Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Visit From My Sister

I'm trying to think of an adequate way to get across that this was a momentous occasion and truly blog post-worthy.

My oldest sister lives not far from the nicest-place-on-earth to grow up, Chapel Hill NC (at least it was 40 years ago), with her nicest-guy-on-earth (next to BS) husband.

They are not travelers, and are generally content to stay put, so the fact that they ventured all the way up to Virginia Beach for a visit is a cause for jubilation in of itself. We were able to have a mini-reunion of sorts, and had to say goodbye to them all too soon.

Because they live near the hometown of my heart, I like to occasionally go down to visit them and wander around the haunts of my youth. It's like I need to get a dose of Chapel Hill every now & then - fill my tank, so to speak. Who wouldn't love to grow up in a place where the main street looks like this?

The apartments we lived in (mom & sisters, be sure & click on that link) were populated by families with children. This is not the case anymore, but we had a slew of friends close by in a time that you didn't have to worry about locking your doors. And we PLAYED OUTSIDE - roller skating, bike riding, hide & seek, walking uptown, building tree houses. Best place to grow up and the best time to grow up. These young whippersnappers nowadays, with their microchip appendages who rarely feel the sunshine on their faces, don't know what they missed growing up before computers and computer toys took over our lives.

Look at our apartments. They were laid out in a rough horseshoe shape (our apartment is marked), and that central yard area was a great place for all the kids to play ball. It was hilly too, with all the possibilities for fun that entailed.

This is looking down the hill toward our apartment, which is just out of view on the far right. In fact, this picture seems to have been taken right about where the balcony of my best friend's apartment was.

The woods on the north side were wild and dark and much larger, and we would go down there to build tree houses and play spin-the-bottle. Whoo-hoo! (Shhhhhh - don't tell my mom!)

I know this is all just fascinating to anyone who doesn't know us well, but this is an item on my bucket list - remembering my history. I know some who think knowing about your ancestors is inconsequential, but think about it. Those people had lives and experiences that shaped their values and behaviors which, in turn, influenced your great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents. So, the end result is that all these long-gone people had a hand, however small, in who you became. I find this fascinating, and there are people and places in my family's past that I would like to learn more about.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Humbling Lesson

So you think you're pretty smart? Recognize this part of the world?

Ahhh, but how well do you know it?

I thought I was smart, until my loving sister sent me this simple little test to prove just how ignorant I really am, about certain things at least.

See how you do.

Click here.

(Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, I can't all the ...stan's straight, so that's the part I did the worst on)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Joys of Football

10 years ago, putting 'joy' and 'football' in the same sentence would have been an oxymoron to me.
(Like 'military intelligence'. You aren't tired of hearing that one, are you?)
Didn't watch it, didn't understand it, didn't care. Then BS applied to and was accepted at Virginia Tech, and a surprisingly thing happened. I started to like it.

Ever since, I am, shall we say, enthusiastic about football. Wait, let me clarify that and say I am selectively enthusiastic about football. I have learned to understand it, and if there is a team playing that interests me in some way, I will watch the game and enjoy every minute. I am a Hokies fan first and foremost, and a Tarheels fan second (since I grew up there).

How can anyone not get excited when in the midst of this:

By clarifying that the team 'interests me in some way', that means it is a team from a place that I have friends or family, where I used to live, has cool stuff, things like that. With the exception of VT, I would not be able to tell you the name of a single player.

Now, about the Super Bowl. I take it the teams involved are going to be these:

So, who do I root for?

Before I tell you, I have a pet peeve to unload. When a team relocates, and they had a name specific to their area, they should change the name.

Case in point - the New Orleans Jazz. I get that there may be reasons to move a team. But come on, Jazz and NOLA are synonymous. What the heck does Utah have to do with Jazz? Change the stinkin' name to something that is reflective of Utah, like the Bigamists or something.

And the Lakers are another one. They came from Minnesota - the land of a thousand lakes. Makes sense. So they move to LA and KEEP THE NAME? C'mon. Make up your own.

The Steelers started out and stayed in Pittsburgh, the city of steel mills. Great name. But would someone please tell me what Cardinals and Arizona have in common? I don't think they even have cardinals in Arizona.

So..... who will I root for? Here's how I come up with the answer:
What does this all mean? Well, I'll tell you, just let me gather my thoughts. I know you are in a near panic, waiting for the answer........

****runs down the hall to ask BS who he is going to root for****

So, upon careful consideration of the merits of each place, I have decided to cheer for.... um.... well, since Sunday is my dad's birthday, and BS & I will be watching the game with him in Kitty Hawk (on the Outer Banks), I will cheer for whoever he cheers for. Obviously, I don't much care who wins, but I will enjoy the game anyway. Especially the commercials.

Nice things about Pennsylvania:

And my erroneous vision of Pittsburgh:

Now, some pictures I took on our cross country trip 2 years ago.
Arizona - first, Flagstaff from the highway - a very pretty city, and the weather was delightful for being surrounded by desert:

The Grand Canyon:

BS at the Grand Canyon:

BS scaring the piss out of his mater by climbing waaaaay out onto a ledge:

Meteor Crater:

The Painted Desert:

The Petrified Forest (within the Painted Desert):

The Wigwam Motel. The others are in California & Kentucky, and there was a vintage auto parked at each wigwam:

And lastly, of Eagles fame:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

United Nations

Just imagine! All you have to do is put a dirty word on your blog, and people come a runnin'. Between the post with the pictures of the
b**bs and the post titled (and labeled)....||||ahem||||....p**n blog, I am making new friends from llllliterally EVERYWHERE!!!

At last look, this includes:
Ontario, Canada (where the air smells like maple syrup - seriously, BS & I smelled it)
Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, China (here's where I talked about that)
Montevideo, the capital & largest city in Uruguay
Caracas, the capital & largest city in Venezuela
Berlin, the capital of Germany
Marghita, Bihor , in Transylvania, Romania (whoo-hoo, Dracula is reading my blog!)

I would have LOVED to see the looks of disappointment on their faces.

So this got me to thinking, hmmmmm, I think I will Google 'p**n blog' to see haw they found me. The first 10 pages worth of Google results, and I don't see my humble page anywhere. So I put "quote" marks around my search........ 10 pages of that and nothing again. I only went through 10 pages because more than that started to feel creepy.

But looky looky look at all the other places that have been taking a peek. This is very exciting to me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Labels & Other Technical Monkey Business

I am getting royally pissed at Blogger, the fine folks who let us all create such riveting blogs. An old friend of mine has started his own blog, and, being the loyal friend that I am, I want to add his to my blog list on the right hand side of this page. So I go to his blog, copy the url, go to my "edit blog list" page and paste it in the appropriate box. But when I save it, it suddenly claims it has no idea who Russ is by telling me "Blog not found." No matter how many times I try, it won't work. The url is right, I have triple & quadruple checked it. I can read his blog just fine. I have even left witty remarks for him. But I can not link his blog. Blast.

Look, I was not weaned on technology like my spawn was. I can still proudly pull out the slide rule my high school chemistry teacher taught us how to use. And here it is, broken edge and all.....

We were the shiznit of our time, let me tell you.
(Russ, weren't you in my class? Do you still have yours too?)

So, sometimes, when this damn machine doesn't work the way I think it should, I have to holler for BS (he is of the generation that really knows what mysterious terms like 'baud rate' really mean). But alas, he cannot help with this.

So, when you see "Russ's OBX Journal" in the side bar, this is the place to go:
which is the exact same thing I typed in, only my link doesn't work! and everyone else's does.

Sorry Russ.

Also, my friend Rosie has been yammering at me to put labels on my posts so that people can enter key terms in search boxes and be directed to all the fascinating things I write about. Yeah. So, I have started with the labels, although I may have gotten carried away with some of them. And I'm not done yet.

Also, one of my co-workers has a Google alert set up for the name of our workplace, so I hope putting the name as a label on a goodly number of posts doesn't cause her alerts to implode.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A day with my boys

When you work at a place like St. Mary's (Google alert Sonja), you get real attached to those kids, and I am no exception. There are some that I would take home with me in a heartbeat. Well, that is, providing I had nursing care, and household help, and a large handicapped van, and I could retire a wealthy person.

Oh okay then, that isn't going to happen, but I love them to pieces anyway. The trouble is, they just won't cooperate by staying small. They grow bigger every year, and that presents a problem.

It has been a big concern at the Home that the kids are getting too big to ride safely & comfortably in a private car as they require an adapted car seat. Brandon has a car seat, and it just does fit in my back seat. Of course, in order for him to sit in it, I would have to cut a hole in the roof. I love the kid, but not that much. And he is but one of many big kids. So essentially, it is becoming almost impossible for individual staff members to get them out of the Home for some fun after work hours.

One day, I saw a big handicapped van that our public transit system uses, and I thought AHA! We called them, blah blah blah, and Brandon was our 2nd test case on Sunday afternoon. For only $3, he and a caregiver can get picked up at our front door and taken anywhere within a mile of a regular bus stop. Then they will pick us up and take us back for another $3.

That's a bargain any way you look at it, and I am happy to report that it all went off without a hitch. The drivers were on time, friendly, and very helpful. BS met us at the movie theater for the show, and a good time was had by all. Or at least this picture (taken in the theater) leads me to believe that at least one of us had a good time. What do you think?

At the end of the movie, during the closing credits, they were playing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, so BS & I sang along at the top of our lungs (most everyone had left). Brandon, God love 'im, wasn't embarrassed at all. He thought we were quite entertaining. He obviously has very low standards.

Next outing......hmmmmmmm......something educational maybe? Squeeze some learnin' into the boy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Open Road

A couple posts back, I talked about that seductive temptress, the open road, and how I am but putty in her hands. Have you ever wanted to pack it all up and take off, only to see where the road leads you? I want to do this
all. the. time.

But, it got me thinking about a long ago time in my life. A time when I had one of these:

That is a picture of my motorcycle. A 1983. . .or was it a 1984 - can't remember. . .Honda 500 Shadow, only mine was
Candy Apple Red. It was a loooong time ago, but I loved that thing. I didn't love riding it on the highways around here, as I don't have a death wish, but I loved riding it everywhere else. Unfortunately, it was a victim of divorce negotiations.

I remember once, when we were living in Alexandria VA, I rode it up to the store. It had a small trunk thingie in the back, and I didn't need much, so I took it instead of the big Chevy van (click that link for a blast from the past) that we had at the time. It was a really
really hot day. When I put the kickstand down to park it, I watched in slow motion as the kickstand was engulfed in the hot asphalt and the bike slowly sank to the ground. It was graceful and dance-like and I was mesmerized, unable to stop its decent, so I just watched in fascinated horror. Horror because I knew who was going to have to pick it up. ME! I was too embarrassed to ask for help.

But pick it up I did, all by myself, only to go into the store and have some jerk at the checkout counter make an asinine comment about how could a little lady like me ride a motorcycle. There was a brief, awkward silence while thoughts of "Asshole! The little lady just picked up the damn thing." scurried around my brain. But I was polite. Oh yes, I was polite. Such are the expectations of the wife of a future Episcopal priest.

HA! Don't you want to hear THAT story?
No. Another time.

But now that I am doing this whole reinvention thing, I fantasize about getting another motorcycle. I have been seeing the trikes, and I think they would be fun. Plus, they wouldn't fall over. So I looked at a few online.

Holy cow! They cost more than my car did. Then I thought, hmmmm, maybe a sidecar? It would take care of the whole 'not falling over' issue. And I could take a friend.

Hell, at this point, I would probably be happy with a moped.

I just want to feel the wind in my face and the bugs in my teeth.

Boy, is my mother going to hate this post.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Change of Plans

Remember, way back, soon after I started this blog, I wrote about doing the 60 mile bike ride with Brandon?

Something inspired by Team Hoyt.
Something to get him out of the Home.
Something to expand his world.
Something to make him feel like he has possibilities beyond his disabilities.

The post that somehow drew in the b00b seekers?

I have been doing a half-assed job of training for this thing, but today my job suddenly became easier.

He was in the PT office today, just 'hanging out', and we were talking to him about upcoming events that he would be doing. In addition to our bike ride, the husband of one of our PTs is going to take him on the 8k run that is part of the Shamrock Marathon, an annual event in our fair city.

He is pretty stoked about this as well.

Then the topic of the ride came up. Keep in mind, when we talk to Brandon, our conversations consist of asking him 'yes' and 'no' questions. This is the main way to get information out of him, since his communication computer is still not available. Such is the reality of his life, and it's not always easy to figure out what he wants to say to us.

After a lengthy game of 20+++ questions, we finally figured out that he was concerned that the ride would be too long. He decided that he wanted to start with a shorter one. You know, just to see how it goes in the bike stroller. Then he could build up his endurance for a longer ride.

Awwww, man (cue whiny voice). You mean that, instead of dragging his butt behind me for 60 grueling, tortuous miles, now I only have to do 10?


I don't know if I can stand the disappointment.

Seriously, you mean this won't be me after all?

The sacrifices we make for these blasted kids.

Now, here's what I'm afraid of....
I know myself. I'll use this as an excuse to continue my half-assed training. After all, how hard can 10 little bitty miles be? I'd rather curl up in my easy chair with a good book or a movie than huff and puff and drip with sweat.

Okay, that's not really true.
It's getting motivated to huff and puff and drip with sweat that's the problem. Once I have done it, I feel like I have earned the right to the good book or movie. And that is a good feeling.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Porn Blog

What the heck kind of title is that!!???

I know that's what you are asking yourself, admit it.
You know you came here looking for porn.


Well, someone did. Make that 2 people.

If you go to the right-hand side of the page and scroll down a bit,
you will see something called "Feedjit".
This shows me (and anyone else who might be interested)
where the readers of this nonsense come from.
For the most part, it is pretty typical stuff:
Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, etc.
I know who some of the few people who read this thing are.

But then I saw something veeeeeery interesting.
Yesterday, someone from Ontario, Canada popped in.

"Whoo-hee!! My fame is spreading!!", I said to myself.

Then today, an even more remote place - Wuhan, Hubei.
Where the hell is Wuhan, Hubei?
Heck, I never even heard of Hubei.

So, off I go to Google.........

Turns out Hubei is an east-central provence in China....

....and is the location of the famous Three Gorges Dam,
the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.
Begun in 1993 and completed in 2008, it will still undergo modifications until 2011.

Dam construction in this area is important to control the Yangtze River,
the longest river in Asia, whose flooding results in catastrophic loss of life:

The most recent major floods were the 1998 Yangtze River Floods,
but more disastrous were the 1954 Yangtze River Floods,
killing around 30,000 people. Other severe floods included those of 1911,
which killed around 100,000, 1931 (145,000 dead), and 1935 (142,000 dead)."

(Those numbers would have been incomprehensible before the Christmas tsunami.)

Wuhan is Hubei's capital.

It looks like a lovely city. Fascinating stuff. But I digress.

So, yeah, I fully expected Hollywood to start calling.
After all, I am known to the ends of the earth.

Okay, so this doesn't make a lick of sense to me either,
and you're thinking I must be off my rocker.
So I looked closer.

Both these "readers" came to my blog via Google Images.


And they were both directed by Google Images to a specific post,
namely the one with the b00b picture.

So my international readers are nothing more than people* looking for breasts,
or more specifically,
hands grabbing at breasts.

Not exactly the target demographic I had in mind,
if you know what I mean.

Sigh, there goes my fame & fortune.

*I originally had some far less flattering descriptors here,
but then I thought, wait now, what if I am jumping to conclusions?

After all, if you think about it,
I had to have Googled the same thing to find the picture for my post in the first place,
but I Googled entirely for intellectual purposes.
I had to illustrate a point.
I wasn't looking for porn.

Just goes to show you -
be careful what you put on the damn internet.
It can come back and bite you in the ass.

But, to think, someone in China knows about me now,
even if they only looked at my blog for all of 10 seconds.
Cool. It really is a small world,
as my friend Rosie also found out.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Buffets are evil

My brother is in meat-eating heaven, and I mean that totally in the gastronomic sense. Really.

Last year (or the year before, I forget), Espeto na Brasa, a Brazilian steakhouse, opened in beautiful downtown Norfolk.
BS & I met my brother there this evening.

Let me describe this for you:

It is housed in a lovely, old, nicely restored circa 1908 building.
There are a lot of those downtown, and, thankfully,
more of them are being preserved.

The menu includes both a cold and hot food bar - not extensive, but nice.
One of the items on it are marinated artichoke hearts, and,
no Sandra Lee, I did not find them appealing at all.
(This is a blatant shout-out to my online friends)
What I did love were the fresh green beans.
For some unfathomable reason, I just love fresh green beans.

Oh, and there was a very large column of pecorino romano cheese that you can chip at with sharp tongs.
That was pretty fun, seeing how big a piece you could whack out of there.

There were tiny little cheese-filled rolls that were very good.
Ours were piping hot, fresh from the oven.

But still, all this may leave one wondering, "So what?"
What is so special about this place, you ask.
Absolutely nothing.......if you are a vegetarian.
There should be a sign on the front door,
"Vegetarians BEWARE! Spend your money somewhere else."

The pièce de résistance is the MEAT.
Meat, glorious meat.
Mass quantities of it.
Large, erect columns of hot meat (heh, heh, heh).
The place is for carnivores.
Lovers of the tasty parts of animal flesh,
seared on hot grills,
seasoned with garlic or wrapped in smoky bacon,
delivered to your table on towering , sizzling skewers.
All you want.
Over and over.
All your tablemates want.
Over and over.

Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, chicken livers (blech),
even grilled pineapple, coated with cinnamon-sugar.

And then, after you have stopped wanting it for fear of imminent gastric blowout
(reminding me of the Monty Python skit),
they try to bring you more.

You don't believe me?

This is but a mere sample, a trifling taste, of the meaty wonders that await.
It's expensive, but if you are a meat-lover, you would likely think it's worth it.

BS had never been there. He was impressed,
but did nothing but groan in agony on the way home.
I chose not to partake of the hunks of hot meat.
I got the lesser priced hot & cold bars and still ate too much.

Buffets are evil.

ps - I went to one of these in Hyannis MA almost 3 years ago,
and while the meaty portions were pretty much equal,
the hot & cold bars at the MA place were far superior.
At least that's how I remember it.