Monday, October 31, 2005
Cars, Wrecks and Road Trips

This is my car. The good thing about it is that it is a company car, and they pay for everything: payments, insurance, gas, oil, repairs, tires, even car washes. The bad thing is that this car hates me.

Just a few months after I got the car, I was driving down a two-lane road. There was a car coming the opposite way. Unfortunately, that car blocked my view of the deer on the side of the road, and blocked her view of me. We became aware of each other as she smashed into the side of my car. She managed to get off the road, and a couple of weeks later the Professor told me he saw a limping deer who was extremely cautious of the traffic, so I think she survived. The damage was pretty minimal, but visible. I confess to waiting several months to get the body work done because it gave me such a good way to bond with my customers. They'd ask, "What happened to your car?"; I'd shrug and answer "Got my first deer."

Two weeks after I had the deer damage fixed, I was in Alexandria LA. It was after 5:00, and I was downtown, looking for my hotel. I could see through four stoplights, and the road was completely clear. I started across the intersection, actually had my front wheels all the way through, when WHAM, I was hit. Some woman had pulled out of a driveway, yakking on her cell phone, obviously speeding and not paying a bit of attention. She never honked, never hit her brakes, but apparently opened her eyes at the last second and yanked the wheel. Again, there was minimal damage to my car, but hers had to be towed away. When the cop arrived, he hugged her. Then the cop who relieved him turned out to be her brother-in-law. Guess who got the ticket?

The scary thing is that I am five feet tall, and if the law were based on height instead of age, I would be required to ride in the back seat. If my air bag ever goes off, I will die. I'm not sure if my car is trying to kill me, or just messing with my head. GM cannot put a pedal extension on the car. I only have to drive this for another 20,000 miles and I'll get a new one. I'll try to get one with a pedal extension, but I'll certainly get one that isn't gray.

This is the Professor's car. It cost more than 4 of the 6 houses I've owned! He wanted a midnight blue, but they were all sold, so he bought the yellow because it's my favorite color. And is it a chick magnet -- everyone from the little old ladies at my mother's retirement community to my 7 year old granddaughter flirts with him to get a ride.

In June, the Professor took a road trip. He was headed for the experimental aircraft show in Wisconsin, but he drove there by way of Florida.
Then he headed up to Mackinac Island in Michigan. From there, he went to the air show, then up to the Iron Range in Minnesota, and westward from there to Montana. In Montana, he made a right turn up to Canada, then went west again. Somewhere in Canada a Mountie stopped him and said "I caught you fair and square; you were speeding." He still didn't get a ticket! (That's the other thing about this car; cops don't want to ticket it.) The Professor got to Alaska, in fact as far north as the paved road went, but was disappointed he couldn't get to Dead Horse. His return home was down through Washington, Utah, Nebraska, among others. He ended up putting 13,000 miles on the car. Most people wonder why he did this, but it's obvious to me: this is the road trip all teenage boys want to take. It just took him a few extra years to have the time and money to do it. Also, I tend to want the top up if I am dressed up, and that frustrates him. He made that entire trip with the top down, except for the time he was caught in a snowstorm, and even then he didn't put it up until the cockpit started to fill up with snow. I am very happy he got to take the trip, and even happier that I didn't have to do it with him! Three weeks in a car --- yech.

posted at 7:59 AM
Comments (10)

Saturday, October 29, 2005
So What's Your Sign?

Why didn't they do this when I was in high school?!!

This is an old picture, but I just ran across it & wanted to share.

My good buddy Caralyn at Fig-Fat Meanie tagged me to do this meme.

A to Z meme

A - Age of your first kiss: Spin-the-bottle kind -- don't know; meaningful one, see "First Kiss " post below
B - Band you are listening to right now: Ray Charles
C - Crush: George Clooney
D - Dad's name: Frank
E - Easiest person to talk to: The Professor (as long as it's not politics)
F - Favorite ice cream: chocolate chip
G - Gummy worms or Gummy bears?: neither! Gummy -- eeeuw!
H - Hometown: Seabrook TX, a small suburb on the southeast side of Houston
I - Instruments: I can play "Chopsticks" on the piano -- does that count?
J - Junior High: Edward Carey, Dallas, TX. Funny thing about that was that they'd had us in the high school since 8th grade -- finally finished the junior high & stuck us in there for the last semester of 9th grade -- as you can imagine we were irate -- but since it forced me to notice the boys my own age, it was the best thing for my social life for the next 3 years
K - Kids: 3, ages 40, 38, 33 (still can't believe I have kids that old!)
L - Longest car ride: New York to Houston; Dallas to San Francisco -- too lazy to look up the miles and see which one was the longest
M - Mom's name: Lily
N – Nicknames: Shortstuff, Smurf, Scarlett
O - One wish: Hate to sound like a Miss America contestant, but my one wish would be that no child would ever have to feel pain again
P - Phobia: snakes
Q - Quote: "100% of the shots you don't take, don't go in." (Wayne Gretzky)
R - Reasons to smile: my grandchildren, flowers, sunrises, music
S - Scent: vanilla, cinnamon, orange; perfume, L'Air du Temps, Estee, Jessica McClintock
T - Time you woke up today: 5:00am
U - Unknown fact about me: I was born in Queens N.Y. and lived on LonGisland until I was 8.
V - Values: Honesty; the Golden Rule; we were put on earth to help each other
W - Worst luck with: Until the Professor came along, with men (and there are moments when I'm not so sure my luck has changed!)
X-rays you've had: mouth, face, right wrist
Y - Years since you've been to church: Less than one -- I'm one of those Episcopalians who's still mad that they changed the prayer book (30 years ago!)

posted at 7:03 AM
Comments (14)

Thursday, October 27, 2005
Farewell to Astroworld
Last Sunday we went to Astroworld for the last time. The land is now more valuable than the revenues they can get from the park, so they will tear everything down. We were not the only ones wanting to say goodbye; the lines were longer than I've seen them in years. Of course, it also made things worse that there was hardly anybody working at the park.

The Little Angel was with me, along with my #1 daughter, her husband, and my #3 granddaughter. First we rode the Viper, which is simply my all-time favorite roller coaster. The L.A. was fine with that -- we had to coax her on it last year, but of course she loved it once she rode it. She was too little to ride Batman, so I took her over to Looney Tunes while the others got their ride. She really thought she wanted to ride the rides there, so she got on the Spaceship.

It went around in circles five or six times. When she got off, L.A. said "I didn't know it would be so boring." I also had the thrill of some kid hurling almost at my feet, which nearly set me off. (All these kids & grandkids, and I still can't handle vomit!)

We rode a few other things and then went to the piece de resistance, the Cyclone. I know I said the Viper is my all-time favorite, but okay, I have two all-time favorites. The saddest thing is knowing there won't be any more wooden roller coasters built.

Well, the L.A. started getting really schizzy about riding this, even though she had ridden it once before on a school field trip and claimed to love it. First I told her they were going to take our picture, and when she is as old as I am she can show her granddaughter the picture and tell her how much fun it was. No sale. Then I told her it would be really selfish of her not to ride, because everyone else really wanted to ride it, and someone would have to miss the ride to stay with her. Still no sale. Then I got mad, and told her okay, fine, we won't ride this, but I will never take her to Disney World again, because I am not about to miss Space Mountain and the Rock'n Roller Coaster because she is being a drama queen. News flash: threats sometimes work!

For some reason, the scan I did of our picture on the Cyclone won't open, but in it I am grinning from ear to ear and the L.A. is leaning over toward me and looking anxious. The instant those lights flashed, she sat up straight, threw her hands in the air and started laughing. We got off the ride with her declaring that this is the best ride in the whole world. A few minutes later she teared up and when I asked what was the matter she said "I'm going to miss this ride". Like I said, Drama Queen --- but she's so darn cute. I may try to get her away from her mother on Saturday and just go ride those two roller coasters over and over.

posted at 3:36 PM
Comments (6)

Monday, October 24, 2005
First Kiss With a Twist
There seem to be a lot of "my first kiss" posts, and I am going to add one more. To be technical, this wasn't my first kiss -- I have no idea when that might have been -- but this was the first one that meant so much.

I sat in the car while he climbed a tree to pick some mistletoe for me, and marveled at his agility and bravery. (I was 14, okay? It seemed downright chivalrous to me.) When he returned to the car, he held the bunch of mistletoe over my head and said "Let's see if this stuff works." I probably don't need to tell you that: A) I never saw that line coming, at least not on a concious level, and
B) I thought it was the most brilliant thing I'd ever heard. I had a very serious case of infatuation.

To this day, I can see the shafts of pale winter sunlight streaming into the car. I can remember that "cold air smell" that came with him. I can feel the roughness of his palms on my face, and the texture of his jacket under my hands. His face was cold, but his lips were warm. The sensations stirred up by that kiss were so new, so unexpected, and so incredibly wonderful that it really was one of those I-could-have-died-right-then moments.

I debated whether or not to tell the sequel to this story, but I guess it's the honest thing to do. I got in touch with him many years later, after my divorce, "just to wish him a happy birthday". He was single, we had so much in common, and I was beginning to think we were going to pick up where we left off when he told me "After we broke up and I thought about you and your brother and our friends, I realized ... I prefer boys."

posted at 6:25 AM
Comments (9)

Saturday, October 22, 2005
Here's to the Good Guys
Houston is in a baseball frenzy right now, since our lovable losers, the Astros, have made it to the World Series for the first time in their 44 year history. We have come heart-breakingly close so many times before. And while I toast their achievement, and will root for them with all my might, I believe they have already accomplished the ultimate: they are a team to look up to.

Basketball is overrun with gangstas, football with thugs, hockey with hotheads. I don't follow other baseball teams, so I don't know if this is endemic to baseball itself, or just to the Astros, but these are all-American heroes. Most of them are married to their high school sweetheart. They go to church. They bury their egos to do what is necessary for the team.

Roger Clemens came out of his (very brief) retirement to play for less money in front of his hometown. He played again this year because he wanted to give the Astros, especially Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, a shot at the World Series. When he first signed with the Astros, he had a request -- that he would not have to travel with the team when he was not scheduled to pitch. A few calls to the other players quickly established that they would not whine about unfairness. All of them said, sure, Roger can stay home when he's not pitching, and can we wash his car for him, too?

Andy Pettite followed Roger to Houston, also taking less money so he could play for the hometown folks. He lives in Deer Park, which is a refinery town -- definitely not Beverly Hills -- because that's where he and his wife grew up, and that's where they want to raise their kids.

Jeff Bagwell had shoulder surgery and has hardly played all year. At the beginning of the season he asked if he could travel with the team, and said he would pay his own way, if necessary. He knew he could help the younger guys on the team if he was with them.

Last year we had an outstanding player named Carlos Beltran. Actually, he wasn't doing that well until he signed with the Astros, but he was so fantastic in the playoffs that he was the hottest commodity out there. He made several comments about how people would come up to him and tell him how much they enjoyed his playing, and how much they hoped he would stay. Carlos said it wasn't about the money, it was about playing for a team and a city that really wanted him, and for a team that had a good shot at the Series. Then he signed with the Mets -- the Mets!!!! -- and didn't have a very good season with them. You may notice some signs in the stands which in effect say, eat your heart out, Beltran! What he did to Houston was make us feel like a very good wife with some stretch marks and a wrinkle or two who suddenly gets dumped for a bleached, siliconed trophy. If you listen, you can hear the woman scorned syndrome. But it turns out that was for the best. I think if the Astros still had Beltran to rely on, they might not have played so much as a team, and they would not be where are today. Beltran turned out to be all about the money.

So here's to the Good Guys, with their old-fashioned virtues, their determination, their work ethic, and their team spirit. Isn't it nice to know that every now and then, nice guys finish first.


posted at 10:54 AM
Comments (2)

Thursday, October 20, 2005
The Glamorous Life of a Salesman
I'm in a nice little coastal town today, working a trade show. (It's going very well, thank you for asking.) I am staying at the hotel where the show is being held. It's old, and far from fancy, but until this trip it was okay.

This morning as I started the water for my shower, I realized there was no bath mat. Then I discovered there was no soap -- that's okay, I have my own shower gel -- and no washcloth. But disaster fell when I got out of the shower, dried off, and reached for the hair dryer...oops, there is no hairdryer. Quick, call the front desk. The phone rings about 10 times and a recorded message comes on. I am running back and forth from the bathroom, where I am putting all the things on my face that are supposed to keep my age from showing, and the phone, where I keep trying to reach the front desk. Finally, I give up, throw on some clothes, and go down to the front desk with dripping hair and no makeup. This is not a sight anyone wants to see, believe me, so of course I run into four different people I know. There is no one at the front desk. I chase down a maid, who chases down a supervisor, who finally locates the desk person. All this time, mind you, my hair is drying itself into weird shapes. The desk person has no hair dryer; he finds a maintenance person who sets off to get one. Meanwhile, the desk person cuts me a key to the room next door and says to dry my hair in there. I run back upstairs, and the key to the room next door doesn't work. So back to my room I go, and do what I can with a brush to make my hair not stand on end. I call the front desk again, tell them the key doesn't work, send maintenance up with a hair dryer. A few minutes later, I hear someone next door trying a key -- he can't make it work, either. Finally, he knocks on my door and says to go use the hair dryer in the room two doors down. At this point, it is about twelve hairs that need drying, but I do it.

I have a very awkward, very unattractive booth for trade shows. I decided that since the standard is a cubicle made out of rails with curtains attached, I would instead get a banner made at Kinko's and attach it to the curtain behind me. When I arrived last night to set up, what I found was tables -- no rails, no curtains. Okay, I'll thumb tack the banner to the wall behind me... except I don't have any thumb tacks. I asked the front desk for some. They arrived this morning. The wall was wood, so I was using my shoe to hammer the thumb tacks in. Next thing I knew, someone was telling me that the seminar classes were being held in the room next to the wall I was pounding on, and it was so loud the speaker had to stop speaking. Ooops! I also heard that the story is now that I was wandering around the hotel naked, looking for a towel!

I took a bunch of customers to dinner last night so I would have company to help me celebrate the Astros' WIN. That makes it all worthwhile.

posted at 11:11 AM
Comments (7)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
What Is The Matter With This Woman!
For the last couple of years, I was Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer of a professional organization, not by choice, believe me. I finally got to hand all those jobs off to new people, most of whom are very competent. But the new Treasurer... grrrrrrr.

We weren't able to get together until the day I left on vacation. She picked the place, she picked the time: a restaurant at 11:00. (My flight was at 3:00.) That morning she called and said she was tied up, but would be there by noon. I replied I would be gone by noon. Okay, she would be there by 11:30. I waited in the parking lot -- about 11:40 she called me because she was at the wrong restaurant (remember, she picked the place) -- when she found out where I was she said "Well, I won't make you leave; I'll come there". Big of her, right?

Okay, so she finally gets there. I stay past noon, showing her all the things she needs to be aware of. One of them is the post office box key, which has a paper tag with the address of the post office on it, plus I give her directions. She writes this down in her notebook. I tell her she has to pay for the box in September or they will put a lock on it. I sign a check for that purpose, since she has not been "able" to meet with me sooner to get her signature on the checking account.

This morning I found a message on my phone. It was long and rambling and I couldn't listen to all of it. I got too angry when I heard the treasurer say that she hadn't been to the post office because she doesn't know where it is! This woman is in a sales/service position. If she listens to her clients like she listens to me, then all I can say is :

"Jane, you ignorant slut, who did you sleep with to get this job?!!!"

(Give yourself points if you know where that quote comes from.)

posted at 7:08 AM
Comments (11)

Tough Loss!
Top of the ninth -- Astros lead by two -- Cards have two outs -- one more out and the 'Stros go to the World Series for the 1st time in their 44-year history. The crowd is on its feet, the noise level intense. While everyone is distracted, Brad Lidge's evil twin sneaks out to the pitcher's mound. He allows a single -- he walks the next batter -- and the next, He Whose Name Cannot Be Mentioned, hits a 3-run homer. Excuse me, I have to go cry now.

posted at 4:36 AM
Comments (4)

Sunday, October 16, 2005
Oh my, I've been tagged. I'm not sure I know 3 three things about me in all these categories, but here goes:

Three names I go by:
1. Mom
2. Gramma
3. Scarlett

Three screen names I have had:
1. Mitey Mite

Three physical things I like about myself:
1. My energy level
2. My butt
3. My calves

Three physical things I don't like about myself:
1. My height
2. My feet
3. The effects of gravity on everything else

Three parts of my heritage:
1. Irish
2. French
3. Swiss

Three things that scare me:
1. Snakes
2. Alligators
3. Driving at 70 mph in heavy traffic with an eighteen-wheeler tailgating me

Three of my everyday essentials:
1. Coffee
2. Chocolate
3. The morning crossword puzzle

Three of my favorite musical artists:
1. Elvis
2. Willie Nelson
3. The Eagles

Three of my favorite songs:
1. Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin
2. Love Remains - Colin Raye
3. La Grange - ZZ Top

Three things I want in a relationship:
1. Playfulness
2. Trust
3. Teamwork

Three LIES:
1. I'm organized
2. I'm materialistic
3. I'm a computer genius

1. I like to make people happy
2. I have the job I worked 20 years to get, and I love it
3. I'm a good tap dancer

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to me:
1. Big brown eyes
2. Intelligence
3. Sense of humor

Three of my favorite hobbies:
1. Crochet
2. Gardening
3. Dancing

Three things I want to do really badly now:
1. Remodel my house, especially the kitchen
2. Be the top salesman for my company
3. Spend more time with my (brilliant & beautiful) grandchildren

Three careers I've considered:
1. Teaching
2. Journalism
3. Interior decorating (actually did that one)

Three places I want to go on vacation:
1. Tahiti
2. Dubrovnik
3. New Zealand

Three kid's names I like:
1. Emily
2. Ryan

Three things I want to do before I die:
1. Join the Peace Corps
2. Run with the bulls in Pamplona
3. Learn Irish step-dancing

Three ways that I am stereotypically a boy:
1. I like internal combustion engines & heavy machinery
2. I have a teenage male sense of humor (can you say "Animal House"?)
3. I don't like to shop

Three ways that I am stereotypically a girl:
1. I love dolls
2. I love frilly, lacy, frou-frou stuff
3. I have a terrible sense of direction

Three celebrity crushes:
1. Sean Connery
2. Elvis (wherever he is)

Three people that I would like to see post this meme:
1. Ally
2. Shane
3. Caralyn

posted at 12:08 PM
Comments (7)

Friday, October 14, 2005
Friday's Flowers
My computer had a virus all week. I had to send it back to my company to get it fixed. Everything worked but the internet, but when so much stuff comes in not with an attachment, but with a link, it's hard to get things done. It is almost as hard to be without the computer as it is to be without the car.

Our temperatures have cooled down from the 90's to the 80's. It is gorgeous weather here, with not much humidity, and some of my flowers have perked back up.

This is my Confederate Rose, a plant I have yearned for for years. Guppyman & Storm gave it to me for Mother's Day. The leaves are a little droopy because hurricane Rita pushed it over sideways and I don't think the roots are completely doing their job yet. But bless its heart, it bloomed for me, anyway.

Here is a closeup of the flower. It's actually a form of hibiscus. There are lots of buds on this bush.

This is part of my garden, with a plumeria in front. It bloomed all last summer -- I swear I could have made leis every day -- but because we had snow at Christmas, it took all summer to grow big again. However, there are some plumeria buds on it now. The blue stuff next to it is plumbago. In the spring, you can hardly see the leaves, just a mass of blue flowers. The yellow behind it is called Texas Bells. It's a weed, er, I mean native. I have to go out all the time and prune it back and pull up seedlings or it would take over the entire garden.

This one is a purple sage. Every three or four weeks it will cover itself with these flowers.

This one is a hummingbird bush -- I believe the "real" name is hammalia. I promise you, there was a hummingbird drinking nectar when I pushed the button, but it was quicker than the shutter. I highly recommend this plant -- it's another weed, that spreads from its roots, but you can chop off the new plants and share them with friends. It's quick growing, blooms for months, and really does attract hummingbirds.

It's a wonderful, glorious Friday, the Astros are doing great, I had a good week (except for my computer), and I intend to have a great weekend. Hope everyone else has the same.

posted at 3:12 PM
Comments (7)

Monday, October 10, 2005
Monday Morning Ramblings
Go Astros!!!!! What an incredible game that was yesterday. Actually, after 18 innings, that was an incredible two games.

I seem to have confused some people. Perhaps this is just a Texas expression. John Wayne toilet paper is that stuff that's so rough that only a manly man can stand to use it. (Attilla the Hun toilet paper was roughly akin to #8 grit sandpaper.)

I have to rant today. I just read an article about how Florida has successfully kept drilling for oil out of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, even though it is believed that the eastern Gulf has just as much oil as the western Gulf has. Now I am not a rape-and-pillage-the-environment type, but this particular subject has always gotten to me. It would be a tragedy if the beautiful reefs were damaged, but only 2% of offshore oil spills are from drilling & exploration vs. 32% from small boats and land runoff. The chances of environmental damage from oil drilling there are extremely small. But okay, you Florida people don't want to run the risk of one tarball on your beaches, fine. But then you should be willing to pay at least 50 cents more a gallon for your gas than the rest of the country does. Say that to someone from Florida and listen to them scream. That wouldn't be fair! Apparently fair is when they take no risks and have all the benefits. I could go into a long dissertation about the economic pressures on oil, but that's not my point. I cannot stand people who think they are too good to do something unpleasant but necessary. I might be able to respect them if they admitted that they consider themselves above "dirty work", but are willing to pay to have someone else do it. But when they insist that they are entitled to have everything their way, I see red.

Well! I seem to be starting my week off with a happy attitude! Hope everyone else is having a good beginning.

posted at 5:19 AM
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Thursday, October 06, 2005

There have been so many requests (all two of you) for more about Transylvania, so here goes. We all think about vampires and werewolves, but Transylvania is actually a rural part of Romania near the Carpathian mountains. When you get outside the cities, life is something less than 21st century.

We saw wooden carts of all sizes, some horse-drawn, some pushed by men. We also saw a lot of satellite dishes, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, there were internet cafes everywhere.

This is the courtyard of Bran Castle. They will let you take pictures inside, but not outside -- go figure. It is possible that Vlad Tepes (also known as Vlad the Impaler and Vlad Dracul) spent a couple of nights here, but it was not his residence. It's just that Stoker decided to make this Dracula's castle in his novel, and the tourists started showing up in droves.

It was in the nearby town of Brasov that I saw a little girl begging. I knew about all the abandoned children in Romania so I went to get some money from the Professor. But when I came back out of the train station, I saw a man directing a group of children on which way to go and who to beg from. I just turned around and went back inside with the money still in my hand. He may be providing a measure of security for the kids, but mostly he is just exploiting them and teaching them to beg, not to earn a living.

This is what haystacks look like in Romania. In the US you get bales or rolls, but I never before saw actual stacks.

This is the town of Sighisoara, the birthplace of Vladdy the Baddy. They promote that a bit, but mostly it is a charming medieval town. I bought some needlework in this square as souvenirs.

We ate lunch in this restaurant, and it was so good we figured we couldn't beat it and went back for dinner. (The waiter loved us.) I look so happy here because the bathroom was clean and had John Wayne toilet paper -- which, after several days of Attila the Hun toilet paper, is a real luxury. One thing I have learned from traveling is that Americans have the most pampered butts in the world.

posted at 7:26 AM
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Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I Feel Pretty -- Oh, So Pretty
Woo-hoo! Check out my new look! Did this take 20 years off my age, or what! My great and wonderful son Guppyman did this for me.

I like to indulge -- not spoil -- people. It makes me feel good to see their enjoyment of something I've made, bought, or done for them. I even bake for my customers -- which makes them glad to see me -- which makes them buy more -- which is going to make me either #1 or #2 salesman this year -- and as the only woman in the sales force this was a big goal.

However, I'm beginning to think I've gone too far in the indulging of four-legged creatures. I fed Princess & Squeakers, the guinea pigs, while Guppy & Storm were still evacuated. I thought the pellets & hay looked boring, so I bought them some cantaloupe & spinach, which I chopped up into small pieces for them. (Can you tell, I never had a guinea pig.) They were so hungry, or so I thought, that I filled up the bowl with spinach twice in one feeding. Well, they now know my voice, my scent, something, because when I walk in the room they get very excited & start squealing. They run to the food dish, just knowing I am going to bring them some better food. And this after only two days of feeding them!

One of our cats (we have 3) is named Rush. He was born in my house, but he was Guppy's cat for a long time, until it became apparent that Storm & Heather were allergic to cats. Well, Rush is the sweetest, most affectionate cat, so I like to indulge him sometimes. When I have a bowl of ice cream I always leave a little for him. The other night the Professor was having a bowl of cereal. As soon as Rush heard the spoon clink in the bowl, he came running and very insistently tried to eat out of that bowl. (He waits patiently till I am done, but maybe he figured the Professor wouldn't know to leave him anything.) The Professor has always told me I have a giant "S" (for Sucker) tatooed on my forehead, and all children can see it. Apparently animals can, too...

posted at 3:43 AM
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Tuesday, October 04, 2005
We All Do It

Here's proof that for centuries, people have worried about the effectiveness of their deodorant.

Looks like a busy week ahead for me. I can't keep too much in my brain anymore -- it is packed full of totally useless trivia that will not be dislodged. I have to write things down, or they don't get done. I have enough to remember on any given day, but now my company has decided that the One Password, Every Account strategy that has served me so well over the years just won't do. Now they want me to change my password every month. I am forced to post a list of all my passwords in order to access anything. And this is improving security how....?

posted at 5:25 AM
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Sunday, October 02, 2005
The Great Train Caper

Normally when we go on vacation, we rent a car and just set out to see what we can see. The professor will drive anywhere -- Rome, Paris, Japan. A couple of years ago we had planned to drive from Munich to Budapest, but the rental car company threatened to tie us to a chair and play Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" 20 times if we drove the car into Eastern Europe. (I didn't mean to be so alliterative, and I apologize if any of you now have that awful song stuck in your head.) The guide book talked about Romania having pot holes big enough to swallow up a small city, and I'd always wanted to ride the train in Europe, so we decided we would take the Budapest to Bucharest train. Not the best decision of my life!

We got a 1st class sleeper. It turned out to be something about the size of a closet, with 2 bunks which took up all but a foot of the floor space. There were two bathrooms, one at either end of the car. One had a shower, which someone had used -- water all over the floor, dirty shower -- we used the bathroom at the other end. Silly me, I thought 1st class meant our own bathroom. (Am I a spoiled American or what!)

Now I know what you're all wondering, so here's the scoop... Oh, excuse me a moment ... [uh, Guppy, would you close your eyes for a couple of sentences] ... If you think water beds add a whole new dimension to things, then you would probably love the train. If you think the damn things take on their own rhythm which is not in sync with yours, then there are some things you will not enjoy on a train, expecially when you have about the size of a crib to work in and you are getting cramps in your legs because there is nowhere to put them and you're having to be very quiet and the train makes some funky turns that throw you off balance... Okay, you've been warned. [You can open your eyes now, Guppy.]

We just got to sleep when there was a knock on our door. It was the Hungarian border patrol checking passports. They were very thorough -- wrote down a bunch of stuff, went off with our passports, presumably to check us against a terrorist list. We got going again, barely back to sleep and there was another knock: "Passports!" I mumbled that they'd already been checked, and this Romanian border guard snarled "Magyars!" Now I believe that Magyars are the original tribe that became Hungarians, but obviously there is no love lost between Hungarians and Romanians. So the Romanians checked, but as I woke up more I noticed that these guys were HOT and started not to mind the intrusion so much. One border guard even expressed his sympathy for the hurricane and floods in New Orleans, which I thought was really sweet.

In the morning we looked out the window and saw the Transylvanian mists rising. We decided not to go all the way to Bucharest, but to get off at a little town called Sinia -- a simply lovely little town in a valley between two mountains. Because we were in the Bucharest car, we were far from the platform when the train stopped, and had to wade (because by now it was cold and raining hard) through mud and city-sized potholes. But that was part of the adventure.

Taking the train back to Budapest was another story. Because we did not get on in a major city, we could not make reservations for the sleeper car, but had to arrange it with the conductor when we boarded the train, at 11:30 PM. He said yes, he had 2 berths, and knocked on a compartment door a couple of times, then opened the door with a key. There was a passenger asleep in the bottom bunk! Now I was absolutely exhausted, so I just climbed into the middle bunk and let the Professor have the top one. I was so tired that I slept clutching my passport and would open one eye and hold it out to whomever asked for it. I slept through breakfast in the morning. What waked me was our fellow bunkmate coming into the compartment and saying good morning. When I opened my eyes, his face was about a foot from mine. I can honestly say that I slept with this guy and never even knew his name!

posted at 5:48 AM
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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Here is one the places I've always wanted to see, although all you can do is walk around a path, not wander among the stones. It is quite a sensation to be driving down the road and suddenly Stonehenge is right in front of you.

Personally, I don't even like dinner sushi to go.

Here's the plane to fly on those days when you feel like saying "Aw, Phuket, let's just Thai one on."

We flew to Budapest. Our favorite place there was St. Margaret's Island, a pastoral haven in the city. (Are you noticing a trend here?) We bought bus passes and rode trains, buses and trolleys, and only got lost once! Our hotel was off the beaten path. They sent us to a wonderful little restaurant, full of locals, where you pick your meat and they cook it for you. We also ate at a fancy-schmancy hotel on the island, where we were serenaded by a gypsy band. They had an instrument called the timballo, which looks like a piano, but has no keys, just strings that they strike with hammers. I would post the picture, but apparently 4 is my limit.

posted at 4:58 AM
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Mitey Mite

Texas, United States

I am older than dirt, but I still feel pretty young & some call me the Energizer Bunny. I share a house with the Professor & 3 cats. Between us we have 5 grown children, all of whom are productive members of society (!), and 10 grandchildren. I have a job I love, a little money for the 1st time in my life, and so many more things I want to do than I will ever have time for.

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