Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 296: 27 Pounds

Yeah.

(Sniffle.)

Awkward silence.

Well, I guess I'm really not Superman. Statistics apply and odds stack up.

Yeah.

Of course the next natural question would be: Do I follow the statistical majority and proceed ever-steadily on upwards back to the original start weight (305 pounds, if you remember) and in fact even exceed it a bit? That's what happens in reportedly 95% of those studied. Or so they say.

Where to place blame? Well as far as blame ascribed to a person, the cold, hard fact is it can only apply to me. But as far as what external factors came into play over the course of the past nine months? I guess one could start looking sternly back at the start of the unexpected shoulder pain which thankfully dissipated quickly enough for me to "get back on track" with my up-to-then regular exercise regimen, but instead of doing that I, well, just didn't. Then there's the new co-worker in place on the night shift with me soon thereafter who was reticent to agreeing on my little half hour jaunt to the fitness center (due to factors that would later come to spell her career demise at the Center) and, of course, the ever-so-steadily waning power of the once magical Mighty Phen Rainbow pills. And finally, there's Ol' Georgie/Mr. Hyde/the monkey on my back. As always.

Oh yeah, I forgot. This train of thought violates my only solemn rule set at the start of this tumultuous venture: No Excuses.

Yeah.

So as it stands right now, as far as the WABAC machine is concerned, Boy Sherman, it seems like we're only dialed back to May 2013. A month after we started this thing!

Yeah.

(Sigh.)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Smartphone Smart...I Am Borg

A while back I posted about my impression of the current (and growing) trend towards augmenting one's reality with a tiny electronic "significant other" in the form of a little computer called a smartphone. Then as now, I still feel that humanity is losing something and civilization will suffer just a smidge in the nouveau fascination with constant connectivity via smartphones.

So of course, like a hapless Star Trek Universe victim, I've been assimilated to the hive-mind and have gotten myself a modern-day Borg implant.

Seriously though, they really do come in handy. Having a mini computer at the ready at all times is rather like some Star Trekian vision of the far off Utopian future where the realm of augmented reality (computerized assist in analyzing experiences on the fly), universal translators and even to some extent transporters, tricorders and phasers are available in a flash. Oh, yeah. And you can use it as a phone (ST Speak=Communicator) too.*

* "Wait a minute!" you may say. "Transporters, tricorders and phasers? Are you crazy?" Well, think about it...they have GPS aided maps including voice-assisted realtime directions making transportation from one locale to another, even in alien environments, a snap. They provide immediate information via medical and diagnostic apps including support for devices like heartrate monitors, blood sugar testers and nutrition evaluation apps using that funky code thingy...it's like the Voyager's holographic doctor in your pocket, but without the smarmy attitude! And phasers...well, they have panic alarm apps and instant 911 calling so they can help defend you in an emergency. Or you could just throw it at your stalker and it might put out an eye?

And after hemmin' and hawin' over the very timely debate: iPhone or Android, I decided on the "neither" option and went with Windows Phone (Nokia Lumina 520). With its colorful tiles, it looks down right Next Gen anyway, right? The clincher in the deal though? The price. $57. Yup. And no contract. Plan is AT&T Go Phone at $25 a month. Only 250 minutes (which is more than enough for me) but unlimited text. No data, but WiFi is everywhere, and it's free.

You'll have to excuse me now, I'm going to search the app store for more crap I don't really need to load on this thing. I have to be a good Borg drone now, don't I? Don't answer me directly! Text it. I don't care if you're only a foot away. Text it. "That's better." I'll text you back...

Resistance is Futile!

We Had Joy, We Had Fun...


We had seasons in the sun.

From the age of 16 to 19 I basically became a man working part-time at this iconic Woonsocket* landmark on Park Square. Coinciding with my high school years, this was my real coming-of-age house of learning. In a way it was the first (of what would be many) School of Hard Knocks.

I threw this photo up on the Growing Up in Woonsocket Facebook group Jim Williams started and asked "Anyone remember HoJo's?" The resounding answer "yes" came in the form of over a hundred responses in less than 24 hours.

The building was demolished in the eighties to make way for a McDonald's. How sad.

*The precise location was actually just over the Woonsocket border in North Smithfield.

Monday, January 27, 2014

SCRAPBOOK: Work And Industry I

As part of a "Work and Industry" series on Woonsocket I present the first entries:

Landmark Hospital Woonsocket Unit (Formerly Woonsocket Hospital) My sister-in-law works here. I was actually born here.


My brother used to work here, I don't know if if he still does but apparently my cousin Dennis Ducharme's business still survives.


Here's where I got my first haircut.


EDIT: Much editing was done after I had a chance to re-read my original post. Beyond bitter, I was obviously in a snit of a mood.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Robbed!

Actually, it's not even the monetary loss that stings, it's the feeling of complete violation.

I was robbed.

I clocked out Sunday morning feeling a bit weary since I've been working all these extra hours and slightly miffed about a mistake in my paycheck too. Ugh, of course the error was not in my favor. They owe me some $75 extra by my calculations. (Apparently others have had issues this past pay period...holidays and overtime hours always seem to befuddle John our Finance Director.) But that's another issue altogether and one that I have full trust will be rectified quickly.

I said my "Have a good days" to the day shift and shuffled my shit out to my car, including my laptop since it was finally my Friday and I was looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend. I turned my key to open my door and noticed it was unlocked. Hmm, I left it unlocked, I thought. Odd, but not unheard of. I didn't think anything more of it until I noticed my little plastic container of Breathsavers mints, which usually sits in the bin under the center dash area that I use as my toll booth change receptacle was sitting on the floor in front of the passenger seat. I picked it up, went to place it back in the bin and noticed that all the change was missing. All except one thin dime that I now saw on the floor in front of my driver's seat. There was about $15 or so in quarters and dimes in there.

I immediately thought it must have been a resident that got into my car and stole it but a quick inspection found that the entry point of the thief (or thieves) was from the back. That fucking hatch.

I'd noticed a while ago that it doesn't automatically lock when you shut it. You have to remember to either manually turn the key after closing or push the hatch lock button on the dash once you start the car up. This is damned inconvenient and I caught myself forgetting to lock the hatch many times. This had been yet another time.

The thief climbed in through the back and unlocked one of the back doors. In the process, they had slightly damaged the felt-finished cardboard-like trunk cover (I have no idea what it's really called) that's suspended by little ropes from the hatch. Basically a decorative cover over the storage area behind the rear passenger seats. It now has two small tears in it from when the thief put their weight on it crawling (well, probably just leaning) through the back to unlock a door. I don't think a resident would go to these lengths so now I'm inclined to think it was some punks in the community who walked onto the grounds and ripped me off. I went back inside and notified everyone who were still sitting in the report room of the theft. Eric bolted to check out his car and it appears he's missing a money order he had sitting on his front seat.

Our facility is very nice and appears quite luxurious what with its lush landscaping and bucolic lakeside setting but it's unfortunately smack dab off of 17-92 in Fern Park, an area known for transients, strip clubs, head shops, dive bars, gambling establishments, no-tell-motels and just general Florida white trashiness. The business located just adjacent to the parking lot is called Pipe Dreams II, a flashy, tackily-ornamented head shop/XXX bookstore and video rental joint. I see lots of interesting characters come and go from there. And, I've had problems with skateboarding teens trespassing on our complexes property before who defiantly returned after I'd nicely warned them to leave. By right, our policy is to just call the cops the second we see them so they can discuss their midnight skateboarding parties in our parking lots with the authorities.

Luckily there was no other damage, it appears and Hulk remains looking fresh and new. The tears in the hatch cover thingy would never be noticed by anyone. Except me when I look for it bitterly from now on.

It's just such a feeling of violation and paints a dull gauche wash of disdain on society in general for me. I spent this weekend hunkered away from everyone, distrustful and cynical, feeling like the world is going to hell in a hand basket and I want none of it.

I guess I'll get over it soon enough. Surely I'll now park right up in front of the main building at work each night despite the idiotic restriction against it. "That parking area is for guests." we've been told. Really? Guests from 11 pm to 7 am? I've suspected the rule was really to prevent any oil spots from developing, marring the pretty asphalt since our well-off, Mercedes driving CEO likely assumes we general staff would have clunkers. For some perhaps, especially on what they pay us, but I've worked hard managing my pitiful finances well enough to be able to have a brand new car. It does not leak oil. It is Hulk, damn it! And thugs breaking into it makes Hulk mad!

Monday, January 13, 2014

No Liz And Dick, But Whatcha Gonna Do

After the enjoyable performance a couple of weeks ago of "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater I decided to plunk down another fabulously-cheap $22 to see a production of Edward Albee's play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Instead of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater players though, this was performed by a troupe called Cornerstone Theatre Company.

Now don't let the title of this review throw you. It really wasn't all that bad. It was kinda good actually. I checked out other performances of the play on YouTube by other acting groups and the one I attended had a lot going for it. The actors portraying the four roles did a pretty darn good job. Through each hour of the very long (3+ hours) play, I kept thinking how skilled they all were for being able to remember that many lines. Apparently Albee, like Tennessee Williams, scripted his plays with an enormous emphasis on dialogue. Page after page of dialogue.

But when it all came down to brass tacks, I couldn't help making a comparison to the actors live on stage and their counterparts on the big screen shot back in 1966 with none other than Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the starring roles as George and Martha. Thankfully the present day actors didn't try to do impressions of those iconic and legendary movie stars...that would have turned the thing into a farce. They did it in their own way. But the chemistry in the film, so obvious when you watch it, just wasn't there in this play.

At times I swear I could hear stage direction mnemonics being recited in my head as if it was being broadcast from the actors since it seemed a bit obvious that they'd paced their lines along with the many prop manipulations and stage movements they needed to perform.

Shall we play Get the Guests, Martha? (Pick up bottle.) I mean...(Pour gin into glass)...now that we've done Humiliate the Host...(Saunter to center stage near couch)...what other games shall we...(Hand glass to Martha)...entertain our guests with? (Thrust hips violently towards Martha) How about Hump the Hostess?

Well, I guess with so much dialogue and stage direction, I guess they had to.

It was cool that towards the end of the second act, the faux-Chippendale sofa suffered a broken leg...it just popped out from the corner of the couch onto the floor. The actors handled this prop malfunction perfectly. The guy playing George picked it up after the Martha character had tried to kick it out of the way and attempted to slap it back into place saying, surely improvised, "Everything in this house is falling apart." I had to check other performances of the play to be sure this was not already scripted since it actually works perfectly. The broken leg of the couch became a metaphor for their broken marriage and their warped, alcohol-fueled need to manipulate, molest and grandstand each other and others around them.

In truth, I wasn't able to see the whole play though. I'd selected an 8:00 pm performance on a work night thinking I'd be able to go into work right afterwards. But I didn't know it was so long. During the second intermission, I had to leave and drive away otherwise I would have been faced with walking out during the finally scene of the performance. The theater was small and intimate, great for visibility and proximity to the stage, but bad for retaining audience anonymity...they would have easily seen me leaving mid act. Or I could have stayed to the 11:30-ish end, but then I'd be late for work. Not a good option.

But I'd seen the movie a few times. I know how that ends. I wouldn't expect the play, from which the movie was spawned, to be that much different. Like all liquor drenched stories, it's kinda tragic.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Most Expensive Train Ride Per Mile?


Ok, you know they're building the new Daigon Alley expansion to Harry Potter at Universal Orlando right? And though it will be located in the original park there will be a connecting monorail themed as the Hogwart's Express steam engine train. Well I just got the skinny on how they're going to manage this as far as the cost to the guest.

I was wondering how this expansion would affect ticketing in that with the current scheme, a guest either has a One Day-Single Park ticket, a One Day-2-Park ticket, or, like me, a Multi-Day-2-Park ticket (mine in the form of a Florida Resident Preferred Annual Pass, though it's physically still just a paper ticket). Though there are different flavors of each of these options, and assorted add-ons and or restrictions, the difference between a one park ticket and a 2 park ticket is significant (currently for non-Florida residents without any other discounts a one day, one park ticket is $92 and a one day, two park ticket is $128...kids get a $6 discount for either option) The cost point per person, per day is further reduced for adding multi-days and even a 3rd day free offer is current for US and Canadian residents.

So my initial assumption about how they might change ticketing with the opening of the Hogwart's Express was that they might eliminate one park options altogether and make all tickets 2-park for a compromise price point figuring the revenue would be made up with a vast increase in overall ticket sales after opening day (like the tremendous boost they got in revenue after the opening of the first Harry Potter attraction here back in 2010. Remember, I was there on that opening day as a witness to the madness.

But no. Instead, it looks like they're going to keep the existing scheme and offer in-park upgrades in order to ride the Express from one park to another.

You see, you wouldn't be able to just ride the Hogwart's Express ride, stay on it and come back to avoid paying for an additional park ticket, there'd be no way for them to control that. Also, you couldn't use it like one could use the monorail at WDW since the ride entrances and exits inside each park, not outside the main gates of both Epcot and Magic Kingdom like at Disney. It's not designed to be a transport option, it's an attraction in and of itself that just happens to actually transport you from one park to the other.

So all this got me thinking...

How much will it cost to ride this ride and how much would that be on a per unit of distance basis?

Here's my predicted cost break down:

The ride is expected to open in the summer of this year.

Let's assume that before the opening day (actually, you can likely count on it) tickets will raise about $3 (like they have in the last couple of years). For this example we'll use a one day, two park ticket price (remember, you can't do a single park ticket for this ride) which, by then, will be about $131.

Let's add no other frills, just the vanilla adult ticket for non Florida residents.

But we do need to add tax. 6.5% in the City of Orlando. And Universal is within the boundaries of the city...$139.52

According to maps and schematics available, the track from beginning to end will be about 800 meters (2624 feet) or roughly half a mile long.

Making the cost to ride about $279 a mile.

In comparison, the decidedly non-theme park Heathrow Express commuter rail connecting London with its major airport is touted as being one of the most expensive rail rides in the world at 1.17 pounds sterling per mile...about $1.93 US. Practically nothing compared to the similarly-named Hogwart's Express.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Day Really?: Whatever Pounds

Ya.

This is where it's come. Pretty much to the end of the line.

So the Phen is worthless, and, let's face it, that's what was powering this whole new 2013/BINT initiative. I still have about 15 pills left in case I decide to make another go at it but kiddies, let me tell you, at this point, I just don't see it.

Prices for beer have again gone up (WTF!) but instead of deterring me, it makes me crave it more. Like a Faberge egg. It just a jeweled knick-knack but because it's so desired, it's practically priceless.

I tried other stimulant variety weight lose pills like Hydroxycut but it just is a heart attack in waiting in my book and not at all as effective as Phen even in Phen's present, weary state.

I can't bear to look in the mirror anymore. I see the 15 pounds I've regained. And it looks like I'll probably pack on the remainder soon, and maybe add a few more for good measure,.

Blurb, blurb blubber...I can only speak fat talk now...