Wednesday, June 25, 2008

EZ Tracks Review

This post is a paid review from, so feel free to keep that in mind while reading.

EZ Tracks is, from the moment you get to the main page, a throwback to early 90's sites that were trafficking in MP3 downloading. It touts free, legal music downloads... but we all know that in today's environment free usually equals illegal, at least if you listen to the RIAA and what they're spewing. The site even has an info corner to try an dispell any stigmas that users may initially have. Check out some of the Q&A found there:
Why EZ-Tracks?
MP3 music downloads are completely free and legal.
We are not P2P!

Why Download Online Music in MP3 format?
MP3's are the preferred music format, almost all portable music devices can play them.

Legal Music Downloads
Basics on downloading EZ-Tracks songs plus instructions on playing, copying, and burning music.

Countdown Music
EZ-Tracks is home to Countdown, the world's greatest cover band.

Not exactly dispelling anything for me, but I'm intrigued (for comedic reasons) about their claim of being the home of Countdown, the world's greatest cover band.

Anyways, you can look around for MP3s and bands and such, but to get to any of the actual music you need to sign up for an account at the site and, as you're signing up, the first thing they ask for is your email address with a popup message that exclaims "We DO NOT spam our users!" That screams to me that, "Yep, we probably will spam you with stuff." Any time you have to overtly deny that you'll do something it's because you're thinking about doing it or are doing it and want to reassure people's perceptions.

Now, as I'm signing up for an account (using fake info because I'm leery about things already), I find that I'm required to give my address and a phone number. Why do they need a physical address and phone number if I'm dealing with digitally distributed music, which doesn't need an address to be delivered to or a phone number to call. And besides, this is all supposed to be free music, remember? Again, they get fake info because I don't want any calls or snail mail spam.

As I finally get through their long ass registration process to get to my supposedly free music, I'm hit with advertisements to sign up for pay services. Annoying, to say the least. I just want to get my free music, dammit.

After I say "No thanks" to their offers, I find out that I'm STILL NOT REGISTERED!!! I get another page that says I need to make sure I have a valid cell number since they're TEXT MESSAGING ME MY ACCOUNT PIN NUMBER! Ridiculous! So I can't get any further because I didn't want to give out my cell phone number to get something texted to it.

This little bit makes me wonder if this is simply a scheme to get at people's cell numbers to continually text them and make money that way. I don't even have texting enabled on my phone because I hate getting raped by AT&T and their ludicrous price plans for text messaging. So it looks like I won't actually be getting my account created, which I guess isn't all that bad because the more and more I go through this site, the more and more it looks like a scam.

Oh, no a side note, I don't know if it was just a problem for me as I was going through, but on the pages asking for my cell phone number, half of the images on the page never loaded, which made it hard to know exactly what I was doing.

Hmmm... well, it seems like after I said no to everything, I still have an account. So I tried downloading a song... it sends me to an iTunes download page. I don't use iTunes. And why would I want to use iTunes if I could come to EZ Tracks for free music? Instead the site just shuttles me over to iTunes to download one of my supposedly free 101 tracks.

Let's just sum it up succinctly here: EZ Tracks isn't worth the hassle. If you want free music, keep downloading crap illegally (knowing you're running the risks of performing an illegal activity) or just pony up the 99 cents a song over at the Amazon music store.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spruce Up Your Monitor

Sometimes I wonder if I have some minor OCD tendencies or am slightly ADD. Heck, I probably have a combination of the two. Now isn't that a dynamic duo of dysfunctions? Anyhow, a small but noticeable annoyance I have with my work computer is that I can't stand having the same image as a background for more than like a day. Considering I stare at my monitor for 8-10 hours a day, the need for something new to look at underneath all of my open applications isn't too irrational, is it?

I've usually just switched up what my background is manually from time to time when I saw something new that I thought would be interesting, but ideally I would have liked to have something that did it for me. I found some background switcher programs, but they just cycled through a directory of pictures or images that I had. I would then find myself sick of what was in that directory. I know, I'm hard to please, but like I said I think it's some mild OCD.

Miraculously I have actually found something that completely cures my need for different background images and provides me with new and interesting pictures as often as I want. This magical freeware program is John's Background Switcher. I love it. It's robust, configurable, and works with most photo file sharing sites out there (and has dual monitor support!).

The way I have it set up now, it switches my background once every hour. And it doesn't just switch the background... it has a feature that makes your background look like it's covered with postcards that were sent to you (or polaroids if you'd rather go that route). It's undeniably unique and I am no longer pissed off when I minimze programs, but am instead happy to look at the new pictures that are there that I have it set to grab from Flickr's top 250 photos pool.

Just thought I'd let everyone know about a cool app I found and love. And, no, I haven't been paid to write this. I just wanted to share a great freeware app.

Podcast #5

The latest Decoy Music podcast has just went up. As always, please give it a listen and, if you're inclined, subscribe to the feed or through iTunes. I'm hoping we start seeing more people subscribing and listening. My goal is to be in the hundreds of subscribers by the end of summer. I don't know if that's a lofty expectation, but I think it's possible.

For those of you interested, this is the first podcast to have a co-contributor for half the show. Decoy's owner and friend, Aaron participated in the latter half of the show and I expect to keep having various Decoy staff participate going forward since it's a lot more fun to have multiple voices in the show.

If you feel up to it, please leave a review on iTunes. I'd really appreciate it.

Ok, that's enough plugging my podcast.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

I know every blogger and news outlet on the planet is talking about it, but I thought I'd mention the passing of George Carlin as well. I'm not going to go on about what a great comedian he was (because if you don't think so, you simply lack a sense of humor), but wanted to acknowledge his passing.

It's a little weird reading about his death considering that I was watching excerpts of one of his HBO specials on my Zune while I was in Chicago last week. Since it was the last exposure I had to him before his death, it'll always be a memory I'll remember. I had ran down past Navy Pier and was running along the lake when I found a nice, grassy area to sit down and chill for a while. I sat and watched some of the stand up comedy I had on my Zune while enjoying the breeze and doing some people watching.

The last bit that I watched before flipping some tunes back on and running back to the hotel was Carlin. He was doing a piece on farting on a bus or other form of public transportation. It wasn't just raunchy humor, but a reflection of how people actually approach the situation (at least it's close to how I would). The bit comes down to him explaining that you need to take a test fart at about 10-15% strength to see what kind of fart it is. It was really quite hilarious, and will always be the comedic bit I remember when his name is mentioned. Most people think of his 7 words you can't say on TV bit (which was giggle-rific for its time), but I'll always have the fart bit.

A great comedian has passed today. It's not often you find someone as interesting or truly funny as Carlin in today's comedic environment. Instead we're bombarded by the likes of Dane Cook and George Lopez and the no-talent hacks of SNL. Comparing Carlin to today's big names is quite the eye opener. They just don't make them like they used to...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Windy City

Man, is it ever good to be home... or at least my parents' home. I got back from my Chicago business trip yesterday late afternoon, but headed down to my parents' place instead of going home, so I haven't made it home home quite yet. Really, though, I'm quite glad to be back. Chicago is a city that seems to have it out for me. We try to get along, but really Chicago is just kind of a dick to me most of the time and I'm to the point where it's no longer cute but annoying and frustrating.

Chicago is the city I most travel to for business since the division of the accounting firm I work for is based in Chicago, so I try to make the most of my time there, but the city has done everything in its power to make me hate the place. As of this week, it has succeeded. The city is now firmly entrenched on my list of crappy ass places in the US that I don't want to go to unless I absolutely have to.

This week it all started as I was trying to get there. From Minneapolis it would take me around 6-ish hours to drive to Chicago, but an average flight is an hour fifteen in most cases, so of course it makes sense to fly. What is ironic is that on Monday when I was flying to Chicago, because of delays, I could have made it to Chicago in less time driving than I did flying. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in the airport waiting for my plane to get in, then waiting for it to get cleaned, then waiting for stewardesses to show up since they somehow disappeared... it was a very trying 3 hours.

Once I finally got in, I found that I had accidentally booked the wrong hotel. I stay at a particular Club Quarters when I'm in town since it's about 2 blocks from the office. This time, however, I must have selected the wrong Club Quarters when booking my flight so I was about 15 blocks from the office. I'm still thinking I was somehow being conspired against, but I haven't put together enough proof yet...

So I got in late, I'm far away from work, and I'm hungry, which leads into the real crux of why this tip sucked so much ass. Each night that I ordered food, I never once received it in less than an hour an 20 minutes. One night I ordered from the restaurant in the hotel, which was the quickest at an hour twenty, but that's pretty freakin' ridiculous for the hotel's in house restaurant.

Another night I ordered from a Chinese place right down the road and got it an hour and 35 minutes later. Trying my luck for a third time I ordered a pizza from a joint not too far away at 5:35 pm, as soon as I got back from work hoping to have some food in my belly in an hour's time, tops. I hadn't had anything substantial all day so I was close to starving. Finally, at 7:40 pm my food showed up. Over TWO HOURS after I ordered.

Two things add to why these delays were so fist shakingly angering. First, each time I ordered I was told that my food would be there in 30 minutes to an hour, yet not once were they even close. Is Chicago on some different time schedule than the rest of the world? Secondly, the tax in Chicago is enough to give you a heart attack, assuming the greasy ass pizza didn't. There's a 12% sales tax. Twelve. Freakin'. Percent. And it's not as if anything is cheap in that town to begin with.

On top of these things, the people in town that I dealt with (check-in lady at the hotel, cabbies, delivery guys, whoever) are all extremely unfriendly. Maybe it's because I live in the middle of "Minnesota Nice", but is it that hard to attempt to crack a smile, say hello, use some common courtesys, or not scream in predominantly curse words to whoever is on the other end of the phone while someone is waiting to check out at the CVS to pay double what a Diet Coke should? Maybe being polite and "nice" just isn't in the cards for the population of Chicago, which is pretty sad and one of the main reasons (outside of the continued bad luck with anything I do in the town) why I really don't like Chicago.

But I'm back now, thankfully, and I can go back to seeing happier faces, actually say hi to people I see on the street, and buy food without having to cough up a second mortgage to pay the sales tax on it. Screw Chicago, it's Minnesota for me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Like Dogs - The Hit-Tooth Chronicles CD Review

Here I sit, stuck in the Minneapolis airport waiting for my flight, which has been delayed by a few hours, has switched gates once already, and I'm anticipating it changing again. Supposedly the delay is because of “air traffic”, whatever that may mean. Behind me there is some douchebag kid strumming on his guitar screwing up over and over again while a little girl is alternating between screeching and telling herself a story about the remnants of a piece of paper she tore up while maneuvering around on the floor. Occasionally it mellows out and the flight attendant comes on to tell us to hang out and that they’re sorry for the delay. It’s pretty much one big cluster-f*ck of a situation, but really it makes total sense when I remember I’m in an airport. So how does this lead-in have anything to do with the band Like Dogs? Well, let’s just say that Like Dogs are lot like the insanity of an airport -- you’ll find all kinds of nutso, crazy stuff everywhere you turn, but it’s really not that unexpected when you remember where you are.

The Hit-Tooth Chronicles oscillates between swaying funk, stripped down blast beats, odd sound effect reminiscent vocals, hip-hop bounces, twangy punk, and everything in between. Within a 7 minute span that stretches over a few songs you’ll hear the vocalist doing his best Meatwad (of Aqua Teen Hunger Force) impression, a punk hoe-down, some bass guitar theatrics, slam poetry inspired mewithoutyou oft-kilter vocals, and a sound clip from the US version of The Office where Dwight is talking about beets. It’s schizophrenia in musical form.

Unfortunately this schizophrenic approach will alienate just as many people, if not more, than it brings in. What we have is a difficult release to listen to, to say the least, but if you somehow can tune your brain into the alternate realm of obtuse zaniness that Like Dogs exists in, and write music from, you’ll see the dark brilliance that shines through from time to time. Thankfully the majority of the songs are short, sub two minute bursts of insanity that don’t exist long enough to get old. There may be a lot of gimmicks found throughout this release, but never is any one run into the ground, which would be all too easy to do when you’re writing an album of this nature.

So are you insane? If you aren’t at least a little, stray far, far away from this band, but if you have the smallest inkling to experience what it is like to be locked in a padded room bouncing off the walls, stuck in a straight jacket that’s a little too tight, then dive in to The Hit-Tooth Chronicles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Decoy Podcast Number Four

I posted the latest Decoy Podcast last night from my hotel room in Chicago, since that's where I'm at this week for work. If you want to know how the flight went, listen to the first 10 minutes of the podcast. It wasn't a good start to my trip.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weather Weirdness

It seems like this year the midwest has been experiencing way more intense weather than is usual... and summer isn't even half over. Right now we have the floods in Iowa, floods in southern Minnesota, floods in Wisconsin, and floods everywhere in between. Then there have been the intense tornadoes that have ripped through the midwest, and other parts of the US as well. Also, it seems like it's been a never ending stream of thunderstorms trucking through the area. Just about every phone call I have with my parents will contain a portion of conversation catching up on what crazy weather they just had or how nasty of a storm came through my neighborhood. It's truly nuts.

And the latest entry into this crazy weather fiasco that is this summer, the northeast Minneapolis area (where I live) had a powerful thunderstorm rip through the area on Saturday night, complete with a light show and 60 mph+ winds. What was more amazing than the winds was how the air changed from being sunny and mid 70's in the afternoon to cool and densely black. I could have sworn that there was some demonic force making its way into Minneapolis and sucking the light and heat from the air.

Once the storm had trucked on through, our neighborhood surveyed the damage, which included a host of downed trees. Thankfully that's all that happened. I didn't have a tree go down, but did have a big ol' chunk of one snap off and land next to the house. This led to some Sunday afternoon chores I hadn't anticipated... like sawing it all up... by hand... with a hacksaw that probably wasn't too sharp. It was a good workout, though, and I got to spend time out in the sun.

Thinking that I could relax at the day's end, I started up a bonfire in the back yard, hoping to make some s'mores, but not more than 10 minutes after I got the fire started, a cloud opened up and poured down on us for all of 15 minutes, but it was enough to put out the fire and saturate the wood. Seriously, this weather is crazy and maybe just a little bit mean...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No Vacation? So What?

With the rising gas prices and hurting economy, there's been a lot of talk in the news about people not taking vacations this year. Instead people are taking "staycations", which is a word that I hope withers away and dies quickly. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the media makes up supposedly cutesy words to describe things. Made up words should be used only in cases of extreme sarcasm and internet-speak, not in the media. But anyways, that's besides the point.

There have been lots of articles and whatnot about making the most of your vacation at home, which is cool and all, but there has also been some negativity attached to the fact that people here in the US, a country that hands out vacation days as if they were rations during a food shortage, are ended up stuck at home on their one or two weeks off that they have for this year. I can totally understand that sentiment, but on the other hand vacation travel can be stressful as well.

Personally, I'm not completely sold on the idea that you should travel when you have a vacation. I do like to travel, but because I end up doing some traveling for my job (albeit it is business travel, so mostly full of suck, but travel nonetheless) I enjoy taking some time off and NOT traveling. And I don't think there should be anything negative construed about that fact.

The biggest problem that I have when I take vacations is that the week before I go on vacation I usually end up putting in a whole bunch more work time to try and get things done before I leave, then I have vacation (which is nice), but the whole time I know that when I get back I'm going to be overwhelmed trying to catch up. So for the week or so after vacation I'm also killing myself to catch up. It's just not worth it sometimes.

I've run up my vacation bank at work and am sitting at my limit continually so I take a day off here or there each month just so I don't lose them and I think that works out fine. And if I'm going to take an extended amount of time off, I like having my laptop and blackberry with me. Sure, I then end up working a couple of hours a day, but I'm not so rushed the week prior or after my vacation. And I save money.

And I get to catch up on so many things I've gotten behind on, like books I want to read, movies I want to see, personal projects I want to finish... and sometimes it feels more rewarding to really dig into those types of things instead of stressing out over traveling and getting yourself more behind with things. I almost feel like I need a vacation after a vacation (depending upon what I do or where I go).

So let's drop the negative stigma that's creeping onto the concept of the "staycation" and let's also not ever use that word again. People finally get a summer to catch up on all the little things they've let go instead of stressing out about going somewhere. I don't think that's a big deal at all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Inhale Exhale - I Swear... CD Review

Inhale/Exhale’s debut album, The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred, flew under most people’s radar, which is a real shame since it was a solid, if slightly generic, metalcore album. They struck a nice balance between a southern metal swagger and full ahead metalcore aggression. I realize that the previous sentence could describe a multitude of bands who have released albums in the last few years, so take it as you will, but Inhale/Exhale stood out amongst the oceans of mediocrity in 2006.

Two years later we now have the band bringing us their sophomore effort, I Swear… With this album we find the band moving away from the southern tinges of their debut to embrace a more standard melodic metalcore approach. At times there are even hints of Saosin-like songwriting to be heard, especially during some of the choruses. “The Words that We have Chosen” is a perfect example of this, having choruses that are picture perfect copies of the nu-emo template interspersed between some post-hardcore verses.

I mention the Saosin comparison not to rag on the band, but to point out the shift into some territory that doesn’t necessarily fit with the rest of their sound, especially the remnants of their southern metalcore roots that crop up throughout the album, albeit rarely. Oddly enough, it would have probably suited the band best to completely move into the melodic nu-emo / post-hardcore / pick-your-favorite-esoteric-subgenre territory, much like what Destroy the Runner did with their sophomore album. Instead of keeping pieces of their past to somehow fool their established fans into tenuously hanging on, they should have embraced full-bore their sonic shift. They could have easily put out an album in the same vein as latter career Dead Poetic or late Eighteen Visions and probably done it pretty well. Instead they tried to mix and match old and new coming out with a middling mish-mash of both.

On their debut album the screaming style employed by Andy Levy was adequate and fit the music, but here we have Ryland Raus forcing his scream and sounding strained. With such solid melodic vocals it’s jarring to hear the screams when they come in because they manage to wreck many of the songs, even when they are only sparingly used. With the change in vocalists, the band would have been better off sticking to Raus’ strengths instead of trying to shoehorn him into doing something that doesn’t feel natural for him. It just doesn't work.

Once you can get past the simply horrible screamed vocals you’ll be able to see that this band still has a lot of potential. There are some clich├ęd moments that feel a little ripped off or added to the album simply to appeal to the scene kids, but for the most part these guys are solid musicians and, if they can just all get on the same page and play to what they each do best, they can really do something great. For the time being, however, they’ve given us a very flawed album in I Swear…, but there is definitely hope for them to pull it all together in a future release.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gutter Work

Over the weekend my parents came up to visit and while they were up my dad and me took the time to put up gutters on my garage (since there weren't any on it when I bought my place). It went pretty smoothly except for the fact that Menards was out of left end caps so there is still one thing that needs to get done, but otherwise it's pretty much done. While we were at it, though, we decided to do some work on the gutters that were on my house since they looked to be sagging a bit and I'm glad we did since they definitely needed the work.

I don't know how many people have actually taken the time to clean out the gutters in your house, but if you let it go long enough, there gets to be some wonderfully rancid crap in the bottom of them. I don't know when the gutters on my place were last cleaned, but I'm going to guess it had been a while. At the bottom of each of them was about an inch or two of black, rancid, mushy crap. To top it off it smelled like a horrible combination of dead fish and hog manure. It was nasty, but me and my dad dug right in and cleaned all that crap out with our own four hands. Yum yum.

It felt good to get everything cleaned out, though, and hopefully I won't have to do it again for quite a while. It just seems like there is a never ending stream of home improvement projects that keep coming up and sapping my wallet. For 40 feet of gutter materials it was like $150... and that was for the relatively cheap gutters!

Decoy Podcast Number Three

The latest Decoy podcast is up here. If you're not already subscribed to the podcast feed, do so now!

Anyhow, as you can guess by the title (which mentions FFAF), I ended up rambling on so much about Funeral for a Friend that I didn't leave myself enough space to talk about any of the week's reviews (and there were some great albums to talk about!). I'll try to talk about more of them next week. I also wasn't feeling quite 100% when I was recording my portion so forgive me if I wander aimlessly and sound like I'm out of energy.

A new addition this week is a 12 minute piece from Aaron (Decoy's owner) about some of the bands he recently went to see. So it's not just me this time!

Also this time the levels may have gotten a little out of whack again considering I was cobbling together a bunch of sources, so forgive me. Number four should be a little better, levels-wise... I hope. As always, let me know what you think.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Guitar Virtuoso

Man, I've really got to hand it to my little brother, Ryan. He sure can play a mean game of Guitar Hero. As I mentioned last week, he was going to be competing in a Guitar Hero competition at Mystic Lake casino over the weekend. He competed, he excelled, and he crushed his opposition to bring home the first place prize of $10,000. Yeah, that's right, he grabbed a 5 figure purse for playing Guitar Hero. Color me jealous.

Every time I watch that kid play I'm in utter amazement. He'll crank the game up to expert and play just about any song, killing it. To me I only see a blur of colored circles streaming down the screen in patterns going too fast for me to adequately comprehend to play the song. I can usually play songs on hard, but expert is beyond me, and most people for that matter.

When Ryan got back to my place after the competition, my mom asked, "Can you believe it?" and all that came to mind was, "Yep, totally." He slays every song he plays and has finished first or second in every Guitar Hero competition he's ever played in so I would have been more surprised if he came home NOT in the top few.

Anyhow, it's pretty kick ass and I'm really happy for the kid. It goes to show that the old adage, "You'll never make any money playing those stupid video games," just isn't true... for a select few people!

Oh, check out the articles and videos about Ryan and the tournament here and here.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Podcast #2

In case you're interested, the second Decoy podcast that I did is up here. If you'd like, please subscribe to the podcast feed in your podcatcher of choice (usually iTunes). I'd really like to see this thing take off. We'll see, though.

In doing the podcast for Decoy I've noticed a lot of things, some about technology and some about people. Frankly, I didn't think I'd need to put in as much work on making a podcast as I do. There's a lot to do beyond hooking up a mic and talking for 45 minutes. If I flub something, I try to re-record it. When making transitions, I try to segregate the sections to individual tracks in Audacity to splice in music. All the music that I add in has to be imported, truncated to fit, level adjusted, and faded in/out so that it's not so jarring of a transition.

Then there's the issue of getting the tracks to begin with. Since it is a music podcast, I like to include clips of the stuff being talked about so I have to track down the music, usually just hitting up a band's MySpace page to use what they have freely available for listening to. Unfortunately, MySpace doesn't allow you to download tracks that they have up for streaming without buying them, so I have to find alternative ways of getting songs. It's kind of a hassle, really.

During the week I try to flag stuff that would be fun to talk about and jot down some notes or make a quick outline to go off of because, as I found out firsthand, it's pretty haphazard and tough to do a podcast or show without some type of outline. I can only imagine how complicated it'll be when I get some co-contributors on the show.

It's also been a wakeup call to remind me about the inherently possessive nature of humans. I don't want to go into specifics, but I will say that this had been something talked about being done at Decoy for a long time but no one ever did it, so when I actually stepped up and took it on instead of cheers and support, it became a very divisive topic. I'm sure everything will work out in the end, but it still frustrates me to no end that no matter what project I work on (be it for Decoy, my real world job, other volunteer activities) it's really rare to have co-workers or co-volunteers get behind you without wanting a piece of the pie or to do something their way. It's frustrating, but it's the nature of the game. Everyone wants to get ahead, wants to do things their way, and thinks that they can always do something better. I'm the same way and don't think I'm any better than the rest of the crowd, but I try to be aware of it and minimize negative input I may have on things since I realize how detrimental negative support can be.

Anyhow, I still am enjoying working on getting the Decoy podcast off the ground and will hopefully be able to continue doing it, as well as get a strong group of contributors involved. If you haven't listened, please do and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Still in Miami

So I've been in Miami (and am still there as I write this) for work this week. I was co-leading a 2 day training session on a software application that we are rolling out internationally. My session yesterday was a little rushed since the 90 minutes I was budgeted to have got scrunched into under 60, but we managed to make it through, even if I was a little razzled at cramming so much in so fast. Today my presented sections went much smoother since I had enough time to go through everything. That and I simply felt a little more into things today than I did yesterday.

It's been warm and busy and, oddly, filled with bad luck. There seems to be a ton of small things going awry on this trip. It started when I got myself a mocha at Seattle's Best in Atlanta. Let me tell you, never buy a mocha there. It's outrageously expensive (more expensive than Starbucks), the drink itself is mostly whip cream, and it's pretty much just some chocolate milk warmed up. I couldn't even really taste any espresso. Also, Atlanta is a terrible airport for finding fast food. Every fast food place is tex mex and anything americana at all is a sit down place, which makes it really hard to get food quickly while on a layover.

Beyond the flying troubles, when I got into Miami, my taxi ride to the resort I was staying at (the Doral golf resort, if anyone knows it) was about 45 minutes long because of a crazy accident that closed off 4 of the 5 lanes of the highway we were on. Then, to top it off when I got in, not having eaten all day other than my Seattle's Best mocha, I ordered a pizza only to have it delivered not as you'd expect (flat, like any freakin' idiot could deliver it), but upright like a book on a shelf. Needless to say all of the pizza was squished into one corner. I was too hungry to bitch, so I just sucked it up and tried to eat what I could.

Throughout the training sessions, everything was pretty good, except for some odd internet issues here and there... and the temperature of the meeting room. It was about 60 degrees in the room, which is pretty freezing when you're in there all day. Then you go outside and it's like 90+ out so there's no winning. Either I'm frozen or I'm overheating. Frickin' Florida.

Then my wonderful $50 noise canceling headphones broke. They suddenly decided it would be fun to only play bass out of the left earphone. Killer. So I went and dropped $35 on a pair of what I thought would be decent Sennheiser earbuds, but really they're no better than a pair of no-name earbuds I could have grabbed for $20. Oh, and the Circuit City I bought them at was 2.5 miles from the resort. I thought it was closer so I decided to walk there. A sweaty half hour later I finally got there and then walked back another half hour but being able to listen to my Zune on my new overpriced and underwhelming headphones. Yay!

I'm afraid of what else could go wrong, but thankfully it has just been the little things. Nothing major has really happened or gone wrong, so that's great. My luck, though, I'll somehow get delayed on my way home tomorrow and miss my ultimate game. Go me!