Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The New Year

It caught me by surprise that New Year's Eve is tomorrow. For some reason I thought there was an extra day in between whatever TODAY was, and New Year's Eve. Whoops. I was wrong! I was hitting tennis balls with Amigo and the subject came up, and the result is that I'm an idiot. I also stepped up to serve from the deuce court when I should have been serving from the ad court more times today than I ever have in my life COMBINED! I think my brain took leave for the day... To boot the ball was just not bouncing. It was so cold that even a can of tennis balls that was freshly opened today was bouncing like the balls were opened last year, sat around in a puddle of mud, rinsed on Heavy Wash in the dishwasher, and given a good scrubbing with an SOS pad to boot. I don't think I could possibly ever ascribe more detail to the bouncing of a tennis ball. Please shoot me if I ever attempt.

So, now here comes the cheesy sappy ooey gooey reflections part that every pretentious badjagaloop insists on prattling on about -- indulge thyself!

*SIDE NOTE* -- iTunes, two gooey pop songs need not be followed by three more...

2009 was a good year pretty much from start to finish, in such STARK contrast to the Annus horribilis that preceded it. I was shaking hands with 2008 and inserting the toe of my boot in it's proverbial hind end. Over half of 2008 spewed forth feces and melancholy at every turn, so you can, of course, imagine my despair at seeing it go.
2009 turned out to be MUCH better on all fronts. No epic disappointments. No fair weather friends. No illusions (or self delusions). Just good. I hope I carry the good mindset onward an into 2010, because I went through and learned a lot.

*Side note* do we say "Twenty ten," or "two thousand ten"???*

I'm looking forward to ringing in the New Year with some friends. It will be somewhat subdued as I have a flight out at 10am on New Year's Day, but that's ok. New Year's Eve is not the best night to lose your bearing and your wits!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Little Rascals

Sissified Tweety Bird
Barf-encrusted jumbo jerk
Muzak-warbling whimp

Are just some of the gems that I was able to remember and write down after I basically spent ALL FREAKIN' DAY in front of the TV. Those particular ones came from The Little Rascals. I remember going to see that movie when it came out with Grandmama and Granddaddy. It's a fond memory I have of Granddaddy. Ahhh, 1994, 2nd grade...ok, that's a little too long in the way back machine

I also had the urge to schlep to the refrigerator every fifteen minutes. That's a primary indicator that I'm bored. After I got home everything was absorbed with the buildup to Christmas -- which is of course, awesome. However, I'm now slogging through the post-Christmas doldrums, and after two days it's gotten old!!!! It's nobody's fault, but there's nothing to do. I'm tired, everybody's tired. I'm enjoying my new "toys", but two days of sitting around in front of the TV is about all I can take. Tomorrow I'm going to go and take care of a few things and/or just wander around and see if there are any deals just too good to be true. I do want a case for my computer, and just a chance to be out and about by myself. I've found this to happen a lot since I left for college. After basically living by yourself or with just one other person you have a lot of time to yourself and it's very easy to be alone when you want to be. Not so! when you go back home, and it usually shows up after about a week. Everybody wants to see you and they want to see you like every fifteen minutes. I love you but I need my space!!! lol. I'm sure that's a new degree of selfish.

I've thoroughly been enjoying the cold weather. It's nice to have to put on a coat and gloves and not be drenched in sweat. Ask me again after this next weekend in Chicago where it's due to be 18 degrees F!!!! Oh well, I've survived much colder!!!! 18 F = about -8 C. When I was in Armenia it was routinely down to -19 C, which is about 4 F, so coldwise I know I can survive it (which a giant butt coat). Me hiding somewhere in that coat:

We had good times with friends and family the week up to Christmas. Old friends of the family were at our house for most of the night and we spent most of the day prior and of cooking. We also were able to have lunch with Grandmama and then visit with my aunt and cousins for a little while after. There are four of us cousins that were born basically one after another. I'm the oldest grandson. The oldest grandchild is the only granddaughter of the crew. She's 9 months older than I am. My brother and her brother are also nine months apart, and about three years younger than we are so it's kinda weird! It also makes me kinda sad because my uncle and his wife had their child (my cousin) only recently. He'll be three soon. It makes me sad because we all had each other to play with at family functions and whatnot, and we more or less grew up together, but he won't have that. My uncle is the youngest child on that side of the family, and everybody else that had kids had them much earlier than he did. So the reality is that I probably won't know my new little cousin very well and he won't know me. Sadness.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I hate wrapping packages about as much as I hate writing "Thank-you" notes. Honestly, isn't me saying thanks enough? You're going to read that note in about fifteen seconds and take another five, maybe ten - max, to throw it into the garbage. Factor in the five it took me to write it, another three or four for addressing the envelope, and then the time (and money) it took to get the thing to you... do you see where I'm doing with this...

Wrapping packages is made infinitely easier when the back of the wrapping paper has the little grid lines. AMAZING! Odd-shaped packages are the devil.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE my new MacBook Pro (did I mention I LOVE it?). Insert picture of me hugging it HERE. I've also been totally absorbed in copying most of my CD library onto my iTunes. It's amazing how many cheesy/fantastic country songs I have from the 1990's. I mean, Pam Tillis?? C'mon. It's also interesting to me how my taste in music is so completely random. I like some people's new stuff and hate their old stuff (Madonna is a really good example, not a fan of most of her early work). I also can't stand some people's new stuff and really like their old stuff (anything Toby Keith did after 2000 will not be found on my iTunes). Then, of course, there are some artists whose work I have the entire freakin' catalogue and they really cannot make a bad album (Stevie Nicks, Garth Brooks, and a few others). I brought Toby Keith up because I found a "Greatest Whatever" CD of his that had about ten songs from the early 90's that I love that i didn't know he did. Amazing!


I've been back home a week now. For the most part it's been what I expected. Family interspersed with friends. I figured if I wanted to go out then the first weekend was going to be the best option before New Year's because everyone (including me) was going to be spending time with family, and on top of that most of the best places are DEAD right now. Friday night (the night after I got home) Amigo, Redd, and I went to 8E's in Athens. Great place. I love 8E's music... so that says enough right there. The place would be perfect if only it didn't have more than its allotted per capita of cougars. Yes, that's right. COUGARS! Thankfully said Cougar had much more interest in Amigo than she did in me, but it got kinda of creepy. We had to team up to get rid of the cougar. CREEPY. I think we all had a good time regardless of the cougar. She only (from what I can tell) got to be a bit much the last hour or so of a five hour evening, so I guess it's hard to complain. Perhaps Amigo can add some commentary and perspective.

I found out that one of my favorite songs "Steamy Windows" originally recorded by Tina Turner was also recorded by Kenny Chesney and John Anderson (????) begging your pardon. This required investigation, so I Youtubed those two versions. The findings were less than satisfactory. Tina Turner doesn't exactly have a twang-free voice, so the song has plenty of twang. Then those two come in and add MORE twang to an already twangy bluesy song. That's just too much twang. And frankly she sang THAT song with much more enthusiasm than either of those two. They sang it half-heartedly and with no conviction. You're singing about a romp on a country road... at least act like you enjoyed it for cryin' out loud! Very often I enjoy remakes as much or MORE than the originals... but not here. Not here. Sad and epic fail on your parts Kenny and John...

Why are we still making American Pie movies? How many movies about hormonal teenagers do we need? Can we at least make them under the pretense of NOT having a chain of movies teaching you how to make stupid decisions??? We all do that so well on our own...

So I passed my first semester of medical school. Woohoo, right? I was in the mall doing some shopping and I checked Facebook (on my iPhone, we're long-lost loves reunited -- and it feels so good) and some people had posted that they had passed this class or that class or made a 4.0 and whatnot, and I immediately went into OCD-Jay mode and set about trying to check mine. It was a little tedious because they send grades to us in a word format, which the iPhone had to think for a minute about opening. But when I saw that I had passed everything I was massively relieved! All that work did pay off!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting Home!

Here's my account of getting home. In retrospect it wasn't nearly as stressful as I made it out to be going through it. I think I just was ready to get home!

16 December 2009.

For those not in the know it's election time in Dominica, which means nuttiness. Dominicans also have an odd sense of humor and like to mess with people's heads. Put the two together and you can be ensured of a stressful experience! We left for the airport around 10:30 to make sure that we all got our seats on the plane (LIAT has a bad habit of over-booking). On the way to the airport the island exploded with rumors of the airport closing. Two people called us as said that taxi drivers were cancelling bookings because of "rumors." Idiotic! if you ask me.

We got to the airport and found that everything was business as usual. Checked in and then proceeded to sit around...and sit around...and sit around...and -- you guessed it -- sit around some more. Our flight was SUPPOSED to leave at 3:15. Well, 3:15 came and went and there wasn't even a sign of our airplane (knock me over with a feather). People were starting to get antsy because almost all of us were trying to get to San Juan that night, and many of us had connections to make that night (I was overnighting out of necessity). I took it upon myself to calm my own nerves I guess more than anyone else's to speak with the check-in agent. Of course, there was NO LIAT representative behind security... what a great way to run an airline...NOT! Ok, so, in a nutshell I went out of the secure area and back up to the check-in area. I bypassed the line and went straight to the agent and relayed our concerns and she (shockingly) appeared interested and concerned. Basically, she told us that the plane was still in Barbados and that it should arrive around 4:30. I also asked about our connections and twenty minutes later I was told "operations is aware of the situation and should hold the flight." That was probably about as good as I was going to get so I just had to let that one go! Why I had to extract this information out of them is a fight I guess I'll have to save for another day!

So, back to the waiting lounge and sure enough, at 4:40 the plane lands. Twenty minutes later we board the plane and they're literally pulling the door up and removing the chocks as we are buckling our seat belts! The flight was a short one -- thirty minutes -- to Antigua. I was relieved to be going to Antigua because if all else failed I could get home from American Airlines. It wouldn't have been cheap, but I could have trotted down to the American Airlines ticket counter and bought myself a one-way ticket to Atlanta. Getting home for that night in 8E's Bar and dinner at The Diner was that important!

And the pilots seemed eager to get the plane on the ground. On the ground was a VS 744! Antigua airport is actually quite busy and sees heavies from Virgin Atlanta and British Airways among others. It sees a slew of LIAT flights, but LIAT and the Antigua Airport Air Traffic Control have a rather tenuous relationship (partly responsible for their omnipresent delays). This is my second and hopefully last time transiting the Antigua airport. There are just more efficient places to change planes.

I would have liked to snap a few more pictures of it than I was able to get but we were herded off the plane, onto a bus, and driven 100 yards across the tarmac to another Dash 8. We were basically shoved into that aircraft, and were met by a much friendlier FA than on the flight into Antigua. As before, we were buckling our seat belts as the plane was moving out! To their credit they know how to make up for a delay! Once onboard LIAT is quite comfortable. There is good legroom and the seats are comfortable. The FAs usually appear to give a rip

We fly uneventfully for about forty-five minutes and we land in Tortola. This stop was not stated on the flight itinerary but apparently was necessary for a "security check." I still haven't actually looked up where Tortola is so all I know of it is that it's a runway somewhere about thirty minutes flying time from San Juan... So we're on the ground there, and the FA explicitly states that passengers bound for Puerto Rico are to stay on, and sure enough, three or four people trot off the plane...luckily for them I knew them and alerted the FA that they had indeed deboarded and probably wouldn't care too much for being stranded in Tortola. Lucky for one of them I'm a nice person because I honestly couldn't care less if she fell off a cliff and got shredded by mermaids... Was that a little harsh????

After twenty minutes or so in Tortola and a passport check we take off into the night and head for San Juan. The flight was very uneventful. The only thing worth mentioning is that I listened to Proud Mary from Tina: Live! about four times and bought a Coke from the FA (for 5 XCD) to keep me awake. We flew over San Juan and I was amazed at how many baseball fields there are there! We landed with little incident, and then made our way off the plane. We had to wait a few minutes until we were ALL off the plane and were then escorted into customs and immigration. Immigration was a breeze because we were the only flight arriving at the time and I had made a beeline for the front of the crowd. No issues there.

I get down to baggage claim, however, and find that one of the 7 liters of rum I had in my checked baggage had indeed busted. I saw the liquid stain on the side of the bag before it even got close to me. As such, I draped my jacket over the top of it when i was going through agriculture check. I wasn't brining anything into the country that wasn't allowed, but I just didn't want the visible liquid to instigate a search and hold me up. I was hungry and needed food!!! At the end of the day I would have had to pay duty on three or four of the bottles, but that's it, they would have let me bring them in. I made my way to the Hampton Inn about a mile away from the airport. Because of my Hilton Silver status I was upgraded to a King Suite. Woot! I opened up my bag to find the (hopefully) one bottle that ruptured, and ended up also throwing away two or three shirts that absorbed most of the rum. For what it's worth I hate rum but was bringing it home for some friends. You could have gotten drunk off the smell! I wish I had taken a picture of my white undershirt stained yellow from the rum. Great mental image I know!

17 December 2009

I left the hotel relatively early for my 10:00 am flight to Atlanta from San Juan. Checking in wasn't too difficult. I just had to run my bags through the USDA scan right past the front door, then made my way to the Delta counter which was all the way in the back of the check in hall. There didn't appear to be much before checkin at the airport, so I went through security. This was rather annoying because they have a sniffer and it was going very slow. The TSA also brought through several people in wheel chairs, which slowed things considerably as they had to get OUT of their wheel chairs and walk through the sniffer. Annoying more than anything, really. Once past security I grabbed a Coke and bought some lame book, The Charlemagne Pursuit" I think is what it's called, just to have something to do. I ended up reading about 100 pages of it. I'm not sure if I'll finish it or not, but it was nice to have. I probably would have read more BUT the film for this flight turned out to be Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I love Harry Potter! I caught a few pictures of the "action" on the ramp.

The flight was DL420. I subconsciously thought to myself if the flight number was indicative of the refreshments served on board...I was in Zone 4, seat 23C, so I boarded fairly early. This flight was slam full and it took a while to get everybody situated, though it was done with much more order than anything I've seen on LIAT. I saw a friend who had been on the flight from Dominica with me get on this flight. He was going to LA. We pushed back on time, and taxied all the way past the American Airlines terminal. There wasn't much action at the airport at this time of the day. Most of the American Eagle flights go out in the early afternoon. We jetted into the clear skies over San Juan, and toward home!

I purchased the fruit and cheese platter Delta had as one of their BOB options, and I must say it was pretty good, well worth the $6. I sat back and read for a little while before they started the aforementioned Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I had seen it a few times before (thank you Graboid video), but honestly, Harry Potter never gets old!

My seat-mates for this flight were a Flemish couple traveling home. The wife/girlfriend was reading a book in French, but it sounded to me like they were speaking Flemish to each other. I say Flemish because they had told me they were going home to Belgium. They could, however, have invested just slightly in some deodorant... The FA serving our section was fantastic! She was an older lady but was very pleasant and had an air of sophistication about here. I would've asked her how long she'd been working as an FA, but she was very busy, and Harry Potter had my attention!

We had some turbulence over South Georgia, and we made our approach over the western suburbs of Atlanta. On approach with us was a Delta 738. We landed on the South runways, it landed on the North runways. We did not land on the outer runway that runs over the Perimeter. It was a rather long taxi toward the terminal because the planes were landing in the direction of the E concourse, and that's where we left the runway. We slogged our way down to the T-side of Concourse A where we docked at A18 I believe. I was plane to baggage check in ten minutes, where my dad and brother were waiting on me. We had to wait a few minutes for my bag, and after the run incident in Puerto Rico I wanted to open up the bag and make sure that nothing else had broken. I didn't see any liquid stains, but the smell of rum nearly knocked me out when I opened the bag. Sure enough, another bottle had been broken. Oh well, life goes on. The good bottle intended for the following evening's festivities was intact!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nerdy Song translation

Ok, so, I heard the song "What's Love Got to Do With It?" while I was studying for histology/physiology a day or two ago (I thought I'd catch a ride) and the first line sent off this chain of events. I am a complete and total geek/nerd/epic failure ;)

"You must understand that the touch of your hand makes my pulse react"

Translation: the sensation of your epidermis on my epidermis via Meissner's corpuscles increases my sympathetic innervation and makes me tachycardic.

"It's only the thrill, of boy meeting girl that opposites attract"

Translation: Your pheromones are initiating a subconscious response...

"It's physical"

Translation: It is ingrained in my physiology, and cannot be helped

"Only logical"

Translation: such a topic will never find itself on a behavioral and/or Doctor Patient Society question

"You must try to ignore that it means more than that"

Translation: Psychiatry is a joke ;)

Ok, you must be shaking your head by now. Worry not, for I am too, and was the minute that popped into my head. However, it tells me that I am indeed learning...something... If you get me and/or my sense of humor this should come as no surprise, but just in case you don't -- I'm sorry, but not really. I am what I am. Learn to live with me, or give me a lobotomy...

Friday, December 11, 2009

This week's rambles...

It would really suck to be a man in Botswana. Their average life expectancy is HALF of what it was TEN years ago... due almost entirely to HIV. Honestly folks... is a condom THAT much to ask...

Five Whitney Houston ballads in a row is enough to make even Ghandi throw in the towel... I had my iTunes on (shuffle was off for some reason). I went through "Run to You", "I Have Nothing", "I Will Always Love You", "Exhale", and "Didn't We Almost Have it All" before I noticed that I had heard A LOT of sadness in a row. I was only half paying attention because I was studying. I started to think about all the sad things like dead puppies, jet lag, cellulite, holes in the ozone layer, epic failure on the final, and that all-important Tibetan Freedom before I thought, what on earth is going on here. OH! My shuffle is off... A quick click of the button brought about much happier music mixing... One mark in the LAME and PATHETIC category for me.

December 16th cannot come quickly enough. and January 6th is going to come far too quickly.

I'm incredibly and inexplicably annoyed by peoples' inability to distinguish between YOUR/YOU'RE and THERE/THEIR/THEY'RE and the inability to use pronouns properly, or adverbs at all. I mean really's not that deep. It takes ten minutes to learn the difference. I learned them in 7th grade and can still spit them out. I guess I should send Mr. Klempner a Christmas card this year...

Taylor Swift is incredibly annoying. Period. Paragraph. Add Lady Gaga to that list (she's a crackhead I swear).

I read pieces of Barack Obama's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize (a perennial joke if you ask me regardless of who receives it). I actually developed a little respect for the man.

I don't know how I'm going to be able to cope with the fact that I'll be missing a Hee Haw themed Christmas party at my old job this year... What will I have to chemically alter myself with to deal with this loss...

The Lion King is still one of the greatest movies of all time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Well on the way to certifiable...

Central State hold a place for me... Ok, scratch that. Complete and total apathy has set in and I just do not give a hoot... it's me absorbing the local Dominican motto! Ok, scratch that too, and shoot me if that ever happens!

Yesterday we were in the middle of an EIGHT (EIGHT!)hour study session. During said session a small Mack truck LOADED with speakers came through and parked right outside the campus gate. The music was so loud it was vibrating the tables and windows in the rooms. I'm sure you could have heard it in Guadeloupe... it was THAT loud. Well, not only did they park there, but they stayed for ten minutes. Finally, enough was enough, it was impossible to concentrate. Apparently a few others felt the same as I was not the only one leaving the study room at that time. We went over to the group of people sitting mere inches away from speakers that were eight feet tall (where's the sense in that)and attempted to explain that the noise that thing was making was rather distracting and if they wouldn't mind either turning the blasted thing off or moving on down the road. The guy next to me was less than polite about it, I was trying to be a little more tactful, but it wasn't working. Not only did they not care that it was bothering us (shocker), but they didn't seem to understand HOW it could bother us. So again, dude, we have a test in two days... it's impossible to concentrate, and you've been here ten minutes. He said "we'll go in a minute." Sorry chief, that isn't going to cut it. "A minute" in island time could be tomorrow! We finally had to ask security to make them move. As they were moving I tried to give a wave of thanks, but it wasn't received friendly. We weren't trying to be jerks about it, but that attempt fell on deaf ears.

Now, why would they be doing that at all might you ask. Well, as it turns out it's election time here Dominica. I hate politics and politicians, and their mindless drones, er um, supporters, irritate me to no end. People's brains just get checked at the brain bank. AHHHHHHH! Rant! Also, continuing with the no-brain thing, the whole area around the school is 99% students. They weren't stopping to campaign, or if they were, that's wasted time!

On a totally different note. They cleaned out the anatomy dissection lab yesterday. They then cremated the bodies. The whole area smelled like Dachau. It was kinda creepy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One of my favorite songs that I think helps describe where I am in my life right now. Especially with TWO (TWO!!!) weeks until the final!!! And everything else in between. On a side note I think this would have been a better choice than an endless loop of "We Are the Champions" at the White Coat ceremony. I hate that song once, much less 63 times.

Growing up, you don't see the writing on the wall
Passing by, moving straight ahead, you knew it all
But maybe sometime if you feel the pain
You'll find you're all alone, everything has changed

Play the game, you know you can't quit until it's won
Soldier on, only you can do what must be done
You know in some way you're a lot like me
You're just a prisoner and you're tryin' to break free

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazing sky
I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire

Burning up, don't know just how far that I can go (just how far I go)
Soon be home, only just a few miles down the road
I can make it, I know I can
You broke the boy in me, but you won't break the man

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazing sky
I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire
I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea
I can feel St. Elmo's Fire burnin' in me, burnin' in me

Just once in his life
A man has his time
And my time is now
I'm coming alive

I can hear the music playin', I can see the banners fly
Feel like you're back again, and hope ridin' high
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazing sky
I'll be where the eagle's flyin' higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire
I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea
I can feel St. Elmo's Fire burnin' in me

Burnin', burnin' in me, I can feel it burnin'
Oooh, burnin' inside of me...

- Man in Motion, John Parr