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31 Days of Cassie and Dan: Day 2 – Road Trip

In the spring of 2006 my Mom was having issues with her thyroid and needed to go into the hospital for surgery. Between grad school classes and trying to run for the Kenner City Council I was strapped for cash. I felt really bad that I was not going to be able to afford a trip back to Baltimore.

Cassie suggested that we should just make a road trip. She dropped everything going on with her to make sure I could be with my Mom, just in case. That selflessness is one of the reasons I will always love her.

Of course, nothing we do can ever be easy, the trip being the first example of this. We decided that we would leave at night and take turns driving in order to try and make the 18 hour trip in one day. I took the first shift. By the time I got to Slidell (an hour away) my eyes were already trying to close. (For some reason I get tired very quickly driving east. It usually doesn’t happen driving west.)

Eventually I took over driving again. As we approached Chattanooga on I-24 the car all of a sudden went VROOOOOOOM. Pressing the gas pedal did not cause any forward acceleration. Fortunately that part of the interstate has a downward slope and we had enough forward momentum that I was able to get the car off the interstate and into a parking lot. The transmission was shot. Fortunately Cassie has been in Saturns for a long time and so getting her transmission replaced in the home of Saturns was likely easier than any other place in the country. Cassie also had 50 miles left before her warranty ran out. This added about 4 hours to our already long trip.

We had the shuttle at the dealership drive us to the mall and we hung out there for a few hours. We went into a Dillards where an older saleswoman approached me and said “the big and tall section is over there.” I looked at Cassie and said “she must have thought I was tall.” We laughed.

I finally got to see my Mom in the hospital after surgery was over. When she saw Cassie approaching, her first words were “she’s so pretty”. Which is true, she was and is very pretty. Mom survived and has defeated several other illnesses since then as well.

On the ride back home, I drove all the way to Georgia without switching drivers. Basically I wasn’t able to handle an hour driving east but I could handle 13 hours driving west without an issue. I am strange. But I couldn’t have done it without her and will always be thankful for that and many other wonderful things that I will tell you about over the next 29 days.

 

 

31 Days of Cassie and Dan: You Busy?

A month from today Cassie and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. Of course I have known and loved her for more than just that time. However, when I noticed today that it was exactly a month away, I wanted to write a series of posts dedicated to the woman I love.

In the dating world today, I see a lot of people struggling to deal with simple communication in getting to know people. Everything seems so forced and people are impatient to meet up. I see screenshots of people acting like complete idiots.

Back in the day, I came across a profile on Yahoo and something about her told me that I needed to contact her. She was obviously attractive and totally my type. What also made her stand out was her openness about political views. In a Conservative state like Louisiana, some people shy away from advertising such things (even in a liberal city like New Orleans). She didn’t and that impressed me.

So I sent two little words to her that would end up changing my life in the best way possible: “You busy?”

She wasn’t, so we talked. And the rest? Well, I still have 30 more days to discuss all that.

A Love Divided

The monument debate in New Orleans has sparked some very interesting conversations to say the least. One of which was the idea of a love story that might take place between two protesters on opposite sides of the issue. I had added some interesting lines and people begged me to write this. So, here it goes. 

 

Jeb stood in front of the Jefferson Davis Monument. Waving the Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia he wondered what was becoming of the city of his birth. He had long since moved and his family took up residence in several other parishes over the years. He turned to another patriot, an older gentleman with a long gray beard, “Do you reckon this a lost cause?”

“I sure hope not,” said the older man. “These symbols are our heritage. They want to erase us from history. Stand tall son. This is important for all of us.”

Canal Street separated the Confederate protesters from the locals much like the Mason Dixon line separated North from South. Jeb scanned the crowd across from him. You never knew when those “AntiFa” would cause problems. Suddenly, he locked eyes with a darker skinned protester from the wrong side of the protest. This wasn’t a gaze of hatred or anger, but one of intrigue.

Hours passed and protesters came and went. The only constant was the two of them. The stranger crossed the street when they were finally alone. With an outstretched hand he said “My name is Sherman, yours?”

“Jeb. Where you from?”

“Right here, well the lower 9th ward born and raised. NOLA all my life. In fact, I am so in love with my city my friends call me Nola. You?”

“Born here, but moved all over. Currently living in Waggaman.”

Both men stood there for a second, the heat from Sherman’s gaze burned through Jeb’s soul like Atlanta burned during the civil war. Jeb reached down for his cooler. “I got a couple of beers left, you want one?”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

Sherman opened his beer and looked at Jeb. “Why do you stand here defending a man whose purpose was to keep my people enslaved? I don’t want to attack you, I just want to understand.”

“I don’t see it as that. I view this as history. I don’t want slavery; that is evil.”

“But to celebrate it? His outstretched hand is a symbol of oppression to me.”

Jeb gulped his beer and opened another one. He could feel the genuineness of his soul and for the first time he felt conflicted. He outstretched his hand again “I understand how you feel. I am just glad we can talk civilly about this. I hope your take my outstretched hand as genuine.”

The two men shook hands but the grasp remained longer. Jeb had rented an AirBnB around the corner and suggested that they finish the beers there. Sherman agreed.

****

As soon as they entered the door Jeb walked backwards into the living room. Neither had been with another man but both knew they wanted this. Sherman slowly reached for Jeb’s belt buckle and zipper. Jeb whispered in his ear “Take em down, Nola.”

That night Sherman was driven to his knees with overwhelming conviction. Instead of dying a thousand deaths, they surrendered to their passion. And after about four score and 7 minutes, both men fell to the bed. A few minutes later, Sherman was pleased to find out that the south would indeed rise again.

****

The next day Jeb woke up, half of his bed empty. Nola had opened his eyes and his heart. He knew what he had to do. Battle flag in hand, he marched down to the protest. Instead of joining his fellow confederates, he crossed to the other side where he found Sherman standing there. He decided to throw away a heritage based on hate and instead embraced love and kindness. Cigarette lighter in hand, he set the flag on fire for all his former friends to see. He grabbed Sherman’s hand and shouted “Take em down! Take em down!” because he knew that a love divided against itself could not stand.

Productive sleep and what does it mean?

Last night was the second time where I had a dream about solving a software development problem that I was having. Each time I have had these sorts of dreams I came up with the solution and it worked in my dream. I then woke up, implemented the solution in real life, and it worked there as well.

The first time it happened I thought it was a really neat thing that I was able to do and how awesome it would be if I could do that more often. But I never really thought about what actually happened in my dream. They key part being that I didn’t just come up with a potential solution in my dream. The code actually worked in my dream.

One might just simply assume that the reason it looked like it would work in my dream was because my mind believed it to be correct. So it showed the correct result as a form of confirmation bias.  I believed it should work in my dream so my dream made it appear as if it did work. That it actually worked in real life is just a happy coincidence.

But what if it is more than that? What if the reason that it worked in real life was because my brain did the calculation of that logic while I slept. I developed all of the code for both of these projects. Is it possible that my brain created a simulation based on all it has seen and then produced an end result based on the information it had retained from the development?

Mind blown…

This Halloween don’t drink and drive, take an Uber on me*.

It is Halloween time again. Children will be walking around our neighborhoods asking for candy and adults will be heading to costume parties and enjoying some creepy cocktails.

When enjoying yourself please make sure to not make anyone a ghost prematurely. If you do not have a designated driver and have never tried Uber, you can enter in the following code into the app and get up to $20 off your first Uber trip.

uberRideShareDanUE

Enjoy yourselves, have fun, be safe, and happy haunting!

* Free rides are only available to new Uber riders and the credit will be up to $20 on one ride only.

Uber driving: Day 3

I decided to take my Uber driving to a Thursday night, mostly because of the Saints game at the dome. Uber suggested that this may very well be a good night to make some money. So after I finished work I left my garage and immediately got a call on the app. That was the first of 7 really short trips. Each of them paid a small amount, but in the long run they added up to me earning $45 before I decided to go home and watch the Saints on TV. But the most important thing was that the 7 trips made me top 25 total trips. This meant that my referrer would be getting a bonus ($200 in New Orleans) and I would also be getting a $100 bonus on top of my earned fares.

But the time I got home I looked at my earnings statement and saw yet another $100. One of the guys I had referred was killing it down in Orlando and had already driven the requisite number of rides to qualify us for the referral bonus as well.

The Saints won (WHO DAT!) and I went back out to pick up others. These were fewer trips but longer distances (meaning more money). At the end of the day I netted $111 in fares plus $200 in referral bonuses for a grand total of $311. I also intend on driving Friday and Saturday nights as well. This should be a very good weekend for extra money.

The referral program is still going on. So if you would also like to become an Uber driver and earn an extra $100 bonus, please sign up by clicking this link.  Please shoot me an email (DanielJayZimmerman at Gmail) when you do sign up so we can make sure everything goes through properly. I have been enjoying it and I think it is a great opportunity to earn some extra cash on the side.

Low carb peanut butter shake recipe

Until today I had not gotten too creative with my Atkins diet. Eggs and bacon for breakfast, burgers and salads for lunch, various meat options for dinner with either broccoli or salads. Sometimes I would use an Atkins prepared meal or bar to vary things up.

However, while I was in the grocery store I looked at the powdered peanut butter and noticed it was not very high in carbohydrates at all (3 total carbs and 1 net carb for 2 tablespoons). I wondered what might go well with that. I got some unsweetend almond milk (which looks to have 0 net carbs in it). I also got some sugar free maple flavored syrup (1 net carb per 1/4 cup).

So in this version I used 6 tablespoons of the powdered peanut butter, 1/4 cup of syrup, and 2 cups of almond milk. I mixed all that in a blender with some ice and made myself a shake and was happily surprised with the results. It actually tasted better than what I expected.

So for a grand total of 4 net carbs I had a shake that tasted much better than any Atkins shake I had ever tried before. Next time I may try to include some extra items like fresh strawberries or some other options to make it even better. But as of now it was my first attempt to try something “different” and it was a success.

My current weight loss is 22 lbs, with many more to go.

My second night of Uber driving.

I did my second night of Uber driving on Friday night/Saturday Morning. It was still an overall good experience. I never really got to surge levels like I did the previous time. I did net about $110 in net fares (i.e. total fares less what Uber keeps before they pay you).

I guess the only thing that slightly bothers me about the night was that I did not end up with a perfect 5 star rating like I did the first night. I guess that is bound to happen. I have not rated anyone less than 5 stars so far as all of my trips seemed to be enjoyable.

I have one or two guesses as to why my rating may have been dinged. Once I ask Uber a question I will make another post about the subject.

But my overall rating is 4.86 after 26 total trips. I will try and keep that up and expect that issues like that are few and far between.

This brings me to my reminder about how have the opportunity to earn money via Uber yourself. If you sign up as a driver and make 25 trips by the end of October you will get a $100 bonus.  Just use my link and I will get credit as well. It took me less than 8 hours of overall driving to get 25 trips. You can easily do it too.

 

A little update since I haven’t posted here in a while

I havn’t gotten a chance to do much writing recently and I really need to get back to it. I am in the middle of a very short story that I have had in my head for a while now. It, like some of the other ones, goes to a dark place (which I still find odd because the book I do want to write is not dark at all).

I have also started driving as an Uber driver. My first experience was pretty good. In 3.5 hours I made $101 in fares. I wouldn’t mind doing that 2-3 times as week for some extra money. Seems worth it to me. And if you sign up via my referral link they currently have a special going on where you can get money once you finish a certain amount of drives. Sign up here.

I have also been doing Atkins again. Since Labor Day I have lost 20 lbs. One of the things that has made this go around easier is the SplashH2O beverages. They have a peach/tangerine version that is really awesome and I just tried the lemonade version and that is pretty darned tasty too. Typically I don’t like lemonade drink mixes. But these guys do it up right and they have no carbs in them so it is perfect for when I want something different than water.

I am also finishing up the final stages of my Disney trip, using all my “BudgetEars” knowledge and putting it to good use. I am very excited about that as well.

I hope to get more stuff written for all my blogs and some more stories finished up for publishing here. Anyway, just a heads up.

 

 

Writing: The Tourist Trap

This was the last assignment of the writing class I had taken. It was based off the Finn McCool’s writing contest of 2013. The piece had to contain every word in a given list. This is the story:

————–

“You don’t want to go in there” warned the stranger on the other side of the street. “It is a real tourist trap”. David shrugged his shoulders at Mary and replied to her“It looks harmless enough”. Mary nodded her head in agreement. The door was ornately decorated. It looked as if it would whisk you away into another dimension. David grabbed the golden doorknob and twisted it with fake apprehension, hoping that the stranger would see it. “Are you ready to be trapped?” David asked as he pulled the door open.

He was surprised at the size of the room. He didn’t think it would be this large on the inside. “SLÀINTE!” shouted a crowd in the corner as they clanged their glasses of beer together. The group of men tussled the hair of the ginger looking one. Perhaps he was getting married. Hallways and staircases littered the exterior of the room in every direction. The couple sat down at the bar. The bartender walked by and quickly handed the pair a laminated drink menu. Mary pointed at the menu at the Bloody Mary and smiled. David ordered one for her and a rum and coke for himself. The bartender gave them both generous pours. David returned the favor with a generous tip. David noticed a woman sitting at the end of the bar playing one of those quarter quiz games. She looked as if she had been there for days. But maybe she had just had a long day herself.

Mary finished her drink and excused herself to go to the bathroom. She disappeared into the crowd as David ordered another drink. One drink became two, and then three. Several more people entered the bar. More cheers came from the Irish lads. He didn’t really know if they were Irish or not, but he and Mary loved to make up stories about the people they saw around them. “Where is she?” he muttered to himself. As his buzz turned into a haze his concern grew for her. He took for granted how easy they communicated now. She wouldn’t have much luck with strangers. He left his bar stool and approached the lads. “Have any of you see my girlfriend?”.

The ginger responded “Sure, she is fit!”.

“Yes, I am well aware” David responded, assuming fit meant something other than in shape. He assumed it was good. “She wandered off, did you see where she went?”. The group stared at each other for a moment and shook their heads no. Carrying his drink he ventured down the hallway he assumed she had walked down. He saw no bathroom, just another bar. “If only she had taken some breadcrumbs, she wouldn’t have gotten lost” he thought. The group in this bar looked stranger that the first, and a little more drunk as well. He opened up his wallet and approached the bartender. He showed her a picture of Mary and asked “have you seen anyone looking like this?”

She responded “Sure honey, I see people looking like that all the time. I am sure if you wait you could find one just like her”. Frustration welled up in him like a geyser. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw her climbing the left stairway and turning a corner. He felt like a salmon swimming upstream as he tried to make his way past the people on the stairway. “MARY!” he shouted in vain. As he reached the top he looked down the hallway. He couldn’t see anyone, just a few closed doors. He opened one of them and walked through the door. He couldn’t believe what he saw. It was yet another bar.

He passed several more halls, and bars, and stairways. Each time he found people stranger than the last. The situation left him discombobulated. Perhaps it was a bad idea to have left his initial seat. He doubted that he could find his way back through this maze. He needed to find her. As he opened another door he found a bar with dance music. Strobe lights flashed and the drunk people waved back and forth in a rhythmic trace, much like seaweed reacting to the ebb and flow of a current. He hopped up and down trying to catch a glimpse of her in the crowd. She did love to dance.

A drunk girl, no older than 21, approached him and asked “why are you hopping”.

He responded, “I am trying to see someone”.

“Shucks” she said. “I was hoping you were a frog. I need to find my prince. Maybe if I kiss you that will turn you into a frog?”. She grabbed him and drunkenly leaned in for a kiss.

He pushed her away and shouted “MARY!”. One by one, each dancer shouted Mary to the beat. “What a bunch of weirdos” he thought. Maybe they would be useful. If all of them started screaming, Mary she would find the room. He waived his arms up and down to try and get them to shout louder. “MARY MARY” came from the crowd.

The music suddenly stopped. The DJ shouted some profanities at him that would make a sailor blush and stormed off. With the music gone, the crowd dissipated quickly. The room emptied and a familiar figure sat at the bar sipping on a long island iced tea. It was Mary. She looked more lost than he. He grabbed her trembling hand and said “this was a bad idea”. They opened the door on the other side of the room and saw the ginger husband to be. He quickly made his way to first door. A picture of the stranger across the street was posted on the inside of the door. “I told you so” read the caption. As the door opened it was not a street he saw yet another bar, with a maze of halls and stairs. The tourist trap had claimed another two victims.