Thursday, August 31, 2006

Long time, no writing

It's not that I've been at a loss for inspiration, I just haven't been inspired to write. Among the inspirational things:
  • sample(s) of chocolate covered carmel corn at Marvelous Market (break open a bag, steal one, beg them to give you a sample - this stuff is amazing, but too expensive to actually buy. That, and there's more sugar in one piece than a small nation should eat in a day)
  • grilled cheese soup at camp last week (really not so remarkable but for the fact that they were not also accompanied by fish sticks)
  • Julia Alvarez's most recent novel, Saving the World (excellent)
  • Dennis including a poem in the all-office email reminding us that the summer dress code is changing back to the winter dress code (this makes no difference to me whatsoever)
  • the dog that I see by the metro every so often that has spots meant for a Holstein cow
  • not being able to decide whether to get a cold fountain drink or hot coffee at the gas station/convenience store and deciding to get both (And then there was a question of whether to go with cubed ice or crushed....)

This is just a small sampling. It clearly doesn't take too much to inspire me. Actually writing is a different story.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Blogger Break

Camp Ramah (Darom) here I come. Little, if any cell phone reception, Unreliable internet and mosquitos the size of your head - what more could I ask for other than a week in Clayton, Georgia?

In case you were thinking that Clayton just a small town nearly three hours from the closest major city, you'd be correct. Which means, it's gonna be a long day!

And did I mention that I have 58 small alarm clocks in my luggage that we're giving to staff? TSA is going to have a field day.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Shimba Hills

is a new coffee shop by our office attached to the Verizon Center (nee MCI Center). I'm not sure when they finally opened, but I decided that this morning would be a good time to finally see how their coffee is. It's good, but not something I would go to everyday (maybe just Fridays).

Here's what I don't get. They've got all sorts of coffee (including something called a "Red Eye" that's a shot of espresso in a regular cup of coffee), and some breakfast pastries, and... wait for it.... gelato. I could understand this if they were trying to create an ambiance of an Italian cafe (of course I have no idea whether Italian cafes also serve gelato, but I'm thinking they're both Italian, so maybe), but they're not. If they were, I would expect pictures of fountains on the walls, maybe an Italian chocolate bar being sold, or at least Torani flavorings for their drinks.

I see no problem with people eating gelato and drinking coffee, but I believe this is why Baskin-Robbins doesn't brew coffee - not many people drink coffee and eat ice cream at the same time. Or I just don't think it happens so often, and especially not at the Verizon Center. I can't see taking in a basketball game, and then having gelato. Or seeing a monster truck show, and then getting a latte.

I will be going back to try a Red Eye at some point though (but not with a side of gelato!)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Aaron Sorkin and my family

I am fairly certain that Aaron Sorkin learned his writing style by listening to conversations within my family. This thought occurred to me a few weeks ago in St. Louis, and then again yesterday in Wilmington. It was banter par excellence - all fast, all about random, non-essential topics, and mostly going nowhere. And then someone new would enter and the entire conversation would repeat itself. Plus, sometimes, there were two cross conversations happening in this same fashion, only at some point, the topics and participants would switch. It was all really fascinating, actually. And I think the hallmark of it all, is that afterwards, you can't remember a damn thing that was said.

My Uncle Jake wanted to know if I'd write about my visit. Here goes: he was a gracious host, offering us cashews and 15 month-old dark chocolate M & Ms. He didn't make too much fun of me for drinking a Diet Pepsi slurpy (not so easy to find, by the way) and he offered to make Rebecca an egg sandwich (even though she did it herself in the end). And he also took us out to dinner, which was very nice. (It took some convincing, but he finally let me take care of the tax on the bill.)

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I've spent the last week recovering from finally watching Lost and getting back to Television Without Pity. Mimi told me that the Dharma food is manufactured by Widemore Industries. And thank you to whoever told me it was Portuguese. And I also learned that Kelvin, the man that turned Sayid into a torturer, was also the guy in the hatch with Desmond. And....

I've heard, from several sources this past week, opinions which suggest I spend too much time blogging about bathrooms. And yet, you still read, and so I will continue to write about them, when appropriate.

Wedding Crashers - funny movie.

The Tent, by Margaret Atwood - a brilliant book. It's unbelievably short and yet I didn't finish it before it was due (and someone else had it on hold so I couldn't renew it - damn). And if you haven't read Oryx and Crake yet, you should.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lost and Found

I finally spent close to 90 total minutes watching the last two hours and 4 minutes of Lost. Finally. Assuming that there really are only 44 minutes per hour of television (the rest being commercials), the time passed way, way too quickly. We only had the last 4 minutes of the penultimate episode, but really, I'm not sure I could have taken more than that.

The four-toed foot. John Locke admitted he was wrong. The Others. Penelope Widemore. The pneumatic tube to nowhere. Mr. Eko. Charlie and Claire. Elizabeth/Libby. Hurley's not hungry. Walt. The Russians (but they weren't speaking Russian, so whoever they were). Dart guns (and really bad convulsions). And a Hanso commercial in the middle! It's all too much.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sardines and Avocados

I kid you not - I sat across from a man at breakfast who was eating sardines and avocados and drinking cinnamon coffee. There is really only one word that can even come close to adequately describing this experience - EWWWW.

We finally finished building the very last piece of IKEA furniture that's been sitting boxed in our house for so many months that it's embarrassing. In any case, it's done, and looks pretty good. I hope it's not a big problem that I had four screws and a wooden peg left over.... (and no, they weren't just extras in the bag).

And we cleaned up the basement last night and today. It's not quite done, but it's in a good place. In addition to having more drill bits and screw drivers than I'm sure we need, we also found a lot of dead crickets. At least they were dead....

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Did I mention....

That in addition to Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis, that we spent last Thursday in Milwaukee? Perhaps I forgot because it was so traumatic.

We went to see how our house was doing. Our tenant had fallen short on her rent for the last two months and we'd been told that the house couldn't possible show well to future tenants given the state in which she was keeping it. Her mother died about 8 months ago and had really been the one holding things together. We are incredibly lucky that things didn't fall apart rent-wise in the middle of winter, when the prospects for new tenants would be less than nil.

So we pull up to our house. And out of the front door walks a teenager with his pants belted just below his crotch. I realize that Milwaukee is sometimes a little behind on the fashion trends, but a) this was a LOT of behind, and b) as far as I can tell, that trend has been over for even the U.P. to get the idea. And, he had no shirt on, which led us to surmise that he leads a lifestyle that includes a great deal of television, potato chips and twinkies. (Hmm, this could explain his not being able to pull his pants up farther.)

So our first reaction - ewww. We met our manager, Toni, and went into the house. And we met the tenant, who just seemed like the kind of person who would have a son who can't pull up his pants. The house was cleaned up more than the last time Toni had been there, but we were still pretty shocked. The whole place was just a mess. (Our second reaction - ewww.) It's going to take a good amount of work to make sure we can rent the place again. Pulling up carpeting, repainting pretty much everything, fixing windows and screens, filling the holes in the yard dug by their dog, tiling the bathroom floor and putting in a new vanity....

And we still need to find a new tenant (if you know anyone looking for a 4 bedroom house in Milwaukee....)

The redeeming part of the day - returning to our favorite restaurant from 5 years ago and realizing that it hasn't changed at all.

It's the heat AND the humidity

Well, we're fortunate, I suppose. The pilot told us it was only 99 degrees in Baltimore when we landed. That's a 2 degree improvement over the 101 we experienced in St. Louis, and our house is a cool 91 degrees, down from 93 when we arrived. That's practically balmy, but without the palm trees. Good thing there are pop-ices in the freezer.

Airports are fascinating places. To be more exact, the people in airports fascinate me. Some are dressed as if they're dressing up to travel. Others are clearly going somewhere for business. Others for vacation. And some are just dressed inappropriately no matter where they're going. You know who I'm talking about - the 70 year old women who are dressing like their granddaughters. And the 40 year old men who still think they're in highschool. Or the really tiny women wearing yards and yards of material or the really big women wearing far too little.

My suggestion, there should be mirrors, oracles, and changing rooms at the counter where you check your luggage. The mirror would give you an opportunity to reassess before the oracle spills the beans on what you really look like today. And you'd still have a chance before you send your luggage through to become at least a little more presentable. I would recommend the same set up for the TSA line for those not checking luggage. Expensive, yes. Priceless, definitely.