Friday, August 31, 2007

O happy weekend!

Whew, I have to say I'm ready for a fun weekend. These past two days at work have been crazy-busy (although today wasn't as bad as yesterday), so I'm ready for some fun and some football!

I also finally got all of the Dandy Warhol discs ordered. I had 4 more to get, and I got good prices from various sellers on Amazon. I'm fairly sure that I won't like any of them as much as "13 Tales from Urban Bohemia." Isn't that always the way it is? "Oh, I love this! I'll get them all! Oh...this isn't as good...." That's usually my experience, but I've read pretty good reviews of all their discs, so I'm sure I'll find some stuff I like in there. Also got some gifties for Ken (shhh...it's a secret), so I'm well on my way with Christmas shopping!

Hey, I got my pictures that I ordered from AOL Pictures. I'm so pleased! The ones that aren't as good are completely my fault--I forgot that in a couple of places, we used the disposable waterproof cameras (like in the, you know, water), and I had scanned those in, so it was my mistake to order them. However, I got three 8x10's of pictures I took with my digital camera, and I must say, I'm impressed. They look very crisp and clear, the color is excellent, and I will have no qualms about ordering this way in the future. Digital cameras are so great for people like me--I take so many crummy photos, and it's a lot of fun to just experiment and try to get decent results. Plus, you can look at them right away and see what's good and what's crap. It's immediate gratification!

GO IRISH!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Notre Dame quarterback scoop

I have it on good authority (hey...I've got my sources!) that Demetrius Jones will be ND's starting quarterback this Saturday. In talking to my Dad yesterday, he was pretty certain that would be the case, but it was good to hear it confirmed. For some reason, there's been a lot of secrecy about who the starter would be, but I'm hearing that Jones will get the nod.

So after my almost idyllic day off yesterday, I went back to work today, or perhaps "entered the belly of the beast" would describe it better! Criminy. We were already short-staffed, so I'd been assigned to do a couple of additional hours of work along with my bench assignment. Then we had a person call in sick, so I got to do their bench, too! My coworkers were equally as busy. It was a little rough there for a while, but I have to say that we all worked very well as a team today. I was actually quite proud of us! We rock! We ARE microbiologists, working hard to keep you healthy! <grin>

When I was leaving work, I realized that I had not left the department the entire day. That's kind of sad...I didn't even go get a drink of water! No wonder I feel sore, because it was a couple of hours of sitting at the microscope followed by sitting at the bench, going through cultures, and doing computer entries. My back hurts. Perhaps this cool beverage in front of me will help matters.

Actually, I have to say I feel pretty good about the day. Yeah, I worked hard, but I only had to stay over about 45 minutes, and there's something to be said for working hard and knowing that you definitely earned your pay. I guess it's the satisfaction of a job well done. (Not that I'd want to work that way every day--that would be exhausting!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A most excellent day

Ahhh, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself today!

I ran errands in the morning, and on the way home, I had the windows down, it was a hot and sunny day, I was driving a cool car, and I was singing along to "Superfly." I thought to myself, "Life is good." I was pondering things a little as I was driving, and I feel that no matter what life throws our way, Ken and I are a great team, and we'll be just fine. I'm very happy.

I got all DEET'ed up, and went out to the garden, where I was pleased to discover that I had plenty o' beans! Definitely enough for a mess for us tomorrow evening. Which will go perfectly with the BLT's I'm planning on fixing. I did okay this time with bug spray application, because not one single mosquito bite! Wahoooo! Oh, and I asked the rhetorical question the other day about whether mosquitoes have ANY redeeming qualities. I thought of one: they are food for bats and birds. We love our bats and birds here, and if the mosquitoes mean more food for them, then okay. I just wish they'd leave me alone.

It was SO hot and humid, and I had DEET all over me, and I can't remember the last time a shower felt so good! Then we got a nice rain, and it cooled things off a bit, and then the sun came out again. I talked to my folks, I got lots of stuff done, and the hummingbirds have been hanging around all day. Great day! Sometimes it's the little things. Oh, and I love this little guy--isn't he cute? They make such a pleasing sound on  summer nights (and they eat mosquitoes):

Later

I am absurdly pleased with myself. A while back, I found a blue jay feather in the yard, and I thought it was so pretty, so I saved it. I thought I could frame it, and it would look really nice, and a nice natural addition to our walls. I found a white picture frame on sale today, and I thought it would look neat if I distressed it a bit, so after a little work, here's what I came up with (the blue of the feather is much more vivid than in this picture). I like it.

 

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Step on it already!

Maybe I was just feeling cranky, but I thought I was going to lose my mind driving home from work today. People were doing 5-10 miles below the speed limit, and that's just not right. What the heck? I'm happy I get to drive a V8 Mustang, because there is great satisfaction in gunning it to get around people like that. Not only does it make a nice ROAR, it responds very quickly, and I'm on my merry way.

I'm happy to have a day off tomorrow. Work hasn't been stressful lately, although we had our weekly meeting today--meetings are never fun, no matter what your profession! I'm just ready for a day off. A nice hot day is ahead, and besides the usual stuff like laundry, I'll be able to putter. I love to putter. Ken and I also have this weekend off together, so we're looking forward to that. He's playing in a golf scramble Saturday morning, then it's Fightin' Irish football in the afternoon. Oh yeah, babe! Football football football football...I'm singing a little song to football. I love you, football!

I'm excited to get the pictures I ordered in the mail. I've had a digital camera for years, but until I got my new one, I've never printed or ordered photos. I went ahead and ordered a few through AOL Pictures, so it'll be interesting to see how they look. Ken and I were talking last night, and although we have a nice printer, it seems like it would be more expensive to buy photo paper and ink rather than just order them online. It wasn't very expensive at all, so I'm hoping for nice pictures.

A comedian on Bob and Tom was talking about how oil is 60-some dollars a barrel, which is, I think, 60-some gallons (I could be wrong about that). But ink cartridges are like 60-some bucks for 3 ounces of ink! What a valid point. What is it, liquid gold? (Texas tea?)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hummy and friends

I'm not sure why, but the hummingbirds are very active right now. Perhaps we have some younguns, and perhaps they're starting to gear up for their flight south, but they're really fighting at the feeder! It's fun to watch. There was also one just sitting on the deck railing--how often do you see this?

Here's another one (warning: I got several, and I'm putting them all up now!).

And another--look at this one's throat. I think this might be a young male. He hasn't developed his ruby throat yet. The females' throats are just white with no speckles.

Last hummy pic, this one in motion--they're just a blur!

I'll hate to see them leave for the winter. The past few days have been especially fun. I was standing on the deck, by one of the hooks, and a hummy flew up onto the hook, maybe a foot from me. I think we were both startled! They really are the cutest little things.

At the other end of the spectrum, check out Bad Sheeba. We stuck the strips from stamp booklets onto his ears, and he was none too happy. A couple of belly rubs later, though, and all is forgiven.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Little bitty vampires

So last night, there was a mosquito in our bedroom. I got two bites on my back, one on my pinky, and one on my wrist. By the time my alarm went off (I had to work this weekend), I had the sheet pulled up over my ears, hoping that it wouldn't bite me on the face. Ken didn't get a single bite. Go figure! A trip out to the garden after work netted a total of 5 bites. I truly hate these insects. Do they have ANY redeeming qualities?

These lyrics make me laugh (from Bowling For Soup's "Self-Centered"):

I'm gonna feel sorry for myself
I want to blame it on everyone else
I want to be self-centered
And make everybody feel sorry for me

I think we all know someone like that--the perpetual victim. "It's not me! It's you! And you! And you, and you, and you..." How many yous do you need before you figure out it might actually be YOU? Sheesh.

Finding those lyrics made me think about something Cousin Shane and I wrote about a while ago--how easy it is to find song lyrics now. I can remember listening to albums--yes, albums--over and over, trying to figure out lyrics. It was always a cool bonus when the liner notes came with lyrics! For some reason, we always wanted to know the lyrics. You know, I can remember actual magazines at the store that contained song lyrics! I don't recall ever spending my money on them, but we'd always look at them when we were at the store. It's so much easier now--just Google the title.

I haven't seen the movie for years, but "Jumping Jack Flash" would seem kind of silly now, wouldn't it? Whoopie Goldberg listening to the Stones' song over and over, trying to figure out Mick's mush-mouthed singing. Just Google it, Whoopie!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Let the big dog eat

I read today that it looks like Michael Vick will do 1-5 years. He admitted to assisting in the killing of some of the dogs. This whole thing just makes me sick, and I'm glad--yes, GLAD, I tell you!--that he's going to do time for it.

Since we're on the subject of football--can you tell I'm getting excited for the season?--the Colts play a preseason game tonight, and supposedly the starters will play through the third quarter. Sweeeet. I'm reading that the defense is faster and seems to be more confident. I'm also looking forward to seeing what Joseph Addai will do. I was pretty sad to lose Edgerrin James, but Addai made me feel better about it. Ha! Could be interesting!

Also, a while back I mentioned Jimmie Clausen, the kid who is supposed to be the Second Coming at Notre Dame. I wrote that he got off to a bad start here (with a very ostentatious press conference), and turns out he got into a little more trouble this summer. He was driving the car on a B-double-E-double-R-U-N, beer run, and of course, he isn't of legal age. Granted, he's a college kid, and we all did some pretty stupid things in college. However, it is illegal for someone under 21 to be driving a car in which you are transporting booze, and he's also not just any college kid: he's a Notre Dame quarterback, subject to intense scrutiny, and also intense criticism. Well, the kid finally gave a press conference! It's understandable that they were keeping him under wraps for a while, but it was time to end the silence. I think he handled himself pretty well, and tried to explain that he's really a pretty quiet guy, not all flashy and junk like he initially came across. It was good to see him, and see him handle some questions. Get ready, Jimmy, you'll be facing lots more. I honestly hope he does well. I feel kind of bad for him that he got off to a bad start, and there's been a lot of hype that he'll be pressured to live up to. I really hope he's good. People are practically foaming at the mouth around here for an ND national championship. We all know it's not going to happen this year, but we're all expecting Coach Weis and the team to eventually deliver.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Gaaaahh! Run for the hills!

I love summer, but one thing that I really don't love about the season is the dang mosquitoes. With all the recent rain, it's like a rainforest around here, and the mosquitoes are absolutely swarming. Last night, we were watching a Star Trek episode, and I got two bites on my leg. Today, I walked out to get the mail, and got two bites on my neck. Argh! Now I'm all itchy.

We've had some pretty spectacular storms here lately. A really bad one skirted us to the north last night, but we had some amazing winds. I was standing at the sliding glass door watching (I know--stupid to stand at a window, but I love watching storms), and our big oak and maple trees were just bending and thrashing. How is it they keep from breaking? Wow, it was neat to watch. I'm grateful that we didn't lose any trees or large limbs, that's for sure. As I was watching, a male hummingbird flew up to the feeder right outside the window. He was having a hard time maintaining his altitude with all the wind, and suddenly, a big gust came up and swept him to the sky! I could see him up there, hovering, with leaves blowing around him, and then he swooped back down to the feeder. The wind was blowing him away from it, and he finally had enough and zipped up into a tree to weather the storm. I was fascinated!

I'm not sure why I love storms so much. I hate tornados, they scare me silly, but I love watching thunderstorms. I guess it's because I'm in awe of the forces that you see in a storm. The wind, the lightning, the heavy rain, the hail...I find it humbling. It makes me feel that no matter what is happening in our own little lives, there is something much bigger and more powerful out there. It puts things into perspective, and makes me realize that nature is to be respected.

Later

I caught a little of "Oprah" while I was doing other things, and it's about this guy who coordinates weddings and other events. We're talking about towering cakes that "echo the motif" of the wedding, 20 pounds of roses dropping from overhead when the couple says "I do," ceremonies on top of a mountain on the isle of Capri, and blad de blah blah blah. What happened to a wedding being a couple in love taking vows of commitment? It's not just an excuse for a party, it's a significant milestone in a couple's life. Seeing that kind of junk irritates me (Oh, please Beth, tell us how you really feel!), because it sends a message that a wedding is all about the decorations and the reception. How many people do you know who spend thousands of dollars on a wedding, instead of using that money for a hefty downpayment on a house? Maybe I'm just way too practical. My first wedding wasn't huge, and Ken and I's wedding was quite small. Mostly immediate family, held at Tippecanoe Place, which was originally the home of one of the Studebaker brothers (a very neat place, and lots of history there). There's nothing wrong with having a party, but Jeez, remember the reason for it.

Now the wedding planner guy just said that he "doesn't have a cluttered drawer" in his place. Well, that's just special. Must be nice to live in your perfect little world. I'll admit to being anal about a lot of things, but I'm not THAT bad. Who doesn't have a junk drawer?!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dog days

Criminy, it's hot. After a fairly cool spell, we're right back to hot, humid weather. The actual temperature doesn't feel too bad, but they're saying the heat index (factored with temp and humidity) is about 97°. Urgh.

Speaking of dogs, looks like Michael Vick will be doing some jail time. (And deservedly so, in my opinion.) I understand that that is the culture in which he grew up and that old friends are important and continue to have influence. But there's just no excuse for this. It's 2007, it's America, and people are still staging dogfights? Aren't there ample opportunities for other, less brutal entertainments? For anyone who has pets, it's a sickening story, and perhaps this will send a message. Should he be banned from the NFL? Nah. Let him do a little time, then resume his career.

In fact, I hope this sends a message to all the athletes and officials behaving badly these days. God knows I love my sports, but this is getting out of control. It's time to get back to the spirit of competition and to the joy of the game. That's one thing that I love about the Olympics: it's the best in the world, competing on even ground, and testing is mandatory and stringent. If the American sports industry wants to hang on to fans and continue to grow its fanbase, it'll take this seriously and stop this NOW. The NBA official was probably the last straw. Oh, and Barry who?

That's why it's so refreshing to see genuinely decent, good people in sports. Tony Dungy and Lovey Smith spring immediately to mind, as well as Peyton Manning, who was a guest on the Bob & Tom Show yesterday morning, raising money for his Peyback Foundation. What a decent guy.

No matter what your profession, whether it be athlete, entrepreneur, actor, rock star, or just a regular Joe, there is nothing wrong with being a nice guy (or gal). In fact, it's the right thing to do as a human being. I still can't understand anyone who chooses to be a butthead instead of being a decent person, and I honestly don't think I ever will.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

American Owned and Operated?

In the same Time issue as the Billy Graham article, there was an article about a sort of backlash against non-American owned motels. That's really a shame, because many of these fine motor hotel establishments have been lovingly restored and maintained, and not always by Americans. As an example, I give you the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California:

It's a Route 66 icon, and for many years was going the way of many a motel on the famous highway: short term housing for prostitutes and other shady characters. A family from India bought it and has restored it to all its glory, and one day, I look forward to sleeping in a teepee!

The important thing is that these places are preserved, not who does it. I'm quite happy to see another famous Route 66 motel stay in business in a GOOD way, and I don't care who is running it.

On to another topic. My buddy Greg was telling me today about what he was planning on making for dinner tonight: a spicy meatloaf, using things that he'd thought of himself, along with things from an Emeril recipe he found online. Chorizo, adobo sauce, a poblano pepper...yum! I was impressed. Greg is (I think) 27, and it's especially impressive for a guy that age to be able to cook. I think it was on my second date with Ken that he made me Easter dinner. He cooked a ham, peas, and mashed potatoes. Dessert was a coconut thing that he made from his Grandma's recipe. He also served a 20 year old bottle of wine. It was all delicious, and I think that was it for me. Listen up, ladies--any guy that is willing to cook for you is someone special. If it's actually good food, that's even better. They say that the way to a man's heart is his stomach, and I'm sure that's partly true, but it works both ways. Guys, if you really want to impress a woman, make her a nice dinner. It shows that you aren't lame and needy, and that you can take care of yourself, which sends a subtle message that you can take care of her, too. Not that we'd ever admit to wanting that, but it's still nice to know.

And for dinner, scrambled eggs and toast are yummy, but they don't count.

 

Monday, August 20, 2007

Raising the bar

Ken got our new tower up and running yesterday, and everything seems to be going well. When he took it out of the box, I actually laughed...it's the cutest little thing!

An object is provided for perspective. I said, "It's adorable!" It's a tiny little tower, and although it's upright here, we have it horizontal on the desk. The CD isn't a drawer, you slide it in like your CD player in the car. Remember those suitcase-sized processors? We've come a long way, baby!

During our low-key weekend, I also got caught up on Time magazine. There was a great cover story about Billy Graham. Regardless of political or religious alliances, I don't think many people can doubt his sincerity and commitment. The authors, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, wrote something that really struck me:

"His critics called him gullible, naive to the point of self-delusion; his defenders, of which there were a great many more, called him trusting, always seeing the best in powerful people and frequently eliciting it as a result." [The italics are mine.]

That's something that I've felt for years. If you choose to see the worst in people, that's probably what you'll get. However, if you expect the best, you might be surprised to see how most folks respond. Positive breeds positive. I know we've all been around people who are very negative and choose to see the worst, and it seems that they usually drag us down along with them. It doesn't have to be that way, and we have the choice and freewill to NOT buy into that. I try to be the best person I can be, and expect the same from others. I'm sure many would call that naive, and there's no denying that there are people out there who do their best to be as vindictive and nasty as possible, but that doesn't mean that I have to be drawn down to their level. I refuse to be that way, and it's just not in my nature. While I may be disappointed and disillusioned, at least I know that I won't be dishonorable.

Billy Graham has been preaching for years, and I'd say he's been one of the best examples of Christianity that I've ever seen (along with my Mom). So many people claim to be Christians, but talk is cheap. Let's see how your behavior stacks up to your words, and if your behavior is lacking, that gives Christianity a bad name. There's a word for that: hypocrisy. I understand that good deeds and decency alone do not a Christian make, but if someone claims to be a Christian, it seems to me that good deeds and decency are a given. Isn't that how it works?

 

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Nutwoody Weekend

Things are pretty quiet here at the ol' ranch. It's been a rather gloomy and cool weekend, especially for mid-August! We had a nice visit with my parents yesterday. We had said we were going to pick up some lunch on our way there, but Mom called in the morning and said that she had something planned. It was a light lunch: pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, macaroni and cheese (my Mom makes the best mac & cheese EVER), sliced tomatoes, homemade applesauce, and they sent a half a watermelon home with us. I thought I was going to pop! But anyone who knows my Mom knows exactly what I'm talking about, and they're probably chuckling right now.

Ken managed to get the lawn mowed before it rained, and it's been raining off and on since. We had a fun conversation last night with our friends in California, Kim and Steve. They're both teachers and they return to school this week, but they had a nice summer and the fishin' was good, although not spectacular. They did get to see a bobcat, though. How neat is that? They had a fun trip to Vegas this summer, where they saw "Spamalot," and they said they'll be ready to see it again when we manage to meet there in the next year or so (no plans as of yet, but it's something we all want to do). They always make us laugh, and we look forward to seeing them again!

This morning, we read the Sunday paper, then Ken did some stuff for work while I finished the book I've been reading (more in a moment). We've seen lots of bird activity this morning, and I counted a band of 14 turkeys hanging out in the back yard. Now I've got the laundry going, and time to write a bit. What a treat to have a laidback weekend like this. Hopefully it will be clear enough for Ken to grill some brats for dinner tonight, and I've got some baked beans in the fridge, along with some marinating cukes and onions. I've never put a recipe up here before, but this is something my Mom used to whip up when I was a kid, and it's worth preserving. I'm not sure if it's a strictly Midwestern thing, but most people from the Midwest know about this.

Cucumbers and Onions

Slice cucumbers and soak in salt water for a little while. Thinly slice some onion, preferably Vidalia. For the sauce, mix up some Miracle Whip, milk, vinegar, and a little sugar. Don't make it too thin, because you're going to be adding it to the cukes. It should be a little tangy, but a little sweet at the same time. Drain the cukes, add the onions (separated into rings), and pour the Miracle Whip mixture over it. Mix it well and let it sit in the fridge at least overnight.

You'll notice that I didn't put any actual amounts in there, because there are none. Mom just always made it to taste, and that's how I do it, too (same with deviled eggs). You can make as much or as little as you like, although with this latest batch I used two cukes and one large-ish onion. It's been in the fridge for a few days now, so it's going to be some good stuff. Mmm!

As for the book, it's taken me a while (just no time to read for long periods of time lately), but I finished The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. A+, most excellent, one of the best books I've read in a while! If you like vampires--or books about them, I should say--and I do, I do, this is just a fascinating read. Very well-researched, and rich with detail. Somehow, she manages to make Vlad Dracula a somewhat sympathetic figure. (Anne Rice did this with Lestat and Marius and others in her Vampire Chronicles, but this author managed to do it with none other than Dracula himself. Impressive.) How can you not like a guy who loves books, and has collected rare and unknown books for 500 years? Well, because he was a terrible person in life, and continued his fiendish ways after his death, or undeath. But you still can't help but have a glimmer of admiration for someone so committed to defending his homeland, and such a scholar (a fact about him which he says not many people realize). Just a fine, fine piece of writing, very entertaining, and I recommend it highly. Even though the author graduated from Michigan. AGH! There's the REAL horror story. <grin>

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Musical Potpourri for 800, Alex

A while back, BMG had a big clearance sale, so I spent some time listening to snippets on their website and picking out some stuff by bands I'd never heard of, bands I'd heard of but never heard their songs, and a sentimental favorite in Soul Asylum Live from the Grand Forks Prom (since I used to live in Grand Forks before the big flood).

Some were a bust (Greg had told me that Maroon 5 was overrated--he was right. I thought they were pretty lame.), others were pretty decent (I liked The Strokes quite a bit), and one has become one of my absolute favorite CD's.

"Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia" by The Dandy Warhols. This is a band I'd heard of (how can you not love their name?) but I'd never heard any of their music. Sometimes a CD will just strike me, for whatever reason, and I have to play it over and over. I take our MP3 player to work, and I play the CD at least once per day. I can't quite put my finger on what I love about it. Their music is often described as psychedelic, but I'm not so sure I agree with that. I supposed there's a little trippiness involved there, but there are some good rockers on there, like the college radio hit "Bohemian Like You." The lead singer's voice is the kind that I love, too, that deep, sort of sonorous tone. There are a couple of songs that are almost instrumentals, with a sort of hypnotic feel. One of my favorite rockers is "Solid":

Well I must have a door in the back of my head
where I dump out all the crap so I can just feel solid again
no more sittin around thinkin about your hair
cause I must have a door in the back of my, back of my head


I got a beautiful new Asian girlfriend
she comes over and hangs around for days in my bed
you can't seriously believe I'm thinking about you man
cause I must have a door in the back of my, back of my head


well it's a brand new day and I'm walking around old town
I feel cool as shit cause I got no thoughts keeping me down
I'm thinking blah de blah blah blah to your trip
cause I must have a door in the back of my, back of my head
back of my head
must have a door there

I especially love that line, "I'm thinking blah de blah blah blah to your trip." Next time someone is talking AT you instead of with you, or someone is being a jerk, just think that to yourself. "Blah de blah blah blah to your trip."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Looky what I got!

Before I get to my nifty new thing, I'll tell you about our awesome storm last night. I forget how many lightning strikes they counted, but it was something like tens of thousands. I looked out back, and I could see the sky over the large oaks at the back of the yard--the sky looked like a strobe light. It was spectacular, but then I love thunderstorms. We learned our lesson with lightning, though, and we shut down the computer, unplugged the modem, and turned off the satellite receiver. Everything made it through okay, including poor Sheeba who is very scared of thunder.

Oh, and Ken did go and buy a new computer last weekend, just the tower, so it wasn't all that expensive. With Vista, we find that the laptop seems sluggish compared to our old computer, and we think that the laptop might have limited RAM. Hopefully things will speed up now. My stepson is quite happy to strip the old computer for stuff like the graphics card, the hard drive, etc. Everybody's happy!

Okay, my new thing. I'm quite excited about this, although I'm sure it will mean next to nothing to most people. A while back, I talked about the Alba Court Inn, in New Smyrna Beach. Just out of curiosity, I googled it and found there was a listing on eBay! (Proof once again, that if you want something, even something incredibly obscure, you just might find it on eBay.) I'm pleased to say I was the high bidder, and I got it today. It's a postcard, and although there isn't a date, I'd guess it's from the 1950's. It was never sent, so the back is in perfect shape. Here's a picture of how the place looks now:

Now here's a picture of the postcard (I'm afraid our scanner still isn't up and running, so I just took a picture). The above picture is to the right of the building in the postcard image, and you can see the chimney.

What a lovely place! Apparently they eventually added an addition to the small porch that's on the postcard, plus outside steps going up to the second level, where you can walk on the roof of the porch. Here's the writeup on the back of the postcard:

Every room has running water! Fancy! I'm so pleased I found this. I was thrilled to finally walk around the place and get some pictures before it was torn down, so to have a picture of what it looked like when it was open for business is extra special. I spent less than $10 on it, and it's made me very happy. I can't wait to try and find a frame so that the back can be seen...I'm thinking one of those acrylic frames will work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

TP Part Two

That whole thing at Cathedral made me appalled enough that I sent the principal, David Worland, an email. I wasn't real mean about it, just said basically what I said in my post yesterday. I received a very nice and thoughtful reply:

This is not a tradition with which I am sold, either.  It was here long before I came, but students TPed the hill a few times each year.  We have stopped that and only allow it one time per year, the day before the opening of school as a welcome to the freshman and returning students.

 The local news on various channels reported differently – and some were not accurate.  The clean-up of the paper low enough to reach will be done by our students, or will be done professionally and billed to the senior class fund. 

 One positive suggestion that was made that students could meet, ready to TP, divide the paper and one-half goes to the poor.  I find this a very likeable suggestion.

 Each student here at Cathedral works a minimum of 25 hours per year in service to others.  The total for four years is 100 hours, and many of our students surpass this.  We have an alternative spring break each year building Habitat for Humanity houses in South Carolina, and each year have a post Christmas trip building (Casas Por Cristo) in Mexico.  Our Seniors take part in Habitat for Humanity builds in Indianapolis each year.  The bottom line is that our students do much service, mostly do it willingly, and many continue to return to serve long after their service requirement for that year is complete.

I felt much better about the situation after reading that, and thanked him for his reply. Good to know that Cathedral emphasizes community service, and Habitat is a fine organization. I said that I still find it not very environmentally friendly, and hope that he will work towards building new traditions. But I certainly appreciated his taking time to reply. Also, Cathedral's teams are the Fighting Irish, so how can I dislike them?

Later

I talked to my Mom tonight, and she told me about two of my uncles who are in really poor health. It made me sad, because these are a couple of great guys. Uncle Buck, one of my Mom's brothers, was in WWII and the Korean War, and spent I think three years as a prisoner of war in Korea. Uncle Burt was in the Navy during WWII and spent time in the Pacific. Both are members of the Greatest Generation, and it makes me sad to think of losing two more of these special people.

It also made me ponder a bit about life and death. Yikes! But sometimes it's good to ponder. Our time here is short, and I try to make the best of things and be a happy person, happy with life, happy with my situation, what have you. Life always throws you a curveball or two, but we deal with it the best we can, and go from there. (It definitely helps to have someone with you who understands and supports you.) I find so many things in life to be happy about, but then I'm a fairly cheery person, from a fairly cheery family. I can't imagine being so unhappy that it colors your entire life, and to be always grasping for what you think will make you happy, but never getting it because you really don't know what you want or what is important in life. To never make peace with others, or more importantly, yourself. What a sad existence that must be.

I can't imagine that God (or Whomever or Whatever you believe in) wants us to be miserable, but I also doubt that He (or She or It--I'm trying to be politically correct here) spends every moment wondering, "Hmm...how do I make Beth happy today?" I tend to think that we are given the tools necessary to make of our lives what we want. If we choose to wallow in misery, then that's the way we'll be. If we want to be happy, then we'll be that way. It's all about your outlook, how you look at yourself and how you look at the world. It seems pretty simple to me.

 

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

TP

Two posts in one day...but the other one was getting too big!

<< Indianapolis - The senior class at Cathedral High School may be a little sleepy for the first day of school after several hundred of them spent most of the night unrolling a new look at the school.

The road that leads to Cathedral is bathed in bathroom tissue. Every tree is draped with toilet paper.

"This is better than Christmas lights at the zoo," said one driver as he approached the school. "I've never seen anything like this."

"What it is, it's kind of organized chaos," explained a school administrator.

"It was just an amazing time, and really a bonding experience for us. Before this, we've never really come together as a class and this just shows what the class of 2008 is really about," said one senior.

Administrators embrace the papering prowess of the class of 2008 saying it's a long tradition of celebrating the first day of school.

"It's kind of a welcoming to our new freshmen to come up here and to celebrate and gain spirit and that spirit gives us momentum toget the start of the school year off."

School leaders acknowledge not everyone will like the new look, saying some parents may stop contributing to Cathedral.

"But on the other hand we know we have picked up some that said I think that's fantastic and the spirit and tradition of Cathedral is alive so here's my check," said the administrator.

The kids say it's a work of beauty, but it won't stay this way. The perpetrators will also have to clean it up, and they have an incentive. If the school has to hire an outside clean-up crew, the money comes out of the senior class bank account. " >>

Well, that's special. You may have seen the pictures on the news (it made local news, but I don't know if it made national news), where the trees and road are just completely draped with toilet paper. Now, I'll admit that I've TP'ed once in my life, back in high school, so I can't pretend to be holier-than-thou. But that was over 20 years ago, and I would think that we've learned a lot in the past few years, and we all should probably be a little more conscious of how we use our resources. As Ken put it, "Why don't they just go cut down a tree?" I was especially impressed by the senior that said, "This just shows what the class of 2008 is really about." I'm not sure that's something to be proud of.

Two and a half weeks and counting

Notre Dame had an open practice this past Saturday, and Ken took the kids. (I had to work, drat it all.) I'm hearing some pretty good things about some of the younguns. My Dad thinks Demetrius Jones (a sophomore) will get the starting quarterback nod over Jimmy Clausen, the alleged W├╝nderkind from California. I think the kid has the potential to be great, but there's a vast difference in going from high school football to college football (as is the transition from college to pro). I think he's a little too green to start, but I wouldn't be surprised if Jones and Clausen end up sharing QB duties at some point. I'm not sure how I feel about that, because it seems that someone needs to be alpha dog. Evan Sharpley is the old man of the bunch, a junior. He took so few snaps last year, I don't know what to think of him.

Poor Clausen...I think he started off badly in town. He came in here like a rock star, complete with limo and entourage. That kind of stuff doesn't play well here. What Irish fans want to know is have you got the stuff to get us to a national championship? We don't care about your high school championship rings from California--they don't mean squat. Let's see what you've got. But someone, somewhere gave him some good advice after that disastrous press conference, and he has completely toned it down, so much so that I don't think he's given any interviews since then (I could be wrong, but I haven't seen any). Being a Notre Dame quarterback is a high pressure job, and there are some big shoes to fill (think Theisman...oh, and that Montana guy), so I think we all just want to see him work hard and be able to handle the pressure come game-time.

I'm hearing that some of the running backs and wide receivers have a lot of speed. Oh, I hope so. It's so much fun to watch someone break away and leave all the defenders behind. One guy I'm hoping will do well is wide receiver Golden Tate. How great a name is that?! With a name like that, he's gotta be good! (Just like Smuckers.) It's going to be a young team, with very few standout seniors. Zbikowski and Carlson should do well, but these really are a bunch of youngsters. We'll see how well they listen to Coach Weis.

If I had to make a prediction, I think this will be a building year. They have a good chance to get to a bowl game, but probably not a BCS bowl. Weis's recruiting is phenomenal, so this could be the beginning of a good, long dominating run for the Irish. It's about time. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get tickets to any games this year (although Ken might still have a chance through someone he knows at work), but we agree that that's not the end of the world. The atmosphere at the games is great and a lot of fun, but we're also quite content to watch it on the big TV in high def. We have so much fun watching games together, because we both really get into it, and it's fun to yell and scream and be Mr. and Mrs. Crazy Fan. Ha!

Later that day

Spent a little time in our poor neglected garden today. My heart just hasn't been in it this year: it was so dry there for a while, and I think that set it back a bit, and then we spent two weeks on vacation, and it all combined to make it not as much fun as it usually is. I did get a nice little mess of green beans today, and I should have some tomatoes soon. A few other things are almost ready (peppers, etc.), but all in all, I'd have to say it was a bust this year. Just like us Cubs fans like to say, "Maybe next year." (They're a surprise this year, though...they've usually tanked by now!)

I loaded up with bug repellent, but still managed to get a bite on my elbow and one on my forehead. For some reason, they really seem to love me. Is anyone else besieged by mosquitoes? They're absolutely swarming here at Nutwood, although we're susceptible to them because we have a small pond in the yard, a larger pond out back, and then at least an acre or two of actual wetlands. It's quite marshy in the back, before you get to the woods, and I'm sure the mosquitoes are very happy there, the little bastards.

Later...

I was folding laundry in our bedroom, and felt something on my shoulder. I looked down, and dang if it wasn't a mosquito! He got me on the shoulder, and he got me on my back. Gahhhh, they're in the house!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Get out of jail free card

An unusually slow day at work today, so I skipped lunch and asked my manager if I could cut out early. She said sure! This probably sounds like no big deal to most of you, but believe me, it's very bizarre for all the work to be done so that one or more people can leave early. Since it happens so rarely, it's very liberating, and I feel like I broke out of Shawshank.

Last night, I was flipping channels and had a revelation. I have never seen the entire Elvis Presley special commonly called the '68 Comeback Special! [A piece of arcane Beth and Ken trivia: a few years ago, Brian Setzer put together a band called 68 Comeback Special--excellent, I recommend the CD highly--and we saw them at House of Blues in Chicago. The night before, Ken proposed to me on the ferris wheel at Navy Pier. Awww!] I've seen parts here and there, but I have never seen it in its entirety. Still haven't, actually, because I came across it a half an hour into it. But this is definitely something I, as an Elvis fan, must get on DVD. Parts of it were so cheesy, like the choreographed fight, with Elvis throwing karate kicks and karate chops. Hai Chiba! (That means nothing, it's just the sound I think I would make if I were to throw a karate chop.) But let me tell you what. Regardless of how you feel about Elvis--perhaps too many people remember him as the overweight, drug-addled Elvis--I defy anyone to watch that special and not recognize what kind of charisma the guy had. First of all, he was just incredibly handsome, almost surreally so. In the special, he wore that famous black leather suit, and this was before he started putting on the pounds. This was lean 'n mean Elvis.

Secondly, he had some amazing stage presence, whether it was a devilish look in his eye or that hip action that gave him the nickname Elvis the Pelvis. He could really work a crowd, and this wasn't a bunch of screaming teenage girls. These were people a little older, and they listened in rapt attention. (It was fun to see all the big ol' bouffants! I love that kind of stuff!)

Finally, the special was also probably the peak of his vocal power. Much of it was just he and the band sitting around singing and playing--the original MTV Unplugged! His voice was so powerful and incredible, with a little of that raw edge that makes it so cool, and I think the best example of that is when he sings "If I Can Dream." I've written about that before.

I found myself sitting there mesmerized. What a performer. Hard to believe he was dead just a few years later, and hard to believe that special is almost 40 years old. And yet it still rocks! I'm not one of those wacky people who thinks Elvis is still alive, but he's still in my heart, that's for sure. Elvis, you da man!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No victims allowed

Before I get to that, I just finished watching Tiger win tonight. The guy is amazing. Austin and Els were challenging him for a while there, but Tiger came on strong. His partner in the final round, Ames, was one of the people who made some disparaging remarks about Tiger...Ames tanked, so perhaps people will learn to keep their mouths shut. Ha! There are certain folks in the world who take comments like that as a personal affront, and proceed to kick your ass and then rub your face in the dirt. It seems that Tiger is one of them. It's fun to watch!

My favorite comment from today was from one of the commentators, when Tiger nailed a putt: "This guy can really roll the potato." That made me laugh!

Okay, the victim thing. My friend Greg at work and I had a good conversation about this at work today, and it's truly one of my pet peeves. I have no sympathy for anyone who constantly blames everyone else for their problems. I don't care if it's financial, marital, personal, job-related, what have you, there comes a time when you have to step back and realize that hey, maybe MY behavior has something to do with this! If things like that happen to you over and over again, I would think that you'd start to figure out that maybe there's a problem with what you're doing. That seems highly logical to me, as Spock would say. If it seems like certain things happen to you repeatedly, perhaps it's time to take a look at what you are doing and make an adjustment.

There is no such thing as a free ride in life. We all have the opportunity to make things happen for ourselves--we live in America, and there's a reason so many people want to come here from other countries. It upsets and angers me to hear people say things like, "I'm entitled to this," or "You OWE me." Here's some news for you--no one owes you anything. There are so many opportunities to make things better for yourself, and to me, it's just a matter of how bad do you want it? Really...do you want to learn more, and make an effort, or do you want to be totally lame and expect a handout for the rest of your life?

For me, it all comes down to personal responsibility and accountability, and we have the ability in our country to do almost anything. If you hate your life, your job, your situation, make a plan and say, "I'm going to change things." If you sit back and expect everyone to come to you and change your life, or if you expect people to just give you money, I want no part of you. Begone, lame person. You're a waste of space.

I mentioned Greg earlier, and our conversation about such things. He's heading back to evening shift soon, when he goes back to taking classes (he's close to his degree). I'm really going to miss him--it's been so much fun talking with him! Like I told him, he brings out my inner fifth-grader. He replied, "I like to think that I'm the fifth-grader in everyone." You are, my friend, you are...but the serious conversations are fun, too. He's a peach.

 

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday for you, Tuesday for me

I work every other weekend, so I have days off during the week, but it results in some weird schedules compared to those who work Monday through Friday. So when most people are thinking TGIF, I'm thinking "Urgh, three more days!" But it is what it is.

A bright spot in my day was seeing a bluebird tonight! I know we have a few around here, but you really don't see them all that often. I think they keep to the edges of the yard. But this guy was up in a tree, then flew down to the ground to grab a worm. They're so pretty, and their blue is so vivid.

Another bright spot was checking the garden. I was talking with my friend Jillian at work, and she said that around this time, she starts to lose interest in the garden...I know exactly what she means! I just haven't been into it as much this year, maybe because we were gone for two weeks, and the lack of rain in July really messed up the growing schedule. But several things are looking good now. The tomato plants are out of control, and I need to tie them up again. I'll go out and pick some beans on my day off, and I think I'll get a nice mess of 'em. Unfortunately, the weeds are out of control, too, and I think I wave the white flag for this year. We'll put cardboard down on the bed again this year, but we've GOT to do something about the walkways. Those are some potent weeds, because they grow through mesh and they grow through wood chips. I think we'll make some concrete pavers and put them down, and maybe THAT will do the trick. Jeez!

Another nice thing tonight...I've mentioned my love of a good turn of phrase, as in Cake's song "Short Skirt Long Jacket," especially the line "with fingernails that shine like justice." I'm loving the book I'm reading right now, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. A professor's search for Dracula, who he believes is undead and well, and how he inadvertently passes the search on to his daughter...oh, it's excellent, and SO well-written and so entertaining. I read a line tonight that really struck me. I rarely write in books, but sometimes there's a line that I just love, so I mark it with a little arrow and write the page number at the back of the book. Here's the line:

"That sound of bells floating across the water made my heart turn over;  it seemed to me exactly one of those messages from the past that cry out to be read, even if one cannot be sure of what they say."

Perfect.

 

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Another one comes to the dark side

My friend Greg, AKA The Crepist, has commented on my post on his MySpace page. Cool! I agree, that was an extremely bizarre conversation. I think I've convinced him to start writing on his page, at least a little bit...we shall see! And come to find out, it looks like "crepist" is an actual thing, as in someone who makes crepes. Go figure! Who would want to be called a crepist? I find that funny. Perhaps it's pronounced with a short e.

I also discovered that there is another blog that linked to mine via Technorati. Guess what it is? A gambling blog! I cracked up. Hey, I don't have a problem. YOU got a problem?

Gee, I'm all about links today. I should also be linked up with outside.in, which is a nice site if you want to find out about a particular city or neighborhood. If I put the zip code in Tags, it's supposed to show up on their site (if I write about something going on in the area). It seems that these Tags really do work, because I found this little ol' blog in places about Dan Edwards, The Sopranos, etc.

Continuing in the geek vein, pardon me while I wax philosophical. When I was in high school, there was no such thing as a PC. When I was in college, I took ONE computer course, and it was some kind of weird computer language where you had to program your own stuff, and I was completely lost. My first PC was pre-Windows, and it used DOS. My first PC with Windows used Windows 3.1, and it was pre-high speed. I think my dialup connection was a blazing 5200 bps, or something like that. I think about that, and I am so amazed. This is truly one of the most important devices of the modern age. We have an unbelievable amount of information at our fingertips, we can visit websites of places we may never visit in real life (I still remember finding the Vatican library site online! One of the first inklings that this was an amazing thing.), and we can put our thoughts out there for anyone to read. It boggles my mind.

However, as Spidey knows, with great power comes great responsibility. I think we should be prudent in our use of the Web, including limiting our forwards to people (Don't just forward everything you receive...please take a moment to consider if the person you're sending it to really wants to get it!), and keeping in mind that everything we post is out there for people to see. I find it amusing to hear stories of people not getting jobs because employers checked their MySpace pages, or what have you. It's amazing the pictures that some people put up! Honestly, do you REALLY want the world to see you that way? I'm not intending to be judgmental, and I don't mean this to sound that way. It's just common sense to me.

And the same goes for the Web as goes for every other type of media--newspapers, magazines, television coverage, whatever: don't believe everything you read or hear! I cringe when I hear things like, "I know it's true. I saw it on TV." Sheesh. Investigate. Read more about it. Consider the sources. Take things with a grain of salt. And include a lime. Ha!

Later that night

DAH dah dah dah...dah dah dah DAH....

YES! Football is here! Well, just preseason, but oh, I am so excited. Tonight is a preseason Colts-Cowboys game. I know preseason means nothing, but it sure gets me psyched for the coming college and pro season. We'll probably watch a Star Trek episode rather than watch this game, but I find it so comforting to have football on TV. Ken and I have already had a discussion about dealing with the Bears (his #1 team) and the Colts (my #1 team), and my answer is I'm cheerin' for the Colts, but if the Colts don't make it to the Super Bowl, I'm cheerin' for the Bears. I think that's fair! Ooo, I can't wait to see what happens this season!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Pictures are done! Kind of....

Argh, at long last I've finished the vacation pictures! There are still tons of good prints that haven't made it on the computer, but our scanner isn't working at the moment (thanks, Vista), so it will be a while before I get any of those up. However, all the digital pics are edited and loaded up, and you can see a selection here. I recommend viewing them as a slide show--you can speed it up quite fast, and the captions appear. I've gotten to the point where I don't often show actual prints around--have you ever encountered that person who has to tell you every detail behind every picture? I just don't have the time for that, and I don't want to be that person. I can see it happening sometimes when I show pictures, if it's something I'm really passionate about or something I really loved...but sometimes it just gets lost in translation, and it really doesn't mean anything to the person looking at the pictures. So peruse at your leisure, at your own speed, or don't look at them at all. I respect and support your decision!

I've written about Haiti and Jamaica, and a little bit about Grand Cayman (where we encountered the stingrays). One thing I didn't write about Cayman is how much more prosperous it seemed than Haiti and Jamaica. I believe the Cayman Islands are still British, and they definitely have the look and feel of being under a world power umbrella. We saw many large, beautiful homes, and I suspect that many a rich person has a home down there. It was lovely, but it was also quite a contrast to what we had seen at our previous two ports-of-call.

Mexico was sort of in-between. I didn't notice any huge homes (although I'm sure there are some in other areas), but the cities seemed fairly bustling. We docked at Cozumel, an island off the coast of Mexico, and took a boat to the mainland, landing at Playa del Carmen. From there we took a bus to the Mayan ruins at Muyil (pronounced Mu-zheel). The bus ride through the countryside was interesting...there is much poverty there. I saw a small, rundown shack by the road, and figured it was abandoned. Then I saw a couple of children walk out of it. I turned to Ken and said, "Someone lives there!" It was shocking, and anyone who complains about how rough they have it here? I have ZERO SYMPATHY for you. You have millions of opportunities, so take them. Why do you think so many people want to come here, even if they have to do it illegally? Because it's a place where you can make something of yourself! NO WHINING, I mean it!

Back to the topic at hand. Muyil is both an archaeological site and a nature preserve--two of my favorite things!--and I was in high heaven. It was beautiful and fascinating. If you look at the pictures, you'll see that I took a lot there. Muyil is fairly small when it comes to ruin sites, and unlike some of the larger sites, such as Chichen Itza, you can actually go inside the buildings, and climb the steps of the temples. It was a neat experience. We had to wonder about the size of the ancient Mayans--the buildings seemed to be very small with low ceilings, and the steps were only a few inches wide. You had to be very careful! I'll put a picture up here:

Isn't that awesome? I've got a book on order to learn a little more about the Mayans. I remember reading about the culture when I was in grade school, but I don't recall a lot about them. Contrary to what I had thought, they weren't one of the ancient civilizations that were wiped out. The Aztecs were, for sure, and I believe the Incas disappeared...but the Mayans are still alive and kicking. Our guide, Saul, said that he is of Mexican and European heritage (Mestizo), but he is of Mayan descent (his grandfather was a Mayan shaman). It was all really interesting, and I'd love to eventually go to one of the larger sites.

It was so incredibly hot inland that when we got back to Playa del Carmen, we were ready for a cool beverage. We each got a few souvenirs (great prices and very friendly vendors!) then stopped at a cantina on the beach for drinks. We were looking out at the water, the breeze was blowing in and cooling us off, and I looked at Ken and said, "Yeah, I could get used to this!" See what you think:

Oh, I just love that picture! It makes me want to go back. I really liked Mexico. We still have a timeshare week at Cancun that I hope we can use before too long.

I just have to throw this in. I read some reactions to Elizabeth Edwards' comment that "we can't make John black, we can't make him a woman" (although the latter is do-able, technically). I don't dislike her, and I don't think her comments were meant in a nasty way, but some are saying that she thinks Hillary and Barack have an unfair advantage over her husband, because they can play the female and black cards. Whatever. This is just the media making a mountain out of a molehill. But one person's comment made me laugh out loud:

"John Edwards is the Eddie Haskel of American politics.

John Gleason at 12:14 PM on Aug 8th 2007"

I'm sorry...but that's just plain funny! Wait. I'm not sorry. That's just funny! All I can think of is Edwards saying, "Gee, Mrs. Clinton, that's a lovely jacket you're wearing." HA! I'm dyin'!

 

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Little French pancakes

Warning: Some will find this offensive, in very poor taste, and not very funny. This may fall into the You-Had-To-Be-There category. It's also a very bad drawing. You've been warned.

Today at work, we were talking about a new cafe opening in the area, a little bakery place that sells crepes. I believe my coworkers said it was called The Crepery, or something like that. For whatever reason, I started singing "Crepe me..." to the tune of Nirvana's "Rape Me." My buddy Greg laughed and said, "If I ever open a bakery, I'm going to call it The Crepist." I swear, if I'd been drinking anything, it would've come out my nose. When I recovered, I said, "Yeah, you'd be behind the counter wearing a hoodie..." Greg said, "And sunglasses...." I think I laughed about that for a solid five minutes, and I'm STILL laughing about it. Submitted for your approval...or probably not:

Told you it was bad, and it's bad on many levels. I never promised you a rose garden!

Perhaps some palate cleansing is in order. I just caught the last 15 minutes of Emeril Live. He made lemon icebox pie, and I'm going to have to get that recipe. Let me sing the praises of Emeril Lagasse for a moment. What I love about the guy is that he makes cooking fun. I got into cooking before I started watching Emeril, but when I did, he made me a little more fearless when it comes to whipping something up. If you know what spices and flavors and ingredients you like, you can figure out something. I usually work from some type of recipe, but I have no qualms about adding something or not putting something in, and it usually turns out okay. I also love that he makes great southern dishes, not just Cajun and Creole. My first inspiration is my Mom, who is one heckuva southern cook, which she learned from HER Mom, who was from Kentucky. To this day, I love that kind of cooking--nothing fancy, and I think we've all learned to lighten up a little on the butter and bacon fat! But it's still so good.

I think Emeril has inspired a lot of people to at least TRY to cook. I find it amazing and sad that so many people just don't cook at home any more. Not only do you save a lot of money, once you get into it, it's really fun. I'm impressed with Greg, mentioned earlier--he likes to cook and it sounds like he does a pretty good job of it. Excellent! I know of people that eat out pretty much every night, as well as most lunches. That's crazy! Not only can you make stuff at home that's better and better for you, you're going to save some major cash. I guess that's why I think Emeril is cool--he tries to show people that yes, you CAN do this. I'm amazed that some people are actually afraid to cook--all you have to do is follow a recipe! Although I suppose some things do call for a little common sense, and there are definitely people lacking in common sense.

When we were in New Orleans the first time, our honeymoon in 2002, we went to one of Emeril's restaurants there, NOLA. It was great--nice, upscale, but not overly frou-frou. It wasn't a cheap meal, but it wasn't horribly expensive. It was right in the French Quarter (I think it's on Royal Street, but don't quote me on that), and I had the best crab cake I've ever had in my life! I told Ken that in the future, when we go back to New York, I'd love to go to a taping of Emeril's show. I imagine it's hard to get that particular ticket, but it would sure be fun! How many of us do the Emeril "BAM!" at least once in a while when we're cooking? I know we do!

I think I'm off to the Food Network site to get that lemon icebox pie recipe, as well as some of the shrimp recipes he made last night. Shrimp Etouffe├Ę, YUM!

B-52's Update

Got a picture from Shane--kinda dark, but it's Keith, Cindy, Kate, and Fred. He said it was a great show, and the new songs are a lot of fun. I believe he said it's coming out later this year (correct me if I'm wrong, Shane).

 


 
Tags: ,

Monday, August 6, 2007

Whew, hot stuff

Yikes, it is so hot and humid right now! Sounds like it's supposed to be this way all week, too. A good time to be in the basement on the computer. (We don't have central air, but we do have a room A/C for the living room, and a window A/C for the bedroom. The bedroom one will be on tonight, no doubt about it.)

I'm envious of Cousin Shane. He just got back from a quick trip to Asheville, NC, where he saw the fabulous B-52's play at Biltmore Mansion. How awesome is that? I didn't even know they did concerts there, but Chris Isaak is going to be there next week. I can't wait to hear his report and review! He sent me a YouTube video of the song they opened with, "Mesopotamia," which is one I love. Like Fred says, "Before I talk, I should read a book." Words of wisdom from the B's!

One of the funnest shows I've seen has been The B-52's. I've seen 'em a few times, actually (Three? I think so), but one time Shane and I saw them at what was then Deer Creek just outside of Indianapolis. I think now it's Verizon Center, or something like that. (Personally, I think "Deer Creek" sounds much nicer, but this is the age of corporate sponsorship.) It's an outdoor arena, a great place to see a show. It was the Love Shack tour, and they were in fine form. Shane and I were dancing and singing, and actually got in trouble because we were dancing in the aisles. We stepped back to our seats, then managed to sneak back into the aisle a couple of times. Hey, sometimes you just gotta dance this mess around, right? Right!

Update

More pictures added. I realized I didn't have any from Florida on there, so I added those. There are quite a few pictures of the Alba Court Inn, and I believe I should explain. We've seen this place every time we've been to New Smyrna Beach, and it's always fascinated me. I have this fascination (okay, some might call it an obsession, but potato, potahto) with old motels anyway, and this one always looked spooky and intriguing. I'm quite certain it's haunted. How can it look all spooky and junk and NOT be haunted? I rest my case. Anyhoo, we had time to stop and take a look at it this time. We walked all around it, peeked in the windows, took lots of neat pictures. I love the ones of the stairway. It looks like it might have been a pretty nice place in its heyday, but it's a dump now--in fact, it's been condemned. If I recall correctly, when we first started going down there, it was for sale, but it's obviously deteriorated since then. In some ways, I would love to get inside it, but in other ways, I'm sure it's not structurally safe. (I don't weigh a lot, though...I could probably get away with it! Nah....)

Most people look at something like that and see a moldy pile of junk. Sure, it's beyond fixing up, it would be foolish to even try. But I see places like that and I think of all the stories it's witnessed. I'm sure some were good, I'm sure some were sordid. Perhaps some were...deadly. Bwah-hah-hah-hah! Honestly, though, I love places with a history. I see old hotels and motels and think about what happened there throughout the years. That's one reason I have such a fascination (Again, some might say obsession. Tomato, tomahto.) with Route 66. Talk about some great stories! There are way too few roadtrips these days, and some of my fondest memories as a kid were taking roadtrips to Minnesota or Florida. Old motels remind me of that. How many people now have heard of Magic Fingers? I remember that! And I remember when it was a big deal to advertise "Color TV" on your sign, which was probably loaded with neon, a beacon to the weary traveler. <sigh> They don't make 'em like that anymore, but some places have been maintained or renovated. A Route 66 roadtrip is in the works, so I'll let you know!

Whoops, didn't mean to get going on that!

I saw our wild turkeys tonight. We've seen the adults every year, but we don't often see the young ones. They've been making an appearance in our yard quite a bit this year, and I'm so pleased to see them. I'd say there are a good twenty or so young ones, so the wild turkey population is doing well at Nutwood! I got a picture the other day. They're so cute!


Ohhhh...look what I just found:

NEW SMYRNA BEACH - December 6th: Plans for a new building on the location of the Alba Court Inn got the go-ahead Monday, along with a city-initiated compatibility ordinance aimed at making certain new development fits with surrounding neighborhoods. The inn has a demolition permit, but there's no set date to raze the structure.

A two-story building, with 14 residential units and 3,744 square feet of retail space, is planned. It will be built on less than an acre at 115 Washington St. presently occupied by the 100-year-old inn. Plans for the new building employ features of the old inn and fit into the surrounding historic district.

Developers have to meet a number of conditions set by the city's Historic Preservation Commission, such as fumigating the old inn, recording its history and doing an archaeological study.

It's 100 years old! Wow. Thank goodness they're recognizing that it's a historic property, and taking appropriate steps.

 

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Pictures, etc.

I've finally managed to get some vacation pictures edited and up for your inspection. My new software (Photo Explosion! I still think it's a stupid name.) works like a charm. In fact, I think it's easier than the old software. I've put a link over to the left in my favorite sites, but it's not showing up yet, so you can try here. Oh, there it is! Okay, that'll stay up there for good, and I'll add pictures as I go along. I was hoping that I could put my public gallery into separate subfolders, but no such luck, so weed through and check 'em out as you like. More to come, too. I did remove the NYC-Philly pictures, which I hated to do, but no one wants to shuffle through a couple of hundred photos. If anyone misses any of the pics, let me know and I'll send 'em to you. (I'm talkin' to you, RaQ! <grin>)

I'm watching the Bridgestone Invitational and I am cracking up. Rory Sabbatini was one up on Tiger yesterday, so they're playing together today. If you recall, Sabbatini made some remarks about Tiger a while back, saying that Tiger was "as beatable as ever." (Was he talking about the same Tiger?) Tiger fired back and said that in the past year, he's won three majors...which is exactly how many Sabbatini has won in his entire career. Perhaps Mr. Sabbatini will learn to keep his trap shut, because Tiger is kicking ass and taking names today. Tiger is now 8 under par, and Sabbatini is flatlining at even par. <evil chuckle> It's almost painful to watch, but I'm lovin' it. Tiger has to be one of THE best athletes. Ever. No question in my mind. His sense of competition and his drive to win are both scary and admirable.

Ken is off on his business trip, although there was an hour delay due to weather. This means that I'll be making my usual Ken-is-traveling dinner: Eggplant Parmigiana. It's one of my favorites (behind crab cakes and a killer steak), but Ken absolutely can't stand eggplant. He says it's the texture, and I've spoken to many people who say the same thing. For whatever reason, I just love it, so I make a dish of it when he's away, and eat on it for a few days. I've started using fresh mozzarella instead of shredded, and that makes it even better. Yum.

Later that day...

Eggplant Parmigiana is in the oven. I'm not even going to have a salad with it, I'm just going to eat that.

Whenever Ken goes on trips, it's a good chance for me to catch up on email, and I've been able to spend lots of time working on photos, but I have to say I feel kinda blue right now. Things aren't as much fun without his comments! Sheeba will keep me company for a couple of days. He just came downstairs and flopped, his way of indicating he wants a belly rub (which he got). I've got a good trashy disaster movie on TV ("The Day After Tomorrow"), and we'll see how much of that I can stand. I may work on more pictures after dinner!

Even later...

The eggplant was delicious, and I've got a full tummy. I don't think I'll make it through the rest of the movie, which is also delicious: deliciously trashy! I'd forgotten how bad it was, but it's one of those that's so bad it's good. I love those! Tops on that particular list? "Roadhouse Blues," no doubt about it. If I'm flipping channels and I come across it, I must watch. Just mentioning it makes me want to see it!

I'd also like to mention our anniversary. Not wedding, that's not until November. Nope, it's officially one year since we both stopped smoking. WE ROCK! Of course, once I realized that, I immediately had a craving for a cigarette. How stupid is that? It passed after about 5 seconds, though, so it's okay.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Quickie update

Apparently Charlie Sheen was at the pre-opening casino party, too. Dang, why didn't we run into him? That would've been fun. (We love "Two and a Half Men," although for some reason we started calling it Twelve and a Half Men. Not sure where that came from!)

I lost my favorite photo-editing software with the frying of the computer. I still have the CD, but it seems that it's not compatible with Windows Vista (which is on the new laptop). I'm sure I'll get more used to it, but I can't say I'm all that impressed with Vista. I was quite content with XP. Anyhoo, I found some new software at Staples today, called Photo Explosion. What a stupid name! But it does seem to be capable of doing what I want to do with photo editing, and it was reasonable, AND it's compatible with Vista. We shall see.

A low-key but productive day. Ran some errands, got some lovely, thick pork chops for grilling tonight, got the blinds hung in the new bedroom window, got the laundry done, Ken is mowing the lawn...a nice day, and we still have lots of time left! Ken is leaving for Amelia Island in Florida tomorrow for a business trip, but he'll be back Tuesday. I'm glad it's a short trip.

I'll try to get my new software installed tomorrow and get some more pictures up. I'm bummed that I haven't gotten all my photos edited, or any albums up on AOL pictures!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fab Four Winds

WOW! What a kicky blast.

As I mentioned before, our insurance agent (Brent) gave us passes to get into the pre-opening party last night of the new casino in the area, Four Winds. It was one heckuva shindig, believe me. The place was packed, and Brent said they had no idea the turnout would be that big. It officially opened to the public today, and I'm sure it was even crazier. The news tonight showed the cars heading down the "driveway" (a lovely, curvy drive through the forest) toward the building. They had mountains of food out (including chocolate covered strawberries, yum!) and free booze (whether or not you were gambling) from 7-10. People were walking around holding four beers. Kind of funny.

Anyhoo, the place is beautiful. They used lots of wood, and it looks like a mountain lodge. All the staff seemed genuinely happy to be open, and their cheerfulness was catching. We had such a great time! We even came out ahead on blackjack, too, which makes it even better. All the $5 tables were full, so we thought what the heck, let's play the $10 tables. Our fellow players didn't know how to play...so they were asking us what to do! It was perfect--we won as a table fairly often, beating the dealer. THAT'S how to play a table, folks. Everyone has to work together--make that dealer bust, and everybody's happy!

Lots of bigwigs were around. We saw William "The Refrigerator" Perry--he really is huge. It would definitely be like having a fridge that could run at you and knock you down. Yikes! We saw Scottie Pippen, and although we didn't see them, there were other famous folks there: Bruce Willis, the guy who played Bobby on "The Sopranos," and none other than Michael Jordan. I doubt that they were hanging around the $10 tables, though...my guess would be the high stakes room. Ha! Looks like this could be a destination for folks in the Chicago area. Anyone in the Chicago/northern Indiana area, it's a great place--I give it a big thumbs up, and we'll go back, for sure! Check out some pictures. Here's part of the slots area, and one of the bars:

This is the main hallway. The woodwork is beautiful. Look at the guy in the white jacket. Who's he trying to be, Tony Soprano?!

This is the buffet area. We didn't have the buffet, but we'll have to try it when we go back. Those pillars are wood. Hey, is that guy pointing at me? I didn't even notice him when I took the picture. Uh-oh...is someone going to be paying me a visit?

It was just so much fun. The pictures can't begin to convey the size of the place. When I got up from the blackjack table to use the restroom, I got lost on the way back! It took me 15 minutes to find our table again. This is what the South Bend Tribune said:

    "From the entranceway rotunda and its two fireplaces reflecting the Potawatomis' role as "keepers of the fire'' to the casino's heavy reliance on copper, cedarwood and stone materials often used in tribal ceremonies, it's clear the casino resort is big on tribal heritage.
    Actually, it's big on just about everything. Among its features:

    A gaming area occupying 130,000 square feet and capable of serving as many as 8,000 people at any one time. It's so large that if it were to be picked up and moved to Las Vegas, it would be the city's second largest casino in terms of pure gaming space. Only the MGM Grand is larger.
    A fully automated poker room — that's right, even the cards are automated -- that's just one of two in the country. "There's no dealer, no mistakes,'' said poker manager Glenn Arana.
    A high-limit area with chip denominations as high as $25,000."

LOU MUMFORD
Tribune Staff Writer

What fun to have this in our backyard! Thanks for the passes, Brent!