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Here's a couple more questions that have come my way...I'm trying to answer them between naps.


1. [livejournal.com profile] polomex asks: You are given quite a morbid superpower: you can kill people simply by thought. Your victims would die a natural death, and you would never be suspected. Would you ever use this new power?

While I'd like to say that I'd be all high and mighty and respect the culture of life, I know that I can be quite petty. I guess my question about the power is: How easy is it to use? Is it something that you have to put effort into it, or is it something that would go off at the second you have one of those "I want to kill..." thoughts in your head? If it's the latter I'm afraid I would have a trail of dead.

It also depends on if it works only in proximity or over great distances, because there would have been a widow filing for benefits last night after the call I had with the guy yelling at me in his rage. I know I'd be weak and want some way out of that painful call.

Also, there's be no Karl Rove or Dick Cheney left to testify on anything.

Let's just say, that's not a power I'd want (sort of a King Midas thing, right?) because I'd know the guilt would weigh to heavily on me.

2. [livejournal.com profile] mikiedoggie asks: What aspects of your home city do you like and dislike?

Well, Dallas has definitely done better in this economic downturn than many other areas of the country. Housing prices were never as high as other areas, but they haven't fallen as much here. If your business is housing construction, well, you may still have a job here. Except for a large batch of allergen-producing crap, the climate is good, not as humid as Houston. It's hot but you can stay out of it, and you don't get months of snow and cold. For someone who is afraid of driving in the annual ice storms, Dallas is good, even if you have to watch hours of screaming reporters on local news saying how we're all going to die if sleet hits the Dallas roadways.

Food wise Dallas is good for me. For anyone who wants to eat right, well, you are screwed. Dallas is a series of suburbs ringed by other layers of suburbs and then an extra layer of exurbs. It all grew so fast that there really wasn't the time for local neighborhoods to develop restaurants. There are chain restaurants everywhere. Dallas is where Pizza Inn, Chilis, and the late Bennigans began. It shows you the haute cuisine we have here. Still, I love fast food and this is the town for it.

On the negative side, we have to drive everywhere and it takes time out of your day. Walking is rarely an option. Want to know why were all fat? You get used to driving even short distances that would shock anyone in the north. Of course in the summer who wants to walk in the 100 degree heat when you have an air-conditioned SUV?

Dallas also has too many religious nuts.

Dallas is also a place where people would still buy a Hummer. You can take that comment however you want.

Finally, there's always a lot of talk about Texas and the low cost of living. The thing they don't mention is that wages are very low here as well. We are the place businesses send jobs to before they send them overseas. It also keeps people here because their pay here wouldn't give you a sustainable life in other parts of the country. You would need to find a job with a significant pay raise elsewhere to make a move. Sometimes you feel trapped here.

It's not a bad city, but it's a boring city. It's a place where you live, not visit. The city implores you to travel elsewhere. We have a big airport for a reason!

Still, Texas has always been my home. It is what I know.

I have a couple of questions left, and I will keep answering them in other posts. If you have a question, comments are screened if you go to THIS post. Keep asking away.

More Junk

Dec. 4th, 2008 08:31 am
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A few random things going on.

★ I rarely remember dreams. Often they have to be something that is going on at the moment the alarm goes off for me to recall anything about them. The other day I had one that was pretty strange. It seems that the girls and Mrs Garrett from the Facts of Life were having a reunion, but apparently they pisses off this one Eastland girl (I'm not sure if it was a redshirt or maybe Jo) who decided that she was so pissed at them that she was going to destroy the world. George Clooney was in it too. Apparently he was a secret agent that did some undercover work at the bakery.

Sounds like a Teen Titans storyline that was grafted onto an old television show. Very odd.

★ Otherwise, Thanksgiving was fine. It was a week ago, but I haven't posted in a while. Good food, and got to see some good people, though we had to hop some houses. Wish we could have stayed at one place for the whole evening. There were many good men there and one is an excellent chef. Still we had a nice dinner with our friend Mikel and his family.

It was good to also see my sister who was on her usual November vacation to visit freinds and family here. We had a great brunch where [livejournal.com profile] cristalskye and her husband came by as well. I've seen Skye twice in a month!

★ I had to work yesterday, and it was busier than I expected it to be. I guess fewer people were out shopping, so they stayed home to call about their retirement funds instead. I was really hoping to get some reading done.

★ I have already picked up a few new versions of my favorite Holiday tune, Sleigh Ride. One from Kristin Chenoweth, now from the late, lamented Pushing Dasies, and from KT Tunstall. iTunes says I have about 50 different versions of the song, but I think there must be some more elsewhere. Strangely I don't have any versions in foreign languages. I may have to look for a few.

★ Vanilla Milkshake Pop-Tarts (with extra calcium) are the worst I've ever had. Pop-Tarts keep trying to come up with these new flavors, but they really just need to stick to the classics. Of course, what do I do, but I purchase some "Fiber One" toaster pastries. We'll see if the grown-up thing is any good.

★ President Bush. Please don't buy a home in Dallas. Go live in Crawford where we won't have to put up with the traffic problems you'll cause. OF course right now Texas is one of the few states you could safely live in, but I'd rather you didn't.

★ I'm missing the exciting politics of the election season. It went on so long, and I was so wrapped up in it. It's hard to find something else to take it's place. I got used to reading stories all over the internet and following polls. The Prop 8 stuff filled the void for a little bit, but that is dying down too, and people seem to be easing into the holidays. The transition team stuff just isn't that interesting. Half of it just seems like a rehash of earlier this year. Remember when this guy/gal was running for president? Now he's/she's back!

Maybe things will be interesting once Obama takes office and can actually do something. I wish it was baseball season so I could turn my obsession to baseball news, but now I'll just have to find some other obsession.
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● Chris and I like the Austin City Limits Festival so much that we have already bought tickets for 2009. They went on sale yesterday for those on the mailing list. Here’s hoping there’s some great acts next year, but it’s always a good excuse to get away to Austin. I hope more people will join us!

● Chris is going to Anaheim today to enjoy Miley Cyrus' big birthday bash at Disney. My travel budget is already shot for the year, and I already was close to Miley this year when I was in New York. I don't think I could take any more excitement like that. I was already at Disneyland this year too, but not with the 30,000 gays they are predicting for this weekend. Maybe next year, if everything is good, I might get to go.

● I’d like to give a shout out to Salon.com and the column/blog How the World Works by Andrew Leonard for keeping me informed about the financial credit crisis. Although I work in the financial world (at an extremely low level), I'm not a business major, economist or even an accountant, I have a large learning curve on some of the issues. I was warned about the mortgage crisis a long time ago (a hat tip goes to Trey ([livejournal.com profile] arkanjil), and I even had to learn about mortgage-backed securities and selling short when taking my licensing tests, but it’s been getting the broader picture, on how this has swelled into a lending crisis that’s hurting businesses that’s been the education lately.

● Again, I’m lucky to work for a company that’s financially strong, but since we aren’t a bank, and our retirement accounts are mostly annuities, not brokerage accounts, we have many callers who are concerned since we’re not FDIC or SPIC insured. Luckily since we’re a not for-profit company, we aren’t leveraged to the hilt. It's tough to re-assure people when their account balances are falling. Still, people don’t understand, even if they have been trough recessions before, that investment in the stock market can and will go down at times. Investment involves risk, plain and simple.

● Even though the House may vote for the $700 billion bailout bill today, that will be just a band-aid for what the economy is going through at this time. Even with the ability for banks to place bad loans at the feet of the US government, there’s severe trouble in lending right now that’s affecting businesses and consumers. Just like the gas shortages in the Southeast, we are a society that is so used to “just-in-time” logistics and deliveries, so when those deliveries don’t come, there’s no inventory to rely on. Many companies now take short term loans to help them meet payroll and purchase equipment, etc. This is done on a very short time table, rather than having a long term financial plan for financing, especially for small employers. When they can’t get the credit, or the small loans they require, business ends up having to curtail growth, laying-off workers and stopping production.

It’s going to be a while before money is flowing as freely as credit has been, if it ever does again. Many banks were far out-leveraging themselves to make these loans happen, and now with fewer big players, and the specter of more regulation on the horizon, both businesses and consumers are going to have to take a hard look at how they spend, and how much credit they will be able to access.

The biggest problem is that American’s have been made to consume everything at a rapid, get it today pace that really shouldn't be allowed. The desire to live beyond your means has been encouraged not only by big business, but by the Bush administration as well, and blame needs to be laid there on his feet. It’s this administration’s effort to not have any American have to sacrifice that has led to big deficits and an economy that was unable to sustain itself as there was no fundamentally sound underpinning. I wonder if Bush was just hoping to get out of office before the bubble burst. He sure looks like he’s just waiting for the bell to ring in January.

I’m wondering how the American people are going to take to a message of tighten your belts when we’ve been coddled so long by a system that says if you want it, get it, damn the future.

What’s interesting is hearing about the far flung suburbs, especially places like the inland Empire in California where tons of expensive McMansions were built and sold for inflated prices to people who couldn’t afford the mortgage payments and now can’t afford the gas prices to commute to and from them, so the houses are foreclosed, the people abandon the homes, and leave all their possessions creating ghost towns out of these suburbs as no one wants to buy them, even at bargain prices. I’m surprised we don’t see more of that in Texas where it seems the cities have grown so far out from the city core, that it’s created more, smaller city cores to compensate, but is that enough to justify driving for miles for everything?

The next president, who ever he, or perhaps she given some odd twist of fate, is, will have the very difficult task of having to pull us along through an economic crisis that may resemble the 1970’s. There’s likely to be some comparisons to Jimmy Carter, who inherited the spiraling inflation, high unemployment and stagnant economy from Nixon/Ford, and he found it very difficult to find a way out of it. Something tells me that no matter whom the president is, 2012 will be a big election year as well.

● Funny thing is that today at work they are feeding us, and passed out a slip of paper with a picture of a baked potato on it that we are to redeem for our lunch. Some people have said that one potato will not be enough, and others have said we should copy the paper in order to get two potatoes. With that there has been talk that we would just create a crisis if there were more slips of paper than potatoes and that the value of the slip of paper would fall as there was no promise of a potato backing the value of these “potato-based securities.” We’ve been having fun with talk of the failure of the potato market and since the delivery of potatoes hasn’t come in yet, the fact that the slips are based on nothing but the full faith that potatoes will appear. There’s also been word of a modern “potato famine” here in the office, but we are waiting for a bailout from management. It’s a funny way to apply the economic lessons we’ve learned these past few weeks.
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If sources are correct, news organizations are saying McCain’s Vice Presidential pick is first-term governor Sarah Palin from Alaska. So for a wow factor the McCain camp gets a “Who?” McCain so wants to pander to the women’s vote that he got what he could, apparently. What happened to EBay CEO Meg Whitman or Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison? This seems like a Dan Quayle type of pick.

Certainly being a Republican from Alaska makes her a big oil pick.

Clearly McCain is trying to fix a problem with women voters. I don’t know if she’ll appeal to Hillary supporters, though. I guess we will see who will vote for a ticket just because there’s a woman on it, and who votes for the platform. Generally I think those Clinton supporters who said they would vote for McCain were not normally going to vote for a Democrat anyway. I guess McCain wants to give them a reason to stick with him.

So I guess the topic of experience will be leveled at both sides. Would Palin be ready to succeed John McCain should he keel over? People will have to take a hard look at her, but we don’t have all that much time. Heck, who watches any politician from Alaska but Ted Stevens? Will Palin be able to teach John McCain about the series of tubes?

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Barack Obama’s speech last night worked well for me. He seemed to flesh out more about his plans but still kept the speech tight and upbeat. I like what he said, and it looks like he was waiting until that moment to really start fighting back. Now I have more confidence in his ability to really go into the debates and make some hard hits against McCain.

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In something non related, here’s a bit of a pet peeve. When you go to a fast-food chain that still dispenses drinks behind the counter, they often fill the cup with ice before pouring in the little bit of drink they give you. I much prefer the self-serve drink station where I can fill the cup with Dr. Pepper and maybe a cube or two of ice. Generally the fountain is chilled, so you don’t have to cool a hot coke.

Often I’ll get a refill before leaving the restaurant, and if I have to go back to the counter to get it, I’ll dump most of the ice out and hope to get a full cup of soda. Always the person at the counter will ask if I want more ice. Geez, of course I want more ice, the last metric ton just melted away in my cup! You already mark up the drinks on your menu, then you have to water them down with ice too? Grr.

“No,” I’ll say politely, “just more Dr. Pepper, please.”

Did I say I like self-serve drinks?

Eating Out

Aug. 22nd, 2008 12:08 pm
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I like my in-laws. They are very accepting and supporting, but man, I’m always feeling that I have to be on point with them. Not only do I have to be a good guy, but I have to be witty and smart as well. It’s kind of intimidating.

In a way, it’s a feeling I seem to share with Chris. Having his parents around seems to make him a bit nervous and on edge as well, especially when our dog is being exceptionally needy around them.

It was a nice, if uneventful visit. They stayed at the house and generally just watched the Olympics, taking over the couch, with the dog. They also brought snacks. Lots of snacks. Personally, I try to stay away from snacks, but luckily the snacks they brought I wasn’t tempted by.

Chris and I tend to eat our meals late. Part of this is simply because of our work schedules, but we do tend to push dinner later than we should. Now add in Chris’ parents who have been snacking and don’t feel like getting off the couch, and suddenly it becomes even later. Eventually all you have is late night fast food that’s available, which is fine for them, but unlike me, they just want someone to go get it and bring it back so they can keep watching the Olympics.

Here’s a pet peeve of mine. I really don’t like takeout. If I’m going to eat out, I would rather eat it at the restaurant. This even goes for Taco Bell. I don’t like bringing bags of quickly cooling food home, and then have a mess because of it. I’d much rather have either a waitress take it away, or just be able to throw it into the nearest “Thank You” embossed bin. No muss, no fuss. If I’m going to make the drive for food, I might as well get it hot and fresh.

This includes lunch. I will often go out and someone else is at the same fast food place getting it to go. What, come back and eat over my desk? Eat in the breakroom? No thanks. I should be bringing my lunch more often to save some cash, but that’s different than if I’m going to take the trouble to go to Whataburger.

I know, you are thinking, well, here’s why he never learned to cook. He just likes to eat out. Well, sort of. I do like to eat out, but I never learned to cook because my mother decided to stop cooking when I was in jr. high. She was given a microwave for Christmas one year and that was the end of true cooking. You have never had Thanksgiving until you’ve had an all microwaved Thanksgiving.

My mother has even given up on that, though. The last few Thanksgivings I was with my folks we went out to Steak and Ale because it was one of the few places open. Why mess up her never-used kitchen? Now that Steak and Ale and Benigains are permanently closed, what are non-cooking people going to do on holidays?

Cooking is fine, and I like to eat food at home when I actually get around to doing it, but I do not like to eat my chili-cheese burrito out of the plastic bag while watching drag queens on Project Runway. It just feels white trash.

Out of frustration Chris cooked for his parents one night, which was very nice of him. Basically it was a cooked snack, rather than no-name cheese doodles. It was much better match with the millionth hour of girl’s gymnastics.

This is not to say that Chris’ generous parents didn’t take us out to eat. Oh, and also bought gifts for the two of us. I’m always a little worried about receiving gifts from the in-laws. They are always very nice, but I feel bad because my parents don’t give gifts to Chris. It’s not philosophical or political or anything, heck, my parents don’t get me gifts anymore either. I shouldn’t make a big deal if one group is more giving than the other, but I do feel more obligated that I should get them something as well. I’ll have to work on that.

Sitting with Chris’ folks over the last weekend did pretty much finish off my Olympic Fever. I’ve seen more hours of some of the silliest sports around, trampoline, equestrian, rowing. It’s all what you do when you are eating on the couch.
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Wait a minute, the Olympics are on, and McDonalds has commercials on, but where's the game? You know, the one where you pull off the tabs on the fries and drinks and they give you a sport to watch the results of?

Why am I not getting a free order of fries because the men's swimming relay team won a gold medal? What's happened McDonalds? Can we no longer afford to put out some food for those of us who are not in training? I want my McFlurry because someone won a bronze medal in trampoline!

Instead we just get those ads with McDonalds attempt to create a Chick-fil-A sandwich, and sell it on Sundays. The ads show atheletes who I'm sure would never go near something deep fried (except for the rifle-shooting guys, they don't care about fitness, they have a gun).


Oh, I know I've gotten too olympic-centric here, but i have to admit that NBC has been doing a little better in sports diversity this year - not on the prime-time broadcast, mind you, but on the cable channels. I've seen some doubles badminton and men's field hockey. Still, I think they could do better if they really embrace the internet for more than just clips and highlights. I do see that I can watch a women's team handball feed right now, so maybe there's some progress being made here. Still, it seems to be sports that none of the broadcast stations are showing. The swimming events wouldn't be on the net.


Otherwise, the weekend was dull, since I had to work Saturday. We did a big batch of nothing...well I did. Chris actually planted some flowers. Now we have to do some cleaning this week as Chris' parents are coming in next weekend.

Wipeout

Aug. 1st, 2008 09:12 am
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As we are wont to do on Thursday nights, Chris and I went over to BW3 and has the boneless wings and played trivia.

Well, the people over at Buzztime/NTN have changed up the trivia format.

I like some of the changes, having a 10 question game in fifteen minutes means a faster pace and more questions per half hour than the old 30 minute game, but what if you have to go pee? It's also all "Wipeout" now, as in it's formated like an older game where the possible answers are displayed, and one by one they remove the wrong ones until one remains. They no longer have the game where all the answers remain on the screen and clues are given. I suppose they had to let the clue writer go.

I'm a big enough geek to have signed up for the Players Plus points. Generally it's nothing, just an acknowledgement that you've been playing for a while. Because I signed up I won a set of pint glasses for winning a "premium" game several years ago. Last night I saw nothing that said I was a points member or that I was even earning any points for playing, so why even sign in?

Speaking of that, the monthly leaderboard was gone. It's always fun to come back in later in the month and still see that you have one of the top scores, but now there's no such incentive.

Also, the game used to have five possible answers, now it only has four. I suppose that makes it easier for some, but I kept pressing five on the controlbox as I was trying to put in for the last answer on the list. I'm sure I'll get used to that, but still. The other thing is they changed to a new font, likely a smaller font to go with their new snazzy graphics, and now it's harder to read from across the restaurant. What were they thinking?

I guess that Buzztime/NTN is trying to attract new players to the game, but from what I'm already hearing the older players are not liking the changes. I've been playing pretty regularly for the past 15 years, so I guess I'm just set in my ways. Still, I know with the new format, I won't be staying and playing as long because the games are shorter. It's easer to leave at the 15 or 45 minute mark where they used to keep me captivated for a full 30 minutes.

We'll see what tweaks they make for the new format, but after the first night of it, I'm not too thrilled.
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Chris and I were out at lunch at BW3's today, mainly to get our trivia fix on, since the Thursday night Cowboys game meant we couldn't go there on Thursday (too crowded). When we got there, we noticed one of the handles for a player was "AIDS."

NTN/Buzztime usually screens out offensive player handles (though I have seen "BLOME" before) so we were surprised to see that "AIDS" was allowable.

The question is, was the handle being used to raise awareness for World AIDS Day today, or was it just another immature joke. We don't know who was playing it, so there's no definitive answer.

In my own juvenile twist I changed my usual handle to "AZT" and made stupid comments like, "I'm suppressing AIDS" and "the lead AIDS has is diminishing!" I know, its silly, but how many times do you get to say, "AIDS is going down!"

Both of us managed to beat AIDS for each of the three games we played. Ahh, if it were only so easy.
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It's been a low-key Thanksgiving around here. As usual, I had to work the day after Thanksgiving, since the Stock Market is open that day, but this year because my department is so understaffed, and so behind, we were asked to come in for a half day on Thanksgiving. Since I wasn't traveling, and there were no plans until later that night, I went in. Heck, for double time and holiday pay, I'll take it.

Even though I'm really down on my job and am looking for something new, I do have to say that there has been some good with all the overtime I've been able to accumulate this year. I've been a good boy and have been applying much of it to larger credit card payments. Oh, and gas, of course. I guess the Thanksgiving paycheck will go to buying Chris his Christmas present.

I haven't purchased Christmas cards this year...maybe I'll just go without this year.

Mikel ([livejournal.com profile] soonercubntx) cooked up a nice Thanksgiving dinner for us he was also showing of his new HD-DVD player. Of course Chris goes out on Saturday and picks up a Playstation 3 because they were giving away 10 Blu-Ray movies with it. We are all set here, with both the XBOX HD-DVD player, Blu-Ray in the Playstation and the Wii. There's no new game or movie release we can't see here.

Chris is almost through with the new Ratchet and Clank game for the PS3. It looks really good in HD.

Joey has a friend over this week. He's Fidel the basset hound and we're sitting him for a friend. Fidel doesn't smoke cigars as far as I can tell, but he does have a little of that basset hound smell. It's fun to watch him hop his way down the stairs. He's a little gluttonous and has eaten Joey's food as well as his own, so we have to keep them apart to feed them.

Joey has been in alpha dog mode trying to make sure Fidel knows who's house this is. she's not mean or anything, but their play together certainly shown signs of dominance play. Joey is a natural herding dog, so you see she's trying to make Fidel go where she wants. They like to try to out nuzzle the other. No biting or scratching, just nosing each other around. It's funny to watch. It reminds me of Zoolander where the guys are "breakdance fighting."

We have been trying to save money by resisting turning the heat on - and wearing layers. I think I might break down and turn it on tonight though, the cold damp weather gets on your nerves after a while. We did go out to the mall where it was warmer today. I know our nearby mall is pretty empty on most days, even this time of year. The mall has too many luxury stores, and few practical ones. It was interesting to note that the Apple store was the most crowded place there.

Of course the usual thanks to partners, pets, family, good fortune and health as goes this season.
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*Stop with the Christmas ads already! It's too early for me. I'm a last minute shopper! I won't even start thinking of buying crap until your desperate 40-50% off sales the week before Christmas!

I'm not even in the Thanksgiving mood yet, certainly not ready for Christmas. I was up late watching nothing and I notices Paula Dean cooking stuff I'd never eat, but I appreciate that she has a lot of butter in it. She had Kermit the Frog on for no real reason and they were cooking fried Thanksgiving foods - certainly a good step. Ms. Dean said "I love Thanksgiving because there's not pressure to go out and search and shop like there is for Christmas." Amen.

*It's been a lovely fall. Yes, 75 degrees is fall in Texas. We're just happy it's not 95.

*I was getting dinner at Culver's last night (it's a bit of an extra drive, so I don't get to go there much - which is good because I love their fried cheese curd), and I noticed on the Diet Dr Pepper fountain there was a NutraSweet sticker. It's been a while since I've see that logo. What ever happened to that branding? You never hear that name anymore.

*Crocs are still bad footwear, and are made even worse with Ugg Boot lining. Just say no, people. Two things together don't necessarily make a Reeses Peanut Butter cup.

*As far as the new job hunt goes, despite the fact that there are people who need help managing their investments, is it really a good thing to become a financial representative at the start of a recession? I'm thinking not.
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Recently there was a news story reporting the results of a study that said children preferred food that was "from McDonald's" over the same food presented to them without the McDonald's packaging.

The study is trying to prove that preschoolers are seeing too much advertising and are influenced more by such ads. while sure, McDonald's does do a lot of work targeting their brand to children, I have to say that this is not all McDonald's fault.

For one, the news report doesn't say that the kids necessarily could pick out the McDonald's packaging, or what made the packaging distinctly Mcdonald's so they could tell the branding over any other brand. Did they really see the golden arches logo as being what they recalled was from McDonald's, or was the packaging just more distinctive than that of the generic food?

The story said they were exposed to McDonald's packaging and "unbranded", but colorful packaging. Had they used packaging from Burger King or Wendy's, would the kids have made different choices? It's hard to tell if it's just that the kids liked the packaging of McDonald's more, or did they really understand the brand?

My real culprit is not McDonald's itself, but the children's parents. Television can only do so much to reenforce a brand, and sure, Mcdonald's has been using Ronald and McDonaldland commercials for years, and used Happy Meals to get children excited about a vist, but think about this, it's parents who often use a trip to McDonalds as a reward. Parents use it as a threat as well. If the child doesn't behave, they won't get a Happy Meal. With McDonalds food having so much power in a young person's life, how could a kid not get a certain feeling that McDonald's must be better?

I know when i was a kid it was a big deal to go to McDonalds. Still, when I was a kid I never lived in a city where there was a McDonald's within 30 miles. I remember when my dad said we were going to move to Conroe Texas in 1978 I was so excited becuase Conroe had a McDonalds, and it was one with a play yard. I was instantly sold on the town, even though our current home, Nacogdoches, had a Burger Chef, and dairy Queen and at last, a Burger king that just moved in. Still, we would drive to Lufkin to go to McDonalds about once a month, so then my parents did make it special.

Now that there's one on seemingly every block, it's not so special anymore.

The whole study seems to be connected to trying to cut child obesity by cutting off the source. I'd say it's kind of wrong-headed. If parents would make better choices, their kids might too. I'm a good example, as my parents didn't really create good eating habits for me, I grew up with a poor diet for the rest of my life. Still, some people think if they can cut children's exposure to commercials, they won't want to eat McDonald's food, or have that sugary cereal. The fact is, you deny a kid something, and he'll eventually hear about it from some friends with more liberal parents, he's still going to try to get it somehow.

I'll be interested to see how the cereal makers do as they voluntarily take commercials off the air for cereals that have more sugar, or other unhealty attributes. While we loved the antics of Lucky, the Trix rabbit and Tony the Tiger, kids today will be enjoying ads for Cheerios, Mini Wheats and Kix. (I'll admit I'd be happy to see more ads with the Kashii bear, myself) I think if Saturday Morning Cartoons aren't dead now, they will be soon.

I just don't see how this revelation is a big deal. McDonald's adds healthier items to their menu, but people really don't care, they go there for a burger, and the children see this. If anything it could be good. If a child sees the apple bites, or carrots or milk and would rather eat those because it has a McDonald's wrapper, then bring it on. if McDoanld's can make that cool with kids over burgers and fries, then let them do it.

Most families don't have the time to prepare healthy food, and lower income families struggle to provide it. McDonald's is at least trying. they haven't been adding one pound burgers and enormous egg sandwiches to their menu, even when it might sell well for them. They know they are under scrutiny and have tried to do well under pressure.

I personally get sick of these nanny state developments where they try to take away something from everyone because they can't abide by letting people make a decision. I say bring on Capt'n Crunch and make a parent have to tell the kid no and buy them Wheaties. I try to keep my McDonald's intake low, and I think parents should make that decision too.

Personally I find these types of research studies a waste of time, especially when they are so pointed against one product or one company. I'd like to see this same study broadened to include other brands and to have a real test of wether the McDonald's brand really is that strong, or just better than the generic brand X. Plenty of studies have been made showing many people prefer branded merchandise.

Oh, and one last thing about McDonald's advertising. Did the Hamburglar actually make anyone go out and steal hamburgers?
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It's been a busy couple of days back. I've gotten a little behind around here, but i would like to thank everyone who took time out to journal, or comment or text message or call, etc with wishes for a happy birthday.

By now you may know Chris and I tripped down I-35 to spend a long weekend in san Antonio. It was good to see old friends and acquaintances and meet a new person or two.

It took forever to get down there. I forgot how far it was between Austin and San Antonio. We first ate lunch in Waco at a McDonalds that suddenly was full of 50 or so day-camping kids. Loud as all get out. Later we ran into the infamous Austin traffic before stopping at Cabella's in Buda to check out some waterproof sandals and the guys who shop there. We always seem to find something we like there.

Finally we got to our hotel near the airport, and napped a bit until we got the word where dinner was. The place was a huge 4 story tall Chacho's. Chacho's is hard to explain - it's fast food mexican, and just about every dish involves cheese. This one, being a Super Chacho's also had pizza. The food is closer to authentic than Taco Bell, and not as nasty as Taco Cabana. The place had different dining levels, a patio and the largest "series of tubes" playgrounds for kids that I have ever seen. the kids could climb all the way to the 4th floor if they wanted. I'm sure it takes days for parent's to get their kids out of there.

I didn't really make much of a mention of my birthday, just saying that Chris and I were coming down. The friday night thing seems to be a regular happening for the San Antonio crew. Meeting us there were Alex ([livejournal.com profile] darke), Peter ([livejournal.com profile] texaspenguin). Will ([livejournal.com profile] pressedkhakis), Scott ([livejournal.com profile] xkot) and Ryan ([livejournal.com profile] inanityscout), who I got to meet for the first time. Will said that Nate ([livejournal.com profile] bigbearok) was off driving himself to Pennsic in Pensylvania that weekend. most of them knew it was my birthday, but I didn't want to make a fuss. Heck, we were invading their event, not creating one for myself.

After shoving down huge plates of Nachos, and maybe a margarita or two, we moved down the road to Starbuck at the Quarry which has some hunky bearistas. We talked for a little while there on a very nice evening with live music coming from one of the nearby restaurants. It's a very nice upscale area in what used to be an actual working quarry - one where my dad worked for a time.

On Saturday Jack ([livejournal.com profile] adminbear) picked us up and we went off to Schlitterbahn, the country's best waterpark, which is just north of San Antonio in New Braunfels. I should have known better to go on a saturday, but we got in and got to go on some of the attractions. One of the bus attendants said their were over 40,000 people there and they almost had to turn people away as their parking lots were full (actually, she said they did tell people about the crowds and many chose to go home).

We rode some of the rafting and tubing rides and rode around each of the three lazy rivers in the place. We got on some of the body flumes and such, but after waiting for an hour and a half for one ride, and another hour for another, we tried to find things that didn't have lines. Jack hurt his ankle in one line so we had to take it easy. Still, there was lots of waling both in the parks and going in between the three different areas. It was fun, but I'd love to go when the kids, and their rude parents who were busy with the beers, aren't around.

Since Jack paid for gas, parking and lunch, we treated him to dinner at the Canyon Cafe, back in the Quarry, and all had some great steaks. We were so tired that any chance to go out for fun at ACE Weekend - some leather event going on that weekend, was certainly out.

On sunday we woke up late and checked out of the hotel, and then went to this dive that Peter was talking us about. unfortunately it was closed, so we drug Peter along to our next destination, the San Antonio Riverwalk. All three of us had our cameras in tow, and you can see my pictures HERE, Chris' much better ones HERE, and Peter's HERE.

they are both better photographers than I, and they have bigger cameras. they are also better at getting the hot guy snipage than I am. Still, I wish i had a waterproof camera because there were lost of hot guys at Schlitterbahn. There was also one of the largest displays of tattoos there. does everyone have a tattoo but me?

We had lunch with peter at one of the oldest tex-mex restaurants on the Riverwalk. We also stopped by the Alamo, because you just have to. It's small and dinky and nowhere near as impressive as history would lead you to believe.

After giving Peter a goodbye smack we got back on the road and headed back north, stopping by the Under Armour outlet in San Marcos where I picked up one of those tight, clingy shirts they make (in my size, even). I can't wait to try it out this weekend.

Otherwise we got back home late, and Chris had to wait until monday morning to spring Joey from the Kennel. All is well, just, as I said, busy, and as normal, any trip out of town is going to be busy, not restful when it's up to me. There's a little bit of tiredness to both of us this week. Still, the trip was a very good way to start up my 40's.
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You know, the future hasn't been all it was cracked up to be.

I was hearing someone talk about the space race earlier today and they said, "You know, our generation was promised this, they were promised to be the first generation out in space." We'll it didn't happen.

I know, it's one of those "where are the flying cars?" kind of things, but it's true. When I was born, in the sixties, the view of the future was bright and bold and the world's problems would be solved. Wasn't there some Age of Aquarius that was supposed to happen?

We still have war, and famine, and disease. somewhere along the way the things like "The Great Society" turned into failed government policies and used by those who look more for handouts than hand up and all that claptrap. Somewhere between then and now, our society changed from thinking about the whole of mankind to just thinking about ourselves.

That space race ended when we, the Americans, won. Did we really have the vision to actually do something further than just going to the moon? After we got there, we sent a couple of other LEMs there to collect a few rocks and drive around the golf cart, then we left it for good. Space became just another place to haul cargo to, not the bold new frontier. I remember watching television wondering if I could go out and live in a space colony, turning above the earth.

Heck, we haven't even gotten to the Jetsons. Think about it, the sixties showed the future would be clean and bright. The earth would be greener (Though in the Jetsons they did have to jack up the apartments to get out of the smog below). Other visions of the future showed wondrous gadgets and TV's everywhere. We're close to that last one, but it seems soon the number of cameras is going to out number the number of monitors available.

The one thing we didn't see coming was computers and the internet. Wow what a difference. It' changed our lives more than the dawn of television changed our parents. We didn't get picture phones, but we got ICQ.

It seems that cars have changed the least. Sure, there's a larger range of sizes and shapes, but when it comes down to it, it's the same engine, just refined slightly. when you think that computers go billions of times faster than they did 40 years ago, how come a car only averages 2 or 3 times the gas milage they did back then? Now that the heat is on, it will be fascinating to see if we get some real change in the next 10-15 years as oil levels start getting scarcer.

Where's that kitchen of tomorrow? The one that delivers a fully prepared meal at the touch of a button? I've got plenty of gadgets, but I still have to pop something in the microwave for the closest to that experience. they tried to convince us we'd be eating pills for all our dietary needs, and for that we've come somewhat close, just ask Barry Bonds. Still, nothing satisfies like tearing into a good steak. Remember when Italian was and ethnic food or Chun King in a can was considered Chinese? now it's passe with more Americans eating Thai, Brazilian, and Middle easter cuisine, we've come a long way towards globalization.

We have seen revolutions in communications technology. Certainly not the things they seemed to expect, with suddenly media is in the hands of everyone. anyone can be published, or produce audio and video and have easy distribution. It's a revolution that may not do in big media, but it's definitely making them re-think how to work in this new world. where a tragedy like we saw yesterday in Minneapolis might have only been covered by journalists rushing to find eyewitnesses, now eyewitnesses can upload their own stories, pictures and video right after the event. It's become necessary to have the people become the fourth estate when they paid journalist are increasingly hampered by ratings, sponsors and corporate ownership.

The personal communications revolution has changed how we communicate to others, over long distances. Who would have thought that typing would still be a useful skill now, and that more kids type away at tiny keyboards on a cell phone than actually make calls on it. Cell Phones are the Star Trek communicators, and now they are getting closer to tricorders with the internet and news and games on them. we used to think portable TV just had a small cathode-ray tube and an antenna, but now it's a wireless connection and a color flat screen and isn't reliant on what the broadcast networks have put on the air.

Still, we haven't completely gotten rid of books, but we're getting closer to ditching music CDs. We use more oil and electricity than we did 40 years ago as there are more electronics and cars out there, but there's also more plastics and more junk.

We've had some of the dumbest, least innovative people running the country. Again, when you think that we've gotten through the civil rights mess, and tried to provide for all so many years back, why do we still have problems with inequality and poverty. why can't we at least agree to provide healthcare for every child? Why can't we work towards a better environment and better schools and better society? We've gone backwards in government as we've seen to many politicians cut corners, and reduce taxes and spending on the wrong things. Once the grand design of the interstate highway system was completed, suddenly, except for pork projects for legislators, we stopped providing proper funding to keep it up. All over the country our infrastructure is getting ready to fall apart, and no one wants to find the funding to do anything about it.

We pay politicians too much money for them to do a half-asses job where they won't make the tough calls to get things right because their campaigning for their next election more than they are actually being the people's representative. the system is broken, but the people who can fix it are the ones who would never do it.

Then it all comes back to the space program. Underfunded. Without leadership. Falling apart. The goal for people wasn't just to beat the Soviets to the moon, it was to find the future. The fifties and sixties seemed to embody the hope that it would all be there for us. All in beautiful gleaming whiteness. We never seemed closer to utopia.

Something changed. Even our views of the future got darker, dimmer. We haven't reached Blade runner or Mad Max, but we still seem tethered to this planet, and it seems to be darker and grittier each time we turn around. How do we get back there? Will a new generation stand up and try to fight for all of us, or will we keep sinking down to watching Lindsey Loahn's latest mistake and laughing?

It's been a wild ride so far, and who knows what's in store for us, but we certainly need something new. we need to give up the impediments that have sent us hurtling backwards for the last 20 or 30 years. It's time to solve things, and beat AIDS and cancer. It's time to make manufacturing more eco friendly, including the car. It's time to finally fund research into new fuels and more energy efficient gadgets. It's time to fund healthcare and social security for the next generations. It can be done, but not with this group of idiots. that goes for both government and the large corporate weasels, more concerned with bottom line and CEO pay than actually doing something for mankind.

A couple of years ago, President Bush said he wanted to send a manned mission to Mars by 2020. People laughed. It's not that the thing can't be done. Sure, there's kinks to be worked out, but we really could do it. It was the fact that it was just empty promises. It was never going to be funded. It was never going to happen. It was to try to build a new space race between the US and China. Once again, it's not about the future. The future has been sold off for a giant pissing contest.

I want the future back. The one we were promised watching Jason of Space Command and re-runs of Star Trek. It's only right.
eggwards: (Scared of Tech)
Why do they keep this place so dark?
photo.jpg



At least Skye still sparkles.

Maybe it's a special hell. Campisi's is a place my parents would have gone to in the 1950's. It's an Italian joint who's food, and apparently it's waiters, haven't changed since then.

They have a big problem serving big groups, and they won't split the check. That's extremely annoying in this day and age. I so rarely caryy cash.

The waiter we had tonight was old, bitter and didn't speak very well. We we tried to get some help on making the check work out amongst out six credit cars (and one paying cash, he was rude, and unhelpful. He said "If you give me seven cards, I'll run them for the same amount." Well, that was a no-go, so we did end up working something out, and most of us rounded up to include a basic tip with our payment amount we wanted him to charge to each card.

When he came back, we signed, and he started taking the bills as soon as we signed them, notiing that most of us did not write a separate tip amount. He didn't know we rounded up, and thought we were slighting him.

On the way out he told Scott ([livejournal.com profile] sparkygearhead) "God will punish you for this!!"

I wish I could have rounded down now. Some went to talk to the manager about him, but given the resturant, the waiter is probably a family relation. I'll need to check what was charged with my bank tomorrow.

Fowl

Jul. 9th, 2007 11:32 pm
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Sometimes mornings like this one are hurried, and while forgetting to buy more milk, I sometimes decide to grab some breakfast on the way to work. most often this means Chic-fil-A.

Chick-fil-A, which in my mind should still be pronounced "Chick-phill-uh", has the most awesome chicken biscuits around. I like mine with cheese. Recently both Whataburger and McDonalds have put out their own chicken biscuit, but these pale in comparison with the mighty Chick-fil-a. Mainly, the McDonalds chicken incredibly bland (a couple of years ago they test marketed one with a spicy chicken patty that was much better), and the whataburger one uses a chicken strip instead of a chicken breast, leaving a whole lot of biscuit. Chick-fil-a seems to do it right with a soft biscuit and lots of chicken.

Now I eat breakfast biscuits a lot. I often have Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits in the freezer, and heat them up in the morning. Many years ago Owens Sausage sold some frozen chicken biscuits, but i guess they didn't sell well. Occasionally I'll by Owen sausage Kolaches. Not as good as the ones made by real Czechs (or at least their Texas descendants).

I do have a couple of problems with Chick-fil-a. the first one is that everything else they do, sucks. I know people who swear by their chicken sandwiches, but the bun isn't any good, and it's usually served soggy with a pickle underneath the chicken, so it's soaked into the bun. It's gross, and they've been under the heat lamp way too long. I never go to Chick-fil-a after 10:30 am.

The other part is the religious connections the fast-food chain has. sure, there's always the problem of having the desire for a chicken biscuit on sunday morning when they are closed, but it's also knowing that you're helping to fund the founder's various programs, all tied into themes of the Southern Baptist Church. Sure, they make a big deal about their work to give scholarships to their employees, and that's good, but they also run children's day camps and marriage counseling centers.

It's known that the company supports Focus on the Family, and has helped out such productions as Veggie Tales. They also support Campus Crusade for Christ. I'm not so sure I really want to help them with this. Can I please designate where the money goes from my chicken biscuit purchase?

It's interesting that the company spotlights it's founder more than most, but then again, he's why they have such a Christian focus. The founder may not be out on the familiar cow commercials, but his picture is in every store...sometimes several times. Sure, there's a plaque to Ray Krock in every McDonalds (thought he didn't actually found McDoanlds, he just bought them and started franchising them), and Dave Thomas with Wendy's was in their ads from the beginning, but C. Truett Cathy seems to have an odd presents in each store. His foundations are the core of a lot of in-store advertising.

Side note, Burger King seems to have been created by the King himself, and Jack-in-the-Box has run commercials for years with "Mr. Box."

Can I live with myself for enjoying the biscuits but not liking the company? I suppose. Hopefully with more competition selling chicken biscuits, one of the other chains will get it right and I'll have an alternative. Luckily Chick-fil-a has the worst chicken nuggets of any of the fast food chains, so after breakfast, they're awfully easy to pass by.
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After lunch, Skye, Todd, Chris and I took a little field trip down to the Kwik-E-Mart here in Dallas. As a part of the Simpsons movie tie-in, a 7-11 store in dallas, and a few others around the country were changed into a Springfield convenience store. Since 7-11 started in Dallas, it's only natural one would be here.

As it was July 4th, many other people decided to come gawk at the store as well, causing a full parking lot and a long line to get an official Squishee drink, or some Buzz cola. They were already sold out of Krusty O's cereal. All in all it was fun seeing the signs that were replacing the usual 7-11 signs, like "Special Offer, Buy 3 for the Price of 3!" They had several character stand ups as well, so everyone was taking pictures. Skye mentioned that everything was being sold, and se saw people even buying the hot dogs on the rotisserie.

There are more pictures HERE. Chris' photos (which are better) can be found HERE

Chris and I watched the Nathan's Hot-Dog Eating championship on TV. I kind of wish I hadn't. *burf*

Otherwise, to round out our day, we went to see Transformers. I'm out of the age bracket for the toys and I didn't watch the cartoons (though sadly, I did watch Thundercats, snarf, snarf). This was mostly Chris' movie to be excited about. I know a few days ago I was saying I wasn't really interested in seeing it, but when it started getting decent reviews, my interest piqued.

It got lots of other people interested, too. One theater we tried was sold out for several showings.

Well, the humans are on way too much, and there's some roles that Chris and I wondered if they could be eliminated altogether. There's also a few plot holes that are big enough to drive Optimus Prime through, but when they shut up and really get to FIGHTING, and the explosions go off, then you know why you like this movie. So what if it doesn't make sense. The robots fighting are AMAZING, and the effects, and matching the action to the surrounding real-life areas of Los Angeles are fantastic. I'm sure the action sequences couldn't have been done even 5 years ago.

Character development? Who cares.

It's a bit of a surprising reaction from me, because I can nitpick really well, and when I get on a roll, I really can't let go and enjoy the movie, but there it is.

Yes, i know, I should be writing about Independence Day and how I'm not thrilled with the direction of the country and all, but you know, I can do that anyday. In the long run, I'm not connected to power, I'm not wealthy and I can't change much on my own when it comes to governmental abuses, and stupidity and power games at the expense of the public and those in other countries.

All I can do is raise my voice from time to time, and to get out there and vote, for thankfully in this country they still allow us those rights. As a government made of and for it's people, we should demand better than we have right now, but it will take time. It takes vigilance, and it takes not giving up on the long vision when short term things go awry. We can recover from this disastrous administration, but we need to be thoughtful of what we do next so we don't end up in the same crap with just a different face.

Still, here we are today with good friends, a few bits of entertainment and diversion, stuff that makes life good. All in all, it's not bad living in North America, you know?
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Over the weekend Chris and I actually went out and were social. We skipped the True Colors tour on Saturday, though we knew people would would be there. I was a little wary of going out on Saturday night to the Denton County Bears pool party not only because I didn't know too many people who were going to be there, but also because i was a little mad from not being able to get a haircut. Yep, good old vanity. Seems like all the cheap ass haircut places were full of people, and after working yet another saturday morning, I really didn't want to have to wait around reading stale magazines waiting for the one or two people to finally get around to me.

Sadly, our friend the stylist has left the haircutting industry to pursue other interests. Good for his wallet, though. Good for our hair too, because although he's a friendly guy, he gets a little attention-deficit disorder when he's cutting and kind of forgets spots.

We made it out to the pool party fashionably late, but not so late to chow down (are we not bears?). I met some nice folk, didn't freak out once I got warmed up, and had a good time. On sunday our little neighborhood had a get together out by our pool. Again, it was tough to meet people I didn't know. Even after living here a year and a half, I really don't know any of the neighbors. Only one of them recognized me from walking Joey occasionally. Still, it was good to put some faces to townhomes around the area. People started to bring their dogs and eventually the dogs were swimming in the pool - and none of the people were. Joey stayed fascinated by the water, but didn't jump in. I'm not so sure she really cared for the other dogs, except for the big lab puppy who she felt needed to be put in his place.

I think it's both Chris' and my goal to be a little more sociable and get out more often. Over the last few months we've been homebodies and really haven't gotten out much. We do know people, people that haven't moved away, and maybe it's time we started calling a little more often around here.

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Otherwise, in one of those looking back themes that will crop up from time to time in these 40 days, I find that I don't watch old movies. Pretty much anything prior to Star Wars (1977) is out, and certainly anything in black and white. I know this leaves a ton of really great films out, heck, most of the AFI top 100 are pre '77, but there's just something about old movies that makes me want to go do something else.

This isn't the same for old television shows. I'll be happy to watch a black and white episode of My Three Sons, or Bewitched. I love watching reruns of The Monkees or Green Acres. Perhaps it's just the timeframe involved, 30 minutes vs. 90.

It's not that I've never seen an old movie, there's plenty of old Disney films I've seen, animated and not, say, the Computer Wore Tennis Shoes? There's also Song of the South which I saw on one of Disney's re-releases sometime in the 70's before they pulled the picture for good in the US. I wouldn't make a big effort to go see them again.

that's another part of it, I rarely re-watch movies. I see them once, maybe twice, and that's it. I don't buy many DVD's because I really don't re-watch them. Even my Kevin Smith movies sit in a box, unwatched. The movie I've likely seen the most is either Airplane or Sixteen Candles because they ran on Showtime all the time in the summer during high school. they seemed to show The Wiz a lot, too.

Part of this may be due to my Dad. He's such a fan of John Wayne and WWII movies that he'll re watch them over and over. I don't know how many times I've seen parts of The Fighting SeeBees or The Searchers or Force 10 From Navarone. I never saw Saving Private Ryan because it seemed like it would be the same thing all over again, just with Tom Hanks.

There's something about needing to move forward in movies that's bigger than my need to move forward in music listening. I love to find new music, and listen to what others of you are listening to, but I like to mix that in with favorites across the last 60-70 years. Movies seem to be more of an in-the-moment thing. I caught a few minutes of Deep Impact on cable the other day and I was already thinking that the movie looked dated.

I'm sure I could ask for, and get a hundred different classic movie selections, but really, I'll stick to trying to see new stuff and the movies i've missed over the last few years...like over the weekend watching The Italian Job, which was fun. Of course it's based on a classic Michael Caine movie that I really have no desire to see.

Of course that doesn't mean I want to see every remake, either. At this moment, I'm still thinking of skipping Hairspray.
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It’s amazing that TBRU has come and gone so quickly this year. I find it even stranger that I didn’t get the major depression that had normally gone with the end of such events. Sure, there were lots of new people to meet, and many of them I would have liked to have spent more time getting to know (and for some that can be taken both ways), but it is what it is, a time where people come in, and people leave.

I didn’t buy the run pass this year. Money’s been tight and I couldn’t justify the expense. I never eat the food, I don’t drink much alcohol, and I’m not staying at the hotel. I’ve never gone to the contest, and don’t really care to. Just the ability to go to the hospitality suite and the pool are the things I’d miss, and even the hospitality suite can be yours if you know the right person.

It was much more relaxed than in past years. I didn’t feel the need to keep up with people and worried about where the crowd of friends was. I enjoyed going out to eat in impromptu groups – often picking up a person or two that we didn’t know much about. While normally I’d be worried about such a thing, strangers storming the Bastille and all, I found it worked successfully and added to the group well.

The best time was had when slowly be began to come up with where to go Sunday night. Like a bear Katamari we picked up a few people and decided on going to Johnny Carinos. As we were getting ready, Andreas stepped over and we asked him to come along. Andreas is a good guy from Italy who we saw on Bearciti and knew he was going to be in town. It was great getting his opinion on “Italian” food served here. He looked at the menu and certainly didn’t see Italian food, especially with such items and a Jalapeño skilitini. The dinner became a real gabfest with the seven of us discussing differences between Europe and the US, including nuclear power and culture. It was strangely serious for a bear run.

This is my fifth TBRU, if I’m counting correctly. They all seem to run together, but I’m thinking we had two years in the old hotel, and three in the current cockchugger’s central. This year I really noticed the shift – one that’s probably already happened, but I didn’t notice that the whole “Bear Drag” is over. While there were a small few people in leather, and a few wearing prison jumpsuits to go with the “cellblock” theme, most people were wearing t-shirts and jeans or shorts. Where five years ago there was still a large amount of flannel, it’s pretty much been replaces by Threadless T’s for those who can fit into a 2X, otherwise, there were plenty of big-boy tees at the vendor market.

Of course there were still plenty of shirts that referred to bears, cubs, pitchers, catchers, past runs, sports teams, etc. The “ironic” T still seems to be the big thing. I personally sported a Zeus T one day, and a Wire and Twine T (thanks for making bigger sizes, [livejournal.com profile] chrisglass) on another.

The talk of the event was the Bear 411 exodus with some people on board, others curious and others very angry about it, scared, I suppose that their bear gravy train might be ruined if the “smart” guys ran off to Bearciti. David ([livejournal.com profile] beefquest) from Bearciti had his work cut out for him, not only getting people’s opinions about the site, but also having to tell people he had nothing to do with the current kerfluffle. That’s not to say that some of the more vocal critics of Bear 411 were not in attendance, including Brian ([livejournal.com profile] kingfuraday) and [livejournal.com profile] bobaloo. Still, I never saw anyone tell someone they had to leave 411 or attack someone for liking the site. On the other hand, the 411 defenders seemed to be rather angry and surly about it.

Otherwise, the contest apparently ran too long, and again, only a couple of guys in the thing were even attractive, in my book. Now that the sponsor – American Bear – is defunct, can we also make this tired contest defunct? There was also an underwear auction held after the contest late on Saturday night. When people just wanted to get their drink on and meet people in the hospitality suite, here does this auction, and poor Bobaloo has to play auctioneer after he had already performed. Thirty guys means that the event wasn’t over until after last call. The organizers should really rethink this, while it’s for a good cause, thirty items is too much. People run out of money as well as patience.

I remember going around Friday night feeling like crap and seemingly noticed by no-one. I’m not sure what does that to me, where sometime during a run I get this feeling of dread that comes in and kills the good feeling of expectation one has. I don’t know if it’s not getting the attention of those you want to flit with, or sadly getting attention from those you don’t, but I always start to feel very much a part of the “out” crowd. Luckily it lifted on Saturday and the remainder of the run was fine. The crowd, well I sort of got involved with, but more often then not I’m quite while Chris gets the attention at these things. I often find myself as the third wheel – and occasionally the partner that someone else wishes Chris didn’t have. Always fun. Despite seeing a person or two comment about me after the event, I always felt like I make either a poor or neutral impression and I have to fight to actually get past that and actually talk to people.

The hotel moved all of the couches into the hospitality suite, which, for a lobby whore such as me, it’s completely, horribly wrong. The couches have been one of the bigger gathering places around, but this year there was a lack of seating in the busy times. It’s also always good to see a pile of bears fighting for couch space. Perhaps they decided not to have such seating in order not to completely frighten (or entice) the other people staying in the hotel, newly inducted army members who were to be shipped out to Iraq.

We had a wonderful houseguest in Jayson ([livejournal.com profile] standardtom) and certainly met some great guys along the way. Still, when Sunday got there, the hotel looked deserted. It seems that people came early and left just as early. Hopefully I can keep up with some of them on Bearciti until they come back next year. I’d mention more names, but then I’d end up leaving off dozens of others, old friends and new, so it’s best to leave it as is. Till next year.
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°Yesterday we ate at Applebee's. Here's a thought...Why the hell do we ever go to Applebee's? The food's not very good, the waitress reminded me of Joan Cusack playing dumb - and perhaps just out of the halo - and the average age in the place was just a few years shy of the 4:30 dinner time at Luby's Cafeteria.

°Chili's on the other hand has pissed me off as they got rid of my favorite burger. Actually the burger has been off the menu for about 15 years, but still, they could make it for you up until this month. Chili's got rid of their chili. The strangest thing. now you can still get chili at Chili's, but it's a different chili, with beans - and that doesn't set well with me. It is also kind of weak - they brought out a little for us to try - and wouldn't stay in a burger very well. So there you go, goodbye Chili's Trip burger - the burger that had been there since day one, but now you can't even get an Oldtimer with chili. It too is off the menu. It's a sad day, indeed.

°Today was President's Day, so I had the day off. I let the dog chase the Roomba around the house and did my taxes, but I also went out to a park and studied on my NASD Series 7 test. I take the exam in May, but the brokerage exam is pretty long, extensive, and detailed, so I probably should have started a long time ago. It was a great day to be outside. It was sunny and in the 60's here. I sat out in the park for a couple of hours reading about Bonds and calls and puts and yields. I also watched several ducks swim around a pond, and that seemed much more interesting than being able to tell how a bonds price raises or lowers given the current interest rates. I've taken the Series 6 before, so I have some knowledge of what I'm in for, but the 7 is a six hour test vs. a three hour one. There's also lots that I've forgotten.

°Seeing posts from Dave ([livejournal.com profile] meatybear) talking about how he forgot his watch today, and from Jeb ([livejournal.com profile] arthole) talking about the 80's era Swatch watches he had for his costume as he DJ'ed the 80's party at IBR made me think about this story I saw the other day that I saw on Yahoo showing that watches have declined in popularity since everyone's been carrying cell phones and other gadgets that display the time.

Personally, I wear a watch every day, I don't always wear it around the house, but it's certainly a part of me when I go out. Maybe I'm just old, but I tend to rely on my watch for the time more than my cell phone, or iPod or even my computer monitor at work. When I go down to the cafeteria for my thirty minute lunch, it's my watch - a square-faced Fossil I bought at the San Marcos Outlet coming back from the wonderful ACL/Hurricane Rita escape back in 2005 - that tells me that it's been 45 minutes and I need to get back to my desk.

I've owned dozens of watches, including a digital watch with red numbers on a black face back in 1980 to Snoopy, Mickey Mouse and Superman watches, and several Swatches, including my favorite, the clear one that you could see all the gears turn. I had a Pac-Man watch and the ever geeky calculator watch. Most of them have been analog (hands) and many of them from Fossil. i don't think I've ever spent more than $100 for one. My dad has had a Rolex that he's had since before I was born. Perhaps if I invested a bit more cash I could do the same, but like my glasses, I like to change it up every few years.

The strange thing is that this year I didn't "fall back" when we went back to Standard Time this past fall. My watch has been an hour ahead for months - and when someone asks me the time, I have to do the little mental calculation to tell them it's 3:30, not 4:30. I'm not sure why I'm being stubborn about this, but with Daylight Saving Time starting earlier this year, that will be remedied next month. I guess I'll hold out.

Still, like Dave, suddenly finding that you've walked out of the house without your watch makes you feel naked, and then you're constantly in need to know what the time is. It's an insecurity as you can't rely on yourself to know. For some reason the digital clock on your cell won't do. It's a strange and irrational feeling, but we are governed by the construct of time. Our watches are just a way that we try to keep it all under control.
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Tonight at dinner we were at a mostly deserted restaurant. the cold was keeping people indoors, and our wonderful ability to not get off our duffs and go eat meant any little crowd there was tonight had already come and gone.

We were served by a cute little cubbish guy who I was wondering was hitting on us a little bit. I think it was wishful thinking. since he had few other customer's to deal with, he chatted with us for a bit, telling us he was saving for a car and all. We, trying to see if he was just friendly and talkative, or actually scoping us out, managed to ask him where he hangs out.

One of the places he mentioned was this sports bar that is on our same block as our home. We did not make note of this to him. The sport's bar's pretty darn average though often pretty crowded. When he mentioned it, I though...yep, the boy is straight. Still, the guy was hovering around us, and even apologized for it. No need to apologize, I thought. He made for nice eye candy while we ate.

He did end up asking where we hung out, and we mentioned something about places closer to downtown, including the Snookies on Oak Lawn (this is a mixed bar, so we weren't giving away much). We didn't just come right out and say that we frequent the Eagle, TMC or anything. When the guy talks about Sterling's, the local sports bar, you don't immediately talk about Leather and Levi's night. It's one of those things were you stop short because you don't want to have to answer "so what's that place like?" to a complete stranger.

Still, we kept having that odd feeling. Perhaps a little more than just wishful thinking to find another cute guy who's at least into the things you are (like chugging cock, I guess). As I was signing the check I flipped it over and placed it in the tray, I quickly wrote a little "Woof!" on the back of the bill. Of course it's cliche', but if you want people who might only have the slightest inkling to get what you mean, the cliche' is the surest way to go. I guess we won't likely know if he actually got the message. It's not as if we eat their regularly, we just went there because our first choice was closed.

Perhaps we should have asked if he needed a ride home from work.

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