Don't Overdress

Jason: what are you wearing tonight? i don't want to be over-dressed :P
Jared: same here
Jared: basically like dress pants and a tie
Jared: …no shirt
Jason: shirt and tie for me
Jason: no pants
Jared: good, we won't clash

The check is in the mail

I always feel like I accomplished something when I pay bills, so I have to write a post about it. But this time is extra special.

One check, which happened to be almost precisely covered by a combination of two checks I received recently, including my tax refund and a refund for homeowners insurance, with $8 remaining after the fact, will guarantee a great time for me and Zatko and a bunch of our friends, Zatko's fiancee Amanda, her friends, some family, and loads of unsuspecting resort occupants, as we embark on our trip to Jamaica!!! Zatko and Amanda are getting married down there.

It's at the end of June, we'll be departing Philadelphia on my Dad's birthday, June 25th, and heading back on July 2nd. I figure I'll take off the 3rd as well and be back in work that following Monday, since July 4th falls on a Friday. Woohoo. I'll use jet lag as an excuse even though Jamaica is in the same time zone. Not much to say about it now, though. I will have TONS of pictures and stories when we get back. I really can't wait.

I also mailed in some checks for things like mortgage and the oil bill, and mailed in my latest netflix movies, two John Grisham movies and a documentary. Good stuff. I have to get to mailing them in quicker so I can actually not waste all that money.

The postage price goes up tomorrow so I just put two $0.41 stamps on each envelope. The trip payment and the mortgage are close to due so I don't want them coming back to me.

Mother's Day was nice, even though the Flyers lost again. Not sure how the Phillies did but we watched for a while. It was 4-3 Giants last I saw. Then the golfer we were cheering for (Goydos) lost to Sergio Garcia in the playoff. I had to have some happy news to write about.

The Gretsch is Fabulous

It's got a hell of a tone to it, but any guitar really sounds great brand new. What really separates the great one from the shitty ones is how they sound after a year of abuse. I'm a big fan of Brian Setzer, and he's what turned me onto Gretsch. Of course, his Gretsch is almost 50 years old, made in 1959. I don't know how much longer he has with that thing, because as we all know, wood is not the most durable piece of material. It warps and bends, cracks, splits, splinters.

Anyway, I wasn't planning on learning any Brian Setzer (Stray Cats) songs only because I thought they'd be too hard. There are some tabs out there on the 'net, but on no sites that you'd want to visit (not on Windows with IE anyway), but I figured since I have the Mac and Firefox, I'd be fine checking them out. So I learned Stray Cat Strut all the way through in about 30 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to learn it that quickly, considering how long I've taken to learn comparatively simple songs. I'm talking solos, chorus, verses, everything. Intro, outtro. Bridge. However, relative to all Stray Cats songs, that song's pretty easy to learn. Next up... Sexy and 17. That song is my favorite.

I tried the rockabilly picking again, this time without thinking (because no brain makes that a difficult task)... SO much easier!! I can pick the bottom strings with my index, middle and ring fingers, and pluck the top two strings with my thumb. The pinky is worthless. Actually, I did it so much, that right now I'm typing so fast and not making any mistakes. I can type so fast, I could probably fill this post with a whole bunch of boring stuff. I won't though.

GOOD NEWS! Jim and Kate, in England, had a DAUGHTER!! LillyAnn (one or two words, and/or one or two 'L's, I'm not sure, but you get the idea)!! Welcome to this world, LillyAnn, make yourself at home. I will be her godfather!! Woohoo!! I'll probably get assloads of pictures of her tomorrow. And I'll take some of my guitar.

Last news... I ordered an amplifier. Hartke GT60c 1x12 tube amp. Should be sweet.

Golf Rocks

Zatko and I went golfing today at Flying Hills golf course in Reading, PA. It was a close match throughout, but I ended up losing by 4 strokes, 87 - 91. It's my putting. My drives were out of this world. I had a slight draw on some, making them just look gorgeous. One I hit 260 yards. Although it was downhill, it was a par 5 and it left me with only 190 yards to go. A 3 iron struck well, with a little luck, got me to the front fringe where I chipped an 8 iron and damn near sunk it for Eagle. I parred the hole, though, because I'm the worst putter ever.

I have to get that down. I hit maybe 1 bad drive up until the 17th hole, then hit two consecutive bad drives (with a mulligan). Luckily I found one and didn't have to hit the ball I had to drop. I got a 6 on that hole. If my putting was on, I would have shot 81. Seriously. If all the holes I three putted, I two putted instead, I would have 81 easily. Either I have to get closer to the pin on my approach, or I have to get better at putting. But, first thing's first, my putter sucks. I looked tonight on the website of Dick's Sporting Goods, and I picked out this one. Should be awesome. My current one has about a 2 millimeter line to line up your putt with, and my eyes just aren't that good.

Funny story... Zatko ended up about 4 feet in front of a sign that stood about 18 inches tall, and was a weak metal, kinda the thickness of a license plate. He only had to go about 40 yards, so the shot would likely get right up and the sign shouldn't come into play. I still said, "Do you want me to move the sign?" He's like "There's no f#@#$%ing way that I'm going to hit it." So I said "Alright." And I was thinking "Just watch your balls when it comes flying back at you :P" Sure enough, CLANK!! I laughed, and he took a mulligan.

I was looking around Dick's site more, out of curiosity. Oooh, Callaway Irons with Graphite Shaft, $599. Damn. I have a set I bought for $400 used. Titleists. 2-PW. The only thing that ever lets me down is my swing, and it wasn't happening that often today. I was all over that flag. Not really, but I was hitting them good.

One thing on clubs, though. I haven't ever used a big headed driver. I don't think less of anyone who does :P But I won't use one. I'll stick with my old, normal sized Callaway Big Bertha driver. Also, I get comfortable with a set of clubs and they're all I need. So I won't get a new set for a long time. What usually causes me to get a new set is if I lose one (either to breaking or leaving it on a course somewhere), or I try another club and manage to hit it better. In this case, ignorance is bliss. If I don't ever hit another set of irons, I have no idea what I'm missing, and therefore don't have to spend $600. Same with a driver. I'm terribly happy with my driver, especially after today. You know you're doing good when your friend calls you an A-hole for putting your drive in the perfect location for the hole. Not only putting it there, but saying, before you hit it, "I should probably put it right there", pointing in the exact direction where you eventually hit it. That's why I'll never get another driver either. When I'm not doing well, it's my own damn fault.

Putters, on the other hand... I'm comfortable with lining up a drive and an iron shot. Even a chip where you set the ball up behind your feet and your feet are aiming way to the left, I know exactly where it's going to go. Of course, picking the right direction on a green is tough. This is a tough game. But I never got comfortable lining up a putt. I need that new putter, and I need to try to play every other weekend. I want to get really good, and that's the only equipment I need.

Before that, I needed a wedge with a high loft. Last week, I put a ball 4 feet 8 inches from the pin and won closest to the pin out of like whatever 8 times 18 is. It was a shotgun start, two foresomes a hole. Lots of people. I won. I picked out a 56 degree sand wedge to fill this need. Absolutely, I didn't go into one sand trap today. Although, this course didn't have many, and I can only remember one time when either of us went in. Zatko got right out of that pickle though with a great shot. I could probably talk about golf all day. Especially after a relatively good round. When I get that putting thing down... well, I'll stop.

Golf soon

Michael wrote:
Hey fellas. How does everyone's schedule look over the next week or so
for some golf. It has been too long.

Sent from my iPhone

Jared Blitzstein to Michael, me

9:29 am (20 minutes ago)
I think I'm cool next weekend (8/25 8/26).

Sent from my Macbook Pro

Jason Connell to Jared, Michael

I'm golfing friday, but I can also go on the weekend.

Sent from Windo~~~%@#%@#~~@#%~ Windows has encountered a fatal flaw and will now reboot.

Report from Afghanistan

My best friend Jim wrote me from Afghanistan yesterday. He's stationed there temporarily from England, where his wife Kate is going nuts alone! I chat with her nearly every day to keep her calm and sane.

The weather isn't terrible... freezing cold at night, nuclear hot during the day, instant sunburn type shit. We are 5000 above sea level here so the cold is colder and the hot is hotter here. It's nasty, the sun actually hurts when it's on your skin for more than about 5 minutes.
Plus we are taking Malaria pills that say "Avoid direct sunlight, causes skin to be extremely sensitive." Why is that the first time the medication has ever been right.

Damn. So basically we have a bunch of vampires out there in the desert, trying to avoid getting their blood sucked by mosquitoes.
The missile attacks are pretty fucking weird man. I literally felt that one rattle my ribcage that's how close it was. A few of my buddies were eating and the thing literally went over their head, they heard the whistle.

They've had sporadic attacks from unknown Taliban emplacements. One missile attack landed 100 yards away.

I asked who's there with him, and how well guarded is the place. From a previous email, I knew they were surrounded by a town that was anti-Taliban. Here's what he said about that:

Every branch except the Coast Guard is here. Every single person that wears a military uniform carries a gun at all times, loaded. A full out assault on this base is a flat out impossibility. We are all armed, even when we sit to eat and go to the shower. It's nuts. Plus there are a load of other countries here and they are all armed to the teeth as well.

And here's a no brainer:
I just got a new camera in the mail today so I have started taking pictures. I'm gonna have some good pictures when I get back, and some sweet videos. Hey, do you want a Flag that's been flown over a war zone? We can fly them and they make these cool certificates and frame it all up and whatnot. Don't worry about buyting it, I'll get one for you if you got somewhere you'd like to hang it.

Hell yeah I want a United States flag that's been flown in a warzone with a certificate.
I launched a jet yesterday that killed 24 Taliban motherfuckers. I got to watch the video and these poor bastards never stood a chance.

Ahh Technology. Jim's a crew chief who takes care of the jet and gives it the go ahead for whether it should fly or not. No decision goes past him. He also recently was promoted to Staff Sargent.

In a war zone, there's a certain limit about how long you can be indisposed. Either in the shower or bathroom, really. Sleeping can be instantly disturbed with a approximately placed missile launch, so really you're only indisposed in the shower or bathroom. Plus I guess out in the desert there's some water rationing going on...
And the three minute shower thing.... you get in, get wet, turn off water, apply soap and shampoo etc, rinse, get out. Not fun, I can't wait to get in a shower for like an hour and a half. anyways, gotta run, I'm at work. I will catch you later bro.

I told him I tried taking a three minute shower. I have yet to succeed. More to come later I'm sure.

Phillies take up all my time

I didn't watch today, but whenever the Phils are on I get nothing done. I managed to break out the PSP and play Tiger Woods '07 with the Phillies on. That game has a lot of times that it takes a few seconds to load so I'm more watching the Phillies and shooting 59s secondly.

I ordered clothes the other day and they'll be arriving sporadically. They shipped from 4 different places. I got one package. I noticed the other day I don't have any clothes. I also noticed that the clothes in my drawer stay in my drawer... pretty much since I moved in here 3 years ago. So I wanted to get them cleared out like Tuesday, but the Phillies have been playing at 7:05, like clockwork. I get home at 6 or so, eat or play a video game, then watch the Phillies until 10pm or so. During which nothing gets done except some cheering and other intense fan activities. Then I try to go to bed, but the neighbors' kids and my brother are in bed so I can't do anything that requires listening to loud music, like cleaning or going through clothes and throwing them in a trashbag (they will be dropped off at a good-will collection point soon). I finally fall asleep at 1 or so.

Jeff took out a home equity loan to get some work done. So far we have new windows in the front and back of the house, and we're getting a new bathroom. This week is the bathroom work, until Monday. So, I haven't been able to use the toilet, shower, shave, or anything. We have nothing but a tub with no faucets or any kind of plumbing in the whole bathroom. The sink is in Jeff's room, the toilet is in the basement. It will be done by Monday. A week in all.

Tonight I was over my parents' house because it was Monday when I last had a full shower. I've cleaned my hair twice, washed my face and hands every day, behind the ears too, and used deodorant. I haven't received any complaints from the coworkers, and Jeff and I are recovering smokers so we really can't smell too well still, at least not ourselves. I can definitely smell and taste way better than when I smoked though. I took a shower at my parents' house and it was marvelous. It sucked too because on Tuesday morning, the first of the days where I'd have to go a full day without showering, I woke up at like 5:30 and was like "Man, a shower's gonna be great today!" I remembered then that I wouldn't be able to shower! It was one of those days where it was hot during the night even, and I was feeling sticky. A shower would have really hit the spot. Oh well.

Another thing about no sink is you can't shave. By this morning I had the full Koy Detmer neck beard going. Tonight I got a haircut and shaved.

Two weeks ago on Saturday my friends and I went to the Phillies game. I was coordinator, so I had to buy all the tickets, be there first, supply some beer and food, and collect money and act like I was da bomb. That last part is easy. I had 16 tickets. Zatko and I got there at like 12:40. I probably would have been perfectly fine hanging out with just us two and maybe some girls all day. We were having a good time. Everyone else showed up, fashionably late, at like 2 o'clock. The game started at 3:55. I had about 6 beers before the game, and only one or two after that. I smoked a few, but it's just because I lack any kind of inhibitions or self restraint after 4+ beers. I haven't smoked since. We went to McFadden's afterwards and there were about a million people there. Later Jared vomited on his car :) We all had a great time I think. I'd go again. Good night.

Pain and Suffering

2 Days filled with lots of Wii Tennis, some boxing, lots of bowling, and tons of other Wii games is a great exercise. I can't lift my arms up. Zatko, Jared, and I were all at Zatko's house, playing the Wii for literally all day on Saturday with no real breaks. Zatko and I continued on Sunday with a fierce competition in Tennis and Bowling. Bowling is my main sport, and golf is the second one. I haven't played enough Tennis to really compete... something I've taken note of for the next trip. I went pro last night on my own Wii in Tennis. That game's exhausting. We only played two bouts in Boxing since we knew if we were to do more, we'd be useless for a few days, instead of just one. Good thing.

Some quotes from the day (not exact quotes...):

Zatko: "You should team up with a computer player" (in Tennis)
Me: "Nah"
Zatko: "Oh yeah, you might get teamed up with a jackass"
Me: "I already have a jackass on my team" (meaning me)

(had to be there I guess)

Jared in an email:"Hopefully my new lazy throw I'm developing will help."

I read that as
"Hopefully my stolen style from the god of Wii Bowling, Jason Connell, which I will copy and call my own and copyright it, will get me to even half the skill level of Jason and hopefully cause no physical pain, which will help deal with the mental anguish I will experience due to not coming up with the technique on my own."

Next time will be even more fun... lots of new Wii games coming out in March.

No video. Although for our boxing match, I had the idea to face each other and box. Double boxing!! Like, my other idea to bring a Wii Sports Golf out onto a golf course and play that and golf at the same time. Although, Wii Sports Golf only has 9 holes on one course :( They have to release updates to that one...

Proudly presenting...

NOAT's proudly presented entry into the Gingerbread House contest in Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada...

Yes, it's wired for the internet.

Ahh, making a mockery of everyone's hard work and talent is always entertaining. Other people actually tried, and theirs just aren't as good... to me anyway. Fantastic job NAOT!



Christmas Shopping 94.2% done

So close. Tonight I ordered a bunch of stuff from and J&R Music World. Christmas is funny... You almost always know what you're going to get, you just have to wait until Christmas to get it. For instance...

My Mom likes to make sure that stuff she buys actually fits before she gives it to us. So, I tried on one of my Christmas presents last week.

I mentioned to my Dad that he should get an iPod, and he confirmed that he'd like one for when he works out. So, I said "Well, don't buy it, Santa might bring you one." So my Dad knows what he's getting.

Zatko's girlfriend told him she ordered a Wii, but days later, way after it was already supposed to have been there, I ask... "How's the Wii?!" He says "I don't have it yet." Well, the exact words are below in the Quote of the Year post. It seemed suspicious, but then he told me his girlfriend probably hid it and decided to give it to him for Christmas instead. So I called him a sucker.

However, my bro-.... errr... Pollyanna.... has NO IDEA what he's getting. Heh. I can say "My brother is my pollyanna" since I have 5. Brothers, not pollyannas. It's awesomely hilariously funny.

And, of course, my Mom has no idea what she's getting from me, for the simple logical fact that I have no idea what I'm getting her. I searched the internet far and wide with no luck yet. I think I only got to page 2 anyway. Definitely didn't make a dent.