dminmem

dminmem

31 October 2007

Trick or Treat

I'm disappointed. (Is this a recurring theme with most of my posts? I hope not).

It's 8:25. Ordinarily we get anywhere from 25 to 50 trick-or-treaters each year. I've been sitting here for over two hours and we've had five kids and five parents. Three of the kids were in costume. Is this the year I decide that we're turning off all of the lights for good?

Cameron's absence may make me a bit less enthused about participating in Halloween festivities for the evening -- I've done it for several years without him. I've gotten used to it. But, dammit, I don't even have a freaking Jack O'Lantern this year. Usually, I do two. One for me and one for him -- because when he's home we each carve one. Maybe I've just been too busy. In fact, I think that's the problem. Anyhow...

I usually shut everything down around 8 P.M. because I really don't care to interact with all the much-too-old-to-be-trick-or-treating-pillowcase-toting thugs that come out looking for treats later into the evening. I don't mind their age, so much. I mind that they make absolutely no effort to participate except for trolling for handouts. As much as I'd like to hand out rocks for those don't dress, I won't. Usually a question such as, "and who are you this evening" will suffice to get my point across. Poor Charlie Brown.

One second. It's 8:28. I'm shutting off the neon house number, landscape lighting, security lights and drawing the blinds. The Cameron and David Candy Shoppe is officially closed for Halloween 2007.

Boo.

Hope you've all had a Happy Hallowe'en. All five of you. ;)

28 October 2007

Sunday, 28 October

I started this post several days ago. It was originally titled, "I'll be Watching Closely" with the following line of text:

This is where I am, presently, on the next presidential election.

I don't feel like elaborating on that right now. So, I'm not.

Last night was Hollyweird. I donated my time to create the invitation, posters, and advertising for the event. I was happy to give my time to Friends for Life. This party is the wrap-up for satellite parties that were hosted for over two months. (The organization hosts a "prequel" party to recruit hosts for fundraising parties in their homes, and around Halloween the people who attended any of these satellite parties are invited to attend the final event.)



I didn't think I was going to the wrap-up party because Cameron and I had been invited to four other parties but missed them. We were either out of town or needed to go to bed unusually early (so he could get up at 4 or 5 a.m. to leave on one of the myriad Sundays he's been having to work these last few months.

Since I didn't attend any satellite party (thereby not getting a wristband for admission to Hollyweird) I'd pay $35 at the door. I planned on not going. Truthfully, it wasn't the money. I'm simply not that big on crowds, especially ones where I barely know anyone and am in costume.

Plus, Cameron had to be up at 5 A.M., so if I went I'd be going stag. FFL sent me two wristbands for entry on Monday. At that point, I felt that I had to go. Besides, the board wanted to meet "the guy who created the art."

Mind you, since I hadn't planned to go, my costume wasn't going to be that elaborate.

I figured I could be a sunburned tourist from sometime between 1940 to 1950. Red skin, white eyes, blue plaid shirt buttoned all the way up, khaki-colored Burmudas, tan belt and matching buckle loafers with black socks, tan alligator banded tank watch, vintage Argus seventy-five camera around my neck, and some props. I'd done some Google searches and saved images of Photoplay and Movies magazines, star photos, matchbooks, a menu from the Brown Derby and maps. From those images, I created fan mags, an 8" X 10" glossy of Carmen Miranda (complete with and inscription in Portuguese), and some matchbooks from Fred Hayman at Union Station. Add to that a vintage map of California from Union 76, and I was ready to roll.

Funny, I never seem to think about photographing myself in costume until it's all over. So, at least, here are the props:





And because these two hams kept trying to stick their faces in the photo above, I figured I'd oblige:



If we dress up at work, I'll do an encore. Maybe then there will be photos. Until then, I'm vacuuming. Happy Sunday!

22 October 2007

Tears Dry on Their Own - Amy Winehouse


LOVE THIS.

UPDATE: See the video here. Don't know why it keeps saying it's no longer available.

19 October 2007

What Have I Done to Deserve This?

It's been a pretty awful week.

Rewind to Saturday, what started out as a nice "date" evening for us ended in an argument over money and the new house. I'm not getting into detail here, but it wasn't pretty. Sunday, I got up and posted a Craigslist entry to sell the Grand Prix. Cameron and I talked very little, but made up to some degree later. But we still have a lot to work out.

That evening, we suspected that one of our teammates and good friends had been drugged at our weekly league bowling. He'd had one Salty Dog and one shot of vodka (that I purchased and brought to the table. Within thirty minutes he was a blithering, barely conscious idiot. One cocktail and one shot does not do this. By the time we got him to his apartment he was barely conscious. We called 911 for an ambulance, and while we waited for its arrival I went to his apartment to let his dogs out. He'd given me the wrong alarm code on three different occasions, so now the police were on there way as well. Long story short, we were home three hours later than normal, around midnight.

Early Monday morning, 5:30 or so, the doorbell rings. It's our friend's mother, there to pick up his keys. She'd picked him up from the hospital and had him in the passenger seat and his grandmother in the backseat of her car. After a few minutes discussion and hugs of gratitude, we tried going back to sleep, but I couldn't. Later that morning Cameron left for Florida to take care family business that has him exhausted and driving back and forth from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale several times over the next few days. I had to drop the Passat off at Gossett Volkswagen for two recall repairs and for them to check a leak at the right front wheel that was slinging an oily substance on the inner fender well. A few hours later I get a call that the right CV joint boot is broken. It'll be nearly $300 to repair. Later still, when they were pulling the wheels to do the bi-annual brake fluid flush, they found that the left CV boot has a one-inch crack and should be replaced as well.

Nice. With the exorbitant price for an oil and filter change and the brake fluid flush, we're up to $817. The car may be five years old, but it only has 39,000 miles on it. The CV boot repairs aren't covered under the 5/50 powertrain warranty. How convenient.

Tuesday, I had a video shoot for a commercial that we had less than one day to plan. The coordination involved a lot of scrambling on our Production Manager's part, (meaning that the artist, copywriter, Creative Director and myself were interrupted many times during the day, Monday, with questions or pertinent information). The shoot started out at the wrong location. Even with having to make arrangements to get access to another building before we could get started, and waiting for the dean in the lobby (while he waited for us in his third floor office) for 30 minutes, we stayed on schedule and I left the shoot in the artist and copywriter's hands at 1:30 so I could get back to the office for a 4:30 review of the work we were presenting to another client the following day.

At home that evening, I got a call from our bowling teammate who told me that his doctor had run more extensive tests than the hospital, and he was in fact slipped the date rape drug, Rohypnol. Blood and urine tests within the 72-hour window confirmed it. Who the hell would do this? We know everybody on the league on some level. We're still perplexed.

Wednesday was hectic at work trying to finish preparing for the presentation that afternoon. I'd been able to devote most of the time I had not working on the commercial from yesterday to this, another series of commercials for another client, that I'd been working on since last Friday. I began the day scouting for some specific locations in West Memphis, only to get lost, not find what I was looking for, finding a lot I didn't want to, and finally getting to the office around 10:45. The trip netted two snapshots I could use in the storyboard. I got a call from Gossett that my car is ready. I called John to make arrangements to pick it up after work. But, since the client was late, our 4:30 meeting started at 5 and was over around 6:45. I couldn't pick up the car then, because the cashier closes at 7. All that said, the highlight of the week, so far, was the presentation. This client is awesome and has loved everything we've presented to him.

So, one positive blip.

Arriving home late from work, I got a message from our real estate agent saying that the couple who'd come to look at the house last Thursday night (without either agent) were finalizing financing options and that she expected us to get an offer in the next day or so.

Tentative positive blip two.

But, finding Doris moving slowly that evening, I was unsure if I'd hurt her when I had tried to perform a canine version of the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a mouthful of too-quickly-eaten food from her throat that morning or if this was a sign of something else. So I figured I'd monitor her closely for the night and see how she was in the morning.

Thursday morning, the edit of footage from Tuesday's shoot was taking place. As I rushed out of the house to get there, I was worried that Doris was getting worse but with Cameron gone there wasn't much I could do at the moment. I got to the edit and liked what the team had done so far and was told it could take over an hour to render the spot, so I left for the office to get caught up on some things. Once there, I received and aggravating phone call in which the account manager apologetically informed me that he'd been sitting on a couple of small projects for two weeks and that they needed to be done by noon, Friday. Adding insult to injury, he told me that it would only take me five minutes to do these things, and continued on about how I should design them. Bullshit. I have to revise an agenda that was already layed-out and design a pocket folder that even if I follow the lame design cues I was given would take over two hours.

When I was leaving for the edit, the artist who was still there called requesting I make a change to the Photoshop file that she designed because the client still "doesn't like the typeface." I made the change, rendered the two layers and sent them to the editor. I told the artist I'd wait to hear back from her before I left to ensure what I sent was working. I'd planned on being back at the edit at 1:00 to meet the same A.E. and the client. But, because of this delay I passed the two as I was walking in. Ugh.

Back at the office after my second trip to the edit I worked on a few projects and started packing up at 5:00 to meet John at my house at 5:30. As I was walking out, the traffic manager brought me 4 job jackets, two of which were for the materials that had been sat upon for two weeks. Reviewing them, I figured if all went well I'd have plenty of time to meet the likely bullshit noon deadline. We picked up the Passat, where I reluctantly put the $817 on my credit card. After another long day I arrived home around 6:30 to find Doris in worse condition.

So, rather than getting to work as planned this morning, the apparent benefits Doris had from the last round of Previcox had worn off. She has arthritis in her back, and this morning she was shaking and couldn't stand. I had to carry her outside. I started calling the animal hospital at 7:30. When the vet's office phones finally stopped rolling over to the Emergency Animal hospital, I spoke with Sissy about my girl. She told me she'd call me back if the doctor wanted to see her. Otherwise, I could pick up a new round of Previcox after 3:00. I called my boss around 8:05 and told her that I needed to take Doris to the vet. At around 8:45, Sissy called back and explained that the doctor didn't need to see Doris and that I could pick up the prescription now. However, Dr. Jo would like to see Doris in three months to make sure that the drug isn't causing liver damage. I picked up the medicine, drove back to the house and gave some to Doris and made it to work around 10.

Once settled, I found that I hadn't been given all of the information needed to complete the two sat-upon jobs in question. I finished the pocket folder at 11:20, and the agenda insert around 12:05. I put the second PDF proof on the server around 12:15, only to have the account coordinator call to tell me the e-mail wasn't working. I had to downsize the PDF of the folder. I believe she got them to the client around 12:30.

I went to Bhan Thai for a nice lunch alfresco with Amy and Michelle. When we returned I was able to make some progress with some other jobs, later to get a report while passing in the hall that Tuesday's shoot was a disaster because "we started at Ball Hall. Oh, nobody's blaming you," he said. Bullshit. I'm the one who identified that building as where the biology labs were as we were scrambling to pull together a shooting schedule on Monday.

After everyone else in the office was gone for the day, the head of the creative department, my friend Eric, and I sat and talked for a bit. It was actually nice to talk like the friends we are, rather than talking about work stuff or making light of the myriad aggravations we're faced with everyday. We'd considered going for a drink, but decided against it because we both wanted to get obliterated.

Instead, I came home to find Doris in much, much better condition. Positive blip 3.

Still no word on the couple interested in making an offer on the house. Rather than scrounging in the refrigerator for dinner I ordered delivery from Pizza Slut. Papa John's made me violently ill last time.

The delivery guy showed up 10 minutes ago with two boxes. When I chased him down the driveway to let him know something was wrong, he checked the other thermal pack and said, "it's their mistake. You can keep it if you want." What I didn't realize, when I kept this box of awful hot wings accompanied by a foil-lidded container of high-fructose corn syrup laden ranch dressing, was that the pizza was wrong, too. A doughy pan-pizza with italian sausage is no substitute for a medium, thin-crust pizza with normal sauce and cheese, pepperoni, italian sausage, mushrooms, onions and anchovies.

What the hell is going on? I don't remember shitting in someone's Wheaties. Dammit. Tomorrow is Saturday. Surely things will be better.

Damn.

There is so much going on right now, between work and home, that I can't even think about anything worth blogging about. I will say that Doris seems back to normal (after two and a half days of looking very unstable) with a dose of Previcox. Thank God for that. More on that later.

So much is happening, most of which I have no control over, that I feel like I'm losing my mind. So, while jotting around on some blogs, I found this on GB's "fablogulous" links to "Debonair Debacles".

While I found her answers amusing, I thought I'd have to answer myself, and paint a picture of how thankful I am it's Friday.

10 Expenses

This was originally posted on msn.com and is a story by bankrate.com.

It's easy to fritter away money on little daily expenses. If you fall into these money traps, learn to avoid them and pocket the savings.

Coffee: According to the National Coffee Association, the average price for a cup of brewed coffee is $1.38. There are roughly 260 weekdays per year, so buying one coffee every weekday morning costs almost $360 per year.
I get Starbucks rarely (unless you count the beans I buy on sale from the grocery). A trip to the local Starbucks outlet is VERY rare for me.

Cigarettes: The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that the average price for a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $4.54. Pack-a-day smokers fork out $1,650 a year. Weekend smoker? Buying a pack once a week adds up, too: $236.
Can we not talk about this right now?

Alcohol: Drink prices vary based on the location. But assuming an average of $5 per beer including tip, buying two beers per day adds up to $3,650 per year. Figure twice that for two mixed drinks a day at the local bar. That's not chump change.
I drink at home.

Bottled water from convenience stores: A 20-ounce bottle of Aquafina bottled water costs about $1. One bottle of water per day costs $365 per year. It costs the environment plenty, too.
I do buy bottled water when I'm going to work out. Otherwise, the tap's fine (with a buttload of ice).

Manicures: The Day Spa Magazine Price Survey of 2004 found that the average cost of a manicure is $20.53. A weekly manicure sets you back about $1,068 per year.
Um, you haven't seen my cuticles. It's not horrible since I've been moisturizing every day, but my sister Lisa has lectured me enough. Leave me alone.


Car washes: The average cost for a basic auto detailing package is $58, according to Costhelper.com. The tab for getting your car detailed every two months: $348 per year.
Wow. Used to do this, lots. Now, not so much. I drove around MEM with bugs from the one-way four hour drive to Huntsville on my front bumper for two weeks. If I hadn't taken the Passat in for $817 worth of service this week, I'd still have all manner of exoskeletons exploded on the chrome smile that should be. And, for the record, I didn't have it detailed, but I paid roughly $12 to $15 every week to run it through Mr. Pride. Damn.

Weekday lunches out: $9 will generally cover a decent lunch most workdays. If you buy, rather than pack, a lunch five days a week for one year, you shell out about $2,340 a year.
Where the hell is MSN eating for $9 for a decent lunch?

Vending-machines snacks: The average vending machine snack costs $1. Buy a pack of cookies every afternoon at work and pay $260 per year.
I put a refrigerator in my office over a year ago for two reasons: A) see the last entry; B) I don't have to put my good food into a giant incubator for science projects. Apparently, lots of people I work with are fascinated with the rate at which mold grows.

Interest charges on credit card bills: According to a survey released at the end of May, the median amount of credit card debt carried by Americans is $6,600. The average interest rate on a standard card is about 13%. Making the minimum payment each month, it will take 250 months (almost 21 years) to pay off the debt and cost $4,868 in interest. Ouch!
Thankfully, I negotiated a 1.9% interest rate with my only credit card company when I transferred my last balance. This is for the duration of the transferred balance, which ordinarily might make me lax in paying it off, but, not so much.

Unused gym memberships: Costhelper.com reports that the monthly service fee at gyms averages between $35 and $40. At $40 per month, an unused gym membership runs $480 per year.
I might only be using it once a week for the last two, but, knowing that it's there helps make me go. So be it.

Make no mistake. I know that there is still room for improvement. But, as the book's title said many years ago, "I'm dancing as fast as I can."

16 October 2007

Ass is spelled: D-A-V-I-D

Alex called me tonight. I always love hearing from him. Since he moved back to Atlanta, seven years ago, we might talk two or three times a month. More often, of course, if there is something worth discussing. (Read: gossip, I guess. I hate calling it that. If it's the truth, is it gossip? No. Not really.)

Tonight, however, I got a call from him for yet my second breach of kinship. It's the Grand Prix, again. You see, when I bought the car in 1999, I didn't tell him anything about it. I didn't do this intentionally -- I just didn't think about it. I was too obsessed with finding the Holy Grail of cars for me. OK, I have many Holy Grails when it comes to cars. But I love the body style of 1967 and 1968 full-size Pontiacs. This is my second, and hopefully not my last. Nevertheless, my kindred spirit regarding all things automobilia, for a number of years, didn't even know I was buying the car until he saw me driving past his house, down the street, to mine.

Fast forward seven years, and I didn't tell him I'd listed the Grand Prix on Craigslist this past Sunday. We had talked the day before, but I wasn't stricken with the illness to get rid of the rare convertible until Sunday morning. He found out by checking my blog, as he does every Monday.

The rub is, Alex is not only my friend, but he is as much (if not more) an autohead than I am. I love mid-fifties and late sixties Pontiacs and Cadillacs (colored with a few Lincolns and DeSotos along the way, plus Ford Country Squires -- especially LTD Country Squires, circa 1970). Alex LOVES station wagons and Buicks of most kinds. Except for, perhaps, something like the hideous reintroduced Skylark.



He's looking for a 1970 Electra 225 convertible (I think) as we speak. Here is where I fall down on the car thing. He knows whether the Electra was offered as a convertible for 1970. I don't. I have to do a Google search to know such things. I have SO focused on what I like for so many years that I've pretty much forgotten or dismissed anything else -- regardless of its rarity or collectibility. (Blogger's spell check is making me question my usage and the spelling of "collectibility." I just did a search using my Dashboard and Oxford American Dictionary. Apparently, I've done well.)

Anyway, long story short, I have "dissed" Alex, yet again. Sometimes I wonder why he still talks to me. He always makes big fun of catching me in these breaches. I love him for that.

As an example, several years after he’d bought me diner-styled Coca-Cola china (to match our early 1950s diner-styled kitchen, where I've always used restaurant Guest Checks for notepads to extend "the brand"), I referred to the dinnerware as "these tacky dishes" one evening when Cameron asked me which plates I'd have liked to set the table. Mind you, I really didn't think the dishes were tacky. I was just bored with them because we used them everyday, for ALL occasions, for a many years. And, I suppose I thought dinner deserved to be elevated from diner to dining room. I don't know. As soon as the comment came out of my mouth I was mortified. Alex was standing right there in the kitchen with us. He'd heard every word, and the look on his face is one I'll never forget.

I've been accused of being "uppity and grand" at times -- mostly from Alex's long-time ex. Regardless, it upsets me to be thought of this way. Usually I'd get these "accusations" when I was trying to make things nice. I might be trying to elevate certain situations for a number of reasons. It could be that I have spent an extraordinary amount of time in the kitchen, or I found a new recipe, or that I just wanted things to be different than the boring norm. Sometimes the finest china and exquisite crystal become tiresome when it's "everyday."

I just pray he knows how much I value him not only as a car nut, but as a friend.

14 October 2007

It's Time to Say Goodbye, Sadly



I have realized that it's time for me to let go of the Grand Prix. While it saddens me, I have to be grateful for the seven years that I've had the privilege to enjoy it. I pray that whomever buys it is someone who wants to preserve it as an example of great American automotive history.

The car is listed on Craigslist. Find more information about the car, the repairs I've made to it, NADA pricing guideline results and the Craigslist post, here.

I need to grab a Kleenex.

13 October 2007

We Should All Give a Damn

I realize that for the most part this blog is nothing more than a diary, and I don't really see it becoming anything else in the immediate future. I've intentionally kept it void of commentary from what's happening in many private aspects of my life. Some things are meant to be dealt with privately. If the happenings are worth blogging about afterwards, I do. Again, it's not much but a diary.

But, with that said, I am somewhat aware of and very interested in what's happening in our country and in this world.

I, like most people, have my opinions. Right now I think this country has already crossed the line at disaster, with the Ringmaster Bush and his clowns in Washington making a mockery of America and how we're viewed across the globe, U.S. CEOs running corporations like bandits (sending our jobs offshore and extorting billions from the U.S. rank and file to pad their own pockets), and news media parroting Rupert Murdoch's words of the day while calling what Paris Hilton is doing "news," I think it's necessary for me to look for other commentary and opinion if I want to know what's really going on.

While my thoughts and opinions may sometimes change based upon how much I decide research certain topics, I find many outlets for my information and have decided to post my favorites in a new list to the right called "What's Really Happening?".

You'll notice that "Huffington Post" is the first of hopefully many resources I plan to list here. You'll also notice that the "False prophets, Liars and Cheats" list has moved up in list position. During the next two years' Presidential Campaigns up until the election, I expect both lists to grow. And if there is anything significant about any new additions to either list, you can pretty much expect that I'll be on my soapbox with a post.

So, here's to the big debate. Have a great Saturday.

10 October 2007

Sickening, Part 2

I'm ready to vomit, and I don't even need my finger

I got home from work tonight ready to spend a relaxing evening at home with Cameron before he leaves on a two-day trip tomorrow. He had been at a union meeting today where he was coerced into voting the way the local president wanted him to by omission of critical information. When he returned home, he learned from another local president at another base that he should've voted the opposite way.

Apparently there are lots of secret little things going on both within AFA (Association of Flight Attendants) and Northwest Airlines.

Pinnacle Airlines, one of Northwest's regional suppliers, now has gate agents wearing Delta uniforms. Pinnacle is merging/being acquired by Delta.

It seems that there is a "big announcement" coming sometime in November. Perhaps all of the rumors surrounding an NWA and Delta merger may be coming to fruition. There are many scenarios that could end up screwing Cameron over, yet again.

This video was on the SFO local's website. It's sickening, and it's happening every day in many major corporations in America.



Please pass the Pepto. And, if I were a mercenary or some other assassin, I'd say, pass me a gun.

05 October 2007

I Hope this House Sells Soon

Sitting here last night listening to King Willie say he "knows who is for him and who is against him" sickened me. What he doesn't know, is that I, Whitey, voted for him in all four previous elections.

I began to lose faith in him after he started acting as if he didn't have to respect his office or his constituents. He mentioned two occasions during his last term where the "90% white audience 'booed" him". One was when he awarded the key to the city to DeAngelo Williams, an extremely gifted University of Memphis quarterback. This was during a Memphis Grizzlies game. The other was when he was on the Today show with Justin Timberlake shortly thereafter.

As I recall, both of these events took place within mere days of Herenton doing something that fell nothing short of giving Whitey the finger. I remember being appalled at the conduct of those "booing" him, but I also remember thinking that he deserved it.

It's sad. I never thought I'd be one of the "white-flight" folks. But, I suppose, now, I pray, I will be. Soon.

Herenton is not my leader. He's made it clear to me that I can be damned because I am white.

I am sick to death of picking up hot fries bags, dirty diapers, hair weaves, parts that fall off of junk cars that land in the park across the street or blow into my yard. I'm sick of listening to $4 boom boxes "roll" up and down Jackson Avenue with $4,000 rims and tires with expired tags, and doubtless, no insurance. I'm sick of the attitude. Many of the people I see in my immediate vicinity have no pride in themselves, their jobs, their homes.

Why, then, would they could give a shit about this city. Herenton is leading the way with his rhetoric. As far as I'm concered, he can have it.

04 October 2007

Let's Hear Your Voice

The Mayoral election here is a hot topic of discussion that will finally be decided today.

I find it incredible that W.W. Herenton still has the support that he does after his comments and conduct during his latest term -- his fourth. He's made racially divisive comments. He's demonstrated his xenophobic side. He's been suspected of foul play. He's made a mess of Memphis Light, Gas and Water. He's stopped funding of critical city services that affect our health and well-being as a city, such as vector control. He called to end Early Voting due to suspicions surrounding so-called faulty voting machines. I see this as a political ploy. And, if he loses, I suspect he'll cause a big stink about those very machines, race, or any other flimsy straw at which he can grab.

I voted on September 14, the first day of early voting. Today, I am praying that everyone who is eligible to vote does. And, may we, the people make the best choice for this city.

01 October 2007

12 Games. Three Days. Sore Fingertips.

Cameron and I are sitting in the back yard, under the paper lantern, near the pond. Doris and Billie are on the couch with him. I'm in a chair next to him. All of the new outdoor lighting is on. It's beautiful out here, and we're all home, finally relaxing after a quick trip to Huntsville this weekend. Doris and Billie spent the weekend boarded at Berryhill since our realtor was hosting an open house here yesterday. After being gone all week, Cameron got home from work Friday. We drove for four hours to participate in the Huntsville Invitational Classic bowling tournament.

We booked a room at America's Best Inns & Suites for three days. It wasn't my first choice, but by the time I got all the information I needed for our tournament entries we'd missed the host hotel deadline, and this was the only room I could find. Big Spring Jam (a three-day music festival featuring somewhere around 30 bands) and Homecoming at Alabama A&M University were both taking place in Huntsville this weekend.

The poorly updated old motel sucked. While we booked a smoking room, we expected it to at least smell like someone had sprayed an air neutralizer. They did not. We ended up stopping at Wal-Mart for Glade and a candle after we'd been to the host hotel hospitality suite. It's amazing the difference a tiny bit of effort can make. There were pillbugs in the bathroom. So far, the only thing good about this place is that it was a half-mile away from Starbucks.

Saturday, I got up with bed head and P.J.s and went for a triple venti Caramel Macchiato and a Grande Caramel Macchiato, extra hot to get us going. We showered and left our towels in the floor (as instructed) so we'd get fresh towels upon our return. We left for AMF Parkway Lanes, registered since we misssed registration the night before, and started bowling. First was singles, followed by doubles competition. I bowled above my average overall, but had two dismal games: 150 and 135. My other games were respectable: 172, 232, 195 and 194. We finished bowling and went back to the motel to clean up and go to dinner.

We walked into the room and it still smelled good from our Neutralizer treatment. We walked into the bathroom. More pillbugs in the bathtub. The bathmat had a brown stain on it the size of a grapefruit. The facecloths smelled of mildew. The handtowels looked as if they'd been twisted and just thrown over the rack. We decided then to see if we could get a room at the host hotel for the next night's stay.

Dinner at Rosie's Cantina was the perfect contrast to the hotel. The place was beautiful and the food was outstanding. Our server, whose name I can't recall right now was very attentive and beautiful. Cameron had a strawberry margarita and I had a top-shelf margarita, both made with fresh lime juice. They were delicious. We had chips with salsa and white queso. We each had a shot of Patron and split a third. And, for dinner, he had the Taco Salad and I had the Combo Enchilada Platter with one cheese, one beef and one chicken enchilada, served with rice and beans.

Afterward, we met some friends at the Radisson hotel bar where we witnessed a way-too-inebriated tournament participant dance on the bar, molest a bride and groom and attempt to give Ron an unwanted kiss, and me an unwanted lap dance. We decided to head back to the motel. We stopped at the front desk to tell the clerk at America's Worst Inn's & Suites that our plans had changed and that we'd like to check out Sunday morning. He informed me that we'd still have to pay for the night we weren't staying.

OK, then.

I called Citi and talked to them about disputing the last day's charges. The agent I spoke with told me that she understood (and didn't blame me for wanting to leave) and that she'd be happy to help me dispute the third day's charges once my card had actually been charged.

Cameron and I watched a movie ;). We got up Sunday morning, I made the trip to Starbucks, we packed, loaded up the car and checked out. We drove through McDonalds for a large orange juice (for me) and a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, hash browns and a vanilla iced coffee for him. We arrived at the lanes shortly thereafter and prepared for bowling team event. During the third game, my strike pot ticket was pulled, one which I almost missed redeeming because I didn't realize it was my number being called. I rolled a nine. Poopie. My scores were good, though: 189, 216 and 201. For the weekend, I placed sixth in all-events with a score of 2022.

We attended the banquet that evening, stayed up way too late and got up today ("not now, Patrick. Your Auntie Mame is hung"), and made our way home. We stopped at Berryhill to pick up Doris and Billie. After hanging out here for a couple hours, we met our regular teammates at Winchester to post bowl for Sunday night's league bowling, and the tenth, eleventh and twelfth games we've bowled in a three-day period. My fingertips are sore.

Did I mention I'm glad to be home?