Mark Richards


Friday, June 27, 2003

Adios Telemarketers

I find telemarketers to be so annoying. I must get at least three to four calls a day from people wanting to give me "free" vacations, sell me satellite television systems, remove trees from my yard (which is difficult considering I live on the third floor of an apartment complex), and other things of that nature. But no more!

Today President Bush launched a new service where telemarketers will be punished for unwanted calls. This National Do-Not-Call list will take effect October 1. More information is available on MSNBC's website, but all you need to do to reduce the number of telemarketers by 80% is visit the website, give the number to protect, and a valid email address. And BAM! No more telemarketers.

I cannot wait until they start enforcing this!

Thursday, June 26, 2003

More Wedding Pics

More wedding pics.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

My Cousin's Wedding

My cousin Alissa got married this weekend in Chicago. She's only 25 years old! I am 24! Am I next?! Now, that is a scary thought...but I do not want to get into that right here and now. Anyways, I had a really good time getting to see my crazy family and my girlfriend, Sarah, who flew in from New Jersey. I wish I was to see my family a little more. I just feel so out of the loop sometimes because my aunts, uncles, and cousins all live in the Chicago, my parents live in New Jersey, and I live all the way down here in Atlanta. But that's not the issue at hand here. On to the wedding!

The actual wedding ceremony was held in a church outside of Chicago. It was a very nice ceremony...a little too religious for me, but I think the manner in which the ceremony was conducted was excellent. The priest spoke a great deal about loving each other, being loved, and even a little humor about the different ways in which men and women view marriage. That was all very nice. But he also spoke about how their love was God's love and that God shared his love with them and that they could love because of God. Blah, blah, blah. In an attempt to not be disrespectful, I had a difficult time stomaching those few points because I just do not see the love between two people being a religious experience.

The second part of the traditional American wedding consisted of a reception at the Chicago O'Hare Marriott later that day. The first hour was a cocktail party where the family greeted the guests. The rest of the evening took place in one of the ballrooms at the hotel. We drank, we danced, we drank some more, and did the normal wedding reception things, which I do not want to get into. You can figure out how it all went down.

I have to be honest. I found the entire event rather emotional. There is one part that sticks out to me though and I had a very hard time holding back the tears. My Grandfather spoke and sang at the reception. He sang a song that he used to sing to my Grandmother, Won't You Be My Sweetheart, before she passed away. I know this may not sound like an overly emotional moment, but there is some more background information. The last few years before my Grandmother passed away, she was in a nursing home stricken with Alzheimer's disease and my Grandfather was not able to give her the continuous care she needed. Well, about four years ago on Spring Break, Sarah and I went to visit my grandparents and we went to visit my Grandmother in the nursing home. My Grandfather visited her everyday and every time he sang with her because she loved to sing. They used to sing Won't You Be My Sweetheart. She remembered nobody and nothing, barely even my Grandfather, but she remembered the words to this song. Every word. It was amazing. He was so good with her. I couldn't hold back the tears then and couldn't do it at the wedding. All these thoughts came rushing back to me. My Grandfather was so good with her. Every day for years and years. He was so devoted and so loving. I admired my Grandfather immensely after seeing that (not that I didn't before, just more so)...probably more than I have ever admired another person. I will remember that day until I die. Hopefully I can express my love and devotion to my wife some day as he has. I even feel like crying while sitting here and writing about it. So in order to deal with my feelings at the wedding, I slammed back three glasses of champagne. When in doubt or pain, resort to alcohol...not really, but it sure helped here.

Back to the positive stuff. Alissa looked incredible and her dress was gorgeous. Everything seemed to go as planned and I had an excellent time. I think her and her new husband Kevin will be very happy together. I wish them the best of luck in the future.

Here are some the pictures taken at the wedding.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Moving Toward an Alzheimer's Cure

I found an interesting article on Alzheimer's disease. My grandmother was deeply rooted in the disease during the last few years of her life, and my girlfriend's grandfather has become entrenched as well. Alzheimer's has touched my life through the years and the results are frightening.

I hope something comes of these findings.

The NEXTEL Disaster

For those of you not in the Atlanta area, on Friday afternoon we had terrible weather. It rained heavily for hours and seemed to come down the hardest at the exact moment that I wanted to leave. I got to the front door and evaluated the situation. As luck may have it, I drove to lunch earlier in the day and parked my car far away. I still felt confident that I could make it to my car without drowning. I began to prepare myself. I put my personal cell phone in my left pocket, my work cell phone (my NEXTEL phone) clipped inside my right pocket, and had my keys in my hand ready to open the door as quickly as possible. Then, the countdown began. 3.....2.....1.....Go! The sprint for dryness began!

I was getting soaked. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. My pants had gotten so wet that was now stepping on the legs. I was barely moving. I thought it was all over. My life was flashing before my eyes. Then everything changed. I realized that I didn't want this to be the end and thought of all my loved ones. That's when I got my second wind. I lifted my pant legs and pushed on the last few feet. Woohoo! I made it!

I sat in my car a few seconds to recover and reflect about this amazing experience. I began removing my possessions from my pockets. First my personal cell phone. Then my wallet. And finally my NEXTEL phone....or not. It was gone! Did I leave it upstairs at my desk? Did I drop it? I knew that I couldn't leave a fallen friend out in the battlefield. I had to go back to check. I got back out of my car and began running toward the building. I could see my fallen NEXTEL on the ground by the door at about the same spot where I began lifting my pant legs. But I was worried. The NEXTEL looked injured. When I got to the phone, I picked it up and examined the situation. Not only had the phone been dropped and sitting in the water for a few minutes, but it appeared to have been run over by a pickup truck! I saw the culprit right next to the phone and wanted to get my revenge, but thought it was neither the time nor the place for revenge.

I ran back over to my car with the phone and attempted to get a better assessment of the damages incurred. The screen was broken, the volume control was getting stuck, the signal was poor, and, generally, looked pretty banged up. I thought it was all over. I shut down the phone in order to let it rest and recover. A day later, I went back to check on the status of the phone. The screen looked worse, but could be repaired. Everything else seemed to be working well. Mostly cosmetic damage had occurred, not much appeared to be permanent. Nothing a little time and love couldn't heal.

I would like to wish my valued friend, NEXTEL, a quick and speedy recovery. I apologize for all the pain you're going through.

...I hope my boss doesn't make me pay for the damages...?!

Monday, June 16, 2003

The Perfect Season

Last Thursday, Team Bad Guy was robbed by the umpires when they miscalculated the score of the game. The end result: a perfect 0-10 season! In a game that should have went to extra innings with the scored tied at 14, the umpires, using their superior mathematical skills, insisted that we had only 13 runs, thus another loss for us. What can you do?

Our team showed much improvement throughout the season. Defensively, after the first five games, the errors stopped killing us. We were able to catch fly balls, field more ground balls, and understand game situations better. Our batting was up and down all season though. When we couldn't field, we could hit. Then, when we learned to field, we couldn't hit the ball. I think now that we have one season under our belt, we will fair a much better chance in future seasons.

This last game was extremely important for me and my confidence. I went 3-4 at the plate with a double and two singles, and I advanced to second on the throw both times I singled. I ended my personal season on a very high note batting .500 the last 3 games and hopefully it will continue in our second season which starts on July 8th.

Bring on season 2!

It's Never Easy

The job situation with keeps getting more and more interesting: salary changes, no benefits at first, temporary position until an issue is resolved. What once looked like the perfect opportunity isn't looking so rosy right now. Despite all these complications, I am still debating over whether or not to accept the position. It would be very difficult to pass on a position such as this one. Nothing is ever easy.

A decision is coming soon....

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Job Stuff

I have been so overwhelmed by my entire job situation over the past week. I've been looking into the ColdFusion opportunities here in the Atlanta area and have had a good deal of success: 4 interviews, 2 job offers, and another likely offer. I must say, while all the positions have been intriguing in their own manner, my final interview and offer with shows the most promise. Aside from the fact that I will be making more money and working in a cool place (CNN Center) with a couple of close friends, I'll have a great chance to acquire new knowledge that will enhance my career in the long run. I will be faced with many challenges that I'll have to overcome, but the rewards will make the experience worthwhile. I am very excited about all of this.

Hopefully everything will work out as planned.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

One Step Away

Team Bad Guy is one step away from a perfect season...a perfect 0-10 season that is! In our worst attempt to look like a ball team to date, we lost by a count of 23-2. Nothing went right. We had a ton of errors and poor hitting. I don't know if we'll be able to salvage even one win this season or what we can even do to improve at this point. I can't bring myself to think about this anymore. I'm done.

Monday, June 02, 2003

I'm Officially Broke

Well it's official...I'm broke! That's not exactly true, but my wallet did take some serious damage this weekend with the purchase of a new car and even more furniture. I would talk about the sleeper sofa and coffee table I bought but that would be boring. So let me jump ahead to the fun new car!

Let me start this all off with a little story. I had been looking at cars for the past few days, but had not decided whether or not I was going to go through with purchasing a new car. But Friday morning changed everything. I was running a couple of minutes late to work and run out to my Camaro and attempted to start it up. I put the key in the ignition and turn it....nothing. So I shut off the radio and turn the key again...nothing. Then I shut off the air/defrost and tried again...nothing. Finally, I dimmed the lights in a last ditch attempt to use as little power as possible and tried again...nothing. I had exhausted every method I could come up with to get my car started with no results. I sat in my car kicking and screaming for a few minutes and tried to start the car five minutes later. It did start, but then stalled...not once....not twice...but three times. And that was the last straw. How much longer was my American piece of crap car with 90,000 miles going to last? I wasn't going to find out, thus my decision was final. My purchase: The 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5 S.

I've only had it a few days, but I am extremely pleased with my decision. First off, the car looks sweet inside and out. The exterior is sleek and sporty, yet has a sense of class, while the chrome features of the interior gives the car a ritzy feeling. More importantly, the car runs very smoothly and quietly and is immensely safer than my previous car. In my opinion I made a very sound purchase.