Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, August 31, 2007

7 at 7

This was my run with $Bill on Thursday: seven miles at 7 AM.

I felt pretty good. I had done a Back to the Core class the day before that gave me a little ego boost about running the next day (vs. being idle) -- and kept my legs warm.

We have a decent pace. Nothing fast but definitely an even coordinated pace. We stick it out for quite awhile but I ask for a walk break up a sharp hill on Black Creek. If you run it, you know which one I am talking about.

We did a short walk break when $Bill said we should save the walk for the hill. This is on the path back through a neighborhood to get back to our starting point.

No problem. We pick up pace - especially since I think I'll be walking soon. We start up the hill and $Bill is not walking. I question this and he's like 'this hill?' As if this was not the one he was talking about. Fine. I can run it. And I do. And he does. And it just keeps going.

So technically, it's more of a long upward slant vs. a hill. But it is never-ending. I think to myself that I'll just run this damn hill until I get to the neighborhood street and THEN I'm walking.

But there isno street in sight. Just more UP.

So after what seemed like an hour, I ask $Bill "How much further?" because I'm just going to book it and kill myself to get to the damn street. He starts with "You'll go up here then turn, then..." and before I listened to the rest, I just stopped and started walking. There were too many words in that sentence. I was expecting "It's right there" or something close to three words or under.

It ends up that he was talking about a different hill, which is indeed a sharp inclined hill. So sharp I had to push onto my thighs to get me to even walk up it. Thank goodness I didn't attempt to run it. Well, I wouldn't have, since I would have just stopped once I saw the incline...even if I was in my top running form.

We made it back and I was quite happy with it. A better day of running for me. Not my best yet this summer. I'm still waiting for that to happen.

The run is before my work day begins. We have locker rooms at work, so I had to bring work clothes with me in order to be ready for my day.

Before the run, I realized that I had a Wallyball game to play at lunch time. Well I knew I had only brought myself one extra pair of underwear. This was for the shower after my run. But wallyball is a very rigorous game and it makes me sweat like a guy too. One pair of underwear would not work. I had to call Tim to see if he could bring me another one before my afternoon game.

Again, this was a call made before $Bill and I did the run.

After the run, I feel great. My time to get ready and get to work looks great. I shower and while I'm in the shower, I think about many things, including what I will be wearing. At that point, I realize I forgot my shoes.

Today of all days, I decide to bring in a nice outfit: long black skirt with a pretty beige blouse. The only shoes I have? My yellow $1 flip-flops that I wear within the locker room and my once-stinky Adidas running shoes that I had just worn to run.

What to do????

When I'm out of the shower, I notice within my locker that I also have a pair of trail shoes. This works a little better since my trail shoes are dark grey. I decide that I will just wear those and run home after the wallyball game and grab my nice black heels.

But first, I call Tim to see if I can catch him before he leaves. He offers to go back and get my shoes but at this point, I decide that wearing my trail shoes isn't that bad -- especially where I work, since most folks like their Birkenstocks with socks, or just plain flip-flops (like me -- but my yellow ones are reserved for the locker room).

A friend of mine overhears me requesting shoes on the phone and she comes back into the locker room with an extra pair of black shoes she had in her car. BTW, they were gorgeous. :-)

Unfortunately, they didn't fit so well so I did end up with sneakers all day.

Just Call Me Ole One Eye

I'm having lasik on my left eye in a couple of weeks.

I had lasik done to both eyes in 2005. The cut on the left eye, however, was not perfect, so the actual laser part was not done to the left eye. The right eye was corrected and I was told I would have to wait to allow the left eye to heal before trying it again.

This is a good thing. I know many friends questioned this and assumed this procedure a failure. But I had felt, all along, that this was a great and wonderful thing. My doctor stopped a procedure and gave me my money back in order for the procedure to go better. I had asked my doctor if anyone else would continue and she said most likely yes. I feel the same way. The side effect, as she explained, would have been halos, stuff like that. Anyway, despite folks assuming a failure, I was thankful and greatly appreciative to my doctor.

So, two years have passed and I have decided to get the other one done.

I have been wearing one contact lens all this time. It's easy to let time pass and not think about getting my other eye 'finished' but I did. Really, it was a little push from Tim to finally get it done so I oblige.

In the meantime, I have to be without a contact lens two weeks prior to the surgery. There was an even playing field when I had both contact lenses out -- I could wear my glasses. But with only one good eye and one bad eye -- and no glasses -- it's no longer even. But, because my right eye has 20/20 vision -- and it was my right eye that was severely impacted by nearsightedness and astigmatism -- my vision is pretty good.

Course, looking over my left shoulder doesn't do me much good...

BTW, the same doctor will be doing my left eye. I wouldn't have liked anything less...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Need for Speed

Well, a speed workout, that is.

I'm not fast. At least, to the folks who are faster than me. :-) I guess another way to say this is that I am faster than few people.

It doesn't matter because I love to run fast during speed workouts. Well, I think that way but once I start running, I think "You know, slower today isn't so bad."

The summer heat has been brutal on this runner's ego. I can be a more confident slow runner if I have more running highs than lows.

But Tuesdays are speed workout days on the track. Vacation time is over and now it's time to get back to business. I was ready to get back to my running schedule.

But I had some setbacks. My running buddy, $Bill, was NOT running today. WHAT?? HOW CAN THAT BE? $Bill always runs. Nothing stops him!

Well, except a bit of heatstroke. He was recovering from apparent heatstroke from his weekend workouts. Okay, I'll let that go this time.

I check with my other running buddy, we'll call her Montana. Well lookie here -- she's suffering from severe neck and back pain. Well, after experiencing that last year -- which put me out of any kind of running activities for close to four months -- she had my full sympathy.

But I was determined. I was going to run track even if it meant running with my iPod.

Oh, and I was shot down by another running buddy. She wanted to do Pilates instead. Whatever. She claimed she'd join me next week. I'll believe it when I see it.

Fortunately, I had Bill J. and a new friend join us for our workout. Then there were others, who are faster than me, but so what. We're all running in the damn heat, doing the same workout.

The new guy and I ran 3x1 mile with a minute or two recovery. The recovery was walking in circles and drinking water. I had only brought a 3/4 full 20 oz bottle and it was quickly disappearing.

No problem - there's a water fountain. That'll help me in my time of need, which is coming soon.

Nope - no water. It's been shut off due to our city-wide water conservation efforts. Now, my water is my lifeline and there's maybe one gulp left.

I pull through, with my new friend and my fellow contenders make it on this hot, hot day.

I told a friend of mine, after finishing my run and he a separate run, that my run was great, especially now that I was done. He clarified that I was done TODAY.

And that's all that matters.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Diving Dog

A pretty random video clip but it was just too cool not to share. Hope you all enjoy it.

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This dog will dive for the ball in the family swimming pool. For a really long time too.

read more | digg story

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Apologies to Judy Blume for borrowing the title of her book, which, BTW, I never actually read (but "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret" is an all-time childhood favorite of mine). But I found the title appropriate enough to recount today's big event, CJ's first day of 4th grade.

WOW. I am the mom to a 4th grader. Tim and I have a hard time convincing ourselves that she is, in fact, in *4th* grade, not 3rd.

I have to really begin from the night before...first-day-of-school eve. The day went well and normal as ordinary days go. The girls were tucked in and Tim and I were hunky-dorey in the solemn quietness of the no-kids-around zone.

Tim took time to check in on the girls and came back to let me know that CJ needed me. She was having a crisis. As I got closer to her room, I could hear the sobs and hiccups that accompany hard crying. Sure enough, there she was, lying down, with the saddest face, crying uncontrollably. I heard a squeak that came out as "I can't get to sleep."

I remember this...I remember going through the anxiety and excitement of going back to school. I would panic, though, because I was deathly afraid of NOT falling asleep. I think I became an insomniac through my early tween/teen years because of my fear of not being able to sleep. On top of that, my dad would yell at me to hurry up and get to sleep -- I have school the next day!

That always helped...to make me more freaked. So then I would be crying and just more anxious about getting to sleep and, well, you can probably guess what that did. Vicious cycle but somewhere in there, I did fall asleep.

But it's been my goal to teach my kids not to drive themselves crazy over the ability of NOT being able to fall asleep. CJ's a bit more tenderhearted, so her instinct is to panic.

I recounted the same things to her that I've described here. I wanted to make sure she knew that it was perfectly okay to feel nervous, scared, excited, etc. Kind of like the yoga thing -- at least the class I take, one of the instructors tells us in the beginning 'acknowledge your thoughts, then toss them out of your mind'. Easier said than done, but I do strive for it.

I managed to calm her down with a promise that I would sleep with her if she was still awake when I went to bed. She was. I did. And the next thing I know, she's out like a light bulb.

The morning started great. We had some Lucky Charms for breakfast. CJ said she didn't feel hungry but she knew she had to eat. She prepared her lunch and had already been dressed for her day -- she had laid out her clothes the night before.

I took her to school with the promise that I would walk her all the way into her new room. She was very anxious about the fact that she didn't know who her teacher would be, who would be in her class, and whether she would have her school supplies.

The school supplies were ordered through the PTA at the end of 3rd grade. It was a fundraiser that provided the backpack and all the school supplies necessary for 4th graders. Great idea.

There was an Open House last Friday to introduce students to their teachers and classrooms. If you've been reading my blog, then you'll know that I was out of town last week. This was explained a few times to the school administrator and two PTA members. Somehow, stating that "We will not be attending the Open House because we will be out of town on vacation" is not clear enough because I just received a voice mail message, in response to a request to have the teacher's name and student listing given to me, that "...the Open House will be held this Friday, August 24th...blah blah blah".

CJ's hope was that 1) Sarah would be in her class and 2) her backpack with her school supplies would be there. Number one came through -- Sarah is in her class. Number two, however, was a no-go.

So all was perfect until the missing backpack came into play. Then there were the tears. She was supply-less. I knew it wasn't a big deal on the first day, but GD it -- where is the backpack??? Through the chaos of the first day of school, I was unable to find info but by golly, someone's going to hear from me tomorrow.

She pulled through, though. My little trooper. Day one went well and I heard a lot about what happened during the course of her day. She told me about how she was concerned that Austin Don't-Know-His-Last-Name was in her class when she saw his name on the desk. But it turned out that there are TWO Austins and the one in her class is not the one she was concerned about.

Then she told me about one of the 'coolest stories ever'. Sarah was walking in the hallway and came across the Austin Don't-Know-His-Last-Name (the one NOT in her class) and well, it took a few minutes for CJ to finish the coolest story ever because she was laughing so hard.

Finally, though, it came out that Sarah came back to tell CJ that Austin Don't-Know-His-Last-Name was now wearing glasses, which apparently was the funniest thing to her and Sarah.

Although I couldn't help laughing, I found it a little disturbing that my tenderhearted daughter would be laughing about someone having to wear glasses. I even said to her, "Poor Austin".

This only had an odd look sent my way from this beautiful, innocent face.

I asked her why she thought it was so funny that Austin would have glasses. She said that most people who wear glasses look smart and well, Austin just doesn't look smart.

Anyway, it's my turn to be anxious as I sleep for the evening. Today is my last day of vacation. I told CJ that this morning. She said that at least I won't be crying. Ha! Little does she know...I will be crying...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Favorite Album: Master of Puppets by Metallica

Before Metallica sold their souls to commercialism (The Black Album), and before they became total asshole-hypocrites (Napster), they were, by far, my very favorite band in the entire world.

The first album I bought was Ride the Lightning. It was pure kismet: I had heard the song, "Ride the Lightning" on the best rock station EVER. Course, I don't remember the station's name, but it was the rock station on the island of Guam, where I spent two years of high school (Simon Sanchez High -- Home of the Sharks -- you laugh, but it's the real deal).

This station played nearly everything. To hell with commercialism -- they played HARD ROCK. The locals, chamorrans, were the most rock-n-roll lovers I have ever met. I mean, they were in to total indie, acid, heavy, heavy, speed rock that the average "rocker" never heard of.

So, I hear this amazing riff on the radio. I record it on my tape deck. I never find out the name of the song or who the band was. I just knew this song was amazing and I *had* to have it.

Every so often, my parents (dad was in the Air Force; yes, I was a military brat...now just...a brat...) would drive to (what I thought was) the southern end of the island to visit the Naval Base. Shopping at their PX (Post Exchange) was equivalent to shopping at the mall for a U.S. teen. My first stop at these places would be the music section. I'd rummage through every album to see what I could find (remember, I am a meticulous shopper...even at a young age). I see this album titled "Ride the Lighting" by Metallica. I've never heard of the band but I had a feeling this was it.

When I played the album at home, I had a heart attack when the second song played. It was the same mysterious song I had heard on the radio. I was hooked, line and sinker, to this band

So, why am I writing about Ride the Lightning instead of Master of Puppets? It's really difficult to decide which of these two are my favorites but in the end, Master of Puppets just happened to be a bit more 'sophisticated' than Ride the Lightning. This makes sense, since MoP was released after RtL.

Buying MoP stands out in my mind: still on the island of Guam, I was at the base 'quickie' gas station/mart. As I was checking out, I noticed the tape rack with Master of Puppets. What?! Metallica has a new album? Why didn't I know this? Most likely because there was no internet back then and did I mention, NO ONE gave a shit about this band?

I quickly added the tape to my collection. Every song, every lick, every lyric had my heart skip a beat and just gave that amazing feeling that only your favorite music can do to you.

"Master of Puppets", the song, which happens to be the second song (just like RtL was) was truly amazing. Anything relating to the devil, satan, or someone who thinks they have control over someone, was the deal for me back then. The lyrics just had me going.

I still love that song, but probably my fave off this album is "Disposable Heroes" and a short hair away (above or below) is "Leper Messiah".

Metallica remained near and dear to my heart until the whole Napster thing. There may be a business reason -- and they claimed there was -- for fighting that fight, but they just became such egomaniacal assholes to me. I remember Lars Ulrich, addressing an interviewer's question that the loyal Metallica fans felt like this battle was very hypocritical of Metallica, since they represented this rebellious youth era, said that if that's what they thought then they were fans that Metallica didn't need.

I'm paraphrasing of course, but again, a very dick-oriented response.

So despite the fact that this album, and those before The Black Album, will always be favorites of mine, the band will never be the same to me again.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Book Review: What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman writes very well. The book kept me intrigued and I enjoyed reading 90% of the novel. Unfortunately for me, the storyline that comes out towards the end was just too unreasonable for me to buy into. This disheartens me because I really enjoyed the way this book was written.

Basically, the premise of this novel surrounds an event that happened 30 years prior. Two girls -- sisters -- go missing while at the mall. The lives of some people connected to the girls -- her parents, the investigator -- unfold. What became of their lives after the disappeared.

Of course, there's a twist, which transpires right from the beginning. Someone passing through this town becomes involved in a car crash and brings up this horrible, but somewhat forgotten, event and now there's a look back into what happened to the girls...as well as who the mysterious woman is that's revved up the past.

The Return Home

Today was the end of our stay within the "Island in the Sun" (ode to Weezer). The drive back wasn't so bad, especially since I wasn't driving. I enjoyed the ride back, reading my new book then listening to my KATG podcasts and doing crossword puzzles.

Getting home was a relief except for the heat. We had the HVAC units turned off to save energy. Well, it sure was hot in this home. And it still is. I told the kids to not move, be very still, and don't breath the air to quickly so that I could get some air. They don't seem to be phased by the heat.

But it's great to be back. I still have a couple of days off. CJ starts school on Monday. I'm going to check out the artwork for my next tattoo on Monday. We have a new lease on life and big plans to make -- on the house (remodeling), schedules (who goes where on what day), and next year's big vacation. We are planning on a trip to Europe, around the time we celebrate our 20th anniversary and my 40th birthday. WOW. What a big year 2008 will be!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hilton Head: Day Eight

Today was kind of a kick-back day. Tim and I were trying not to think about how our vacation in paradise was coming to an end.

In fact, I spoke to a friend of mine about this the week before. She's planning a big trip to New Zealand and she's excited about going. But once it gets here - the vacation - it brings you one day closer to when it's over. My vacations always feel that way and I try not to focus on it, since it tends to be a 'glass half empty' thought. But I bet most of us feel that way about these trips...unless, of course, you can do this often (i.e. you're rich).

Anyway, internet access was extremely crappy. We were told that wireless was available at our rental, but in fact, it was DSL that just didn't work. Instead, I had to piggyback off someone else's extremely slow wireless and usually that only happened in the evening or in the morning, in the kitchen, with me standing on my head. If any of that changed - FUGGEDABOUTIT!

I wasn't too interested in getting on the net, other than the fact that I wanted to post to my blog. Very frustrating as I would write on the mac but would be unable to post it for hours, sometimes a good day.

We decided that we'd take our girls to get a much needed haircut and Tim found a place at Coligny Plaza, one of the main near-the-beach-shopping plazas that we frequent off Sea Pines. I knew there was an internet cafe and possibly a wireless hotspot, as indicated by our HH map.

There were a couple of hair cut places. We picked the first one we came across. CJ ended up getting her hair cut here, but this place was quite, um, frumpy? It looked like a place my grandmother had been to, only messier. There were two older women and one 'younger' woman, who was probably in her early 40s. She was, I think, feeling like a big time stylist since she had an appointment coming to see her. In turns out she didn't even know the woman and well, the woman she worked on needed more than her help to fix her hair.

Mi-Mi was going to get her hair cut after CJ. Tim came in and said he'd take Mi-Mi to another shop to get them done at approximately the same time. Sure, I thought although it wasn't like we were in a hurry. So off the two of them go.

We finish up and pay the $18 for the kid's cut, which was a whole lot better than Day 1 here, where the hair cut place said it would cost me $35 for a kid's cut. To which I replied with laughter and a curt Thank You as I left the salon laughing.

Come to find out, Tim was concerned about Granny Parkinson -- the name he gave the woman who did CJ's hair. Apparently, she had the shakes which I did notice later, but thought it was nerves. Thus his choice of bringing Mi-Mi to a different shop.

BTW, the girls look very cute with their hair cuts.

We ate lunch at the Frosty Frog Cafe & Daiquiri Bar. AGAIN, nothing to write home about. Afterwards, Tim and the girls went browsing while I went to the internet cafe. I asked if I could bring my laptop in, since it looked like a bunch of old computers in a sundries shop and the big trucker looking dude said I could. I happily return with my macbook only to be told I had to pay in advanced. PAY? FOR WHAT?

I promptly turn my heels and go back out to the car, hoping to either A) piggyback off the rip-off shop or 2) get on the wireless hotspot. I got the wireless hotspot alright -- just like the HH map outlined -- but you have to pay for it. AARRGH. I am NOT paying for internet service (well, I already do).

Tim thought Starbucks so we headed there. Well those buttheads charge too! But lo and behold, I see a connection to Staples so I try it and voila! I'm connected and it actually works normally (NOT SLOW).

Afterwards, we head back and pass some time at the pool. I make dinner this evening. I'm done with the undistinguished food being served in the area restaurants.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hilton Head: Day Seven

Today was another shopping day. This time, we left Tim at home and headed out to Shelter Cove, another marina outside of Sea Pines, for a shopping spree.

The night before, I told CJ to look through the shopping guide and find places to go. She found "Life's a Beach" which was at Shelter Cove. Perfect, since I knew how to get there.

I bundled the kids up into the car and we are OFF!

Shelter Cove is another well-designed shopping/villas/restaurants place. Tim and used to stop here every visit, but the last few years we never made it. There's big statue of King Neptune as you enter the complex. The marina is nice and the shops and restaurants outline one side of the marina. This another place, however, where the food does not stand out. We've eaten at every one of them and they are of the same high-price-mediocre-taste venue.

We start with one shop that is full of cool stuff: humongous wind chimes, those cute stakes you stick in your garden, Cwater fountains, etc. It is just fun to look at all the odd stuff. Mi-Mi found me an awesome copper water fountain. It was only $1300. I thought I'd look around the store a bit more before I decided to get it...

CJ found a wooden 'thing' that turned out to be a bank. Hard to describe it, but I'll give it a shot. These wooden things ended up being various animal shapes: dolphin, dog, cat, dinosaur...and one could stick a coin in its mouth and it would follow a groove all the way to the tummy, which was a plastic ball that resembles the toddler toy that you push around and the balls inside pop up. Again, kitschy but useful. CJ wanted the dolphin at the cool price of $99.

She said she'd want one for her birthday or Christmas. I asked the sales person if I could take pics and he said yes, so I took a picture of the copper water fountain and the banks. Maybe eBay can do something a little better for me on the price.

We leave and continue. We just went into every single store. Except the real estate 'store'. CJ enjoyed being sarcastic about that one: "Oh, let's go shopping for real estate. How exciting. We must go in there."

"Life's a Beach" was finally found and ended up being the last store we stop at in Shelter Cove. We have lunch here, Pirate's Cove, which was fine - again, nothing outstanding - and head off back towards Sea Pines - with more shopping in-between.

I make a stop at a pretty old house with a big sign "Antiques". Again, nice store with prices for someone other than me. CJ finds a gold shell and makes a purchase.

Next stop is a consignment store that I've passed every visit, wondering what kind of stuff is in there. I decide today I'm going to find out.

Great store - lots of nice, used clothing. This woman chooses her clothing well. Most of it, however, is from the fuddy-duddy folks. Big square outfits whether it be a dress, a skirt, a suit, or a shirt. But I'm a meticulous shopper -- which is another trait that Tim has no patience for -- I look at each individual item.

The girls found some toys, so I left them there despite the signs that "Unattended children will be eaten."

With God music playing in the background, I find several items of interest. I try them on and leave with three things for me and a couple for Tim.

Next stop was the CVS Pharmacy. The girls LOVE going to the pharmacy, whether it be CVS or Eckerd's. I am always in search of a certain crossword puzzle magazine. Yes, I am really into these little puzzles and have them strewn about the house. Except I lose them and end up with one that I hold close to me and worry that I will finish the book before I purchase another.

But, I am picky about the brand. I first found my love for crossword puzzle magazines last year while at Asheboro. The dry Wal-Mart offered me no booze, but instead, gave me a great crossword book. To this day, I cannot find that particular brand but have since found anything made by Kappa will work. Dell and Penny Press SUCK. The easy ones are too easy and it's wasted space. Kappa offers me a challenge each puzzle.

But I digress...not really...the pharmacies are great places to find the puzzle brand that I search for. I succeed and find three types and now have to contemplate on which one to get. Yes, I could get all three, but my mind doesn't work that way and thus, I must ponder which one becomes the one I take home.

The girls are running around the store. It is full of beach gear and toys. I look around some more and find a cool bucket hat for myself. You know, this is where one should buy souvenirs. Prices are probably 1/3 of what the other places charge

Finally, I get the girls and we head back home. Tim has been without us all afternoon. I am certain he misses us.

We get home and the girls show off all their purchases -- at the same time. "Daddy - look at what I got!"

After a little break, Tim carts the kids and Brenna to the beach. My plan is to run to them. They're off and I get my stinky shoes and head out for my run.

The run starts off with the tickly feeling in my legs. This is a sign of weakness. I've eaten like a horse since I've been here, so I know that fuel is not a problem. I ignore the ticklish feeling and pick up my pace. It feels pretty do-able and better.

It's hot, of course, and I'm sweating like a pig. The intersection that I cross to get to the beach path comes to me rather quickly. Wow! That was easier than last time!

I take the beach path and make it to the beach to discover it's high tide. There's little room for packed sand to run on, but it's just me so I have no problems. Plus, I have my stinky shoes on so I could care less if I run them through the water. Can't make 'em smell any worse than they already are.

I am mentally prepared for a long run on the beach. I know that Tim and the girls are well beyond where I start my run. It's nearly the other end of this beach. But the heat gets to me and I'm thinking "Where is the breeze???" It is HOT and the sun is beating down on my face.

The mental battle hits and I'm like - I just want to walk to them. But my ego is strong and I don't want them to see me walk, nor do I want any of the beach patrons I pass to see me walk.

I start looking for them in the distance. I see two little girls in the water and one looks just like CJ. But the shadowy figure nearby is of a woman. I think my peripheral is off and decide that it's just another person but the kids are definitely mine. I get closer and realize they are not mine, but belong to an African American family. Well, CJ has braids throughout her hair, so that was a likely mistake.

I keep running and think - hmmm...it's not just two girls that I'm looking for...there has to be a dog in that picture too.

I can see far enough ahead of a slight curve to the beach. There is no dog with two girls. I know that I have a ways to the curve before I can look for new figures.

I hit the curve and run some more. I finally see a dog and two girls. THANK YOU!! I am so ready to stop.

The great thing was seeing Brenna. She was staring at me and I could tell she was trying to figure out if she knew me. After a second, I see she knows exactly who I am and runs towards me. Wow. You can't beat that feeling. It was a nice surprise and after my dog runs excitedly towards me, my two girls come towards me.

So, it wasn't much of a run -- a little over three miles -- but it was enough to keep my legs and ego in check.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hilton Head: Day Six

Today was probably Tim's least favorite day -- window shopping in Bluffton.

Bluffton is another historic town outside of the island. We had first stopped there a two years ago, the last time we were on the island. It's small and quaint and the shops are kitschy, one not-really-after-another-but-close-enough to walk to.

Thankfully, CJ is just like me where she can look at each individual piece and take her time in store. Mi-Mi has yet to be transformed but Tim has no patience for this. Today, I didn't care. I told him 'off with you! find something to keep you occupied while we shop.' He toted his youngest child and left us behind.

The stores are not too unique, but just fun to browse. There are local art shops but as usual, I am not of the mindset, nor the wallet, for paying the prices of original art work. I love original art and want to invest in it, but I don't have the aptitude to figure out what's worth its price. For now, I'll stick with the low man on the totem pole and invest in the little guy for now.

Back to Bluffton: the second store we hit was a hit. I collected several bracelets for purchase. This was after rummaging through the basket filled to the hilt with $4 bracelets. As I head to check-out, I overhear the saleslady tell the customer that the phone line isn't working thus, she could not take credit cards. Great. There goes my great buys.

I leave telling her I'll be back to purchase them, but I know I won't.

We move on from store-to-store. "Antiques" we see are heavily overpriced. Old rusted chandeliers -- would look great hanging on my porch -- ~$175. No thanks. I'm here for a great bargain.

CJ is too. She's on the hunt for a new purse. She asks for help in finding a new purse. CJ is not only a purse addict but an aficionado. She finds a great design at the kitschiest store, one that resembles an old filling station. The purse is divine -- I told her I'd help her with the cost if it was even close to reasonable. Price? $110. She's bummed and I'm bummed for her. We both walk away almost empty-handed. I ended up with two toe rings after the two hour adventure.

Still, it was fun for us but you can see how Tim wouldn't enjoy it. Nonetheless, I tell CJ to look through the shopping guide and promised to take her back out in search for her beloved purse.

On a better note, we had a great lunch in Bluffton. Tim vowed that he would drive back to this place before eating at the places we've had the past few days -- excluding the Wild Wing Cafe, of course.

When we were in Bluffton two years ago, we just happen to come upon this place: Pepper's Porch. It looks like an old run down tin-and-wood building. You can sit on the porch to eat, or inside. As last time, we sat inside and enjoyed the best meal we've had since we got to the island.

First, we enjoyed some fried green tomatoes. CJ refused to try it, which is her modus operandi but Mi-Mi took a taste and decided that it wasn't up her alley.

Next, I had the special - shrimp quesadilla. The shrimp is from the May River, whatever that means. All I know is that they were plump and wonderful, mixed in with some sweet onions and red and green bell peppers. DEE-LISH-US!

Tim went for the oyster po-boy which was full of lightly breaded oysters. I tried one of the oysters and I could actually taste the oyster, unlike the ones I had at Land's End Tavern, which were mostly breading.

CJ opted for a Dino Dog. She wouldn't buy into our explanation that it was really a dinosaur dog. But let me say, I took a bite of that hot dog and it was mighty juicy and tasty. One of the best hot dogs I've ever had. I'm not kidding. Tim had taken a few bites and was yumming it up. I seriously thought he was just messing with CJ until I took a bite and I thought: holy shit! that's one good hot dog!

Mi-Mi went for the fried shrimp. These were beautifully butter-flied, plump shrimp, also with a light breading. Of course, I had to have a bite or two and they were one of the best I've had. BTW, this was off the kid's menu.

I ordered Mi-Mi's sides so I could have a taste of the cheesy grits. No french fries today! The cheesy grits were amazing and reminded me of an old friend in the Philippines. She was from some small town in Georgia who married her high school sweetheart and suddenly found herself in the Philippines all alone. I'd ride my bike to her house and she'd make a batch of her cheesy grits and we'd play backgammon. I told this story to the familia, although Tim was the only one who listened. Them were some damn good grits and the folks at Pepper's Porch apparently got her recipe.

The menu was full of options that I would think anyone on Hilton Head Island would try to serve: Shrimp & Grits, Creamy Crab Soup, Salmon, Catfish, Lobster, etc. all kinds of stuff that can be available on their menu but instead, they opt to feed the masses -- who prefer everything fried, including their damn candy bars. Greedy bastards.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hilton Head: Day Five

I started the day off with a run to the beach. I missed my run over the weekend -- no surprise -- but I knew I wanted to get one in today.

I headed to the beach. My run started off great. Nice slow pace through the trails of Sea Pines, which is just amazing. I wasn't even worried that someone would actually attempt to kill me! Well, the thought ran through my head, but I threw it out fairly quickly.

Once I got to the beach, which may be a mile or so from our rental, I was in heaven. Gorgeous wide sandy beach with very few folks around. And there was a breeze which felt great. I noticed I was running into the wind, so I knew my run back would feel better.

At some point, fairly quickly, the weakness set in. I was feeling tired and thirsty. I knew I didn't have any gatorade waiting for me back in the hacienda, but boy, water sure sounded really good.

I headed back and then noticed that the headwind that kept me cool and slow was no longer around. No wind at my back AT ALL. It was as if someone turned it off as soon as I turned around. Just stillness and my struggle to get back home.

I thought my pace would be quicker on the way back but instead, I had a trot. I didn't care and my attitude about "I'll walk back" came into play. So there was some walking and some running and just the annoyance that I felt so frickin' tired and weak...and where the hell is my hacienda???? Why is it taking so damn long?

As I made it onto the street with my rental, I saw Tim with the girls headed to the pool. Oh man, the pool sounds divine but I must drink water.

I made it in and gulped, I don't know, 16 ounces of water at least. Lots of OJ and lots of walking with profuse sweat. It took me about ten minutes to settle and feel as though my thirst was quenched. Then I headed to the pool...still sweating profusely.

We had to wait a few minutes for the cleaning of the pool but once in, we were the tourists every resident hates. The pool has become OURS since we got here. Today was no different. The old folks had to swim around us! Not really, but doesn't that sound funny?

Tim and the girls had bought a big turtle blow-up thingy on day two and today, we used it. CJ got in it, then CJ and Mi-Mi, then Tim turned it over to dump them out so he could get in it. Then I got in it. I think Tim and I were in it more than the little ones.

Afterwards, we headed back, chatted with some folks fishing. Well, they chatted with _us_. I wanted to take a picture of the alligator floating in the water. We got on our bikes and pedaled our butts to The Salty Dog Cafe.

We own a lot of Salty Dog stuff and we buy a lot of this stuff as souvenirs for our friends, but the cafe is yet another example of unremarkable food. Still thirsty, I downed three 12 ounce cokes.

More shopping was done by CJ and then we pedaled back. Once back, CJ threw down her bike and rushed to get in. She was PO'd at us because of the heat. Yeah, as if we were not feeling any of this awful heat. Once in, I downed another 20 ounce of water.

After some down time, it was back out to Harbour Town for dinner. Well, CJ did more shopping. Once Tim and I were settled, we let them run into the nearby stores while we enjoyed some happy hour beverages.

Dinner was at the Crazy Crab. Wait wasn't long to get seated, but to actually get the food took awhile. Fortunately, we were covered by our drinks.

Food here is also very so-so but boy, this place never has an empty table. It's lucky to be in the location that it's at -- just a constant stream of tourists. At least service was good.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hilton Head: Day Four

Tim was still in excrutiating pain today. He could no longer hold his right arm up. He spent most of the morning looking for an orthopaedic office that would take him in. One was found -- appointment at 2:30.

We decided to get CJ's back-to-school shopping done. Her first day will be this coming Monday. Where else do you go shopping for back-to-school stuff while vacationing on a paradise island? Target!

Target is close to the edge of HH but on the _other_ side. You know, the side that starts the journey *into* the island. We had lunch first, which was at Katie O'Donnell's Irish Pub. Isn't that the first place one thinks of while near the ocean? An Irish Pub?

It actually turned out to be a decent place. Service was really, really good and although my specialty of the house, fish and chips, were really good the first few bites, the grease caught up with me and I had to stop. That greasy food stayed with me the entire day.

Target was next and within an hour, we had the shopping done. Woo-hoo! I was glad to get that done and over with.

Next stop: Doctor's office. We headed back into the island, dropped Tim off and then I was free to drive the island. I have been coming to this island for nearly 11 years and it is rare that I have ever driven around this place.

I managed to find the mall and took the girls in. This mall is nowhere near what we have in Raleigh. I think due to the fact that this place has so many specialty stores, there's just no way a mall can really survive. We didn't stay long and managed to leave just in time to get Tim's call to pick him up.

No amazing medical diagnosis took place but he got his cortisone shot that managed to help him, at least psychologically. We headed back, rested, then headed back out, with dog in tow, to the beach.

Brenna has never been to the beach. Our previous dogs had never been either and we regret that we never brought them.

Brenna has never shown an appreciation for water. She's a boxer-mix -- not a retriever, or any type of dog that would enjoy the water. I've taken her to Lake Lynn and she dipped her toes in the water once, only to get a closer look at a duck, but other than that, she's happy to stay clear away from it.

Tim had actually taken Brenna to the beach on day one. But she only touched the water a little (and I won a bet that she wouldn't be dashing into the water). This time, however, she went full fledge into the water. Not alone -- but with her best buddies, CJ and Mi-Mi. She chased those girls all over the water and it was amazing to see this dog jumping waves. She also tried to drink it. Okay, she didn't try...she drank the water. This would later cause her distress but that was over-shadowed by the delight we had at seeing her romp in the water.

Once tired and back home, we all enjoyed some homemade burgers -- while Brenna waited for the world to stop spinning.

Mining Disaster

It is unfortunate, this many weeks after the Utah mining accident that the miners have not been located, or better yet, rescued. And worst of all, the rescuers that were killed... Those folks are heroes - the ones who were unfortunately killed and the remaining ones. Many of those rescuers were involved in the first mining accident and were determined to get their buddies out. Truly amazing.

And now, the whole thing is most likely being called off. The miners will never be found, according to the Mining company leading the rescue.

I am totally naive and ignorant when it comes to the Mining Industry. I know nothing about drilling into massive rock. The equipment that is necessary to do this. How much labor is involved. How long it takes. I am of the mindset of the technology of this day and age, so it amazes me that some things just take a long time to do because it's difficult. In my mind, why haven't they detected with some undetermined technologically advanced mining equipment where the miners really are, beneath all this rock? Really, is it so hard to figure that out? Yes, I am being sarcastic regarding my stupidity.

Amazingly enough, I found out -- after my curiosity was tweaked by this mining accident -- that there was a recent mining disaster in which the victims were rescued two weeks later, alive.

One happened in Australia in April 25, 2006. The Beaconsfield mine collapse. Seventeen men were in a mine at the time of the collapse: 14 escaped, 1 was killed and two were trapped. The two men were discovered alive after five days but were not rescued until May 9th. It's a riveting account to read, which I found on here on Wikipedia.

This was just one article regarding mining accidents in the world. I read quite a few and it is truly amazing, this job these people do. I now know what a "bump" means and man, coal dust is very sensitive.

I can't stand to think that these six men will be left behind, dead or alive. In this day and age, it just seems improbable, to the layman like me, that we couldn't get to these men ever.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hilton Head: Day Three

Today really felt like the first day of vacation. I slept in, which generally means I wake up and just stay in bed until I'm ready to get out.

CJ got up earlier than me. Tim definitely was up earlier. I thought he and CJ were planning to head to the beach with Brenna. Cerina mentioned how she wanted to see the sun rise at the beach but apparently, getting up that early is not what she had in mind.

Tim, however, was in pain. His shoulder started aching before we left for HH and has progressively gotten worse. This is a semi-chronic problem that seemed to have been MIA until recently. The pain woke him up and he was icing, Aleving, and just plain grimacing from the pain.

We modified the plan of biking to the beach after having a discussion about him going to an urgent care to get it taken care of. He kept telling me no and at some point, CJ turned to me and said she recalled some show she watched, where the character said something along the line of 'why do men have such a problem asking for help?' Pretty insightful from a nine year old.

Anyway, in the end, he said he would go but didn't want us waiting. So instead of the beach, I took the girls to pool, which is "100 yards away" (not really, but that's what 'they' advertise for this rental), so we could walk them while he drove to an open doc-in-the-box on a Sunday afternoon.

It turns out that the doc-in-the-box was pretty full and they would be closing at 2 PM, so Tim was basically turned away. He had to go through the rest of this day with excrutiating, and more importantly, IRRITATING pain...

The girls and I had fun at the pool. Not 100 yards away but certainly not very far at all to walk. We got to the pool and Mi-Mi turns to me and asks "did you bring my swim vest?" Uh, no and now, I'm not going back!!! So I tell her that I'll just hold her which changes my initial plan of starting a new book and letting the girls play. Those last minute changes are nice because I spent the entire time playing with my girls, learning games like "Seven Up", 'something-called-Mr.-Turner-I-thinkg', and eventually, tag. We got tag in after I called Tim to bring the swim vest when Mi-Mi ventured too far in the 3 ft water to start choking...which scared her enough to cling on to me.

I was also apparently a wild horse, so I decided to be a hungry horse and nibble on their ears. That was a load of fun...At some point I got a toe somehow aiming for an ear...

When we got back, our next trick was to ride bikes to the pool. Our rental came with bikes but unfortunately, our kiddie seat would not fit on these bikes. Tim ended up having to rent a bike with a buggy for Mi-Mi to ride in. This year, CJ would be riding her own bike -- the first time ever for her at HH.

We rode to the Beach Club, which is not too far, but a bit far for CJ, who hasn't ridden that long often. Plus, there are a few intersections to cross, but she did great.

We ate lunch at the overpriced grill at the Beach Club. I went for a veggie wrap, with grilled portabellos, red peppers and goat cheese. Tim had a grilled Mahi soundwich. CJ, a hotdog and Mi-Mi, a crustless PB&J. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, I knew there was a problem when our number was called five minutes later. Really? The portabellos and mahi are already grilled???

We've eaten at this same place many, many times before. Each time, the food has been mediocre, at best. Each year, they fancy up the menu from burgers to the items mentioned in the previous paragraph. Each year, we try something different to find it bad and overpriced. A kid's meal is roughly $7.50. Our grilled items where in the $8 range. Mi-Mi's crustless PB&J? It was exactly that: the Smucker's brand of crustless PB&J that are sold in the box in the frozen section of any supermarket. For some reason, I envisioned fresh made bread, the crusts carefully cut from it, and fresh PB&J spread on it. Nope...and at $7.50, I could've bought two boxes of this stuff.

We never learn. Maybe if you read this and you know I'm going back to HH, you will be so kind to remind me to just get the damn overpriced hotdog or burger.

Oh - and the order numbers are called out by the one person who speaks the least English. In this case, as we have noticed throughout HH, these would be people from the Russian location... So most people end up walking up asking if it was their number that was called.

The beach was awesome, even at the worst time of the day - 2PM. The water felt so wonderfully warm. It wasn't overly crowded. I tried the boogie board, for the first time. I tried Mi-Mi's, which was too small so I usually sank to the bottom. But CJ finally let me borrow hers and I had a few waves I got in on. CJ came up to me later, my little surfer girl, and said "You are doing perfect." Ah, those little moments...like this...that elates the dickins out of me for having kids. It just makes my day, my month, my year, and my life.

Tim, CJ and I had a sand fight so when we left the beach, we all had sand in every orifice of our body. YUCK. Mi-Mi had sand in her hair because she joined the sand fight a little too late and decided to throw sand on herself -- the top of her head.

I was fine with it. I knew I'd be home soon and I would, uh, wash everything out as best as I could. But CJ, who has blossomed into a primping tweeny-bopper, could not leave with sand in her suit. Granted, the sand had somehow bundled up into the crotch area of the suit. There were not openings that I could see that would allow that much sand to build up like that, but I empathized with her and borrowed Mi-Mis undies (she was not wearing them) and loaned them to CJ. Her next concern was that she had no shirt, so I asked Tim to give me his so CJ could wear it. Then of course, the shirt is too big for her so I tried to tie it behind her, but NO, that's not right either. FINALLY, she decided wearing it as-is would suffice on the bike ride back.

Day three hasn't ended yet. I'm drinking a cool Corona Light while Tim is cooking up some tacos. Tacos?, you ask. Well, we've eaten out a lot already, but today, after all of this pooling, biking, beaching, oh, and we did some grocery shopping too, we're just plain tired. We grabbed a couple of DVDs to watch, so we're going to enjoy the wonderful view outside of our big windows, our surrounding hacienda, and eat great food with great booze (except for the little ones, of course).

Hilton Head: Day Two

Today was kind of an oddity. Technically, we would be leaving Raleigh today and arriving at HH around 3, 4, or 5 PM. But since we thought it would be great to get here earlier, we started today pretty early.

Check-in to our rental was 5PM. We drove by this place at 11AM, 1PM, 3PM and finally just walked in at 4:30PM.

Wow. This place is gorgeous. The owner has decorated this place so nicely. It's a three bedroom, two bath home within Greenwood Forest, a neighborhood section of Sea Pines Plantation. Except for the hotel that we stayed at the first time (see Day One posting), we have only stayed at places within Sea Pines.

Sea Pines is a plantation - meaning, it's more like it's own little city within the island. It is a gated community, but to call it a community, like we use this word in Raleigh, is nowhere near the same meaning.

There are several, several restaurants within Sea Pines. Shopping, bike trails, homes, villas, condos, golf courses, tennis everywhere, grocery stores, souvenir shops, marina,..., I could go on. There really is no reason to ever leave this place to venture 'out' of Sea Pines.

There are other plantations besides Sea Pines, but this one is the oldest.

We've stayed at several locations throughout this plantation and each one, whether a villa or a home, have been immaculate. This one, however, is laid out so nicely. I've decided this is exactly what I want for my beach home. Tim, however, wants an $8 million dollar oceanfront place. We actually debated over this choice, as if we really could do that...

Anyway, this rental is tucked within an area that appears to be more homeowners than rentals. It's very quiet and the pool is pretty empty. In fact, today we had Brenna roam the pool deck even though the sign clearly states "No Pets on the Pool Deck."

Oh, and the fact that this beautiful rental allows pets! It's insane how trusting these owners are!! Fortunately, Brenna is well-behaved and crate-trained (always, ALWAYS crate-train your dog...it is the BOMB). And of course, we are such the ideal renters...:-)

CJ picked the restaurant for dinner, which was Land's End Tavern. Land's End is located in South Beach (also in Sea Pines) and this place is a tradition for us. We go to it every time we stay here. This time, however, it appeared ownership had changed and the menu was slightly different from what I remember. The decor was a bit different and the most prominent thing I noticed, we didn't have to wait for a table. This is unheard of in this area, but after looking over the menu, I can see why.
This place is a Pirate Place, with pirate decor throughout. Plus the name! But the menu had a Mexican flair, with tacos, fajitas, etc. Plus, the seafood. I went for the fried oysters and they were just okay. CJ had fried flounder -- which is amazing for my pickiest eater. Mi-Mi is on a shrimp kick, so she had the popcorn shrimp and Tim had the fish tacos.

The one thing about HH that has been consistent over the years is that food -- at least the food we eat at the places we choose - is just not that great. Don't get me wrong, it's not disgusting. It can be good but it never stands out. The only place that is awesome and stands out is The Wild Wing Cafe (see previous day's posting) and really, is that what you think about eating being so close to the ocean?

I have a few more places I will give a try and hope we find something amazing...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hilton Head: Day One

We left Raleigh a day early than we planned. We just couldn't wait to get there. We found a hotel that would take Brenna. We thought it would be great to get there early and the check into our home-away-from-home earlier.

The hotel, coincidentally, was the same hotel we stated at the very first time I had visited Hilton Head, which was around 1996. It was during this vacation that we were influenced to start a family. Every family we passed seemed deliriously happy. We wanted to be part of that cult too -- don't leave us out!! Anyway, now we are part of the 'deliriously happy family' cult. So go ahead, have kids and you'll realize how delirious you'll get!!

One not-so-user-friendly kink about this hotel: check-in/check-out happens to be in a different building. Sooooo...the visitor drives to the actual place in which one would stay, i.e. the hotel rooms, only to realize one needs their room key to get into the building. Thus, you must turn around and drive about two blocks to the entrance of the road to actually check-in. This is not so obivous -- no signs pointing out this oddity. So in our case, with 11 years between the two times we stayed, we made the same "user error" by driving pass the buidling that houses the lobby. Not a very good experience.

And the other kink that makes this hotel, um, lame, is the fact that they have some dude in the hotel room building, waiting to prey on the hotel visitors with his Hilton Head discounts. Never a good sign of a fine establishment, IMO.

After we get into our hotel, which doesn't smell like a hotel, according to my 9 year old, we walk to our favorite restaurant. One we never miss when we're in town and the one we drove two hours to go to, just a few short weeks ago. That would be the Wild Wing Cafe. We indulged in the same meal: 25 wings (up to five flavors), buffalo blue chips and Corona Lights.

This time, the nine year old indulged in our wings, so it was a beautiful thing. Usually, Tim and I are striving to get as many wings down as possible.

After a quick stop at the Piggly Wiggley for Corona Lights and Little Debbie brownies, we headed back to our room and sought REMs for our big day two in this paradise.

Thompson for President...NOT!!

For whatever reason, I decided to watch the CNN video of Fred Thompson, a not-yet-official presidential hopeful for the GOP, touching on the hot topic of gay marriage and abortion. I was expecting to be outraged by his candor, but it really wasn't those two issues that made me mad.

Sure, it's no f**king surprise that a Replugnant candidate would want to ban gay marriage or reverse Roe vs. Wade. DUH. That's what Replugicans are all about, so why would I want to enrage myself by hearing them say the same old shit? It's a sickness, I tell you. The liberal in me just wanted to get more outraged.

Instead, I thought one of his writers wrote a very politically correct statement that the federal government shouldn't be involved in these decisions. You know -- and I hope you do -- that he's trying to pull the wool over our eyes. That's what the Repulsive party likes to do. They think that they, the Reptilian Party, are smart and the rest of us are stupid. So when one Revolting Party member says something like that, he thinks us stupid folk will actually say "Ya know, he ain't so dumb after all. He has got a purty good point about the fedral guvinment not being involved. Even though I think the homos should get married, I reckon I'll vote for this man because he know what he be talking about."

Puh-LEEZE MO-FO!

So you can see, I wasn't too upset by his statements against gay marriage or abortion because I WASN'T SURPRISED. As I said, SAME OLD SHIT.

What made me mad was what CNN didn't advertise. His support to keep our forces in Iraq. Really??? There is more than the two idiots, Cheney and Dumbya that thinks we should stay any longer than we have?

He, Thompson, makes the statement about '...we shouldn't leave with our tail between our legs..' WTF is he talking about? That sort of thinking is why we are STILL THERE, having innocent men and woman ON BOTH SIDES getting killed and injured.

It is outrageous, to say the least, that we have accomplished anything other than living under the worst regime ever. Is Bush worst than Hussein? I won't go so far to say yes, but I would like to point out that he tries to smile and act like he's your best friend. I'll let you decide who the f**k I'm talking about.

BTW, if you want to watch the Thompson clip, you can get to it from here: CNN Thompson clip.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Short Run

I'm going on vacation this weekend and it's been a bad habit of mine NOT to put in my runs like I should while on vacation.

My smart friend, $Bill, knew exactly that and suggested I do my long run Thursday. He had 9 miles to do and so, I agreed to join him at 7AM the next morning.

It wasn't easy.

First, I woke up late. My alarm was set for 5:30. This gives me time to wake up, have my two pieces of peanut butter toast on 12 grain bread, milk, and a great cup of coffee. Plus, it gives me time to get everything ready, like making sure my camelback is full of water (and will not mysteriously leak as it did once before).

I actually woke up around 5:10 to head to the bathroom, but I thought I'd relax for another 20 minutes before *really* waking up.

Next thing I know, I wake up with a sudden urgency and look at the clock and it's 6:20. What??? What just happened? I check my alarm and it's set for 5:30 PM. Great.

My first thought is: call $Bill and tell him I'm not going to make it. I know now that I'm NOT going to have my PB toast, milk and coffee. But there's no way I will get this run in today. It's going back into the triple digits, temp-wise and I think I need this run in to influence my long run on Saturday -- while I'm on vacation.

So I decide to just go for it. But I know that I have a long run ahead of me and I need some sort of fuel. I grab a PB Luna bar, worrying that it's going to make me cramp up. Oh well.

I rush to ye ole minivan (ain't it cool) and head out to meet my other man. I make it a couple of minutes after 7 but $Bill is nowhere in sight. I see Ying and he assures me that $Bill is about to come out.

I stretch, thinking there's no way I'm doing nine miles. I don't feel it, but I'll do my best. $Bill comes out and he also appears as though he's awaken. He also agrees that this is going to be tough.

We start on the adventure. As usual -- as of late -- I feel like I have to keep up with his pace. It brings back memories of when I ran with my husband and I would get frustrated, thinking I just can't keep up with his long legs. Over time, I overcame that but again, my running has been pretty crappy this Summer so I'm back to this 'trying to keep up' mentality.

Anyway, I do it and I'm doing okay. Once we reach Umstead though, I have this tickling feeling in my knees and thighs and my shins ache. I'm only two miles into this and there is no way I'm going to make it.

But I'm not giving in and I'm putting these miles in, even if I fricking walk them all. Bill agrees at some point in the first three miles that this run is going to be grueling.

Bill is in great shape. He has been for some time. Me, I'm in pretty good shape too, but not as much as he is. He tells me that he's sore from his bike ride the day before so now, selfish me is happy because I feel like the playing field is level.

We pull through halfway and now, we run in silence. I hear my breathing and our foot patter along the gravel. It really is a great sound. But we have 4 1/2 to go. I now start thinking about an orange Gatorade. Oh my god. I cannot wait to grab one at the end of this run.

We also note how we would love to have Melissa with one "S", or Renee, running with us because they would keep a conversation going. I like to talk, don't get me wrong, but when it comes to running in a struggle, you can forget trying to get any words out of me.

When we see the spillway, I'm getting excited. I know that the end is really close. We walk the spillway and run back to the start.

I tell Bill I'm walking most of the way back and he pulls his "let me get her mind off the pain" mode and has me run all the way back. I love it.

The end is here and I can't believe we did nine miles, the way we felt in the beginning. But we did it and then, I think I'm going to pee from excitement, walking in to grab my orange Gatorade.

Ahhh...it turned out to be the best drink I've ever had. Ever. Up to today.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Greg Cox's Review: Prime Only gives surf and turf new meaning

Greg Cox liked the food as much as we did. He apparently had no issues with the fruit flies, or whatever they were.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dick Cheney '94: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire

Yes, it's a different time but I have to post it anyway.

A Night Out on the Town

Saturday, August 11th was me and my hubby's wedding anniversary. It's a long one. Let's just say that I have now spent just as many years with my man as I did growing up with my parents. It's been a LOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGG ride but I'm too old to train someone else, so I guess I can stick this one out...for a little while...

We celebrated by trying to make it different than any other night on the town, but just a little different. We tend to like to go against the grain and making our own moments special. You know, like NOT going to a romantic place to signify romance, but to go to a hot dog stand and making THAT romantic and most especially, FUN.

Hot dog stands aren't normally open during the evening hours of downtown Raleigh -- although I kid you not, they do show up. We saw it last weekend -- dueling hot dog competitors setting up on opposite ends of an intersection at approximately 11PM on a Saturday evening.

On this special evening, however, we made our adventure start somewhere else.

First stop was at Caffe Luna, which I've already posted about. Great place to go for even a romantic evening, but for us, dressed comfortably in our blue jeans, it was right up our alley.

Second stop was an attempt to try Tir Na Nog. It was WAY CROWDED so we headed back out. Instead, we hit The Pour House, which is just a bar. It is a bar that we hit a few years ago, on a special date night ***I*** created for me and my honey.

Anyway, a couple of beers there and several games of pool. Great atmosphere for a dive bar and pool. They could improve their tables with something a little bigger (small tables) and the one cue ball we used was nicked, which is an understatement. It had a pretty nice chunk chipped out of it, which is not a good thing for pool cues. We found another table and nicked cue and all, it is a lot of fun to just hang out there.

We left Pour House -- after I counted all the steps to get back down to the bottom floor, only to trip in what I hoped was water -- to head to Moore Square's park, where Soul Asylum would be playing.

A tangent to the story: I was never a Soul Asylum fan. I didn't detest them, but I never bought an album nor hoped the radio would play their songs. BUT, they were known and well-played on the radio. And Dave Pirner did date Winona Ryder. So, do you still feel good about your band when you play at Moore Square in Raleigh, NC? BTW, it's free to attend too. I'm not trying to take away from the band or from Raleigh, but it seems, I don't know, a little desperate????

Back to me and my night out...

We ran into a friend of mine and her man. The only people we knew who were out there. We would've hung out more if there was something more than bud-f***ingweiser to drink. I thought after wine and a few beers my taste buds would block the god-awful piss water taste of budweiser, but no, I could taste every bit of that nasty stuff. I was going cold turkey -- no booze for me if I'm stuck drinking that swill. Tim had attempted a bahama mama but again, no booze (no ABC license, duh) so rather than becoming sober, we skedaddled and gave Tir Na Nog another try.

I found a place on a couch in the 'lounge' area of the place. Enjoyed better beer and had a midnight snack (um, it wasn't really midnight but it sounds good. I was close to REMs around midnight.) It was quite amusing asking our 'waiter' for food sitting on a leather couch. I asked if we could order food and he looked at me with such surprise and said "HERE?!?" As if I couldn't handle eating on a coffee table. I do that at home, for goodness sake...and I don't even own a coffee table!!

Unfortunately, while I was famished and enjoyed my cheese fries and fried mushrooms, they were not as close to homemade as I would've wanted. The fried mushrooms are pretty much the same ones I get at Raleighwood, so they cook from the same box.

But, the bar itself provided the beer I wanted and a comfy place to put my big ass.

All in all, it was a nice outing and we had a good time visiting each of these places.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Book Review: The Uses of Enchantment by Heidi Julavits

This book had so much potential.

Although it took me more weeks to finish this than any other previous book, it was still very well-written and well defined. Quite original, really.

There is three perspectives to this story: one from 'what might have happened', one from the present, and one from another character's perspective.

The story is recounted from Mary Veal. The 'what might have happened' portions detail an event that occurred to Mary at age 16.

The present is also recounted from Mary, now as an adult, nearly 14 years later.

The second character involved in the third perspective is her psychologist, who is helping the teenage Mary deal with the event that occurred to her.

All of this would be very very good if much of the story tied up what really happened. Mary as a teenager is a very different person than she is as an adult and really, there is no explanation as to why that is. There is no real explanation what really happened to Mary and what she had been up to the past nineteen years.

In the end, there was confusion in what occurs that I don't bother trying to re-read anything to get a better understanding. I am just relieved to have it finish so that I can continue on the next one.

This next one - "What the Dead Know" by Laura Lippman, has great potential. Although I don't want to get too excited, since I really haven't had an outstanding read since I've started these book reviews, I find myself looking forward to reading what's about to happen next. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will turn out better than I expect.

Caffe Luna

I have been wanting to try this place out for years. I kind of forgot about it until the 180º trip to Bella Monica a few days ago. I wanted some great pasta from somewhere and since we weren't good enough for Bella Monica, I thought I'd give this place a try.

It was good timing, since we decided to give it a try on Saturday, which was our wedding anniversary.

I called ahead to verify the dress code. There would be an outdoor concert at Moore's Square and we wanted to be casually comfortable in our jeans.

The person over the phone was extremely nice and informative and allowed me to make reservations for an hour later. So far, so good.

We arrive on-time and are greeted with amazing doors to the restaurant. Very reminiscent of the places we went to in downtown D.C. The interior is just as nice - it _could_ be stuffy, but for some reason, it is not. Probably the friendliness of the staff.

We were seated and our cute waitress came by with the specials. We asked for a wine recommendation and she heartedly recommended the Ferrari-Carano Cabernet.

The bread offering was okay. It was accompanied by EVOO. The bread was cold and I would have wanted a bit warmer. The EVOO was quite tasty with a nice wang to it, which I like.

I had the Linguine al Granchio. The dish was quite big, as the waitress forwarned. It contained quite a bit of crabmeat and a nice surprise, some whole roasted garlic. There would be no dates with vampires tonight!

However, it was very tomatoey, which surprised me because the menu described the dish with a "touch of tomato", so I didn't expect it to be so, well, tomatoey. For me, I prefer my tomatoey dishes made at home rather in restaurants. Despite that, it was still very good.

My date, the man who has stuck with me for these many years, had the Tortelloni Florentina. This was a ravioli dish which he enjoyed. I tried it and it was quite good. I'm just not a ravioli person.

Prices were decent - in the mid-to-upper teens. About the same prices I recall seeing on Bella Monica's website. But again, the location of *this* place makes this more of a 'deal'.

I would definitely give this place another try. I wouldn't declare it the best in pasta just yet, but I would certainly declare it's atmosphere and service as A+.

Caffe Luna
136 East Hargett Street
Raleigh

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Strip Tease

Tonight I wanted to try out a restaurant that I had heard about. It was supposed to be neighborhood and family friendly. I looked at the menu on-line and although PRICEY for a neighborhood place, it looked decent -- and it's been raved quite a bit in the places I read.

The place is called Bella Monica, off Edwards Mill Road. If anyone is familiar with Edwards Mill Road, there is no place, currently, for a stand-alone restaurant. I noticed on its website that it was a familiar place. It was a place that I passed by frequently, since it's near the Harris Teeter that I frequent.

I was pretty excited about finding a new locally owned, neighborhood-type place. My big mistake is that I envision how it's going to be before I get there. When I do that, I'm usually disappointed.

Today, the visit to Bella Monica was exactly that.

Holding our beautiful daughters hand, with big smiles on our faces -- especially me, since I KNOW this will be my new favorite place - we walk into the restaurant.

First off, the 'restaurant' is in a strip mall - adjoined by a few stores before the big sliding glass doors open for Harris Teeter.

Second, it's 100+ degrees outside today. A record high.

Third, we walk in, happily, and it appears to be a seat yourself place. There is no "hostess" spot to 'wait to be seated'.

We keep walking through the restaurant when we are greeted by a tall lanky guy, who I now detest.

He puts on his fake smile and asks if we have reservations. Um, it's 6:30 PM on a Wednesday. Why the hell would I consider making a reservation at a strip mall for this day and time?

Okay, I didn't say that out loud, but really, be for real. I have NEVER made a reservation for a non-chalant day like Wednesday.

We appropriately say no (if you have made a reservation for your spontaneous family outing at 6:30 PM on any given Wednesday, well, I'm sorry, YOU'RE A RETARD). He says we have two choices: sit outside or wait 30 minutes.

SCREW YOU. It's 100 degrees outside. NO ONE is sitting outside. You are an ass for even suggesting such an outrageous thing.

And 30 minute wait? Is there a sale on crack? Really? You think YOU ARE THAT GOOD?

Well, we will NEVER EVER KNOW because this is Raleigh, where strip malls are, unfortunately, a dime a dozen, and I'll find the same shitty service elsewhere.

So Bella Monica is like that retard you work with...You know, they get a masters in basket weaving and BELIEVE THEY DESERVE TO BE PAID MORE because of it.

But they graduated from, well, I don't want to insult any area colleges since I may be one of those assholes that goes back to school, so how about the Sally Struthers Graduate School, and feel they deserve to be respected. But they are a LOSER.

And so is Bella Monica for one of the most arrogant restaurant introductions I have ever had in this city. By the way, the fricking sign over its strip mall location? It has the generic "pizza" name. I kid you not! Not "The best crack you can buy on the east coast", or "We have great fettuccine Alfredo" or even, "Bella Monica". NO - just plain "pizza".

Instead, we headed over to the mafia side of town, a place we had deemed our neighborhood haunt before I was ready to give it up for "pizza"...Vincent's. We decided on the $23 pizza, with two appetizers, a child's meal, two drinks, and four glasses of wine. Let's not forget the dessert. This would have been at least DOUBLED at the "pizza" place, but no, since I wasn't sophisticated enough to make a freaking appointment on an ordinary Wednesday at 6:30 PM -- which is senior citizen time, BTW -- well, we will be the unfortunate FEW who will know how great the "pizza" place really is and how DARE we NOT make a reservation for WEDNESDAYS @ 6:30.

CIAO!

Monday, August 06, 2007

All Apologies

Jeez. I think a formal apology should have been written by the Nifong-attackers so he wouldn't have to endure apologizing over and over and over again until he had an apology that others deemed appropriate.

The first occurred the day after the charges were dropped against the lacrosse players. Nifong issued a written apology:

"To the extent that I made judgments that ultimately proved to be incorrect, I apologize to the three students that were wrongly accused," Nifong said. "It is my sincere desire that the actions of Attorney General Cooper will serve to remedy any remaining injury that has resulted from these cases."

OH. BOY. That. is. the. lamest. apology. I. have. ever. heard.

Just in case that wasn't read in the right tone, let me add this:
<_sarcasm_>OH. BOY. That. is. the. lamest. apology. I. have. ever. heard.<_/sarcasm_>

The second "insincere" apology came some time in June. It was deemed insincere because Nifong had the nerve to state that he felt something happened in that bathroom.

Seriously, hasn't Nifong figured out that you just can't say stuff like that anymore? I read Barry Saunders' editorial and he even stated, after hearing this apology:

"I don't know about you, but when I heard him say, "I think something happened in that bathroom," I cringed and went, "Naw, homes. Don't say that -- even if you believe it.""

Finally, he was brow-beaten to offering the CORRECT apology.

"I have admitted on more than one occasion that I have made mistakes in the prosecution of these cases. For that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty, Mr. Evans and to their families. It is my hope that all of us can learn from the mistakes in this case, that all of us can begin to move forward. It is my hope that we can start this process today."

BRAVO! YEAH! So much better! Woo-hoo! A *REAL* apology! Nothing at all like the previous two! Hip hip HOORAY!

Third time's a charm!!

Or is it...?

Cool Jobs

Literally. That would be the job of an ice road truck driver.

What? You ask. Yes, there is a job for driving a truck across ice.

I heard about this from my favorite, well actually the only, podcast I listen to, Keith and the Girl. Keith was talking about this TV show called Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel. It sounded intriguing enough to give it a try.

I was actually confused initially. I thought the show meant that these dudes went to the middle of a frozen tundra and picked up ice blocks and drove them back.

HAHAHA. How ridiculous of me. That makes absolutely no sense at all. I must have been oxygen-deprived since I usually listen to the show while I'm running...and since my running hasn't been that great lately...

The show is really about these semi-truck drivers who travel across frozen lakes -- hence, the ice. They travel to a frozen tundra that is in Canada, delivering supplies to diamond mines.

They have ~60 days to travel to and from these mines. Then, voila! the 'road' disappears.

Lots of money can be made doing this, but it is extremely dangerous. The truckers have to drive extremely slow. The vibration from the truck movement creates waves within the lake, underneath the ice. This can cause the ice to crack and break and thus, collapsing underneath a truck -- taking the truck and its driver into the depths of cold, cold, really cold, lake water. I don't know what the temps are below water, but above water, the temps are in the -32°F range. So you can imagine how cold it must be in the water.

One of the truckers from the show, Alex, describes how a person can pretty much appear like wax once submerged in the icy lake. The only hope is to actually jump out before plunging into the water.

It's really a very interesting show to watch. I'm freezing just watching it. My nine year old loves this show, which is pretty amazing since she also loves So You Think You Can Dance (hey, I watch it too!!).

Catch it if you can - Sundays at 10PM on the History Channel: http://www.history.com/minisites/iceroadtruckers

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Steak My Claim

Last night was another date night for hubby and I. We visited our usual haunts: wine & cheese at Enoteca Vin and drinks at the bar at Bogart's.

We added another drink stop at The Hibernian. We thought about eating there but the menu wasn't what we wanted that evening.

We then headed to It's Prime Only**, which is now located where Southend Brewery used to be. This is after we found out that we would not make Hayes Barton Cafe's closing time.

We dined at It's Prime Only one other time, which was way back before children, when it was located up on the hill, behind Crabtree Valley Mall. Eh. It was okay. Kind of uppity, with ala carte sides, but the view of the Christmas lights of Crabtree was worth the trip.

We also tried Southend Brewery once, right after it opened years ago. The problem we had with this place were the flies that were included with the beer and/or meal. I don't recall enjoying anything because there were a lot of FLIES. Those teeny tiny more annoying, how to get rid of, and probably actually fly into your mouth when you open it, type of flies. GAH-ROSS.

Southend stayed open for quite some time and I was always surprised by this. I heard from others about these flies and I wondered how a restaurant could stay in operation. Maybe they had it fixed, but with all that downtown has to offer -- and especially since it's right next to 42nd Street -- there was never a reason to give it another try.

We decided to give the location another try with (what I think was) It's Prime Only.

First off, atmosphere - very young -- much more young than me, but very tolerable. Not pretentious, in the young-and-up-and-want-to-be-important-way that I detest.

We sat in the sushi bar section, so much more laid back -- just what we wanted. We sat by the musician who sang throughout the evening.

We both ordered the filet, as it deemed itself as 'so tender you can cut it with a butter knife'. The waiter recommended garlic and butter on top of it, so we went for it. Included was a potato and veggie, which seemed different that the last time I went where everything was ala carte. We both had the garlic mashed potatoes and I ordered some sauteed mushrooms to go with it.

The steak, as they claimed, was tender and not only could we cut it with a butter knife, we could cut it with the fork. The steak was really, really good. It's no Hayes Barton, or our own home cooked one, but it was extremely good for a steak place.

The mashed potatoes were also quite good. Definitely garlicky but not very heavy tasting, as other chains have. The veggies, which were a medley of haricot vert and carrots, were a nice accompaniment to the meal. The mushrooms were INCREDIBLE. I am a mushroom lover, so it's hard to be disappointed...but it has happened...but these turned out so much more tasty than I ever expected.

So all in all, the meal was really, really good. So good that we would consider going back. BUT...and there is a but...unfortunately...it seemed...the fly problem has not been nipped in the bud.

We didn't notice them right away. I thought it may have been 'fixed'. But towards the end of the meal, hubby was complaining about seeing a couple of those teeny tiny things hovering around us.

Man. That is a turn off for me. This place is not priced in the Lone Star Steakhouse range -- it is much more than that. So I can't justify -- EVEN MORE -- having flies in the place.

I don't know how a restaurant can fix that, but for me the fix is to go somewhere else. Maybe if the Leesville location is sticking around, I'll give that one a try.

**Sidenote: I just looked up It's Prime Only's website, www.primeonly.com, and it lists the Leesville location as it's address. This is not the one we went to and does not include the 505 West Jones Street address of the Southend Brewery location. However, the menu looks the same.

More on Bus Shelters

It was nice to see this write-up by Rob Christensen in last week's News and Observer. There are some good informational data regarding the number of shelters we have - actually, the number of shelters we DON'T have - in the City of Raleigh.

read more | digg story

Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC rips Paris report

I heard about this through Keith and the Girl. They always play the good stuff.

The Strangest Things Seem To Happen

...to me. I posted way back when about my incident with Dori ("Happy Birthday Dori"). Here's another one that happened to me yesterday.

I drove out to a friend's house for a playdate for me and my daughters. Sure, we _said_ it was for the kids, but it was a way for me to hang out with a girlfriend.

We went out to the local YMCA pool. Really nice pool. Large, wide "baby" pool, including a nice, tall, swirling water slide (which I took and slightly panicked during the slide down -- which I must state up front that my girlfriend claimed as long as I sat up, I wouldn't go down too fast; I think what she meant to say was if you want to go even faster than sitting up -- which is fast -- lie down).

While we ladies and girls enjoyed lying in the baby pool, chatting away, I noticed a boy, about 5 or 6 years old, 'swimming' towards me and my girlfriend. I was puzzled as to why he couldn't see us because he had goggles on, but whatever, I moved over a little so he could swim between us.

Instead, the little boy touched my leg. More like _felt_ my calf. At first, I thought he may have mistaken me for his mother. But he came back up, goggles and all, and went back down to go back to my leg.

I realized he had popped up only for air.

This continued for ~5 minutes or more. Up for air, back down, settling right next to my calf and perhaps, just staring.

I have a tattoo on my calf, so I thought he must be intrigued by it. At one of his take-a-breath breaks, I even asked him if he was looking at the tattoo and he smiled and nodded yes.

Okay, whatever.

But another five mintues go by and now, it's just getting weird. I'm laughing -- because there's no way a five year old boy could be a pervert, right? My daughter is laughing as well as my girlfriend. I decide to move away...AND HE FOLLOWS ME. I mean, I am moving in circles and HE IS FOLLOWING MY LEG.

I search for a parent who might be laughing too. No one around lays claim to the odd boy. I look at my friend and I'm like "What do you do when it's the _other_ way around???"

After a strange amount of time went by, the boy finally left. I think he heard my friend say "you can tell the boy to leave" during a take-a-breath break and got the hint.

I was actually intrigued by this so I wasn't actually prepared to see him leave. I just wondered how long this would go on, his apparent attraction to my leg.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Justice For Jenna

Jenna Nielsen is the young newspaper carrier who was brutally murdered in June, here in Raleigh.

I was in Austin, TX when I read about the stupidity of someone to take the life of a young pregnant woman. That young woman was Jenna.

Unfortunately for me, I have never met Jenna. Many other Raleighites have not met Jenna. But I think we all agree that we are bonded together at the cowardly act by one, or many, stupid fuckers who took her life and that of her unborn baby, Ethan.

I have a morbid fascination for crime. Morbid, because it becomes obsessive for me. But I justify the morbidness in the fact that I want the fucker caught and brought to justice.

Truthfully, justice IMO would be to torture the SOB but for some reason, we, as US citizens, are supposed to empathize for the assholes who do this to other people. This is the time where I'd rather ship their sorry asses to Iraq or Kuwait and let their justice system take care of them the way it should be done.

A few years ago, I had the same obsessiveness for Stephanie Bennett, the young lady who was brutally murdered not but a few running steps from where I live now. I won't go into the details of the torture she suffered, but god how I wanted the guy caught.

He was, in a way, but soon killed himself before we could ever find out why he did what he did to this beautiful, innocent, human being.

Unfortunately, we have another beautiful, innocent human being, who carried a beautiful, innocent human being within her. Jenna Nielsen and her unborn son, Ethan.

Please, PLEASE, the fates that be...whether it is you, me or some higher authority (maybe even lower?), bring the killer or killers before us so that they may pay the price for being the unworthy fuckers they are for doing what they did to Jenna and Ethan.

http://justice4jenna.weebly.com

Randy, Randy, Randy

I've had my crushes...lots of them. My recent celebrity crush is David Beckham. Hubby mentioned to CJ, while seeing Beckham debut in the US, that 'there is mommy's new crush'. CJ replied with a very sarcastic "Great. Now he's going to make me play soccer."

Deadpanned it. As if 1) Beckham and I would be together and B) no sorrow in her heart that her dad was out of the picture, when Beckham and I were together.

But none of these celebrity crushes will compare to my first crush, Randy.

Several years ago, I found Randy's e-mail address. I e-mailed him. He wrote back this line "Hey you. I remember you." blah blah blah. I don't remember the rest because I probably fainted from just the "hey you" line.

Well, what do you know. Out of the blue, on a normal, average Sunday evening, Randy sends me an e-mail. It's been, I don't know, maybe four years since his "hey you" e-mail. I couldn't believe it. RANDY e-mailed me.

I downplayed it. Well, it is kind of downplayed. I've been extremely busy ruminating over other things, which prevented my heart from skipping four beats (it skipped two).

But there are no words to describe how meaningful Randy has been in my life.

Randy was my first REAL puppy love and lust crush during middle school. We always sat at the back of the bus and were mean, or funny, or whatever to one another.

My crush for Randy never really developed for a few years.

First, there was the obsessive crush for Tim (not the one I am married to now) in the 6th grade. I was IN LOVE with him. He gave me nothing. I rooted for the Philadelphia Eagles because he wore an Eagles shirt during PE -- my only class with him.

He knew I had a mad crush on him and just blushed over it, but NEVER gave me the time of day. NEVER.

Never say never. At some point, he eventually gave into my obsession and asked me out. FIVE MONTHS of stalking obsessiveness, he finally asked me out. OH. MY. GOD.

Well, that lasted about a day. The first kiss scared the shit out of me and I broke it off. You laugh, but I was in the seventh-f**cking-grade for gods sakes!

That obsession died fast. As in immediately.

But my puppy love for Randy did not.

What is sad, however, is that time stood still for me, with regard to my feelings for Randy. I remember specific moments that, to this day, make my heart skip those four beats. I remember one of the last things he said to me before I left for the US of A.

During two trips back to visit my old haunt, I rode by his house, just hoping to see a glimpse of him, but never finding the balls to actually stop and ask if he were around.

And throughout high school and my earlier years, I thought of my unrequited love for Randy.

He moved on and I doubt remembers much of anything about me. Sure, he remembers me, but he'll never recall the day that he pissed me off and gave me the headphones to his walkman that played Chicago's "Hard to Say I'm Sorry", a song that will never let the memory of the moment leave me...and will always remind me of Randy.

Good Experiences

This is what I think of nearly everyday. Am I having a good experience today, or a bad one? The good ones don't always stand out like the bad ones.

For example, today I had an appointment to have my left eye examined for lasik. It has already undergone lasik, although it was never completed due to a mild complication.

I had to go to Durham. The place will renamed unname, but it's a major 'hospital' in the city.

The doc I see is awesome. She gives a very good experience. Very friendly. Very informative. Very personable. I made sure to go to whereever she was.

I show up about 12 minutes late for my 3PM appointment. I am directed to the waiting room, which is QUITE FULL. Hmmm... I almost feel like I am in an emergency room.

I check-in with okay folks behind the desk. Not the nastiest I have encountered, which is pretty good due to the fact that THERE WERE A LOT OF PEOPLE WAITING to be seen. I would consider this a HIGH level of stress for "behind-the-desk" folks.

I sit down and break out my Treo and play backgammon. I overhear someone who has just awaken from a nap that he has been waiting nearly two hours. His appointment was at 1:30. The others nearby say they too have been waiting awhile.

I found this a little disconcerting, so I went to the desk to ask if the wait is really hours. She confirmed it was and I asked to reschedule. Well, come to find out the wait was really long for the _glaucoma_ patients, not for the patients who would be seeing my awesome doctor.

Although I felt a little better for my situation, I found it distressing. I sat in this waiting room full of elderly, or minority-based, or maybe low-income (an assumption with no validity) waiting HOURS for this particular eye doctor to see them. AND they tolerated it.

This is NOT what a good experience is about. At some point, wouldn't the doctor and/or staff see that the doc was behind/overbooked/not-making-it-work and allow these people an oppoortunity to come back? Of course, that isn't the answer either. Who knows what it took to get these patients to get to THEIR APPOINTED time.

But I still found it shitty. I didn't think anyone of priviledge and money would ever have to go throught this if they had to see the doctor and then it just pissed me off.

I haven't seen Sicko yet, but I really, really want to. However, I don't need to see it to see that one aspect of our healthcare system is f**cked up when people wait at least TWO HOURS to see a doctor.

Woo-hoo!

Well, it looks like I have my blogger now showing up on my domain. The domain is now blog.yourpointismoot.com. I was still seeing 401 Server not found errors this morning AND ABOUT 20 minutes ago, but whatever, it is up and running, which is what I want.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Back to the Basics

The new blogging software was not working for me. I found myself spending way too many hours trying to get my blogspot crap over to my new domain. I was even somewhat 'content' to copy and paste all 50 of my blogspot entries over but when I couldn't even modify things as simple as the templates, it was time to dump them and move back to what I knew would work, blogger.com.

Currently, I am awaiting the next round of troubles. I am writing this entry knowing that it won't be seen because as of now, yourpointismoot.com points to the last blog (i.e. non-blogspot blog). Once the DNS servers resynch, or whatever it is they need to do to get the blogger.com settings to my domain name, then I'll see if this blog takes to the domain name or not.

This has been an absolutely frustrating experience. I am all about GOOD EXPERIENCES and guaranteed, this was not one of them. I was using Quick Blog, which comes with godaddy.com, where I purchased my domain name.

First problem, I couldn't get my entries imported to it. Second thing, I couldn't customize the template. This really was the whole point of moving on - having my own domain with my own look and feel. Jeezuz is was excrutiantingly painful to figure out that I couldn't do that (no, I didn't read the help until I couldn't do something).

I wanted to add my blogging toys - google analytics especially - but there's no way to do that since you can't customize your own html.

BAD BAD BAD. This is really bad for software, IMO.

But the troubles didn't stop there. Then I had to deal with the fact that my blogging editor would not work with blogger.com. Qumana - nice interface AND FREE but no support for blogger.com. I searched far and wide and NOTHING clued me in on how to make it work. Okay, there were hints but none worked. What a freakin' waste. At least address the fact that you don't f**king support blogspot so that potential users don't spend HOURS trying out different settings.

I searched for another editor. Okay, I'll even consider purchasing one if it works and has a nice interface. So Ecto was next. I barely had a glimpse of the interface to find out quickly that it TOO would not play friends with blogger.com. At least there was indication that the developer was NOT going to fix the problem in the current release.

I knew MarsEdit worked with blogger.com so I decided to download it again and try it out. MarsEdit was fine -- although I was extremely excited about using Qumana because it just looked and felt great -- and supported categories, which MarsEdit did not (at least when I used it).

But alas, since I had already used up the trial period, I couldn't use that either.

Having the editor would have made it so much easier to move my eight entries with Quick Blog over to blogger.com. Since I didn't have that, I resorted to COPY AND PASTE, which is absolutely RIDICULOUS in this day-and-age of technology. Sure, maybe there is a particular editor that would have worked, but it wasn't easy to find.

Let me just say, when I started my blog on blogger, within minutes, I was up-and-running. THAT is a good experience. But it seems that once the blog is out there and published, moving it anywhere in the world becomes the BAD experience.