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Being that both Jess and I are more the book reader type than the movie watching type, the new site BookSwim tickled my fancy. At it’s core it is Netflix but for books. Now I know I can go to the library and get books for free but a lot of the time the books there are not new releases or in great condition. Since I only like to keep books that I really, really enjoy then this service makes perfect sense.

As soon as the server problems they are having (instant popularity) die down I am going to sign-up and try it out.

Standing in line at fast food or semi-fast food restaurants is never any fun. However, there are etiquette rules that should be adhered to by everyone. We all have to stand there, why not make it as stress free as possible?

So, there I was, waiting to order. There were four people in front of me and the line seemed to be moving quickly. There was some convergence of the multiple lines and a tad bit of confusion set in. A woman walks up behind me, then beside me, and says, “excuse me”. Me, being someone with occasional manners, lets her pass, thinking that she is trying to make her way to the exit. Nope, not today.

The woman proceeds to join her friends one line over, and a few people forward, right where there is some confusion. All of the sudden, I realize she cut in-front of two people in the line where I am standing! I resisted saying anything and finally ordered and left, but the feeling of being ‘duped’ never receded. It is that feeling of irritation that just gets under your skin.

I think the reason so many people are so concerned about themselves now is because of people like this woman. Why would someone want to be polite if they knew the person was just going to cut them? The rude people are ruining it for everyone. So how do we handle this, do we call people out in public or do we become rude ourselves. John Stuart Mill would say that we need to call these people out and move them to the back of the line. He would say that we need to do what is best for the greater good, in effect, “cutting” in front of those who “cut” us.

Me, I’m just going to do my best to be polite, even when others are rude and cheat the system.

Yesterday evening, my parents became the proud owners of a new Apple MacBook. Up until now they have been doing all of their e-mail, web browsing, photos, and document editing on a Windows desktop. The move will take some adjusting but I doubt they will have any problems. My mother is already awestruck by the simple features of the dock and Dashboard.

One thing that struck me as odd was the fact that iLife ’08 was not pre-installed on the machine. Instead, a DVD with it was included in the box that contains system CDs, along with a copy of iWork ’08. Granted, it is a small thing but I did expect a little more from Apple.

Already, the tragic events that occurred in Minneapolis have caused the Democrats to turn their sights to Bush as the center of blame.

Harry Reid has the gall to, less than two days after the event, blame Bush for the problems with our nations infrastructure. He claims that after 9/11 we’ve “taken our eyes off the ball”, going on to state that Bush spends too much time worrying about the war in Iraq to care about our nations bridges. There are others who have jumped on this bandwagon without even thinking about the human factor. This is a tragedy and yet these folks cannot wait till all of the bodies have been recovered to start placing blame. I find it appalling that this is the case, but I guess I have come to expect it.

To clear a few issues up, the bridge has failed inspection off and on since 1990, which I believe was more than seven years ago, if my math is correct and if my history is correct, George W. Bush wasn’t President. Also, the Federal Government only supplies money to the states for road repair and maintenance, they do not oversee the work, that is the responsibility of those states. Anyone thinking Katrina? How those states spend the money is up to them, if they want to buy party hats for everyone, so be it. Lastly, bridges are found structurally deficient pretty often, but that does not make them candidates for immediate failure. In fact, the Brooklyn Bridge was recently found to be in this condition, yet people still drive on it. The problem lies squarely with the states. Bush should not be worrying about the structural integrity of every bridge and road in every state. Yes, there should be some concern for our infrastructure but the states should also be making the proper decisions on where to spend the money. I guess in the end Bush hates black people, people on bridges, and kids in school buses.

Come on people, wake-up. This is a tragedy. Show some compassion and stop trying to throw blame around before the dust even settles. Realize that the Federal Government is not to blame for every little thing in your lives and accept it. Life will be a great deal easier and you will feel better too.

Before I start writing about the time Jess and I had in San Francisco I thought I would fill you in on an occurrence I am thinking of taking part in.

On September 9th, Continental is flying a Boeing 777 between EWR and SEA to put it in a position to be upgraded there or shuttled to Hong Kong for configuration there. They are selling seats on this portion to make some revenue from the flight and right now tickets are going for $400.

This has crossed my mind as a nice little mileage run, not because of the miles but because of the planes I would get to sit in. From Houston to Newark I would take a 757-200, stay the night in New Jersey, then take the 777 to Seattle. From Seattle I would head to Houston on a 737-800 and call it a night. The run would net me around 6,000 miles, which though not the greatest mileage for dollar, would still be a neat trip.

I haven’t decided if I am going to do it or not but should in the next few days. I also thought about flying first class on the Newark-Seattle section of the trip as there are a lot of seats, but I think I’ll just pray for an upgrade (unlikely).

San Francisco has to be one of the most interesting places I have ever been. I have visited once before but was much younger and did not appreciate the subtle things that I noticed on this trip. Jess and I arrived in Houston on Monday evening after a great trip out west. Last night I started going through pictures and hope to have them up soon along with a pretty lengthy write-up of the trip.

I am definitely back in “work” mode but I miss that weather out west, with temperatures never getting much above 80.

Look for some photographs (I took over 400 pictures while there) and a walk-through of the trip in the very near future.

A scheduled trip to Denver for work turned into a nice week with a mini-holiday in the middle. Having to work the July 4th week away from home allowed me to plan a small vacation and make the trip more fun. Jess got a trip on Frontier for Tuesday night and we thought a quick trip into the foothills of Colorado would be fun with stop in downtown Denver for some brewery touring and beer tasting.

My flight into DIA was uneventful. Flight 399 pushed back from the gate at 6:15pm CST, just a few minutes behind schedule. After a brief wait on the taxiway, the pilot commenced a rather long take-off roll. I was seated in 15C, an exit row on the 737-800 but with minimal recline. After the first “ding” signifying we were at 10,000 ft. I took out my laptop and watched an episode of “The Office” and waited for the snack to be served.

Forty-Five minutes into the flight and service began with options for the snack being a tuna sandwich or turkey sandwich. I opted for the turkey even though I brought pizza on-board for this flight (the woman next to me brought a hamburger) and a glass of Chardonnay. I finished watching the episode of “The Office” and started working on a side project of mine that I hope to have up in the near future. One observation about the flight was that even though it was full, the service was quick and efficient. The crew went out of their way to make sure everyone was accommodated.

Our arrival into DIA was smooth and as we pulled up to the gate I knew the airport would be almost completely empty. Walking into Terminal A, I saw a few people waiting on a couple of delayed Frontier Airlines flights but other than that, it was the normal, fairly deserted terminal. One thing that annoys me about DIA is the train that takes you to the baggage claim area. Yes, it’s nice but people just cram into it because they want to get to their bags as soon as possible (though most of the bags take a while). What starts as a nice stroll through the airport turns into a free-for-all at the baggage carousel.

I carried-on but my co-worker checked his bags, so after he collected them we headed to the AVIS pick-up area. We were upgraded to a Mercury Mariner and exited the airport grounds, making our way to the hotel in Westminster, CO.

Two days of work and I headed to the airport to pick-up Jess, ready to enjoy the quick little holiday. Jess’ flight was on time and I parked to make it little easier for her to get her bags and not be worried finding me in what is sometimes a mess known as the DIA passenger lanes. We made our way to the hotel, dropped off our bags, freshened up and headed downtown for dinner. We knew we wanted to try a few breweries and thought we would try one on Tuesday and a couple of others on Wednesday. For this night we picked the Breckenridge Brewery which was catercorner to Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies. The atmosphere in the place is just like any other large restaurant/bar and we were ready to try a sampler but the waitress informed us that they don’t do samplers on game nights because the bartender is too busy. I was a little perturbed by this because the place had settled down and most of the crowd had made their way to the game and they could have easily made us a sampler if they really wanted to. Needless to say, we just ordered a couple of beers, I had the Proper Hefeweizen and Jess had the Summerbright Ale. Both were great light beers, perfect for summer and they went well with our dinner.

We paid and made our way outside, ready to walk-off some of the calories we had just taken in. Strolling around downtown we decided to head toward the 16th Street Mall and enjoy the evening. The sun was setting and the crisp air of the Mile High City was refreshing. Downtown Denver is done right. There is plenty of sidewalk space and everything seems to be well thought out, especially the underground bus terminal. After about an hour of walking we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel.

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On a whim that night, we decided that we would get up early and head to the foothills to enjoy the beautiful weather and maybe make our way to a casino in Black Hawk. After a good nights rest, we did just that. The drive to the foothills was breathtaking and we made mental notes of places to stop on our way back so that we could snap some photos. Arriving in Black Hawk, we quickly decided we would try out a couple of the nearby casinos and then make our way back to Denver. We parked and headed into the Golden Mardi Gras Casino. $20 was going to be the total that we would spend at the casinos and got our cash and put a few bucks in the penny slots… I know what you’re thinking, “Penny slots?!” but in all honesty it was just for fun, as neither of us had ever been to a casino before. Losing some money on the slots, we played video poker, where our luck did not improve.

We needed a break from the cigarette smoke and went outside to enjoy the beautiful mountains that surround this little town. They are absolutely amazing. Still having money in our pockets we wanted to try our hand one more time, so we went into the Ameristar casino and went for the penny slots again. Then we tried out the video poker… Our luck took a turn for the better as Jess won $14. We were happy and invested $5 in another game. A few deals later and Jess won $44.25, enough to pay off our losses for the day and come out on top. With that, we were off to cash-out and head back to Denver, stopping to snap a few quick pictures.

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Our first stop in Denver was the Wynkoop Brewing Company. It is a neat little brewpub with a real classic feel. The ceilings are ornate with carvings and a 1920’s-esque appeal to them. The beers we were served were Light Rail Ale, Railyard Ale, Two Guns Pilsner, Cascade Cream Ale, and Cherry Bomb Weizen.

The Cherry Bomb was interesting but dry. The sweetness of it was not overpowering and it was refreshing with little aftertaste. The bartender described the brewing process as the beer simply aging with fresh cherries in it, which explained the not too sweet flavor. Cascade Cream Ale let us down a little bit, it had a great starting flavor but finished dry and bitter. We were hoping for a much smoother finish as the name “cream” had led us to believe. Two Guns Pilsner was very similar, finishing dry and bitter but starting light. Nothing too impressive about it. The Railyard Ale was hands down the best of the bunch, with strong flavor and a smooth, easy down finish. Light Rail was too light and not flavorful enough for us, leaving us wondering if it was actually beer. We did have a light snack of beer bread and artichoke dip which was awesome. I definitely give Wynkoop a 4 out of 5.

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After paying our tab, we made our way across downtown to the Great Divide Brewing Company. This is an interesting place because it is not a restaurant or brewpub, it is merely a tiny bar and tap room. They give four free samples and after that there is a minimal charge for more. Our samples for this trip were the Ridgeline Amber, Denver Pale Ale, St. Bridget’s Porter, and Wild Raspberry Ale. All of these were good beers. The Ridgeline had great flavor, with a slight aftertaste. The Denver Pale Ale was a little too hoppy, in our opinion, for a pale ale but was still a very good beer. St. Bridget’s Porter was interesting, as it reminded us of a seasonal fall beer. It was heavier (not unexpected) but had a wonderful flavor. Wild Raspberry took the cake though. I was expecting to be overwhelmed with raspberry flavor but in fact it was extremely mild and added a lot of life to the beer.

The bartender left a little to be desired at Great Divide but overall it was somewhere I’d visit again. We actually ran into someone from Sugar Land inside of the place, we chatted for a while and he was on his way. One of those random encounters you really don’t expect. One note, the beers at Great Divide are actually available in Texas at Spec’s and Central Market, should you decide you want to try them yourself.

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The day concluded with us heading to a local park to watch the fireworks displays, many of which could be seen from our vantage point. Jess left on Thursday, I finished up work on Thursday and Friday and headed to the airport for the trip back to Houston. There was about a 2 hour delay on our flight due to weather in Houston and I eventually left Denver at 8pm MDT, arriving in Houston around 11pm. It was a great mini-vacation in the middle of the work week and made my trip to Denver much more enjoyable.

My personal use of MySpace has dwindled to almost nothing. For one thing, the usefulness of it has worn off. During college it was a good way to keep up with some of the people I didn’t see as much but wanted to keep in contact with. After college it served the same purpose, but it does a poor job of it.

Facebook is turning into the same clutter-ridden, time wasting, and overall useless site as more and more “applications” get introduced. It used to be, I could go on Facebook, grab an e-mail address and send a quick message, now I have to wade through all of the graffiti applications, zombie punching, and food fight junk just to get to the same information. This, coupled with the introduction of non college-aged users has lead to a decline in the use of Facebook for me. It’s just easier for me to keep all of my friends in my contact list than it is for me to try hunt down their information on these websites.

Music now plays in the background on certain Facebook pages and I am inundated with who to vote for on others, it just gets old…