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Category: random

03/05/12 07:54- ID#56177

Like a Sauna in there...

Off and on for the past few years, I’ve subjected myself to the hot box of fitness that is Bikram Yoga. After a breather, I pushed myself to three classes last week. The truly scholarly refer to it as “your practice.” I practice Bikram, much in the way an elephant “practices” tight rope walking. Sadly the resemblances don’t end there, but thankfully, that isn’t the point.

It’s all about doing the best you can. When you are as athletically gifted as I (and when I say gifted…), that is a good thing. There are no false expectations, competitions, just a gentle guiding toward better health, actual feeling good and sometimes more.

Every class is taught like it is happening to you for the first time. This makes it good and bad, as your muscles do indeed have memories, and apparently potty mouths.

Once you set yourself past the fact that it is both 105 in the room and somebody else’s heating bill, you can start to slip into the familiar, 26 poses that well, beat you up productively. A friend worried about the heat. I don’t think much about it as, it doesn’t take long for the desert like perspiration to start setting in. The first foreword bend sets off a series of snap, crackles and pops that rivals the freshest breakfast cereal. A series of exercises stressing balance reminds me that I don’t have any. The stretches that follow start to make my lungs hurt as this is where first few classes have thrown me a little, but I persevere, hanging in there. All hope might not be lost as I am able to even assume the tree pose with minimal resemblance to a weeble.

The second half of the class is down on the mats and one pose does have you laying on your stomach, trying to lift everything you can off the ground. Everytime an instructor says to “imagine yourself a bird,” my thoughts tend to go penguins as like them I apparently am not made to fly.

But after 90 melting minutes, I got through it and will head back for more later this week. It’s a bit torturous, and like that commercial with Charles Barkley, I’m not there for the higher consciousness, I’m there because a beer tonight would taste really good.

And it does seem to allow that.
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Location: Buffalo, NY
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Category: moonlighting

02/25/12 03:51- ID#56132

Hall Monitor

For the unitiated, I do extra work at the First Niagara Center for events as an usher. All about not working terribly hard is me. For the Sabres/Stars game, I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop of assignments. It was nice to get the call as it had been a few weeks, but I was given a door to watch over, near restrooms in a little alcove. The door behaved itself. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was getting punished, but they were filling in the blanks. The usual doormeister was gone so I got the call. It is mostly boring, you can’t see the game very well, so you people watch and that is a festival as you might expect but you feel a little weird as half your sightline is folks entering the bathrooms. Had an awkward reunion with a guy I never really got along with in jr. high. That was weird and sort of set the tone for the night. He relayed to his date that he gave me a hard time and said he was surprised I never beat him up. I allowed how there was still time.

I was occasionally sneaking game glances but you did have to watch out for interlopers sneaking up the stairwell. The middle level of the place is restricted during the game to the folks who pay for the privilege, but that doesn’t stop some smoothies from taking a shot at getting in. I had a guy whose invisible wife was killing him to get a handcarved roast turkey sandwich (yeah, sure), a few other ner do wells, but my favorite was the guy who tried to talk his way up to see Sabres Broadcaster Kevin Sylvester, while Mr. Sylvester was speaking….on television. Something tells me that isn’t the best time for company to drop by, especially when they don’t seem to grasp the nature of your job. That same something told me that the gentleman in front of me knew Mr. Sylvester, from watching him on television like the rest of us.

The Sabres won in a shootout, so I’m thinking all the people who left early trying to “Beat the traffic” are feeling a little foolish, but I showed that door who was boss.
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 02/25/12 03:51


Category: cars

02/25/12 03:48- ID#56131

Farther On Up the Road

Continuing my car-ma theme from a couple of blogs ago, I did find a nice one. It's in the journal below, but it's acquisition was in an interesting tale as I don't think I want to buy that way ever again. But if I didn’t really like and I do, I might have walked away again. I went to recent used car warehouse sale at Eastern Hills Mall, largely to just see what parked out there behind the food court. There were some vehicles parked in the mall, but I took a “what the hey” stroll to see what was out and about. Now, it should be said, that volume used car shopping is bound to be a little bleah, beige, exciting as watching paint dry, etc. And going to one of these sales is something I don’t intend to repeat.

Anyway, nestled among some overpriced SUVs, Rav4, and other oversized trucksters, I found the Corolla. It looked great, inside and out. You knew it would be worth taking a swing at, so I flagged down a Sales rep to talk more. I had him go get the key after hearing his platitudes. He returned after disappearing to an “office” the dealership set up in an empty store front. I railed at him about all the stuff I wrote about in the “carma” blog two entries ago, so why surprise him with being a jerk later, might as well let him know where I stand from the get go.

We did a couple of laps of the mall and the car and I bonded. This is where the fun stops. I tell my new best friend, Tim, that this car and I are a good match. Let’s go talk to those who need talked to

We journey into the mall “office” where more sales reps, credit people are strewn across a network of card tables and water bottles. We start the ball rolling where an hour of waiting, while furious typing breaks out buying out the rest of my existing loan, evaluating the grand am that I was driving, and the dealership deciding where they will meet me on price. Where I screwed up was telling them to give me the best you can do from the start. Forgot to check on that, but learn from me dear reader. Tim reappears and advises me to follow down Transit Road to his actual office where we will get the papers signed, he’ll get the car inspected, detailed, and ready to go.

I get to meet the finance woman. Prior to arriving, I called my dad who was the wingman on my older sister’s recent lease from the same firm. I wanted to check when his finely honed b.s. detector went off. It was at this conversation. The finance “Expert” showed my deal. Then, the “genius” revealed all these other options available for my protection to further protect my car and my investment, since “Toyotas are complicated and foreign.” That sadly is an exact quote. This car was built in the exotic foreign land of…..Kentucky (thank you Car Fax). I managed to hide my contempt for this financial whiz kid, didn’t even ask her if when her boyfriend blows in her ear, does she remember to thank him for the refill. If she was the first person I met, this wouldn’t have happened.

With most of the staff at the mall, it seemed forever to get the paperwork done, a mere four hours after I stopped by, automotively six years and 40,000 miles younger. Not a perfect transaction, customers shouldn’t have to be on guard and reps shouldn’t be like vultures, and more importantly, the dealer’s staff shouldn’t have such contempt for clients that they barely mask their misinformation to get a deal done. Positives outweigh the negatives, but there shouldn’t be negatives.

Is that so wrong?
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Category: cars

02/06/12 11:20- ID#56032

Fresh Hoopty

Picked up a new car on Saturday after spending some afterwork time looking at new used hooptys. After getting the run around at one sale on Thursday night, I found the 06 Carolla in the photo by chance. I'm laughing a little as the Rep from Thursday called Friday wanting to know if they could get in my price range would I come back. My thinking was if that could be done, why wasn't it the first time?

image

Found this one and kept a straight face while telling the Thursday Rep why we are done.

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Last Modified: 02/06/12 11:29


Category: cars

02/04/12 11:39- ID#56023

My carma ran over my dogma

While cursing how the office’s enewsletter client decided to fail me, I was distracted again by a car salesman.

I’ve started shopping. While as a friend pointed out, a new ride is an absolute blast, new thrills and all. What wrecks that for me is the crap you have to wade through to get to the thrill point. Thursday night, I met up with a rep who I purchased my last car from at a “Warehouse” sale out at the Fairgrounds. Four years ago, I didn’t give a style or make in mind, just a dollar amount. I didn’t have to have “the car” just four wheels that weren’t trying to kill me.

So, four years later, I’m employing the same methodology as I’ve started to think about the next vehicle. I’ve been looking online for awhile and the danger about that is a simple inquiry gets you lots and LOTS of follow up. So, off to the ag center I trudged, looking for adequate doesn’t exactly get you all a flutter.

I tried out a Vue, a Monte Carlo, a PT Cruiser, a Nissan, Kia Diamonti, an Ion, a Sportage and finally a Camry. There was an Escape in there too, but I got serious about a Camry. Figuring that you can rarely go wrong, we filled out some papers and it could be done at a rate higher than I cared to pay monthly. So, after almost three hours of mucking about, I got up and walked. Crazy, right? Sales rep lets me sit in an Alero and I think I’m done and head for the door. Suddenly, the finance manager wants to talk some more.

And I tell him that the Camry is a nice car, but they want too much for it. I’m sure they can get from some guy, but it isn’t going to be this guy. I set a budget for car payments and that wasn’t a ballpark figure and bid them goodnight. I go about my business today, including layout out a newsletter whose software lopped it in half, subscribers of which will be receive by-weekly since the damn thing apparently can’t handle too much data. Repairing to a local tavern to hear a favorite band and have a beverage, my phone rings. It’s the sales rep wanting to know my thoughts, what do I think, and what if we can get you to those numbers, etc

This is why people do not like buying cars, do not trust car dealers, enter into purchases trying to minimalize their screwing…..

It shouldn’t come to that. Customer should be able to say and have their thoughts taken seriously the first time around. It shouldn’t take all the dickering around, the parades to the “Finance Guy,” the convos with the Sales Manager, as it is all bullshit. That is the part of the car industry is messed up. Sure, it is great at selling cars, but twisted at customers, fine at acquistion, shitastic at retention.

If we can give me more for my trade, then DO IT!!!

See, delete the crapfest of dealer shenanigans, and people become regular customers.

Maybe if the customers weren’t rogered, or have to be brace themselves, the gaggle of sales reps would seem less vulture like. Maybe an atmosphere of all cards on the table on both sides FROM THE START would be good for less grief for customers and less angst from commission hungry sales folks.

Maybe that wasn’t a pig flying by my window……
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Last Modified: 02/04/12 11:39


Category: family

01/31/12 04:12- ID#56010

Pop

Thinking of my father-in-law (former father-in-law, not sure what the right title is) today. He passed away in 2008 after an tough cancer fight at Roswell. Today would have been birthday number 76. He died the day before my birthday, so as fellow aquarians, we were pretty tight.

He popped into my brain a bit with the news surrounding Roswell last week. My dad has been involved in some of the computer work there on a volunteer basis that helped move the program along a bit, given that he too is now a patient, makes me think that the facility owes us one.

So, I think Pop would think that was pretty cool. He was a natural cheerleader who was always looking for a way forward. Sometimes his suggestions might feel like a bit of wild goose chase, but in his eyes, it was taking a shot, taking that chance, because that was always better than wondering "what if" in the long run.

Lord knows the people that could use boosts receive them the least. He knew everybody and those he didn't know, a quick conversation might give way to a plan to accentuate those talents he knew you had. He was a pay it forward all the time kind of fellow. I'm sorry he isn't around now to see the great people his grandchildren are turning into, but glad he was here to get 'em started.

I remember telling him (and most of you via the journal) of the journey to get my current post here at the Zoo. Even in the middle of chemo battles, his sly smile couldn't help but come to the surface.

"Aw. c'mon man, you got this."

Yeah, I got it. Happy Birthday, Pop
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/31/12 04:12


Category: music

01/29/12 12:44- ID#56002

Ticketbastard

I went to my first rock concert in 1978. The tickets were bought over the counter by standing in line. This dawned on me on how simple it was watching how getting access to a major event is something the internet hasn't made easier. In fact it might be a little more messed up. If you were a kid of the burbs, you could walk up to the National Record Mart (remember them?) and get tickets from somebody who acted like a rock star because he worked in record store, making minimum wage.

Inflation does what it does. Remember when a souvenir t-shirt was under $10? but the idea of if you can get through the Ticketmaster, Tickets.com, or Live Nation sites when a major show is announced, order your two seats and pay a "Convenience" fee tantamount to buying a third ticket? That is a little nutty, when the convenience means your printer at home, your toner, their lack of an actual person aiding your purchase. Who they paying with that fee? The electric bill? The good folks over at Kleinhans Music Hall have been hosting concerts of all colors once again and that is a great thing as the place is perfect. I had to laugh a little when a poster on twitter lamented how they were just using their box office staff instead of a "robust ticket selling website like Ticketmaster." The same robust site that crapped out on numerous Springsteen and Roger Waters hopefuls earlier this week.

Give me a robust busy signal for a few minutes or a short line to wait in for the real deal over the computer freezing anytime. The net ain't there yet.

Got my seat though.
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Category: music

01/29/12 12:43- ID#56001

Tramps Like Us

Procured tickets for the umpteenth time to see Bruce Springsteen (yeah, I know, old guy tunage) tomorrow. Since the first time I've done that, the world has certainly changed.

The first instance was my best bud and I cobbling together our allowances, giving them plus the unspoken you're going to give us a ride surcharge, to his older brother for the whopping sum of $10 for two tickets. Two years later, my mom cued up at National Record Mart and got us the tickets. I had a test, so Mom came up home with two in the first row of the upper golds of the aud (she got a cool story out of it and much respect from my school crowd) We rode with his brother again and might have spent the towering sum of $20.00 for two tickets. Got a chance to tell that to the man himself during a brief exchange of hellos in 1994.

Those were the days, no service charge and the souvenir shirts that you HAD to have were all of eight bucks.

It tells you something that the economics have shifted where you look at a concert ticket and think a $75 price tag ain't terrible. But the evil ticketmaster will mess with us all to be sure. Stories of the computers freezing up between Live Nation and other shows going on leaving mostly the working folk out in the cold peering into the windows of StubHub.

And that $20, that is still around, as the "convenience charge" for printing at home.

Been at this awhile...Got a feeling this will be for my age bracket what say, the Foo Fighters show was in September for a slightly younger crowd, you start going to the Sportmen to fit in better than at the Old' Pink.
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/56001/Tramps_Like_Us.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/29/12 12:43


Category: work

01/23/12 04:16- ID#55971

whaddya lookin at?

I'm not sure, but it was too nice a pose to not snag a picture.

image
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Last Modified: 01/23/12 04:18


Category:

01/21/12 09:40- ID#55953

Breakfast

the folks at Sweetness 7 rock

image
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/55953/Breakfast.html
Words: 7
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/21/12 12:06


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