Monday, January 31, 2005

What can you send me?

Some have asked what to send me, so here are ideas. This is not a solicitation, by the way, it's a list for those who have asked. I can live without any of this...people all over the world do every day, they just don't realize they're living lives half-lived.

Tide with bleach
Adams Peanut Butter (chunky preferred)
Dill pickles
Crystal Light
cds crafted by your own two hands
Caribou Blend
Video tapes of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart
People magazine coverage of the Oscars
Mr. T's Bloody Mary Mix
Hints on favorite places to visit in England (and the continent)

That's enough for now. I'll think more and get back to you.

Travels with Mindy

I am sitting in the departures lounge for Air Canada's business class travellers waiting for my flight. I love flying business class. You're suddenly someone important...someone who people want to please. In fact, the woman at security actually said, "OH! You're special! Go to that line over there!" Note, the line she sent me to did not say "Business and First Class, invitation only," as it does at Heathrow. No, it said "Special Service for Disabled Patrons." Hmmm.

I spent some time trying perfume in the duty free shops. I was sure NOT to put on too much (see blog about my seat mate on the flight back to the UK.) But I tried spicy french fragrances in hope of finding a signature scent. No luck yet though.

My days here have been good. I was travelling with a customer, showing her the city and helping her decide if this was the right place for her to bring her group. Since I love it here, it was an easy task. She's convinced. We ate gobs of delicious food, walked the lovely neighbourhoods, and drove to Whistler in the rain yesterday. There wasn't much snow at the village level, which is bad for a ski resort, but up at the top of the mountain it was great.

Some guy just walked in reeking of cigarette smoke. I think he may have smoked a whole pack, maybe to tide him over until he lands in 10 - 12 hours. He's got that fresh air/fresh smoke/stale smoke in the fibers of the jacket going on, and it's time for him to go to the cleaners because he's sitting over the wall and I can STILL smell him. Pleh. Hope he's on the Sydney flight, not mine.

I'm drinking a Virgin Caesar. It's basically a bloody mary made with clamato. (The Caesar seems to be the national drink of Canada.) Yummy. Hadn't had one, but I believe I am a clamato convert.

Vistors are starting to queue up for the spring, so if you're planning a trip you should get your dates set soon. Pam's coming from Austria on the 10th, Kim and Abby are coming from the states March 10, and I hear El Ben may blow in sometime in May. The Bethanizer is making noise about a spring or summer trip, and I know Sparkdog hopes to come my way, as well. Have you checked YOUR flight options lately?

I'm hungary now, but I'd best not eat. They will force-feed me a three course meal once we get settled in the air, and I know there are cookies and milk before "bedtime," and tea and quiche or something before landing. I got a 3000 calorie flight ahead of me, so I'd best not pack more in now. Something about site inspections...you eat and eat and eat for days, and then when you try to be normal again your stomach is still ready to party. It makes a lot of noise (much like the three year old around the corner, who I'm praying is on to Frankfurt) until it figures out it's heading back to little small meals with healthy carbs and lean protein again.

Well, there's a 20 minute limit at peak times, and I've just been here for 30. Going to check around for others who might be waiting. I get a home computer this week, so I'll be back online soon.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Things I love about the PNW

Vancouver BC -
Just because I left Seattle 7 years ago, it doesn't mean I didn't love it. We just couldn't make it work at the time...we'd grown apart. We'd stopped communicating. It said LUSH GREENERY, I said MOSS BEHIND THE EARS. It said HIP, LIBERAL, FUNKY TOWN. I said POSERS AND EGOTISTICAL SLACKERS. We needed some time apart. But MAN I miss my folks from there, and when I come back for visits, I miss the land, too.

I'm not quite in Seattle, but I'm in Vancouver, which is mighty close. And I tell you, I've got a warm spot for the place where I finally grew up. Here is the list of the warm-spot inducing idiosyncracies I've found in the last two days:

People go out in the rain because, well, not doing so would mean staying in for 6 months.
People recycle everywhere.
People wear comfortable shoes, so no inferiority complexes occur...no one is running on cobblestones looking fabulous in tall boots.
Floating gas stations
Neon, neon, and neon
Big, beautiful parks
Trees (but not too many...that's scary)
Asians are everywhere, and their food rocks
Mountains
Water
Mountains
Water
Clean, fresh air that tastes salty if you breathe deep
Friendly people with quirky weirdness
Independence
Kalamata olives on pizza
60 degree and sunny vistas of the mountains in January
Coho Salmon that's been cedar planked
Asia's right over there. See it?

It's good here.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Random thoughts on a Saturday

Truly random thoughts of no particular significance...

Follow-up to the Spongebob Scandal...the story has broken here now, and it's been juxtaposed with the popularity of "Desperate Housewives" in the red states. (Are they mentioning in the US press that the states watching the most suburban housewife debauchery are all "moral voter" states?) Seems our friends here in the UK find banning a kids cartoon and going nuts for sexy sexy behaviour in exurbia is somewhat hypocritical. Go figure.

I love my new house. I have space to walk around. My walled garden needs work (deadheading plants and planting bulbs), but it has great potential. I have a convection oven. Now that I bought a proper chef's knife I can cook everything I could want in my new kitchen, though the fridge is small and I have to really start thinking about which veggies and fruits we chill without having to. My queen sized bed is comfortable, especially so with the high-threadcount pink sheets I received from the Girls for Christmas (thanks, ladies!). I have a short little walk on Sundays to the news agent for a copy of the Observer. I bought a drip coffee maker so I can have lazy old American coffee made from Caribou beans (more holiday gifts), which is perfect for a Saturday morning. I have a washer AND a dryer...TWO MACHINES. HOORAY! I'm even getting an IMAC from work to bring home, thus making it easier to blog and access email. Very comfortable little life. Guest bedroom will be rigged and ready for YOU by the end of the week.

Dirty little secret...I've been sucked into Celebrity Big Brother. Bridgette Nilsson (former starlet and wife of Sylvester Stallone) is my favorite, especially after the surprise arrival of Jackie Stallone, her former mother-in-law who hates her. And who's had way to much nipping and tucking done which, combined with the garish make-up she wears, makes her look demented. Oh. And Germaine Greer was in the house this time round, but got upset and created quite a scene when she learned she didn't have a private room and that her every move could be filmed. Hmmm...wouldn't you watch a show called "Big Brother" before you agreed to go on it? My favorite show so far was a surprise elimination...the housemates were dressed as nursery rhyme characters and were asked to play hide and seek. One of them was taken into the "diary room" to count to 50, but after she said "ready or not, here I come," she was told "no, you don't," and removed from the house. Of course, the other 5 didn't hear that part, so they continued to hide for HALF AN HOUR. Duh.

My ukulele playing is back on track. I had to leave Howard in MSP the first time round, as I had too many carry-ons. Brought him back this time, though, and have re-learned and even improved some.

My friend Pam is coming to see me in three weeks. See link to Nerd's Eye View for more details on Pam. YAY!

I am going to Vancouver BC next Friday for a site inspection. More hooray! Vancouver kicks butt.

Okay. Time to work now. Have a good weekend.

Friday, January 21, 2005

SpongeBob: Innocent Squarepants, or Big Ole Girl?

So it's my lunchbreak, and I'm spending some time on US news sites to stay current on what's happening in my homeland. There's lots of inauguration coverage, though no mention of the fact that John Kerry was booed at the ceremony by the audience of loyal GOP faithful, as was reported by the BBC last night. (Boy, Randy Kelly, thank god those kind, decent Republicans who care only for the good of the country and harbor no ill will won this election.) And there's an excellent op-ed on social security privatization by Paul Krugman. But the item that caught my interest the most today is the call to ban Spongebob Squarepants and Barney because they promote homosexuality.

Basically, here is James Dobson's argument: Spongebob (along with his immoral cronies Barney, Bob the Builder, and Winnie the Pooh) appears in a video for a remake of "We Are Family" that promotes tolerance for people who aren't necessarily like you, including people of different "sexual identity". Therefore, he is now a promoter of the homosexual lifestyle.

And what would Mr. Dobson (noted Christian family psychologist) prefer we do with our gay citizens, stone them?

And it's not just the disco-remake that got Mr. Dobson going. The gay rumors have been plaguing Spongebob for years...apparently, many homosexuals collect Spongebob merchandise and enjoy his program. Never mind that one logical conclusion is that many homosexuals have a sense of humor and enjoy this funny cartoon...the logic we're supposed to follow here is that if homosexuals enjoy something that means it promotes homosexuality. That's good news for square dancing, but bad news for pretty much everything else. Monday Night Football, I know homosexuals who regularly watch you and drink a beer or two. Shame on you! Antique collectors, what are you THINKING with all of your fancy old furniture and art pottery and pretty china sets? Shame on you!

First of all, no self-respecting gay man I know would live in a pineapple under the sea. But his pal Patrick DOES bear a slight resemblance to Tinky Winky, the gay teletubby. Hmmm...Maybe Dobson is on to something after all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Things I like about the Midwest

In my last post, some have gotten the impression that I didn't enjoy my time at home. On the contrary, I enjoyed my time very much, especially when spent with my friends and family. I have generous friends who let me stay in their spare room for weeks. I got to watch stupid tv and relax with people I love. I was able to join my bookgroup for their holiday celebration. I had dinners with friends who make me laugh. I got to play lots of Scrabble with my mother and got to hang out with my nephews. My brother and I got to talk smart. My sister-in-law and I got to belly laugh. We made kolaches with my dad on Christmas Eve. My friend Vicki got married in a beautiful little church in the hills of Iowa, and we had a rousing good time at her dance and reception in the Alamakee County Fairgrounds Pavillion. And, since we travelled to small-town Iowa for the wedding, I got to have a fabulous dinner at La Rana in Decorah with 5 of my favorite people on the planet. I even got to see a friend from Atlanta who I haven't seen in a year (and she's the sort I should really see every few days, if life were fair.) I got to have a few days being a 38 year old kid in my parents' home, just hanging out and talking and reading and playing more scrabble. I even got to take a trip to Chicago to get my visa AND to visit yet another friend who makes me snort when I laugh.

There are a few notable people who were elsewhere in the country during my visit, and I'm sad I didn't get to see them, too. But MAN did I feel surrounded by love.

I really hate the weather in the midwest in the winter, and I'm mad that my vacation was marred by flu. But one thing the Midwest can offer that nowhere else can....people I love more than anything in the world, who make me happy, who challenge me, who put up with all of my weird crap, and who show me more caring than one person deserves.

I am a people person, and now that I am living in a foreign country I am totally alone all the time. Sure, I talk to people at work and I'm slowly working on building a social structure, but the closest person who actually gets my jokes, who really understands the good and the bad of me and loves me anyway, is in Austria. After that, there's an ocean to cross, probably sitting next to a man wearing too much cologne.

God knows, there are days I'd prefer a sleet storm with a -70 windchill.