birra's Journal

birra's Journal


Honor: 13    [ Give / Take ]


5 entries this month

What we hear....

22:11 Jun 23 2008
Times Read: 882

B: It's finally executing an ANT script...

Z: A what?

B: An ANT script?

Z: Ohhh... I thought you said an ass rip.

*we're getting tired and punchy...*



22:13 Jun 23 2008

I'll execute an ass rip for you baby WOOOH

22:17 Jun 23 2008



It was supposed to be a three hour tour…

05:33 Jun 17 2008
Times Read: 927

…I promised Morrigon I would take her to Niagara Falls today. She has only been in Upstate New York for about six months and we haven’t really had a chance to see some of the sights here, mostly due to my busy travel schedule. But we made plans to make the thirty-minute drive up to Niagara Falls and see a whole lot of falling water.

I still had the rented convertible this morning, so the ride would be a lot nicer than rolling out in my clunky old truck or the beat-up old delivery van (which would get even further beat-up later in the day, but that’s a different story). With camera in hand, we set out for Niagara Falls just a little before noon.

The weather was wonderful; mid-70’s on the F scale, (that would be in the 20C range for the rest of the world). The sun was shining as we hit the highway. The skies seemed a bit darker further north, but undaunted we made our way to Niagara Falls State park.

As we reached Niagara Falls we could see more ominous storm clouds on the northern horizon. Although it was still warm and sunny, we could see that the weather would be changing.

We parked and made the walk though the park to the trail that runs along the upper river and the first rapids approaching the falls themselves. Still, the weather was wonderful. Right across from the park is a Hard Rock Café and I suggested we could have lunch there after touring the falls a bit and taking some pictures.

Morri walked out in front of me and I took my time, trying to take steady pictures in the dim light under the canopy of trees over the park trails. The view of Morri’s silhouette against the white, rushing water of the rapids in front of her was an artistic scene in itself. The scent of the river permeated the air. The sound of rushing water all but drowned out every other sound.

Watching the water can be mesmerizing. The water rushes and dances around the rocks and drift wood. It curls and leaps and folds upon itself as it flows rapidly towards the descent ahead of it. We stood and took pictures of the water for a few minutes before turning our attention to the path that leads to the crest of the falls.

The path is gorgeous; tree lined and running parallel to the river. From the path you can see the edge of the gorge and across to the Canadian side of the river. The mist from the falls climbs the air in the distance, giving everything a hazy look from this angle.

At the end of the path, and opening. The overlook, peering right at the falls, no more than 30 feet away from where you can stand. The railing is lined with pay-per-view binocular stands, gleaming chrome and inviting tourists to take a closer look. Below in the gorge, people in blue ponchos climb aboard the Maid of the Mist to take their ride under the falling water. Across the gorge, the skyline of Niagara Falls Ontario stands tall, and in the distance behind it, dark clouds were filling the sky.

Morri and I stood for a few minutes, just looking and observing the amazing wonder of the scene. But within minutes, the dark clouds that seemed to only loom on the horizon were upon the city across the gorge, and over head. Lightning strikes to the north and the east illuminated the sky seemingly every few seconds and loud claps of thunder shook the land. A few stray drops of rain could be felt and the temperature began dropping rapidly as a strong gust of wind blew across overlook.

The clouds advanced as rapidly as the water could fall over the precipice, soon darkening the entire area. Large drops of rain began to fall – not a downpour – but even with just a few drops we felt soaked.

The other tourists began to run for cover as lightning strikes grew closer. Morri playfully danced toward the railing at the edge of the overlook and moved closer to the water to take more pictures. I aimed at a particularly active area of lightning and snapped pictures rapidly hoping to catch a flash of lightning. No such luck. The rain was coming heavier now. Morri came closer to me and asked me to take a couple more pictures of the water before we too began to seek shelter.

As I trained on the falls, trying to capture as much of the scene as I could, the Maid of the Mist caught Morri’s eye.

“What is that?” she asked.

“The Maid of the Mist.”

“What are they doing?”

“Well, the boat ride takes you under the falls.”

“NO WAY!” she excitedly responded, “why aren’t we doing that?”

“Next time, we’re not really prepared for it.”

As I turned to take a picture of the Maid of the Mist, lightning struck a little closer. Morri and I looked at each other and unspoken, we began to climb back up the hill toward the park. The rain was a full downpour now. I tucked my camera under my shirt. We didn’t even get halfway to the gift shop at the top of the observation area and lightning stuck very close nearby. Close enough that the thunder was simultaneous and we could hear the sizzling sounds of the electrical charges overloading the power-lines nearby.

Of course our immediate reaction was to duck.

Why do we do that?

We figured that was our signal to get out of dodge. We made a break for the park, knowing that going through the trees probably wasn’t the safest move, but it was the only way out to shelter. The wind blew harder; the rain was stinging as we ran through the park.

“Look,” I pointed out to Morri, “hail.”

Pea sized chunks of ice were bouncing off the pavement. A few mixed in with the rain at first, then it became a hail-storm. The ice, stinging even sharper than the wind-driven rain. We got our from the park and ran through traffic on the street to a grove of trees on the median, then to the shelter of the Hard Rock Café on the other side of the street.

Aside from the bus boy carrying about 24 drink glasses in one hand as he cleared the table, and our interest to see if the contents of the filled glass on the top of the stack would spill out on any patrons, lunch was for the most part uneventful. Comical, but uneventful.

We decided to hang for bit and see if the rain would tapper off before walking back to the car, or the park. The rain slowed, but didn’t stop. We headed to the car to start the drive back home.

The drive, would take us through the growing storm.

Cars were pulling off the highway as the rain increased to a blinding pace. The temperature was down to 60F and about four miles from Niagara Falls, the hail part of the storm was in full force. The hail, now dime-sized rocks, pounded on the car from the passenger side. We could barely hear each other talk over the sound of the ice clanking off the glass and beating on the convertible top like a kettle drum. Other vehicles were stopping under overpasses to wait it out.

I kept driving. Through about seven miles of the storm, it was relentless.

And then, it was gone.


Vaporized as quickly as it rolled in.

We didn’t quite make it a three-hour tour…



06:21 Jun 17 2008

That was so very, very cool. Thank you for sharing that with us.

06:39 Jun 17 2008

Loved the pictoral essay.

Thank you.

06:44 Jun 17 2008

I really love it when you write. You have a wonderful way with words. Beautiful pictures and a beautiful story of a simple day. :D

12:50 Jun 17 2008

Amazing pictures and description. I always wanted to see the falls and reading this and seeing a small glimpse has made me put it on my summer to do list :)

16:29 Jun 17 2008

That was one of the coolest experiences with seeing something for the first time.

It was perfect! It couldn't have been better!

Well...Maybe if we had brought towels... *big hugs* thank you !

23:21 Jun 17 2008

Amazing photos, great writting!

I haven't been to the falls in about 30 years! Damn I'm old!



15:29 Jun 11 2008
Times Read: 955

…it turned into a total fiasco.

From the 90 minute wait for a car, to the 30 minute wait just to return the car. The horrible gas station I stopped at that couldn’t even print a receipt… the construction…the traffic… the blazing heat…

…then the storm started to pass through.

Flight to Buffalo… cancelled. Grabbed a flight to Rochester… an hour delay, but they didn’t even have a plane to cover it. Grabbed a flight to Syracuse, boarded the plane and then sat around waiting… waiting… waiting… what are we waiting for? Apparently we were waiting for them to decide to move two passengers from coach to first class… wow, that’s awesome. And they waited just long enough to let the second wave of the storm to roll in and… another ground stop.

So we get to sit, on the plane, at the gate. Can’t fly. Can’t go back in the terminal. Just... sit... and wait.

If anyone ever questions why I hate Philadelphia, all I can offer is… go there. Find out for yourself.

I wouldn’t complain if these problems were occasional occurrences but they are all too frequently the rule, not the exception.

Sorry KC and Gina… I love you guys, but one nice evening out with you doesn’t give a shine to the turd this city has been to me. And it’s not just the airport… I have story after story of this city and the vast majority of them are negative.

I beg someone to actually show me the good side of the city the next time I’m there. Prove me wrong, please.

Now hours behind schedule, I’ll get into Syracuse after midnight and face a two and a half hour drive to Buffalo… and still work to be done tonight, for tomorrow morning.

I need wine… and sleep…

Some Mighty Taco wouldn’t hurt either but I guess I’ll miss that too…



15:44 Jun 11 2008

I could have totally brought you Mighty Taco...

No wait...I was toasted...Never mind.

I can bring you some now! :)

20:17 Jun 11 2008

You brought me Sushi... SOOOO much better...


02:12 Jun 12 2008

The city of brotherly love...ummm...not so much

04:15 Jun 12 2008

HEY you can't hate philly i am there :P how could you not love killadelphia the ugly city of brotherly shove.

01:10 Jun 16 2008

Sorry Bro.

I just live near there...I'm FROM Connecticut!

We like to visit Philly, but we limit it to places we know well. Parts of it suck big time!


Some helpful hints from the Travelling Bastard...

03:51 Jun 10 2008
Times Read: 978

Today’s lesson… how not to return your car to the rental facility.

First, you should probably be going less than 50 MPH on the return ramp. Second, you should be aware of other vehicles in the road and NOT hit them.

Please review the following image for futher detail...

Ok, granted a fender-bender occurred just moments before your hasty arrival, but the judicious use of common sense in this case would have kept a small accident from becoming a calamity.

You… ma’m… are an idiot.

So today’s tale is brought to you in it's enitrety by the fine folks at the Philadelphia Airport, and more specifically, the Avis rental facility there.

The accident is just one small part of the story.

My flight into Philadelphia actually went on-time, although I really don’t remember much of it because I basically fell asleep taxiing in Buffalo and woke up upon touching down in Philadelphia.

My usual.

I have so few memorable events or conversations on flights, and judging by the dolts sitting next to me, this one wasn’t going to break any records. So why not get some well deserved sleep?

I made my way through the airport, which can be a challenge in itself. I was stopped by this middle-eastern man, a limo driver, holding his sign for the passenger he was sent to pick up.

He said something completely unintelligible to me in a quiet voice that was completely obscured by the din of the airport around us. I asked him to repeat himself, and he said it the same way again. The third time I made it out, “Are you from Jacksonville?”


I walked away.

The point of that was?

Anyway, out at “Zone 2” where the rental car shuttle busses pick up, there was a mob of people standing there waiting. I guessed that they were all waiting for an Avis shuttle since they always seem scarce at this airport.

Hertz drove by twice… Thrifty… Budget… Alamo… another Thrifty… another Hertz… another Budget… ahh! There’s an Avis. But the bus stopped about 200 feet from the pick-up location. Why? Because the driver had to block traffic for five minutes and have a conversation with the driver from one of the city busses picking up in “Zone 1.”


He finally made his way to “Zone 2” and whaddayaknow, two more Avis busses were stuck right behind him.

Everyone got on the bus. The driver took all the Preferred members’ names and wrote them down. No handheld? No comm-link to dispatch? No… according to him there is a 40 minute wait for cars and no one has been assigned one, not even Preferred members.

Which, kind of defeats the entire purpose of being a Preferred member. But he assures us, Preferred members won’t have to wait “as long.”

So we arrive at the Avis terminal, and the line at the Preferred counter is about 35 people deep, winding out of the building and into the parking lot. It is 92F in the parking lot. Fat white people are melting as they stand there.

After about 30 minutes of standing in a line, which is not moving a bit, they send a young man with a name tag that reads, “Trainee” out to calm the restless masses. Boy, that was brilliant. Send someone who has NONE of the answers out to answer everyone’s questions.

My only question was, if they have a parking lot full of cars, and we’re all preferred members with reservations, why are we not getting cars?

His answer was… “Uh, well, see... we’re cleaning cars, and giving those to the preferred members so you get cars faster…”

“Ok, but there are all these other cars here. Who is getting these cars?”

“Well, members who have reservations and… I… I think they’ve all been assigned to people already.”

“Well, I’m a preferred member, and I have a reservation, so how do I know one of these hasn’t already been assigned to me and I’m standing here for absolutely no reason?”

“Well, no one has cars assigned…”

“But you just said all these other cars are assigned to people…”

It went round and round like this for a bit until I told “Trainee” to go get a manager. Another man, equally perturbed left his spot in line to also demand to see a manager.

By the time a manger came around, I had made it into the building. The other man who demanded to see the manager got to discuss the situation with the manager just minutes before it was his turn at the counter. He was assigned a nice, shiny, black Lincoln Towne Car and drove off happily into the sunset.

His happiness lasted only a few minutes. As he exited the rental facility, he was broadsided by another vehicle. Then the rocket scientist in the Mustang trumped both of their stupidity by flying into the melee and putting her car up on a concrete post.

This of course prompted EVERY SINGLE Avis employee to go running to the road… to stand… and watch. Useless to the accident scene and not doing their jobs to take care of the rest of the customers who still needed cars.

EVERY SINGLE employee. Yes, even the ones at the desk.

Well, true to their word I had my car within 90 minutes of arriving at the airport.

And when I got to my car, my contract, was already sitting on the dash board. Yes, my car had been assigned and I could have left with it LONG before this… if anyone working there would have pulled their head out of their ass for a minute and perhaps asked for the last names of the people standing in line, which the shuttle driver apparently never gave to anyone.

Awesome job folks. Way to put your customers First.

I need some wine… and sleep…



04:04 Jun 10 2008

FUCK! Give me a god damn flamethrower. I NEED to bring justice to this situation.

06:45 Jun 10 2008

Did you say rental or mental facility?

22:37 Jun 10 2008

In that photo what is on the left, in front of the car and beside the policeman ... looks like a lama in a blazer :D

04:02 Jun 11 2008

I really, really, REALLY, wish Philly wasn't such an exercise in stupidity...

I'm truly beginning to understand why you hate that airport so much.



03:12 Jun 04 2008
Times Read: 1,003

Hmm.. so lets see what happened today...

...I got up at 5:30AM to drive to Cleveland, in a heavy rain. I drove there twice earlier this year in snowstorms both times... I guess me driving to Cleveland must be the Earth's signal to make something fall from the sky...

...I sat around most of the day and did... little to nothing.

...the one time I did have to work in a clinical area, a nurse happily informed me that the patient she was working with right when I got there had something highly contangeous and therefore I was exposed...


....I dealt with government employees who would prefer to simply bitch about the fact we were there to improve their processes rather than do actual work and learn the new processes...

...everyone from the hospital went home at 3:30, so I had to quit "working" as well.

...I wanted to take pictures in the park near the hospital, but of course it was pouring.

...I parked at a meter near my hotel just to get in, check in and find out where the hotel parking actually was... I put a quarter in the meter, figuring 25 minutes would be enough time. I got back to my car around 26 minutes later and there was already a parking ticket on it.

*shakes head*

Cleveland is NOT endearing itself to me...



01:03 Jun 05 2008


I worked for a company that was headquartered near Clevland. I see "The mistake by the Lake" has not changed a bit!

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