Monday, July 30, 2007

Colorado Springs Weekend

posted by John Blanco @ 6:46 AM


Back from a weekend in Colorado Springs to celebrate Michele's birthday. :-) Happy Birthday, Chele Bear!! :-D

Went down on Saturday...the first thing we did was go to the North Pole. Yes, *THE* North Pole! OK, not *THE* North Pole...but, North Pole, Colorado. (How did they get that city name anyway?)

In the Springs is a place called the North Pole. It's a very small amusement park, but actually is not bad. The rides were fun mostly because it was so easy to get on and off...we even went on a couple holding Cedric. No fancy rules for safety which is nice for kiddie rides. ;-) I also went on a "spinny" ride for the first time in many years. 3/4 of the way through I was starting to regret it, but I had more fun than Michele who was terrified of me making the boat swerve. hahaha....

Cedric also got a picture with Santa Claus. Awwww. :-)

Fancy dinner Saturday night...did I mention Michele's parents paid for all this? We were there with them and her brother Andy and girlfriend Corinne. So, yeah, went to the Sunbird for dinner...whilst it poured. :-) Very rare fancy restaurant that actually has good food and service. ;-)

Sunday, we went to the Cheyenne Zoo which was a little underwhelming except for the Giraffe exhibit which was unbelievable. It's a raised platform and you get to feed them crackers. Girraffes are just so cute. We took one home with us.

Afterwards, we had dinner at Carrabba's (my fav-o-rite restaurant) and then, after bidding Andy and Corinne goodbye, we went to Old Colorado City and walked around a bit whilst I gorged on a white chocolate snowman. :-|


Other little highlights included watching Batman Begins (not bad) and enjoying the hot-food, order what you want, breakfast at Embassy Suites which was realllllllllllly good and accessible. (Yes, I had TWO donuts!!! BUA HA HA HAH AHA)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter 7 Wrapup (NO Spoilers)

posted by John Blanco @ 3:07 PM


The weekend of motionless reading is at an end and I've finished Harry Potter 7. Thankfully! My muscles are all tight and my eyes hurt, but it was all worth it -- a wonderful, wonderful book to end a wonderful series.

I won't talk about the book -- seems pointless and spoiling -- but I will post about our night obtaining it. :-)

A couple months ago, Michele and I went to Borders to reserve a copy of the book. We got a cool "Is Snape Friend or Foe?" ticker with it and we were happy. (I got the FRIEND sticker because that's what I anticipated.) The odd thing was that Borders didn't want we did not pre-pay.

And so we waited til July 20th.

Harry Potter night was gonna be so fun! We couldn't wait for the book. We had a change of heart and decided to try to pre-order a second book earlier in the week but Borders wasn't taking pre-orders anymore. We hoped we could stll find a copy, perhaps Saturday morning, so we can read at the same time.

(When book 5 came out Michele and I got one book and took turns. For book 6, we got two copies and sold the extra one a couple days later after we'd both finished reading.)

Borders was hosting a release night Ball for the book. Michele and I were excited to go and we got in the mood. Cedric and I dressed up as Harry...

...and then Cedric spit up a bit on his shirt. DOH! ;-) We did a quick wash and then we were ready to go. We dressed up the stroller with Harry Potter stuffed animals and the three of us went to Borders with at least a thousand other Potterphiles celebrating.

The scene was nuts. People were all over, and it was hard to get around because Borders decided not to move any of their shelves. In one corner was a large gathering of Potterphiles who were passing a mic around giving their theory on if Snape is friend or foe. (This was a big marketing question to generate hype for the book.)

Michele and I listened in a bit and a lot of people were oogling over Cedric as they walked by. ("Aww, look at the little Harry!") We only saw one other baby there the whole night.

Michele was feeling really thirsty, so we went to the connected Seattle's Best and the one was insane. Nix that plan. We went back and forth several times, not quite sure what to do -- everything was so crowded and the stroller really limited our movements. About a half hour later, we noticed they were giving out clored bracelets and we realized that we needed to have one! (We had a pre-order slip, but you had to get the bracelet.) We got a neon green one.

A short while later, we decided to ditch the stroller. It was nice to go back outside. Oi! We put everything back in the car and came back olding Cedric. By this point, there had to be abou 2,000 people stuffe inside the Borders. It was blazing hot, and there just wasn't much room to enjoy anything. Oh well, when's the book coming??

As midnight approached, the announcements started coming. The lines would form on either side of the store, along the tape on the ground. If you had a purple bracelet, start lining up...Uggg, who knows what color we would have had if we had gotten ours sooner. Then, the next color...silver!

UGGG. The lines that were forming was huge. Glints of purple and silver everywhere, and Borders was super-packed. And hot...did I mention it was hot? :-)

As midnight approached, the next color: blue! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Would they even have books by the time we got on line? We weren't sure.

Midnight came, the books were officially on sale! How exciting!!!! NOT. Several colors had still gone unannounced and the uncertainy in at least HALF the customers in the store really dampened the mood. And then that realization:


Oh my god. There were literally HUNDREDS of people on line, and we weren't even on line yet, and how long would each transaction take? A couple minutes? They even had the gall to announce to have their "You don't get a discount with these" Borders cards ready. WHAT ABOUT HAVING EXACT CHANGE READY?

Well, we decided to just get in line anyway. It had been 20 minutes since they announced a color and it was getting silly. We waiting in line and were next to a small group of people that we chatted with while waiting. They were all younger (hey now, there were plenty of real life adults, just not in this part of the line!). One girl was, like, overly giving. She kept saying she wanted to buy a book to bring to Goodwill and how Borders is such a great company because they give to charity and...ukkk...made this cynic sick. :-) It didn't help that she kept calling out saying "Does anyone here have a blue bracelet? If you do, you can go ahead of us!" Seriously, not sure how her boyfriend puts up with that all the time.

It was freakin' 12:10, we were MILES from the register, they STILL had not called any new colors (including green), it was 95 degrees in the store, and we were thirsty and miserable. How's that for ya??

One of the girls on line then gets a call from her boyfriend -- a girl who reminded us both of our friend Amanda, honestly. He was waiting to get a book at King Soopers and whoever got the book was going to call the other. Well, he had it. So, she left. The charity girl asked for her bracelet so they could buy that book for Goodwill. Then, she decided to give it to another family who had a different color bracelet. Did I mention this girl was retarded? (Actually, I'm not sure why I didn't ask for it since we wanted two books...see, I only thought of it now...that's how hot it was.)

At about 12:25 or so, Michele and I had admitted to ourselves that this was going to take forever. We talked about just leaving and coming back tomorrow. According to Borders, they would hold all books until Saturday night for anyone with a pre-order. We could just come back in the morning. Even if we waited, we wouldn't get our books until AT LEAST 2:30 AM or so, and we'd likely go right back to sleep anyway.

But it just seemed unnatural. We had to get the book. It would be a huge waste not to.

Then, we came up with an idea. Michele said we could try King Soopers. There was one close by. I was holding Cedric and I said that she should go really quick and if there was a short line, get the book. If not, hurry right back. It was odd -- we were risking Cedric getting hungry and his milk not being anywhere nearby. We didn't have our cell phones either. But, I didn't want Michele standing there holding, that's what we did...

Michele booked it out of there by herself and I waited with the group. The line started to move ever so slightly -- people picked up the slack. It was torturous. I entertained myself by seeing if they could guess Cedric's name...since he is partly named after a Harry Potter character (Cedric Diggory). I also had a fun moment where I asked them if they had seen Keith Olbermann that day. They looked at me like I was talking parseltongue! (Ha!) I told them all about Keith's prediction on the ending to the book (In a nutshell -- Harry is told he has to die to kill Voldermort, but Snape says there is another way and he lives, but loses his magical powers.) I thought it was an ingenious ending. (Hint: This wasn't the ending.)

The line had moved not all that much when I was standing there with Cedric leaning on the bookshelf trying to ease my aching back -- and I saw Michele walking in to the store. My first thought was she didn't get the book cause it was 12:45 and she seemed to be back pretty fast.

But, that look on her face. That speed to her walk...

She looked up and saw me waaaaaaaaay back there on the line and makes the hand gesture to come her way. WHAT?! SHE GOT IT?! I hold up my hand and two fingers to ask if she got two books. She nods and makes the hand gesture to come on.


I said adieu to our line mates and ran off. :-)

Michele's story was that she got to King Soopers. Nobody was there. She looked and saw a woman stocking the shelves with their Harry Potter inventory. She went over and the woman gave her two books and she went and paid (no line again) and that was it!!!!

We were so very, very happy. :-D There were people that were going to be waiting on line at Borders til 3 in the morning more than likely. And to think, just a few blocks away, at King Soopers, there were stacks of books just waiting there.

The moral of the story is not to pre-order with Borders. They suck at it! If they allowed people to pre-pay, giving out the books woulda been EASY! Tattered Cover did the pre-orders two years ago for book 6 and we were out of the store in SECONDS! (Exchanging a certificate for a book -- no other transactions needed.)


We got home at 1 AM, I read the first couple chapters aloud for Michele and then I read a couple more before going to sleep. Michele and I read on and off all day yesterday, though I was reading more because she had to feed the baby and such.

I finished the book today at a little before 4 PM. It was a brilliant end to such a long saga, and I applaud J.K. Rowling loudly. :-) What a writer! Michele still has a while to go, but she's just gotten in to the long climax, so she will enjoy.

And with that, I'll try to do something constructive with the last 5 hours of the weekend. Ciao!

Friday, July 20, 2007

It's Harry Potter Day!

posted by John Blanco @ 11:12 AM


Take off your shoes. Clear your dayplanner. Turn the lights on. Snuggle up with the ones you love. Put the baby to sleep.

It's Harry Potter Day!

Michele and I plan on having dinner out tonight around 4:30, then maybe taking a nap and relaxing until about 10 PM when we'll go to Borders to wait for the book we've been waiting for two years almost TO THE DAY.

We'll read until our eyes bleed, and read some more. I'll give my review when done (no spoilers).

UPDATE: We're leaving soon! OHHHH, can't wait! Cute pic of me and my son to come. :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How Dumb a Fuck Is Bill O'Reilly? [UPDATED]

posted by John Blanco @ 9:33 PM


There are some dumb people in this world. Bad drivers. Parents who let their kids get away with everything. Crack addicts. But, none of them approach the unbelievable dumb-fuckedness of Bill O'Reilly.

If you don't know, Bill O'Reilly has his own show on the Fox News Channel. Now, if you watch Fox News for about, oh, 10 minutes, you will quickly identify that they are very much right-wing. On the whole channel, only Alan Colmes would be considered left-wing and he only has a small part of a bigger show, Hannity and Colmes. The whole channel masks their views under the guise of "Fair and Balanced" which is so hilarious it makes you dry heave.

O'Reilly himself likes to say he's an Independent, attacking both sides of the aisle. Yeah, if you believe that, I have some nice beachfront property in Kansas to sell you.

So, here's the situation, on Monday O'Reilly ran a hit piece on Jet Blue. They are sponsoring the 2007 Yearly Kos convention which is a gathering of members of the single largest political blog on the Internet, the Daily Kos. So, of course, Bill wants to do everything in his power to hurt it.

So what does he do? He sends a no-name reported (an interning producer) to the home of the Jet Blue CEO and assails him with absolute nonsensical attacks on Daily Kos and asking why they are sponsoring a "hate-filled, KKK-like Web site". You have to be kidding me. Here's the whole clip. Don't watch it if you've just eaten:

Now, are you still conscience? If so, here's how dumb a fuck Bill O'Reilly is...

First, the quotes he attributes to the "hate-filled" Daily Kos site are not attributed to its owner, editors, or writers. No, those quotes are attributed to anonymous blog contributors. The Daily Kos is a BLOG. Anyone is free to create a diary on the site and contribute. Anyone. Even -- oh, I don't know -- Bill O'Reilly himself! The point being this is the Internet. These comments are not endorsed by the Daily Kos and they could in fact have been written by a right-winger on the site!

ANYONE who has any experience with online blogs knows how stupid individual writings can be. The same hit piece Bill O'Reilly did could have been about the hideous Free Republic (I refuse to link to the cretins, but you can find it if you care), who's actual WRITERS have written the vile content, not just anonymous contributors. ANY and EVERY blog has opinions that are added by anonymous contributors which are awful.

Anyone with a brain knows that.

Now, the funny part was actually brought to my attention by my buddy Vincen. In the report, O'Reilly AND the producer, both make a reference to "the Pope being called a primate." Well, take a look at the definition of the word primate.

But the dumbfuckery doesn't end there. Tonight, O'Reilly highlights on his show the following:

Guess what? That is completely false. If you look at the Yearly Kos Web site, the Jet Blue sponsorship remains intact. The Webmaster of the site has not been contacted at all about removing it. And then there's this:

Jet Blue Says They Will Keep Sponsorship

And then there's Markos Moulitsas, who is one of my personal heroes:

Not true

O'Reilly is wrong.

Mr. O'Reilly. You are a complete shmuck.

UPDATE: Oh, and now this final word. Bill, you fucktard.

UPDATE 2: In one of the stupidest moves I have ever seen, JetBlue has changed their mind again and are pulling their logo (not the free flights, mind you) from YearlyKos. How absolutely dumb of them to cave in to completely baseless accusations. Obviously, I will never fly JetBlue again. Stupid bastards.

UPDATE 3: See on Bill O'Reilly's site that threats against the life of Hillary Clinton have been made and O'Reilly's reaction to them here. Gee, no kidding Bill.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Curb Appeal, New York and Child Neglect

posted by John Blanco @ 6:16 AM


Oh man, the weekend is over? Arrrrg...another week of work. Well, minus a half hour as I will leave a tad early today to go to the dentist. (OK, OK, I'd rather stay at work!!) Let's see, what have I been up to?

Curb Appeal. Saturday, Michele and I finished a weeks-long project in our front yard. The story started some time ago when an aspen tree in our backyard was all ready to come tumbling down. It had fallen overnight a couple years back and Michele's brother, a landscaper, came by and tied it back up thinking it would be OK. But, the roots were dying and it was leaning and it had to come down.

Since he was gonna come over, Michele and I decided to have him "skirt" the pine tree in our front yard. It's something we'd wanted to do but waited for a place for in our budget. Since he was coming, might as well. And so he did.

So he skirts the tree, which is basically cutting the branches off the bottom X feet of a tree. When I came home that day, I was AMAZED. It looked so much cleaner! I was shocked. It was so much better looking I wondered if anyone in the neighborhood would in fact notice.

And they did.

In the last several weeks, since the tree was cut, I've had 3 neighbors I'd never spoken to before comment on our tree and how great it looks. I've also had a dog walker make a comment as well. :-) And in the last few weeks, I've swept out the pine needles, line-trimmed the grass circle that was remaining, raked out the rocks and weeds and waste left after that was all done, and now Michele and I have rock-trimmed the tree. We've bought about $100 in stones and Sierra Red nature chips and the tree is now a highlight of our front yard instead of a blocky mess.

I will post pics of the Before and After tonight. :-)

New York. Ah, New York. We are going! We will soon be going on a quick 4-day trip to New York to introduce Cedric to all our family and friends on the east coast. The plane trip will surely be an adventure, but it will be nice to have everyone get to meet him. The little critter loves hearing his grandma's voice on the phone -- and now he can meet her in person! hehehe...

Child Neglect. Did you hear that story of those Denver parents who left their kids at home so they could go see the Harry Potter movie? Terrible. And then they went and dined at a fancy restaurant whilst they left fast food for them to fight over. In fact, it was only at the last minute they decided to let their kids join them for bowling, too. They have some nerve those people.

OK, well, we sort of joined them. HA! A friend of mine from work, Arthur, and our special ladies went out for bowling and dinner Saturday evening. Actually, we were all going to see Harry Potter but a few days before it was determined that it was going to be too difficult for Cedric to be left with his grandma the whole time. So, we bowled instead and had a grand time. :-)

Incidentally, when I say special ladies, I do mean wives. Who do you think we are? Sopranos? (Arthur might be, but that's another story...I'm not sure. Oh, and his wife is from Jersey. So she could be, too!)

Afterwards, we had dinner at Maggiano's which was Michele and I's first time. (We'd tried before, but the wait times are ludicrous without a reservation...) Cedric fussed a bit while there, so poor Michele had to try to rock the little guy to sleep. In the meantime, we spent about 3 hours eating from the long line of foods they brought to us and chatting about how much we hate Dan Caplis (and some other topics...). Arthur's wife was really nice, but I was disappointed she didn't have the Jersey hair going and would you believe she wasn't cracking her gum? I had expectations! ;-)

Happy Monday.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


posted by John Blanco @ 6:36 AM


So, yesterday I finally, FINALLY, finished Final Fantasy V Advance. I'd been playing it since -- oh, I don't know -- BEFORE CEDRIC WAS BORN! ;-)

So, Michele and I decided, later in the evening, to pick up a new game we hadn't played before that, umm, my nephews like a lot. Two games, in fact: Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl!

Yeah, I know what you're thinking -- THOSE ARE KIDS GAMES! Well, yeah I thought so, too. Then I found out my friend Mobat loved em. Then I found out OMG there are adults that play it. And then after doing a hell of a lot of research that we'd buy em.

Gotta say...pretty damn good game. :-) The Pearl and Diamond versions, the first *real* Pokemon games for the Nintendo DS, are extremely polished, all-encompassingly good games. A mix of RPG, adventure, and you even get online play WITH VOICE CHAT! So we look forward to many months enjoying this game.

I named my character ZaBlanc. You also get a blonde friend...I dubbed mine John 5 after the former Marilyn Manson guitarist whom the character sort of looked like. :-)

OK, I didn't say they were twins. ;-)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cedric, Sorry You Had To See That...

posted by John Blanco @ 5:16 PM


On Monday, Michele and I enjoyed a 4th of July gift to ourselves (on July 2nd) by going to the Mets-Rockies game. We had a lot of fun and a great adventure.

The day actually started with me going home ill from work (my back lockup again), and also having to pick up Michele who was attempting to walk home from the mechanic in near 100 degree heat. Incidentally, I didn't catch her in time, she was just making it home, talking to a neighbor, when I got there. MICHELE!!

After resting on the sofa for a while and then picking up my car, Michele and I packed up the baby bag and some water for our trip. We decided to take the LightRail, which was a good decision. At $11 roundtrip, it more than made up for the likely $10 parking fee and gas needed to get downtown. Plus, it was gonna be a lot easier.

Well, not TOO easy. You see, we were gonna hit the ATM at the stadium, but the LightRail stations here in Denver don't take plastic! So, after getting to the Mineral station and walking to the tracks, we had to turn back and get back in the car, re-buckle baby Cedric, and drive up Santa Fe to a gas station. Long story short (it's already too long), we got the cash and made for Littleton station to catch the LightRail there.

After taking somve video which will no doubt be in Cedric's second DVD special, we got on the train and chatted with the riders who both ribbed us for being Mets fans and ooh'd and aah'd over Cedric -- wearing his little Mets outfit. ;-)

After the sweltering trip ended at Union Station, we walked up to the park and made our way in. One thing to notice at that point was how many Mets fans were going to be there. There were several at the station, on the train, and walking in. The guy in front of me at the security check joked about bringing in reserves in case of a blowout -- a METS blowout -- and when I found out he was a Mets fan we gave manly high-fives.

Unfortunately, it was the only high-five I could give on the day. :-(

The seats were great, the facilities for feeding Cedric were suitable, and Michele and I took turns eating so that we could hold Cedric while the other chowed and it all worked well. But, in the 3rd inning, Tom Glavine decided to forget how to pitch and gave up a 3-run shot to Matt Holliday with 2 out after having the count at 0-2. The Rockies would score 3 more after that, including a double by their pitcher! It was awful.

The Rockies would score only those very 6 runs, but sadly the Mets failed to score whilst we sat in our cushy behind-the-plate seats. In the 8th inning, we decided to get up and walk the long way around the stadium on our way out. While by the bleachers, the Mets scored their pair of runs and that was all. We remarked as we left that we'd picked the WRONG game to go to. Ironically, we were WRONG for thinking that. Over the next two days, much to my co-workers' knowledge, the Rockies beat the Mets 11-3 and 17-7! DISGUSTING.

My team didn't show up. In the first game my baby boy got to see as an up and coming Mets fan, he saw the WORST series I have ever seen my Mets play. By my calculations, they were only "in the game" for 8 of the 27 innings. The rest were simply blowouts and the Mets never showed up.

Even now they mock me...we're up 2-0 on the Astros, and going against ex-Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings. How OFF were we in Colorado? Sad. And we're usually good here. Bah!

So, let's hope we shed this disappointment...cause I can't deal with that kind of humiliation.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Look At Me, I May Be Free!

posted by John Blanco @ 11:37 AM


Well, wooden't you know it, it seems that my extra-curricular work is coming to a slow halt...which means I might be free during my evenings. :-)

Yes, I plan on spending my time with Michele and Cedric, my beanbag, cooking, gardening, and some Nintendo. Might be good to have sanity back.

Monday, July 02, 2007

This Just In: Weekend Kicks John's Butt

posted by John Blanco @ 7:02 AM


Talk about your lazy weekends. Three words: 95, 100, 99. Yeah, that was the weather. :-)

The weekend started off badly on Friday actually. Having driven home on Thursday with my coolant light flashing, and as we planned to go to nearby Cheesecake Factory after work, Michele drove me in to work.

But I forgot my ID badge so I couldn't get into the office door.

After bugging Michael Martin, he kindly let me in. :-) But, the day was looking to be a bad step day for me. My usual walking buddies were out on Friday. I wasn't going to be able to walk during lunch. Hmmm...

Dorrie to the rescue! She said she was up for walking at 10, so walk we did. And at about 10:11, I was walking past a fire hydrant that I was going out of my way to avoid when suddenly...


My baggy shorts would have nothing of it. They lurched out at the hydrant and offered themselves as a sacrifice to the summer heat! A huge tear along the right side, I was doomed to stay at work.

Wait, I know...I'll just go somewhere and buy a new pair of shorts. Wait, I don't have my car. OK, I'll walk. Uhhhh, this is the DTC. Nothing nearby. Well, I can have Michele come by and bring a pair with her. Wait, she is coming at 4 to go to dinner, I can't make her do 3 half-hour round trips in a day!

So I call Michele to come pick me up.

Equipped with a new pair of shorts, and some work to do at home, we head to Cheesecake Factory and improve on my lousy day by eating nachos. Sadly, though, I think I've had my fill of nachos for now...the big streak is done. :-) Getting sick of em. But, that's besides the point.

Over the weekend, Michele and I stayed indoors except to go to dinner and ice cream with her parents and brother (and girlfriend) on Saturday. We also did our big morning walk, and man were we boiling by the time we got back.

And so, escaping from the heat continues this week. Oh, but don't will get down to 91 by Friday.

I HATE YOU, AL GORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!