Friday, July 22, 2005

New Blog Site

Check me out out at Live Journal... click here... I don't know if I'll be gone long, but trying some new scenery! Let me know which you prefer!

The "Better than Doing Nothing" Blog

1. What is your occupation? Production Coordinator... It's more of a job than an occupation.

2. What color is your underwear? Today, white. Tomorrow, ???

3. What are you listening to right now? My manager spraying his keyboard with canned air, the copier, an accounting machine, and various other office background noise.

4. What was the last thing you ate? Sadly, a donut.

5. Do you wish on stars? I wish on anything that might help.

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Candy apple red, if that comes in crayon.

7. How is the weather now? As far as I know, very hot and humid. Right now I'm in the air conditioning, so it's hard to tell.

8. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Guy in the copy center.

9. Do you like the person who sent this to you? I like the people who posted it where I read it.

10. How old are you today? 33 and 1 day.

11. Favorite drink? Cranberry grape.

12. Favorite sport to watch? Gymnastics.

13. Have you ever dyed your hair? No, but I've thought about it.

14. Do you wear contacts or glasses? Yes.

15. Pets? 1 cat, and a missing tortoise.

16. Favorite food dessert? Ice cream. Also, sherbets & sorbets. Current favorite: Baskin Robbins Rock 'n Pop Swirl (formerly known as "Shrek 2" a year ago).

17. What was the last movie you watched? "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory"

18. Favorite Day of the year? Depends on the year. I usually like the 4th of July.

19. What do you do to vent anger? I stand in line at the Comcast building and threaten to come back every single day until they fix my problem.

20. What was your favorite toy as child? Stuffed animals.

21. Fall or Spring? Spring.

22. Hugs or kisses? Hugs AND kisses (but hugs, if i MUST choose).

23. Cherry or Blueberry? Cherry.

24. Do you want your friends to email you back? I always want my friends to email. I'm writing this from work... I am BORED.

25. Who is most likely to respond? I'm guessing forestrane.

26. Who is least likely to respond? All those people who say they read this blog, but have never commented.

27. Living arrangements? 4 story house in the Maryland suburbs (sounds good, doesn't it?)... until we get foreclosed on!

28. When was the last time you cried? I had a memory that made me cry a few days ago.

29. What is on the floor of your closet? Shoes and a gym bag.

30. Who is the friend you have had the longest? Terri.

31. What did you do last night? Celebrated my B-day... removed the battery from my car to replace the headlight (poor design), grabbed a sandwich, fixed a bedroom window screen, watched Big Brother, chatted with a friend, and ate cake.

32. What are you afraid of? Never finding my calling... That and death. Particularly, not finding my calling before death.

33. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Cheeseburgers.

34. Favorite car? I loved my wife's VW.

35. What is your favorite pastime? I like a little bit of everything. TV, being outdoors.

36. Number of keys on your key ring? Way too many, I'm often told.

37. How many years at your current job? 1/3.

38. Favorite day of the week? Saturday.

39. How many states have you lived in? 2.

40. How many cities have you lived in? If you count L.A.'s subcities, 5... Otherwise, 4.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Fios?

I've been thinking a lot about what I like and don't like about living in Maryland since I've moved... Surprisingly, so far, the #1 reason I would want to move from here is to get rid of Comcast. Honestly.

Today, I think I found my way out. I think I can get Fios... fiber optic internet service. Does anyone reading this know anything about it or have heard of any plusses or minuses? With Fios, supposedly I can keep my broadband phone, get rid of Comcast, and replace the cable with satellite. It will be slightly more per month, but only slightly... and worth it if I actually get service regularly. (... writing this after another week of no internet and no phone service.)

Interesting Blog

Check out this interesting blog:

PostSecret

Diagnosis: PFS

I visited the Orthopedist today, which was no small feat, considering I had to be there, in DC, at the office, at 8am. I don't usually wake up until 8am, but I had to be at the Metro at 6:30am to make sure I got there in time. The receptionist's description that the office was about "100 feet" to the left after exiting the Metro station was also a bit off. I walked in circles over and over again until I finally figured out that she probably meant something closer to 1,000 feet or so.

On the 1,000 foot walk, I saw the Vice President. Well, I saw his entourage. They say you can tell it's the Vice President and not the President because the VP's entourage is smaller and uses lights AND sirens. The President's entourage apparently only uses lights. It's the 2nd time I've "seen" him since I moved here.

Anyway, the Orthopedist took a few x-rays and he thinks I have Patella-Femoral Syndrome. Basically, my kneecap doesn't sit center over my femur, as it should. The good news: I probably won't need surgery, it can mostly be treated by doing some exercises on my own, and the cost at this point will probably only amount to the Dr.'s visit, a different knee brace, some shoe inserts, and maybe a couple of ankle weights. The bad news: It proabably can't be cured, I now have to take the elevator instead of the stairs (stairs, in general, are bad), bicycling is not the best activity (though I can try it), I need to wear a brace during sports, and I will probably have periodic pain from now on (Advil and Alleve will become my very good friends). Overall, a very mediocre diagnosis. Could be a lot worse, but I like to be active, and this is a blow to my athletic ego. We'll also have to wait and see if the diagnosis sticks.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Beautiful Bethesda - Benihana & "Heights"

We visited beautiful downtown Bethesda for the first time since arriving in Maryland. It really is a happening place compared to Rockville. It was hip and young, with a plethora of restaurants, theaters, lights, music, and (of course) people. It reminded me a bit of Old Town Pasadena. With, of course, property values to match.

While in town, we had dinner at Benihana, family-style Japanese hibachi place where everyone sits around the grill as the chefs perform tricks and make scrumptous meals. The best part of the Benihana experience is that if you don't have enough people in your party to take up an entire table, you will often be seated with others. And, in the ideal situation, the others will be quite interesting. This outing was one of those ideal situations.

It's fascinating how much detail complete strangers are willing to share over dinner. We sat with 4 women. A mother, her adult daughter and her 2 adult nieces. In the course of one dinner, here is what I learned about our table-mates:

1. The adult daughter is looking for medical schools to apply to. She wants to be a surgeon, specializing in reconstructive surgery. She likes a rural environment and was curious about schools in Minnesota and Illinois, though her ideal place to live would be Brimingham, AL, even though she admits they could be racist there and she is black.

2. One of the adult nieces lives on a street only a few blocks from our house.

3. The other adult niece has cheated on her husband, but only twice, which is OK since he cheated on her first and she doesn't intend to do it any more, unless he doesn't get his act together.

4. The mother has never cheated in her 25(?) years of marriage, not even the "Jimmy Carter way." Apparently, Jimmy Carter said he never physically cheated, only in his heart. The mother lives in DC and, when asked what she thought of Marion Barry, gave a 10 minute lecture singing his praises, complimenting his ability to find work for youth, how he kept young people off the streets, and how he worked tirelessly for the people and city of DC. She presented this in a very astute way, getting us hooked on his good points before curtly mentioning his addiction to crack only at the end of her dialogue. And when she did mention it, she said "Sure, he did crack, but that only helped keep him able to fight for the citizens of this city 24 hours a day... He was never as good after he got caught." She was a well-educated and interesting woman. We found out she is a dentist as well as a professor of dentistry at a well-known institution and, since we don't have a dentist out here, she will very likely become ours now. She also talked about racism and how South Carolina has changed over the years (for the good).


In other news...

- We saw the art-house movie "Heights" this weekend while in Bethesda. A wonderful film, I give it 2 thumbs up. Well-written, well-acted, low budget... basic movie-making at its finest. I'm sure better than any of the summer blockbuster junk that is out right now. It's about relationships and life choices... and how much life can be altered in just 1 day. Not exactly like "Sliding Doors", but thought-provoking in the same way. Go see it! Next on the list: Penguins.

- We also headed back to the farms to pick more blueberries and raspberries.

- I finally have an appointment to have my knee checked out. As of this writing, I've already abandoned bicycling, walking the stairs, and another company softball game. I don't have a scale, but I feel like I've put on at least 5 pounds in the past week. Sigh. Big, big sigh.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Heightened Alert

Here we go again. I can't even begin to assemble my thoughts on the subject of terrorism and war. I'm not sure if I even want to think about it for that long.

But here's something I have decided to think about. Heightened security. Orange alerts. What the heck do they mean? My wife, a law enforcement officer, has worked through several of these security status changes. Ask her to tell you the difference between what she does every day and what she does during times of "heightened security"... go ahead, ask her. The answer, inevitably, will be nothing. Perhaps the special forces take other actions, and perhaps she just has not been with the special units during these times, but who is all of this extra security for, anyway?

I believe the bag checks at public events, and the higher security presence after an incident, are more for perception, to give citizens a false sense of security and control over their lives when really there isn't much we can do in our daily existence to prevent these terrorist attacks. Yesterday and today, bomb-sniffing dogs searched the Metro trains, police with machine guns spot-checked the trains as they came through the stations, and the bathrooms were closed to prevent any dubious activity. Do we in America really think the terrorists don't pay any attention? Do you think they're going to put a bomb on a train that they know is going to be sniffed by a dog before they ever get a chance to set it off? Of course not. They're patient. They wait. They wait until we search for a few days or weeks and determine that we haven't found anything and, therefore, the threat has subsided. The dogs are removed. The armed guards slowly disappear from public venues. The bathrooms re-open. Then we go ahead and drop our alert level back down to Yellow or even Blue. We stop patrolling our Metros and public areas. We get lax with our security. We feel comfortable again that we've thwarted terrorism.

That's when we need protection the most.

I know in America we don't want to live in a police state. However, where are these extra security measures the rest of the time? What sense is a security check where they stop people carrying purses, but wave everyone else through? My wife and I went to a national museum the other day. She had her gun in a holster on her waist, under her shirt. There were no metal detectors, just a bunch of day-player security guards. They stopped the woman pushing the stroller, and they waved us through. "Not carrying a bag, don't need to be checked," they said. I've been to the Hollywood Bowl and had a camera case large enough to fit a camera or binoculars... or a gun or grenade. But it was too small.. they waved me through. "Let's stop only the guys with the coolers," was the apparent attitude.

I know we can't protect every place in a free country all of the time. As an ex-FBI expert said at a forum held by the Washington Post, "... if you put metal detectors at the transit stations, they will attack the shopping malls..." There's no way to put a shield around every place all of the time. Not to remain free. But these "displays" of heightened security aren't really an answer, either. We can't get it together only after something terrible has happened. We've got to get it right all of the time. As it's said, we have to be right ALL of the time to prevent terrorism. The terrorists only have to get it right ONCE.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Blown Knees, Beginner's Omelettes, Blueberries, and the Big Bang

It finally happened. I sat down for a good chunk of my work day on Friday, and it pained me to stand up again. I hoped it would work out the kink as usual, ever since the knee problems began. But alas, this was not to be the case. I hobbled around in pain most of the rest of the day, limping enough to even evoke the offer of crutches from my boss. Since Friday, the pain and cramping have eased, the ability to move has shifted off and on again. But I am finally ready to see the Orthopedist. I am waiting for my friends to return from a trip, so they can provide me the name of their referral. The physical therapist believes it is torn cartilage, but I am just not ready for knee surgery. Hopefully the MRI will be revealing, and by revealing I mean I hope in a positive way. Sigh.

Other weekend news. On Saturday, we went to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, which is my personal favorite of the museums because of all the pop culture and "kitschy" (can't spell it) stuff. We of course saw Fonzie's jacket and Dorothy's ruby red slippers. New since my last visit several years ago was Julia Child's kitchen. Literally, her kitchen. I never really watched her while she was alive, even knowing what an icon of cooking she was. But while there, a video was playing with clips of some of her TV moments. And one of the clips was a really short one on how to make a 20-second omelette. Now, I know omelettes aren't brain surgery, but I'm no master of the kitchen. I once tried to make an omelette with an "omelette maker" contraption my mom had and spilled all of the innards across the entire stove. So imagine my delight after 5 minutes of watching a video in a museum, going home to make omelettes for dinner. Not exactly 20 seconds, for a beginner like me, but about a minute each... and they were delicious and even looked like omelettes! Julia Child said it's the best way for you and 5 of your friends to prepare a meal for 300 guests in 20 minutes... in case you were looking to do that.

On Sunday, we went back to the farms to pick fruit. The strawberries were looking pretty worn at this point, so we opted for raspberries (which I don't like - too many seeds) and blueberries (which I didn't like until we picked them fresh!) Blueberries are apparently some of the best natural food, high in anti-oxidants and one of nature's best. I'm glad I now like them. The ride to the farm was gorgeous again, and there were a lot more people out picking fruit this time, probably because of the summer vacation. Even the families of geese were enjoying a little swim by the nearby lake... if you can call a pooling of water a "lake." I also thought it was exciting to be outdoors in a field among truly red and blue fruit on the weekend celebrating our country's independence. In a few weeks they will have peaches, plums, and corn. I expect we'll be making a few more trips.

On Monday, my wife of course was working... holidays are just extra-busy days for law enforcement. All of the friends I know in the area were out of town for the holiday weekend, so I decided to get out rather than sit on my arse watching fireworks on TV. I am in the nation's capital, after all. So I went by myself to the National Mall, and sat among the millions of others watching in awe as the fireworks exploded over the Washington Monument. It was truly incredible, although a little lonely. I appreciated the adventure and the beauty, as I do in most of what I do. But I know why single people are always looking to be with someone... experiences are enhanced when you have someone to share them with. On the metro ride back home, I reveled in the joy of my new hobby, people-watching. It was all fine until I noticed the clean cut and responsible-looking man coming closer to me. I thought he was talking to me at first, but he said something about a "national search." Then he kept talking about this "national search"... it was hard to tell because the train was so loud I could only hear every few words. I figured he had an earpiece and was on the phone. But then I realized he was repeating the same sentence over and over again about this "national search." Eventaully, he spiced up the conversation, by saying "you should get to the hospital and see your daughter, she might need brain surgery," or something like that. And he ended it by talking about something like "smashing her head in," which he also repeated many times until it was time to exit the train. I made a mental note of his description, in case this turned out to be relevant at some point. Then I hobbled home to watch the fireworks replay on TV.