Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I hate ATM machines!

I've had an internet connection for nearly two weeks, it's hard to believe I haven't taken the time to rant about everything that pisses me off. (I have a modest part-time gig developing content for a Facebook application, so that takes up some of my time these days. Despite that, it all changes tonight.)

I went to the Twins/White Sox game tonight, my second in consecutive nights. I'll spare the details regarding why I'm 26 months away from retiring from pro sporting events. At least the Sox finally won in my fourth trip to a "Twins" game this season, but that's not nearly enough to make me happy.

On my way to the H.H.H. Metrodome, or the Big Inflatable Toilet as I like to call it, I decided to stop at my local bank's ATM machines. There are two of them, because we as a society like our machines more than human interaction.

When I pulled up, there were two cars lined up for each machine. But the line on the right looked to be longer than the line on the left. I saw a car in the right lane leaving as I pulled up, so logic dictated that the left side was advantageous. I was wrong.

The morons at the front of the line took their sweet time at the machine. They must have thought it was a slot machine, and by playing it long enough, the machine would start "paying out."

As I sat idle in the left lane, I watched cars breeze throught the right lane. A suburban-assault vehicle pulled up behind me as the lead car in my lane finally departed.

The vehicle in front of me was filled with all sorts of white trash. Perhaps I'm wrong and highly judgmental, but I doubt it. The car ahead of me had 7,353 separate transactions to process, including a mortgage application, evidently.

The suburban-assault vehicle behind me not only pulled over to the rapidly-flowing right lane, it completed its transaction before I even pulled up to my lane's slot machine. I saw at least three vehicles pull into the drive-thru lanes after I did, only to depart before I got a whiff of my slot machine.

Pouring salt on my open wounds, the white trash in the vehicle directly in front of me sat there for about 30 seconds after the last of their 7,353 transactions, doing nothing but talking about how they were screwing me over, I'm sure.

At that point I was tempted to spend five minutes applying for a low-interest loan at the ATM when it was finally my turn, simply to screw over the rest of the free world. But then I realized I'm not nearly as lousy of a human being as many people I have crossed paths with, and decided the better of it.

Regardless, by the time I completed my 30-second ATM transaction in the left lane, there was nobody to be found, either behind me or in the empty lane to my right. And for the rest of the night I was pissed. If there is a god in heaven, she was determined to test my faith in humanity. Congratulations, Alanis, I failed your test.

I have a new ATM policy as of 6 p.m. this evening. I won't bore you with the details...but the bottom line is this: I don't wait in line behind the white trash of society for access to an ATM, unless it is an emergency. Trust me, this plan is brilliant, just don't break into my apartment, there's likely to be $300 in cash in my dresser drawer.

If you think I'm pissed now, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Puerto Vallarta

I have never been to Mexico, but that should change this fall.

A couple of weeks ago I had a voicemail message from one of the twin cities radio stations. It's one of several stations I listen to for about 10 minutes per week. Somehow I don't need a constant soundtrack to get through my daily routines, unlike many people, it seems. Sure, it's nice to have music to listen to when I'm bicycling, but it's not that vital to me, not vital enough that I need an iPod plugged into my ears when I'm trying to yell at idiot Rollerbladers who are busy rocking out to Panic at the Disco while skating in the middle of a trail. I'll never understand the logic behind that, but I digress.

I have been receiving the e-mail newsletter of a lame "playing what we want" radio station for a few years. I signed up for the weekly e-mails back when the station was obsessed with 80s tunes, and when the format changed, the e-mail list simply rolled over with the new format. I usually scan the e-mails for online contests to enter, occasionally scoring tickets to something or another with minimal effort on my part, and without having to listen to the station.

A pimply-faced intern from the station left me the message a couple of weeks ago, explaining I was chosen for one of their prizes, and that I was receiving an upgrade. He could barely pronounce the city, and I'm pretty sure he didn't bother to read through the promotional copy prior to reciting it on my voice mail, but despite his inability to communicate I learned that I was chosen to receive a Funjet vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I was a bit stunned.

I am going to pick up the vacation package information this week, so I'll know more about it then, but based upon what the promotions woman told me the following morning I will receive a four-night trip for two to an all-inclusive resort in the Puerto Vallarta area.

I have never been to Mexico, and it wasn't high on my priority list, but I won't argue with the destination. I have never been to any of the exotic, tropical vacation destinations. I'm not sure where Puerto Vallarta ranks in comparison to the Bahamas, Hawaii or elsewhere, but I'm slightly excited by the idea of seeing a different part of the world, even if it's a touristy area of an otherwise repressed country.

If all goes well, I'll be going the week after Halloween.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

No. 7 (unedited)

A week from now I may finally have an internet connection in my new apartment. I finally signed up for service, but those crooks at Comcast tell me I have to wait eight days for a "technician" to come to my building and flip a switch, or something like that. I am convinced many of the services these so-called technicians perform are really just busy work Comcast has them do so they can charge a service fee and keep the dudes busy until a real problem occurs.

Last week I took a rare week off from work and spent it up north. I take time off through the year, but rarely an entire week, and usually not in the summer. That makes no sense, but nothing I do makes sense.

Last week I spent my vacation in Osakis, Minn., the small town I frequent thanks to my friends, who have a little lake place up there.

It was during this week that I completed No. 7, my seventh "century" bike ride. As I have noted before, bicyclists fixate upon the magic number 100, and therefore a 100-mile ride is something special. In all my years, I've accomplished the task seven times. For the third consecutive year I've done it while riding the Central Lakes bike trail. The round trip is 112 miles.

The ride was not particularly memorable. I've seen the sights twice before, and while it's a nice trail that passes several small lakes, what I'll remember most is how woefully prepared I was for the challenge. I had biked rather ambitiously throughout June, but I had yet to bike more than 48 miles in one day, yet I figured I was ready for the challenge of 112. It's a very flat trail, so why not?

During the past two years I have biked this trail late in the summer, weeks after completing the MS150, a two-day, 150-mile bike ride. I didn't do the MS150 this past June, and I learned last week that there's something to be said for completing such a ride prior to attempting 112 miles.

It wasn't very windy on June 30, the day I completed No. 7, but what wind there was didn't seem to help me. I thought perhaps it'd help push be back to Osakis when I reached the turnaround point in Fergus Falls, but I was wrong. It wasn't hot, but it was warmer than I prefer for a long-distance challenge. I stopped for rest breaks more often than I anticipated. Those helped, but during the latter half of the ride, I was riding on fumes at times.

I didn't depart until after lunch, but past experience has shown me that I can complete the round trip, with rest stops, in eight hours or less. I departed about 1:15 p.m., thinking I had plenty of time to finish the ride by sunset, which was approximately 9:19 p.m.

I was wrong.

I knew when I stopped for water about 25 miles from the end of my ride that I'd be finishing after sunset, but I didn't care. I don't like to ride in the dark, but without a break, I wasn't sure I'd make it back to Osakis. I finished at approximately 9:45 p.m. Although it was darker than I prefer, it's not as if I was trying to bike through the streets of Minneapolis in the dark, and there was a tinge of sunlight in the western sky when I finished, so it wasn't as dark as it could be.

My average speed was the worst of the three round trips I have made, and I wasn't surprised. It was still respectable, I suppose, but I was disappointed.

Moral of my story: prepare better before attempting my next century ride. Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way.