Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hillary -vs- Obama Fight Night

Here is a great game from the New York Post for all you Hillary and Obama fans. Pick your candidate and then throw your punches.


Is Hillary Pushing Wright?

As published by the New York Daily News - found on the Drudge Report.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright couldn't have done more damage to Barack Obama's campaign if he had tried. And you have to wonder if that's just what one friend of Wright wanted.

Shortly before he rose to deliver his rambling, angry, sarcastic remarks at the National Press Club Monday, Wright sat next to, and chatted with, Barbara Reynolds.

A former editorial board member at USA Today, she runs something called Reynolds News Services and teaches ministry at the Howard University School of Divinity. (She is an ordained minister).

It also turns out that Reynolds - introduced Monday as a member of the National Press Club "who organized" the event - is an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter.

For the entire article click here. To go to the Drudge Report click here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Groundings Explained: MD-80 Wiring

Thanks to a recent posting at Landings.com by a poster named Larry I can explain to you why the FAA grounded many of American Airlines MD-80 fleet over the last month.

First, the MD-80 series of airliners was initially produced by McDonnell-Douglas and production was continued by Boeing after they acquired McDonnell-Douglas in 1997. The planes were based on the DC-9 and succeeded by the Boeing 717. Production of all DC-9, MD-80, and Boeing 717 aircraft has ceased with the end of 717 production in May 2006. All of these aircraft are still operated by several major carriers including:

Northwest: DC-9's
Delta: MD-88 / MD-90
American: MD-80
AirTran: Boeing 717

The issue that grounded the MD-80 series of planes had to do with an FAA issued maintenance directive sent to the airlines over 1 year ago that directed the inspection of wire ties on all MD-80 series aircraft to insure 1 inch spacing. In the case of American Airlines, they measured and found the wire ties to be "within specification", but as you can clearly see below 1.5" is not 1" and the FAA grounded all of American Airlines MD-80's until the inspections were redone and corrected because their tolerance was +/- .125". Larry mentions that some of the aircraft came from the factory with wire ties spaced 4" to 6", but forgets to mention it was on "new" aircraft. Not aircraft with 20 years of use on them and multiple pressurization's.

The writer of the posting on Landings seems to believe that the FAA did this as a thumb in the eye to the airlines and congress because of recent congressional hearings on FAA inspections, and I partially agree with him. The point I think he misses is that most of the aircraft disasters in the last 10 years have been attributed to wiring that was degrading and with the average age of the U.S. commercial airline fleet rising preventative maintenance and inspection of wiring is beyond reasonable to insure the safety of the flying public. The FAA published an entire report on aircraft wiring practices in February of this year and cited the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800 off the coast of New York, the crash of Swissair flight 111 just southwest of Halifax, and numerous other in-flight/ground fires in MD-11's and MD-80's.

So in the end Larry is bitter and you are safe. It makes me feel much better.

The "API" Rat Pack

Somewhere along the line someone (I believe it was Jon Atkins) nicknamed the group of guys I run with "The Rat Pack". We all came to know each other through the API Poker league and over time have forged solid friendships.

Most of us are too young too know who made up the original pack so here is a short history lesson from Wikipedia:

"The Rat Pack is the nickname given to a group of popular entertainers most active between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s. Its most famous line-up featured Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, who appeared together in films and on stage in the early-1960s. Despite its reputation as a masculine group, the Rat Pack did have female participants, including movie icons Shirley MacLaine, Lauren Bacall, and Judy Garland."

If you'd like to know more about "The Rat Pack" click here.

The API Rat Pack is Mike Perry, Mike Spencer, Eric Meadows, Dale DaCruz, Jerry Donovan, and sometimes Jon Atkins.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My 2008 Travel Fun List

I am an avid traveler that travels because I enjoy it and like seeing and doing things I don't normally get to do. Here is a list of some of the things I would like to do this year or next.

Close to home:

Zorbing in Tennesse - So you may ask what is Zorbing? Zorbing is a popular activity in New Zealand in which you tumble down a slope while inside a plastic bubble with a bit of water in it. Like white water rafting without rocks! Don't have time to go to New Zealand to try it...then just head to Pigeon Forge, TN and from $37 per ride you can experience just what it was like to roll head over heals down a hill when you were a kid.

Grand Canyon Skywalk - 1 mile above the jagged canyon floor in Arizona you can defy your fear of heights at the Grand Canyon Skywalk. All you have to do is brave the 14 miles of unpaved road to get there and you too can cling to the railing or jump up and down on the 70 foot U-shaped glass structure. The cost - $60.

Aquatica - Anyone that knows me - really knows me - knows how much I like Orlando and now I have one more reason to like it thanks to Sea World. They just opened a park called Aquatica where they successfully combined a water park and marine habitat. $39 gets you in the rest is up to you.

Not so close to home:

The Edge in Australia - I have always wanted to go down under and I am just cataloging the reasons to go there. Add one more - The Edge. In Melbourne's Eureka Tower there is a part of the observation deck that slides out of the building and then the walls and floor turn transparent accompanied by the sounds of shattering glass. Sounds like someone has a sense of humor - crazy Australians. The cost is $25.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Do You Want Something To Eat?

If you have a grandmother I know you have heard this before - especially if you have a Jewish grandmother like me. My grandmother is a wonderful person and I have spent the last few days with her and her husband, Sam, down in the land of retirees (a.k.a. Florida). The one thing I get asked by my grandmother more than anything is, "do you want something to eat" or some variation of the same. For example:

"Let me make you some eggs"
"Would you like a poppy seed cookie"
"Have some breakfast"
"You have time to eat before you go"
"How about some mundel bread"

Don't get me wrong, my grandmother is a good cook - but one person can only eat so much and no one wants to disappoint their 93 year old grandmother. So this is less of a blog and more of a vent. The lesson? I don't know. I just feel better now getting that off my chest.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

CardRunners - Worth It!

When the going gets tough, the tough get going and in the world of poker when the going gets tough it is always a great idea to take a step back and evaluate your play.

Last month I played in the WSOP Circuit Event #4 at Caesars in Indiana and didn't fair well. I thought I played good, but got knocked out of the tournament in the low 500's out of 622 players. I also played some ring games and had mixed luck at them since I find it tough to transition between ring games and MTT's or SNG's.

When I got back to Atlanta I wanted to sit back and evaluate my game and do a bit more training and signed up with CardRunners.com - the official training site of API.

I can say that the videos, blogs and forums on the site have helped me find my game immensely and I proved it to myself last night by taking 1st in a $140 single table SNG and then coming in 3rd in a $150 MTT at Seminole Hard Rock Casino just outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

If you think you are good, but want to be better CardRunners.com is the site for you.

Would the Real Eric Meadows Please Stand

Sometimes I feel like Slim Shady and with the help of Jason Steele I think I have found out why.

It is amazing what you find out about yourself when you Google your name. In my case I found out that I own a driving school in the United Kingdom, I have donated to Barak Obama's campaign from two different addresses, have a Ph.D. in Bioorganic Chemistry, work at Eli Lilly, and those are just my clones!

For the record - I don't live in the UK, support Obama or have a Ph.D.

Give Googling yourself a try sometime - you might be surprised to see what the web knows about you and people you might not know, but share your name....just ask Jason Steele.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Many Wifes

Given the recent news about the various polygamist sects around the U.S. I have to believe that part of their belief structure must revolve around masochism as well. Now let me tell you a story - somewhat related.

Last weekend I was invited to meet my some of my girlfriends closest friends and we set off towards downtown with 4 kids in tow. In all there were 12 of us, 7 women (4 pregnant), 4 small children and me. We ate at CNN Center and the looks we kept getting were very interesting and quite funny. Needless to say we had a great time with it. They came to be known as my family (hmm...hmm....)!

I think I did a pretty good job fitting into this unknown world of women and then I made my fatal mistake - I referred to the group as a herd when crossing the street - as in herding cats. Ever said something and then immediately kicked yourself? MAJOR LESSON: Women do not like being referred to as a herd. They immediately think cattle and start considering the size of their thighs and hips even though they were were all built very well and attractive. My mistake.

Polygamists - I relinquish my faux title, you can have it - you masochists.

DL + NW = Sheer Stupidity

It has come to this....the traditional "full fare" carriers are entering MERGER-MANIA and so the courting of Delta and Northwest has gone beyond nudging to full fledged fluid swapping. So why is this stupid? Aren't some "low cost" airlines like Frontier having problems too? Well let me set the record straight.

First - I am fond of Delta and I am not an expert air industry analyst. If flying were a drug I'd be an addict - Platinum Medallion on board (and a private pilot). I want Delta to survive and thrive. I grew up on Delta - literally - because my father worked for them and this allowed me to see the golden days of flying when planes were admired and service still meant something to an airline. You could say Delta and me...we have a history.

Second - this is not a done deal yet, but let's face it - the Bush Administration likes big business and this merger creates one heck of a big airline. Want to bet me that United and U.S. Airways aren't close to their latest lovefest? How about American and Continental? Ohhh...consolidation is the wave of the present so get ready for 3 majors in the U.S., more packed planes, screw ups on baggage, and disgruntled employee's that are upset their horse didn't get picked. By the way, did I mention Unions yet? Are you getting anxious? Personally I am beginning to experience hypoxia!

Domestically the large, full fare airlines are getting killed because they have to compete on many routes with low fare airlines like Southwest, AirTran, JetBlue, Frontier and Spirit. These airlines cost structures are far lower than the majors and in the latest Airline Quality Ratings AirTran, JetBlue and Southwest topped the list with the majors a very distant 4th and below. When American business starts figuring this out and making the low cost carriers their carrier of choice expect to see more regionals at the airport near you. Notice how Aloha got put out to pasture by go! (a Mesa airline) and while I am at it let me address Frontier. They are based in Denver and contrary to what you might believe United didn't push them into bankruptcy - Southwest did along with First Data Corp. They entered the Denver market in 2006 and in two years have caused some serious heartache for both United and Frontier. In other words competition is abundant in the airline industry and what the majors are finding out is that frequent flyer programs don't buy loyalty - cheap fares and good service do and with the cost of oil going up and the incompetence of the majors to show transparency they cannot compete domestically - they must expand to international routes. So here we go....merge away.

The problem is simple. Growing your business to be global protects you from some market fluctuations, but it introduces new competition - and with fledgling startups like V Australia and others on the horizon the promise of survival in international waters seems like a red ocean strategy to me.

So skip the fact that Delta has a streamlined Boeing fleet and Northwest has a hodge podge, that Northwests pilots oppose the merger, none of the hubs will be closed and the integration issues of pulling together two very different cultures...consider this fact. The airlines were deregulated in 1978 and got there fully around 1983. Most airlines didn't fully embrace deregulation until the late 80's so we essentially have a 22 year old industry. Like most 22 year olds I know it is not about the future or longevity - it is abut the here and now. So to me this wave of mergers is like 22 year olds having babies and getting married - not concerned about the future or how best to get there...only immediate gratification. Simply put - sheer stupidity.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I have a good friend named Jason Steele who is an all around good guy and very good writer. Jason has written extensively on his blog about his problems with the TSA and his run in with another Jason Steele (his real name isn't Jason it's Josh Clyde Steele -- another crooked politician) over the leasing of his web site to his political rival.

Now Jason has found out that the root of all his problems may be this guy. His incarcerated twin.

You simply can't make this stuff up. Check out his blog posting for complete details.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

May the Best Aircraft Win

I find it funny that Boeing has lost a $40 billion contract for tankers to Airbus, the European consortium that builds the likes of the A340, A380, and in this case the A330 MRTT / KC-45, which is a modified A330-200. This entire thing is like a calamity of errors and pure stupidity. Boeing put forth it's 767, not nearly as capable an aircraft for the tanker mission as it's 777. Airbus put forth its A330 which has variations that compete with both the 767 and larger 777.

Congress meets and decides the A330 is better than the 767 and recommends its purchase and awards a contract. Did Boeing ever propose the 777? You guessed it - NO. The CEO of FedEx is on the panel and tells congress they are making a big mistake in not considering the 777. Duncan Hunter, a Congressman from California sounds the alarms and yet Congress persists in purchasing the A330. That's a fantastic idea - the 777 has outsold the A330 worldwide, it has a larger payload, range and fuel capacity - but alas Boeing has outsourced its brain and now has to play from behind to keep Airbus from claiming its $40 billion prize by filing a protest.

I commend Airbus for their efforts and zest in fighting for this contract, but do you think it as stupid as I do that we have a far more capable aircraft that can do even better than the one selected and both Boeing and Congress missed the proverbial boat? Oh well, with what the government saves by awarding the contract to Airbus they can pay unemployment to the saps at Boeing that got caught napping....or buy more $500 hammers.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Blog That Wasn't

I spent the last four days with some friends of mine on a guys weekend playing in the 2008 WSOP Circuit Event at Caesars Indiana. During our four days there of gambling, drinking and just having a good time I meant to write a blog called the "Drunken Blog", but alas I never turned on my computer and didn't even check my work email. So knowing that few people will read this and even fewer will make comments about it I am going to summarize the entire trip into a few one liners that you can pick and chose from to ask me about later when I see you.

1. The great race between the Infiniti G35 and the Honda Odyssey.
2. Dale DaCruz finishing 55th in a field of 622 at Event #4 of the WSOP Circuit Event.
3. The drinks aren't on the house?
4. Snoring - everywhere!
5. The "Legend".
6. The 75 year old master of the "vogue"
7. Jerry Donovan's bed time pool.
8. Kasey Lynn
9. The food was actually good - Cleos Philly Cheesesteak.
10. The drunken throw down at Legends.
11. BB King's ribs - phenomenal.
12. 3 card poker and the WSOP table game.
13. Spencer hitting two straight flushes within minutes with the same cards.
14. So much water everywhere.
15. Great time - next time let's pick a different location.


One of Meredith's friends wrote this - I am assuming because she knew Meredith and I went to a spa together for a bit of pampering a few weeks ago - and I found it so funny I felt it should be shared.


1O. Does this look like ringworm to you?

9. This isn't the same oil that my Mommy uses....

8. Refers to the cucumber slices as dippers for the champagne.

7. Careful, that tattoo of Minnie Mouse is still healing.

6. I thought I ordered the NASCAR Package with the Richard Mani-Petty....

5. Can we get this on DVD?

4. Careful with the Swedish meatballs, Doll -- this isn't IKEA!

3. Instead of a pedicure, can I get the word "Meredith" shaved onto my back?

2. Meredith, I left my wallet at home....

1. Can I keep my thong on for this?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Building Back Up

In 2007 I got divorced - in all honesty my marriage had been over for more than 3 years. Having no children made the experience better, but divorce is not easy no matter how you go about it . It left me gun shy to give my heart to anyone and took me some time to allow someone to join me in spirit because I had built walls to protect myself.

It is amazing how the blossoming of a new relationship can impact your spirit and change your view on the world in the most positive and amazing ways. I have finally found someone that I choose to share time with, want to develop a meaningful relationship with and fondly think of when she is not in my presence.

She has penetrated my walls. I think she is beautiful, smart, funny, and we share with each other what we did not have before. I know she is going to read this and I want to thank her for giving me the best birthday present I have had in years. I want her to know I am thinking of her. I want her to know I hope we create something truly special.

For you.


My Birthday - World Autism Awareness Day

Today is my birthday...and every year there seems to be some "event" or "day" that someone dreams up to accompany it. Usually I find these links meaningless, but today is different. For many years my cousin and her husband have fought tooth and nail to see that their autistic son has the best upbringing he can have and provided all the unconditional love they can muster. I admire them for that and in recognition I take this opportunity to point out that today is "World Autism Awareness Day" to help raise our awareness of autism and the struggles of families with an autistic member.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. There is no cure for autism and the symptoms range from quite mild to severe. While autism rates are increasing around the world, its causes remain unknown and there is currently no test to help prevent it.

Autistic behavior such as hand flapping, tapping and mouthing objects, toe walking, rocking back and forth, head banging, and vocalizing have led researchers to consider that those with autism are overly sensitive, under-sensitive, or both. Autistic people may share common behaviors which appear in all sorts of combination and vary in levels of intensity.

The World Autism Awareness Day celebration revolves around the hope that in the future, improved research studies and technology, as well as increased awareness and compassion among members of society will help to improve our knowledge and understanding of and responsiveness to autism.

I encourage you to learn more about autism by visiting the Autism Society of America and challenge you to make a matching donation to my recent $20 in the name of bringing solutions to all families with autistic members.