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Chasing The American Dream

October 30, 2005


Sunday, 10/30. 6:41 a.m.
The sun’s up early today. No more Daylight Savings Time here in the East. I decided I’m going to make my first gas run after scouting out a gas station in Weston yesterday. My drive over to Weston has convinced me that things are still abnormal. I’ve never seen so many police cars on the roads. They all have their lights going. Maybe this will be the next ‘in thing.’

I spot my gas station. It’s open and there’s a line, but it’s not too bad. Probably less than a half-mile which, these days, is outstanding. The line is moving slowly, but at least it moves. It only took 30 minutes to get to the pumps. There is yellow tape and cop cars awaiting me. “Cash only, pay first,” they say. No problem; I’m elated. I only need a ½ tank, but it feels good seeing the needle on ‘F.’ I can make it to Thursday night now. It costs me 90 miles per day commuting to work and back. Maybe by Thursday, the gas crisis won’t be so bad. Heck, I might as well take advantage of Weston’s hospitality. I’m going to go grab a bagel.

7:12 a.m.
Aaah. This time, they’ve got bagels AND cream cheese. Food tastes so good now.

7:37 a.m.
This morning, I decided to give up on the Camp FEMA thing. Ice only lasts me a day, and it’s a pain in the ass to wait in line for the *possibility* of getting it. So I’m done with my only luxury. But then I started thinking. I’m in Weston, they should have ice by now. So I’m off to get ice..

7:40 a.m.
Ice heaven. They’ve got a pallet right in the middle of the store. I’m grabbing two bags, a newspaper, and some strawberry preserves. And the hell with that low sugar crap, I’m going all out for the regular stuff!

8:06 a.m.
On my way home, I pass a trailer park. Trailers in Florida should be outlawed. They’re no match for a hurricane. There is yellow tape and cops all over the place. Most homes are severely damaged; some homes are just piles of rubble. Sad.

No plans for the rest of today. I’m gonna study chapter 6 and go run later. It’s gonna get dark at 6 tonight. Man, everything grinds to a halt after sundown. There aren’t many residents here, I’ve noticed. I guess they had friends/relatives in Weston or Dade County where there is power. Work tomorrow. I wonder if they’ll recognize me with my new hurricane beard? Believe me, it’s not a good look for me. But I’ve decided I’m boycotting shaving and car washing until the power gets restored. The paper today says November 15th for Plantation. Can you imagine another two weeks of this? That’s a lot more cold showers. Brrrr.

Tomorrow night is Halloween. I think Plantation has canceled it due to no power. What a shame for all the kids. My plans got canceled, too. The Death Cab For Cutie concert is cancelled. The boys are now playing two sets in Orlando. A lot of good that does me. Damn you, Wilma.

3:54 p.m.
I’m studying chapter six and incredibly, I see my lamp light up! I let a scream out. I’m not sure where it came from, but now I’m hearing a bunch of happy screams. Houston, we have power. I only wish the rest of South Florida can be restored as quickly as possible and ahead of schedule. We have a long way to go before things are completely back to normal. I’m glad I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Literally.

October 29, 2005


Saturday, 10/29/05 8:00 a.m.
I'm here at Starbucks writing and posting away, iced coffee in hand. No power at home, but life is good.

6:03 p.m.
I'm posted out. You're caught up. I see a Pei-Wei restaurant which, I think, is a fast food version of PF Changs. I'm in. I got an email that there will be work on Monday. I'll keep you posted.


Friday, 10/28/05 7a.m.
Forgive and forget. I was never good at either of those until I made a conscious effort to change. Nowadays, it comes more easily to me. So I forgive you, FEMA. So I win at the forgive and forget thing, but I may lose out on the, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me,” deal. I’m off to get ice at Camp FEMA…

Getting up early has its privileges. I’m the eighth car in line. I took a look over across the park and saw the big trucks and the military vehicles so it looks like Camp FEMA is still operating. I just asked the guy ahead of me if he knew whether or not they were actually going to hand out ice and water. He didn’t know. I turned on the radio and got confirmation that, yes, FEMA was handing out ice and water. Now comes my favorite part of waiting in line, sleeping.

I think of all the hardships, if you call all this hardship, sleep is the most difficult thing I’ve faced. For the last 22 months, I’ve had to fall asleep with the TV on. It started because the quiet was driving me mad. My brain was on overload and buzzed with a million thoughts. The couch and the TV, oh and eventually some meds, cured me. It’s too quiet now. My ears are getting sore from the iPod earbuds. So my best sleep comes now, waiting for ice in my car in the middle of 54th street…

8:12 a.m.
A ruckus wakes me up. The lady behind me is screaming that some cars are trying to cut in line. I give her the look like, “Hey, you woke me up; and besides, do you really think there’s something I can do about that?” My eyes shut…

8:22 a.m.
Short nap. Cars are starting. The cops are opening the park gates. I’m thinking I might just get outta here early for a change. We slowly roll into position; we’re split into two lines so I’m the 4th car from paydirt. For the first time, I focus on Operation Ice and Water. There are pallets and pallets of what looks to be gallon water jugs and individual bottled water packs. I don’t need water, but the bottled water would be nice. There are tons of people standing around not doing much. The cops are in black, FEMA staff is (or is it ‘are’?) dressed in yellow t-shirts, and the National Guard are in their traditional fatigues. There are army tents and those camouflage army jeeps. I’m trying to process all this. I’ve seen this in the movies. I’ve seen it in New Orleans after Katrina. Somehow, I just never pictured myself in one of these scenes. So I watch and wait…

9:08 a.m.
Well, they said, “Opens at 9,” and they weren’t kidding. What’s disappointing is that they could have started at 8 from what I could see with all those people standing around. So NOW, everyone is springing into action. The plastic is coming off the pallets, and everyone is moving into their strategic military position. The cops stand at car #1, and FEMA and the Guard man the ice and water stations…

9:18 a.m.
DHL 18-wheelers are arriving and blocking our way. The other line is moving; we’re stuck…

9:25 a.m.
The trucks move out of the way and the cops tell me to pop the trunk. I slowly roll toward the line. Before I could even say anything, a yellow-shirt throws 3 gallon jugs of water into my front seat. A split-second of panic hits me. No, not because I didn’t get the water bottles. The ice! I ask a Guard where the ice is and he points to the big yellow DHL trucks. 10 a.m. he says. Oh my god people, was I steamed! So the people behind me get ice, and my reward for arriving early is no ice. Hmm, all’s fair in love and war, I guess. And this is a war, right?

9:27 a.m.
I decide that since I’m out, I’m gonna make my way over to Richville otherwise known as Weston. There is lots of money in Weston as I’ve said. Most residents lost power for only an hour. I heard on the radio that their stores are fully powered and are selling refrigerated items and ice. I figure while I’m there, I might return to the Bagel shop and try my luck again. My mind freezes for a second because I see a strange sight. A green light. Out of habit, I slow down to stop but notice cars are going through the intersection normally. Another green light. Wow, these people have it made. I stop at the first grocery store I see. No lines. No ice either. The store manager tells me 3 p.m. I walk back to my dirty hurricane-blown car. It stands out like a sore thumb. The fancy cars in Weston are all clean somehow. No sign of a hurricane. I guess having power and water gets your car washed. Nice. Next store. Like the other one, it’s wonderfully air-conditioned, clean, refrigerated items in their coolers but no ice. Exasperation. I’m going home.

10:03 a.m.
My growling stomach reminds me hunt for the bagel. My memory tells me that three years ago, when I worked here, there was a Dunkin’ Donuts down the street. I’m thinkin’ Iced Coffee over a bagel so I turn right instead of left. So far this morning, I’ve seen all of two gas stations open. You can tell their open by the miles and miles of cars waiting. Insanity. One of these lines is blocking my way. I can’t get to DD. Now I have to make a U-Turn. I don’t know why I did, but I took a look to my left and there it was. Starbucks. My elation was quickly tempered. I told myself not to get too excited. Iceless ice stations, iceless grocery stores, bagelless bagel shops, hell, it may not even be open and even if it is, who knows what they’re actually selling?

First clue, cars in front. Good sign. Second clue, guy coming out with two coffees. At least their serving. I’ll take anything. There’s one person in front of me. One. I must be dreaming. My turn. “Do you have ice?” “Yes.” I’m in shock and can barely eke out, “Iced venti, iced coffee unsweet.” I’m so excited, I can’t stand it. I ask the Barista how long have they been open, and she tells me 5 minutes. I smiled. Luck is changing. I fixed up my iced coffee and took a slow sip. I think the last time I had a smile this big was when I last saw Andy in July. Mmm, did that taste good or what? Thanks, Weston.

11:30 a.m.
According to the paper, only 25% of Broward residents have power. As a reward, our curfew has been relaxed from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Party on.

7:00 p.m.
There’s only so much PB&J one man can take. I need something else. I’ve walked by that gross Chinese place for 5 days now. There’s no power, I don’t know how they’re doing it, but I’ve decided to go for it. The place is pitch black sans a few small candles. There are guys cooking back there. How they can see what they’re doing is beyond me. The guy in front of me asks the Chinese woman how they are keeping their food cold. I turn to the guy and tell him that some things are better left unsaid. I suppose if the Shrimp with Garlic Sauce gets me, they’ll strike it up as a Wilma death. I’m so hungry I’m shaking. I open the brown bag to find my food, not in the traditional Chinese take-out box, but in a nice plastic-domed bowl. The white rice was housed in the little box. I took a bit and for one thing, it was piping hot. Hot food! Excitement! Now I’m sure if I came back a month from now, I might think the food tasted horribly, but the Shrimp tasted like Lobster to me. It had flavor, the veggies were crisp, and the sauce was nice and spicy. I’m in heaven. Hot Chinese food and an Iced Coffee from Starbucks. Can it get any better than this?

8:00 p.m.
Man the flashlight lantern and the vanilla candle. Time to study. My last quiz, I only got 65%. I need 75 to pass.

3 a.m.
Chapter studied. I got 36 of 48 questions right. 75% right on the money. Gotta sleep now. I’ve got a date with Starbucks in four hours…


Thursday, 10/27. Noon.
I remember, oh about four years ago, hearing a familiar noise. I looked up into a clear blue sky and saw the contrails. An airplane. It had been quite some time since I’d seen one. It was great to see. One step closer to normalcy after the 9/11 disaster. I got that déjà vu feeling today hearing the roar of a jet engine. Looking up into a clear blue sky, and seeing the belly of a Jet Blue aircraft. It’s only been four days now, but it’s one step closer to normalcy.

There are a couple of cars on the road, grocery stores are open, and non-Wilma programming can be heard on the radio. I even got to read a newspaper. Normal things. But normalcy around here is far from reality. The newspaper headline reads, “WHAT A MESS.” I would have added an exclamation point. 2.2 million people in Dade (Miami), Broward (Ft Lauderdale), and Palm Beach (West Palm) counties lost power. 900,000 in Broward where I live. After day three, a measly 24,700 Broward customers got their power back. That’s about three percent in three days. Miami is getting all the attention. Hundreds of thousands of customers in Dade got power back. Even Palm Beach, which had 300,000 less outages, has had three times more power restores than the red-headed stepchild known as Broward County.

FEMA continues to confound me. You’d think that after Katrina, there were plenty of lessons learned. Lesson number one HAD to be better planning, right? Apparently not. Despite a true-blue dead-spot on forecast by the National Hurricane Center, FEMA has once again dropped the ball. I mean, they had the forecast track. They knew approximately when and where the storm would hit. You’d think they’d be ready to drop the green flag and go as soon as Wilma blew out to the Atlantic. But no. Water was late, ice was late, their trucks got lost, their trucks hadn’t enough gas to get here. People have waited all day for ice and water and come away empty. Sure, eventually FEMA got it right. Or did they? Yesterday, we waited for them to show up while the ice melted.

Today, I tried the same routine. Woke up at 7 a.m. and got in line for ice and water. I was way up in the front this time. Shoot, after a day’s practice I should be free and clear by 8 a.m. I waited and waited. At 8:20 a.m., a police car slowly rolled down the street while a cop announced that there was no ice. Water only. I left the line hearing people screaming. I had to laugh. What a joke this all was.

Even more scarce than ice is gasoline. I saw what looked to be open stations. My only clue was that there were cars miles long waiting. No, things are not nearly normal around here. I’ve been walking mostly, saving my gas, but since I was out for an ice run, I took a 10 minute drive to Weston where power was supposedly almost 100% restored. Weston is a wealthy neighborhood. Is this why they got power first? No comment. I’d heard that they had open Baskin-Robbins and Mc Donald’s and that their grocery stores were selling cold goods. Plantation’s stores still had no power and sold nothing cold. Well, you know what I was searching for. Nothing could have brightened my day more than an iced coffee from Starbucks. But I couldn’t find one. I got excited just to see an open bagel shop. After three straight days of PB&J, I was ready for something ELSE.

I ran into the shop only to find they were selling cookies. No bagels, no cream cheese. The hell with that. I decided to go back home. I thought my luck was finally turning. I saw one of those look to be open gas stations, and the line was fairly short considering what I’d seen earlier. The line was even moving fast. Too fast, I thought. I decided to get out of the car and ask if anyone knew if they were really selling gas. There was a lady walking back with a frown on her face. “No gas. The little store is open but no gas.” Well, that figures. Heck, there were cops there. I figured they were there to make sure no one cut in line. Maybe Bea was right about bad luck with the Lost lottery numbers? I told passers by that there wasn’t any gas. I watched them. No one believed me. Off they went to sit in a phantom gas line. No, things are not nearly normal around here, and from the looks of things, normal is a long time coming.


Wednesday, 10/26/05

7:00 a.m.
Up early to get ice and water from a FEMA sight. The ice from my freezer is all but gone now. It's the only luxury I have. I creep my way along the traffic light-less roads. Every intersection is an accident waiting to happen. Oh my god, look at all the cars waiting in line. It is 7 a.m., isn’t it? I mean, they open at 9! Yes, panic is in the air.

7:45 a.m.
A policeman is yelling through a megaphone to follow the car in front of us. We’re locating to the back of the park. Now what? I guess we wait.

8:20 a.m.
They’re opening the gates. Maybe FEMA has learned from its apparent mistakes from yesterday?

9:00 a.m.
Still no movement. A guy two cars in front of me says all the ice and water is there, but FEMA officials haven’t shown up. You mean to tell me the cops don’t have the ability to hand the stuff out? Now the radio is saying they should be passing the stuff out and not waiting for FEMA. Good grief.

9:20 a.m.
Finally, we’re moving and I’m going next. 3 gallons of water and two small bags of ice. As I leave, I see the line has more than quadrupled. Patience people. You’re gonna need it.

10:47 a.m.
I see my neighbor Joe and tell him about the ice. He asks me the details and I fill him in. He says he needs water so I offer him a ride to the store. Joe is 65 and has diabetes and doesn’t walk very well. The smile on his face alone make it all worth while. I drop him off and tell him I’ll pick him up in an hour. He’s forever grateful.

12:15 p.m.
I pick up Joe and help him lug the two cases of water he bought up the stairs. I’m feeling happy I can help out.

The radio continues to say Plantation has no power and to boil your water. Can anyone say Oxymoron? My sister has been calling my work hurricane hotline to see if I'm working everyday. Something tells me there will be no work this week.

7:00 p.m.
Curfew. Everyone is supposed to be off the streets. I guess most aren’t used to the concept quite yet as there are tons of cars on the road from my vantage point. My ice has already melted despite it being in a cooler. Looks like I have another date with FEMA…


Tuesday, 10/25/05 8:30 a.m.
Different. Things are most definitely different. I walked outside. I’m guessing it’s around 65 degrees and there’s not a cloud in the sky. I guess Wilma sucked all the heat and humidity out of South Florida. I’m bored as hell; I’m taking a walk to see if anything around here is open.

It feels surreal. A beautiful day yet there is destruction everywhere I turn. Every step I take is calculated. Downed power lines, broken signs with twisted metal, shattered glass from street lights and lamp posts, mud pits, snapped and broken branches impeding my path. The neighbors are out. Staring. Probably wondering like me, “Did this really happen?” I’ve lived here for nearly two years, yet I know no one. But I’ve met more people in the last 24 hours than in all of those months. Everyone is friendly now. We all say, “Hi how are you,” to each other with friendly yet pained smiles. It’s a lot like the holiday season when all of a sudden people become outwardly happy and friendly. Why? Maybe because we all have time now. There’s nowhere to go, no one to see, no reason to get in the car, no jobs to go to because they’re all closed. So we take time to say hi. I think that’s a good thing. Shame it’s the exception rather than the rule.

I’m leaving the friendly grounds in search of a newspaper. As I walk, I’m noticing how widespread the damage is. There isn’t a tree in sight that is unaffected. There are no traffic lights. They all blew away. Intersections have become dangerous four-way stops. At least that’s supposed to be the rule, but some people zoom their way through without stopping. I’m wondering how the hell I’m gonna get across the street? Certainly not the conventional way. I guess I’m going to walk against traffic in the middle of the street. Surely they’ll slow down. Two days ago, I would have surely been run over. Strange guy walking in the middle of the street toward busy traffic. But it’s different now. People understand. They’re slowing down and waving me across the street. I made it. Unheard of.

I reach the parking lot. It looks like some sort of wasteland. Downed trees blocking all conceivable routes. Broken signs dangling by the thinnest of wires. Stop signs flattened. No power anywhere. Nothing is open. The sight of my Starbucks closed saddens me. There’s a news chopper overhead surveying the damage. I wave my hat to them like they can really see me. Who knows, I might have just made the local news. Cars carefully negotiate through nature’s obstacle course. I walk back home. My neighbor tells me he got a flat tire riding over a stop sign. I notice he’s carrying two gallons of spring water. He says Publix (grocery store) is open. Publix is further down from where I just came from, but I decide to walk it anyway. Heck, nothing else to do but study.

I can’t make or receive any phone calls. The cell tower must be damaged or something. I can’t send or receive text messages in my apartment. I have to walk outside to the street. Frustrating. I make it to Publix. The parking lot is mobbed. Cars are parked every which way around the downed trees. I brace myself for chaos. Sure enough. It’s like being at a football game or something. People packed in tight, and it’s very noisy. Shopping carts are stocked full of dry goods and beverages. I’m just here for a lousy paper. There are no cold items on the shelves due to the loss of power. All my refrigerated food is certainly spoiled by now, but I can live on PB&J and dry cereal for a week if I have to. Damn, no papers to be found. I decide to buy a box of cereal (some new “Life” with yogurt clusters) and some Diet Dew.

I look around. No one wearing suits or chinos. Guys are in shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops. Myself included. Hair styles are come-as-you-are-bad-hair-day-and-all or hat-covered. I don the hat. Two-day beards are the norm. Women utilize the hat, the ponytail, or the tie-it-up-in-a-bun deal. We all look like tourists or perhaps a less-better looking cast of Lost. The lottery is down. Damn. I want to try for the $40 million.

I enjoy my walk back home. I don’t look forward to studying. Studying with a flashlight and a candle sucks. I am getting behind now. I’d rather write this post, old-style pen on notebook, than hit the books. Back home now. Far away noises of chainsaws and police sirens. I can hear neighbors chatting. It’s all so different now.

1:00 p.m.
I ran two miles around the neighborhood. I normally reserve this route for Sundays, but I wanted to see how the rest of Plantation fared. One thing is becoming apparent to me. It may take a year or longer for Plantation to return to what it looked like pre-October 24th. It’s visions of Hurricane Andrew. True, Andrew blew in at nearly 200 mph, and Wilma blew through here at 125 or so. But at that speed, what’s the difference, really? Every neighborhood I run through is trashed. Most streets are impenetrable due to downed trees. I can’t even find the sidewalks to run on. It’s sad. A town that was so beautifully tree-lined and tropical now just lies in waste. For the lucky trees that didn’t blow down, their look is bent at a 45-degree angle and sheared of leaves and branches. Visions boggle my mind. Huge, concrete, sturdy pillars of steel bent sideways. Each intersection has it’s own pile of scrap metal formerly known as traffic lights. It’s so much lighter out with all the trees down. It doesn’t look like Plantation. As familiar as I am with this neighborhood, I have to ask myself, “Did I make the right turn?” It just looks so different. There’s no doubt we took a serious direct hit. I have no idea what the news is saying or showing, but as I say, the effects of Wilma will last for years. It’s ugly and unattractive now, but it’s real.

I guess I hadn’t been through enough lately so the powers that be threw Wilma my way. I feel lucky though. I’m safe and writing to tell about the experience. My toughest decision of the day is whether to go with Blackberry or Red Raspberry on my peanut butter crackers. I’m not sure if I return to work tomorrow. My iPod and phone (as useless as it is) and computer (as useless as it is) are all running low on battery power. I just cleared out my fridge of just about everything but have plenty of PB&J to last me. I think getting power back is not a matter of days but a matter of weeks. I hear millions are out of power, something in the neighborhood of 98% of the tri-county area. I feel mentally prepared for whatever comes my way. What more can I say?

7:00 p.m.
Curfew. When is the last time you had a curfew let alone a 7 o’clock lights out? I’m standing outside watching cops patrol the streets with their blue lights flashing. I heard on my crapass a.m. radio that people waited in line for hours to get ice and water from FEMA only to get turned away. Yeesh! Is this what’s in store for me tomorrow? I’m going for ice and water.

I finally saw her. I have this pretty neighbor. I’ve seen her only once when she moved in nearly a year ago. I had left her a welcome gift. A CD and a bottle of wine. Never heard from her. Not even a thank you. Maybe someone stole it. After all, they stole my welcome mat. Maybe I spooked her. I’m good at that, you know. Lately, I’d been thinking of writing her just to say hi and ask her if she ever got the gift. Well, all bets are off now. She’s the one neighbor I wanted to meet. She wasn’t here for the storm, but I saw her pull into the parking lot. She wasn’t alone. Surfer-type boyfriend was in tow. I got to see her reaction to the devastation. The expression on her face was priceless. I think I’ll remember that more than the disappointment of her having a boyfriend. Good night all.


No, I don't have power yet. I'm borrowing power from Starbucks in Weston, Florida. More on that later. I'll post as much as I can as soon as I can. Here's Part 1 of my hurricane journal. Thanks for all the well wishes. They mean so much to me. Click the new Flickr badge in the sidebar for the rest of the pictures. The picture with the "Welcome to Plantation" sign is the first picture and it goes in order from there.

Monday, 10/24/05 5:30 a.m.
She’s coming. No last minute wobbles. Hurricane-expert weatherman Bryan Norcross shows the projected path passing seemingly right over Plantation. I’ve got a great view out my sliding glass door. The trees are already swaying madly. I’m guessing the wind’s blowing a steady 40 mph…

6:53 a.m.
After two years of glancing blows, this one’s for real. The power just went out…

11:33 a.m.
Norcross tells me it’s “all clear” to go outside although by the looks of things, you’d never know. The wind is still ripping at a good 40 mph clip. I’m taking my camera and I’m gonna check it out…

2:00 p.m.
I’ve taken it all in and thought about my experience. Here’s a quiz for you…

What makes you stare out the window like a little kid and gawk at nature’s fury?

What makes you inexplicably utter aloud things like, “Whoa, Oh my god, Jesus Christ (sorry), Unreal, Unbelievable, Fascinating?”

What causes huge trees to snap like toothpicks?

What makes the view outside your sliding glass door look like a full-fledged wind tunnel?

What makes you wonder whether the glass door will blow in at any moment?

What causes these loud mysterious crashing sounds all around you?

What makes the daytime look like nighttime?

What makes us so curious that we must step outside and experience what 100 mph fury feels like?

What makes roof tiles fly in the air so easily as if they were but Legos?

What makes the clouds zoom by as if you were looking at time-lapsed photography?

Where did the phrase, “The calm before the storm,” come from?

What returns us to simple times of days gone by? Times of a.m. radio, candlelight, food from a can, and self-entertainment?

What turns a beautiful tropical complex into something resembling a jungle in the middle of a war zone?

What turns lush Florida palm trees into something more closely resembling a pencil?

What causes almost 3 million South Florida residents to lose power?

What causes neighbors’ faces to look like they’ve just seen a ghost?

What makes this surrealistic scene all seem like a bad dream?

Why do all the King’s horses and all the King’s men have to put Humpy, err, South Florida back together again?

Everybody sing, “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind…”

October 27, 2005


I have no power, water, or a reliable phone. Wilma crushed Plantation (city). I am writing a journal about the experience. I hope to post it and the pix I took as soon as I get power. It may take a couple of weeks, believe it or not. I hope this lousy Blackberry is good for something and posts this. I won't be able to read comments so thanks in advance for your thoughts. Best to all...PT

October 23, 2005


I've been tagged by the beautiful, Amanda.

The rules: list five songs that you are currently LOVIN'. it doesn't matter what genre they're from, whether they have words, or even if they're any good, but they must be songs that you're really enjoying right now. post these instructions, the artists and the songs in your blog, then tag five other blogger friends to see what they're listening to.

"Soul Meets Body," by Death Cab For Cutie (currently my favorite song. concert is 10/31)
"Somebody's Miracle," by Liz Phair
"Be My Escape," by Relient K
"Thank You," by The Redwalls
"Kill," by Jimmy Eat World

OK. Back to studying. Tag, you're it, Jess, Sarah, Amanda, Alyson, Ari, Lori, and Jaime.

October 22, 2005


Tonight's Florida Lottery is $33 million. I don't normally play, and I'm not normally lucky with chance. Let's hope Hurley’s numbers come through for me.

October 19, 2005


I just woke up for my early morning studying only to find Miss Category 5 Wilma headed my way. Good grief.

October 17, 2005


The time has come; I've run out of free passes. I can't procrastinate any longer. Next month is my last shot at taking the dreaded Certified Internal Audit (CIA) exam. Two years ago, I passed three of four parts. A move from Phoenix, a divorce, a new job, another new job, etc. have all contributed to my two-year procrastination. When I first took this thing, my former bitch boss forced me and the whole department to take the exam. That was then. I'm in such a different place in my life now. Passing this exam won't do a thing for me. I could honestly care less if I have three more letters next to my name. I guess the only reason I'm taking it is because I put forth such an effort two years ago. Somehow, I don't want to see all that effort go to waste. So for the next four weeks, I'm gonna buckle down and study. I'm not sure if this old brain of mine can retain anything anymore. I can usually achieve something if I put my mind to it, but I'm so NOT motivated. Oh well, time to get to it. I may be a stranger and not contribute to this fledgling blog as often as I'd like so bear with me.

October 16, 2005


O.K. This time it’s what you think it is. I missed the boat during the first season. I’d seen previews and heard about the show prior to its premiere. But I never got the chance to watch it because I was working late practically every night. I even missed the summer reruns. And then I’d heard so much about it being THE can’t miss show. I did manage to catch the last hour of the finale rerun. Of course, I had no clue who any of these people were, but it was interesting. I caught the latter half of the second season premiere episode. I still didn’t get it, but it still was interesting. I thought the only way for me to figure it all out was to rent the DVDs.

Well, I tried. I know Blockbuster is so 90s and that NetFlix is all the rage, but it was Friday and I didn’t want to wait. So for the first time since like 1996, I walked into Blockbuster. There’s an old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” True for Blockbuster. I walked in and gone were the old VHS boxes for our VCRs. In their places were the smaller DVD boxes. It made the store look different. I laughed to myself when I realized just how long it had been since I was in one of these crapass (Stephanie Klein term) stores. I thought I’d heard somewhere that Blockbuster guarantees they’d have your video (or is it DVD now?). That was appealing to me because in the old days, new releases were forever sold out. So I made my way over to Lost. Not only did I discover that there were seven separate DVDs, but that five of the seven were sold out including the first four volumes. As I angrily left the store, that old saying popped into my head.

The hell with it. By the time I spend all that money renting it, I could buy the friggin’ thing. So I went over to Costco the next day and bought the entire first season for a mere $35. And so, my marathon began. It didn’t take long before Lost hooked me. I don’t have to tell any Lost fans out there how gripping and riveting the story lines are not to mention how interesting the characters are. And that Evangeline Lilly. Oh my. I couldn’t stop. I wanted to but couldn’t. I had to see the next episode. My first session lasted eight hours until I gave in at 6 a.m. My next session was a mere four hours on a work night until 4 a.m. Six discs and 24 hours later, I’ve caught up now. I’m so lost in Lost it isn’t even funny. What a great show. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me tense, and it scared me shitless. I’m sure I’m the last standing American to watch it, but if you haven’t already done so, I’m tellin’ ya, it’s worth it. Go find Lost.

October 13, 2005


Practice makes perfect, they say. I don’t think this applies to social situations or dating. I could practice ‘til the cows came home and still be in the same place as I am today. That place being lost. Or maybe I’m looking in the wrong place? Maybe the answer is in Barnes & Noble somewhere? I’ve never read HJNTIY. I guess the book gives examples and explains why guys aren’t into certain women. Does it do the opposite? Does it give examples of behaviors men do that indicate they ARE interested in women? That’s sorta where I’m going with this.

I need such a list. I need a list of behaviors women do that indicate they’re interested in me. Why? Because all the practice in the world isn’t going to help me recognize any of these behaviors. Signs of interest that I assume are nothing more than false indicators. For example, the wink. I assume that if a girl gives me a wink, they must be interested in me. False. I assume that if a girl flashes me a pretty smile, they’re interested. False. I assume that playful banter back-and-forth is a sign of interest. False. A girl gives me a nice compliment; she's interested. False. How about if a girl rubs her ass on me? Gotta be interested, right? False. I could go on forever.

So can someone give me a checklist or a secret decoder ring to help me figure out how to know if a girl is really interested in me? It’s obvious to me that I have no clue.

October 09, 2005


Photos courtest of www.hookerz.org

I debated about going to the Liz Phair concert. She sounded flat on Jay Leno, and it was once again pouring rain in South Florida. But Liz didn’t cancel, and I thought I could use the normal pick-me-up that concerts usually give me. I’m glad I went. Liz didn’t disappoint.

I thought it unbelievable that she would kick off her national tour in this smallish club called Revolution. It was my first visit and it may be my favorite venue. The stage was set six feet above floor, and there were two additional seating/standing levels surrounding the stage. I found a great spot off to the right side and was a mere 20 feet from Liz when she took the stage.

She came out by herself with just an acoustic guitar. It was reminiscent of the Alanis Morissette concert. I had to do a double-take because she looked so amazing. She wore a short denim mini-skirt and a sleeveless blouse. Her smile was dazzling and beaming, and I’m sure every guy in that club, accompanied or not, was having fantasies about her.

She was thrilled with loud and raucous greeting. She explained to the crowd that she enjoyed playing her acoustic shows on her last tour and that she didn’t make it down to Florida. So she gave us a flavor of it by opening acoustically with Hurricane Cindy and Girl’s Room before her guitarist joined her for the next two songs Baby Got Going and Soap Star Joe. Liz was very laid back; she admitted to flubbing the words and jokingly said that the show would only get better from here.

The rest of her band joined her for the balance of the 90-minute set. I came in expecting the show to be dominated by new songs from her new CD, Somebody’s Miracle. But she actually only sang three songs from the CD and her song selection was well-balanced amongst her previous four CDs. As she sang, I couldn’t believe how close I was to her. I got four glances and a smile from her during the show so that was pretty cool.

Liz has quite a singing range. She can hit those high octaves on songs like Why Can’t I and Extraordinary, yet she can reach these low registers (sorry for the Paula Abdul-like commentary) as well as demonstrated on her newest song, Everything to Me. She sang this song much better than she had on Leno a few nights ago. I know Liz has been sort of panned for going pop with her Liz CD. Critics said it lacked the edge of her earlier successes such as her debut album, Exile in Guyville. To me, that matters little. From what I’ve noticed this year, Liz, Alanis, and Sarah have all seemed to mature, overcome bad relationships, and have discovered happiness. If critics want to attack that, so be it. I say, be happy and rock on.

And Liz was just that. She seemed to be having a blast up there singing and cursing her way through hits such as Fuck and Run and Shitloads of Money. For me, it was just what the doctor ordered. Two hours of great music in a great venue and great crowd atmosphere, and staring at this beautiful woman who hardly looked 38. I even made a new friend, but it’s not what you think. A woman brought her 10-year-old daughter to the concert for the daughter’s birthday. You could tell the daughter was just ga-ga over Liz. I had my eye on this Liz poster hanging on the railing, but decided to give it to the little girl for her birthday. Her surprised expression of wonder and happiness really made my night. She mouthed a ‘thank you’ over the blaring amps and I mouthed a ‘happy birthday’ back to her. It was a perfect ending to a perfect night.

October 05, 2005


What we have here are Stan (over Cuba), Tammy (Over Georgia), and an unnamed Tropical disturbance near the Bahamas. We had Stan last weekend, but now a cold front has decided to push Stan back in our face. All this adds up to a forecasted foot of rain for South Florida. Lifehouse has already canceled their concert. Liz Phair, please don't do the same tomorrow.

October 04, 2005


I was talking with a consultant today and we got on the subject of company names. You know me, once I get an idea in my head, I just start going off on it and eventually my fingers hit the keyboard and out comes a post. I questioned the consultant on her company’s name, Answerthink. I thought it was a bit odd. It sounds like something a bunch of Accountants thought up. Answerthink. I told her that it was at least better than my former company’s name. We used to be called The Outsourcing Partnership, or TOP for short. Certainly nothing imaginative here, but at least you could gather what the company was all about. But the CEO thought the word “Outsourcing” had a negative connotation and so he spent upwards of $500,000 in marketing expenses shopping and hiring marketers to come up with a better company name. The results, IMHO, were disastrous.

Are you ready? Accume Partners. It’s pronounced acc-UME, not ACC-u-may, or acc-u-MAY. The powers that be explained that it’s a combination of business acumen and an accumulation of business knowledge or something like that. Horrible. They could have given me a tenth of that 500 grand and I’d have come up something better or at least understandable. I don’t know if it’s me, but it seems to me that if you have to explain to people what it means, you really didn’t get your money’s worth, did you? Accenture. Bearing Point. Two more financial/business consultant companies that sound more like country clubs.

This got me thinking too much, and that can be dangerous. I’ve always scratch my head when it comes to car names. I can only imagine how many millions of dollars are spent by major car manufacturers just to name a car. It’s amazing to me how screwed up this whole car-naming convention really is. Maybe it’s me; maybe I’m the ignorant one? Or maybe it’s a cultural thing?

Some car companies make up names. I mean, why in the world would you want to make up a name? Millions of dollars are spent and you can’t come up with a real word? Toyota and Nissan are great at this. Camry, Corolla, Celica, Maxima, Altima, Sentra, Xterra. These are like “almost words.” Chrysler Pacifica. Almost word. What about the Izuzu Impreza or the Suzuki Forenza? The Saturn Ion and Vue? Volkswagon has some strange names. Jetta, Passat, and the unforgettable Touareg. How the hell do you even pronounce that anyway? Why would you want to buy a car whose name you can’t even pronounce? A luxury car, no less?

Then you have these brilliant car companies who simply can’t think of a name at all so they go the letters and numbers route. Audi A4, A6, A8. Volvo S40, S60, S80, Infiniti G20, G35, M45, Lexus ES300, IS400, BMW 325i etc. Friggin brilliant, guys. Acura likes letters only. RL, TL, TSX, RSX. Wow, that takes brains, doesn’t it? I know Henry Ford started all this way back when with the Model T, but what did he know about marketing way back then? Mercedes has been using the number/letter convention forever. Ooh, wouldn’t you just love to own that convertible 450SL? Do you think it's a luxury car thing? How about our intelligent friends at Mazda? They used to have the 323 and the 626. But apparently, even that naming convention was too complicated. I guess they decided to make it easy for us dumbass consumers so they now go with the Mazda 3 and the Mazda 6.

And some companies actually “name” their cars, but I wonder what they were thinking when they did so. Take Honda, for example. The Accord and Civic. What pray tell do these words have to do with a car or riding in a car or anything remotely resembling a car theme? Strange, yet I think the Camry and the Accord are like the top two sellers. Oh, did you hear Honda just came out with a new pickup truck? Name? Ridgeline. Huh? Here’s one. The venerable Buick LeSabre. I’m guessing this is French for ‘sword,’ but what does it have to do with cars? How about the Volkswagon Golf? I’m clueless there. Then we have the Mercury Grand Marquis. It sure sounds elegant. What’s a Marquis anyway let alone a grand one?

Occasionally, they get it right. The name fits the image of the car. Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition, Chevy Trail Blazer, and Dodge Caravan to name a few. But it seems to me that getting it right is the exception rather than the norm. Yes, this is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. Why is it so hard to name a car? Maybe Shakespeare’s Juliet had it right after all, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get into my C230 and drive to the store.

October 02, 2005


It’s been a weekend from hell actually. I think Plantation (the city, not your resident blogger) is underwater from Tropical Storm Stan. Enough rain already.

I’m having a problem with carbonated beverages. I bought a six-pack of Diet Pepsi and for some reason, there was barely any fizz in any of the bottles. I’d open up a new bottle and there would be no fizz. I thought it was a fluke. Undeterred, I bought another six-pack. Guess what? No fizz. So I said, fuck Pepsi, I’m switching to Diet Coke. So I bought a six-pack of DC. I got home and took it out of the bag and noticed the bag was wet. There was Coke dripping from somewhere. I thought I found the guilty bottle. The top was loose. I tightened it and put the bottle in the freezer to cool it quickly. I was really thirsty. I took it out 30 minutes later and when I twisted off the top, there was not a breath of fizz. I took a swig and it was as flat as a friggin’ pancake. Zero fizz.

I broke a personal record I set a few weeks ago. I filled up my gas tank to the tune of $48.15 easily shattering the old record by $2.15.

Running two miles everyday does have its disadvantages. It’s happened to me before but not in many a year. My friggin’ ass is itching me and believe me, it’s hard not to pick your seat when you get hemorrhoids. The first time you get these things you’re pretty horrified because you have no idea what the hell it is. You’re thinking it’s some kind of STD. But now, I just make the ho-hum trip to the store and pick up good ol’ Prep. H. Thank god, that stuff really works.

I got stood up today. I was supposed to meet someone today, but she didn’t show up. This story is very incomplete. Further details are pending.

Ah well. The good news is that the Jewish New Year is upon us. So to all my fellow Jewish bloggers and readers out there, have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year.