Thursday, November 30, 2006

Our small furry child

Our cat is ready to kill me, because I haven't written one word about him in here.

Sheeba is very vocal and often talks to us. For some reason, he has a Russian accent. (I guess he's a Black Russian.) He frequently tells us he hates us and is planning on slitting our throats while we sleep. (He's especially angry when his nails are trimmed and he knows he can't pierce our carotids.) At other times, he's all lovable and adoring, purring and licking my face, or flopping on his side and getting a belly rub. He is a cat of many moods. Perhaps he's angry to a certain extent because he is a male cat with a traditionally female name (and yes, his name is spelled with two e's). That was an honest mistake. Ken asked for a female cat, and the kids' mom gave him what she thought was a Sheeba got a little older, I said, "Honey...I think Sheeba has balls." It's hard to tell with kittens, but before too long, it was apparent that Sheeba was actually a Heeba.

He's a very entertaining cat, and I love him to pieces. He likes to come in and sleep by us, and he curls up right against us. There are many times that I have to adjust my legs around Sheeba, rather than disturb his sleep. I think most cat owners know exactly what I'm talking about!

[Sheeba is telling me, "Hurry up, Mom, put up my picture so everyone can see how handsome I am. Jeez."] He's so demanding. (And yeah, I know I'm sappy about our cat. Not gonna change any time soon, either.) Here's the critter in all his glory.

He says, "Yes. I stick my tongue out at you, stupid human."



Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Argh, snow!

I know it's almost December, but we've been enjoying some unseasonably warm weather here in northern Indiana. The past few days it's been up in the sixties, and when you leave work, you don't even need to wear a coat!

Well, happy time is over. We're under a winter storm watch for Thursday night and all day Friday. (I'm off on Friday--yay!--but Ken has to work, so I suggested he take the truck rather than the Mustang.) They're saying we could get up to 8 inches and maybe more. Couldn't we just ease into winter, rather than getting bitchslapped by it? Guess not.

I do enjoy the change of seasons here. The first big snow is always a pretty sight, especially if you're snug and warm at home. And the cold and gloomy winter is what makes the spring and summer so special. Usually it takes me until January or so to start wishing for summer. The fact that I'm already thinking about sitting in the sun on the deck the first nice day of spring, while we haven't even had a significant snowfall yet, is not a good sign. Could be a long winter.

But it'll go fast. They usually do. I should start getting seed catalogs soon, and it's always fun to start planning the garden and start some seeds indoors!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Women want him, men want to be him

If I recall, that line was used about James Bond once. I don't know if was from a movie or from a book, but looks like it's still holding true! (Although I believe it was also used in the first Austin Powers movie, as well.)

I asked my friend Jillian at work if her and her husband Neal saw the new Bond movie this weekend (they were planning on it). I said we saw it and loved it, and before I could say anything more, she said, "So is he hot, or what?!" This led to a good hours' worth of discussion on the merits of Daniel Craig as Bond (I don't think we came up with any demerits.) and some good laughs. Jillian said, "It's saying something when they don't show the girl coming out of the water in a skimpy bathing suit, they show him. And not once, but twice!" She said when the first woman in the movie had on the skimpy red dress, she commented jokingly to her husband, "That's just shameless!" When they started showing all the shots of James with his shirt off, Neal said, every time, "That's just shameless!" We were just dying from laughter! One woman I work with wants to go see it with her daughter, but told her, "We'll go without your Dad, okay?" Ha!

Yeah, they played up his "buffness," and who am I to argue with good cinematography?

Just from talking to some of my friends at work, I'd say this is going to be one Bond who is especially popular with the ladies. Like any Bond isn't, but I'm saying especially. I've always liked the Bond movies, from the time I was a little girl. They're just plain fun, and I've seen them all. I love a good action movie, and Bond's looks played a part, but not a huge one, in my love of Bond films. I think this may have changed with the new Bond. For years, men have enjoyed Bond movies not just for the action, but for the bevy of Bond girls. I think this new Bond will usher in a new group of women who enjoy the eye candy that is Daniel Craig's James. However, like I told one of my friends at work, "Regardless of all that, it's just a really fun flick." And it is! In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing it again. <grin>


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cool. Very cool.

Okay. Ken and I saw the new Bond movie, "Casino Royale," today, and I completely loved it!

Like me, you've probably read the reviews about how this is a leaner, meaner Bond, and about his beginning as a "double 0" agent. It's true, it's a much darker movie, and believe it or not, there is virtually NO gadgetry involved in this one. As much as I love Q, I welcomed the knockdown, blood-soaked fight sequences. This Bond can truly kick ass. And the chase sequences rely more on foot chases than car chases. I lost count of how many times James took after a car on foot. A big black car peels out--BAM! James is off!

Daniel Craig? Excellent choice. For everyone who said he's too blond, not suave enough, not whatever enough, to be Bond, I think he has made them eat plenty of crow. He's not conventionally handsome, but he's got a menace about him that's just a perfect fit for a secret agent, and yeah, he's fairly ripped. I guess that's the thing: he makes you believe that he really could tear your head off with his bare hands. And isn't that a good thing for secret agents? Of course it is! Ken was telling me that he heard some people talking about how they didn't like this Bond, he wasn't suave enough, blah blah blah...that's exactly why I loved this movie and this new path for the Bond movies. Remember that Bond is a killer. He has to be. And he does it very well. In fact, you might say nobody does it better. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

I've read that the next Bond movie (working title "Bond 22"--it will be the 22nd Bond movie) is supposed to come out in 2008, and will again star Daniel Craig. Here's hoping they continue in this vein, because I found it one of the best Bond movies I've seen in some time. And no worries. While the corny little jokes and cheeky remarks aren't as plentiful as in other Bond movies, they're still there. Maybe even a little more effective since they aren't overused.

Two items to caution you on, and neither of these are spoilers. 1) There's a scene that really made me cringe, although I don't have the affected body part(s). 2) I was wondering what happened to the Bond theme (one of the best movie themes ever created, in my humble opinion). Be patient. It's still there....

A little over an hour to go before Notre Dame and Southern Cal play. Got my Samardzija jersey on, ready to go. (This means he'll have a great game!) I'm hoping the Fightin' Irish will remember what Southern Cal did to them last year. It's payback time. Go Irish!

Friday, November 24, 2006

O Happy Weekend

Yahoo, it's the weekend! Should be a good one, too. A fun time to just enjoy some downtime together.

We're going to go see the new Bond movie tomorrow afternoon (I'm likin' what I'm hearin'...stay tuned for a review), then it's the Notre Dame-Southern Cal game in the evening. On Sunday, we've got the Bears in the afternoon, and the Colts in the evening. What a busy schedule we have! Honestly, we won't sit our butts on the couch the entire weekend. We have other little household chores and things to do. But I think the Butts-on-the-Couch part will be lots of fun!

Sometimes for games, we like to do snack foods instead of an actual meal. Our home version of tailgating, I guess. I like to get different kinds of cheeses (It's the Cheese Shop!), and my personal favorites are Gouda (especially smoked Gouda), Edam, and we tried some Swiss Emmenthaler recently. Mmm, good stuff! We usually have some crackers or little breadsticks, some mild and medium peppers, some summer sausage, some apples...gee, am I hungry, or what? This weekend, I'm going to try one of our favorite appetizers from Parisi's, an Italian restaurant right across from the Notre Dame campus. You can see the Golden Dome from the windows of the restaurant. They do a baked brie with caramel sauce and almonds, served with apple slices. Wish me luck, but I really think it will turn out very yummy.

Did you see the video of the wild turkeys standing on the platform at the train station in New Jersey on Thanksgiving day? I swear, they looked like they were just waiting there for the train. Who can blame them? If I were a turkey, I'd want to get out of town, too. We have a few turkeys here at Nutwood, but they don't seem to mind us too much. One year, I counted between 50-55 in the backyard, but that's the most I've ever seen. I saw several males displaying in the backyard one day, and it was amazing.

They really are pretty, and it's surprising how big they are. I've also seen a couple of males fighting, and I wouldn't want to mess with that. They're big, their beaks look to be very sharp, and I think they have nasty spurs on their claws that can really do some damage. Don't mess with a tom turkey lookin' for love. Just a little advice.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone has a good one! I will be working hard to bring you correct and timely lab results, but I hope to get out of there at a decent time and go chow down at the family feast.

It's cold here at the moment, but tomorrow it's supposed to get up into the mid-sixties! Wow, amazing for this time of year. I heard that Orlando had snow yesterday. That is very uncommon. I have lots of cousins and relatives in that area. I'm sure they were not happy to see snow! Although I do remember my cousin Steve telling me that when living in northern Florida, one time after getting two inches of snow, they went out and played in it. Isn't that cute? I can't say I enjoy playing in the snow at all anymore, but it is pretty neat to take a walk in the woods after a nice snowfall. It's SO quiet, and everything looks so fresh and clean and white. Hey, I'm sure I have a picture of a snowfall from last year or a couple of years ago. Here we go:

Isn't that pretty? It's part of our backyard, with a path leading out to the marsh. Not that I'm wishing for snow!

I'm also working the Friday after Thanksgiving, which means I won't get to go shopping. <pause>

Bwah-hah-hah-hah! Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate going to the mall or battling any kind of crowd at something like Black Friday. Sure, it sounds like there are some incredible deals, but you know what? I'd gladly pay quite a few dollars extra for something if it meant I didn't have to deal with any kind of crowd. Nothing gets me out of the Christmas spirit more than going to the mall to shop. What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? Online shopping. Thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the Internet! <snort>


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shame on me!

Ken just read my most recent entry, and he said, "Hey, you didn't mention Blacky!"

He's right, and fair enough. Slick is a 2005 Mustang. Blacky is Ken's Mustang, a 2006 GT convertible. Wish I had a picture, but I don't. Mustangs are always fun, but it is a special feeling to cruise around in a convertible on a warm, sunny day.

What's for dinner tonight? Mmmm...enchiladas. They are baking right now.

Looks like Michael Richards (i.e., "Kramer") pulled a Mel. He's apologized, but you know what? It's one thing for black comedians to use the "N" word--although even then, I still don't find it funny--but for a white comedian to use it repeatedly, even against a heckler? Nope. No way, not even one iota funny, and just not acceptable. What's the deal with these people lately? Like Barbra Streisand and her anti-Bush harangue and dropping the F-bomb on an audience member. Are they really that bigoted and intolerant of other opinions? Being famous does not excuse you from bad behavior, and it does not mean that you dictate what we believe or choose to do. Since when did being a celebrity confer deity status, or even any kind of authority on a subject? Not on my planet.

This doesn't mean that I think bad behavior on the part of fans is acceptable, either. It is rude to harass anyone. If you don't like it, why did you go see them, or why didn't you walk out? It's all about choices--every electronic device has an off button, and you have a right to walk out of anything that you don't care for.

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Law Enforcement Magnet

I'm not sure what the deal is lately, but I've been attracting some unwanted attention from law enforcement officials.

The other morning I was on my way to work, and I got pulled over because I failed to come to a complete stop at a four-way stop. Granted, I was in the wrong, and the policeman was well within his rights to pull me over. But keep in mind: this was at 6:15 in the morning, on a country road. There are other houses around us, so it's not like we're completely alone out here, but it really is quite rural. The police officer just happened to be there and see me roll through the intersection. Darn it! It was okay, though, he just gave me a warning since I have no points on my record.

Today, I was coming back from the store, and a sheriff followed me for a couple of miles, again, on a country road. I had to set my cruise control so I didn't exceed 40 mph, but he hung with me for a while. I guess he was waiting to see if I'd go any faster, but I looked in my rearview mirror and said, "Yeah, I see you!"

Someone said it probably doesn't help that I have a flashy car. I suppose it is kind of flashy, but I love it because it's my fourth Mustang. I call him Slick:

He's a GT (a V8 engine) and he'll go fast when I need him to. Couldn't do that today, though, with the sheriff on my tail! Actually, I'm not one to speed excessively...not anymore.

So I suppose it could be the car that's garnering a little more attention than I want. Or it could be racial profiling. Just another example of The Man keeping us short, white, 40-something girls down.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Yes, even more football

I guess it had to happen, but the Colts lost today. To the Cowboys, of all teams, or as Ken's Mom likes to call them, the "Callous Dowboys." I'm not too upset about it. It's a loss, and what matters is what happens in the playoffs a few weeks down the road. Just a bunch of mistakes and turnovers on the part of both teams, and that is what I hate to see: sloppy football. Yuck.

On the upside, a good win for the Irish. The neat thing was that it was the seniors' last home game, and it was fun to watch them enjoy their last time at Notre Dame stadium. What really got to both me and Ken was when the Irish team went over to the Army section and listened while they sang their Alma Mater. That's not a new thing, it started last year when the Irish played Navy, and I'm happy to say we were there, and not just there, but our seats were field level! We were right there when the team came over and stood at attention while the Navy folks sang their Alma Mater. I will never forget it, because the entire stadium, over 80,000, was silent as we paid our respect to the Naval Academy and to all our troops. It still brings a tear to my eye when I think about it.

The neat thing this past Saturday was that after the ND team stood by for the Army Alma Mater, the Army team followed the ND team over to the ND student section and stood at attention while the ND students and players sang their Alma Mater. I sat here and cried like a baby, because I thought that was so cool, and such a sign of respect on both teams' parts. It's always a great thing to play the military academies, because there is such great respect for them and for what they will do after they graduate. What a neat thing to see the Army team giving Notre Dame a nod for tradition and sportsmanship.

Jeez, how am I going to cope when the season is done?! I go through this every year, but I still go through withdrawal.

Oh, and a quick comment on the Ohio State-Michigan game. Lots of hype leading up to it, but I have to say, the game sure lived up to the hype. Don't know how the BCS will play out, but I think it was obvious that OSU and Michigan are the two best teams in the country. Doubtful that they'll play in a bowl for the championship, which is really a shame. The whole BCS thing is bizarre. I'm all for a tournament like in NCAA bastketball. Doesn't that make more sense? I think so. Sure, there's the whole strength-of-schedule thing, but when the rubber hits the road, wouldn't it be fun to have "Cinderella" teams have a shot at a national championship like they do in basketball?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The best invention ever

Well, I probably shouldn't say it's the BEST invention ever, because I suppose the wheel and electricity are right up there. But I sure do love my fabulous Bug Vac!

I don't have this exact model, but a couple of months ago, Ken bought one for us. It is an actual vacuum, and there is a disposable cartridge where the bugs are sucked into. Once they check in, they don't check out, heh heh heh. The Bug Vac does have extenders for it, and ours is at about 3 feet. This is very important for someone as vertically challenged as I am. I don't have to get a footstool, and I can still reach bugs on the ceiling! And while I have used it for various bugs (we live in the country, and we get some interesting and nasty critters in the house sometimes), the best thing is that I can use it for spiders.

I'll admit to being an arachnophobe, although I've gotten a little better since we moved to the country. Sometimes you just have to deal with them, no matter how much you dislike them. At least this keeps me at arms' length. I can smush them when I need to, but I cannot stand to have them on me, and thanks to the Bug Vac, I can eliminate them without risk of them jumping on me! Thank you, Bug Vac!

But to give spiders their due, I don't completely hate them. They are very beneficial, and eat lots of other, nastier bugs, and they are an important part of our little biosphere here at Nutwood. Again, I just don't want them on me.

I heard a story a while back that said that people swallow an average of 8 or so spiders in their lifetimes. (Have you ever been sitting somewhere and seen a spider descending from the ceiling? Now think of yourself snoozing contentedly, lying on your back, your mouth hanging open. <shudder>) Isn't that one of the most disgusting things you've ever heard? Yuck!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's all good

Oh, so many things!

First, Notre Dame didn't just move up a couple of notches, they moved up to #5. Things could get interesting in the next couple of weeks. I still don't think they'll have a shot at the national championship, but they're right up there. Game of the Week coming up? Ohio State vs. Michigan, without a doubt. Is there any way BOTH of them can lose? Please? <sigh> I guess not.

Finished Lisey's Story. Stayed up until midnight to finish it, but once I got past the halfway point, I knew I'd be in for the long haul. I really liked it, and it is indeed a "sister thing." What happened to Stephen King retiring? I don't know, but I'm glad he didn't.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Good football weekend

Excellent! Notre Dame won, and with all the other teams in the Top 10 that lost, ND should move up in the rankings a notch or two. Colts won also, in a squeaker over the Bills. Still, a win. 9-0!

Well, Stephen King has sucked me in again with Lisey's Story. It took me a few dozen pages to really get into it, but I'm there now. I have mixed feelings about this, because I don't want to put it down, and that's a good thing. The bad thing is...I don't want to put it down! I feel like I can barely get anything done, because I just want to keep reading and reading and reading...I was sitting at the dining room table today, and my butt actually got numb.

Jeez, it's a good read. It's not so much monster-scary as it is creepy-scary, or MENTAL-scary. Lisey is cool. I like her very much.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday night and feeling all right

Is there any better feeling than leaving work on a Friday afternoon and knowing you have the weekend off? Well, yeah, but that's definitely in the Top Ten!

I got an email from Cousin Shane last week, and this part cracked me up:

"on a funny note, i worked my day off on saturday, 8-5.  as i was walking across the parking lot there, i thought "why do my feet feel uneven?"  i looked down, and i had two completely different shoes on!  i was wearing a white new balance tennis shoe on my left foot and a black doc marten loafer type of shoe on my right foot!  how funny is that?  we had some good laughs over that one at work that day!"

I love that! I've done some similar things, but I don't think I've ever worn a black shoe and a white shoe. I think someone was a bit distracted that day...! (Love you, Shane!)

I've talked about the wildlife here at our place. We call it Nutwood Junction, by the way, because in the 1800's and early 1900's, it was a small unincorporated town called Nutwood, and the railroad ran through it. In fact, we own half of the railroad easement. The depot was across the road from our house. Anyhoo, besides the deer, we also have plenty of other critters, like raccoons. They are so destructive, but they're so darn cute, it's hard to get too mad at them. Check out this guy going after a bird feeder:

One day, I was sitting in the dining room looking out onto the deck. A baby raccoon came strolling up and started going after one of the bird feeders. When I opened the door, it startled him so much, he ran over to shimmy down one of the deck poles. Unfortunately for him, he ran to the side instead of the corner, and when he went over the side, there was no pole there! He was hanging by his little front paws, and when I went out there, he looked up at me with that cute little baby raccoon face, his eyes all big and panicky. I just wanted to die! I seriously thought about reaching down to try to get him back on the deck, but they are wild animals, and I knew I couldn't do that. So as we're looking at each other, he loseshis grip, and FALLS! Our deck is a good 10-12 feet high, by the way. I heard a THUMP and I know I let out a "Gasp!" and I ran downstairs to the basement to look out the sliding glass door to see if he was okay. No sign of him, so he must have hit the ground running.

We get plenty of raccoons and squirrels and sometimes possums up on the deck, looking in the window and taunting the cat. They look so dang cute you just want to pick 'em up and squeeze 'em till they squeak, but they are wild, and would just as soon rip out your eyeball with one of their cute little claws.

Future topic: wild turkeys and their razor-sharp beaks! Ha!

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Ahhh, what a relief!

MAN, am I ever glad the elections are over. I'm not thrilled with the outcome, but hey, those are the breaks. I was so sick of seeing the same ads over and over that I could hardly stand it anymore. One ray of light in the darkness was the ads aired by one of Indiana's senators, Richard Lugar. Granted, the guy didn't have any real opposition, and hasn't for years, but his ads were about only the positive things he's done, such as working with world leaders to reduce nuclear weapons. His opponent wasn't even mentioned, let alone trashed. Wow, what a concept! But then Sen. Lugar has always been a class act.

Call me a silly girl, but as I was waiting in line to cast my vote, I was on the verge of getting choked up. What a great thing that we have the opportunity to do that, and it hasn't been that long ago that women didn't have the right to vote. Think of all the people around the world that do not live in a place where they have the freedom to choose their leaders. I know there are some problems with our political system, and I believe there are steps that can be taken to change some things, but it's still a remarkable privilege. Besides, if you don't vote, you don't get to bitch about what they're doing wrong. It's a law.

Looking forward to some games this weekend. Notre Dame vs. Air Force (it's always a cool thing to play the military academies), and the Colts are looking to go 9-0.

Six deer in the back yard the other night. These were obviously eating well. They looked fat 'n sassy, so there are no starving deer at our place. I haven't even put out any food for them yet.

Monday, November 6, 2006


Hey, good win! Colts go 8-0, remaining the only unbeaten team in the league. Best of all, they beat the Patriots at home, setting themselves up for homefield advantage for the playoffs. They don't seem to do well in outdoor stadiums in January! Marvin Harrison had an amazing one-handed grab in the endzone. You don't see him get emotional very often, but he sure did on that one.

I've mentioned how much I like Jeff Samardzija of Notre Dame. I found this on YouTube, and it's a nice little highlight reel with a cool song by Linkin Park. It gives you an idea of how much fun he is to watch.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

It's that time of year

Not the upcoming holidays, not feasting on turkey, not Christmas, I'm talking about rutting season.

We live in a rural area, and I've mentioned that we have 11 acres. We also have a whole lot of deer (fun to watch, but not fun to run into). Most of the time we see does and fawns (we often see twins...they are so cute!), but tonight I watched an eight-point buck chase a doe through the marsh behind our house. I didn't see him catch her. Not that I really want to! Later, I looked outside, and there was a TEN-point buck standing on the path into the marsh. It's pretty unusual to see bucks. They seem to be a little more shy than the does. The does and fawns are so slender and look so delicate, but the bucks just look massive. They've got those broad chests, and their antlers look wicked sharp. I wouldn't want to tangle with one, that's for sure. I remember a story a while back about a buck getting into a guy's house, and the buck just tore him up. BAD Bambi! I love seeing our deer, but I keep my distance, and so do they. It's the country, not a petting zoo.

Bad day for the Bears. They lost to the Dolphins. Ken is at work, but I'm sure he has heard the news by now. Tonight, the Colts are playing the Patriots, so this should be a test for them. I don't think I've talked about how much I like Peyton Manning. Not only is he an impressive player, he is apparently a genuinely good guy, and quite funny. I've liked him from the beginning, and he's proven to be everything he was hyped to be. (One of my cousins and his wife are huge Tennessee fans, and they followed Peyton in his college days.) What I find amazing is how hard he works at his job, and how competitive he is. It's almost kind of funny, but he's definitely not a guy who is happy with losing. That's okay by me! I've already asked for a vacation day the Monday after the Superbowl. I do that every year, but I'm hoping this is the year for the Colts, and that I'll have a reason to celebrate bigtime!

And he does some pretty funny commercials, too. "Can you sign the bread for my little brother? He loves you." Ha!

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Fightin' Irish

Yay! Irish beat North Carolina. Impressive offense, and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out, because the ND quarterback, Brady Quinn, is definitely in the running for the Heisman. Unfortunately, so is the Ohio State quarterback. Brady's lookin' good the past few games, though, and Ohio State didn't look all that great today against Illinois (Ken's alma mater). For that matter, my alma mater, Ball State, gave Michigan a run for their money. What a surprise, but fun to see!

"My" guy, Samardzija, got his 23rd touchdown reception, and is now the record-holder at Notre Dame for TD receptions by a wide receiver. Shweeet!

I'm getting in a traveling mood, so it's a good thing we have a vacation coming up. We'll spend a few days in beautiful Oregon visiting Ken's Mom and stepdad, then drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, and spend a couple of days there. We've driven the PCH before, north from San Diego to San Francisco, and it's an unbelievably gorgeous road trip. I had always heard about Big Sur, but was not prepared for how breathtaking it was. Neither of us has done the PCH north of San Francisco, so we're both looking forward to that. Too bad we won't get to spend a little more time in SF, but even a couple of days will be great. One of my favorite cities I've been to! I even tried sushi for the first time there, and for a microbiologist, that's sayin' something. (It was delicious, by the way, and as far as I know, I did not start growing a tapeworm.)

A few years ago, we were out there for a little longer, and we got to visit Alcatraz. Ken lived out there for about 10 years, and can you believe he never visited Alcatraz?! I guess it's one of those tourist things that the locals often never see (like New Yorkers not visiting the Statue of Liberty, for example). The Alcatraz tour was one of the coolest and creepiest ever. It is such a bleak place, but it looks out on one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Standing in the prison and looking out the windows gave me such an eerie feeling. The audio tour said that prisoners would hear boats passing the island, often with parties going on. Can you imagine laying there in your crummy little cell, listening to the revelry passing right outside your window? What a horrible thing. (Not a lot of sympathy though, because some of the worst criminals were sent to Alcatraz.) We got this really spooky picture of the Alcatraz morgue:

Isn't that just creepy? God knows what kind of nasty things happened at The Rock.

It's a very peaceful place today, with lots of birds and flora. The day we were there was pretty neat, because there was an airshow going on in SF the next day, so the Blue Angels were practicing over the Bay. They were buzzing the island, right overhead, flipping over and flying upside-down, and basically just showing off for all us tourists looking up with our mouths hanging open. WAY cool! Hard to believe that just a few decades before, it was probably the worst and most notorious prison in the country. Now there are butterflies everywhere.

Friday, November 3, 2006

New book

My sister and her husband sent me the new Stephen King book for my birthday. Yay! It's called Lisey's Story, and while it took me a few pages to get into it, I think it's pretty much grabbed me now. I'm not giving anything away, because I'm only a few pages into it, but it's about the widow of a famous author. SK dedicated it to his wife. Interesting, because he came awfully close to dying in that hit-and-run accident, and I'm sure he thought about how his wife would deal with his death.

Call him a hack if you will (plenty have), but he writes a mean yarn. I loved the Gunslinger books, and hated to see them come to an end. Oh, and I laughed when a few years ago he said he was retiring. I could be wrong, but I get the impression that writing is as necessary as breathing to the guy.

Oh, and I finished the latest Repairman Jack book, Harbingers. Repairman Jack totally rocks. (Hint: he doesn't repair appliances. He fixes other things.) I recommend them highly. F. Paul Wilson is the author.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Vegas, Baby!

Ken and I went to Vegas last fall, and I had no idea I would love it so much. I had been to Reno and Tahoe, and there are places around here to gamble, but there's no place like Vegas! I love the neon, the sheer glitz of it, the sounds of the chips and the slot's a good thing I don't live out there, because I could definitely get into trouble.

We stayed off the Strip, and after a little exploring, we realized that we loved old Vegas the best. Yeah, it's gotten all touristed-up with the Fremont Street Experience, but the old casinos are still there. Our favorite was the Golden Gate.

It's the home of the cheapo Vegas shrimp cocktail--scrumptious! And I found out pretty quickly that slot machines are boring. Blackjack is lots more fun, and the Golden Gate and other downtown casinos have $3 tables all night. We sat and played for hours a couple of nights, and while as some wise person once said, "The only way to make money at a casino is to own one," we didn't lose our shirts. (You gotta have a plan, anyway. Figure on how much you're willing to spend and stick to it.)

One of my favorite moments happened at the Golden Gate. As we were sitting at the Blackjack table, there was a brief lull in the sounds of the casino. Loud and clear, we heard a guy say to a girl, "So...are you married?" It was just SO Vegas!

Although I'm dismayed at the rapid destruction of old casinos and construction of new ones--I love the whole concept of old Vegas, especially in the '50's and '60's, when it was at its zenith of Cool--the city has at least tried to preserve a few things. In the downtown Fremont Street area, they have saved several old neon signs. My favorite was this one:

It's the original lamp from Aladdin's! I think it was built in the fifties, and this very lamp was on it. Sadly, Aladdin's will be demolished (if it hasn't already been) to make way for the new Planet Hollywood Casino. I guess that's why the Strip isn't that much fun to me. Yeah, it's neat,with plenty of glitz, but I hate to see the old classics get torn down. I'm pleased that Vegas made an attempt to save the old downtown, and while it may not be the same as it once was, at least it's still there.