Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There is a Lot More to Dallas...

I’ve been to Dallas three times and find the morbid fascination with the Kennedy assassination a mystery. Not that people do visit Dealey Plaza to gaze at the sixth floor of the former Book Depository Building and the x’s thoughtfully painted in the road and think, “Hmmm”, but that hawkers lurk about trying to sell souvenirs-including  programs containing autopsy photos I find particularly revolting.

During my second visit to Dallas (the first occupied entirely by work), a group of us took the pilgrimage and found people selling this memorabilia, if you will. Some people attempted to show us around as if we couldn’t look up, yep, sixth floor window, look at the road-x, x, look across the street, grassy knoll (there is actually a large yellow and black sign announcing “grassy knoll”) . You certainly don’t need a tour guide. Aside from the grisly booklets, an author or two have set up stands to sell, I guess, their books on the subject.
Light Show at Night
This trip, one tourist went so far as to walk into the road when there was no traffic-not an easy feat-this is a freeway entrance ramp-to crouch down beside onoe x and have his photo snapped. Something I found interesting was his age, maybe thirty, but not older. I was in third grade when President Kennedy was killed and, like others of my generation, remember exactly what I was doing when I heard about it. Anyone much younger than me won’t have that “remember when” time portal, so taking a photo on that spot  perplexes me.

There was a woman selling t-shirts that proclaimed “1963-2013 Dallas”, as if this were a fiftieth anniversary worth marking with a commemorative t-shirt. Should have gotten some of those for the grandkids…
Light Show at Night
To the City of Dallas, I say: You are a well-appointed city with an ignominious stain you can never erase. We stayed at the Magnolia, a grand lady with an impressive view. We ate an excellent hamburger at the Chesterfield, enjoyed pizza at Porta di Roma, had more burgers at a corner burger spot with garlicky good french fries. After the wedding we were there to attend, we partied at Dallas Heritage Village and thoroughly enjoyed your hospitality.
Except for a one-half-block section of perfidy, you are a beautiful, tidy place with scores of other diversions that still can’t expunge the one horrible day you had nearly 50 years ago.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This is not about Red or Blue

This is the difference between someone who stands and publicly shrieks at you while shaking a well-manicured finger in your face and someone who graciously stands and listens. 
The first is a politician, the second is a lady. God bless you Betty White.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Improvised Exploding Pen Conspiracy

This is the desktop IED that secreted its evil self in my pen cup at work and detonated sometime overnight. At least I think it was overnight, seemingly it was unexploded when I left work yesterday. Such is my habit that I select the pen colors I want to use first thing in the morning (yes, I use different colors every day, largely depending on whim), pretty much use those all day, and replace them when I get ready to leave, so I can only suppose it happened during the night. I started work this morning, made tea, grabbed a couple of pens and started to work.

This was not one of the pens I chose; It took me a few minutes to realize there was blue liquid ink on my hands, well, first the hand I write with, which no doubt spread it to the other when I pulled the cap off, then, just to make things annoying, dappled a design across my desk that I then smeared my forearms in, and was most entertained to discover I had touched my face a couple of times and established a bit of abstract temporary tattoo there as well. Temporary being just a theory when it came to cleaning it up and is the reason I keep disinfecting wipes in my desk-not for fear that a stray germ might drift into my workspace, but that a malicious pen might disgorge it’s guts in the dark recesses of a container and pool in such a way that any pen I choose will begin its persistent ink distribution process.

I’ve had this happen before, it happened in my purse during a flight once, which was hell to clean up in-flight and the purse was never the same, but I don’t think there was any appreciable change of air pressure or altitude in my office last night. The offending pen is always a retractable, and after it happens, you have to clean up every single everything else in the container, container included. A narrow, deep dark place.

Just glad I discovered the face-painting attempt before my coworkers did.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

To Check or Not to Check

We flew to Dallas last month for a wedding, and I noticed the most curious airline practice. The airline is, mercifully, one that didn’t charge the accursed per-checked-bag fee, which I think should just be discreetly concealed in the price of the ticket. “But what”, you ask, “if I only have a carry-on?”

My hubby and I travel a lot, and I’m here to tell you that we have witnessed more flagrant, utter bullshit watching passengers try to deceive, manipulate, hector, and delude themselves, the airline employees and fellow passengers that  1.) their carry-on is within the regulation size limit, or 2.) the woman that weekend trying to convince the gate attendant that her four carry-on items - a wheeled suitcase, a brimming mesh contraption hanging from the wheeled suitcase, a totebag, and her purse-were actually two.

Really, it's just my carry-on
The attendant tried to tell her four carry-ons was unacceptable, whereupon the woman brashly turned tail and lumbered down the ramp onto the aircraft, then held up the line behind her while she stowed all the items in overhead compartments. Upon arrival, she held the line up getting the damn things off, too. This was in addition to watching other people cram oversized, overstuffed bags of every sort into the compartments, then pry them back out to deplane.

Examining checked bags for homeland security hazards apparently got so costly that the per-bag fee was implemented, causing hordes of passengers to try to dodge the fee by stuffing perhaps appropriate sized bags to bursting, and in some cases, bags that don’t even pretend to be regulation size, to carry on. The cost of examining carry-on luggage is now apparently such that airlines are considering a fee for those as well.
Air travel is people watching at its finest and just part of the entertainment to be had while travelling, but I digress. The curious practice I spoke of involves the inconsistent handing out of in-flight snacks: Four flights; Seattle-Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City-Dallas. And back. First flight-two tiny packages of peanuts containing about 12 goobers each. Next flight-the attendant handed my hubby a pack of cookies and apparently supposing that I didn’t need anything, passed me by. Third flight-a package of pretzels, package of peanuts, AND pack of cookies. (I traded my hubby the cookies for the peanuts). Fourth flight-one tiny package of peanuts.
In-flight Snack
My question is, why the difference in distribution approaches, on different flights on the same airline?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Heart Plants

My grandmother was an inveterate houseplant maven. She lived in a small studio-type apartment, the living room was the bedroom with a sleeper sofa - she pulled it out to sleep each night and pushed it back each morning - all the years of my memory and grew plants in all two windows. My mother couldn't grow a thing, houseplant-wise. We had a couple of roses and a peony in the yard that grew largely ignored. The addiction must skip generations, because I can't get enough plants, I scour garden centers, and friends' and relatives' homes for starts of those I don't have. Well, not the stores -  those I buy (I'll admit, my grandmother would pinch off starts in stores, "just neatening it up a little", but back then, they didn't have in-store security cameras & features that now attempt to discourage what amounted to shoplifting).

My living room and family room exist for my plants, there is little room fur human occupants. This is just one corner :) Those plants that aren't crowded into my house occupy my office. My plants also overflow into coworkers offices, who don't appear to mind so long as I care for them. No problem. I put a plant in my husband's house (we live in different cities due to our jobs), right above the kitchen sink, so watering it need not take much effort. It's a wandering jew (Zebrina pendula), you can't kill those, can you?, but several times I have brought his back from the brink of doom, obviously he's not a plant person, either. 
This plant is a Kalanchoe. I got a start from a cousin several years ago. From all I've read, these require little care and bloom with abandon...this is the first time the thing has ever bloomed, paltry as these flowers are. I have two African violets I was given at my son's funeral. Those bloom regularly and vigorously although I've always heard they are difficult to grow (no photo, not blooming just now). In fact, I do nothing recommended on this website Perfect African violets. Wrong light, wrong pot, they're in a weird, terra cotta planter and the soil they came in, wrong humidity, and they thrive enthusiastically. Still I'm glad my Kalanchoe put on this muted display.

This plant is a Hoya. Got the start for this one from my cousin, too. It grows long phototropic vines that wave about looking for light, and eventually leaf out so they are less mobile and have strange pentagonal flowers I wish I had photos of, they're so interesting (example: Hoya carnosa). This is its wandering phase; other of its vines snake across the floor because the leaves make them too heavy. The vines also wrap around anything they contact; the vertical blinds, bookcase, other plants. I gave one to a coworker several years ago. At the time, this one had three leaves and did little for about three years. Eventually it grew vines, but mine has never bloomed. The way I know it blooms is the one I gave to the coworker blooms vigorously in the spring. I don't think I quite have my grandmother's propensity after all. 

I do have an Angel Wing Begonia . When I was growing up, she had one, large and beautiful, in one of the two windows. In time, she gave me a start and I don't know what became of it, it undoubtedly was left behind during school, moving, marriage and family. I think they went somewhat out of fashion as I spent some time some years ago looking for one, unsuccessfully.  So I was delighted when a friend who was moving asked me if I wanted hers. I think my grandmother, who died in 1975, sent it to me.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Butt Can

In the state where I live, people can’t smoke in public buildings. This is The Butt Can in the parking lot where I work; I just noticed the cable lock this week. Would someone really want to steal this?

Outside magazine this month (with a hideous swimming suit on the cover which looks like a collection of crisscrossed red cargo straps that should be flung into an active volcano, preferably Orodruin), had an article, Who Pinched My Ride?, written by Patrick Symmes, whose cable lock-tethered bicycle was stolen in broad daylight on a teeming sidewalk in NYC and caught on a surveillance video, although to his distress the thieves were never caught. It chronicles, in his attempts to get his bicycle back, his investigation into the largely unexplored underworld of bike and bike parts theft, resale of purloined bicycles, and the powerlessness of police to combat the matter. 

Not that the police intentionally ignore bicycle thefts, Symmes indicated that some do because there are more important, more serious crimes – where the greatest effort and budget are necessarily devoted. But some, almost as one riders themselves, engage in the battle with little success. In all, Symmes sacrificed maybe six bikes in his pursuit; he even purchased one of dubious repute, and left a couple out just to see what their fate would be. (In an aside, we visited Japan last year and saw thousands of bicycles wherever they could be parked, nary a lock on them). The conclusion was that hundreds of thousands of bikes are stolen each year, sold whole or as parts, a majority by drug users looking for quick cash in a rather lucrative market, and that very few are arrested and fewer prosecuted. Larger stolen possessions and more dangerous offenders are easier to locate and convict.

Oddly, the same day I read a piece in Travel and Leisure about the rising, unbridled theft of valuables and money from travelers’ luggage by TSA agents. Lest this turn into a rant, suffice to say that these stouthearted warriors who often disdainfully herd passengers through airport checkpoints and x-ray their belongings also rifle through their unmentionables and steal from them. Stuff that is undeniably worth stealing.

That said, bikes and luggage contents I understand. My question is, this butt can has to be secured against theft? Is this an attractive object to sit out as yard decor (the best account of sitting-out-in-the-yard-shit I’ve read or this) or a tacit hint to guests that smoking is not allowed inside the house? A desirable item to resell on eBay? – “Excellent used condition…” Actually, it’s a better candidate for Regretsy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lazy Day Lunch

Today we just hung out at the house. Planned to go skiing but Ron had a conference call - working from home.

I had to put the bird in her cage during the call; this is Bruno.

She was my bird until I met Ron then she shifted her affection to him and openly and unashamedly prefers his company to mine, but when he gets on the phone, she seems to know his attention is elsewhere and today made so much racket his coworkers asked him if he had a bird at work. So she got a time-out. She was also a he, hence the name, until she decided she wanted to be Ron's mate and started laying eggs. When she does, she turns into a hostile, shrieking termagant we call Birdzilla. The advice we gleaned from the web when she first started laying was to let her keep them until they would have hatched - they're not fertilized - then she'd lose interest. Boy is that #&!@# crap . She kept laying eggs and we started taking them away. I don't know about everyone else, but I like to walk into my bedroom and not have the nasty bird run across the floor of her cage, hissing and flapping her wings. So we don't let her keep her pretend eggs.

I love salads and bought some green leaf lettuce this week, made this just pulling stuff out of the refrigerator; lettuce, spinach leaves, snap peas, celery, green onion, green pepper, boiled egg (recently bought one of those wire egg slicers), feta cheese and tuna. Lighthouse blue cheese dressing. yum.

We do plan to ski tomorrow, then we pack a lunch, laskluster as it may sound, just turkey and cheese sandwiches, some fruit, maybe some mixed nuts. We're too cheap to buy food at the lodge. Booze, but not food!

Maybe post some pics from the ski slopes soon.
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