Saturday, July 31, 2010

Classic Judas Priest - Diamonds And Rust Live

Airline Hell

This has got to be a World Record, or something

As promised.. here is a synopsis of the crap we endured to and fro Plattsburgh, NY recently. Yeah we had a great time while we were there from Tuesday the 20th to Saturday the 24th, but it had to be the worst traveling in the history of travel.

The characters:
My wife Stephanie
Daughter Leah, 18
Son Conner, 16
United Airlines, July 19
Continental Airlines, July 25

The setting: Trip to Plattsburgh, NY to visit family

The timetable: Monday, July 19 - Sunday, July 25 (2010)

We all woke up Monday, July 19th around 7am CT to be taken to the Austin airport for a flight that departed at 11:12am. I rarely never get up that early, so in an effort to ensure that I'd sleep well Sunday night, I intentionally shortened my sleep Saturday night. I still didn't get to sleep until about 2am, and was set to travel on two consecutive nights of inadequate sleep. I remember when I went to bed Sunday night, Leah and Conner were still up.

Steph was coming off her long work weekend, 7pm-7am Fri-Sat-Sun, so she HAD to do this on no sleep.

So we checked in, scarfed down some stuff from McDonald's, and boarded. Conner forgot his ID, but it wasn't an issue. This flight was fine - I took pics out the window as always, and Steph slept on my shoulder.

We landed in D.C. (Dulles), proceeded to the shuttle that would take us from concourse C to A. Yeah two different buildings. I noticed when we immediately entered C, there was a little smokers' lounge. We only had about an hour, so I passed it up thinking, "sweet they have them - I'll find another one after we get to our gate."

So we exit the shuttle into A, and Steph yelled to Conner and I, "we forgot a bag!" I thought, "no, you forgot a bag..." Steph and Leah got their wires crossed, and Leah's carry-on was left in C. So Conner and I proceeded to our gate, while the two of them got back on the shuttle, and went back to get the bag.

I left Conner at our gate, and went to look for aforementioned nearby smokers' lounge. As it turns out, the nearest one was all the way at the other end of the building - in concourse B. So I'm smoking, and the women get back to the gate. I make it back as well, and realize our 4:59pm ET departure time had been changed to 5:17. Then 5:37.. then 5:57. Then there was a broadcast that the ramps were closed due to a lightning delay.

We waited for this storm, and walked around.. It finally came, and when it did, it was pretty bad actually. We were sitting there watching a plane at our gate, which had just boarded passengers to Philly (not our plane), and the propellers were being rotated by this wind. Then loud gasps drew our attention to it again, and the plane was being MOVED 45ยบ clockwise by this storm. The left wing was less than 10 feet from the windows, and was apparently only stopped by one of those long mechanics' carts, which was conveniently parked just behind the plane's rear wheels.

So this alleviated some of the waiting - tons of ground crew, pilots, flight attendants, and passengers rushed over to see what had just happened. People were taking pictures.. it was momentary excitement.

By the time we noticed the monitor, it already said our departure time was now 6:27. For some reason, it was always something-dy-7. We went and bought 4 big pieces of pizza, and some breadsticks for about $25. Sigh..

Thinking we would surely move gates, I went back to B and had a few more smokes. Rushed back as fast as I could while listening to the announcement that there was yet another lightning delay. At this point the departure time said 7:05.. then 7:25..

The gate lady then called us over, and informed us that due to a Burlington airport weight restriction, we were gonna be bumped! There was another flight to Burlington scheduled for 9:30pm ET. I asked the lady, "why us?" Her response was "lowest fare." Remembering that Steph had booked this trip at least 6 weeks ago, I was pissed. Update: (I forgot to mention this) I must say that we are thankful we did get 4 $400 vouchers, but in the scope of the entire experience, it doesn't make up for all the trouble.

My thoughts were:

--> Rather than "lowest fare", why not look for the latest-booked single, and then the next-latest-booked single to boot, rather than a friggin family of four! So for a third time I walked the 750 yards back to concourse B to sit patiently and wait - this time over there. Yes, I had counted during trip #2. So I had a few smokes, pondered a tequila shot, decided against it, and continued to drink coke.

--> Can we go back and get off the plane again - I'll stop and smoke in the room I passed-up, and maybe everything will be different. It seemed that as soon as Steph and Leah had to go back and find that bag, everything turned sour.

Finally our 9:30 plane boards. But then we get to sit on the runway for another 30 minutes due to a third lightning delay. We take off at 10:10pm ET, and land in Burlington at about 11:45pm ET. So we go to get our ONE measly checked bag, and are notified that the plane from which we were bumped, and which our suitcase was still on, waited its FAA maximum allotted time on the tarmack, and was eventually canceled. So we're in Burlington - our bag's still in D.C.

When we left the airport, Kathy's & James's van made a really strange noise as if we ran over a cone. We get out and try to figure it out to no avail. It never happened again on the way home. James drove us around Lake Champlain, and back to Plattsburgh - arriving at around 1:40am.

With no clothes, we slept, and slept a long time. Waited for the bag, and didn't do much of anything Tuesday. Steph bought some underwear, and a shirt at WalMart, and I simply wore the same stuff again. They delivered the bag at about 8pm Tuesday night.

------ The week was a great visit, and fun time with family, etc.. Lots of Michigans, golf with Jeff, several good dinners, some good shopping and a Ben & Jerry's tour for the girls, some fun disc golf, and just a great time...

The van continued to have intermittent problems throughout the week, when it had to be driven. It was determined to be a faulty traction-control system. So all throughout the week, a trade-in was researched.

I had some buffalo wings at the Naked Turtle after golf on Thursday, and contracted a mild case of food poisoning. I've had a rough case before, and knew it wasn't bad enough to go to the ER like then, but it was 36 hours of some pretty gnarly stomach cramps.

Fast forward to the flight out..

Our flight out of Burlington was unfortunately scheduled for 5:55am ET. So knowing this, Steph successfully, and I unsuccessfully went to bed early. We got up about 2am ET to leave at 3am. On about 4 hours of sleep, I smoked outside the airport this time, while they went in to check in and check our bag. Steph motioned to me that "our flight is canceled." I walked over to them and said, "you're kidding right?"


So we spent 45 minutes waiting on the lady to find us another flight. As it turned out, amongst about 2 dozen flights leaving soon, there were absolutely none that had connecting flights to Austin (nor San Antonio). She booked us on the only one found - A departure of 1:15pm to Newark, NJ, connecting with a flight to Houston, and then another one to Austin - All three Continental this time.

We were all completely deflated. Leah was scheduled for a church trip to Denton that left at 6am Monday. She was obviously panicking.

We went to our gate, and prepared to wait. We paid $26 for a turkey wrap, two desserts, a bagel, and a couple drinks. Leah then slept for 4½ hours. This terminal was SO cold that Steph had to go buy a sweatshirt and a blanket to keep warm (for another $40). I was finally in my element due to being hot most of the week. We killed time on free WiFi, relaxed, dozed...

Four times I went back out through security (no biggy here in Burlington), and three of them there was this young guy. He approached me, told me his story.. Got stuff stolen leaving a bus (XBox, Laptop, safe with $200 cash, clothes..) blah blah blah.. bummed a smoke.. Tried to bargain for a lighter.. Spent time in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon...

I walked well off to the other side of the airport twice to avoid him. Wouldn't you know it - he was there again the last time.

I couldn't sleep in an airport terminal.. Leah and Conner had no problem, but even with moving a set of chairs around, it didn't happen.

So I bought a coke for $2.50.. Had a few dips.. Had a great talk with a TSA agent regarding the reconstruction of Burlington's runways (causing all the weight-restrictions, and cancellations) among a lot of other things.

Anyway, we went up to the only restaurant in the Burlington airport for lunch around 11am ET. We paid $46 with tip for a Grilled Cheese, a BBQ sandwich, a veggieburger, and a Reuben - all with fries, 2 sodas, and 2 waters.

At this point I realize I will never fly into Burlington again. Albany, Montreal... even NY City are better options. We've done the first two before anyway.


So our plane lands for our 1:15 flight. The guy in charge took his sweet time, as if none of us had anywhere to be. We boarded - and at this point my major frustration was the fact that for all three of our upcoming flights, none of us were together, except for two seats on this first flight. I can't even sit with my friggin family!. I made sure I sat with Steph, and made the kids take the random seats. So we board.. Leah was in row 4, but Steph & I were together and Conner was 2 rows in front of us. Take-off was about 1:45.

This was a small one - 2 seats on one side, and 1 on the other. About 18 rows, and yes, a jet engine, not props. I sat and watched this little Asian kid pick his nose constantly, as his parents did nothing. As always I was taking pictures. I knew we'd be approaching the New York City skyline, and that was all I was worried about.

About half way there, the flight started getting seriously bumpy. Like constant turbulence. After a few minutes I turned to Steph and said, "This is definitely the worst flight I've ever been on."

"Not me.. the first flight I ever took alone was horrible.." she said.

It wasn't 2 minutes later that we were free-falling. Yeah, roller coaster like. About 5 seconds. So we freaked. But then it happened again and it was even worse. Probably close to 9 or 10 seconds. Stephanie screamed - stuff flew everywhere.. pretzel packages, camera bags, drinks, my spit bottle - this was instant chaos. We were approaching the airport, and already descending, and I was still taking pictures with one hand, and gripping the blanket on Steph's lap with the other. I have never in my life been so tense. It happened about 3-4 more times in the next few minutes, and by this time I was already doubting that we'd land safely.

My wife was buried into my left shoulder crying as I looked out the windows and painfully watched our plane completely out of control. The wings were shuttering up & down, and we were bumped & lunged. Steph's right leg was in a constant state of bobbing up & down next to my left leg. My heart was going about 150 bpm, and my grip on the blanket never let up as I heard the little Asian boy cry "Mommy, I'm scared!".

I thought about Mom, and Dad cooped-up at a rehab facility, and Harley & Rusty... what were the kids going through? I was trying to decide if I should call. I thought about 9/11.. I knew it would only take a second to call, and I had to remain calm and strong for Steph because she was totally freaking at this point.

I managed to snap a picture of the NY skyline just as I noticed the pilot yanked it up. I told Steph, "you realize he just pulled up, right?" (It was the last picture I took for the entire trip.)

It was only then that the pilot FINALLY decided it was a good thing to actually talk to us: "Obviously we've had some pretty good weather here, and we're gonna circle around, and try this again. If we're unsuccessful, we'll divert to Allentown."


So of course there were sighs - we had to do it all over again.

We circled around, and it seemed like a lifetime before he got into position to land. We went through another couple of scary moments, but I noticed he had done his job. He was flying for his life too, you know. I told Steph, "There's no turning back now.." We touched down, and it seemed like he did a fish-tail or two, but I was probably just expecting the worse at this point.

We marched triumphantly through the terminal in Newark towards the gate at the opposite side of the airport (of course). I called Mom since her picking us up depended upon these updates. The girls went to pee, and I held back tears talking to Mom about what had just happened. We got to the gate for our flight to Houston, and noticed it had already boarded.

I think we all said at some point, "I don't wanna get on another airplane!!"

We might've been the last one's aboard. This was a huge 757, and without a smoke I knew this would be a rough one. We all were nervous.

It was nothing of the kind. We did have to wait on the runway again for about 20 minutes, and knowing our layover in Houston was only about 30 minutes, that was the only worry. Well kinda. We were all spread-out. My seat was B - Steph's was in the same row, E. Conner was behind me, and Leah was somewhere in front again. Sitting B sucks. And yes, it was two guys. It was long, and I stressed badly, but they actually fed us (Cheeseburger, chips, baby carrots, chocolate bar), and made up a little time. This was a solid, smooth flight, and we were all thankful.

We actually had about 30 minutes to sit in the airport in Houston and prepare for the last one (8:45pm CT).. This was all I wanted. I notified Mom to drive to Austin, and we took off. Again, we were scattered throughout the plane. My seat was the best possible. First row behind first-class. Tons of leg room, no tray. Two windows.. Up & down, as it is from Houston to Austin. 26 minutes or something.

We get to Austin at about 9:30. So-o-o great to see Mom!

We go down to get our 1 bag, and waited... and waited & waited..... The thing stops, and Steph goes to the desk to find out what happened. Wouldn't you know it: Our bag didn't make it onto our flight from Houston. We were floored!

She eventually told us it was officially on the flight that left a little bit later. So we waited about another hour, and pondered the future of airline travel. Got our bag, and drove home. It was about 12:30am CT when we got home.

That was another 24-hour travel day.

We are all pissed that United airlines and Burlington airport did this to us. Continental treated us well, but then again, it was a tiny Continental express jet that almost crashed in New Jersey.

Glad to be home.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Van Halen's Eruption on Electric Cello

A few mistakes, but dayum.. it's a cello!


If You Were On The Supreme Court

A Quiz: How Your Views Compare With the Supreme Court

Answer six questions to see how your views align with those of the Roberts court and all Americans. Click the banner image..


My result:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Now This Just Blows My Mind


Left vs. Right

Click a couple times to enlarge..


World Consumption


Alabama Teen Shoots Record 57

At state junior championship, University of Alabama-bound Bobby Wyatt fires the lowest competitive round ever, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Michael Johnson needed to take his shoes off.

That was the only way he could truly convey the shocking and toe-tingling round of golf his good friend Bobby Wyatt was playing.

Bobby Wyatt, 17                         Image Source

The incoming University of Alabama freshman and recent graduate of the UMS Wright Prep School in Mobile (Ala.) fired a course-record 57 in the second round of

Alabama Golf Association’s State Boys Junior Championship on Wednesday.

Rated the No. 1 high school player from the Class of 2010 by Polo Golf, Wyatt blistered the 6,628-yard Country Club of Mobile course with an eagle, 12 birdies and five pars, easily breaking the course record of 63.

His 125 total is eight shots ahead of Smylie Kaufman (67-66-133), who was one hole behind Wyatt and trying to get updates from Johnson, one of Wyatt’s playing partners and future Alabama teammates.

According to an Alabama Press-Register story, Johnson couldn’t keep up with Wyatt’s record pace.

“We were very aware of what Bobby was doing,” Kaufman told the newspaper. “(Johnson) kept holding up fingers to say how many birdies Bobby had made. We said to ourselves he was going to run out of fingers and have to start using his toes too. Sure enough, he ran out of fingers.”

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Wyatt’s round is the lowest of all time for competitive play on golf courses longer than 6,500 yards.

The only competitive round lower, according to reports, were by PGA golfer Homero Blancas, who shot a 55 in the 1962 Premier Invitational in Longview, Texas. Blancas was an amateur at the time.

But that was at a par-70 course that measure just longer than 5,000 yards and played over the same nine holes twice.

Wyatt shot a 9-under 26 on the front nine and 31 on the back, which featured back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17.

Country Club of Mobile is Wyatt's home course and his previous low score on any course was 62. He needed just 23 putts on the round and it was almost 22 as a birdie try on the 18th hung on the lip. He tapped in for a measly par.

“It was unbelievable,” Wyatt told reporters after the round. “I got off to a fast start with birdies on my first two holes, then was three-under after four and it kept going from there.”

If he can hold on, Wyatt will win his fourth straight state crown. He turns 18 over the weekend.

Wyatt won his first tournament as an 11-year-old, following in the footsteps of his older brother Ford and father Cliff.

“I just tagged along with them,” he told the Birmingham News in a 2009 story. “I’ve had a club in my hands since I could walk.”


IED Attacks In Afghanistan 2004-2009

Via - (NSFW)

Benefits Of Quitting

A must enlarge!


Drumming Legends - A Megapost

Iron Maiden's Nicko McBrain - Live At Guitar Center's Drum-Off

This man-legend is now 56 years old! Still one of the very best ever to pound the skins..

Neil Peart - And the Masters - At Work

There might not ever be anyone better.

3:03-3:09 OMG!

Neil Peart is now 57, and still rockin'.. My one idol growing up. Certainly one of the dozen men I would give anything to meet in my lifetime. His influence will linger for decades... Simply amazing!

Now there is.. Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater

Currently the best drummer in the world. No doubt about it. Just go listen to some Dream Theater.

Old, and long 80's hair, but an incredible demonstration:

Iron Maiden


Dream Theater




...only for a tight married couple! Or something..

Venn Drinkagram



Image Source

Why DO men have nipples?

Suddenly I'm Hungry


The crazy thing is a lot of people don't really realize that the light goes off when you close the door! And all your food has to sit in there - in the cold - and in the dark - constantly!!

Just Some Bullet Holes


I'd like to see one with an array of the biggest and best rifles in existence.

A Beautiful Paradise

Click to enlarge!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Stereomood is a free emotional internet radio that suggests to me the music that best suits my mood and my daily activities. It's much more than an online radio, it's a tool to create playlists for every occasion, a tool to share my emotions through the music.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The 14-Wheel Skateboard

Designed by Mike Simonian in collaboration with Pieter Schouten.

The Flowlab Skateboard allows you to surf without waves and ride without snow. Years of experimentation resulted in the geometry that allows a device with no moving parts to simulate the fluid motion of snowboarding or surfing on land. The arced axles let you carve to 45 degree angles with no resistance and fluid transitions edge-to-edge.

Click here for more - And there's a ton more cool stuff at this site!


The Truth About Sugar, Cholesterol, And Triglycerides

By Katherine Kam

Image Source

Can you get addicted to sugar? Do you need to quit it cold turkey? Here are expert answers.

Recently, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres declared that she was going on a sugar cleanse, purging her diet of all refined sugars to boost her well-being. While naturally occurring sugars, such as the kind found in sugar snap peas, were still OK to eat, no one was going to catch Ellen letting a Bundt cake cross her lips.

Her sugar cleanse diet inspired many viewers to embark on their own sugar smackdowns. Is this the latest food fad, or are the sugar naysayers on to something?

We don't need to go cold turkey on sugar, health experts tell WebMD. But most of us would do well to lighten up on the sweet stuff.

Is sugar addictive?
A coworker with an unshakable candy bar habit might sigh that she's utterly addicted to sweets. Can someone truly become physically dependent on sugar?

Sugar taps into a powerful human preference for sweet taste, says Marcia Pelchat, PhD, a scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a basic research institute in Philadelphia. "We're born to like sugar," she says.

"Sugar does seem to be special in some ways," Pelchat says, even in the womb. Doctors used to treat the problem of excessive amniotic fluid by injecting a sweet substance into the liquid, she says. The appealing taste would prompt the fetus to swallow more fluid, which was then flushed out through the umbilical cord and the mother's kidneys.

Not only do infants prefer sweet tastes, but when babies drink a sweet solution, it can ease pain through a natural analgesic effect in the body, Pelchat says.

Way back, the preference for sugar may have conferred an evolutionary advantage by leading people to seek out ripe fruits, which are sweet and serve as a good source of calories, she says.

But nowadays, is the coworker's constant hankering for sugar merely a strong liking, or is it a true addiction, with physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms?

Continue to the rest of the article..

K9 Reasoning


I know for a fact that Rusty doesn't ever think this. He could play for hours on end.

This Has Recent Relevance


More on why later...

Technology And Parenting


Top 10 Reasons To Wake Up Early

By Victoria Moran

Image Source

I don't always bound out of bed with great expectations about the day ahead, but when I can hear my grandmother saying, "This is the day the Lord has made: I will rejoice and be glad in it," it helps. And when I get up on the early side of morning instead of the snooze-alarm side, ah, what a difference!

1. Stretching the day

It stretches out the morning. You could even see it as a way of living longer.

2. Meditation time

There's no excuse not to meditate.

3. Working out more

Or go to the gym.

Continue to the rest of the article..

And here's another good one..

Sudden Realization


Monday, July 26, 2010

Heat Wave?

Image Source

A great post at chartporn dot org regarding this year's high temperatures. And it's pretty ironic: Here in south Texas, we set a record last summer with 59 days of 100+ temps. The previous record was something like 37 days.

I don't think we've hit 100 yet this year!

I know the east coast had a few days of 100+ degrees a few weeks ago, even up north.

However, we were just there (Plattsburgh, NY), and although it was hot, during the week I was there 6 of the days got to about 85-87, and one was beautiful, with a low of 58 and a high of 75 or so. Nothing absurd.

Anyway, I loved this post.. go check it out. Click the banner image!

Lightning - At 9,000 Images Per Second


Don't Tread On Me

For you, Chris! Miss you, buddy!


This Is Not An Issue


EZ Smoke

Entertain Thoughts - Accept The Ones You Like


Guitar Solo Medley - Without Guitar

Crash Kings take on Rolling Stone magazines greatest rock guitar songs of all time with nothing but drums, bass and a custom clavinet rig. Crash Kings self-titled debut album available 5/26. Filmed in LA on a Canon 5D.


Not exactly Jordan Rudess, but nonetheless very well-done. This is something I like because I can musically pick out notes in tons of solos, and even reproduce them vocally, and in my mind. I can play guitar, but there's no way I'd be able to do most great solos - except perhaps on a keyboard. I was quite the piano player as a kid.

Awesome Chocolate Cheesecake


Tell me this doesn't look incredibly tasty!! Mmm Mmm Mmm...

Ingenious Cat Invention


4 Bands - 1 Stage

THE BIG FOUR (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax) performing "Am I Evil?" together (Diamond Head cover) live at the Sonisphere Festival in Sofia (Bulgaria), June 22, 2010.

Vacation's Over


Blog post awesomeness will return to normal momentarily, as I regroup and get situated back into the routine. Thanks for being patient and for continuing to visit!