Note:

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Immigration Sucks

I realize that no matter how much faith I have in humanity, there's always someone somewhere to destroy it.

Granted, my thoughts on humanity differ from many others, especially with Republicans and conservatives.

I get the News & Observer for the weekend: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Unless news items shows up on WRAL.com, I don't really know what's been happening during the week. So this past weekend, I read the Letters to the Editor section about an illegal immigrant mother, who was arrested on the spot, in the middle of the night, on I85, with three children. There is dispute as to whether the deputy verified that the acquaintance with her was an appropriate person to leave her children with...but the end result is that the three children, ages 14, 10 and 6, were left alone on the side of I-85 in the middle of the night. The deputy and the acquaintance abandoned them, as they cried for their mother and called their father (who they were on their way to) who had to come from Maryland to pick them up.

The Letter to the Editor was un-freaking-believable: she commended the deputy for pulling an immigrant off the road *and* that it is the fault of the mom for being an illegal immigrant and having children.

I'm sorry. I can't help to think what a racist this stupid writer is and I'm going to go ahead and stereotype the bitch: some 40-something year old redneck bitty, arch-fucking republican who thinks Bush is actually doing some good in this world, and goes to church every Wednesday and Sunday, and pats herself on the back for being a good Christian. I have no love lost for these people and my fear is that they are prevalent.

But thankfully, in the bowels of the newspaper...maybe even on a website...I can't recall where I found it but it was a mere glimpse, I see the headlines "Iowans to Congressman: Stop Immigration Raids". There is hope that there are people who see humanity despite the stupidity of our laws.

I am probably so die-hard bleeding heart liberal when it comes to immigrants. I don't think we do enough to make a compromise with illegal immigrants. I believe in the American Dream for all. And I follow the stereotype of immigrants: they work harder than most Americans...and it's those howlies that are complaining about the immigrants.
Sheriff's deputy takes illegal immigrant and leaves kids with an acquaintance, who leaves the scene. Kids are left alone on I85.

read more | digg story

An immigration raid that arrested nearly 400 people in northeastern Iowa scarred a small town and tore families apart, residents said Saturday. immigration raid iowa

read more | digg story

Monday, July 28, 2008

Final Words on Randy Pausch

I, like so many other people across this world, was so moved by Randy Pausch's last lecture and then some. One can say all they want about inspiring words that make us go "Yeah!" -- but he took it a step further and lived it.

At least, that's what I believe. I read his blog and he knew he didn't have any time left but he sopped each day up as much as he could.

And even though I found him so inspiring, I find myself not living his words. I don't live as though my days are numbered...and they are! It's the one truth we know -- we will die.

And yet I still worry about things that aren't worth worrying about. I care about things that mean nothing. I get angry at the little things. I do nothing when there's something to do. Or I do something when nothing should be done!

But I still live a life as an immortal. And when I heard of Pausch's death and read about what he had done with the last year-plus of his life, I think: what the hell am I doing? Do I need a disease with a known death sentence to shake me into dealing with life as I should?

I will -- and have -- actively think about what I want accomplished before the day is done. That's the only way I can plan for my future -- one day at a time.

Here is Wall Street Journalist, Jeffrey Zaslow's obituary on Pausch's passing. Zaslow helped write "The Last Lecture" with Pausch.
Prof Aimed 'Last Lecture' At His Children, Inspired MillionsIn his final months, while millions of people were watching his inspirational last lecture, Randy Pausch was at home in Virginia with his wife and three young children.After Randy's death, Jai, said, "Randy was so happy and proud that the lecture and book inspired parents to revisit their priorities, their relationships with their children."


read more | digg story

Sunday, July 27, 2008

And Introducing...

SUNKIST!!

This is the newest member to our family. Although this cute kitty will be ours to take care of, this kitty belongs to CJ.

CJ is the one who asked for one. She had been inspired by her best friends, O&V (twins), who have cats and dogs...but had gone to a local petstore to show CJ how they help take care of the cats there.

She told Tim all about it once she got home and surprisingly, Tim told her (and e-mailed me) that she would have to wait until mommy (AKA me) got home to have a family talk about it.

This REALLY surprised me as Tim has been, not only anti-cat, but absolutely no more pets in the home!! For me, all I need is a slight opening in the door and I'm sold.

We had the family discussion. I had some really good information from $Bill about kitty care and explained what he had told me. We also explained that she can't shirk her responsibilities to Brenna (the dog) and that what would be happening is that she would have _more_ responsibilities. We covered a lot of information and she handled our monologues very well.

So today was the day we would go to the petstores and see what they had. We went to PetSmart and lo and behold, it was Cat-Adopt-A-Thon. Cats everywhere! And dogs too...I thought Tim was going to walk out with a dog...and a parakeet. It didn't happen...but I think we were THISCLOSE to having three new pets today.

CJ picked up a few cat items: food/water bowl, toys, and more toys. Everything but a cat. It seems, and I know that there is good reasoning behind it, that one can no longer go to a petstore and take home a pet. We can see and touch any of them, but we would have to go home and fill out an application on-line and then wait for them to get in touch with us.

THIS IS GOOD. I realize that. Not everyone is like us -- where we would be provide a great home. So CJ had a kitty in mind and one plan was to go ahead and put our application in.

But Tim mentioned the SPCA or Wake County Shelters, which again, we were interested in but it's Sunday, they would not be open (come to find out, Wake County Animal Shelter IS open). And he also mentioned the newspaper.

But in this day and age, no one really advertises in the classifieds within the paper. So where did I go to search for free kittens? Craigslist!

And I found them. Four to choose from from a nice lady in Creedmoor. Tim thought it was too far but after calling several other folks and not getting through, I piled the girls into the car and off we went to Creedmoor, which actually, was only 19 miles away.

The nice cat lady introduced us to all four cute kittens, as well as the mama cat, who was also very beautiful. These kitties are young -- six weeks old! But they were ready to go and we had the pick of the litter, who turned out to be this beautiful, big, fluffy, orange-striped kitty. CJ named her Sunkist and she's been doting over her since she got her.

This kitty is sooooo cute. It's sooooo tiny and fluffy and soft. The first time she meowed, CJ cried (literally) tears of joy. She said it was the sweetest sound she has ever heard.

And Tim is tickled pink too. We all are. There's nothing so wonderful than having another pet but especially, seeing your child have HER OWN. I know when I was a kid, I wanted pets and felt like a queen when I got one. This is a moment I shall not forget.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The President

Me and my girls were in Target today when we passed the greeting cards. One had a picture of Obama, pointed out to me by CJ. Mi-Mi immediately said "Look, the President!"

Is this foresight????

So We Went for a Walk

Yesterday, CJ, Mi-Mi and I took our wonderful fat dog Brenna for a walk.

First, right around the corner from our house is the tree that has branches that forms an arch over the sidewalk. It is my favorite sight in the Spring, Summer and Fall. The girls call it the "tunnel":


But the funny thing was this: it was extremely humid (as anyone in the Raleigh area can relate to). I had run in the morning and was just drenched, so I was, shall I say, 'use to it'?

My girls, apparently, were not. As we walked back, for whatever reason, CJ says "Oh my god! Mommy! My armpits are sweaty! Feel them!"

I scrunched up my face and was like "I don't want to feel your armpits!" She pleaded a few more times and I refused. She asked to feel mine...what??? I don't think so!

She asked Mi-Mi and Mi-Mi was like "OK!" So they felt each other's armpits as though it was the most amazing thing that could ever happen.

I'm not sure if Mi-Mi has the glands ready for sweat, but it was cute, and gross, nonetheless.

Theft Update Part Two

I received a voice mail message today from blah-blah-blah with the Raleigh Police Department. He mentioned how some property had been found that he believed belonged to me.

We played phone tag as apparently one has to call the 555-5555 number and state who you want to talk to. I, of course, only remembered "blah-blah-blah", but fortunately, the officer who answered remembered my situation and told me I wanted Officer Fry.

But I was in class today so when officer Fry promptly returned my call, I was unavailable.

I called back after class and got the same dude that answered the first time. I asked for "Sargent Fry" and the dude was like, we have an *officer* Fry. Well, well, well!

And yet again, I leave another message.

Officer Fry finally catches me and we agree to meet in about 20 minutes at the blah-blah-blah station. I thought it was a gas station or something. He gave me the address and my wonderful GPS took me to the _police_ station!

I noticed stuff atop a police car. And Officer Frey (I noticed the spelling) had me sign over for my driver's license, my Northwest Airline card, and all of my credit cards. I also got my purse, with an empty wallet, and all the stuff in the purse, including my phone (broken in half), were still inside.

When I saw the phone was broken, I said to Officer Frey "They broke my phone in half!" and he was like "Yup", as though this is what thieves do. Really? Break phones in half????

Anyway, the sarge was cool and the purse and its belongings, FILTHY. Apparently, a homeless man was paid by a gas station, approximately six miles away from the scene of the crime, found my stuff along with another person.

We still hope the thief or thieves used the chapstick in there. CJ said again "I used it for my nose and I think I got snot on it!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things

With Mi-Mi, she is full of delightful things. I sent a tweet the other day, where, out of the blue, she was playing a game on the computer and became frustrated with it and yelled "Oy Vey!" I use that term but it's been awhile, so she pulled that one out from the back of her memory. Very cute.

Last night, we were watching the Pillsbury Bake-Off on Food Network. CJ is really into these food competitions, mainly the cake and sugar thingies-type competitions...so I was surprised that she wanted to watch this one. I was trying to read but I got into it too and at the end, when the winners were being announced, Mi-Mi said: "If I was there and they didn't call my name, I would go up to them, punch them in the face and tell them I won."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Girls' Week: Day Three

Today was a trip to the zoo. The last time we went was about two years ago, during Spring Break. I remember it well because we were going to make a four-day weekend out of it but once we realized we were in a dry county, we got the hell out of dodge. My memory of that was Tim and I's journey to rehab.

BUT the zoo was amazing. I was pleasantly surprised the first time we went there and today, it is still an amazing experience.

I'm usually not a big zoo fan because it breaks my heart. I feel like one takes these poor animals out of their elements and puts them in a cage for our viewing purposes. An animal freak show, if you will.
But this zoo does not have that feeling. It's almost disney-worldesque: big safari-like area for the animals to roam free. And most of these animals can be viewed up close and personal. It's really a beautiful place, with nice trails to walk the entire zoo, which is quite expansive.
And I love that it is user-friendly: an accessible place -- ramps everywhere -- which accommodates 'regular' folk. Those with strollers and those who just don't want to take steps. Hey, it's part of my life to assess whether someone/something is making a good experience for all. And for me, if you make it accessible, it's gonna be good for everyone.

Okay, minor usability tangent there...

Back to the zoo: we started in Africa, as we did two years ago. This is wonderful because the first thing you come upon (besides the gift shops) are giraffes. Today, we came upon zebras and ostriches:

Then the giraffe:

Later, we got an awesome shot of this elephant, which was first submerged. Man how I wish I was able to get it coming out of the water...it was an incredible sight:

Here's a shot of the paths that take you through the zoo. These would make great jogging trails because they are wide and beautiful. Another accessibility note: these paths are wide, wide, wide. I don't care what you tell me, these paths were designed to accommodate wheelchairs, and then some, and for you and me without wheelchairs, comfort.

As we enter North America, we come upon bison. Here's a close-up:

And then a landscaped view of the whole brood:

Next, a great shot of an otter:

And a polar bear, who wouldn't get up for us...and who could blame him as it was HOT (but nice and windy) and not typical polar bear weather.

One may think it is cruel to have a polar bear at an NC Zoo, but the story behind them is that they were rescued:
From the NC Zoo site:
Wilhelm and Masha, were among six polar bears seized by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on November 5, 2002. The bears were confiscated from the Mexico-based Suarez Brother’s Circus for violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and were relocated to the North Carolina Zoo on November 19, 2002.

We were able to see CJ's favorite animal, Puffins, but my pictures did not turn out very well. But I got a great shot of this sea lion, basking in the sun:

We left the zoo at closing time, so we closed the bitch down without missing a beat.

The Problem With Self-Serve Mattress Delivery

As I got onto I40 to head towards the Zoo, there was a traffic jam caused by an accident.

The accident? A semi-truck that ran over a mattress. Unfortunately, I didn't recognize it was a mattress until I had passed it with little time to break out a camera to take a picture. I did, however, catch the other half of the mattress and its culprit:


Very lucky that no one was hurt, IMO. I remember a few years ago, when a woman was killed on I440, on the overpass by Wade Avenue, when she attempted to get a mattress that fell from her car/truck. I found it so tragic...still do...and over a stupid mattress.

And although I take these pictures because I think they are funny, it is somewhat stupid. To see any vehicle, even as small as a freaking Yugo, toting a mattress. Hey, Tim and I have driven with a mattress, so we are not immune, but it just seems so ODD...

If Only I Wasn't Married...

This has been circulating all over the net...apparently I wasn't in the know and heard about this through my favorite podcast < everyone! >Keith and the Girl< /everyone!>.

First, I heard it play on episode "Be A Man". I recommend you listen to that particular podcast and listen to Keith and Chemda's play-by-play. Although, quite honestly, in doesn't need a play-by-play, as this whole recording speaks for itself...but Keith and Chemda just throw in their glibs, which for me, makes it even more funny.

They mention that there are youtube videos, reenacting these two recordings, so I am going to include them here, for your viewing pleasure.

Just to give some sort of idea of where these recordings come from: Dimitri meets Olga (true dat!) on the street. Olga gives Dimitri her business card, and thus, 'romance' ensues. These are real voicemail messages from Dimitri to Olga. And how it's legal for her to release them, I have no idea but these are priceless:

Dimitri's first voicemail message to Olga, as reenacted by Eric Anderson:


And his follow-up, the second voicemail message to Olga, again, reenacted by Eric Anderson:

Book Review: Duma Key by Stephen King

Whew. This book was a doozy. 611 pages. And it looks as big as the bible. But finally, last night, I finished it.

Ninety percent of the book was awesome. The characters were well-defined and after so many pages, I knew them well. Edgar Freemantle is the star of this one, alongside his best buddy Wireman. The friendship they form is solid and a pleasure to read about. Two broken men, in a seemingly paradise of a Key, as in the Florida Keys.

But, this is Stephen King and something "odd" has to be in place with his novels. The oddity is not well-defined until later, and naturally, one has to read more and more of the chapters to get the gist of what the oddity is. But King does it well, as usual, and I learn more and more about the oddity of Duma Key.

Edgar moves to Duma Key for a year's stay, to recover mentally and physically from a near-death accident that leaves him with only one arm. He can still feel "the itch" on the phantom arm and usually, it accompanies a great rage...so great that he almost kills his wife from this rage.

At Duma Key, he lives in "Big Pink", a great big home in which he decides to pick up an old hobby: painting. And painting he does. He becomes the toast of the area with his amazing paintings. But the paintings tell stories and those stories reveal the secrets of Duma Key.

Along with Edgar's re-discovery of himself -- his "other" life, as he describes it -- he meets Wireman. Wireman is a caregiver for the owner of most of Duma Key, Elizabeth. And friendship ensues between Wireman and Edgar, as Edgar works his way to walking towards the house in which Elizabeth and Wireman live, "Il Palacio".

And naturally, there are secrets that Elizabeth has about the island, and Edgar's paintings.

All in all, this makes for a great story. King is just amazing with his story-telling and I was engrossed in Duma Key. But, sadly for me, it all crumbles in the end. I can go with anything paranormal...I LOVE paranormal...but when it becomes para-paranormal, it just becomes, um, how do I put it, SILLY?

For the most part, one can get away with anything on paper. It's bringing it to the theater that makes it silly. For instance, Pet Semetary was an awesome book. On film? It sucked. And so does the end of Duma Key. I wouldn't say it sucked, but it was extremely disappointing when 90% of the book was just a great, great story.

Next up for me is one bigger than the bible: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. It is nearly 1000 pages long! I thought Jane Eyre was long, at over 500 pages. Then Duma Key and now this! There goes my two books a month goal...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Girls Week: Day Two

Today was another fun-packed day. We took a trip to Chapel Hill, to Morehead Planetarium.

But before I go on about the day, I have to say having a GPS in your car is incredible. There is such a freedom in going wherever you want, whenever. So I had no qualms about heading to the planetarium and knowing, that afterwards, I would head to Fearrington Village. No worries, no nothing. Plug stuff in and ta-da! The nice lady directs me to where I need to go.

But of course, you need to know what to look for. For instance, once I hit Franklin Street in Chapel Hill - following the directions turn-for-turn - my lady-friend says "You have arrived at your destination". What??? Where??? Again, I am thrown in for a loop trying to figure out where the hell I am. I noticed a parking booth with "Lot Full" and decided to just pull in.

Fortunately, the sign is untrue, or was true once but no longer was when more people left the lot and parking was not a problem. And fortunately, it WAS Morehead Planetarium.

I was wary about going into the planetarium. The last time I went to one, I was in junior high school at Clark AFB, Philippines. We took a field trip to Manila to visit the planetarium there. I had been on field trips to the planetarium at least once before (maybe more, just can't remember) and I believe the last trip made me sick. But I think I was already sick, with some kind of flu thing, since I remember hallucinating and seeing doves fly in my wind-blown room...which freaked the shit out of my superstitious Auntie.

Either way, I have a lasting ill memory of the planetarium...add my neck issues and going to the planetarium isn't the most appealing thing on my plate. But it IS a pretty cool place to go and even though CJ has been before, Mia had not...and well, it just seemed like a fun thing to do.

And fun it was. I survived without getting ill, freaking out, or adding anymore pain to my neck. And my girls enjoyed the first 10 minutes before getting antsy in their chair and getting kind of bored. They didn't seem to be as interested in the planets as I was (it's a childhood thing...although, I was more into it as a kid, but I LOVE learning about the planets).

The show itself lasted about 30 minutes or so. And for the most part, it was good BUT the graphics were just so OLD. So 1980s and I was really disappointed that there wasn't anything updated in the show. It kind of reminded me of seeing "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" at Disney World, which SUCKS BIG TIME.

Although there was updated information regarding Pluto being dissed as a planet, it was still so old. I felt like I was back in Junior High watching those stupid info-films.

Afterwards, we head out to Fearrington Village. We went there last year for Spring Break and we have nothing but fond memories of this place, so CJ was just psyched to go back.

We hit The Old Granary for lunch, where I enjoyed a nice slice of quiche. Wow. It was so tasty and it made me wonder why one earth anyone would have ever said "Real men don't eat quiche" because it doesn't make sense to me. Is quiche too froo-froo for a "man"? Just another cliche that doesn't make sense to me.

The rest of the day we strolled the shops. I took a few pictures of the grounds and then we headed back home. But before we could leave, we had to stop and see the oreo cows. Mi-Mi had no interest and sat in the car while we said hello to several of the cows and a couple of goats. I even watched a donkey play peek-a-boo with me. Our work was done and we just beat the work traffic on the way home.

The path to Fearrington House, surrounded by lush greeness:

A shot of the garden at The Potting Shed:

The girls reading as they patiently wait for me roam The Potting Shed:

A 'herd' of cows trying to stay cool in the shade and mud:

A young oreo cow...looks like chocolate milk:

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Irony

I just stopped at WRAL.com, the local news site that I frequent and noticed that Cary ranks 16th in 'best small cities to live'.

But the reason why I had gone to wral.com, this late in the evening, was to see if any news came about in regard to the missing jogger...a woman from Cary who went missing Saturday morning, after going for a jog.

Naturally, this hits close to home because, well, I run and 2) she's local...I can't help but appreciate an empathetic bond for her.

And as most of us expected...especially, a mother of two young children...why she has been missing for nearly three days...a body has been found near the area that she was missing (just can't catch a break with these horrors...a small/big miracle of letting her actually be alive???? always the same sad damn story)...

Cary 'best small city to live in'...I don't think there are any left.

A Sighting in Cary

I caught this mattress on Hwy 54 on the way home from somewhere in Cary. Not a bad picture from my cell phone!

Girls Week: Day One

I am off this week to hang out with my beautiful bebes. Tim flew out early this A.M. to Las Vegas, to hang out with his brother Philip for his 40th birthday week celebration.

The day came off to an odd start. We wanted to go paint pottery so I thought we would go back to Amazing Glaze, which was located in City Market.

When I got there, first and foremost, I parallel parked the minivan. And I did it PERFECT. See!



I was so happy about my parking skill that I thought I passed by the place, only to find that it no longer existed. When did that happen?

We passed by a nice lady with her daughter and I asked what happened to the place and she couldn't even remember the last time it was here. But fortunately, she knew a place in our neck of the woods and handed me a business card (an extra that she just happened to have) and we decided to head over to Marbles Museum first.

I parked on the fifth level of the parking garage, across from Marbles. We took the elevator down and I thought something might be amiss when I saw two women with their brood walking _back_ to their car, after passing them as they walked toward the museum. Sure enough -- once we got to the museum, we noticed that the place is closed on Mondays.

Mi-Mi and CJ were not too happy about that and started throwing out kid epithets out: they stink! I'm going to kick their butt! Mi-Mi had the best with "They stink even if they're clean!"

So I thought we would try Morehead Planetarium...but before going all the way out to Chapel Hill, I was going to see if they were open. So I called and found out that the exhibits are open but not any of the shows. What does that mean, I ask, and he said that the dome section is not open until tomorrow. Well hell, what is the point of being open if you can't see anything that defines what a planetarium is?

This first day of fun-filled-action-packed vacation was not working out to well.

It was raining so the zoo was out, or any kind of outdoor activity. But on the way back toward the other pottery place, we decided to see if the Science Museum was open. I again 'parallel-parked' in front of the museum -- which was basically pulling up, then reversing into a metered spot -- and we went to see if it was open.

YAY! It was...and we entered the building passing a homeless man laughing...at nothing in particular.

Oh, I failed to mention that this was the second strangest person we came upon today. The first was at Marbles, when a "marshmallow man" waved and high-fived CJ as we dumbly walked to the closed museum. We have no idea what he was advertising as he never handed us any of the flyers he was holding and I'm not aware of any "marshmallow man" mascots for anything in the area...

Back to the Science Museum...

The place is fine. Nothing amazing but not too boring. But there is a whole half floor dedicated to duck decoys. I found that extremely red-neckish and wondered what NC was lacking so much that we would dedicate half of the first floor to duck decoys!

Next stop was the paint pottery place. Well, in this case, it is paint plaster. We picked a few things out and had a blast painting them:
My gargoyle:

CJ's blue monster:

Mi-Mi's candy:


We hit a local Italian place for great food then I needed to stop at Kroger's for some headache medicine -- for me and Mi-Mi. As we walked in, the third strangest fellow we met said to me "It's my birthday today" and I said "Happy Birthday". What in the world is going on today? And why me? In fact, as we left the place, the guy took my hand to shake it...happy birthday weirdo!

We then hit the theater and caught Hellboy II, which was not so bad. Tim has a different idea, I'm sure, as what to this movie is about...but it isn't about that. It's based on a comic book series and Hellboy is bad-ass.

We made it back home for a little R&R before we ended the evening with a comfy meal from Red Lobster (CJ's request).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We Are The Champions

I have been thinking about this blog post for some time. I wanted to write this with a great ending and I am happy to say that I can.

What do I speak of, you ask? Why, the sport of Wallyball!

Wallyball is my favorite game to play. It is similar to volleyball but played in a racquetball room. This makes for an extremely fast-paced game, where the ball is bouncing off the walls at angles quite fast.

There is a set skill to it: hitting sections of the wall to take advantage of the angles, hitting it out (two walls, or the ceiling, or the opponent's backwall), spiking in a small room, etc. You can read more about this fun game on Wikipedia and to clarify, this is DOUBLES, so two vs. two: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallyball

My long-time wallyball partner, Carlos and I have played this game since 1999 when he casually asked if I'd join him for this game. I had no idea what to expect and being that I wasn't a sporty gal then (but you better believe I am now), I wasn't very good either. And I stayed not good for a few more seasons while Carlos patiently played by my side. We would lose nearly every single game...quickly.

But at some point, I think in part due to my passion for volleyball and running, came a competitive spirit in me and I decided to try harder. And who better than to learn to play than with Carlos who is AMAZING to play wallyball and volleyball with. He gets to everything he can and strives for everything.

That's what made me a decent wallyball player -- I go for everything in hopes of keeping the ball alive. Carlos did it, another wallyball bud Sterling played that way, I was going to play that way.

And by golly, Carlos can get to anything and make it work. He is the most reliable player and on top of that, he plays like a pool player: always thinking about his next move. He is also aware of where the opponent is and PLACES the ball where they are NOT. It is truly amazing to watch him play and I feel extremely privileged to be his partner. I can't tell you how many times I am just WOWed by his moves.

I love this game so much because I am pretty good at it. Not great, mind you, but really good. So good that me and Carlos won the league tournament today. We played a team that is our big rival, who beat us last year and I believe the year before.

And today's match was the final between our two teams: we lost to them during the season games; we beat them in the first round of our double-elimination tournament; then we lost the next round with them -- they, in the loser bracket and us in the winner bracket; and then that left today's final match -- loser vs. loser to become the champion.

Carlos and I took the first match: 11-8 (points to 11, by two) and lost the second: 8-11. Each point was fought for and we would earn one at a time. It was long, grueling, and by golly, you would have thought we were playing for a million dollars. Neither side would give up and we were just breathless after each long point.

The third match was a tough one for me mentally. My female opponent would hit my 'blind' spot -- the same spot she would score against me because I couldn't get to it. I knew it was over for us but I repeated "we will win" "we will win" in my head.

The score was 7-10 -- we were 7 and they were at game point...only one more point and they are the champs and I soooooo didn't want that. I served and earned one point -- 8-10. And again, my female counterpart hits it to that spot I can't get to. Serve goes back to them. We get by a close loss and Carlos serves and earns another point in a rally. His next serve -- a miss from the opponent. Great, I think -- at least we are tied. But I am so ready for him to pick up an easy point on his kick ass serve and low and behold, he comes back with an amazing serve and they miss again -- and just like that, WE WIN!

I was soooo happy -- I grabbed Carlos and hugged him hard. Then I hugged my opponents, which I'm sure they didn't care too much about -- but they deserved a big hand for giving us the best game of our years of playing. I had the biggest smile on my face for the rest of the day.

The Price of Being Sharp

I needed to get refills for my Intuition razors that I use (I have two - one for up there and the other for down there). When I got to the razor section of the grocery store and found them, I balked at the price. For a box of three razor refills, $10.23. WHAT? $10 for _razors_? Are they made of fricking corn or oil?

Seriously, how can they justify this high price? Is there a razor shortage somewhere because of a drought? They couldn't "grow" anymore? These are man-fucking-made...I don't get it and I didn't get it. Instead, I picked up the cheaper disposable Venus razors, that set me back $5.23 for THREE.

When Helms Was At The Helm

As a resident of North Carolina -- and Raleigh -- I am fully aware of Jesse Helm's legacy in this state. Since his death, the local media has been abuzz, outlining his personality with tongue-in-cheek endearments. A tale about his racist past is almost whispered, or put in a by-line, again, with a sense of adoration that 'that's just how he was'.

But I didn't like what this man stood for. I was embarrassed and angry that I lived in a state that supported this man...and proudly.

I voted for Harvey Gantt twice. During the first election, after Gantt lost, I recall the somber morning, meeting with my co-workers and friends who really thought that Gantt could pull it off. We believed that we really do not live with people who are back-asswards and would support a fucking racist.

Sadly we were wrong and he lasted much longer than we ever thought he could.

So I ignored the media coverage on his death. I cared nothing about his funeral other than "Glad I won't be in that god-awful traffic jam".

But I finally ran across someone who felt the same way as I did and wrote about it. And he didn't happen to be a local writer (which reminds me, I'll have to see if our local columnist, Barry Saunders, had anything to say about ole' Helms).

And on top of that, I found this article from the News & Observer (Raleigh paper): http://www.newsobserver.com/politics/politicians/helms/story/1135443.html. Whether you agree he was right or wrong, it just shows that for those of us that did not respect Helms, well, we are passionate about that sentiment.

May racism rest in peace.

read more | digg story

Amazing Finish

I heard about this amazing finish at the Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field. It became the buzz for Eugene, Oregon. It took me awhile but I finally found a photo finish shot of this amazing event.

read more | digg story

Another great article, Dive and Conquer straight from The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon: http://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/dt.cms.support.viewStory.cls?cid=120726&sid=7&fid=1

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Late Night Mattress Sighting

I am a little late with these shots.

We found this guy hauling his mattress at 9PM on July 1st. This was another sighting on Creedmoor Road in Raleigh, just after turning off of Glenwood.

The shots were a bit blurry. It's hard to get shots with my new phone, chasing down a truck on a busy road. Well, this time I wasn't chasing it down, but Tim...


My Left Foot

A few months ago, the ball of my left foot, under toes three and four, started aching. Aching is being too light to describe the pain. It changes the way I walk -- even in regular shoes. Running tends to exacerbate the pain.

The running shoes I have are my favorite, but according to the sports store experts, it is not designed for my foot. But these shoes, Adidas' Climacools, help my hot feet stay less hot. This is my third pair of climacools and my feet have endured thus far.

Of course, I have almost always have some sort of foot pain. I have those wonderful runner's feet -- aches and pains throughout. I have Morton's Toe (when I mentioned this to Tim, he told me to give it back) and bunions (small) on both feet. So I won't be a foot model anytime in my lifetime.

But the pain under the ball of my foot has been new. I haven't had this before. And I haven't done anything about it until my coach scoffed at my favorite brand of shoe being 'air-conditioning for my hot feet'.

I have an orthotic that was designed for my gnarly feet back when I got Morton's Toe. And I haven't worn them very much since I received them, oh, about, I don't know, three years ago...?

So I told Coach B that I'd put the orthotics in my Climacools.

I've run with that in my shoes for about two weeks. And now, the pain at the ball of my foot is a little bit better but still there...but NOW, I have pain at the ball of my heel of my left foot. And on top of that, the fleshy space between the side of my ankle to the side of the bottom of my foot (on the left side of the left ankle) is swollen. It has stayed swollen and sore for about a week or so.

It's always something and my hope is that my foot is trying to adjust with the orthotic and that it will go away.

I had a massage today and the massage therapist said that my whole left side is "off". It's "tight" and not even with my right side. This is all massage lingo talk that I don't entirely get other than it's obvious that I am accommodating for my left foot and it's throwing my whole gait off.

I know I'll have to see someone...yet again. Physical therapy seems to be part of my livelihood. I get done with one pain and find myself dealing with another.

What Is Twitter?

I signed up for Twitter a couple of months ago. I love it. I only have a few people that I follow and only two of them actually use Twitter.

We have it linked to our Facebook pages so that our Facebook status updates with our Tweets.

Whenever I mention Twitter, I am commonly asked "what is that?" which actually surprises me because a year ago, I was asking "What is twitter?"...so it's been around for awhile.

But it's hard to explain. I'll say "it's where I can post what I'm doing and it broadcasts to people who follow me". The person then looks at me like "Huh?" It still doesn't register because, it's an odd concept. And until you sign up and "do it", I don't think anyone will get it.

But I happened to come upon this explanation of "Twitter in Plain English" -- with a paper prototype!!! -- that I think hits the mark. It's from Common Craft and after watching this, I became a fan of them:

Spanish Wine and Cheese Night

Friday evening I decided to have wine and cheese for dinner. I have been on a Spanish wine kick for quite awhile, so I decided I would make the entire theme Spanish. Where else does one go for great cheese? Well, at least here in Raleigh, it's Whole Foods.

I picked up four cheeses, all Spanish. Here's a description of each one. And by the way, so far, I haven't met a cheese I didn't like:

Manchego - well, a natural choice for Spanish cheeses! One of Tim's favorite and is always a must. This cheese, as I describe to my girls, is like the Spanish version of parmesan. It is made from sheep's milk. It's not as hard as parmesan; more creamy. But it has a nice saltiness to it, like Parmesan has.

Cabrales - this is a blue cheese made with goat and cow's milk; this blue cheese has a nice spicy bite to it.

Mohan D.O. - not sure what the "D.O." stands for, but that's how it's labeled. This cheese is a soft cheese made from cow's milk, that to me, has a very buttery, salty taste. The rind is orange because it is rubbed with paprika and oil. As with most of these cheeses, I tend to eat the whole thing, including the rind. The Manchego rind is a bit to tough to eat so I tend to knock that part off.

Drunken Goat: great name, huh? The first time Tim and I had this was at Enoteca Vin. I was very happy to see it at Whole Foods. The rind is purple because it is soaked in wine. As the name suggests, it is a goat's milk cheese that is also a bit soft and also creamy. I didn't detect any bite to it but found it very buttery-tangy tasting.

The wines that I picked up at Whole Foods were perfect and surprisingly cheap. I don't remember which one cost which, but I got one on sale for $5.99 (classified as a Customer Favorite) and the other was $7.99. I called myself pretty lucky to find these two:
2005 Dehesa de Rbiales Alaia - Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon
2006 Protocolo - Vino de la Tierra de Castilla

I didn't take my wine notes to describe them as I should have but all I can say is they were both wonderful and I would definitely serve these for special occasions, even with the great prices.

To round off the meal, I threw in un-Spanish-like stuff like chicken sausage (with red pepper and basil), exotic olives and a really good olive oil with Farmer's Bread. I didn't much care for the Farmer's Bread so I'd have to try something different next time.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Why You Should Vote Republican

Cheesy but worth sharing:

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fear Itself

If you haven't seen an episode of this, well, either you're lucky or unlucky.

I love, love, love scary stuff. I watched those scary TV shows when I was a kid: Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, One Step Beyond, Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock...later, Tales from the Crypt and American Gothic (more of a series, but excellent), X-Files and Millenium.

I noticed that a show titled "Fear Itself" was coming out with a 13 episode series over the summer. I immediately added it to my DVR queue and when we finally watched the first episode, I was shocked.

That mf-ing episode was downright SCARY. And pretty gory for television. And I'm watching this with my kids, thinking it was going to be some kind of 'little bit o'scary" show. Tim and I looked at each other with our mouths agape and our eye wide.

And we have been hooked ever since. Not all are gory but they are definitely scary and most have a very Hitchcock twist.

Each episode is directed by a different director: John Landis, Stuart Gordon, Brad Anderson, etc. The one last night, "The Eater", was by far the scariest, most titillating and goriest we've seen. Well, Mi-Mi didn't get to see it and I tried to block her ears from it -- her choice "Cover my ears! Cover my ears!" I wanted to cover my eyes and ears too but it was just too damn good to watch...

Fear Itself still has some episodes left. Thursday nights on NBC at 10PM. The theme song is the bomb: Serj Tankian's "Lies Lies Lies", better known from one of my fave bands, System of a Down.

Actually, the opening credits is pretty freaky...take a look:

Theft Update

No, the bad guys haven't been caught...will they ever? The cops never even came to see me (contact and reporting was all by phone). So nothing really new to add other than the thief tried to cash two checks: one for $1900 and the other for $1947.47. Interesting amounts, huh?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Local Spotlight

Cid Cardoso Jr. owns the local Inside-Out Sports stores, now only in Cary (there was one other in Raleigh). I do not know him personally but have run into him at one of CJ's summer camps. And of course, I see him at races, as well as around the track I run at.

He's a superb athlete and I know that his wife and father also do races. But after reading this interview with Cid, I am even more inspired not only by his attitude, but by his mom and dad.

From slowtwitch.com, "Industry athlete Cid Cardoso Jr

A Great 4th

After Run for the Quay, I swore off anymore races in the summer. My feet were freaking hot during that race and I was just not liking how hard it felt. This is usually how I am during any race and hot feet that race was just another thing. In the winter, I could say "my fingers get cold" -- it doesn't matter. I battle with my mental cop-outs more than anything to do with my physical capability.

But this morning I ran the Great Raleigh Road Race, which is a five mile run.

What?!? I thought I swore off races?

I did but now that I have a coach, I was 'advised' to do this run. In fact, my bff $Bill mentioned the race to me, in hopes of having me join him. I was just going to blow him off and say 'have fun until I got Coach B's e-mail:
Pros: A longer race would be good for you. We can work on pacing.
Family- oriented event.
Spend time with your buddy, Bill.

Cons: Possibly hot feet, and unhappy runner.


How could I say no? The pros just outweighed the cons, especially the last one.

Of course, after my run with $Bill on Tuesday, I told him "I'm not running with you!" He's just in great shape and I did NOT want the pressure of maintaining his pace. Sure, I might be able to, but I would be an even unhappier person than usual and I didn't want to bite $Bill's head off.

Yesterday, Coach B called me to ask what my plans were for the race, so she could compare it to hers. I was like "Um, I usually strive for 10 minute miles". She totally blew that off and went with her plan, which was 'run conservatively for the first two miles, no faster than 9 minute miles' -- in my head I was like WHAT? That is NOT conservative. Did you not hear me state 10 mn miles???!!! On the outside it sounded like this " ".

She continues, 'so go conservatively then mile 3 is pretty hilly so just go for it after that, since there's only two miles left to go!' I think: ONLY two more miles to go? How can I GO FOR IT??? No way!!

But this is why I have a coach. Because I talk myself out of everything. I can run five miles under 9:30 while I train. When race day comes, I talk myself out of it.

Race day comes -- I meet up with $Bill and another fellow runner-friend, Frank. We warm up and then we get ready to start and then we go.

First mile feels really good. I have Bill in my sight and at most times, I could touch him. But I don't :-) and just watch that red shirt go. It felt good, well, actually, it felt GREAT. I thought that this couldn't be a fast pace but Bill is pretty right-on-the-money with his pace and I know his goal pace is close to my goal pace. We past the mile 1 marker: 9:00. WOW! I was SOOOOO happy to see that because it felt soooooo easy.

Everything is good until I approach mile two, where the sign has no number and the water stop is. I forget about checking my pace and grab water and pour it all over me before I have a few sips left. Once I remembered to look at my time, it was 9:24 so I knew I slowed it down a bit. I did that on purpose since I knew it was still early in the race and I had not yet hit the hills that I was expecting to hit.

Mile three was my worst mile...mentally. I start telling myself to walk, which is not going to happen. So far during this race, walking is not really entering my head (one of the main constant battles I have during race day) and it's just teasing me...nothing serious.

Of course what is serious is that my left upper arm is aching at every bounce, as if I had a shot and the pain was throbbing. Oddly, this has been a common occurrence. And then the other serious factor is that my feet are now hot. And I am hot all over. I fight with my shirt to roll it up to air out as much skin as I can but it keeps rolling down. This becomes a continuing battle throughout the race: roll shirt up, shirt falls down; roll shirt up and hold it, let go and shirt falls down; roll shirt up and tuck it in under the bra section, shirt eventually falls down.

At Mile Marker 3 (Yay! only two more left!!!), I see my split for mile two and three: 18:59. I try to do the math but I can't and figure out that I'm still on track but mile three was definitely my slowest thus far.

Mile three to four: I am stuck with people who are running hard (for them) and yet talk...and I mean talk talk talk. To a normal person, this is okay. But too neurotic me, THIS IS ANNOYING. And I can't get away from them. They're too fast for me to pass and not fast enough for me to slow down my pace. I just deal with it.

And poor Ashley: this apparently is a friend of the annoying talkers. Ashley catches up and annoying talker #1 is like "Hey Ashley! blah blah blah"...I could see Ashley was struggling to get through and talking was the last thing she wanted to do.

Then Ashley stops running at some point and annoying talker #1 is like "ASHLEY! ARE YOU OKAY?!" Can you leave poor Ashley alone????

This is the point where I dug into myself and started picking up my pace. Soon, Ashley passes me and we both struggle to get away from the annoying talkers. That's when annoying talker #2 says "I'm going to run with Ashley!"

I lost Ashley at some point...we were head-to-head for a few yards. I didn't like that -- too close for comfort -- but we were both in a zone where we couldn't do anything about it. Mile four split: 9:06. I didn't see this until after I finished...which is best or I would have panicked.

BUT WOW for me!! I was sooooooo thrilled to see that time.

Now mile five is the last to the finish. As I said, I lost Ashley because I became focused on $Bill. He was in my sights the entire time but after mile 3, he was way, way ahead of me. I was getting closer but nowhere near within touching him. I knew how the rest of the route would go and even though everyone was like "Oh the finish is great!" I recalled the last time I ran this, which was the Second Empire race (last year? the year before?) and it felt like a long way and it was brutal. On top of that, the finish for this one is further than the finish for Second Empire.

My mantra for mile 4 and five became "My legs are strong. My legs are strong." to try to psych my brain into thinking that I could finish. It worked and for the life of me, I have no idea how I picked up my pace even more...but I did. I decided I was passing everyone between me and $Bill. I don't know if I was successful but I was able to cross and noticed the overall clock had 46:something. WHAT? OMG...that is too cool.

I ran through the finish and passed Bill (in the finish) with a nice pat on the back. The end result was that my last mile was 8:44 -- a definite negative split from the overall miles. WOW!

Coach B came out to support Bill and I. I was so excited to see her. Then I was able to meet Frank's family, who I've heard about on many of our runs. Frank's wife: um, Whoa! That girl is hot. Frank's not bad but really, how did he land her???? ;-)

Then CJ ran with her dad for the 1 mile fun run. Frank, and one of Frank & his hot wife's boys were cheering the young runners in. At some point, Frank asks when I think CJ will come through and I'm like, probably around 10 minutes. Just seconds later, here she comes with Tim. I look at the clock: 9:00 minutes!!! What? That's my girl coming through with a fast time!!! Ecstatic, I was!!

I hugged her and felt like crying, I was so proud and happy. And to top it off, Mi-Mi did the 100 yard dash -- I did that with her. I was going to try to beat her but I figured that it would make me look bad...but she gave me a good run for the money.

So I can honestly say that this race has been my best race ever. Despite the mental battles, I persevered and did it in a very aggressive time (for me). I usually think back on what I could have done better, but I definitely got my runner's high from this one.

Thanks Bill and Coach B.