July 2007 Archives

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My good friend, and first dog "of my own" died today at the ripe old age of 12.5 years old. His name was "Cayman's Go Big Red," or Bucky for short. I got him in March of 1995, showed him for a year or so, and then retired him to household pet in 1996.

He was a Chinese Shar Pei and was extremely healthy, all things considered. He had a bout with "Cherry Eye" (or prolapsed eyelid) that required surgery and forced him out of show-life. He then had some ear problems, and when I moved into an apartment in Madison, he went to live with my Mom & Dad.

He stayed with them ever since, as my Dad grew fond of him and took better care of him than I ever could have. He was a great dog - a true friend. We'll miss him greatly.

Ok, just one more...

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And no, I'm not a "liberal" - just fed up with the way things are (and have been) going...

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What 'dubya thinks of the constitution

I always liked Russ Feingold (I drove a car for him in a parade back in 1990)

Oh please, oh please, oh please!

Surprise, surprise

This is what we get for relying so heavily on China...

More abuse... sigh

That's all for my ranting today...


In other news, Amy is back home visiting her family, and I hear they're having a good time, so that's good. I spent most of yesterday cleaning the house (did one of my infamous top-to-bottom cleanings, including door jambs, windows inside and out, baseboards, and so on).

I was also pretty busy today: cleaned the garage and basement, walked the dogs around the walking trail (2 laps = 3.6 miles), ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill, cleaned the yard (picked-up sticks, weeds, etc), mowed the lawn, trimmed, and then went grocery shopping. Oh, I also took all of the recycling stuff down to the recycling center, and ate dinner with Karl from work.

I'm a little tired....

It's hot.

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My lovely (and by lovely, I mean junky) New Balance 1400 treadmill gave me the slip yesterday, and as I was falling forward, I smashed the LCD with my hand, which then caused me to come to an abrupt and sudden stop, which then led to me putting more weight on the LCD, which then cracked, leaving my treadmill useless. It wouldn't power up, nor would it respond to any button pushes. I checked the "safety switch" and it was fine - apparently when the LCD cracked it caused a problem with the logic board inside.

Thankfully, I was near the end of my run, so I folded the treadmill up and went inside.

I needed to run today, so I headed out to the local walking trail. It's a 1.8 mile trail, with a few small hills. I walked for 1 minute to warm-up, and then got to jogging. I normally listen to audio books while exercising, and "pace" my speed by the author's tone. On the treadmill, this works out to a pace of about 6.0 mph (or, a 10-minute mile).

Well, today was my first day running without the treadmill, and it was HOT outside - 95F when I started my run. The trail has markers every 0.1 miles, and I noticed that I had hit the 0.5 mile mark really quickly. I looked at my stopwatch, and I was at exactly 4:00 minutes, 1 of which was my walking. I was basically sprinting... I thought I felt really out of breath...

Try as I might, I couldn't regulate my speed; I hit the 1.0 mile mark at just under 8:00 minutes (including the 1 minute warm-up). I have NEVER run a mile in 7 minutes - ever. Not even in high school... I don't fully beleive the markers are accurate - there's no way I could've really run that fast, but nonetheless I had impressed myself, but was at the same time completely spent and out of breath. I could hardly breathe, and my side was aching like never before. I wanted to keep going, but I started walking, and it took a good 2 minutes before I could get my breath again.

At exactly the 10-minute mark, I started jogging again, trying to force myself to keep the pace slow, but at the 1.4 mile mark my stopwatch read just over 12:30. I stopped and walked the remaining .3 miles (or so) and finished my "run" in 18 minutes. Ridiculous!!!! How the heck can I slow down and "jog" the entire circuit twice rather than sprinting it? I guess that's the downside to a treadmill - it sets the pace for you and takes the strategy out of a run?

I'm happy that I ran so "fast" but at the same time am mad because it was a crummy run. While in Detroit (aka "hell") last week, I was doing 30 minutes continuous on the treadmills at 6.0 mph. Today, I "ran" about 1.2 miles and was dying.

The good news is that I "fixed" the treadmill when I returned home. The display won't work, but at least I can manipulate the speed. Word to the wise - if you're looking to buy a treadmill, DO NOT buy a New Balance treadmill. Worst $1000 I've ever spent...

As you might have guessed, I was in Detroit last week, attending a training class. I'm not a huge fan of Detroit - I don't care for the city, and I've always dreaded going there.

Anyway, I got stuck at the Embassy Suites in Troy, MI, and wanted to share some of the beautiful ammenities this gem of a hotel had to offer. It's definitely a far cry from the REAL hotel I stayed at in Washington DC a few weeks ago... All photos are from my cell phone, as I didn't want to bring anything of value with me to Detroit for fear of it "growing legs" while I was off at my class...

Photo #1: Bottle caps

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I wouldn't normally take a picture of some bottle caps, but these two caps were in my room when I checked in, and were still there when I checked out six days later. There as also a dirty fork that sat on one of the tables for the entire six days, and some toenail clippings (I assume they were toenails) sat in the middle of the floor as well. There was also a dirty HVAC air filter that sat outside of my door for the entire six days.


Photo #2: Door Handle

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The door handles were filthy, and I can't even imagine what these stains on the bathroom door handle were, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was feces. I only say that because the toilet seat had a huge stain of something on the edge of the lid that I had to clean when I checked in. I bought some Lysol wipes and cleaned every imaginable surface in the room with them... the wipes turned grimey grey/black as I wiped the bathroom counters - it took 8 separate Lysol wipes to clean the bathroom counter.

The door handles and light switches were equally dirty and gross. I ran out of wipes before I could adequately clean all of the cracks and crevices of the light switches.


Photos #3 & #4: Ceilings

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The ceilings had rust and/or mildew all over them, which was really hard to photograph as my cell phone doesn't have a very good flash. I always wonder why hotels refuse to put ventiliation fans in their bathrooms, as I have to believe they would alleviate problems like this.

Speaking about the ceiling in the bathroom, the bathroom in this particular hotel had low ceilings - maybe 7-feet at most (I could easily touch the ceiling by reaching up and not fully extending my arms). There was a "can light" above the shower that didn't have any protective cover over it, so as you showered, the water would spray/splash up into the light opening. I worried about this, but my option was to either take a shower in the dark or to try and be careful not to splash water into the light opening.

As I was checking out of the Troy Embassy Suites on Friday, I overheard a gentleman talking to someone at the front desk about how the light above his shower "exploded" while he was taking a shower that morning, and that there was now glass everywhere in his shower. He also indicated that the housekeeping department had not made his bed for the past 3 days... surprise, surprise!


Photo #5: HVAC and more filth

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That's a shot of the air conditioning unit - note the dirt.


Photo #6: Remote control

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The remote control would only work if I held the batteries in place, as the battery cover was broken. It wasn't missing as I had originally suspected, but rather, broken - the release tab for the cover was still in place, and I could freely remove it or reinstall it. The batteries would fall out if I didn't handle the remote properly... Oh, and speaking of that - the TV's had two volume settings (mute and loud as hell). It was impossible to adjust the volume to any type of setting where you could listen at a tolerable level.


Other points of interest:

On Monday, June 9, a group of about 100 inner city teenagers moved in to the hotel as there was a 90-team basketball tournament taking place in Troy. The kids proceeded to run rampant in the hotel - the pool became unusable, the exercise room was destroyed (I found a half-eaten hamburger in the clean towels basket one day), and no matter where you went, there were kids bouncing basketballs everywhere.

The kids were chapparonned by maybe 5 adults, so there was little to no supervision, and as such, the kids would yell, scream, and bounce basketballs at all hours of the day/night. They also seemed to enjoy bouncing basketballs agains the walls and ceilings, as my room was constantly being "thumped" on its walls, floor, and ceiling.

I spoke with people in my class, and they indicated the same thing - the kids were unbelievably annoying and rude, and several of my classmates complained to hotel management who said they would "look into it."

Interesting side note: while I was talking with the restaurant manager (more on that in a minute), a security guard came over and mentioned to the manager that he would probably have to call the police again tonight, just as a safeguard as some of the kids had caused a massive fight in the lobby during the previous evening. Ahhh, the joys of youth - aren't kids great?


On Thursday, July 12, the Troy Embassy Suites played host to a large "gemstone" show, where "gemstone" dealers from all corners of the world convened on the hotel to pimp their wares. This meant that rooms were converted into storefronts, complete with large neon "OPEN" signs, music, display cases, special lighting, and all sorts of goodies like fake Rolexes, Mardis Gras beads, and polished fieldstones.

The gentlemen in the room directly adjacent to me were apparently from Asia and must not have adjusted to Eastern Daylight Time, as they began setting up their displays at around 2:00am on Friday. I got to hear them drilling, pounding, and yelling instructions to one another in what sounded like some dialect of Chinese from 2:00am until I checked out at 8:00am.


Finally, I had an interesting experience at the restaurant on my last night... because our instructor kept me and my coworker until 8:00pm, I missed the opportunity to join our class for dinner and had to eat at the Hotel. I was promptly seated and received a glass of water. The waiter took my order (Grilled Salmon salad, no dressing and a diet Coke), and headed back to the kitchen.

He brought out my diet Coke and noted that my water glass was empty. About 15 minutes later he brought out my salad and noted that both my water glass and diet Coke glasses were empty. I requested refills, but never saw him again - until my check came. He asked if I needed anything else, and I said that I could've used a refill on water and/or soda. He never came back.

So, I wrote in $1.00 as the tip (something I never do) and then made a note on the back that if he'd like a bigger tip, he should check on his customers. I noted that he couldn't have been overwhelmed with customers as there were only two occupied tables in the restaurant, aside from mine. I signed the bill and went back to my room.

About 5 minutes later, there's knock at my door, and it's the waiter. He's holding a blank copy of my bill and a bottle of Diet Coke. He says that someone took the first bill from my table, and he needed me to sign a new copy, and that I had left before he could refill my Diet Coke so he brought me a bottle. Nervous as to why he was in my room, I signed the check and sent him on his way.

I got to thinking about it, and it then occurred to me that if someone had taken my check, he'd have no idea where my room was, nor would he know my name. So I went back downstairs to the restaurant to talk to the manager and to explain what happened. The "hostess" told me there wasn't a manager on duty, but just as I was turning to walk over to the front desk, the manager came by and I flagged him down. I told him about the problem and he said, "That doesn't surprise me, and I'll deal with it. I'm sorry for the problem."

Apparently the waiter didn't want his boss to see my note so he destroyed the receipt and brought me a new one.

To anyone that has the misfortune to have to visit Detroit, my sympathies go out to you. And for anyone that has to stay at the Troy Embassy Suites, I can only hope you don't get mugged, beat-up, or catch a case of hepatits. If I ever have to go back there, I'm getting a bunch of shots before I go...


Oh, one last side note - the person I travelled with from work was awoken on Thursday morning by a mysterious "drip" from her ceiling. She called the front desk and they were supposed to send someone from the maintenance department to investigate. When we left on Friday, the ceiling was still dripping....

What's up?

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What's up everybody?


I'm back from Detroit, that's what's up! Awesome!!!

Study finds Al Qaeda has regained pre-9/11 strength.

Newsweek is about to publish an in-depth story about how Al Qaeda is stronger than it has ever been, and has settled back in on the Pakistan border and have more funding than ever before, thanks to new hatred toward the United States for its involvement in Iraq.

Iraq has been nothing but a major screw-up. It's diverted attention, time, funding, troops, etc. that we should've used against the real threats - Al Qaeda. In fact, the war has served as a training ground for terrorists, as the Newsweek article will also identify.

Oh, and Detroit stinks - I like this city almost as much as I like that arrogant, insane, egomaniac, moronic idiot in the white house.