Monday, December 22, 2008

Flying Away

A bitter cold Monday in town for xmas shopping--they've carved some paths through the heavy snow. Ugh! The good news is tomorrow I leave for Florida for a week, hopefully to some nice warm and not rainy weather so I can thaw out a bit. I'll certainly need to recharge my batteries if I am to face 2009 and the challenges that lay ahead! This cold weather is numbing me.

Here's hoping for an uneventful trip--though with airlines what they are, that's probably a tall order!

Weekend Wrapup

An event-filled weekend is coming to a close--Friday night was Erin's graduation (where she was noted as a magna colada! What honor!) and it went on despite severe snow that made driving a bit hazardous. Still, it went off well and then I headed up north with her fambly to celebrate with food and drink. The roads were pretty bad so I stayed over and watched movies by the fire.

We got a late start on the morning and essentially accomplished nothing--NOTHING--on Saturday. It was hard to get out--the sidewalks were still terrible, and it was so warm inside. A no-brainer! Though we did have to head out eventually, for Christrees' and Brendan's surprise party. That event was a nice one, and worth braving the bitter cold and snowy sidewalks--much of the usual gang was there, plenty of silliness and all that--and as it turns out, ole fancy-pants Erin is a fan of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer! Wonders, they never cease.

We left around the time I ran low on beer and felt a bit loopy, and woke up Sunday to the beginning of what is now a good ole blizzard. Well, that's Maine. If only snow were a valuable natural resource, this might be a state flush with money! I did manage to visit Jake, Allie and Hokie for a bit to watch some football and catch up, and now watch the evening come under a blanket of frozen drops. Another week begins.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursdays Are For Player Haters

Tuesday night we had our first "happy hour at home" hosted by our East End pal, Paula. It was successful--about a dozen showed, a good deal of bawdy banter, and high hopes for a repeat of this on a nearly weekly basis. The elusive Chris McClay has offered to host another one next week, but you know what they say about McClay sightings--they're like comets. They appear rarely and cause a lot of space dust.

Last night went to the Daigles' for tree trimming, which is an activity I haven't done since high school (since normally the trees are fully trimmed by the time I get home from school/visit). We had some good treats while listening to holiday music and making the place all festive. We also had something to celebrate, as Erin had earned Magna Cum Laude, despite her attempts to be all humble by calling it Magna Colada and acting like it was no big deal. Having never even made cum laude myself, I think it is a big deal!

Today among my errands I went to get a new phone. So I ask the good fellow at Radio Shack if I can still access the numbers saved from my old phone. Here's how it went:

Brando: Good fellow, once I activate the new phone, which you seem to be doing now...

Clerk: Yep, almost done.

Brando: I'm wondering, can I still get the numbers I have saved from my old phone?

Clerk: Certainly, good sir. You just won't be able to make or receive calls from the old phone.

Brando: Splendid!

Well, I get home and sure enough, can't get to those numbers! Which means the next few days I'll be slowly adding numbers as friends call and email. Dammit!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Blues

The past weekend was relaxing, as there was just not much that could be done outdoors what with the ice storm. One might think that would lead me to do more indoors, but no--I treated it as a weekend off from everything. Erin took me to dinner Friday for a belated birthday celebration, which was nice since we hadn't really done any celebrating up to then what with the sore throat and her busy schedule. Saturday night Mark and Nichole had us up for a home cooked meal, and to see their fancy holiday decorations and try the new pale ale that Mark had made. Our signature ale.

We need to produce more of that, and make it our contribution to all future "Happy Hours At Home" that will hopefully become a weekly event. By getting our friends and well wishers to taste the beer we brew, we can build up a ready market for low cost, high quality suds. This I believe is how Adolph Coors and Phil Pabst and Johnny Rolling Rock got their start.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Brando Syndrome

Portland is now caked in a sheet of ice, making the trees quite beautiful and the sidewalks quite hazardous. Unfortunately it also means power failures for many, which is more than just a nuisance--it's dangerous when this means no heat or hot water. Ice storms are God's way of reminding us that He hates us and wants us all dead.

My sore throat is a mysterious thing now. During the day it hurts almost not at all, but at night it becomes seriously painful and stays that way until morning. Only extra strength Tylenol makes it tolerable. What sort of throat ailment only happens at certain hours of the day?

At this point, I have no faith in my immune system. I've been working on this thing (with tea, vitamins, oranges, etc.) for weeks now and the throat is the same as it was on day one. If I knew any medical researchers I'd suggest they do a case study on me. I could be carrying some mysterious new ailment. In fact, I think I am! I shall call it: "Brando Syndrome". Set up the next Jerry Lewis Telethon, folks! Help fight Brando Syndrome today.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Possible Moves

The job search is a slow and often discouraging process, since more businesses are cutting back than hiring, and the holidays aren't the best time of year to be looking for work anyway. Still, hopefully there is something out there, and I can find it soon before my money runs out.

More likely the opportunities will be in major metropolitan areas (like NYC) or in the Sun Belt (like North Carolina, or Texas) so it's possible that this will be my last winter in Maine. But it also means I may have to sell my condo before long, and this isn't the best market for doing so. Had I known a year ago what I know now, I wouldn't have bought. Still, now is the time for figuring out what to do next.

Here's hoping that 2009 brings some bright prospects.

Snow Doubt About It

It's cold and drizzly out, but right now I'm just glad it isn't snow. I remember when as a kid it was great to see it snow, that meant playing outside and making snowmen and throwing snowballs and coming inside for cocoa, and better yet, if it snowed enough on a school day you could get a day off. But the novelty wore off around the time I was old enough to have to shovel the driveway, or drive in the muck (which also meant cleaning off and digging out a car which was not garaged). The novelty wore off still when I got to the age where even a snow day wasn't so great, because it just meant you had to make up the work when you did make it in. And the white beauty of the first snow usually turned to dirty, slushy muck quickly, and just looked nasty.

As an adult, I see nothing good about the snow--it means hazards on the roads, slippage on the sidewalk, and having to dress practical rather than nice. There has yet to be designed a good shoe for the snow and ice and salt that actually doesn't look like shit. And unless your head is shaved down to a crew cut or less, a winter hat means forget having your hair look nice.

Some people try to defend the snow. Let me demolish these arguments in turn.

Point: But Brando, I like to ski and snowboard!
Counterpoint: They invented artificial snow for the slopes, and besides why should everyone suffer risk of injury and stranding in inhabited areas simply so a tiny part of the population--upper middle class white people--can enjoy a hobby in the mountains? Besides, you can have your snow up there. I just don't want it down here at sea level.

Point: But Brando, isn't the snow pretty when it falls?
Counterpoint: It is, and if the snow simply melted upon contact with the earth, I'd have no problem with it. But a brief moment of enjoying it while it's falling quickly becomes weeks or even months of the crap on the ground.

Point: I don't care, I look good in sweaters!
Counterpoint: Only fat people look better in sweaters than they do in anything else. Try laying off the Twinkies. If you're not fat and you look good in a sweater, you'd look even better in a normal shirt.

Point: Ooh, but I love a winter wonderland!
Counterpoint: Fuck you.

Point: Snow is just something that we all have to deal with, if we live north of the Carolinas. Why not just cope with it and make the most of it?
Counterpoint: I do make the most of it--it's important not to let the snow keep you from going out and about, or finding enjoyable indoor activities. But that doesn't mean I have to like the snow itself.

Here's hoping for a mild winter for a change!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Haven't been able to blog yesterday, as my sore throat finally prompted me to go to the doctor. Normally, the routine is--get sore throat, eat soup, NyQuil, cough drops, vitamins, Zicam, tea, juice, and bedrest, until the sore throat turns into a regular cold, with runny nose, sneezes, coughs, fever, then back to normal. Usually this takes about four or five days from start to finish, and the sore throat itself is gone after the second day. A predictable routine that interferes with beer drinking, potato chip eating, and other happy affairs.

Not this time. The sore throat came the 26th of November, so as usual I started my curative routine which continued through Thanksgiving weekend. Only this time, the sore throat stayed, being very painful in the morning and late at night and only a mild annoyance during the day. At no point did the sinuses get clogged, or sneezy, or coughs, or fever. Curious! And then it continued for what is now almost two weeks. Something's afoot, so time to go to the doctor and see what this is.

Brando: I gots me a sore throat. Or "thorat" if you prefer.

Doctor: Any other symptoms?

Brando: Yeah, all the sudden I can't dance.

Doctor: For that, I can only prescribe ten days of tango.

Brando: Just out of curiosity, you're not planning to quit your day job, are you?

So the Doc took a thorat swab, found it wasn't strep throat, which is good because strep sucks, but bad because at least with strep, you know what it is and you can take antibiotics which sounds a lot like "robotics" and makes me think of superpowers. Instead, I have what he suspects is just a long lasting virus that my immune system has been unable to destroy yet. For my trouble (and about an hour delay in the waiting room!) I got advice to take some heavy duty Tylenol.

I really should have become a doctor!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Black Friday Tragedy

Apparently a week ago a bunch of fantastically cheap shoppers crammed into a Wal Mart in search of the infamous "Black Friday" bargains, and in the process crushed to death an employee of the store. When the managment tried to clear the people out of the way so that paramedics could get through the reaction from the crowd was that they waited since 4 AM to get in the store and weren't about to back out now.

This Onion piece--particularly the third satirical quote--captures it perfectly. It's really sad when people have that little regard for the lives of others when rushing to save money on these bargains. If aliens were watching over such an episode to determine whether humankind was worth sparing, it's hard to imagine they'd be favorable.

Anyway, if I ran a Wal Mart, I'd equip all my employees with tasers. Sure, there'd be a lot of unauthorized tasing going on (especially when one considers how many ex-cons and teenagers work at Wal Mart). But it'd still be pretty neat to see some yuppie get tased next time he tries using an expired coupon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up

Back from Thanksgiving--it was quite the adventure. We headed down to Northern Connecticut on Thursday morn, making it in time for a feast at Erin's fambly's place, and overstuffed we headed on to NY in time for dessert with my own fambly. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a sore throat which prevented me from truly savoring the food and drink, but it was fun nevertheless. Friday we saw the old home videos which my dad had converted from 8mm to DVD, and there was a bit of spookiness when the camera focused on a blurry portrait of my aunt (who had died young). My father couldn't explain why that image was on the tape, so we had a bit of a ghost-camera thing going on. (Note to self--when I go, I'm going to haunt people in a helpful way, maybe to give them stock tips and warn them when their car oil is low).

Friday night we headed to NYC, met with Andy, Jer, Gwynn and the baby, who was quite cute and didn't cry much. Which is more than I can say for Gwynn's bad dog! The dog was of course barking constantly, but we didn't let that get in the way of our conversation. That's just how we are.

Stayed over at my sister's in Brooklyn, then headed into town Saturday morning, where we took Erin around the various neighborhoods of NYC, and Lou and Jer met with us as well. It was a relaxing Saturday afternoon, and we briefly saw Erica and her baby daddy, Aaron, before rushing uptown to meet the parents for dinner. We were 20 minutes late though, because the traffic was blocked up and the tourists were out in full force, looking in wonder at novel new things like sidewalks and glass. And taking pictures of each other, looking at sidewalks and glass. Is there anything worse than a tourist? Maybe a terrorist.

Dinner was very nice though, and we saw an off-Broadway show, before heading back to Westchester. Sadly, I suffered a pretty severe stomach ache which kept me up most of the night, though it was gone by morning. The sore throat was still there though.

On my birthday morning, my folks made us Eggs Benedict, and we hit the road at noon on Sunday after Thanksgiving. That is, the belly of the beast! Traffic was blocked up from NY to the end of the Mass pike, which meant a 5 hour trip became an 8 and a half hour trip. Ungodly! I was thoroughly exhausted by the time I made it home. At least it was a fun weekend though.