Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Monday night after my meeting with Noble House, I stayed on the Dolphin Expressway, passed my hotel by and went to the Circuit City in Doral. HALO 3 was on sale at midnight, but I wasn't going to stick around for that, that's crazy! I did want to pick up an Xbox 360 Elite and thought there might be a run on them, so I went in early to do that. I also wanted a second controller and the VGA HD cable (since I don't HAVE a TV to play it on, I'm going to plug it into my Acer 22" widescreen monitor). I spoke with a sales rep and he told me he couldn't sell me the game before midnight. Duh. I was going to get the console and then go back the next day to get the game.

The sales rep told me the "event" started at 10:00, and it was 8:45. "Ten? What happened to midnight?"

"Well, the event runs from ten until two A.M." Well that's a whole different ballgame... I asked him if he could put the console aside for me, and he hemmed and hawed, and finally he printed some receipt tape and wrote "Reserved for Mark" and took it in the back. I headed across the (flooded) parking lot to Chili's and bellied up to the bar to have a bite to eat and a couple drinks and wait for 10.

At ten I wandered back over to Circuit City and there was a healthy lineup outside the door, along with two tv station trucks and a radio station doing a remote. What I DIDN'T realize til about 10:30 was the "event" started at ten, but they still weren't letting people in til midnight. They had raffles and came out and gave away some swag throughout the next two hours. The tall dorky guy next to me won an Elite console and the game! Two numbers off my raffle ticket! Argh! At midnight opened the doors and let people in about ten or so at a time, then as people exited, they let more people back in. I got through in about 45 minutes. When I got up to the counter, I asked if they had any Elite consoles left, and the kid at the register laughed at me. Seriously, he laughed right at me. The other dorkasaurus next to him asked what was so funny, and he said "he asked if we had any Elite consoles left" and he laughed too, like it was all a big joke.

"Do you have one in the back that says Reserved for Mark?" They both instantly stopped and said "ohhh we were wondering what that one was doing back there" and dork #2 went into the back and brought it out. w00t! It's good to be the king!

I was exhausted and it was about 115 when I got back to the hotel room, so I just dropped everything on the kitchen counter and went to sleep. Last night when I got 'home' from work and dinner, I set about connecting the 360 to the 37" LCD tv in my room and tried it out.

Wow.

I'm not sure what the resolution of this TV is, but I assumed it was 720p, so I set it for that and man, even the Xbox360 splash screen is gorgeous! I played the first couple levels on normal difficulty, just to get the feel for the controller and the new buttons and weapons, and I have to say, it's pretty cool. Once I get back to Cayman I'm going to have to re-up my Xbox Live subscription and start getting schooled and teabagged by 12 year old trash talkers again! Next stop will be putting a big widescreen LCD on the shopping list :)

Wednesday, 26 September 2007 20:08:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Gadgets | Gaming | Microsoft#
Monday, 24 September 2007

And by that I also mean Canada, parts of Mexico, certain parts of the Caribbean(cough) and Western Europe, just so you don't think I'm picking on the US.

I'm in Miami this week, I arrived yesterday afternoon and wandered around the Dolphin Mall outlet stores for a bit and then Macy's at the International Mall as they were open until 8 and everyone else was closed. After leaving, and on my way back to my hotel (Summerfield Suites by Hyatt, by the way... 37" LG LCD TV, in-room high speed internet, full kitchen, bedroom & bathroom separate from living area, and if you're a Cayman resident, you can get the $99 special Cayman rate) I indulged in a little dinner that I can't get in Cayman: McDonalds.

Usually when I get to Miami I have a Big Mac combo, but last night, just to shake things up a little, I had the Big n Tasty. Combo. And McNuggets. And a chipotle bbq snack wrap. And a coke.

I now have no need to go back to McD's for another year. Ugh. The snack wrap wasn't bad... it was one chicken strip in a tortilla with some bbq goo and cheese. I ate about 1/3 of it then opened it up and pulled the chicken out. Surprising no one but myself, when I added the snack wrap to my plate on DailyPlate.com, that little bastard was 320 calories! The Chicken McNuggets were probably the best tasting out of all of it, with the "hot mustard" sauce. Needless to say, I was a few hundred calories over the recommended limit for the day.

This morning I skipped the free hot breakfast at the hotel and opted for the portion-controlled "cup" of Raisin Bran w/ 2% milk and a 4oz cup of yogurt. Maybe one of these other days I'll try their sausage and eggs. Anyway, on to lunch, which is where this post came together in my head:

I was driving around the Doral area, just west of the Miami Airport and saw all the usual suspects: McD's, Wendy's BK, Subway... I always steer clear of BK, Wendy's and Subway, and even Quizno's now because they have those in Cayman and if I want any of those. Next to a BK was a Boston Market... I think I've been there once before, and in my head it was a bit like Chicken! Chicken! in Cayman: still fast food, but not quite as bad. I ended up having the 5oz Roasted Turkey meal with green beans and the mac & cheese. Sure the mac & cheese was probably as bad or worse than a large fries, but I offset it with the green beans and the lean turkey! Right??

What surprised me though were the other people there... most of them had purchased bottled water rather than a fountain soft drink, and aside from a few bad apples, most people were picking the healthier choices: veggies, veggies and more veggies. The girl ahead of me ordered veggies and green beans,with no starch at all, and a bottle of water. My heart began to lift and I thought there may be hope for the obesity epidemic (of which I'm part, obviously) until I saw the line at the BK drive through next door :)

Monday, 24 September 2007 10:47:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Food | Travel#
Monday, 03 September 2007

I haven't done any exercise since the accident. The first week I spent in bed, and then the second week, after limping home from work I'd pretty much lay in bed also. It's been a month now, and my feet still hurt, my right knee clunks around in the socket and my left shoulder is still pretty sore. There's no bruising anymore, but I don't have full range of motion in my shoulder. Friday night my neck started hurting and then Sunday morning I was walking to my Jeep to go to Vespa Church (I still go even though I don't have a scooter) and I got a spasm in my back that just about floored me. It's still kinda there now, but not as terrible as it was Sunday.

I vowed to go to the gym tonight, see if I could get some time on the elliptical trainer and see how that worked with my knee and feet. Instead, I ended up working late... again. I got home and put on my "new" trainers, grabbed my iPod and went for a walk. I went down the street to the West Bay sports field and walked some laps around the soccer field until the pedometer said .8 miles. By the time I got home it was 1.08 miles and my left foot was hurting pretty bad. I made some dinner and got some cold packs for my foot and put it up. I'll see how it feels tomorrow and then see if I can do it again on Wednesday.

At this rate, perhaps I can start running (week one here I come!) next week or the week after.

Monday, 03 September 2007 17:47:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Sports#

The watch was lifted at 7pm tonight, just about when the sun was going down and I was getting home from work. I checked the Closest Point of Approach (CPA) and it now says 330 miles in 13 hours. I guess tomorrow will be cloudy and rainy. They didn't say anything about wave action though... the NOAA update said to expect 18 foot storm surge... holy shit! That's a lot of water being pushed around... I still think we'll get SOME wave action out of it... Anyway, so Felix is no longer a threat to us, but there's another TD out there that could come into the Caribbean in a few more days, so it looks like we may end up having the busy season that was predicted after all.

Monday, 03 September 2007 17:32:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | #
Sunday, 02 September 2007

This morning while I was at Vespa Church at Paperman's Coffee House at the Strand, the Cayman Islands NHC issued a tropical storm watch for Grand Cayman. That means we could get TS conditions within 36 hours. We're on standby at work, waiting to see what happens over the next 12-24 hours to see what develops. As it stands, we're going to be far enough away to avoid pretty much everything except shitty weather for a few days and maybe some high seas and waves for a day or so. More to come...

Sent from my BlackBerryR wireless device from Cable & Wireless bMobile

Sunday, 02 September 2007 11:34:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Hurricane#

Two weekends ago we had a little brush with Hurricane Dean. Nothing major, lost a couple shingles but a huge disruption to the normally care and stress free existence that's kept me down here so long.. ha! Anyway, in the lead-up to the storm's arrival, we went through the checklists and steps to preparation. I still have a checklist, but it's pretty much all in my head now because we've been through it so many times... test and tune the generator, inventory and stock the food that needs replenishing, prepare a go-bag in case you need to GTFO of Dodge, document prep, off-site backup of data files (thanks, Stacy for pointing me to Foldershare) fill up the cars with gasoline (A full bunker is a happy bunker) and all of that sorta sorta.

Our landlady didn't think it was worth the trouble to board up or anything because "it did fine in Ivan". Every storm is different, if it comes from even 1 degree different angle it can mean the difference between a safe house and being perpendicular to coconuts, shingles and anything else that gets picked up and blown around and through windows. Ultimately, it's her place, so whatever.

Since it was the first threat of the season, the food supply was pretty low-to-non-existent so when I went shopping (two days before the mad rush) I spent $89 on food & water. most of it was hurricane supplies, but some of it was just regular groceries that I needed as well. I topped up the tank on the Jeep and made sure that Scott's car (that I brought and parked up here for safekeeping) had a good load of fuel too, in case we needed it later on to run the generator).

Since then, I've been driving around on that fuel in the Jeep and had to fill up late last week. I actually let it get right down to fumes and was lucky enough that I rolled into the gas station on momentum! Power Plus (the cheaper stuff) was $4.31 a gallon late last week. Fumes-to-full on the jeep was 12.25 gallons so I was really sucking the dregs from the reserve of the fuel tank. $53.00 later, the tank was full. $53.00!!! That should get me about 350 miles or so,  I'm going to be running this tank down to fumes again to see how far I can stretch it, mileage wise to work out in my head when I need to fill up again.

Compared to my poor little Vespa (which is sitting behind the shop, starting to rust awaiting it's fate from the insurance company) which only took about $5.50-$6.25 to fill up with the good stuff, it was a tough pill to swallow. I guess I have to compare that to the trauma I went through last month and all the medical bills and laying in bed for a whole week and then it's not so bad, but from a purely financial point of view, cars are getting way too damn expensive to operate. It's times like this that I really feel sorry (well not that sorry, no one twisted their arm to buy it) for people who are running around the island in their Suburbans and Expeditions and other silly V8-powered SUVs that are only ever forced to navigate the treacherous puddles after a rain shower.

Sunday, 02 September 2007 07:51:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Jeep | Scooter#
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