a single person since a large group would get caught every time. This one involves a person who lingers on the outside of a line, spots a weak spot in the line where people aren’t paying attention and then the person will just gently sidle up into the spot and hope that people just think to themselves, “Was that guy always there?” and think, “Aww well I guess it’s only one guy”.

- “Brute force” or “Invasion” – This move can be pulled off by a group of 5 or more people who are best served by being drunk and overweight. In this move this large group just walks up like they own the place in a loud and obnoxious way (preferably near a family with small kids) and just gets in line. People will confront a person or two, but big, fat drunk people can be a tough group. Your only hope here is to whip your fellow line mates into a frenzy and create an even larger force for good. This also might peak the interest of any security people and get them into the fray.

- “Hey buddy!” – This one involves finding a friend or neighbor already in the line and standing there talking to them long enough that people forget you weren’t actually in the line to begin with. This is the most frustrating approach since you have to wait it out to see if they will leave and likely involves children.

There are many other techniques to skip a line, but since this is a topic I address about once a year I’ll save the following for later. Here are future cheats to look out for: The “I work here” or “I know xxx”, Pregnant wife, 99 year old parent, kid in a wheelchair maneuver, and last but not least, “Fake badge”.


- The rules about stopping / driving near school buses frighten me.

- I’m also pretty terrified about driving the wrong way on a one way street…besides the obvious reason, I’m not sure why.

- Even though I THINK I’m a pretty good singer I really don’t want to Karaoke.

- I think I’m turning into an old man. I pulled weeds today and enjoyed it. I considered, for a minute, that I wanted to keep doing it.

- I consider myself an intelligent person and work on some pretty high level stuff. How come I can’t figure out my health care insurance plan?

- Why do the managers in baseball wear uniforms? Some of them look pretty silly.

- I can’t fathom that the guy making the U-turn has any right of way at all. Judging by the number of gestures I get at the entrance to the subdivision, I am wrong.

Hey boo boo!

Almost forgot to post something today…

In keeping with our adventure seeking spirit we trekked to another event listed in the same list that gave us the underwhelming Strawberry Festival. This time, however, we had some better luck. I think it was probably the weather that made this event more fun, but who cares why, we had a good time. Some mysterious group, (mysterious = I didn’t bother to find out) was sponsoring a “Picnic in the park” at the University of Tampa on Sunday. I was skeptical because anything named “Picnic in the Park” at the University I attended would involve a lot of things I don’t think I would be bringing my children along for…but off we went. 75 and sunny we found a parking place that didn’t mean trading a can of Miller Lite and a lap dance for, good start. We entered the park and immediately spied FREE ice cream. Now this is where the Strawberry Festival could have learned a thing or two. FREE? To test their ice creamy good will I sent Sam in for seconds. They didn’t even bat an eye. FREE! We sat in the sun, watched some strolling barbershop quartetters and some ladies in period costume. At the picnic in the park “period costume” was parasols and Victorian dresses, not sweat pants and a purse full of Midol. The kids wandered around, took in the nice weather, and generally had a good time. I spent zero money, had some “Blue Bunny” ice cream (this is why it was free…shameless plugs on a world renowned blog) and spent some time with the family that didn’t require a vaccination after the event. Here are some of the quality cell phone pictures I took.

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My friends at work, or more precisely, my boss Lori sent me a birthday treat. There is about 15,000 calories in this thing and there is no way my family will be able to eat this thing…nor should they.

This cake is made by some crazy lady in Maine. First a picture of her. These cakes do not do my gift justice.


Next….look at this thing. Stop by for cake anyone!

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Yes….ALL of that white creamy stuff is frosting. Look away!!

Plungers and ties and hats, Oh my!

I know that playing with my kids is what I’m supposed to do, but I also know that playing with them always ends up in some kind of weirdness. They keep going and going until….this.


Rainy days and Fridays

I’ve been reminded that I kind of promised to post, like, every day, so here ya go.

Jen is doing better. Her heart “issue” and “tissue” is 50% regenerated. She’s a bit disappointed not to hear that she is 100% back to normal. I think the rest of us would be surprised to hear that she was ever 100% normal. Keep thinking good luck thoughts and hopefully she can put this behind her soon.

Dad seems to be doing fine back in Orion. There is some rumblings of shoulder pain and a cold, but heck, those almost sound like normal issues.

I wrote this whole long thing about it being rainy and not liking the rain today, but it kept getting goofier and goofier as I typed. In general I find rain the more annoying of the weather conditions.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I like the idea of being congratulated on my arrival. I think this is one of the few “holidays” that makes sense to me.

In preparation for the celebration of my birthday I am going to the library. Rumor has it that I may be receiving the gift of reading time tomorrow. Good thing I read fast. Wish me luck.

Meep meep!

So I have an invention I would like to share with you. This idea will save you thousands on your grocery bill. I know…I’m fascinated with the grocery store. Whatever.

In the world of smart phones and “apps” I think there needs to be a program on your phone that makes the EXACT same sound as the beep of the scanner at the checkout. I watched the cashier the other day as she checked out my groceries and noticed that she paid absolutely zero attention UNLESS that stupid beep didn’t happen. If I was on my toes with my own beep maker I probably wouldn’t have paid for half those damn groceries. Think about it. Oh…and I know this is fraud or theft or something like that. I didn’t say I was going to do it, I just said I think it needs to be made.


Shortcake? or short changed?

I think I owe my Norwegian friends from Alesund an apology. Last year, at this time, I mentioned that the Strawberry festival was taking place in nearby Plant City, FL and that they might want to check it out. I believe I sent them into an area of Americana that might best be left to only Americans. I’m pretty sure that after visiting this festival myself yesterday that they got a glimpse of real down home, U.S. style idiocy, gluttony, and who knows what else. I had visited the Strawberry festival years ago with my parents and remembered it as a celebration of strawberries and interesting Florida things. Well either I was drunk back in in mid 90’s (a distinct possibility) or the Strawberry festival has come down a few notches on the “places to be seen” list. Speaking of lists, here is a list of things that you should probably not introduce to people from another country, at least not in the first month. Sorry Stale!

- Parking – the parking in Plant City for this “festival” has turned into an exercise in “How much can we soak the out of towners for?” Plant City’ers have turned their yards, vacant lots, and I’m sure if I looked hard enough, their cemeteries into cash sucking parking opportunities. I think they gave their kids orange flags and told them that whenever they get more than $20 in their hands to run it down to the bar and turn it over to them.

- Something about being raised in the Midwest makes me cringe at the thought of paying $3.50 for an ear of corn, slathered with butter and sold as a delicacy. I could continue about the Turkey legs, Corn Dogs, Cheese sticks / balls / slabs, Elephant ears, Funnel cakes, Nachos, taffy, and various other “only seen in stores” types of “food”.

- It was discounted ride day at the festival so that meant it only cost me $8 for the kids to ride the ferris wheel instead of $10. Seriously? $8.00?

- People really get decked out for a visit to the Strawberry festival too. No longer are kids satisfied with shirts that let you know their favorite baseball team or boy band, now the t-shirts have to tell you to #$%^&^, and various other kind messages.

The strawberry festival wasn’t without its merits. Sam and I enjoyed our strawberry shortcake. Sara made some friends with some “Little house on the prairie” couple who killed their own food and made their own toilet seats. All in all I will try to avoid the 2 mph traffic and all other things that come with the Strawberry festival in the future. Here are some of our highlights.

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Year over year change

Well it’s been a year since our departure for Europe. I got a message from our friends in Norway telling us they missed Florida. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we were having the Florida equivalent of a Norwegian winter. We still all talk fondly of our time traveling around and even Sam comes up with good recollections of our adventures. We looked at some pictures the other day of snow forts and snow sculptures and my shoulder muscles experienced some flashbacks of shoveling as well. I often recount the story of arriving in a remote Norwegian airport and digging some strangers car out of the snow to make it to the last ferry of the night as my definitive “Oh yeah?” statement. It usually goes something like this…

Other person: Yesterday sucked so bad. My GPS couldn’t find the McDonalds and then when we got there they didn’t give me the pickles we asked for”

Me: Oh yeah? You should try…

The post for this part of the adventure doesn’t do it justice at all.  (link)

South by Southwest

I know not everyone flies a lot or is super travel savvy, but I keep encountering something that is driving me crazy, and this is my outlet for that.

When I fly in the U.S. I pretty much use Southwest to get where I’m going. I won’t bore you with any more detail than that. If you fly Southwest you know they have a unique system of boarding and seating. The problem is that their system requires just a tiny bit of paying attention and some work on your part. You have to identify your spot in line and then stand there waiting to board. How do you think you might find that spot in line? Well first, people should try reviewing the single, solitary piece of information that they were provided by the airline…their boarding pass. The funnier part of the process is watching the dumb people spin around in circles or even better…getting all mad. I’ve decided that the louder they complain or the faster they spin, the dumber they must be. It’s also kind of funny that the cheaper the airline, the smarter you have to be to get on the plane in good fashion. If you pay full fare on British Airways you can probably be dumb as a rock and get to your seat. Oh well…one needs a bit of entertainment while waiting to board a flight, keep up the good work Southwest.

IMAG0019This is out of my window as we were landing in NYC.