Friday, July 10, 2009

My hairbrained scheme

In Alaska we frequently encountered paticipants in the Iditarod, amateur mushers, or others associated with the sport (it is the official state sport afterall). Having two Saint Bernards holding the floor down at home, I couldn't help but wonder how well they'd do in the race. Sure it's 1000+ miles and rather cold (-60 and frequent blizzards), but Saints were built for alpine conditions, and what's a 1000+ miles?

Saints were bred to rescue people in the alps, and one Saint, Barry, was reported to rescue over 2000 people trapped in blizzards, buirried by avolanches, or otherwise fucked over my mother nature. Having two Saints at home who are at home on the coldest of snow (-12 this year) validates the whole built for the cold aspect, but ours don't seem to be able to rescue too much before wanting to take a break (perhaps they're unionized Saints). Supposedly a Saint can pull as much as 2900KG, so maybe a few could pull a bunch more who are resting and then take turns?

Let's say I have some underachievers who can "only" pull 2500KG (over 5,500 pounds), that means a 200lb dog (a big Saint), could pull 27+ of his pals! Since this isn't easy to do for distances let's lighten the load and give him 10 buddies to pull, so he's only working about 9% of the time. To break the monotony, give him nine buddies, so 10 Saints pull another 100 and a musher (on a big ass sled). Wouldn't that be more impressive than a bunch of gnarly huskies? It would be like the Budweiser Clydesdales of the north. Maybe we could get a sponsorship gig?

Sure we'd need huge mounds of food for the 110 dogs, and there would be a bunch of big piles of shit everywhere, but imagine the possiblities. That beer deal would be the tip of the iceberg. Books, movies, video games, etc... It would be like Beethoven meets Snow Dogs meets Cool Runnings!

I got tired of copying and pasting sleeping dogs, but you get the point

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Planes, trains, and boats

In the past weeks, Liz and I flew on 6 planes, strolled through 7 airports, rode 4 trains, cruised on 3 boats, and rode on countless buses. We stayed in 3 lodges, visited 3 ports, traversed numerous biomes, and wandered through 2 Canadian provinces and one big ass state.

And this doesn't even sum up our journey!

Alaska was our primary destination, and we started off with two days in Fairbanks at the Princess Lodge (we booked our tour through Princess). There we embarked to excursions on the Riverboat Discovery III and the El Dorado Mine (both tourist traps, complete with gift shops everywhere--including the boat). The boat ride was particularly fun (we even saw a genuine red nosed reindeer!), and we really loved the folks in Fairbanks.

Next we boarded the Alaska Railroad (special 2-story panoramic cars for us) and headed down to "Glitter Gulch", the gateway to the Denali National Park. We stayed in another Princess Lodge, this one looking more the part, but also featuring that motel charm. There we sampled the hot tubs, enjoyed great food, and waited out the somewhat dreary weather. That afternoon of overcast skies gave way to a gorgeous morning, which was a fortuitous start to a wonderful day (ignoring the 75 minute late start). Denali is the name of the park and the mountain (well some debate the mountain's name), but most see more of the former and less of the latter. Denali being such a huge snowball of a mountain creates its own weather and usually is veiled in clouds, but our first glimpse of the mountain was nearly complete, with just a hint of a cloud. This was 12 miles or so into our 60 mile (120 roundtrip) journey. Before that glimpse, we saw moose, and shortly thereafter we saw Grizzly Bears, caribou, marmots, and a fox. Later still we saw squirrels, more caribou, more bears, and Dall Sheep. All along our journey, we were surrounded by beautiful vistas, clear skies, and lots of biodiversity.

By now we'd already gotten to know the larger than life nature of Alaska, Alaskans, and their heroes. It seems everyone had climbed Denali, raced the Iditarod, or both! Even the kids joined in, as they're expected to do recess outside until it's colder than -20f! Imagine being hit by a dodgeball at -20! School stays open no matter the weather, but parents can keep their kids at home at -50f. In Alaska, Paul Bunyon would be a smurf.

All of this and we were only 1/3 of the way through our trip! Another rail encounter delivered us to another lodge, the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge. We ate more great food, wandered through a swarm of mosquitos, and stared at the clouds wondering which one the mountain was hiding behind. We also drove by Wal-Mikes in Trapper Creek (think Wal-Mart meets Sanford and Son with an Alaskan flair) and saw another moose. Before long it was another time for train ride, this time all the way to the boat, but we caught a last glimpse of the mountain before our next trek.

This was our longest trip by rail, including some of the best views. We traveled along side some beautiful views of rivers, mountains, and swamps. We saw more Dall Sheep, quite a few out houses, and even Wasilla. We ended up our journey with a one lane/one rail tunnel to Whittier. Cars and trains take turns going through the 2.5 mile tunnel, and the two directions of traffic must wait as well--only in Alaska! Once we exited our tunnel, the big boat came in sight.

We've never cruised before, and I'm pretty sure Liz hasn't been on too many boats of any kind. After our cattle call boarding procedure we were introduced to Purell and lots of it. It seems you can't do anything on the boat without sanitizing before, after, or most likely both. Before long we found our room, met our steward, and tried on our life vests. Then we started exploring the ship. Our boat, the Diamond Princess, is a newer vessel, and a biggish (too big for the Panama Canal) one at that. Despite all this size it really seamed you couldn't go anywhere without either traversing the casino or the art gallery. Later we discovered you could also go anywhere you wanted if you were willing to wander across the pool laden deck, which was the preferred route, as it also housed the pizza, ice cream, buffet, and chocolate buffet.

We soon settled in, and the next two days were relaxing journeys through fjords gazing at glaciers and keeping an eye out for wildlife. I half expected to see whales and eagles, but certainly not as abundant as we saw. We also saw seals and porpoises. We even found the rare seagull that found the sea (as opposed to some Wal-Mart parking lot in Ohio or a landfill). As impressive as the sights were, the sounds were also noteworthy, especially the sounds of glaciers calving and crashing into the sea. In between the natural sights and sounds, we strolled into the casino, learned our lesson, and eat away our disappointment in one of the many four course (or more) meals.

The following days saw us arrive at Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan (all down south and far removed from the tundra we saw before). We previously arranged for activities in Juneau and Ketchikan, but Skagway was pretty much unplanned. We wandered through town, became bored of all of the jewelry stores (no matter how much the Princess infomercials hype the diamond deals, you're still in the US!), and wandered into a tour operator looking for adventure. We signed up for and got a Yukon Adventure. While Princess offered tours that go just enough into Canada to bring about the annoyance of passports and shit, they don't really go anywhere besides the edge of British Columbia (which isn't at all like Colombia btw). Notions of heading to the Yukon somehow seemed more entertaining, and the price was right.

After all the excitement of Skagway and our 100 mile trek into the Yukon, Juneau was a bit more subdued. Juneau, the capital (almost as big as Rhode Island and Delaware--combined!), is a small town (all that area and like 25,000 people), and it was a small town overrun by 7 big ass boats. Sadly it was foggy, so we didn't get to see much besides tourists, but we hear it can be pretty. We did get to see a one-eyed eagle, listen to Christian music, and almost give into the sight of a McDonalds and smell of Subway. Ketchikan was almost as uneventful, but the Coastal Wilderness Tour we booked brought us eagles, seals, and bears.

Soon time had flown so fast that it was all over, and we began to pack our bags, eat our last meals, and begin planning our next adventure. Many many more pics can be found here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Liz and Shane's Christmas Adventure

Somewhere between trend and tradition lies our habit of celebrating Christmas with our families on alternating years. Christmas 2006 saw my parents (and much to their disappointment their mild Florida weather) visit us in Columbus; in 2007 Liz and I make the trek to Sacramento; and now this Christmas past, Liz and I flew down to Jacksonville to spend Christmas (and Kwanzaa) with my parents. Much to my mom's disappointment, it was even warmer than usual (mid 70s, so no cranking up the AC just to be able to light a fire). It was however, a very nice experience, as we hadn't had the chance to see my folks since our wedding.

I won't bore you with flight details this time, and Christmas itself was pleasant, but not blog worthy, so we'll just start from 26th, the first day of Kwanzaa.  We headed off to Anastasia state park, where we wandered on the beach, taking in the salt air, scouring for shells, and taking snap shots of the scenery (where else does one find pickup trucks and pirate ships?).  We continued on to Vilano Beach for more of the same.  We began our seafood smorgasborg (like grizly bears we load up for a week and have to make do for months--due to Ohio's shitty seafood selection--without) in the afternoon, and for dinner we chowed down on 2lbs and 3.5lbs of crab legs respectively.

A couple days later we began our central Floirda sojourn by heading down to Kennedy Space Center.  Most Floridians are ambivelent to the space center, but I always enjoyed it (despite to too numerous field trips there), and Liz has never had the chance to go.  Fortuitously we thought enough to plan ahead (a day ahead) and reserve our tour, which in case the fortuitously comment didn't imply that they were sold out when we got there, lets just say they were.  Beyond that the place was fuckin packed, but we managed to make the most of it all.  I even surprised some Aussie tourists by squeezing in a Mercury space capsule, maybe Shaq has a chance to star in the remake of the Right Stuff.  After that we went on our tour with the overly passionate tour guide.  Dude really cared about his shit, and nothing quite riled him up like the differences between Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral.

We then proceeded to cruise on over to Orlando, where we had one of the worst hotel experiences at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.  Beyond being snooty, snobby, and pretentious, they were rude, inconsiderate, and downright dirty (FYI, I wouldn't recommend it to others).  That being said, we went to Orlando for Disney, and the hotel realy didn't matter.  In an attempt to get away from our "resort", we headed to Downtown Disney.  A friend of mine warned me that the week between Christmas and New Years is the most crowded week at Disney, and she wasn't kidding (Kwanzaa must be gaining in popularity).  The parking lots at Downtown Disney were full--all of them!  We managed to cut through some cones and luck into finding a departing car.  Somehow it never seems as crowded within the friendly confines of your (even if just a loaner or rental) car, and it was almost overwealming on foot.  Having spent the better part of a week in the Downtown Disney area, we knew our way around, and we managed to make the most of it, even if it meant being a couple minutes late with the Magic Kingdom fireworks (as seen from the Polynesian's beach).

After dealing with the huddled masses the night before, it was no surprise that the parks were packed the next day.  We started off by parking at the Magic Kingdom, and hopping on the bus to the Animal Kingdom (the Magic Kingdom was open to 2am and the Animal Kingdom closed at 8pm), and after catching a fast pass for Expedition Everest, we hiked to the safari ride.  There we enjoyed our first stay in line.  After that we headed over to the Bugs Life 3d movie thing, which was fun, and afterwards we took on Epedition Everest, which ended our time at the Animal Kingdom (we had seen almost everything in our previous visit--we'll do Nemo next time Liz!).  Craving Norwegian food, we hopped on a bus and headed for EPCOT.

Since we were planning on returning to the Magic Kingdom to close off our day and squeeze in the Hollywood Studios (no longer MGM) for Fantasmic and the christmas lights, we were essentially deciding to do all four parks on a day where it was so crowded at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT that they stopped allowing more new guests in.  What the hell, we're young and crazy, so why not!  Once we got to EPCOT, we wandered over to Norway, where there was a bit of a queue of people with reservations (many books 6 months prior), so we were gonna have to dine standby.  Unlike other Disney restaurants, Norway (a princess dining experience), seats in waves, and just about everyone has a reservation.  Stanby guests can get in when someone doesn't show up, and after a 40 minute wait, we got in.  We followed the line through, and got our picture taken with Belle, and then we were able to finally eat lunch.  As we ate many princesses (and non princesses, as Alice from Alice in Wonderland crashed the party) stopped by for photos and such, but somehow I still missed the old Norway experience: empty restaurant, buffet laden with stews, reindeer, and odd bits of pickled and smoked fish.  Oh well, the kids enjoyed themselves, and I was able to chow on salmon--a true win win. After lunch, we went on the revised Spaceship Earth, and then headed over to the Hollywood Studios.

We had two goals in mind for our trip the the Hollywood Studios: Fantasmic and the Christmas lights, but alas we needed to wait for night for both.  We ended up getting in line for Fantasmic about an hour and a half before the show, but at least we were able to sit for most of it.  While waiting, the crowd started busting out waves, fast waves, slow waves, and other nonsense.  The show was delayed for a bit, and we got even more waves--wahoo!  Eventually the show went on, and afterwards we saw the Christmas lights.  Had we not been supremely underwealmed with the light show at the Columbus Zoo's Wild Lights, I may have expected more.  There were lights--lots of them.  Thats it.  We then headed to the Magic Kingdom, by way of the Polynesian.  We barely missed the last train at the Magic Kingdom, so we had to brave the hoard of people waiting for the fireworks just to get to our intended destination, and before we got there we got to watch the fireworks.  Afterward we enjoyed fries, a sundae, and a trip to Pirates of the Caribbean.  Before long we were starting to get puckered out, so we made our way to the exit.  The damn parade was going on, but they waived people through to cross the parade during a break in the action.  Liz and I started across, I was waved forward, but she was held back, we were together holding hands, but so much for Disney family values.  Desperately wanting to leave, we pleaded, were waved on, before I was clubbed, ney clotheslined by some Disney employee asshole, who felt that we somehow were going to endanger the dude in the wolf suit twenty feet away--there wasn't even a vehicle coming!  Could he have quickly escourted us across, yup.  Could he have not waived us through a second before, yup.  Could he have told us to hurry, yup.  He'd rather clothesline me, and no he didn't even apologize.  I guess the show must go on.  Don't think I'll forget that one Disney.

All in all it was a blast, and we were able to sneak in a trip to a fish camp (hard to explain, but I've only seen such things in Florida).  I managed to eat bacon every day there, and we returned home to our wonderful furry family.  Who could ask for more?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Unmet Expectations

I've discoved that I expect too much from this world, and I'm slowly coming to terms with that sad reality. When I drive in a car with "automatic climate control", I expect it to know you're appoaching a dead polecat (skunk; not some stripper cat) and put the AC on recirculate. I also expect to be able to fast forward a DVR to points well into the future (I keep trying just to see if they slip that feature in). Isn't a 8:00pm football game on the East coast aired at 5:00pm on the west coast? Can't we keep going around the world so that I can finish March Madness in say February, with enough time to procrastinate and still get the winning picks to my bookie?

It should come to no surprise that my latest disappointment was so ... well disappointing. The culprit, Chocolate Lucky Charms. You see Lucky Charms was always a favorite of mine as a kid (it's why I grew so tall--kinda ironic since the leprechaun stays so small), and the notion of replacing those bland oaty bits with something like Cocoa Puffs or Cocoa Pebbles, well that's a match made in heaven--sorta a Count Chocula with all the magical Irishness of Lucky Charms. So why is it my hell?

The chocolate bits aren't chocolatey, rather they're just brown. Brown in color, but worse yet, brown in taste. You see when I close my eyes and think of the color red, I can taste Hawaiian Punch (Fruit Juicy Red), and when I do the same with orange, I taste McDonalds Orange drink. With brown, well I picture shit and a taste those oddly shiny crap nuggets that someone must have randsomed a leprechaun into putting in the box (better than giving up the pot of gold I suppose).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The opening act started off with a gong; it might as well ended with it.  Few opening acts ever really entertain me, maybe one or two more are memorable, and whoever they were last night, well they've been forgotten already.  I must be getting old, as I appreciate shows that start as early as a school talant show (especially if there's less talant) .  Fortunately the opening act started early, and even more fortunately they ended early.

Looking at all the lighting and electronic gear on the stage, things looked like this was going to be as much of a light show as a concert.   After a not too long intermission, NIN hit the stage.  NIN is Trent, plus whoever he drags along with him on that particular tour.  For this tour, Trent employed out of work Cenobites (not cinnabites) as his guitarist and basist.  One sported a boufant/mullet, and the other looked like a long lost member of the Hair Bear Bunch.  Is Trent Pinhead in disguise?

Things really didn't get going until several songs in, and with the overly nice (this is a NIN show--where's the angst) subdued crowd, they never really got to the usual rolling boil.  Before long, the screens decended, the lights got all weird, and the brown note montage began.  Experimental music and crap share a common thread, and there's a fine line betwix the two.  All in all it was kinda cool (thus it's experimental, not crap), but I thing I needed some payote or shrooms to appreciate it fully.  The giant touch screen Ableton setup was real cool however.

Once thing finnaly got rocking, Trent and co decended back to hell.  After the requisite pause, they returned--Hellraiser II!  All in all it was a great show, mostly because I got reunited with my old posse, which was a pleasant surprise.  Getting to see the redneck hobbits, now that was a bonus.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm a PC

I've always been a PC, though before that I was a Commodore 64.  I was the computer geek you made fun of in school, and also the one who helped fix your computer when it became cool to have one.  I didn't mind either role, and I kinda appreciated the latter, as it signified the accepance of PCs in our world.  I was becoming a bit more cool.

I've used Macs for 25 years, but I never felt at home with one.  I missed the second mouse button, an eject button on disc drives (they likely were before your time), and more than anything, I missed the ability to do stuff.  Underpowered and under-gamed, there wasn't much a Mac could do before it crashed.  Even when Steve Jobs came back iMacs and iPods gained conciousness, they were still underpowered and overpriced, but then things changed, almost as if the Mac went through puberty and grew a pair.  People began to see iPods as cool, and they opened up to Apple.  Apple finally had an operating system that didn't crash, and before long they became pretty PCs that could even run Windows.  Then they started to get cocky.  The Mac started taunting me with an endles stream of commercials, mocking me.  No matter what I watched, it was there, not quite as bad as those damned "Saved by Zero" commercials.  Couldn't the Dell Dude stand in for the I'm a PC guy?  Maybe they could just smoke a bowl and get along together, and not mock me?

This was all still rather trite and silly, as no one I knew and respected used a Mac.  Sure some people dabbled with one, a dirty weekend fling or something, but they showered up and returned to their true love, the PC.  That all changed this week, when my homie decided to take his Mac envy to the next level.  He looked, he touched, and he bought into the hype.  Couldn't there be a Cheaters style show for these circumstances?  Couldn't we just Punk him and shame him into getting a PC instead?  All would be forgiven, and maybe we could just down a beer and laugh about it.

You see it's not that he's a lame poser, wooed by style and marketing schtick.  No, he's genuinely cool.  Ladies like him, guys like him; he sings, he writes; and he can make a mean homemade jalapeno popper.  What's worse is that he's molding young minds, so we haven't just lost one to the cause, but maybe four!  Now whenever I come over, the Mac will be there, staring me down and saying, he's mine bitch.  I'll have to keep an eye out for a Bang & Olufsen catelog or  Scientology's dreaded E-Meter.  I don't even know if I can stop myself from slashing the tires on the Prius that he'll inevitably be crusing around in.

I'm a PC, and I'm just not cool enough for a Mac.  I'm off to take a long shower to wash away my shame.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What a bunch of crap

Every day I drive by and hear commercials for Big and Tall stores or departments in stores. Being both big and tall myself, I should be delighted that our crazy world cares so much for me, but no there is no delight here. Why? Well there are no such things as Big and Tall clothes. Like the moon landing and those odd one horned goats that Ringling Brothers tried to pass as unicorns, it's a fraud. What is it . . . really? A front for fat people, plain and simple. 95% of what they sell is designed for enormous sumo wrestling folks who can pull of Jabba the Hut any Halloween they're too lazy to try to dress up like old Marlon Brando. The other 5%, well that's just in case the circus is in town and some skinny stilt walker needs a new pair of pants. I suppose it could be a Big or Tall store.

I'm not alone. I imagine most seventeen year old gals are rather bored by Seventeen Magazine, and I know that the folks I see in Forever 21 aren't, and I also there's nothing innately American about American cheese. Don't even get me started with Waterbeds and Stuff, which should be called Bongs and Stuff, with the stuff being old dusty and moldy tobacco to go in all those water pipes. What happened to the truth? At least The Dollar Tree, still has stuff that costs a dollar (no trees however).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

hypermilers, damn you!

Ever be cruising along at a speed that actually gets you somewhere in a limited amount of time (unless you get pulled over) and have some jackass who's on the cruise control and putzing along slowly to use less gas get in your way? Those bastards are hypermiling, which is the lowest form of dorkiness--yes WoW geeks, you just moved up a notch, but don't let it get to your head, and no you didn't just level up. Anyway, those morons drive slow, tailgate, occasionally run red lights/stop signs, or even turn the engine off and cruise! All to save a few ounces of gas. Oh, they usually have a bunch of annoying bumper stickers all over the back of their cars (often none are on the actual bumper, aparantly they didn't understand the concept). If I'm going to be stuck beind some 1984 VW Golf diesel, I expect to see black sooty porn and not black sooty propaganda.

What's worse is that the nerds who write the OED, who are one notch above WoW players and two above hypermilers--unless they happen also to be in those other groups, decided that hypermiling is the word of the year. Kinda jumping the gun in mid November, eh? Anyway I was rooting for schadenfreude, which is my favorite word. I suppose it's not the end of the world, as I know sooner or later I'll be hypomiling (my word of 2009) and I'll get to watch some hypermiling jackass rear end a semi they're tailgating while their engine is off and their power brakes aren't so powered. Then I'll roll down the windows (keeping my AC on) and yell, SCHADENFREUDE! Don't think they make any hybrid hearses, nor have I ever seen any with any bumper stickers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My knight in slobbery fur

I haven't dropped off the edge of the Earth--there is one ya know! I've just been busy, lazy, and sore. I could write about being busy, but that's no fun, besides most of its work stuff, and I don't want to get fired. Writing about being lazy seems oddly hypocritical, and well that leaves us with sore. You see a few weeks back, my back, decided that it wasn't really my turn to load the dishwasher, and I was hammered with the lovely reminder that you're alive that is deathly pain. That and an inability to move (even more than that brought on by lazyness), and I was in need of help. For centuries we've all had the reliable, loyal, and slobbery rescuer available at a beacons call--no not that Life Call I've fallen and can't get up shit. You see most of us are beyond earshot, but some of us gluttons have them on the premises for moments like this!

Kuma, my knight in slobbery fur!

Before I knew it, I was being attended to, and for once not leaned upon, as Kuma was there for me to lean on him! He was like a big lumbering walker, which is more than I can say for myself, as I was just big and lumbering. Kuma led me to a more modern lifeline, my Blackberry, which brought Liz and then the wonders of Columbus' wonderful ER experience. I just wish Kuma had his barrel, as I could have just drank my way to good health and bypassed the ER. Or I could have just went to his vet, which could have been cheaper and offered a less feral waiting room. Good to know in case this ever happens again, and I hope it doesn't.

I'm fine now btw

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Feeding giraffes, rhinos, and mammoths

Day five of our epic California safari

It almost never got this far, as we arrived for our "10am" flight at 8:30--too bad it really was a 9am flight! Amazingly we ran, breezed through security, and luckily all was well. Despite a few minor calamities at rental car counters, over aggressive valets, and bum fights, we made it! Sadly these delays made us too late for the zoo, but we did get to go on a hippi safari in Balboa park.

We sought adventure on our first full day in San Diego, and we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Being on vacation we spluged on a African Photo Safari, where we got to drive amongst the gazelles, antelopes, rhinos, and giraffes. We actually got to feed giraffes, but the cutest thing was watching the rhino rub his itchy back on the truck we were in. Almost as amusing as the rhinos was watching the people and their interactions with the animals. Sadly we really wanted to feed the rhino, and that was another tour. We had a blast nonetheless.

Afterward we got to chill with Liz's peeps, eat great mexican food, and watch a shitty movie on an awesome TV.

Another day, another adventure. This time the San Diego Zoo was open, and the place is huge! We trek through the humble Columbus Zoo often, but this place is off the hook. The rate paths for novices, intermediate, and experts--some have warnings for those with wheelchairs. We hiked and hiked, and finally, we fould the pandas! Damn things don't do much. They're sleepy pacifists (the speghetti monster gave them the digestive system of a carnivore but they eat bamboo). During our journey, we passed three different meerkat enclosures, and a whole lotta pigs. We've never seen so many pigs (or types of pigs) in our life.

We still wanted to feed the rhinos, and that's where our next day would take us (back to the Wild Animal Park). The rhinos are absolutely adorable, and they just sit there and chow apples. Well, first we had to track one down, and after some coaxing, we were chucking apples into their huge heads. They're a bit bashful at first, and once they're full, its time for a bath (ever see a rhino roll on his back--we have!). The rhinos actually reminded us a lot of our big dogs.

All in all I took thousands of shots (see below), and he had a blast. We did everything we could have wanted to do, plus a bunch of fun work stuff (dinners, conference, and a hokey conferment ceremony). After all was said and done, we began our trek north. Along the way, we stopped at a favorite restaurant of Liz's, and I got a t-shirt for winning the Gamblers Challenge (eat a 35oz sirloin). Kinda sad a rhino gets some apples and I get a sirloin the size of a cat!