Archive for September, 2006

I’m sick

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

After having symptoms akin to whopping cough, I went to the doctor the other day and found out I have bronchitis. A coworker was kind enough to recommend an urgent care clinic close to home, so, since work email was down for about a day and half, I figured I might as well.

Urgent care, for the record, is a bit like the Kmarts of hospitals. They also seem to be under the mysterious impression that sick people enjoy waiting. You’d think, given our general state of sickness & having to deviate from our normal lives, that would realize we’re more grumpy than usual & are even less happy waiting.

Yet, that’s what I did. Wait. I waited two and half hours before being called. Then, once called, I waited twenty minutes in a room for a doctor to actually show up. After deciding that I needed a prescription, I had to wait fifteen minutes to get it. Taking the prescription to CVS, I had to wait twenty minutes to get it filled. Mollie once told me I had a problem with waiting just for a restaurant, so you can imagine how annoyed I was with this.

The doctor visit itself was extremely short. He stayed, for, what, three, four minutes top? He diagnosed me with bronchitis, said I needed a prescription & that he would be right back — out the door before I could say anything. On his return, I figured I could ask him some of the questions bouncing around my head: How does one get bronchitis? How did he know I have it? Am I contagious?

After waiting the fifteen minutes, the door opened again. Only instead of being the doctor it was a nurse returning with my prescription and a form. The form had a few checkboxes filled out telling me to follow up wit my primary physicians should the symptoms worsen, not much else. Annoyed & cranky, I decided to just ask the nurse my questions although she seemed surprised & unprepared. The main thing I found out was that is was fine to go to work, but couldn’t really tell me how they knew & how I caught it.

After explaining to my mom the steps the doctor had gone through, she explained the diagnosis was probably based on listening to my lungs. I still don’t know how I got it, but I’m blaming it on Disneyland. While waiting in line for Star Tours with my sister, I had my hand on the railing. It’s dark, so moving forward, I didn’t notice part of the railing was covered in some sort of liquid and slid my hand right through it. What is was, I still don’t know & still don’t want to. Lord knows what could have come out of one of those children. It was pretty gross at the time, so my only concern was getting it off of me, repeatedly wiping my hand on the legs of my jeans.

Morale of the story: 1) avoid urgent care facilities, and 2) don’t touch anything in the dark at Disneyland.

Bill Reardon, Space Ranger, Universe Protection Unit

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

Look at that intense concentration.

I spent the last couple of days with my sister and her family at Disneyland, or, as Quinn, my two year old nephew, calls it “Mickey’s House.”

The coolest ride was Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin . You sit in a chair that spins 360 degrees armed with a ray gun. As you pass through the ride, there’s bulls-eyes all about, so you can shoot at Zerg & the other baddies. Getting onto the ride there’s a life-sized version of Buzz describing your mission on etch a sketch (a la Toy Story). Quinn felt into silent awesome and stared in amazement, confronted by a life-size version of one of his favorite characters.

I was also impressed that Disney didn’t try to rip you off every chance they got. Like other amusement parks, they take your photo in the middle of the ride, and in some cases, like the others, Disney offered to sell them to you, but with Buzz, you could simply email them to yourself — for free. And like a lot of other parks, rides often had a shop at the ending, hawking theme-related shirts & trinkets. But whereas at Six Flags Great America, you’re forced to walk through these shops — much to the chagrin off parents already tired of dolling out money for over priced — Disney seemed to always have an additional path, allowing your to skirt the store. Drinks & food where, of course, overpriced, but maybe I’ve spent too much time at airports in that they didn’t seem that overpriced.

Online MP3 Storage

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Jimmy just showed me mp3tunes.com.

They have a free trial, but he’s already signed up for a pro account & I feel like I might follow suit. You can upload all of your mp3s & then play them from anywhere, or even sync multiple pcs. Freakin’ cool.

Random Vegas Notes

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

  1. Apologies to Dave & Diana, but the Mandalay Bay sucks. No mini-bar. No coffee in the room. Crap TV. Crap channels (not even HBO!) Crap view. Our bathroom is nice, but that’s about it. If I’m paying that much just for a nice bathroom, I expect wiping service to be included.

  2. My mom likes to randomly flip light switches when she’s bored.

  3. My mom gets bored when her three sons are using the Internet & wireless. Not bad, unless the router you’re all using for Internet is hooked up to one.

  4. My mom took a bath in fish oil. Not on purpose. It was before I arrived, but apparently they went out, the whole time asking my brothers “Do I smell like fish? Why do I smell like fish?” They didn’t figure it out until they got back, found their room stunk of fish, and my mom started saying they had to change rooms; that they hardly used it, except for the bath she took using their bath salts. I think it was around then that one brother noticed his fish oil tablets where missing from the bathroom. Update: Jimmy does a much better job telling the story.

  5. My mom just found another light switch that will cycle our router & kick us off the Internet. “But you guys said to leave the switch by the door alone. Not by the bed.”

  6. Quinn is the coolest nephew ever.

  7. Buffets tend to be cheaper for breakfest or lunch than a typical resturtant.

  8. If you are a stranger & block Jimmy’s way getting on the tram, he will yell at you. He doesn’t really care if you’re waiting for husband.

  9. You could not defeat the shrimp mountain at Caesar’s old buffet, but the one at Rio’s Seafood showed weakness.

  10. Speaking of shrimp, did you more shrimp is consumed in Las Vegas than in the rest of the country combined?

That is all.

4 8 15 16 23 42

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

I’ve heard of various betting strategies for playing blackjack. Double every time you lose, bumping through 2(x)-2-3-5 each time you win, etc. Since I’m in Las Vegas until Tuesday, I decided to try something different — the numbers from Lost.

The table minimum was 5, so I had to symbolically put down that for the 4, but then followed through with the 8, 15, 16, 23, & 42. I lost the 5, but the 8, 15, & 16 all paid. The 23 & 42… those where nerve racking, but hey, they both paid too.

Now the question is: Did I just curse myself & family for $99?

Bill: 2, Nemo: 0

Friday, September 15th, 2006

While it doesn’t take much for me to stay up until three thirty in the morning, there isn’t much that will make wake up at three thirty. Deep sea fishing is now one of those things.

Growing up in the midwest, it’s a stable of any boy’s youth to go various fishing trips. However, lacking oceans, there’s no ocean fishing. It’s mainly nearby rivers, lakes & stocked ponds. Not that I’m complaining — I have very found memories for fishing trips. It’s just that it doesn’t even compare to fishing in saltwater.

I had my first saltwater trip on Thursday, thanks to the trip Craig planned. Beginner’s luck proved to rule the day, as I caught the first (and 2nd largest) catch of the day, and Brandon — also a beginner — had the second (and largest) catch of the day. (It must have been our special lures & jigs.)

My first catch was a 12 pound yellow tail. It’s incredible how much these guys fight. I think it took 30 minutes to to reel him in & get him into the boat, the whole time your pole bent in a tight U that the fishy would clearly love to yank into the ocean with him.

As you can see I was quite happy once the job was accomplished.

Later in the day, I caught a 6 pound bonito, although by afternoon they weren’t biting as much, so we left Catalina Island & headed back the long beach pier. It was a really, really long day, but definitely worth it.

The only problem was we had all this super fresh fish & I’m heading off to Vegas tomorrow. I think the solution next time will be to have a BBQ the day after to have friends come over & help devour our fishies.

Marshall Fields & Macys

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

There’s a certain bewildered look the customer has when entering the “tailored” section of Marshall Fields that you know exactly what they’re there for. It’s not a dress shirts. The rows of glass shelves housing those are so obvious, nobody can miss them. (And who needs help picking the color white?)

It’s not a jacket or suit. Knowing they lacked fashion sense, these men would never venture out alone for such a herculean task. Mom, sister or girlfriend would accompany them. And, the selection would always be blue. Most likely navy blue. If you’re only going to have one, that’s the safest color to go with.

It’s not shoes, those are elsewhere in the store.

Ties. it was always a tie.

I’m not sure it made sense we kept them in the glass counter cases by the registers (where you might see jewelry), but there they were, hidden from eye-level scans. You could see the sense of panic starting to set in — “do they even carry ties?!” — as their heads twisted about. Having forgotten or lost their only tie for their only suit, they now desperately needed one for some holiday function.

Having made their way to the counter to ask for help, they would pause for a second, happy they found the ties, but now further perplexed as they no idea which one to pick. Their opening sentence always had the same basic structure “I have a blue suit and need a tie that matches.” The only variation might be in the color, but even that was limited to types of blue: dark blue, navy blue, etc.

The irony was I, the salesman, knew no better than them. In fact, in prior years I had been them. So when they asked for a tie, all I knew was was what someone had told me: that they should match. Unfortunately, I remembered it a bit too literally. Matching meant matching exactly; matching the exact same color. So, blue suit, blue tie.

The first time I had this type of customer, I said that aloud & looked down in the case. We had a new line called “Beetles” ties, named as such because each song has some sort of representation of a Beetles song. One of my female coworkers had seemed excited that she finally got to see them and checked them out one by one, so, seeing a fairly dark blue one, I pulled it out and said “This one would do well. It’s part of the popular Beetles line. It’s blue, so it’ll match your jacket.” Their eyes opened in agreement & relief poured over their face. Blue tie. Blue jacket. Perfect sense. It’s amazing the authority conferred upon you by a simple name tag.

I wasn’t always placed in Field’s tailor section. I was always in Mens, but for each day, I had to check what area of Mens I’d been assigned for my shift. I was often in pants area too. We sold all types — jeans, slacks, dockers, etc. By & large, I did well over there too. The typical request was for a particular size. When you weren’t helping a customer, you where folding and stacking clothes — something that kept the store looking nice, but also gave you intimate familiarity with inventory too. A 30×34, no problem. As if by slight of hand, I would the desired size from deep inside the stacks of jeans.

Dockers did give me trouble on occasion. Once, in particular, a lady, maybe in her mid-fifties, came in and wanted me to bring her not only sizes but specific colors too. At first I thought nothing of it. I went about gathering what she wanted. Scanning the stack I returned with, she remarked “You forgot tan”, so I went off & brought her another pair. Looking up briefly from the others, she said simply “No, that’s khaki. Tan. I said I want tan.” I stood there stumped for a second, thinking What the fuck is the difference between tan & khaki?! Aren’t they the same thing? I went back to the stacks, asked for help from one of the older associates, who confirmed they are, in fact, different colors, and brought back a pair that finally meet with approval.

The craziest thing about working at Fields was the discount. By being an employee you got 20% off. For a lot of my fellow seasonal coworkers (in particular, the middle aged housewives) that was the biggest perk. I know my mom loved it. She strategized on how to best use it. Discounts at Fields where stackable, meaning if there where multiple promotions/coupons you could combine & use all the discounts. So, my first year, she came up with a plan. She waited for their annual X-hour <whatever%gt; sale, where everything was 30% off, had me use my work 20% discount, sign up for their credit card (another 10% off), and used some other coupon for another 20% off. I don’t remember the exact savings but I do remember a huge mountain of clothes at the register and a bill that went from well over $1,000 to well under it.

As a kid, one of annual traditions was trekking up to the Marshall Fields store on State Street in Chicago to look at the window displays. They where animatronic, elves decorating trees, Santa reading names, reindeer moving their heads about. That kind of thing. Not on the level of Chuckie Cheese, but still pretty damn cool for a five year old. The sidewalk would be filled with other families doing pretty much the same thing, eventually going inside after it go too cold, typically then waiting inline to see Santa.

It’s sad to hear that Marshall Fields is going away, all their locations being re-branded over to Macy’s. When first announced, it raised a general uproar, and now, at the time of the switchover, small protests are underway. It seems a bit silly really to want to change the name. I have to imagine most marketers would drool over having a brand that people care so much about.

In the end, I supposed there’s bigger things to worry about. But, still, I have to imagine the next time I visit the 12 story Marshall Fields on Michigan Ave, riding the escalator floor to floor, something will feel different. A bit like visiting the house your family used to live in. The walls, the rooms, the steps are the same as they always where, but something, the heart of soul of it perhaps, have changed.

As for those ties, I sold over fifty of those suckers.

And I still can’t tell the difference between khaki and tan.

The Talking Ronald Reagan Doll

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

I owe a big thanks to Diana’s mom, Barbara, for giving me possibly the coolest thing I’ve seen:

Yes, a Ronald Reagan doll, but not just any Ronald Reagan doll. This one talks. This one has 11 phrases. (Although, one of his best is missing.)

He’s a nice addition to my half-dozen or so books on the man, my audio version of his autobiography, and CDs of his speeches & radio addresses.

I have him in my kitchen so anytime I walk through the house, I push the button on the back of neck and get a little quip. You can even close your eyes, pretend it’s still the 80s and the Gipper is still around. It’s a good reminder that the Republican party was once conservative & could be again.

Ronnie, we miss you more than ever.

John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

I made my first trip to the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, heading off with the gang to see John Williams’ annual performance of his movie masterpieces: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws, E.T., etc.

He did other pieces as well, but lets be honest, everyone in the bowl is there for the movie music. Watching the number of people heading into the theatre with light sabers & “Jedi Academy” shirts, it was little surprise everyone went nuts when Star Wars started.

I captured a little snip of the crowd cheering. You can see the scattered light sabers in the crowd. If you’re really keen of sight, you can make out various clips from the movies playing on the screens next to the theatre.

Why the Internet is Amazing

Friday, September 1st, 2006

Kitt vs Karr.

This, my friends, is why the Internet rocks.

See also Knight Rider, KITT, KARR.

And let us not forget the coolest picture ever:

Awesome.