Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Elusive White Squirrel

I took pictures this morning of the white squirrel. It's a good thing it wasn't snowing though, because that thing is really white! At least we now know where he lives. And since this was the third sighting, I don't think we're in a Loch Ness situation where it won't be seen again for decades (plus, squirrels don't live that long, I don't think).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Walgreen's and Denny's

The streets were empty yesterday morning, which was a good thing, because I went driving with my father. First around a relatively empty parking lot, and then he drove us home. And we remembered to bring his driver's license, which it turns out we didn't really need since he didn't drive poorly enough to get pulled over.

But before that, I knew the streets were empty because I'd made a Walgreen's run. The reason that no one was on the road - they were all at Walgreen's. Seriously, you'd think that they were giving stuff away. They were the only place open that I saw, so I guess if you were just trying to get out of the house and wander somewhere at 8:45am, that was the only place to do it, but still...

And later in the afternoon, all those same people were at Denny's. Go figure.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Over the River and Through the Woods...

This song conjures up a long journey to family, them waiting at the door for your arrival, maybe even with a cup of hot chocolate for you at the ready.

We left our house at 3:30am EST on Wednesday morning to try and beat the Thanksgiving driving traffic on our trek to St. Louis. Considering that treks are generally arduous, maybe this wasn't a trek. We had snackage, bottles of water, books on CD, a borrowed CD player (key for the books on CD), sunglasses (to be used once it got light out), a blanket and pillow, and a generally positive attitude. Plus, the weather was good.

We made a few stops and got to my parents house at 5:30pm CST after 15 hours. We decided to surprise them by being a few hourse earlier than they had likely expected us. Likely, because Ronnie and I realized that neither of us had actually spoken with them about what time we might arrive. My parents know us well though, and so if they were thinking, they should have expected us this early.

Here's the thing. We drive up to the house and there's no one waiting for us at the door with hot chocolate. From what we can see, there's only one small light on somewhere in the back, and after much knocking and doorbell ringing, we figure out that no one is home.


Now we thought it was strange that we hadn't heard from them all day about when we thought we might arrive (so they could have the hot chocolate ready, of course), but we figured they were busy.

So we move their porch chairs onto the driveway where there's a bright motion-sensitive light, take out the blanket, some water and snacks, and the rest of the newspaper, and Ronnie sets up camp. I went up to Trader Joe's figuring they must have run out for some last minute things.

They aren't at Trader Joe's, and on the way back I trolled the parking lot at the big grocery store and figured out that they weren't there, either.

On my way back, I got a call from Ronnie that the driveway light had gone out. My recommendation to him - wave your arms around a lot until it goes back on.

About 15 minutes later, I knocked on the door of a neighbor two doors down who I haven't seen in 20 years at one of the few houses that still has people in it that I know. Turns out, he doesn't have a key to my parent's house.

About 30 minutes after that, I get in the car to try to find a key at another friend of my mother's who lives about 6 blocks away. As I'm driving down the street, Ronnie comfortably sitting on the patio chair with the blanket, water and snacks, I see a car pull into their driveway.

10 seconds later Ronnie calls, but I'm already headed around the block, having correctly assumed that my parents were now home.

My parents thought we were arriving today, not yesterday. Needless to say there was no hot chocolate.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

White Squirrel

You've heard of White Russians, and you've heard of white Christmases, but this morning, I saw a white squirrel. I suppose it could have been albino, but I wasn't close enough to see if it had light blue eyes or not. And I don't think it was a ghost (think Casper the friendly squirrel), because it wasn't quite translucent enough.

I would suggest that tomorrow on our 14+ hour car ride that we play the famous car game: what white animal do you see now? but I'm afraid that would jinx us and we'd wind up seeing all sorts of animals covered in snow.

According to mapquest, it's only 842.10 miles to St. Louis, and 842.19 back to Silver Spring. I'm not sure why it's just a tad longer coming back, but I'm pretty sure that's just the psychological distance because it always feels longer on the way back.

For our in-ride listeing pleasure, we've got Great Speeches from History, Nickel and Dimed, Lost and Found Sound, Farenheit 451 and a lot of other books on tape and CD. Unfortunately this time around we did not check out the collected writings of Sigmund Freud.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Skid Row

You've probably seen on the national news lately that the city of Los Angeles is suing local hospitals for dumping indigent and homeless patients on Skid Row.
Last Sunday, after a full day of volunteering with 1000 students and staff, five of us loaded up a modified school bus (90% of the seats had been removed) full - really full - of food and water left over from the day and brought it to Skid Row in downtown LA. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of people living on the streets there - estimates range from 7,000 - 11,000. They're in boxes, and tents, and just under blankets and newspapers. Most are junkies, some are mentally ill, and a good percentage are both.

It was cold the night we were there and while I think that they appreciated the food, they kept asking for blankets. The streets there are more littered than any I've ever seen, save after a big parade or street fair. But we realized pretty quickly that it was because people like us bring food down in containers (in our case styrofoam and brown paper lunch bags) that get left in the street when the food has been eaten. We saw very, very few garbage cans available for trash, even if someone had wanted to use one.

Hit by a bus - or perhaps a small bakery truck

I woke up this morning, and yesterday too, feeling like I'd been hit by a bus. It's possible that it was more of a delivery truck (and I choose to believe that if it's a delivery truck that it would be delivering donuts rather than office supplies).

It's been way, way too much traveling. Last week was New York, back to DC for about 10 hours, and then off to Los Angeles. Once there, I went to Huntington Beach, back to LA, and then up to Simi Valley to the Brandeis Bardin Institute before heading back to DC on a red-eye.

In California, it was shocking how much of my driving time was actually spent in traffic. And I didn't see one movie star. Not one! Not on the highway, not in the Starbucks, not in the hotel and not on my flights. Evidently they don't fly Southwest or America West, or I'm sure someone recognizable would have been on my flights. Evidently the night I checked out of the hotel to go to BBI, the American Idol "Hollywood Week" began and there were all sorts of folks around.

My flights back were actually interesting. One of my friends (who generally requests anonymity) makes fun of me for talking to people on my flights, but on one flight I sat next to the CFO of ProActiv, and on the next one, I sat next to an ex-marine who now dismantles bombs for a living. In between we had a 2 hour layover in Vegas. There is a decided lack of neon in the airport and we didn't see one Elvis impersonator. Not one!

But I did see a bunch of cousins while I was out there, which was nice. The kids were fun and we went to the beach, which was a first for me on the Pacific side (and I think I've only been to any beach on the Atlantic once, so now they're even).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My train of thought...

It was pouring this morning as I walked from the parking garage to the metro. I was wearing leather shoes and my feet were getting wet. That bothers me. Leather should be waterproof. The animals don't seem to get particularly bloated when it rains, so therefore the rain must not be seeping into them like it's seeping onto my feet. And then I figured out why.

Cows don't have seams.

Yes, this really was how I thought my way through this question....

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Paneer and Pier 1

So after a yummy lunch of Indian food, a friend and I mosied across the parking lot to Pier 1. It's a fascinating store. First, they're totally ready for Christmas already. There are ornaments of every shape and size, and if you don't have a tree to put ornaments on, there are lots of different kinds of bowls and baskets. I picked up one bowl that seemed to be made of banana leaves, or something equally organic. It was actually very cool looking and the tag, while not letting us know what the material was, let us know that it was a "Havana Bowl". So I figured the banana leaf possibility might not be so far off, assuming they grow bananas in Cuba. Upon turning over the tag, we were compelled to ask ourselves another question. Do they grow bananas in Vietnam, where the bowl was actually made?

And then we saw the pyrite wreath. It was made of metal wires, and covered with little clear crystals and pieces of metal that someone probably thought looked like pyrite, but it really didn't. I would have to call that a post-denominational wreath...

Oh, and while walking across the short parking lot, we noticed a car whose license plate was sponsored by the National Association of Black Scuba Diver's. (see, I even looked up their website to make sure I got the name correct!) I don't scuba dive, but I watch tv, and it seems to me that whenever you see people scuba-diving, they've got a wetsuit, tank and mask on. Who can tell if you're black or white?! That said, I did look at the website now, and I'm still not 100% sure I get it, but they look like nice people...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Is this weird?

Ronnie and I were on the phone with my parents tonight, and Ronnie mentioned that he'd hurt his toe. Is it weird that my mom asked "did you hurt it kicking your wife?" ?

I mean, I think it's weird that Ronnie made an appointment to see a podiatrist in Chicago and not somewhere a little more convenient to where we live, but in case there's any question (from someone other than my mother), it didn't happen from any violent interaction between me and Ronnie....