Walking in circles and mumbling will get me to come to your house

Two Hookers
Originally uploaded by JaseMan
HookerFest struggled to take place this year. First, there was our traditional January window of dates. Folks were committed; travel was purchased; hook-ups were arranged. The trip was canceled faster than you can scream, "SHIT!" J.T. mentioned something about safety concerns based on inclement weather. Alas, we truly are in the midst of becoming grown-ups.

Fortunately most folks, including moi, were able to accommodate the replacement date - a shift to the May 18th weekend. In fact, I built around this date. HF 7.0 was to be the anchor Ieg of the Great Texas Road Trip. I'd just bought a new tent and sleeping bag for this trip. Then work happened like it usually does. I had to be in Omaha on Monday morning, May 21st.

A quick scan of flight options, driving options and combinations thereof resulted in hope checking in online for its flight and taking a cab to the airport. I reluctantly realized what I must do - besides try to find an in-town gig. I had to tell the Hookers.

I scrolled through my contacts and hit the green button on El Spike. Three seconds of dialogue resulted in broken hearts in Alpine.


"Are you sitting down?"

"Oh, no!"

I had braced myself for disappointment on the other end of the phone but wasn't close to prepared for what ensued. JT sounded like I'd just backed over his dog and totaled his Jetta after telling him that I was no longer interested in car racing, camping, Ultimate or The Big Lebowski. Dazed, he handed the phone to his bride.

"You broke him, JB. He's walking around in circles in the living room muttering 'Omaha,'" said AmandaHug&Kiss. "I know what he's doing. I've seen this type of behavior before. He's trying to figure out the drive time from Alpine to Omaha."

I felt like shit.

I was in a daze of my own. The implications of not making it to HF were finally sinking in. I was ready to quit work so that I could make the trip. But, I didn't. I'm not supposed to quit until next Easter so that I can go to the final NTO get down at Paga 2008.

A flurry of "it's OK's," "it won't be the same without you," and "we'll do our own search for transportation options" followed.

That was Wednesday.

As I was driving to Daily Grind on Friday morning I read an email from JT that arrived on Thursday night. I called him at 9:30. By 9:45, I was booked on the Noon flight from Hobby to Midland.



My people have a body chop

My people have a body chop
Originally uploaded by JaseMan
After the Bolivian and I nearly drowned rescuing B. Whitley & Carie from HRL, we found the best Mexican restaurant in town per the Southwest lady, who by the way kept trying to whisk me away to Vega$. The body shop was next door to the restaurant. I wonder if they'll gimme a yob.


Free Advice: Deciphering the Friend Zone

While we were in Talladega, The Mic discussed the concept of wandering around in a t-shirt that said "Free Advice" as a way to meet folks and start conversations. Recently a FriendGirl asked me via IM to decipher the Friend Zone. I decided to share the transcript in hopes that it spurns folks, yours truly included, into action so that they're "expressing with their full capabilities."

FG: do you subscribe to the notion that if a guy hangs around a girl but doesn't ask her out, he's really not into her? this is on behalf of a friend. seriously.
JB: yes, or he is:
1. scared to F up any relationship
2. intimidated
some folks aren't mature enough to get asked out, say no and put it behind them
FG: that is true.
JB: i've done it (been the asker and askee)
FG: but then giving in and fooling around and then NOT dating/saying wants to be single is SURE to screw up the friendship
JB: twice with success
and many with discomfort
FG: Yeah.
I hear you.
JB: yeah. i agree. if you're going to do it, then you need to go in with 'this isn't a one nighter' mentality
unless both parties agree, which is rare, but that's happened to me too
i feel like Dr. Phil.
get your friend to listen to Thin Line by J5
FG: I appreciate it. : )
But the "intimidated" word - I HATE that.
JB: yeah. you should just ask the guy out
FG: What?!
But we are not talking about me.
JB: sorry
FG: Actually, I really was talking about a friend on the hookup part.
But I have been faced with similar situs.
Non-hooking up situs.
JB: 10-4.
it's common, i think.
and natural
FG: I am such a girl though, I can't hook up without getting all attached.
JB: who doesn't want to get involved with a friend
as in you're not going to date someone you don't like/can't relate to/can't be friends with
FG: Well, I hope not - you would be surprised however by the number of my guy friends who don't seem to be overly concerned about that.
If she's hot LOL.
JB: did we already talk about "Coffee Shop Analysis"?
FG: Eh
JB: KO. I really need to draw this up in power point.
it's currently on a xerox of a napkin
short story: debbie (close friend girl) and I were in CS (union square) and had a big discussion about attraction after i commented that the waitress was hot
this waitress was not one of the wannabe supermodel waif types
was a real girl from TN trying to be an actress
FG: oh man
JB: it's pretty interesting
FG: i am sure
i hate the friend zone.
JB: basically a sliding scale of about 8-10 qualities
friend zone sucks
but it's tough to escape
FG: i know. once you are in it's like death to get out
JB: i've only pulled the trigger on asking about a friend twice
once worked out well and turned into a decent relationship
then failed
but we're still close
FG: that is good!
JB: and it's not awkward
FG: that's awesome.
JB: the other time
crashed and burned
But, we're still friends
FG: ouffff
JB: i chickened out the thousand other times
FG: Yeah, I know.
At the end, you just think, well, it's always good to have good friends.
JB: yeah. i agree.
FG: Why is it so hard?!?
JB: but, i also don't want to be the next Tony Randall
FG: Heh heh.
You are telling me - all the guys who do actually ask me out are like 12.
JB: it's tough because when you have the guts, you're (aka I) am typically slightly tipsy
and when you ask some out or make some overture at that point, then the girl usually thinks
FG: Oh, he's drunk
JB: "he just wants to get in my jeans"
FG: Exactly.
JB: when he (I) am thinking, "wow. she's smart, funny & good looking. And, we get along well. I should ask her out."
"I'll ask her when we're tipsy so that I can 'joke' it away if it bombs"
FG: sometimes things only happen when both are drunk.
JB: i really need to make a shirt that says "Free Advice"
FG: But whenever I've done that, it very rarely turns into actual "dating"
Yes. : )
JB: i think the key is to DTR up front
JB: but sometimes an early DTR can scare the shit out of all parties
define the relationship
I so hear you on that.
JB: for example,
FG: It's like, how do you say to someone, hey, I could actually really consider you being a serious contender in the whole long term thing, to show them you are serious.
JB: just a sec
i met a girl just after i moved to austin
we hung out a lot
had a great time
met for a happy hour or two
FG: ?
JB: she then told me she had a boyfriend
after we went on more of a date
i was pissed, but she was cool
so we were friends
then about six months later
FG: Oh no!
JB: they broek up
and then we hooked up during a drunk moment
at the same also discussed that we'd like be better as friends
then hooked up one more time just to be sure
FG: that's pretty funny
well, you have to make sure
JB: then have been friends ever since
FG: wow. jason i think you are WAY more mature than me.
JB: so that's the way the drunk thing happens
and works out
i put on a good front
FG: I guess. I also think you are much better than I am at not letting your ego get the best of you.
I take everything very personally.
Not my best feature.
JB: yeah. i do, too. but i suck it up
and step back
and have some bourbon
and then try to be objective
and realize that you can't force anything with relationships
because if you do, there will likely be bigger issues if the whole thing doesn't just fall apart
FG: No, it's true.
this may become a blog entry
FG: oh god
JB: no names mentioned
don't worry
i can keep a secret better than a dead guy
FG: hee hee
JB: the moral of the story is:
FG: Yes?
JB: ask me out already, cuz i think you're stellar
and your butt looks great in those jeans


YGBFKM: Work interferes with another road trip

Great TX Road Trip
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
The Great Texas Road Trip has been canceled due to a work trip to Omaha. What the? How does this happen? I had reserved next week for vacation! I saw it entered in the system. Apparently it's good at taking reservations, but it's operators are not that good at holding the reservation.

This is not the first time that work has gotten in the way of my road trip aspirations. Remember the Great Western US road trip circa Fall 2003? No? That's cuz it got killed before it was launched by work. Remember the rescheduled Great Western US road trip circa Summer 2005? No? That's cuz it got killed before it was launched by work.

Here lies the Great Texas Road Trip. Dead: May 14, 2007. Born: May 18, 2007. R.I.P.

The request line is open. Call now.

My old cell phone started dying a slow death about 6 weeks ago after I dropped it in a puddle. What the? What happened to quality engineering? I guess that went the way of starting pitchers being expected to heave the ball for more than five innings.

ID_JudyAs the phone goes so do to the caller ID pictures and custom ring tones. All were lost when the replacement phone arrived. The Caller ID 2.0 pictures were relatively easy to reload since the cost is minimal. The ring tones are a different story. They actual cost. I'm a cheap bastard unless we're talking about vacations.

It's better to invest the $1.50 ring tone cost into long necks and valet parking. But if you request something good, I might just pony up the cashish.

I'm still laughing about JLe's request. And, uh, yeah, it's on the phone.


Top 5 Things I'm Trying to Figure Out Right Now

5. How many cups of coffee can one person drink before over caffeinating themselves to the point that their hand is shaking so fiercely that the next cup of coffee gets spilled before it can be consumed?

4. Which political party platform is most closely aligned with planks I hold dear: flip-flops, five weeks of bacation, free music downloads and recognition of Mardi Gras as a Federal holiday?

3. What career field, besides gymnast, offers flexible work location, flexible business attire and flexible hours?

2. Is gruntled a synonym for happy since pissed off workers are always disgruntled? And, is a "gruntle" something I can negotiate for more of at work?

1. How to get two million bucks in investment capital to start up the greatest restaurant ever. No, it is not a Hooters derivative.

One down, six to go

Can you see my tonsils?
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
Ladies & Gents, you may have experienced incredibly bad weather and lightning strikes this weekend and attributed it to something like atmospheric conditions. Uh, you'd be flat wrong. All that crappy weather indicated that the first of the seven signs of the apocalypse has been completed.

The Ambassador of New Orleans will now by Ombudsman of the Strawberry Patch. Big Dave has moved from New Orleans to Ponchatoula. Whatever happened ye old adage, "Big Man, Big Town?" I'll give you a minute to catch your breath.

It's taken me three months to digest this, but things really hit home when he called me from the cab of the moving truck on his way home. I was surprised he even got a signal way out there in the sticks. Didn't realize that Sprint PCS provided service in The Shire. Be sure to tell Frodo and all the other Ponchatoulian hobbitses that I said hi.

I wonder if this means the "New Orleans is Coming Back" magnets will be offered 5-for-1.


A Day of Research Proves Taco Bell Analysis Still Valid

Once upon a time, prior to the crazy gravy train job that I just finished, I was an uber efficient, ass kicking picture of productivity in my own mind. I could get things done without flinching. I'd not yet met a Gantt chart that I couldn't tame. I could multi-task. I could work 18 hours after having only slept on the train back to the CT after a wild night out in Manhattan. Some days I could even eat peanut butter on saltines and whistle. I was that good. I was sought out by peers for tips on being productive. Then came the my unstructured work assignment.

The position was everything I wanted. I could work from anywhere on the planet connected to the InterWeb. Work could be done at any hour of the day as long as deadlines were met. And, I was my own boss. Uh oh.

The warning bells sounded, "Alarm! Alarm! Alarm! Alarm! Alarm!" but they were drowned out by the hippity hop on my iPod. Procrastination loves lack of structure; it quickly took over my life like it once did in high school. I needed to find my way back to the path of efficiency and effectiveness that I once owned like a Schumacher owned Formula Un.

Today my closeted OCD reached an undeniable level. I could procrastinate no longer...right after I set-up an online game of Risk. I spent the better part of today figuring out how to be more productive at work. Super, right? The not so super part is that I didn't really accomplish anything worth while other than reading posts and articles on a lot of blogs and websites about how to quit procrastinating. The irony is stifling.

In the end, I learned what I already knew. In fact, most of it will seem like common sense to many of you, particularly my fellow CubeFarm nerds. I had done many of the Zen Habits and GTD stuff during my period of ass kicking. The key to any system for getting work done is to know what's in the queue, prioritize it and then attack it. Duh. I started doing this well in 2000.

The Y2K crisis was over for many gianormous companies during the closing months of 1999 as they had implemented solutions for the end of humanity by then. At least that was the case for the client to which I was assigned in January 2000. I can't disclose much except that the gig was high dollar and thus high profile. The burn rate was through the roof. Most of the engagement team logged over 300 hours that month; our small team neared the 400 mark. I had a starched shirt, razor and deodorant in my desk drawer.

We were still in the first few days of the engagement but work was slamming our team, the group responsible for finalizing the deliverables and presenting them to the client's CIO. We couldn't afford to keep drinking out of a fire hose or we'd all be toasted shells of ourselves. Our epiphany happened around 2 AM as we polished off dinner on some day ending in "y."

DL, BO and I were cleaning up the carnage of Taco Bell wrappers when ASJ, the man with three first names, told us to stop, have a seat, stay awake and take notes. From now on all of our Action Items (mmmm buzz word) would be color coded and prioritized according to the spectrum of Taco Bell hot sauces. And so it was.
Taco Bell Analysis Levels
  • FIRE: Critical path item that must be addressed within 2 business days. Definite integration dependencies.
  • HOT: Critical path item that must be addressed within 5 business days. May have integration dependencies.
  • Mild: Must be addressed within 10 business days. No integration dependencies.
We followed those general guidelines. The time windows may seem a little soft. You won't think so if the fire hose is on full blast.

Check out the following links for help with getting your work/life/stuff under control.
  • LifeHacker: an award winning blog about hacking technology and daily life tasks to improve your productivity. This is a daily read for me.
  • Getting Things Done: David Allen's site that is like Stephen Covey for net heads.
  • Zen Habits: solid productivity site that presents similar content to GTD, but in chunks that are more easily accomplished.
  • Jott: call an 800 number, speak and send email, i.e. create To-Do's on the fly
  • Creating a To-Do List via Jott & Gmail: a great tutorial on combining Jott and Gmail filtering & labels to get things done.

Alanis Morissette is jumping the shark @ Starbucks right now

I'm sitting in the newest Houston Starbucks (shut up) trying to get a bit of non-work work finished up. Fat chance. I know that coffee shops aren't supposed to be like libraries, but FOR THE LOVE.

Alanis is dying over the sound system. She just got finished with her Joss Stone meets Sarah McLachlan interpretting Natalie Merchant version of Isn't Ironic dontcha think?

It's not ironic. It's CRAP.

What happened to the pissed off girl who made Fiona Apple look like a well-adjusted teenager? I used to be scared to listen to Jagged Little Pill in the dark because I thought I might wake up with bloody sheet sans twig-n-berries. She used to be edgy, captivating and inspiring. Now I wouldn't be surprised to hear that she's filling in for Celine Dion in Vegas.

If this is what a "matured artist" sounds like, then please, please, please don't ever mature. The mature version of Hand in My Pocket is making Hinder sound good and that's just wrong on too many levels.

At least I've still got the boys.


Word of the Day: huh

huh - interjection. 1. a grunt articulated with a range of intonations to express surprise, disbelief, or confusion, or as an inquiry inviting affirmative reply; 2. a concise method of conveying "You don't say," "What the hell are you talking about?" or "You must be out of your fucking mind!"

The police officer told me that I could still get a parking ticket even though the meter ate my quarters. I was like, "Huh?!"


Talladega Nights: The Birth of a NASCAR Fan

No, I'm not talking about your cousin-in-law's baby sister's daughter's newborn. I'm talking about me. I trekked from Houston to Talladega Superspeedway last weekend to witness the spectacle that is NASCAR.

I wanna go fastHere's some context for you, the folks who didn't realize that I'm a racing fan. It shouldn't be a surprise. My dad's a gear head. And, my mom, who handles her pick-up like A.J. Foyt does an Indy car, says I've been in an hurry since I got here. I had a Richard Petty toy car when I was a midget. I blew adults off of the kart track in BR at 7 and drove a manual Honda Civic at 9. I've amassed a few moving violations since then and frequently daydream about a life as a race driver. Just ask JT how many times I beg him to start a rally team with me. So, when Mic emailed me about an extra ticket for his family's annual pilgrimage to the spring race at Dega (they've been ten years running), I confirmed in 8 minutes. That was nearly six months ago.

Serious NASCAR fanI've been looking forward to the race since I locked in the ticket. My enthusiasm manifested itself in many ways, mostly in the form of email to The Mic. What do I need to bring? How do I learn more about NASCAR? Do I need my own scanner? Should I bring my own tent? Which driver can I cheer for without getting beat up or crowding the bandwagon? I thought a Lucky Dog was something to eat? What are we going to do for two days at a campsite in the middle of nowhere if the race isn't until Sunday?

That last question was slightly rhetorical in that I thought that I already had a pretty good idea about what was going to happen. Wrong. I had no idea. My first thought was constant beer drinking followed by a search for a clean potty with a view bites of stadium food mixed in was correct, but that was just the tip of the ice cube.

NOTE: Reader beware! Disturbing tales follow. However, you may still find yourself pricing flights to BHM for next year's race.

Day 1

A sea of trailersThe Mic got me up-to-speed after graciously picking me up from the Birmingham airport, which delayed his beer drinking by 90 minutes. I was still giddy from excitement after finally being paroled from the SWA circus on my plane. I seem to recall vague notions of things like "redneck Mardi Gras," "you're not going to believe...," "boobs come to you," etc.

Little D, The Mic's oldest brother, met us on the highway, gave us our tickets and led us into the campground. This ain't the KOA joint that you used to go to when you were a kid. The camping area across the street from the track stretches for a solid mile and is at least a quarter mile deep. We encountered many a "yeah ha" and a few taunts - I was still in my CubeFarm garb - as we made our way to the camp site.

Tough crowdThe place was packed. Every square inch of camping space was occupied by every sort of vehicle and camping mechanism on the planet. Fortunately Little D and posse arrived on Wednesday to stake out the same spot they've occupied each of the past ten years. Good thing. Race fans continued to arrive throughout the evening in school bus RVs, tour buses, pick up trucks and semi tractors. Late arrivals were forced to run laps around the site in search of clear patch or a kindred spirit.

Little D assisted an elderly couple with parking their mini van behind one area of our site because the gentleman is a Jeff Gordon fan; Gordon fans catch shit from everyone no matter how old they are. Talladega is Dale, Jr. territory after all.

I continued gawking as folks continued poured into the already packed house. It was like someone had dumped a gallon of water into a bucket of NASCAR gremlins. "Holy shit! That's a lot of people," said JB, Master of the Obvious, which elicited, "Just wait til tonight when everyone is cruising around in their trucks," came the reply.

Huh. People still do that? Are they going to set up a Taco Bell in here so that all of them can go hang out in the parking lot and act cool and stuff? Nope. But, stripper poles were abundant; we'll have to come back to that.

The Rand Man loves him some dirt trackThe Mic, Little D and I headed over to Talladega Short Track to catch some dirt track action. The only I knew about dirt track racing at that time was that Kenny Rogers did it in Six Pack. I learned a lot during the next few hours. Ear plugs are key. One should wear a hat to keep the Bama mud out of one's afro. It is unlikely that you'll get a clean shot at a car since there's enough dirt flying through the air to fill up the Grand Canyon.

Day 2

The Busch Series race (Aaron's 312) was Saturday. As I understand it, Busch is like the Triple A of NASCAR. It's the same track and the cars are similar. Many of the Nextel drivers race in this one, kinda like pro NBA players playing in the Olympics.

The race was really exciting as far as minor league action goes. Kyle Busch, not the driver you name when asked for your favorite driver by a potential client, totalled his car after Stewart nudged him. He hit the wall and slid down the track on his roof before rolling about six times once his car hit the grass. The it caught on fire. He hopped out of the car and waved and rode off in the ambulance. He raced on Sunday, too. He wrecked again. I bet State Farm drops him. Anyway, Bobby Labonte end up winning and was followed by Tony Stewart in second.

Saturday night brought a heightened level of debauchery. Boobs (tits and dorks) paraded down the street. Like Mic said, they came to us. But, I'm not so sure that was a good thing. For example, there was one lady who was built like a lineman and would release her twins if she felt you look in her direction. No way that just happened. We decided to stroll through the campsites to easy our troubled eyes.

As I mentioned, stripper poles were sprinkled throughout the maze of trailers, tents, kiddie pools and Camaros. Poles in search of dancers. I thought the dudes hosting the poles had watched Field of Dreams a few too many times. Where in the Wide World of Sports were they going to find chicks to dance? I'm dumb.

We rolled up to "Live Nudes," a place our Friday night scouting party had located, and joined the throng (tee hee) of guys and girls craning their necks to get a look a the dayncers. There was a lady in a Marine officer's hat gyrating semi-rhythmically around the pole as another lady teamed up to put on a show. Imagine a bad prom scene from an 80's movie where two white girls are "dancing" with each other. Light on sexy. Heavy on awkward.

The Marine left the stage, but the her friend kept at it. That's when things got interesting. Spectators had been throwing beads and some money at the stage for a while. Then some jackass threw a beer bottle. The party ended with the MC promising $200 in reward money for information leading to the ass whipping of the bottle tosser. Check please.

Day 3

Gettin our $8 worthSunday morning arrived on time. Breakfast was light so the Rand Man and I vowed to attack some eight dollar turkey legs at the track. I lost the rosham and had to pay for the turkey legs. Here we are getting our $8 worth. Mmmm - turkey legs. I can still taste it if I burp just right.

The Nextel race was more impressive than the Busch race. The cars were faster, louder and faster (yeah, I know). It was evident that the drivers were more skilled and somewhat more conservative as well. I found myself in the midst of a nap late in the race when everyone was driving around in a single file line. They got around the track in a hurry, but no one wanted to challenge Jeff Gordon, pole sitter and lap leader.

Having a scanner made this type of racing bearable. We were able to listen in as Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton and other drivers worked with their spotters to form short lived alliances so that someone could try to unseat the 24 car.

In the end, a caution flag came out and broke the monotony. Gordon ended up winning but not before the field tried to reel him in. Tony Stewart was wrecked as he made a move to the high side of the track coming out of Turn 2. He was not shy about expressing his disappointment in not finishing in the Top 5, which he would have had the accident not happened.

Oh, well. Sometimes you eat the bear. And, sometimes, well the bear, he eats you. I guess that's racing.

Will I go back next year? Hell, yeah. Faster that you can say, "sumbitch." I hear tell that there may be a plan to visit Texas Motor Speedway in the Fall. I'm in.


New era ushered in at Minute Maid Park tonight

View from 207 @ The Juice Box
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
Today is the day that I watch a game at The Juice Box as an official Houston Astros fan. DFT made my day when he called this afternoon offering a ticket to tonight's match up versus the Reds.

As I've said before, you can't actually be a homeowner in town with a ball club and not have that team be your team. This doesn't mean I don't love the Cubs anymore. It does mean that I will own an Astros hat for the first time in my life. I hope they make 'em in gianormous.

Let's hope the Astros' bats are inspired tonight after the shellacking that got laid on them last night.


BREAKING NEWS: Fletch Available on DVD

Great Odin's raven! I returned from Redneckia to find that Fletch is now available on DVD according to NetFlix. This is equivalent to astronerds discovering a new planet or hippies developing a version of patchouli oil that masks their B.O. but doesn't singe bystanders' nostrils.

Shitchyeah. I can't wait to catch up with the Underhills, Jim Swarthau, Marvin, Velma or Provo. Has anyone seen Sally Ann Cavanaugh?

Gentlemen, update your queues! It's all ball bearings these days.