Tuesday, December 29

Contact Details

So yes, 24 hours later we have been re-acquianted with our luggage.

At the airport I had to give details of our bags.

Me: "It's bright yellow"
Them: "Are there any identifying features?"
Me: "It's bright yellow"
Them (passing me pictures of suitcases): Does it look like any of these?
Me: "Yes ... and it's bright yellow"


With those details ironed out I gave them my parents address and phone number. In return I was given a phone number to call ... in case you don't hear from us within the next 48 hours. 2 days? I'm only here for 5 days total!

From the airport to my parents house we popped into M&S and bought underwear, t-shirts and sweatpants. So yesterday was just your usual jet lagged lounging around the house sort of day.

I tried calling KLM last night and again this morning. Finally they picked up.

Me: "Hi ... did my bags arrive yet?"
Them: "Oh, you're the Gentleman I spoke to yesterday. Yes, they arrived last night"
Me: "When will I receive them?"
Them: "Well probably tomorrow, unless you are local"
Me: "I live in the next town, is that local?"
Them: "Not really, and we've just started using a new courier service"


And with that we jumped into the car and drove back to the airport.

From here on in whenever I am asked to fill in contact details; this is what I shall write.

The Gentleman you spoke to yesterday.

Monday, December 28

KLM. Justified and Ancient.

Boarded the KLF plane, all bound for Mu-Mu land, well Leeds actually.

A short one hour flight to my homeland. What could go wrong?

Got a stamp in my new US passport. Thank you. Proceeded to Baggage. 30 person flight ... this should not take long.

Our bags did not make it.

To be continued ....

No Tulips. Just a Ball Cupping

Landed in Amsterdam and started running down the moving walkway to catch our connection. An old Indian lady decided the end of the walkway would be a good place to overturn her cart and stop. The guy in front of us (also in a rush), took a flying karate style kick to clear the way, and offered a few choice expletives to the poor Sari-clad dear.

Whatever, we had a flight to make.

Got to the security, and stepped into the future. They have an all over body scan device that looks like an 8ft Mason Jar. With Amsterdam suddenly looking like a petri-dish of poor security, they had implemented an extra pat down.

Oh Boy! Did he just cup my nuts? Yes he did. Then he stuck his hand past my belt line. I felt definite latex glove on pubic hair action. I think you pay double for that.

On the short bus ride to the plane we encountered our first Yorkshire couple of the trip. No hand luggage, arms crossed, with that angry but not sure why look on their face.

Sunday, December 27

Welcome to Boston

Landing early in Boston meant we were able to take a quick trip home. An hour to un-wind, re-pack, and possibly another hyphen-related activity for me, while Anne watched Football for an hour.

Once again I insisted we get to the airport stupendously early, and once again security proved to be as 'slack as a bag of knackers'. Never mind that a 2nd nutjob had been dragged off a North West flight coming out of Amsterdam, we were only going there.

After a delay just long enough to make me worry that we'd miss our connection in 7 hours time we finally took off.

Compounding my angst was the selection of crazy looking people on the flight. It's interesting how 2 days of terrorism news suddenly makes you a master profiler.

Also is there anything more entertaining than a middle aged drunken woman who appears to be experiencing everything on the plane for the first time. "Oh! headphones!", "I'm turning on the air nozzle because it stops you from getting sick", "The drinks are free on International right?"

As drunken lady snoozed the flight attendants came down the aisle with drinks. And I heard this quality exchange.

Passenger in 16b: Do you have SoyMilk?
Attendant: No

For the next 6 hours I was in and out. Thanks Benadryl. So happy I coughed up an extra $50 for a seat with extra legroom. Unfortunately extra legroom was canceled out by no footroom. I have the in-flight entertainment system to thank for that.

C to the L to the E

After Anne's parents ran every possible 'what if' scenario (weather, terrorism, house fire, ID loss), saying goodbye to Ohio proved to be a security free breeze. We arrived way too early at the airport, only to find no lines, and no extra checks.

As we waited for the plane, a robin fluttered around the terminal, oblivious to the nutritional deficiencies of Cinnabon and Hudson News snacks.

Meanwhile a guy with sweatpants pulled so high the ladies could literally see what they were NOT missing continuously walked in and out of the men's restroom. I'm not saying he looked creepy, I'm just suggesting he be placed on a watch list.

Finally a good looking blind guy sat next to us with his visually perfect (sic) girlfriend. They were flying to Connecticut where I believe they have quotas for that sort of thing.

Boarding proved to be a joy. Continental decided to board 3 flights at the same time through the same gate. Because why not?

CleBos AmsLba

Not the name of a fanciful tropical disease, rather the long and tedious trip we will have to take over the next 24 hours.

In the last day a guy tried to explode a North West flight. Guess who we fly to Europe with?

Friday, December 25

Where is the Christmas stuff?

Had a great long weekend on the West Side (of Cleveland).

Will post stories and photos soon.

Thursday, December 24

And they're off!

Big bags are packed, taxi is ordered.

It's not quite 4am, but we are ready to fly to The State of Ohio for a few days of frivolity, and then it's off to Blighty for New Year's fun.

Sunday, December 20

Ooh, look what we did

Man oh man! Have I had an ass-ful of Kid Photos pretending to be Christmas Cards?

Yes, we get it, you have created another human being. Whoopie-fucking-doo!

Of course I didn't shit out a kid, so I guess I don't get to send Christmas Cards.

Actually I have no beef receiving a picture of the kids WITH a card, specifically it is receiving a photo of the kid, with Merry Christmas typeset in Loserfont Bold ... with no hand-written message.

Hey, I don't give a shit that I made your mailing list. If you cannot be bothered to write Merry Christmas Richard, then save yourself 42¢ on a stamp and take me off your goddamn list.

I don't know any infants, so I don't expect a Christmas card from them.

I do know lots of adults (some who have infants), and I expect a season's greeting from you ... the grown up.

I'm happy that Walgreens have found a way to take money out of your stupid kid's college fund, but I will die believing this is poor etiquette.

Whoo. Time to take a cold shower!

Thursday, December 17

Meow


I still miss Isobelle!

Wednesday, December 16

Colorful Clutter

So I guess not having a boss means I never have to tidy my desk. Then again I've always been messy.

This is my desk of the day photo.

Items of note: My ribbed leather wallet. A calculator with the 'C' button in both top right and bottom left - this is very important to me. My Pantone regulated coffee mug. An actual Pantone stick. A Wunderlust notebook. An Apple laptop. An unused stressball. My giant pencil sharpener pen holder. Starbucks instant coffee. Altoids. A highlighter pen - I use this infrequently, I'm not a highlighting fan. A super thick pencil stolen from the hotel in Santa Monica last week. Tissues - one of the 25 boxes I received in last year's Yankee Swap gift exchange. Staples - a full box ... never use them. A yellow jaycloth - I clean my desk each week. An iPhone. Scissors. Colorful phone lists and price lists. 1 of 10 laptop power adaptors I have laying around.

Tuesday, December 15

Walken. Poker Face. Awesome.

Coq au Vin!

Success! In so much that Anne didn't need ER attention.

Earlier during ingredient shopping at Whole Foods, I got chatting with a fellow shopper who was buying Pearl Onions. Turned out she was inspired by the Julia Child movie and she was making a Boeuf Bourguignon. We exchanged advice and settled on White Onions instead, and bid each other 'adieu'.



The Coq au Vin came out good. I only set the smoke alarm off the once. Had a little worry with the sauce reduction (which always seems to happen to the Top Chef people too), but overall it came out good. I even did the setting fire to the Cognac trick. Burn those eyebrows.

Here's to a year of cooking. Holy Fricassée.

Woody, le chat qui aime se doucher

Good to use the word douche in a nicer context.

Happy Birthday

It's Ann-o-rama's birthday today, so naturally she went to work while I took the day off. We've gone a little Julia Child silly this year. Anne read her biography, and we have both watched some of her old shows. And we seem to have purchased a bunch of obscure kitchen utensils.

So my gift to Anne is Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. More to the point I have committed to cooking one recipe a month (OK, so I'm not Julie Powell).

I've yet to decide what I'm going to cook today, but I'm sure it will involve lots of butter, wine, and a kitchen full of used pots and pans.

In the absence of a finished cooked masterpiece, here's a picture of Anne in Acapulco, where we ate nothing of any culinary value ... just beer and snacks. It's what the Aztecs would have wanted.

Happy Birthday Darling.

Monday, December 14

Over to you Frank

16 weeks ago I had no idea who Frank Gore was.

Tonight I need him to run for 60 yds OR score a touchdown to take me into the Fantasy Football play-offs.

Of course the 49-ers have started playing a spread offense which will make it harder ... this also makes me sound knowledgeable about Football.

What started as a way to show how any monkey could win at Fantasy Football (and I believe I have proved this), has turned into a freakish addiction. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get into Football. I could have been screaming expletives at the TV with Anne years ago.

Even if I lose tonight I still might sneak into the Playoffs based on my season long record. But I want to claim my spot in style. SO come on Frank. Do your stuff.

It all began in August ...

Wankers

Million face twelve days of misery as BA strike looms.

Friday, December 11

Salma?

Yeah right!

Rainy Wednesday on Route 1 in Revere.

All things you associate with everyone's favorite Mexican. <-- I chose to stop the sentence there because it requires no more words. Salma Hayek is everyone's favorite Mexican actress, restaurant, song, destination etc. etc.

So no, it was not her. Instead it was an overweight white guy who was picking his nose as we waited in traffic.

Finally, the reason for the traffic was the burst main in Saugus. I write the burst water main, because it should have it's own Wikipedia page. This thing has burst 4 times this year.

Now, back to Salma Hayek. Hmm.

Thursday, December 10

Sunday, December 6

Roadrunner not pictured

On our last morning in LA, we drove through the canyon, and up into the Hollywood hills.

And there, on a residential street, looking like it had just done a Starbucks run was a coyote.

Saturday, December 5

LA Days III

Being white middle aged Englishmen, Sean and I go to Compton.

See a hooker with no shoes turning tricks on Slauson at 7.30am. God bless.

Do my famous drive-thru tour of Hollywood for Sean and even swing back by Jim Morrison's place in Laurel Canyon, calling at the store "Where the Creatures meet" for a cup of Joe.

Back at the hotel for breakfast only to learn Sean had room service again. Fucking big time!

Suggest we go rollerblading.

$10 an hour. I quit after 2 minutes. I did a fall that must have looked like I slipped on a banana peel. I think I felt the juice squeezing out of the disc in my spine. 30 minutes later I learn Maria has fallen so I have to get the car to pick her up.

Santa Monica beach really is full of hot surfer dudes and girls in bikinis playing beach volleyball. Naturally Sean, Kim and I + our bonus LA colleague Sam pitch up for a game of 2 a-side. Over the next hour we have only 3 plays of more than 2 hits.

A quick change and away we go for a bus tour of where the stars live (or to be more precise, the security gates of the rich and famous).

Open top van. Piss! Pull a grossly stained duvet over my face. It's that cold people. Have a great time ragging on famous people, and Hugh Jackman.

Finish the night with a spin around Griffith Park and a return trip (for me) to The Dresden. Marty and Elayne always in the house.

Friday, December 4

LA Days II

Up early to get over to the other side of town for a store walk through with our client. Google maps predict anywhere from 20 to 130 minutes drive because of traffic. Arrive crazy early so we pile into Denny's for a cheap breakfast. Learn Sean had room service breakfast back at Casa Del Mar. That'll be the same price as Denny's. I'm sure.

Walk through is great. Awesome client.

Then we skidaddle back to the hotel for an awkward luxury.

We all signed up for a massage, and are asked to change into a robe and sit in the serenity room. 4 people who work together should not be naked in a room except for a robe and flip-flops. At one point Kim crouches to pour some water, and Sean re-crosses his legs. Both may have been perilously close to 'Basic Instinct' except I am staring at the ceiling fan.

An hour later we are stress free. So we go for a walk to Santa Monica pier. This happens to Sean! Also eat Mexican food in a place filled with pigeons. Fucking scum.

A quick shower and change and we are off to Pasadena. Another 2 hrs of traffic is circumvented with the 20 questions game. Probably the first time The Elephant Man and Kelly Clarkson have appeared on the same bill.

Then we play the terrible memory game ... "I went to the grocery store and I bought ..." Purely for my own posterity the list was avocado, bananas, carrots, Dorritos, Evian, french fries, guacamole, horseradish sauce, ice cream, jalapenos, Kit-kat, linguine (having earlier put lo-mien back on the shelf), minestrone soup, Nilla wafers, onion rings, popcorn, quart of tobacco, Ring-Dings, She Magazine, Twix, ugly fruit, vanilla extract, Worcestershire sauce, Xylophone, Y-Fronts, Zip-loc bags

Dinner is fun, and cocktails back at the hotel round off a wonderful day.

Thursday, December 3

LA Days I

I'm traveling to LA for a few with my co-workers (in chronological order), Maria, Sean and Kim.

Waiting to board a Virgin America flight and Sean just asked me if I wanted to play "Jew or Arab", it's the game that's sweeping the nation.

The plane looks great, and everyone else has a groovy seat screen with on-demand content, food and chat. I have a tiny cross on my screen that means "Linux hates you".

6 hrs later and we're at the Budget desk. I can understand them thinking I'm married to Maria, but the woman at the gate asks if Sean and Kim are our kids.

Arrived at this place. Very chic. The bathroom has a window into the bedroom. That impresses me. They also have oversized thick pencils. Double down on the impressiveness.

Fantastic

This guy works for Solihull Council in the UK, and gives advice on winter weather.

Back to LA

Jetting off to LA for a few days.

A little bit of work and hopefully some cheesy fun!

Monday, November 30

Saturday, November 28

How's it goin' hop-along?

Great event in the Cambridge Starbucks today.

I'm stood in line, vaguely aware of the music playing, when in struts a wise-ass black kid who starts a conversation with the middle aged white guy stood behind me.

BK: "You like the jazz huh?"
WG: "Yeah"
BK: "This is Herbie Hancock man ... jazz genius. This shit's like classical music to me man. This is Herbie's signature syncopated beats"
WG: "Yeah"

One problem. The music playing was Take Five by Dave Brubeck Quartet. I'm going to say that Take Five is probably in the top 5 most recognizable pieces of jazz. It's so obviously not Herbie Hancock.

But of course, middle aged white guy said nothing ... and neither did the next white guy who got the same jazz chat.

And as I walk out, a woman walks in on crutches.

BK: "How's it goin' hop-along?"
Woman (clearly shocked): "Erm, not too good"
BK: "Don't worry baby, you'll be fine tomorrow"

Crazy bastard. But not a jazz aficionado.

Thursday, November 26

All we're trying to do is win the MF-ing game

Broncos coach just went postal with his team on live TV.

Update: NFL Network apologized for the 'audio' clip of Josh McDaniels.

Awesome.

This kid rocks

Wednesday, November 25

Funny Story

Is the phrase my accountant uses to preface any non-work related story. His stories are often funny, sometimes not, but at least you know when he says "Funny Story", that is your cue to smile and get a small laugh ready.

Funny Story.

So get a smile and small laugh ready.

I was driving into work this morning, listening to "There is a Light that Never Goes Out", by The Smiths, when my 'low fuel' light came on.

Not quite Comedy Gold, but maybe a Bronze?

Sunday, November 22

How handy are you?

As I constructed the furniture yesterday I had a random shuffle of music playing, and I imagined how good or bad some of the singers would be at home improvement. Here's a sampling.

NOT GOOD
Kylie Minogue. Pop pixie, but rank with a hammer
Robert Smith of The Cure. No way can this miserable bastard be bothered with dowels
The Thrills. Saw them live. Good band, but seem a little dim
Alicia Keys. Knows shit about her brother Allen
Skeeter Davis. Will feel sorry for herself as soon as she reads the 5 page instructions
Charles Manson* I imagine Tex did all the self-assembly furniture for The Family
Blur. Would argue about which direction the furniture should take. Wankers.
Beyonce. Really?
Pink Martini. Don't strike me as being heavy lifters
Lauryn Hill. I wouldn't trust her to fold an ironing board

GOOD
James Brown. Legally starts all columns with the title 'Good'
Those Darlins'. Boozy southern belles, know their way around a screwdriver
Shirley Bassey. Former lathe operator. (I made this up)
Neko Case. Competent DIY enthusiast
Maxwell. Owns a Silver Hammer
Tom Waits. Could make a chair out of the sideboard pieces
Joe Cuba. When you write a song called Bang Bang ...
Madonna. She'll do it in the style of an English cabinet maker.
Amy Winehouse. The most logical and sharpest mind in the music industry today
Chris Isaak. Nailed a few things in his time

* Actually listened to Helter Skelter by the Beatles

Oh. Here are the 2 constructed pieces.

Saturday, November 21

Who's the Man II?

Fuck-a-doodle!!

I put the sides on back to front.

Time to de-construct the whole damn thing and start again.

And I was doing oh so well.

Who's the Man?

Well I guess today that will have to be me.

Crate & Barrel just dropped off this ...



... in piece format.

Tools required (insert your own joke here), just a screwdriver and allen key.

How hard can this be?

Wednesday, November 11

Wii Fit Boxing Coach

I was driving up Broadway tonight to go see the new $92 million (I shit you not) library in Cambridge.

It was closed by the way.

Back to Broadway. There's a series of one way streets running complementary, and the doink in front of me kept doing the 'slow down before a junction' move.

(s)he (un)successfully managed to indicate four consecutive times to repeatedly turn the wrong way, down each of the one way streets.

Finally the tool performed an illegal left and pulled a 5 point U-Turn.

Much like the Wii Fit Boxing Coach I was repeatedly shouting left, right, left in a humiliating fashion at this prize-winning mule.

Well why wouldn't you?

Some of the little kiddies of Beverly chose today's Veterans' Day to go all Urban Warfare on our asses!

As I eat my lunch there are 10 kids with BB Guns patrolling our parking lot. They are all dressed in goggles, with bandanas over their mouths. I would call this look "Militia Nerd".

I knocked on the window and one of them jumped a mile in the air, then did some gesture with two fingers pointing at his eyes, which I think meant, "Don't give away my location,"

They appear to have no problem walking through people's yards with their rifle and hand gun replicas.

Where's a sniper when you need one? Oh ... they executed the DC guy yesterday. Sorry, didn't mean to be inappropriate, I'll leave that to the 12 year guerillas who are no doubt scratching my car right now.

Friday, November 6

Helpful


Look at the little snowflake next to the temperature (39°F) in the bottom right corner.

How else would I have known it was snowing/freezing on the road today without this helpful graphic?

Oh that's right, I have a windshield made of a transparent substance, so I can see the big fucking snowflakes falling right in front of me. That's how.

The other point of note here is that when I took this photo the AMI (Audi Media Interface) was playing Yeah! by Usher.

I'm in the club with my homies, tryna get a lil V-I, keep it down on the low key, cause you know how it feels.

Indeed.

That's Christmas taken care of then

Link here

Monday, November 2

Audible groan from the M.R.S.

My long suffering, eye-rolling Anne has consistently rejected my request to buy a wine rack.

Her reasons seem extremely flimsy.

1. We only buy one or two bottles at a time
2. I'm allergic to fruit - my tongue breaks out in hives after 1 glass
3. I am being pretentious
4. I'm attempting to impress Didier, our friend and bon vivant/viveur ... I never know which one to use (thus slightly challenging point #3)

Well hold on to your hat my dear, because instead I'm going to start using this



That's right, wine collection management software. Grab the Blue Nun, we've got some data entry to do ....

Saturday, October 31

A struggle

My childhood was NOT hard, but the kids at school (myself included) were verbally cruel and sarcastic.

I have little empathy for children, I don't communicate well with them, and I don't care for their vulnerability.

So .... Halloween is an absolute nightmare.

It's 6.20pm and we just turned on the outside lights, propped open the gate, and schlepped the pumpkins out. I've poured a glass of wine, to lighten my mood.

And now the countdown begins. I'm sure some kid will make me smile (bee costumes usually do the trick), and some will be self-entitled little twats.

UPDATE: A kid dressed as Freddy Kruger turned down candy and asked for a glass of water instead. Then tried to drink using his claw hand. Excellent.

Thursday, October 29

Hit the Juice!

The vaguely homoerotic adventures of the gym continued today.

Between sets I usually chit chat with my trainer, and today I mentioned an article I'd read in which LeBron James muses that there won't be any steroid scandals in basketball.

I casually mentioned this, and it lead to a pregnant pause, and then an inquisitive statement about steroids.

I was only trying to make conversation, not suggest I start on the juice.

So there it was. 2 men alone in a gym talking about vitamin b12 shots in the ass.

Wednesday, October 28

Fade to Black

I was merrily catching up on Mad Men last night, when the TV screen went dead. I could still hear the soothing voice of Don Draper ... just couldn't see him.

A few frantic on and offs of the TV, DVR, Apple TV etc. All to no avail. My wonderful 50" TV is to quote Monty Python. "Deceased."

A quick check on Amazon where I bought the TV revealed I bought it one month and 3 days ago. Only 72 hours outside their return window.

I did call and I must report that their Customer Service is fantastic. Hopefully I should have a replacement sorted out today.

Cannot say I ever saw a mountain bike on my TV. Perhaps it's a photo, and I should just attach it to the screen. A 50" picture frame no less!

Tuesday, October 27

Things that make me go "Yay"


My Pencil Sharpener desk tidy arrived yesterday from the UK. It's pretty damned cool if I say so myself. Over the years I've collected a bunch of different containers that I've put to use, but this is my favorite ... just beating out the ethnically inappropriate 'match the outfit with the face' hot chocolate spinning tin I used to keep my paperclips in.

Hung with the contractors this morning when I hit Home Depot before 7am. It feels like you get a bit more respect at that time in the morning, as if your craft project is a little more hardcore. Never mind that I was buying a $3 pot of brown tester paint, for the mirror frame that I'm slowly killing.

On my drive in I listened to the new Pink Martini record. Gotta love the lazy mariachi rhythms, and totally overboard showboat piano. Splendor in the Grass with help from Tchaikovsky, and Bitty Boppy Betty a song about a cross-dressing DA are my early favorites.

Finally, I'm proud to say I managed to curtail the potential embarrassment of wearing hot pink boxer shorts at the gym. They are Bjorn Borg boxers and they are usually kept under wraps, but I switched to shorts instead of track pants today, and big surprise I ended up doing a bunch of floor exercises with my trainer. It takes a big man to admit he likes a pink boxer short. I might even wear the yellow ones next week.

Saturday, October 24

Sweeping the Nation

I'm a fan of both, so Cheese or Font is the perfect time waster on a cold autumn day.

Click here to play.

No explanation necessary

Friday, October 23

hint hint

Around this time of the year, people ask me to drop subtle hints about what I might want for Christmas.

OK, so I don't wear a watch. But if I did.

And with the dollar being relatively weak against the European currencies, now is the time (see what I did there?) to get this beauty for under a $1,000!

Come on. It's better to give after all ...

Thursday, October 22

Garfunkel & Oates

I'm loving all of their songs, but this is easily my favorite

U-Glee


Despite DNA evidence to the contrary. I love this show!

I don't give a shit how damned fruity it is, what bugs me is that it is so damned American.

When self-entitled people from the suburbs of middle America say, "Why do they hate us?" THIS IS WHY.

It's so fucking uplifting. And staged. And homogenized. And show-offy (yes that's a word).

And yet I cannot take my eyes off of it.

We got tons of US shows when I lived in the UK. Some good, some not so good. I can usually disseminate what will transfer well to Europe and why*.

I swear that Glee will fuel hatred throughout the world. "Look at those nerdy kids, taking average pop songs and adding a gloss of show tune pizzazz".

My fruitiness surely reached it's zenith this week. Rachel the lead female singer had the same bedroom dresser as me. Aaaaghhh, my brain is throbbing with how toolish I feel for spotting that.

I have to stop now, before I break out into choreographed song and dance.

* Regarding TV shows that came to the UK. At work the other day I referenced Champion the Wonder Horse, a show I watched in the 80's. It was a US show that was made between 1955-56. It was called The Adventures of Champion in the US. Was my childhood TV so bad that we had to import a 25 year old show about a horse themed sub-par Lassie rip-off?

OK one more thing. In the UK they changed Top Cat to 'Boss Cat' (some copyright issue). It made no sense at all, and they couldn't be bothered to change the theme tune.

Sunday, October 18

Snow Joke + Jesus + Pigeon

It's snowing! The Patriots are playing in snow. Like real men.

Elsewhere, week 6 of football has brought it's usual collection of double six-shooters to the guy upstairs. I think God would be a fan of the running game ... there seems to be more work involved.

Wide Receivers should be atheists ... or called for blasphemy every time they point to the heavens after a 3 yard screen-pass reception.

Otherwise, Jesus must have one hell (sic) of a fantasy team.

Pigeon running interference!

Saturday, October 17

Check out this douchebag

Each time I travel on Continental I see an ad in their in-flight magazine for a Carpal tunnel procedure.

Fair enough, but the founder of the treatment center has a picture of his family in the ad. He looks mid-40's, with a trophy wife (although I don't think it is the winning trophy), plus a bazillion kids.

Why put the family portrait in there?

Then as you read the text you see that he is retired. Great! Come to our treatment center where our prices are so high that the founder managed to retire in his mid-40s! Weirdo.

Friday, October 16

Leisure Time

As usual we headed down to the Acapulco WalMart. I think I've spent more time in Mexican WalMart than the US counterpart. Loaded up the cart with cheese, chips, beer, snacks, and healthy guacamole! Always nice to see the place patrolled by armed guards with automatic weapons, and as an added bonus this year the bakery staff wore masks to protect from Swine Flu.

Our taxi driver that day was Valentin. Lovely guy. Wanted to know if we needed a tour guide for the next 2 days, then remembered he took those 2 days off.

My darling wife, bought a straw hat (not pictured) that made her look like a beautiful Mexican cowgirl, and we also purchased a ball for the pool. The plastic soccer ball had a caterpillar on it that looked like the TiVo character, and we spent an awesome 15 minutes playing in the pool until I talked Anne into throwing me the ball football style. I missed it (shocking). It bounced over the railing. It was gone. Kind of like the Wilson moment in Castaway, but with WAY more gravitas.

One night we visited an internet recommended restaurant. Not the greatest location, but Gustavo the Venezuelan/Chicago/Italian food expert owner who has semi-retired to Acapulco was a delight. It's a special place that has more staff than customers, and as the only customers all night we were guaranteed special attention. The food was so-so, but they lit one of those mosquito/incense devices, and doubled down on the Sangria strength. Afterwards we walked through the streets of Acapulco. The sense of being in another country is always exciting to me. Until we found ourselves outside an Office Max. Blah.

Thursday, October 15

Las Brisas


Back for our 4th trip to Las Brisas, and another chance to practice my flawless Spanish.

On Day 1, the maid asked me how long we were staying. Only I had her say it 3 times before I could interpret. After finally breaking through I held up 5 fingers ... and said the Spanish word for 4. The maid smiled and said in perfect English, "4 or 5 days Senor?" Pah! Or as they say in Spanish ¡Pah!

On Day 2, we noticed they were installing a sound system in the next casita. Mindful of our total privacy I asked reception what was going on. Oh there's a wedding from 6pm to 9pm. Slightly dickish of me, but I expressed surprise that they chose the villa next to ours. Slightly less dickish was my prediction that they would finish well after 9pm. Midnight to be exact. Happy they are getting married, but could you keep the noise down?

Day 3 (I think), we watched The Sentinel. Awful flick. We'll never get those 2 hours back. More promising was the English speaking Hallmark channel. Usually I stay clear of anything 'Hallmarked' but this version of the TV channel seemed to have no problem airing movies with gratuitously bad language.

By Day 4, Anne and I had re-christened ourselves, Lupe and Tito. We were so absorbed into Hispanic culture that we had that Mexican staple; a Turkey Sandwich with Mayo (and cheeps) in 'Los Deli Shop'.

Wednesday, October 14

Mexican wildlife

As I swam in our pool, I would catch the palm tree on the hillside below flapping like crazy. It made me jump each day.

As did the dragon fly, that hit me in the face. Get a fucking radar you idiot insect.

At night, the lizards came out to eat the bugs. Not so good. As usual I had more than 20 mosquito bites.

We squished one and blood flowed freely. Probably my blood.


But it's not all bad. The majestic hawks swooped around the hillside. Sometimes we could see as many as 15 in the sky.

Each morning, beautifully plumed birds would land on our balcony, singing to each other as they looked around.

A ballsy squirrel kept returning to our villa, probably trying to get at the coconuts that would fall from the palm tree in our yard each day.

No sign of the Deli Shop cat, but we did see one creeping around the beauty salon!

Sunday, October 11

Traveling to Mexico

So I decided to break up our Acapulco trip into smaller chunks.

First up, I don't understand the whole "Please get to your seats quickly so we can take off on time" spiel they give as you board the plane. How about you help people with their bags instead of standing there with the loudspeaker you mini-fascist?

Actually we were in First Class, Row 1, so we got to our seats reasonably fast. Then half way through boarding a woman said to Anne "You look so sad". Christ, we're in First Class on our way to Mexico, how fucking sad can you look?

Next up, a woman who was clearly not blind, claimed her seat in Row 2, with Dooli, a service dog. Cute dog. The bitch (non-canine) who had earlier asked everyone to hustle as they boarded the plane looked like she was tasting a lemon each time she looked at the dog. I was kind of happy when the dog started to puke.

Halfway through the flight a lady threw up, which meant she was wheel-chaired into the First Class toilet. This must have sucked for the woman who was on crutches who had earlier been rejected access to our bathroom.

An insanely fast connection in Houston ensued, before we sat down in Row 1 again! Flying to Mexico means one thing to me. The Mexican Customs form. Fuck I always bring 2 telescopes, and have one confiscated.

Saturday, October 10

What's Going On?

We've been inundated with parental visits. First Anne's, then mine.

Thanks to both sets for doing so much stuff that we did not know how to do.

Good times.

Friday, September 25

An easy target ... but you should still shoot at it

Is there any more accurate microcosm of our fucked up nation than The Cheesecake Factory?

A place inhabited by guys in beige Docker pants with clip on cell phones, and SUV driving moms with their, "He's really advanced for his age" little brats.

The staff running around in their Aryan Nation white outfits, disingenuously telling you that your choice of sandwich is "their favorite too".

Every time I look at that spiral bound thick menu, I think to myself "Can the line cooks really manage ALL of these dishes?"

When the platters arrive, because really that's what they are. There's enough food to feed four. And you wonder why there is a breed of fatso's constantly trying to get their soda refill.

Next to us an old lady insisted that her coffee had too much caffeine in it. The robotic waitress who had earlier delivered a massive gravy boat of Ranch dressing to our table, just smiled at the old bitch and took it away. 2 minutes there was new coffee plus free dessert coupons. Because heaven help the 'Factory' if corporate gets a whiff that some old cooze was disappointed with her cup of coffee.

My darling mother-in-law asked me how I would categorize the decor. Unimaginative Corporate American Eatery was my silent reply. Probably 'created' by the same hack who did Panera.

Thursday, September 24

Better than Applebee's

We're feeling good in our neighborhood. There I said it.

OK, so last Sunday's trip around the block with Lemon Cookies turned out to be a non-starter. Seems everyone was out, but last night our lovely neighbor dropped by for a chat.

And we have our first guests. Anne's parents flew in from the big O-hi-O. They made the sweetest comments about the new house, and last night I found myself watching and enjoying Dancing with the Stars ... if only to watch my Mother-in-law's unbridled joy for this terrible show (she makes some pretty snarky comments for an 86 year old).

As I write, Anne is just coming into the house with a newspaper, and it sounds like her dad has just got out of bed. The plan today is to just potter around the house. Maybe hang a few pictures, and get some 'dadvice' on home maintenance issues.

And next week. My parents arrive!

Domestic bliss.

Saturday, September 19

Comcast

Comcast why did you have to be such dicks?

You were awesome last time.

But last night we called you, and your customer service rep was an absolute douche chimp.

We're supposed to get HBO for 6 months. But we ain't.

I called and despite not being the primary name on the bill, I gave you all the information you asked for. But I still had to hand the phone to Anne who (and I shit you not), had to say something to the effect of ...

... I Anne Taylor do solemnly swear to tell the whole truth that Richard Taylor is my husband and he is mentally competent to make decisions regarding our cable television service.

Upon getting the phone back from my Olympic Standard eye-rolling wife I asked Comcast if could use our old DVR box (because I really will get round to watching Beer league that has been on there for 19 months).

Comcast: No

Next I said: We ain't getting HBO.

Comcast: Well it's activated

I was real close to saying "Well unless they are running a movie called 'You're not authorized to watch this'. "

Instead I just asked him to reboot and hung up.

I called later because we still didn't have HBO. Rebooted again, and now the remote didn't work.

I'll probably trudge on over to your office later today dear old Comcast.

UPDATE: Everything is back to OK. Wish I didn't have to drive over to North Cambridge however.

Friday, September 18

Oh my Goth!

So we are waiting a few weeks while the 'blind guy' gets our window treatments, and in the meantime we continue to have black art paper taped to our bedroom windows.

If I lived behind our house I'd presume we were cooking up meth. Or listening to Sisters of Mercy. Either way, it ain't good.

Meanwhile I cannot use my bathroom because the window looks out onto the street. Actually it's worse than that. It looks out onto the Cambridge Courthouse. The last thing arbiters of justice need to see in the morning is me shaving my face in my comedy yellow Bjorn Borg boxer shorts.

So I use Anne's bathroom instead. She loves that.

Next week Anne-o-rama's parents visit us from jolly old Cleveland, and they definitely cannot have wide open windows because the guest bedroom faces onto the street.

It's a brand new house, and I'm hell bent on NOT drilling holes into the walls all willy nilly. I need to head to Lowes to get some self attaching shower curtain rods. The plan is to drape whatever pieces of old fabric we have laying around over the rods. Thus creating (very) temporary curtains.

Come on blind guy. Get your stuff here ASAP. The neighborhood is running out of patience for my crappy arts and crafts projects.

Wednesday, September 16

Paid the cost to be the Boss

Filed under the heading of "Stuff I didn't know I needed to know", I learned this week that Hugo Boss designed the uniforms worn by the Hitler Youth and the Schutzstaffel.

Yuk! I've inadvertently been a Nazi sympathizer for the past 10 years.

But those were some very sharp uniforms.

Sunday, September 13

Not nosey neighbors

I'd just sat down, surrounded by all the comforts of American life (football on a big TV, beer and salty snacks) when I noticed 2 women peering through our living room window.

"Looks like the neighbors are introducing themselves", I said to Anne.

But 10 seconds later and the doorbell still had not sounded. I opened the door to find the ladies wandering around our yard.

"Is this house still for sale?", they asked.

"No", I replied.

"It's still listed", they countered.

"Huh", was all I had to offer as they closed the gate.

Saturday, September 12

It Might As Well Rain Until September

Fantastic. Sunny September changes to Rains like a bastard September on the day we move.

Otherwise our move went very well.

We are in our new home. Fingers crossed we will not have to move again for a very long time.

Don't want to turn into one of those boring twats who only talks about one thing in their life (that's you, all first-time parents), so I'll try to cut down on the house talk!

Oh. Happy 8th birthday to Anne's car. You kind of remember buying a car on 9.12.01

Friday, September 11

Mission critical

So today is electrician and alarm guy day. Who knew it could be so hard installing a cable and internet point in the EXACT location we need them! I have a crazy streaming wireless network planned, but first we need the wired components.

And believe me the pressure is on. Because in 2 days time, football is on. And we don't want to be in the old apartment sat on deck chairs all Sunday.

UPDATE: The wireless alarm system looks like a bomb from an action movie. Wires, coils and flashing lights of indeterminate meaning. Fucking awesome!

Thursday, September 10

Decisions, decisions

The only thing that Anne and I seem to disagree on is the choice of stamp versus label for self-addressing an envelope. I'm a fan of a rubber stamp, with a nice typeface selection, but Anne favors a simpler label. We can probably run the same debate for the mailbox nameplate and house numbers. I'm supposed to be the type expert in the house, and yet Anne is being steadfast in her preference. And I kind of dig that!

Better news in the furniture department. We are totally aligned in choosing furniture. We seem to agree that going outside our budget and choosing items with novelty long delivery times is the way to go.

The couch is coming from Denmark in 16 weeks time. The 16 weeks doesn't start until the manufacturer resolves a conflict with the material supplier. wtf. We'll be lucky to get it before next Easter.

I've fallen in love with a light I saw in some design store. It's got a vaguely nautical feel to it, which means it is developing into the grotesque wagon wheel coffee table scenario from When Harry Met Sally.

New bed is already delivered. Love how colors have to have bullshit names. Midnight espresso. Who drinks espresso at midnight? A security guard? Douche-y.

We've ordered some new dressers, sides and bookcases too. They are self-assembly. 12 years ago Anne and I spent 8 silent hours constructing 2 bookcases. We'll have a counsellor present this time ...

We welcomed a blind guy into our house this week. Great joke. Window treatment sounds so queer to me. But our blind guy was awesome with the samples and suggestions and he is installing those next week. Until then I think I'll just tack dark paper to the walls. I'm strangely reserved when it comes to attaching anything to the brand new walls of the house!

Wednesday, September 9

And I don't find Oscar Wilde to be witty

Some things are held in such high reverence, that it's almost a crime to criticize them, especially around pretentious people (like me) who will undoubtedly roll their eyes at you.

Fellini and Kurosawa movies, Yo La Fucking Tengo, Sam Raimi, Radiohead, Ray Liechtenstein, Stephen Colbert, It's a Wonderful Life, Kobe Beef, all sculpture, Wagner opera, Peru, Tofu, Dub.

Need I go on chinstrokers?

And of course Apple fall into this category too.

At Design School in 1987 I used a Mac Plus, and I've lovingly used Apple products since. Never owned a PC, and never will. Phones, iPods, tablets, TVs. Whatever they stick an apple logo on in the past and future, to quote Michael Jackson, I'll be there.

But boy did I get shitty service this past week. I ordered a tiny document scanner thru their website. It arrived. I opened the box. It did not work.

My new house is a 4 minute WALK to an Apple Store. So I meandered on down there. No dice! Have to return to the website store. Went on-line to download the return sticker. Hold on, I have to send it to the manufacturer of the product. They have the warranty, so they will honor it.

Picked up the phone and rang Apple. Surely a product that NEVER worked can be returned to the store that sold it to me. Guess again kiddies.

Spent 45 minutes on the phone to Fujitsu. I'll never get those minutes back. Fuck Fujitsu.

So I went back to the Apple website and changed the 'Reason for Return" from "Piece of Shit doesn't work" to "Changed my Mind", and Hey Presto I got a refund.

What a long rambling post.

Tuesday, September 8

All my old memories

Packing up the old house has gone well. We've done a soft move in the past few weeks, while on Saturday the professionals come in to move the heavy stuff.

It's an obstacle course of boxes and bags strewn throughout the house. Once in a while, I get that split second thought that Isobelle is stood watching me, only to realize it's just a black bag.

I guess my only sadness about leaving Hancock Park is that we are leaving all of our memories of Isobelle here. She owned a part of every room, and we won't have that in the new house.

Of course that doesn't stop me from imagining how she would cope in the new house. With 3 levels and plenty of windows, closets and hiding places she would have a blast.

I still miss her every day. And I cannot imagine replacing her.

Saturday, September 5

I appear to be a Lowes Man!

Maybe it's the dulcet tones of Gene Hackman in their TV spots, but Lowes are beating Home Depot 3-2.

Yes. I've owned a home for 10 days and I've been 5 times to these hardware retail giants.

I guess my reason for switching back and forth is so that the staff at each don't notice the same idiot walking in every other day, with a new list of "Shit I did not realize I needed"

Sunday, August 30

A monkey could do that

Always loved the concept that if you locked a bunch of monkeys in a room with typewriters, eventually they would write the works of Shakespeare. Not sure why they had to be locked in.

Along similar lines, I will try this year to prove that Fantasy Football is a pointless sham.

Each Sunday, my football adoring wife looks like the keyboard player out of a 70s prog-rock band. Multiple TVs, computers and charts going on. Even multiple fantasy teams. She has hands everywhere, which sounds like a Dutch pervert.

It's this type of fanaticism that leads to her cheering when a 3rd quarter fumble occurs in an otherwise pointless game in mid October between 2 teams with losing records.

My team are the Spunky Monkeys, and I'm going head to head against the missus and what appear to be 8 trade/draft crazy dudes.

Like Napoleon said, "Fuck it's going to be a long winter". Except he said it in French.

The dawn of a new chapter

I love writing this blog ... if only for myself. It's essentially a journal of my rants and raves and screw ups.

Let me say that I have many gifts (including modesty), but one I do NOT have is the ability to fix, construct or assemble.

Less than one hour after owning a house I found myself in Home Depot. I purchased a mail box.

Yesterday (3 days later), I was in Lowes ... purchasing another mail box. The first one is still standing, but it looks ridiculous and is in the wrong place. It also slants.

My new German-built high-performance car is going to become little more than a repository for hardware store returns. Yesterday I managed to squeeze a 45 Gallon garbage pail through the door onto the leather seats. My objective being "Screw the car, I've shelled out $59 for this damned trash can. No way am I returning it within 5 minutes of purchase."

Of course I do have some skills and taste. Which is why I will be purchasing these trash bags for the aforementioned garbage can.

Saturday, August 29

Thanks

So we bought our dream house last Wednesday. And here's a small roll of honor.

First Republic Bank
It's tough because I understand why there are new rules in place to limit loans being handed out to anyone. That's why the economic landscape is what it is today.

But come on!

First Republic were one of a select few private lenders that said "Yes, we'll give you a mortgage". We chose them because the woman who called proved that you need to be both thoroughly professional yet engagingly personal in your approach.

And they seem like a real cool bank to be with. Adios Citizens.

Ligris & Associates
Our lawyers extraordinaire! Dazzling with the paperwork, but also the guys with the lender contacts. They worked miracles last Monday when the shit hit the fan with the loan. Plus when we arrived at their offices we were greeted by a cool decor and a well designed corporate identity. Lawyers with taste. Cue the apocalypse!

The Sellers
Ann-Charlotte, the wonderful Swedish real estate broker/part owner of the house. I can vividly recall the first time I saw the house with Ann-Charlotte standing in the kitchen. On closing she said to me "It was always your house. I could tell the moment you came through the door." Maybe the real estate part of her is programmed to say that, but I'd like to think it was the Seller portion of her that delivered the line, because I smiled when she said it.

Sam, the genius contractor who built and spec'd our amazing new home. Each subsequent professional who has seen the house has complimented the quality of the materials and build. Thanks Sam for creating the space where we live.

Anne-o-rama
The best thing in my life who patiently waited 15 years until I was ready to buy real estate. When we had finished signing the papers she cried. Mostly tears of joy, but with a few tears of relief mixed in!

The crazy lady
Maybe not so crazy. As I parked my car to go to the closing, she asked me for spare change. Difficult to deny when you're feeding the meter with a canister full of quarters. She got all of my change and piqued my conscience too. A homeless charity will get a check as big as we can afford later this year.

Friends & Family
Firstly for not bugging us too much over the past 2 months. You can only answer the "Did you buy the house yet" question so many times before you wig out. But now the deed is done (and signed and insured) you are all welcome to swing by anytime.

No Thanks

We have new neighbors. But this is not a post about the new house.

I'm talking about the place we've called home for the past 4 years, and the place that remains home for the next 2 weeks.

4 MIT grads have moved in upstairs.

Let's hit pause on this intro.

Last night as Hurricane Danny blew into town it tore down a big branch on the tree outside the house and with it the power line.

Couldn't tell you what time it happened (the alarm clock went out), and I was enjoying a strangely deep sleep. But I did wake up at 7am when I heard the NStar truck backing down our cul-de-sac.

With no power for a shower or a coffee, there was no option but to throw on the sweats and walk down to Starbucks.

Let's go back to the new neighbor part of the story.

Stood on our front porch watching the NStar guys was one of the new grad student neighbors. A young attractive woman in (and I really couldn't tell) either a very flimsy summer dress, or perhaps expensive bedtime lingerie.

Also close by was our middle aged neighbor of 4 years. Our house directly faces his. They are probably 20ft apart.

Anne and I made our introductions to the new neighbor. You can add perky to the list of adjectives I used earlier.

And then our neighbor of 4 years introduced himself. To us.

4 fucking years we have lived here, during which time we have acknowledged each other every trash day, each time your kids hit the side of our house on their tree swing (which as I write makes me wonder if they contributed to the branch weakness!), and every time your bitch wife leaves a passive aggressive note on a windshield because someone (including us), parked at an angle that made it 1% more difficult for her to back her SUV out of the driveway.

Maybe he just wanted to seem like a nice guy to the perky young neighbor.

Sunday, August 23

Come. On. England.

Up at 5am this morning. Cricket starts at 6am EST.

England need 10 wickets to win the Ashes.

Australia need a world record run chase to retain them.

Is it just me or does Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, look like a young George Bush?

To clarify Ricky is not suffering from a bad bout of herpes. He got hit in the face by the ball yesterday.

Which in the words of the Bee Gees was a "Tragedy".

Whatever happens, if England do win it will be thoroughly undeserved. The Aussies have been way better during the series.

But who cares. We've mugged them!

10am Update: 4 down, 6 to go.

Douch action on the BBC!!


Later Update. We won!!!!!

Saturday, August 22

Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No

So I don't write anything too detailed about my work.

It's not like I'm a spy*, I own a branded packaging business and I'm bound by a general etiquette, and in some cases non-disclosures.

But. This is awesome. I get client direction with different slants. Marketing, Legal, Design.

I'll change the content slightly but not the direction.

Legal: It is not Brown Sugar
Marketing: Should be Brown Sugar
Design: Leave as Sugar
Marketing: Should be Brown Sugar
Legal: Sugar, not Brown Sugar
Design: Leave as Sugar
Marketing: Don't delete Brown Sugar
Legal: As noted previously Brown Sugar cannot be claimed
Marketing: Please change to Sprinkled with Brown Sugar
Legal: Can't say Sprinkled with Brown Sugar. Doesn't use Brown Sugar
Design: Leave as Sugar


* Or am I?

Friday, August 21

House of Pain

Jump Around!

Well. This is going nicely isn't it?

On Monday 'the bank', let's call them Bank of Assholes or BoA for short, called to say our loan was turned down!

Sweet!

Some background. On July 13th a different bank told me (in 15 seconds), "You won't get a government backed mortgage because you've been self-employed for less than 18 months".

But BoA said, "Oh, you'll be fine". August 21st close date? Yeah, no worries."

It took them 5 weeks, during which the Loan Officer took a few vacations, to come back and say ... and I'll copy and paste this directly from 2 paragraphs earlier, "You won't get a government backed mortgage because you've been self-employed for less than 18 months".

So on Monday we started ALL OVER AGAIN, with private banks. Submitting every financial document we and my business has ever created in the past 3 years. 3 years of paperwork x 3 banks = A Tree (probably).

Tuesday - Informal approval
Wednesday - Commitment Letter
Thursday - Appraisal
Friday - Closing Day set

And that folks is how you buy a house in a week.

We close on Wednesday.

Could anything still go wrong? Of course!