27 April 2009

Bacon...don't let swine flu get you down

Can I just tell you how DONE I am with swine flu? While I am pleased to report that no one I know is afflicted (and frankly given all the time I've spent in some of the swine "hot" zones, I'm probably ripe for it), I am up to my ears in swine flu at work. It started last Friday afternoon with some e-mail exchanges with some peers and then it quite literally erupted Sunday afternoon as soon as I got home from Church. Stupid 'berry full of emails and voicemails. I didn't even get a chance to change out of my church-going finery. It was straight into the home office, dinner in hand, to work the issues. It was obvious too that my Monday work at home day was done too.

So in I went this morning. Again, all day on calls, meetings with colleagues across the globe, working the issues and our responses and providing employee assistance. It's been a lovely day. And now that the WHO has decided to essentially call it a pandemic, now tomorrow will be super-not-fun.

Now I am very sorry about those people that have gotten sick and died from the influenza. That's no good. I am, however, also concerned about the impact that this is having on the most wonderful of all things pork, bacon. I love bacon. Is there nothing it can't cure?

I think we can for the most part agree that bacon is awesome. And now, it is being sullied something awful by swine flu. There is no way you can get swine flu from eating bacon. You simply can't. I would argue that the more time you spend eating bacon, the less time you are out in the sneezy, contagious public - hence lessening chances of getting some ailment. Of course, you're probably ripe for some other ailment but that's another story. In scouring the web for all things bacon, I've discovered blogs dedicated to its glory and goodness; bacon bras (I'm not kidding about that - I wish I was); bacon photo galleries; just plain goodness. This gem took the top spot:
I'd floss 40 times a day!

Who needs mint-flavored floss when there's this? Good grief - this eliminates any excuse for not flossing! See...it's like I said, is there nothing bacon can't cure? Well, this much I know, bacon's been through it before, and it will survive this brush with infamy as well.

22 April 2009

I feel a Mileage Run coming on

I'd love to say that what I'm feeling is the desire to get in some serious miles running. The truth is that I'd love to run again but I'm still under the running ban until the first week of May, which is killing me, as the weather has finally turned great here in Chicagoland. I saw one of my buddies running today around noon and I was jealous to the point of coveting the ability to run. Rather than wallow in covetousness, I figured I should focus on something else. Like a mileage run.

Anyway, the mileage run I refer to is one that will only require running through airports. In the airline industry's collective stupidity to stimulate traffic, several carriers have offered double- and triple-Elite mileage qualifying schemes that are good through the middle of June. While there's plenty of ways to define a mileage run, the way I see it is getting as many segments with the most miles for the least amount of money possible in a fairly short amount of time. Wikipedia does a more eloquent job of defining a mileage run if you are so inclined. I need to shore up my status on United for 2010 and with all the travel cutbacks at work, I don't see it happening through business travel. So I need to find a few places to get to on the cheap, adding up as many segments as I can. I need to add a few more lines to this map:
Or this one:

So that's my quest. Suggestions are welcome. It doesn't need to be an international destination per se. If you've had any luck with a mileage run, let me know.

18 April 2009

Those cheeky, talented Brits

While I was in China last week, Our Lady of BYU sent me a link to a YouTube clip of some woman called Susan Boyle. Since I was on my Blackberry, I couldn't play the clip (well I could but I didn't want to pay the international roaming charges). All Our Lady said was you'll be surprised. By all that's holy, she's right. Have you seen the clip? Well, stupid YouTube (Fascists/Hypocrites! Seriously, who do they think they are?) have disabled all ability to embed ANY of the clips related to this woman, so click on the link above to give it a go. I'd just like to point out that I wish they'd be as vigilant in monitoring the really hideous stuff that seems to get through their stupid site as they are things like this. So much for their owner, Google's mantra, do no evil.

All right, first things first, to look at, she's a trainwreck. And we all judged accordingly, but what a voice! She blew out the performing hall and I know that my jaw hit the ground the minute she started to sing. I honestly thought she was lipsynching at first. It's an amazing performance. Now, it could be a flash in the pan. Who knows?

It's not the first time this show, "Britain's Got Talent" has found a trainwreck and turned it into something amazing. A couple of years ago, the same show had a bloke on called Paul Potts. When he walked onto the stage, it was the same reaction. You took one look at him and thought, "Oh my. No good can come from this." Well, look what happened:

So this guy has since sold over two million albums and is soon to release another one. The clip is classic - watching Simon Cowell midway through, you can see his head spinning, thinking "How am I going to turn this mess into a cash cow?"

Anyway, both talented people. Incredible voices. Nice reminder about judging a book by its cover. English food=bad. English village singers=good, really good.

17 April 2009

It only gets angrier

Last night's post came from an airport hotel in lovely, and by lovely I mean complete and total hole, Newark, New Jersey. I thought that was exacerbating my condition and that things would turn for the better upon my return to Chicagoland this morning. While it was all kinds of good to have the stunningly patient SML pick me up this morning at ORD, getting home did not cure me.

I'm not pleasant when I'm sick so I had warned the family and they were prepared. It's been a long day. You know it's bad when your wife tells you the following: "Um...you've got a funk going on." And by funk she's not referring to my dancing skills or a heightened state of depression. This in spite of the fact that I had showered and I maintain a pretty high state of cleanliness. It's the demon inside of me working its way out. So this is how I feel right now:

And here's my new BFF:

I'll say this...whatever is tearing through me (and tearing through me faster than the French caved to the Nazis), it's not going to make me give up the adventure of trying new foods all over the world. This is merely a minor setback. It's also a bit of a diet aid. Since I can't start running again for two more weeks, when my one month running ban is lifted, this is merely eliminating a few pounds that normally would have come off in a couple of runs. See, there's good to be found in everything.

16 April 2009

Back in the US and one angry stomach

I've just spent the last 17 hours on planes from Hong Kong and Shanghai back to the US. It was a great week in Shanghai and Hong Kong, but I believe I'm paying for it now. On Wednesday night, I had dinner with several co-workers at a very, very local restaurant above one of the wet markets in the Wan Chai area of Hong Kong. It was an amazing meal but one where I really wasn't certain what I was eating and let's just say that made for a very unpleasant ride home. Very unpleasant. And it's not like it's improving. I'm hoping that it's just exhaustion and not a bad reaction to either the pig's knuckles or the black tea jelly for dessert. It couldn't have been the pregnant lady rice, which was amazing by the way. It was seasoned with ginger. Maybe it was the tripe-like stuff...I don't know. And then there was other stuff I couldn't identify. Here's what I know...it seems to be going horribly wrong and it's going to be a long night.

09 April 2009


The US Postal Service made a pretty momentous announcement today. One of such magnitude that I can capture my feelings by paraphrasing a remark made by our nation's First Lady: "For the first time in my life, I'm proud...of the USPS." Why? Look:
Could it be anymore awesome!?

I, for one, think this is the greatest thing that the Postal Service has ever, ever done. Completely awesome. Memorializing the greatest family ever like this. Outstanding.

06 April 2009

How is this Spring and Opening Day?!

This is what we woke up to this morning:
Again, apologies for the grainy nature of the 'Berry camera but you get the drift (no pun intended).

The SNOW started last night and certainly made its presence known. Since I'm working from my home office today and the ground was fairly warm, not much shoveling had to be done at 5AM, but it's enough already. Mother Nature is one angry broad, that's all I'm saying. She did the same thing last year - we got a pounding snowstorm in April '08 as well (made for the WORST commute of the year as I recall). I'm really tired of her and her angry ways.

As a result of her big bag of bitter, it hardly feels like Opening Day today. And the White Sox have postponed their home opener here as a result. That's fine as I don't like the Sox, but still...postponed because of snow! Who wants to watch baseball in the snow? It's just not right.

04 April 2009

Wrapping up Spring Break

We are back home now - stepping off the plane at ORD yesterday morning into 39 degree temps was a quick ugly slap of reality and I just heard that the weather devils are suggesting snow in the next couple of days, so we are, without a doubt, back home. Spring Break is over. Suffice to say, we had a great time. It was great fun to spend the time with good friends and for all the good times we had together as a family. Now Our Lady of BYU has made it perfectly clear that it was unjust that she wasn't there but I'll just go on record as saying we wish she could have been there too.

So instead of focusing on the hundreds, literally hundreds of email, that were waiting for me from work, or the visit yesterday to the orthopaedic surgeon that resulted in a superfun cortisone shot into my knee (if any of you are familiar with Brian Regan's routine about the ER and 'pressure', I burst out laughing when the nurse asked me if I'd ever had a cortisone shot and when I said no, she said, well you're going to feel a little pressure. All I thought of was Regan saying, Buckle up!) and banning me from running for a month, I thought I'd post a few more pictures from our incredible vacation. Let me make this clear though - Florida is still the capital of crazy and it's still a mess, but boy do they know how to make a break from reality! Here's a few more pictures:
Close up of me and the stunningly patient SML with the kids in the background with their dolphin
The stunningly patient SML, our friend Hannah, and CAL in the lagoon at Discovery Cove
Me, CAL, our friend Hannah, and the stunningly patient SML checking out the manta rays - this was a huge achievement for CAL
PTL going for a manta ray
PTL feeding a bird in the Aviary at Discovery Cove
Riding Kraken at Sea World - this was great fun! We are in the third row in the first car.

So all in all, a great time. We are looking forward to doing it again next year. But now it's back to reality. It's our church's global General Conference this weekend so we'll be at home all weekend watching that event. Should be a good experience - one of learning and of comfort. Looking forward to it.

02 April 2009

And so it comes to an end

It's getting late on Thursday night and we are in a hotel near the Orlando Airport asd we have a wicked early departure tomorrow morning. Assuming, of course, that USAirways does not once again work in earnest to destroy the return portion of our trip, like they did on the outbound. My outlook is not positive.

The last day of our vacation was spent relaxing, paddle-boating on the lake at the place we were staying, and watching a couple of movies. Including one of the greatest movies ever...."Ferris Bueller's Day Off." We laughed a lot watching this with our friends. While CAL laid out by the pool, getting a superfun sunburn in the process, and the Boy fished, the stunningly patient SML and I slipped off to Sea World for a couple of hours. We rode Kraken again, which was a good time, and then did the Wild Arctic ride. We also saw the Dolphin show. This was a mistake. This is where Sea World has taken a serious dive. The Orlando Dolphin show has been Disney-fied. It's not about the dolphins - it's a ridiculous display of sappy music, cheesy choreography from a bunch of Cirque d'Soleil castoffs, even worse costumes, and a few divers way past their prime, still looking to earn a buck. The dolphins were secondary bit players at best. Tremendously disappointing! I can only hope that the San Diego show has not turned into this mess. I get what's happened here...the machine that is Disney infiltrates everything here. Sea World is not a Disney Park, but man, the people in this show could have been from the D-list cast of "The Little Mermaid on Ice." It really was awful. Both the stunningly patient SML and I were bummed.

Anyway, it's time to call it a night. 3AM is going to come way too early. I need a few hours of sleep in order to get ready to do battle with the enemy that is USAirways.

01 April 2009

Dolphins, dolphins and more dolphins

Now that I've gone through the cathartic experience of posting about the horror that is USAirways, I can move on to much better things - our Spring Break vacation. In a word, awesome. It's been great and it's not over.

Monday was spent at Sea World, which remains our favorite park, whether it's in San Diego or Orlando. Great time. Huge crowds. Clearly, the recession that we are in as a nation has skipped Orlando. This place is packed. We'll be back to Sea World a couple of more times while we are here.

Tuesday was all about Discovery Cove. Call it a water park, call it a marine life adventure. I call it amazing. We spent the entire day there. You have an opportunity to interact with marine life, snorkeling with all manner of fish and sting/manta ray. You get to observe sharks from a safe distance. Your meals, snacks, drinks are unlimited and included. The staff, of which there are thousands it seems, are all graduate from the perky (bot not annoyingly perky) school of service. They seem genuinely interested in you having a good experience (are you listening, USAirways?....I thought not).

The weather was amazing. Sunscreen was a must:
I think the ghostly white is to remind you that you'll be a corpse from the skin cancer you'll get if you don't use this stuff.

The snorkeling was great fun:

However, the piece d'resistance came with the dolphin swim which happened late in the afternoon after a very typical brief thunderstorm. CAL and the Boy had the opportunity to spend some time with Roxie, a ten year old dolphin:

It was pretty amazing to watch the kids interact with these animals and to see the power of the relationship that the trainers had with the dolphins. Their time also included a ride:

We had a pretty good view of the action as well:

Now I'm sure some people will complain that penning in dolphins like this is some kind of cruelty. I would argue that it is not. These trainers are so sensitive to these incredible creatures. If the animal doesn't want to play, that's it. There is no play. It's got to be better than fending for your life, day in, day out.

It made for a great day and we're looking forward to more great days as Spring Break rolls on! We miss having Our Lady of BYU with us, but if you check out here latest blog entry, you'll see that she's having a pretty darn good time as her Winter Semester winds down.