Gray Flannel Dwarf


Good times.

I have nothing against Old Company. I mentioned that, nearly a year ago in my resignation letter to them, and it still holds true. I’d recommend them in a heartbeat if someone was looking to use their services. That said, the contract gig I was on, through them, was a bittersweet experience. I learned a lot, had quite a few good (and memorable) experiences, but still… amidst the other issues I encountered, it was really the weekly RDU-DTW commute which pretty much sucked the most, there’s no way around it. It held especially true right around this time of year — when the weather starts warming up and the trees begin to bud here, whereas all the while Old Man Winter still has his gnarled grasp around the neck of the northeast.

Anyway though, don’t want to dwell on the bad times. Back to the good times, met a few really good people during my time there… and as it turns out, one of the guys from a different contracting firm just got the reverse commute, the (semi-) lucky dog. Long-term commuting can have its suck factor — but I would rather be commuting out of DTW than into it.

I may meet up with him this evening, or have him over… In any case, it will be good to see him. I hope he’ll eventually decide to move down here permanently — he’s Good People, and the more the better.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 2:09 pm


This is what overzealous “national security” gets us.

Marshals: Innocent People Placed On ‘Watch List’ To Meet Quota

From the article:

“Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft … and they did nothing wrong,” said one federal air marshal.

“That could have serious impact … They could be placed on a watch list. They could wind up on databases that identify them as potential terrorists or a threat to an aircraft. It could be very serious,” said Don Strange, a former agent in charge of air marshals in Atlanta. He lost his job attempting to change policies inside the agency.

Boy, intended or not,  that sure sounds nothing like our own little cultural revolution, does it?  Tell you what, let’s step it up, let’s have our own Hundred Flowers Campaign, too!  Let’s make sure that once’s some has a mark on their name, legit or not, that it’s indelible.  Tell you what, while we’re at it, let’s even infiltrate popular dissent in the name of national security!

Oh wait, we’ve already taken that step.

God, I love the smell of authoritarianism!

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 11:37 am


UK Journo’s take on SBXL host, Detroit.

Pretty good article, and real. I don’t care what they said on the news, about Detroit being a great host, and really cleaning things up, and that a lot of the bad things said about the city are all wrong.

No, they’re all right. I’ve been here over the past year, watching the facade go up, watching the “Bridge to the Motor City” be built, watching them plant grass along the highways in November in an attempt to make the place look green… something the author nails quite well.

But look a little closer, and many of the renovated office buildings on Woodward are still empty. The shiny glass panes are back-lined by faux paper interiors, creating an oddly Potemkin Village effect. The crucial question remains. When the imperial passage of Super Bowl XL is over, when the 100,000 visitors have returned home and the white hospitality tents in central downtown have been removed, will the city resume its long, secular decline?

There’s nothing good about this place, so far as I can tell. Well, I’m a Tigers fan, and even they stink.

People here continue to fool themselves into thinking Detroit is a great place. They continue to fool themselves into thinking that the American automakers will lift the city up by the bootstraps and bring employment and wealth to the region. They continue to fool themselves into thinking that Kwame Kilpatrick is the right kind of guy to have running the city, with his 30-thousand man security detail.

Having hope is one thing, but you have to have at least a basis, grounds, some sort of common infrastructure for that glimmer. There’s nothing here on which to plant any sort of hope. I really just don’t get it.

I always had an inkling of this sort of feeling about Bristol — high hopes and grand plans without appropriate infrastructure — but man, the expression of this ideal here absolutely dwarfs that of the smaller tri-city. And at least Bristol is relatively untouched, kind of a clean canvas. Detroit, on the other hand, is ready to collapse under its own weight.

That’s my impression of this city. Spent basically a year of my life here, and I have seen little evidence that being a lifelong resident of this area would’ve made me see things any differently. The hundreds of thousands who came in all saw a live production of propaganda in action… and while they probably know this, and the news anchors and sports figures and analysts know this… this whole weekend it was all about how much Detroit had improved and how all the naysayers were wrong.

These people sold out and drank the kool-aid… and in doing so, they only continue to perpetuate the myths in the minds of this area’s residents. This UK writer is the only one that I’ve really seen yet who has the balls to come out and tell it like it is.

March 1st, man. It can’t come soon enough.

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 1:37 pm



Stupidity is writing a letter to credit bureau(s), disputing issues with certain accounts found on your credit record, presumably because your information got leaked out somewhere…

…only to leave a copy of this letter, with the account numbers partially XXXX’ed out, but containing your full name and SSN in the hotel computer’s recycling bin.

People are funny.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 11:09 pm


NWA on strike

NWA union members are on strike.

I fly from Raleigh to Detroit every week. The only direct flight is NWA. I recently received a letter in the mail, addressed to “Silver Elite” members. As I just got my SE, I was assuming it was my new FF card or something… and then I read it. It was advance warning about the possible strikes.


I am kind of torn on the whole union thing, and I probably don’t fall along the lines that many on the left. I totally empathise with those looking for better treatment in their respective industries… but I dunno. Working in Detroit, I can’t help but feel that, between my air travel, and the auto industry there, labour unions and industries have a serious disconnect, and I can’t blame it all on the industry giants themselves…

Sometimes I wonder if labour unions have outlived their usefulness, and I am sure that is bordering on heresy to some on the left. I can understand the purposes of unionisation, back in the day. We are all familiar with The Jungle, and we all know about child labour that occurred early on, etc. Unions, then, were useful and perhaps more legitimate.

However, today… I honestly have a hard time being as sympathetic, although if someone can convince me, I am open to it.

Is there someone who can tell me what baggage handlers make? This article says that some start at $8.75/h, and some were, until recently, as high as $20.
Overall, I am estimating $15/h. 15*40*52 is 31k a year, which isn’t mad coin, but hell, inflation hasn’t been that bad in recent years, and this isn’t far from where I was six years ago getting into IT.

…and despite the sometimes long hours I have worked in the past, and am working right now, I have no desire to see IT labour unionisation.

I have an open mind to these things, and am more than willing to listen to union defenders, but I need some tried and true facts, not just the propaganda I see — and it is, what with the bumper stickers and cheesy slogans — on the union billboard on-site.

Just based on my observations, I am currently struggling with having a lot of sympathy with unions much of the time. Maybe someone can change my mind.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 1:31 am


Talkin’ David versus Goliath Bike Ridin’ Blues

Did a bit of biking today. I have really been enjoying my bike outings lately. I have been riding the Wake County portion of the American Tobacco Trail as of late, but since Chatham County is being lazy in getting their section complete… (in)convenienthly smack in the middle between Wake and Durham counties, it is getting boring riding the same stretch over and over again.

Thus, today, I got on the road, went about 2 miles down to the Log Pond portion of the Carolina Connection trail, which is also encompassed by US Bike Route 1. Rode that for a while and then looped back onto the ATT and rode home from there… probably did between 15 and 20 miles today, so I’m pretty pleased.

It’s always the first 2 miles or so of hills that get me, then I am fine. I would like to eventually be able to bike the Cape Fear Run, which heads into Wilmington. 140 miles or so… I’ll get there eventually.

Anyway, a large portion of my trip encompassed pieces of New Hill, NC, which is currently embroiled in a battle with schoolyard bully Cary, over the latter’s desires to build a waste treatment plant within the town limits. I lost count of how many Stop Cary signs I saw, and saw many other more amusing ones. Two notables:

  • A toilet sitting out near the road with a stuffed bulldog on top of it, accompanying a sign which read something to the effect of, “If you won’t take ours, we won’t take yours”
  • A sign sitting outside an old, vacant gas station (when was the last time you saw gas for $1.37/1.47?) that read, “Save New Hill, don’t “Waste” It!”

In any case, it was a good ride, and even kind of thought provoking. Next time I may try riding down the ATT, connect onto Log Pond and ride into Moncure, NC. I am sure there will be some interesting stories to learn there, too.


While You Were Out…

Sometime during the day, room service apparently switched the clock radio in my hotel room from some old thing to a new Doubletree-branded alarm clock. On the top of this clock, there are five buttons, each labelled something differently. There is a button for aux connections (MP3 player, etc.), and then others labelled “Pop”, “News”, “R&B”, and “Classical, presumably preprogrammed by someone…?

Checking out the different buttons, “Pop” was playing Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind”. “News” featured some dude calling up a talk radio show. “R&B” was playing none other than Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend”.

“Classical”, on the other hand, is currently playing some techno-dance remix.

Must be neo-classical. Or something.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 11:27 pm


Things that get under your skin

From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: 1plac·ard
Pronunciation: 'pla-k&rd, -"kärd
Function: noun

(Note that they are using the ampersand to replace a schwa)

Most of us know this. In fact, it never crossed my mind that people might not know how to pronounce “placard”. However, nearly every time I get on my NWA flight, and hear the spiel about it being “federal regulations to obey all posted signs and placards” it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

It’s always “Plah-CARDS” or “Plah…CARDS”. They always put the emphasis on “cards”, and half the time, the flight attendant has this quarter-second pause between the two syllables.

It’s such a little thing to be concerned about, but when you hear it twice a week for twenty weeks, it gets to be a bit annoying.

Because it is so often mispronounced, I am guessing that’s how it’s pronounced in NWA’s training videos.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 2:49 pm


Bleeding on a Jet Plane

USAToday: 4 Major Airlines Increase Fares

Blah. Emphasis mine…

The four biggest U.S. airlines — American, United, Delta and Northwest — raised most airfares Wednesday, citing record-high fuel prices. United raised fares 3% across the board, Northwest raised domestic fares 3%, and American and Delta raised fares $5 each way.

I’m already well-aware of the costs of my plane tickets, and now I’m sure I’ll know even more about it.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 10:38 pm


A moving experience

February 1976: Born in Newport News, Virginia
August 1976 (approx.): moved to an apartment in Alexandria, Virginia
1981 (approx.): moved to a house in Springfield, Virginia
1988 (approx.): moved to a different house in Springfield, Virginia
1994-1998: attended college in Bristol, Tennessee, but still lived, for official purposes, in Springfield house #2
1999: moved to an apartment in Fairfax, Virginia
June 2000: moved to a condo in Sterling, Virginia
November 2003: moved to a townhouse in Sterling, Virginia
February 2005: moving to a house in Apex, North Carolina.

Nervous? Yes. Unsure? Yes.

Fairly certain I made the right decision for us? Yes.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 10:44 pm


Some Honeymoon Pics

Here are a few of the better, or more interesting, pictures we took while in Curaçao. As always, you can click on the images for larger versions.

Actually these two were taken en route from Miami. I am not actually sure what island it is, although I am guessing it is Haiti/Dominican Republic, unless we somehow flew over Cuba.

The view from the room:

More below, after the cut.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 11:14 am


Tales from the Class^W Honeymoon: Ole Crooner

I won a t-shirt during a karaoke session on our trip to Curaçao. I won “best act”, but it’s a bit diluted when you consider that only six acts performed, and every person or group got a prize — even if there was a tie for “worst performance”, no kidding.

Anyway, I started the night off with the only Dylan song on the list, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, and I sang it true to form. Reflecting upon this, however, I don’t think the DJ dude had heard the real version, because he kept ad-libbing the GnR-esque “yeah yeah yeah” parts in. Meanwhile, I finished the song, and got off stage, not taking that reflection into much consideration.

Well, I decided I wanted to get up there again, but there wasn’t really much in there that interested me. I decided on doing Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”. I gave someone the book, who took it over to enter the CD code, but came back a few minutes later.

“They say the Bob Marley cd isn’t working right now.”
“Uh… ok, let me find something else”.

So I’m flipping through the book, when it hits me:

* I just sang a Dylan song, in true Dylan form, at karaoke
* These employees have probably not heard the Dylan version
* I requested a Bob Marley song
* I am currently sitting on a small island in the middle of the Caribbean.

Why do I get the feeling that they didn’t want to hear a busted-up tune by the revered Marley?

Anyway, I sat there and flipped through the book several times before finally deciding on “Back in the USSR“. Rest assured it wasn’t performed as Dylan would’ve done it.

Good thing they weren’t having any technical difficulties with that disc, though. My next choice was going to be “Baby Got Back”.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 3:01 pm


Returned from Toronto

Had a good ole time up in Toronto over the holiday weekend… as if I ever have a bad time up there.
Arrived in Toronto. Didn’t do much that night, except relax.

Went to the CNE roaming up, down and around the venue.
Apparently we went one day before all the excitement, however — although I do remember standing right next to that ride. It wasn’t bad, but it seemed pricy, considering we had to pay $10 CDN to get in, and then were nickeled and dimed everywhere we went. Did get to introduce her parents to the wonders of international foods — Indian, Greek, Jamaican amongst them — albeit they were your typical, dubious fairground versions.

From a distance away, we could see the more interesting bits of the air show, and I saw the various fighter jet units all over the sky during the entire weekend, regardless of where I stayed.

I tried my hand at a few of the skill games, most notably of which was the one where you try to throw a baseball and bust a plate. Two throws for five bucks; two shattered plates equalled a big prize. My first pitch was a dead ringer, shattered the plate fantastically. My second pitch — well, I can’t believe it. I have little accuracy when it comes to throwing, but unbelieveably, I hit the exact same spot where the previously shattered plate was — so no prize for me.

Finally, we went to one of the few free events, to see the RCMP Musical Ride. It was fairly interesting, although it seemed a bit hokey — but I can’t be so culturally ignorant as to bust on it. The RCMP are an indispensable bit of Canadian culture. I guess it was just the music that bugged me. Other than that, the precision involved w/ the horse processions reminded me at least somewhat of the US Army Drill Team.

I got to grill for about 20 or so family members, which was, to date, my most intense venture yet at grilling. Grilled three pork loins in a BBQ sauce; it was mostly the same sauce I used in the past, but wasn’t quite as good this time around. I also grilled six chicken breasts in a simple marinade that was mostly cheap red wine and soy sauce. On top of that, I grilled three top roasts and attempted to do them in something of a Jamaican style, but they turned out a bit bland… mostly though, in my mind anyway, because one of the younger faces in the crowd would’ve refused to eat anything w/ the slightest bit of heat to it.

Finally, I grilled some stuffed tomatoes (put the guts in a bowl; add various italian seasonings, breadcrumbs, and parmesean or asiago or romano; drop a chunk of mozarella in to the tomato and re-fill them; sprinkle the top w/ more asiago) and some garlic (chop off the top; drizzle with olive oil and add basil, oregano and a bit of salt). In all, the meal was pretty good, along with what everyone else brought… although I am still disappointed in the beef.

Monday was a bit of downtime. We went to go see Vanity Fair which I really can’t say impressed me too much, although to be… uh, fair, I was kind of drowsy about 1/3 of the way through it (probably due to the several glasses of caribou — no, not the meat, but rather some strong, Quebecois port wine and alcohol concoction — that I had w/ her dad at lunch). A lot of the guys looked a lot alike, and I just generally had a hard time following it, although the story, in my mind, wasn’t too interesting… it just wasn’t my cuppa.

Afterwards, we went to the always tasty Margarita’s for dinner to introduce her parents to yet more foods — this time it was chorizo chimichanga, steak tacos and chicken fajitas. The fried ice cream left something to be desired, however — it seemed a bit… stale? Dunno, but the outside was kinda chewy, not even reasonably crispy as I’d expected.

Departed Toronto. Taxi was running late to the airport, the line at the United desk was unbearable, and the US Customs and Immigration lines were terrible, although they let me cut ahead since I had a 10:20 AM flight.

That is, my flight was supposed to be at 10:20.

I huff it and puff it down to the gate w/ about thirty minutes to spare, knowing that they normally start to board flights 20-30 minutes beforehand. I get down there to Gate T, however.. and there is no status on the screen and no one at the desk. 10:00 rolls around, 10:10… no one. Finally, I query someone doing security and they told me they just found out that the flight was delayed. Mechanical problems in the flight departing from Dulles or something.

As it turned out — or what they told us — someone had mistakenly turned on the heat, rather than the AC in the cabin, and they had to de-board and let the cabin cool on its own accord. However, that may or may not explain what they told us, upon boarding, that the auxiliary engine was not working, and therefore we would not have AC before takeoff or after landing.

In any case, our flight was supposed to depart at around 12:45, and I guess we boarded around that point, but I dozed off shortly thereafter, but I’m guessing — and United’s website seemed to confirm this — that we didn’t leave until after 1:30, because I didn’t arrive at IAD until nearly 3:00.

Interesting observations on my way back.
* Guy sitting in the lobby whose otherwise short hair had a long strand a la one of Lucas’ jedi knights. My first judgement was to assume he was some sort of sci-fi geek, but I decided I’d better not be so rash as to assume this; perhaps there was some actual religious or cultural meaning to it, and that it just resembled the jedi hairpiece…. and then I saw his book. He was reading Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon.

Yep, sci-fi geek.

* As we approached landing, I was looking down at the busy suburban streets. As we passed over an intersection, I noticed that there were about four or five vehicles all lining up at a light — and all the cars were red.

* On the shuttle back to the main terminal, I saw some sort of letter callsign/identification/something on the side of a larger jet… I think it was Air Lingus. Anyway, the callsign was almost very close to dubious: “I-DEID”

In any event, it was a busy day… but a shutout in kickball was a good capstone, busted-up legs notwithstanding.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 12:16 am



Good Luck, Independence Air… glad to see everything seemed to go without a hitch today! You’re gonna face a lot of challenges in coming months — mostly from large, troubled airlines who would rather squeeze you out of business than change their business model from an age-old, consistently failing, government bailout model. Regardless, I’ve got high hopes, and wish you the best.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 8:43 pm


Back from old T.O.

Returned from Toronto last night, barely escaping, it seems, the 10cm of snow/ice they were expecting to start yesterday afternoon. All in all, it was nice up there – probably about 50-55ºF until the day I left, where it dipped to freezing.

We saw two movies… Cold Mountain, which was pretty good, and Love, Actually which wasn’t bad.. er… actually. The former film was quite nice, but I don’t want to talk a lot about it, should people decide they want to catch it. I did not at all realise that Natalie Portman was the one who played “Sara”, however, didn’t even notice that at all until I read it in an article after getting home.

The latter movie was pretty good for about two-thirds of the film, until it boiled down into the expected sappy mess, but the overall british-ness about it was terrific. The guy who plays “Tim” in The Office is in this film, and just about every scene containing him is quite funny, albeit for a very pointed reason. I wish we could’ve seen more of him in the film. Finally, while most of this movie’s plot took place in Britain, the target of the film was very obviously an American one, based on the numerous references to a “Merry”, rather than a “Happy” Christmas.

Food was terrific.. we did Chinese Hot Pot over New Years at the house of some of her family, and I always love that. We also went out to a fancy, shmancy Chinese restaurant near Richmond Hill or something, which came out to about $300 CDN for a few dishes that fed the entire family of 13 people or so. It wasn’t bad — and who am I to judge, considering it’s a fave of a bunch of my future Chinese relatives — but with the exception of a few of the dishes, I feel I’ve had better.

We took the mandatory trip or two to Harvey’s, which is probably one of my favourite fast food places anymore… wish we had them down here. We also went to what is quickly becoming my favourite eatery in Toronto, The Korean Grill House. Been there twice now, the first time being shortly after it opened sometime mid-2003. Tell you what, I like Malibu Grill and all, down here, when I want my meat fix, but for $12.95 CDN for all-you-can-eat, Korean Grill knocks the pants off of Malibu… and tastes a lot better, too.

Finally, we also ate a a little Mexican place whose name escapes me, but which was quite tasty, and quite conveniently located — right near my fiance’s apartment. She may complain about her “shabby little home”, but I think she’s in a prime location, if you ask me. Right across the street from a little strip of restaurants and shops which kind of have that (Virginia) Richmond-esque, “Strawberry Street” feel to them, albeit quite a bit more ethnically diverse.

I’ve said it like ten-billion times before, but Toronto is such a fantastic city…

Tags: , — cswiii @ 9:52 am



Me big Texan.
Me big, dumb Texan.
Me big, dumb Texan with lots of friends on plane.
Me wave around, show off Penthouse to friends on plane.
Me and friends drink lots of booze before and after plane.
Me and friends monopolise restrooms.

heh. Nah, the flight wasn’t that bad. The weather here today has been amazingly nice. It was like 90 in DC today, but about 75 here. Go figure.

I got to the airport and realised I was wearing the dumbest thing in the world: A Redskins shirt. It got me two comments, alone, at the supermarket a bit ago.

The second dumb thing I did was use my DC driving manners and flip some dude the bird who wouldn’t let me over when I needed to get over 3 lanes on the highway, within about 1/2 mile. He immediately slowed way down, even more. Eventually, I made my way over.

Sure was nice of him to reciprocate the favour. :)

Wondering what tomorrow will bring…

Tags: — cswiii @ 11:45 pm


This rainy weather is teh

This rainy weather is teh sux0rz :(.

Last weekend was a lot of fun, went down to the Raleigh area to help celebrate my Uncle’s 50th birthday. Much booze was consumed, many hot dogs and hamburgers consumed. One nice moment was when my (probably pretty toasted) uncle said to my aunt (his sister, not his wife), “You know, maybe I can be to Corey what Uncle Jack was, to me”. This won’t mean anything to anyone else reading this, but it was cool.

The drive back was amazingly smooth. I drove through Raleigh itself, and really think I’d like it. It reminded me of Johnson City, only a lot larger.

Beer was so cheap down there. The local bar (that actually loses money anytime my uncle throws one of his parties) was selling Killians for $2.25/bottle, and something else a slight step up, for $2.50. Compare that to the $5.00 Guinness and $3.50 Miller light I had last night at Carpool.

I do believe I actually see a bit of sunlight outside. However, the fields are probably too soaked for kickball today, the second week straight. Bleh.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 10:58 am


Some Toronto thoughts.

I may add to these as I remember them.

* Mamma Mia! is a really, really fun musical. You should go see it if you get the chance. I don’t particularly like much disco, but the way this was done was both unique and great.

* Dining at the CN Tower is okay; The food is decent, but not worth the price — good thing the seats came as part of a tourism package.

* The Queens Quay Il Fornello makes pretty good stone-oven pizzas, but their service leaves a fair bit to be desired.

* The new Korean bbq buffet place near Queen and University (or McCaul?) is fantastic.

* And finally… seeing a Chinese restaurant with a funny name (“HO KING“), made me giggle a bit. Seeing a quite (obviously) manly transvestite in a sorta slutty get-up, with hot pants and ‘revealing’ tank top made me chortle a bit. But seeing said transvestite leaving said Chinese restaurant was tremendously amusing.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 12:48 pm


So, it has been bitter

So, it has been bitter cold here in Toronto, the whole time I’ve been around. However, it seems all my fellow DC suburbanites are in for like a foot of snow over the next 36-48 hours.

Something is funny about that.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 12:25 pm


Went to “La Bodega” for

Went to “La Bodega” for dinner tonight, here in Toronto. Herbed goat cheese, mushrooms and red wine pear for appetizer, bordeaux and filet mignon in cognac sauce for dinner, and coffee/creme brulee for dessert… and a big surprise “happy birthday” dinner out of it all.

One of the best meals of my life, I think. I mean, the quality compared to other great place I’ve visited before, but just the environment, the meal, everything… now I know what Anthony Bourdain was seeking.

I love this city.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 10:51 pm
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