Sep 28, 2007

Day 6: Phoenix, AZ to Boston, MA

My stay at the Hilton was all too brief . My bed was comfortable and enveloped with six goose-down pillows and should have given me the best night of sleep during the entire trip, but I tossed and turned all night. I turned the A/C down as much as possible and still found myself slightly warm. Tricia didn't sleep well last night either and commented on the temperature as well.

We agreed to meet at 7am to leave since our flight on US Airways was due to depart at 9:05am. The hotel offered an airport shuttle service, but much to our dismay it didn't leave until 7:30am so we found ourselves waiting in the lobby for longer than expected. The shuttle was pretty crowded and we had a moment of concern thinking that only one of us was going to be able to get on the shuttle. But we both were able to get a ride without any trouble. As the driver was removing Tricia's luggage, she pointed her bag out to him describing it as the one "...with the orange tag." The driver asked her to say 'orange' again and asked where she was from. Tricia told him Boston and he happily replied, "Go Yankees!" musing out loud that he had probably just lost his tip. Tricia found him "adorable."

Sky Harbor airport was very busy and the check-in lines were long. I was delayed getting my boarding pass because of a group of people before me were experiencing passport issues and not being assisted by the most helpful US Airways attendant.

We rode the escalator up to the second level and stretched out before us were gift shops and restaurants. We briefly stopped for a few souvenirs and got into the line for security. There was another panic moment when Tricia couldn't find her cell phone, but fortunately she found it and we were able to proceed.

We had no idea that getting through security would take so long and be such a beast of a process. The line seemed to snake for miles. A woman paced within the perimeter of the lines calling out instructions for what to place in plastic bags due to the 3 ounce security mandate and eventually I remembered that I had a little bottle of Binaca in my purse along with a rather expensive pomegranate lip balm that I didn't want to lose because I didn't get one of those stupid baggies.

It took a very long time to get through security. By the time we made it through, our flight had started boarding. I thought to myself, "Where is a flight delay when you need one?" We hurried to the restroom and then over to Cinnabon for a little sticky breakfast-to-go and we were on our way ready and eager to board the plane.

Both Tricia and I were unfortunate to have the middle seat in a three-way seating arrangement. The two fellows that were seated to my left and right were overall quiet and kept to themselves. However, the man to my right had very furry arms and the touch of his forearm to mine during the six hour flight made me intimately know what being insane feels like-or that Chinese Water Torture thing. Either way it was maddening!

The seats were so uncomfortable. I found myself quickly getting a very stiff neck about an hour into our flight. I asked the flight attendant for a pillow, but she didn't have one to give. (She promised to bring one over to me should she find one, but I doubted I'd ever see again) I deeply regretted not bringing my neck pillow and swore that I would never make that mistake again on any future flights.

The movie playing during our trip was Oceans Thirteen which made me very happy because I had wanted to see it and thought it would kill two hours rather nicely. However, the little television screens that were placed overhead were just that-nearly directly over my head so that I had to tip my already aching neck upwards to see the movie. As I started watching it, I became so annoyed at my level of increasing discomfort that I gave up and turned on my iPod. I could tell the movie would be one that I'd want to watch and didn't want to ruin the experience by being uncomfortable.

Upon returning to Boston, we retrieved our luggage and each took our own limo ride home. My Carey chauffeur was from Egypt and was such a pleasure to talk to the entire trip home. (Apparently I really lucked out on the ride home because my limo was supposed to be from CTS International, but they were short staffed and contracted my scheduled pick-up to Carey whose clientele are typically business executives and the like.)

We spoke at length about all the features in the back seat of the sedan. There was bottled water, outlets to charge electronic devices, a fold-away laptop shelf, a courtesy Nokia cell phone, a digital tape deck, GPS, etc. The seats were butter leather and so comfortable.

My driver was Muslim and we spoke at great length about his religion and his marriage to a Jewish widower who converted to Muslim so they could marry eight years ago. He confessed that he was a 40-year old virgin when he married and explained that he had never touched a woman before his marriage. We talked about how all his family currently lived in Egypt and that during the mid-90's he had bought one of the first video phones so he could converse with his father, brothers and sisters. He had bought two of these video phones for approx. $2000 and never got the full benefit of either because of the compatibility between US and Egypt technology. So a typical phone call would allow him to see video but not hear his father talking to him. Another time he would speak to his sister, but could not see her.

We spoke about my observations of being in Mexico and not being able to speak Spanish. He shared with me how to he learned to speak English and fine-tune his language skills for six months living in England before coming to the United States. I asked if he swore in Arabic when he had a disagreement with his wife and that got him laughing. I pressed on asking what language he dreamed in and that question fascinated him because he had never given it much thought before.

Another interesting thing about him was his abilityto travel to Egypt for three months of the year to visit his family because he owns his own business, but his wife is unable to make the trip because she works for Macy's and is not able to take that much time off. He also shared that he never takes any photographs of his travels because he finds it is better for him to remember what he sees from memory rather than taking photographs because looking at photographs would make him too sad.

I don't find making small talk one of my strenghts, but I'm very good in a one-on-one situation. Talking with my driver was so enjoyable and educational. It was the perfect end to a very good trip to the Southwest.

Returning home found my beagle Minnie howling in the window and wagging her backside vigorously when I walked through the door. Being able to see Spencer again made me really feel like I had arrived because I had missed him so much.

I know I'll have some final thoughts on this trip, but for now I'm off to find a frozen pizza and relax in bed watching Fracture on DVD.

Good Night from Worcester.

Sep 27, 2007

Day 4 – Tolleson, AZ to Phoenix, AZ

I’ve headed into the home stretch of our business trip and find myself blogging from The Hilton Phoenix Airport in Phoenix, AZ.

This morning we began our day by driving from Yuma, AZ to Tolleson, AZ which was the last leg of our historic tour of the Southwest. Tolleson is where our West Coast distribution center is located and we had a busy agenda. Several key players from Corporate and Columbia, SC were all convening for a day-long conference to discuss some Bose-y things. We were hoping to reach the DC by 9am, but we experienced a few bumps along the way.

We went through a border patrol crossing station as we left Yuma. The crossing station had about three border patrol officers and one officer had a large yellow Labrador with him to sniff the vehicle as we were being questioned. I was sort of chuckling to myself that our officer wouldn’t have looked so intimidating if he had a Beagle on the leash instead of the yellow lab. But the checkpoint was quick and we moved smoothly through.

We had quite a laugh as we passed because the other member of our group, whose name is Mark, was in the car behind us and we were wondering if the dog would let him through considering all the meat he’s inhaled these past few days. (We were afraid his meaty scent would cause some issues that his US citizenship wouldn’t protect.)

There wasn’t much to see for roadside attractions. We passed Dateland, AZ known for The Date Shake which is an actual drink made from dates. One word: Gross. I thought the billboard advertising The Date Shake was some sort of speed dating dance club. I know it sounds strange, but when you’ve seen a full-blown casino at 4500 feet elevation in the mountains like I have then you’re prepared for anything.

We landed in Gila Bend which is a little slip of a town in Arizona. However, it does have two famous attractions: The Best Western Space Age Lodge (affectionately known as The Outer Limits Motel by the more experienced Bose travelers) and The Desert Sweet Shrimp Farm purporting to have "The World's Best Tasting Shrimp."

We had intended to stop at The McDonald’s for a bathroom break, but it was under construction. We proceeded down the street to Burger King (strange that there would be two fast-food giants located in the same town where it seems no one ever visits) for our intended bathroom break and a snack of Cini-Minis. It was the best $.99 dollar value meal I’ve ever had. Cini-Minis are a poor man’s version of a Cinnabon and come available with a little tub of glazed icing for dipping. At 10am, I greedily scoffed a 4-pack of Cini-Minis and an Oreo Shake. Bad Kim…Bad!

While Tricia and I were snacking, my poor boss was stuck on a conference call with his boss talking about inventory levels. Believe me when I say how surreal it was to be in a Burger King parking lot in the middle of nowhere watching him teleconference under a Burger King sign. (Don’t worry-I have pictures) The things he does for our Supply Chain. After his call, he went into Burger King to have his own bathroom break and guess what? He couldn’t use the bathroom because the power went out in the town. It was a good thing that Tricia had the foresight to buy Ron a pack of Cini-Minis.

However, the best was yet to come because Ron took pity on me and stopped at The Outer Limits motel so I could take some pictures. The Outer Limits looks like something out of a Trekkie’s wet dream come to life. It was amazing. I saw the words “Gift Shop” and nearly bolted out of the car before he came to a full stop. I began snapping pictures like a Japanese tourist on speed and burst into the gift shop. There were a few women standing behind the counter in uniforms that looked like they were straight out of the 1976 sitcom ALICE.

Knowing time was critical, I asked one of them, “Show me every kind of souvenir you have that’s related to this motel.” In the meantime, Ron asked to use their bathroom and was directed to a pitch-black men’s room where he had no choice but to answer nature’s call by the light of his cell phone. I ended up buying a glow-in-the-dark alien t-shirt and a commemorative coffee cup for $29.50.

We continued onward to Tolleson passing dairy farms, alfalfa and cotton fields, rotting cactus and miles of nothingness for as far as the eye could see. We arrived into Tolleson around 10:30 and began our day.

I hit one snag when it came to hotel accommodations. We realized that Tricia and I were staying at The Hilton Garden Inn in Midtown. Ron and Mark were booked at The Hilton Garden Inn at the Airport. Both were in Phoenix, but about 45 blocks away from each other. So I called American Express around 3:30 to change our location so all four of us could be in the same hotel.
We all met for dinner at The Texas Roadhouse in Phoenix. We had a really good time and I personally found it very enjoyable to be around all these guys who have been working for Bose for years sitting around over steaks sharing logistical war stories.

The table next to ours had a little girl that was calling out, “Mommy. Mommy. Mommy” trying to get her mother’s attention and as the mother passed by our table she said to her daughter, “I’m going to cut out your voice box.” We all just kind of stopped talking and looked at each other in disbelief wondering what she says to her kid at home when she’s not out in public.

We drove to the hotel and to our surprise discovered the Hilton had no record our recently changed reservation. The man behind the desk was clearly frazzled and a bit of a snit, but eventually we worked out another solution. Tricia and I got rooms at The Hilton Phoenix Airport hotel and got transportation between the two hotels using a shuttle service. Our driver was telling us on the way that we actually were staying in a very nice hotel.

After checking in, we retired to our rooms. We had seen a little gift shop, so we got settled and headed back out to do a little shopping now that we were free of the boys. As I left my room, the bolt on the door mysteriously engaged itself and I wasn’t able to shut the door. We went to the front desk and was told we just needed to turn the handle up and the lock would disengage.

My room was beautiful and I have all the comforts of home within. A big bottle of Dasani water, an alarm clock that has an MP3 cord so I could attach my iPod and an amazing desk setup. I was chomping at the bit to finish my Day 4 Blog entry so I attached my Ethernet cable to the high-speed modem and was surprised to see a screen come up advising a 1-day Internet access cost $9.95. I was in disbelief. I called the front desk and sure enough-this gorgeous state-of-the-art Hilton hotel doesn’t provide free Wi-Fi. But the Best Western Space Age Lodge and Coffee Shop does! What the hell?

Excerpt from their postcard: All guest rooms have 27 inch television, 50+ cable channels & HBO; in addition, the rooms have wireless Internet access, refrigerator, coffee maker, hairdryer, iron and board, data port.

I suppose one could say it’s reasonable to expect that a hotel with a big spaceship would have free Wi-Fi. But how can a prestigious well known chain like the Hilton charge ten bucks for it when a bunch of space freaks out in the middle of nowhere are giving it away for free?

That is…if the power ever comes back on.

Sep 26, 2007

Day 3: Yuma, AZ to San Luis, Mexico

I captured some amazing photographs of the sunrise across the harbor in San Diego and I'm itching to be home so I can upload them to Flickr. Today was eventful and to date the best day of my Southwest trip.

Unfortunately the Clarion Hotel where I'm staying for the next two nights boasts Wi-Fi, but it feels like 56k dial-up. I'm afraid to put many words to screen because I don't have alot of confidence that I'll actually be able to publish this post. So what I'd like to do is provide a little laundry-list of today's highlights and hopefully will be able to re-read them later and elaborate as a better Internet connection allows.

  • Stopping at a Kwik-E-Mart to buy water and seeing what appears to be a migrant restaurant worker outside picking blueberries off a bush in front of the restaurant and placing them gently in his home-made sac while talking on his cell phone. Josue later explained that it probably wasn't blueberries, but rather a very small chili pepper. I took several pictures for further investigation.
  • Stores in San Diego tend to run the gamut of vague to specific. For example: a book store named The Yellow Book Road vs. The Hearing Aid Store.
  • Highest elevation reached today was 4055 feet in the mountains heading towards Yuma, Arizona.
  • The rest area in said mountains is the perfect place to hawk The Watchtower. What better way to get a captive audience for religious propaganda than a tourist running to a toilet after having been in a mountain range for sixty miles?
  • The Golden Acorn Casino is located at 4000 feet elevation in the mountains on Route 8 East.
  • Border Patrol are everywhere!
  • Immigration official wished my boss a Merry Christmas. My immigration officer asked me where I was headed and I panicked like I had a brick of crack cocaine stuffed in my laptop bag and said, "Arizona?" like a 14-year old girl.
  • Mr. Boobies in San Luis is the only billboard I could understand in Mexico.
  • Is it wrong to tell your boss after having gulped your first Margarita with salt on the rim that you were thinking of capping off the night with a porno movie?
  • We had dinner at a place called Burgers and Beers. I was disappointed that they didn't sell the t-shirt our waitress was wearing which read, "KEG PATROL"
  • I saw a port-o-potty attached to the back of a school bus for the migrant workers. It even had a sink with faucets and a paper towel dispenser.
  • I didn't see Fields of Gold, but I did see Fields of Cotton.
  • Why is the YMCA next door to Coldstone Creamery and McDonald's? Isn't that some sort of zoning violation?
  • We went to McDonald's for lunch just before we crossed the border. I never ate chicken McNuggets and boiling hot french fries that fast in my life. The irony of having to throw out half the food so we could meet our ride on time wasn't lost on us as we looked around at our impoverished surroundings.

I'm getting nervous that everything I just typed will be lost so I'm ending it here. Tomorrow we're headed back to San Luis for a full day at the manufacturing plant. Aside from work related stuff, my goal tomorrow is to drink five rum and cokes with my boss using our free drink coupons.

Sep 25, 2007

Day 2: San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico

The unfortunate thing about my travelling companions is they are both nuts about football. Well, one of 'em is insane and the other is incredibly enthusiastic. Tricia and I have been putting up with the sports talk the entire trip, but the one benefit for Tricia is she can follow along and insert intelligent comments into their conversation about players. Me? I simply sit there, smile and feel woefully inadequate. Now if they were talking about computers then it would be a different story. But last night we ate at Seau's which is owned by Junior Seau of The New England Patriots. The restaurant is located in San Diego, CA and you can see from the picture to the left that the place is entirely a sports orgasm. In looking at this picture, I didn't realize the premier seating area is in the shape of a football. But I ate a steak and was happy so it wasn't so bad going there to eat.

A shuttle picked us up at Bose to take us to Tijuana. First we had to stop at the immigration office where a Bose employee named Minerva helped us through getting our work visas. Then we took a van into Tijuana. The first thing you see, aside from everything written in Spanish, are all the 53' tractor trailers everywhere. Just lines and lines of trucks. There are lots of little carts on the sides of the streets selling chicken and taco products, too. We entered the gate for the Bose manufacturing plant and began our day of touring and learning.

We left at 5pm on the only scheduled shuttle that would take us back to the border. I'm told our driver took us on an unusual route because we actually were on these side streets that were nothing but dirt and pot holes. It was nearly impassable to my standards, but somehow the van slowly plugged along. I saw houses that can only be coined as shacks where the major building material was pallets and sheets of wood that made up the walls of some of these houses. Dogs could be seen standing on top of the roofs of the shacks and we passed many streets where stray dogs-primarily Pitt Bulls and mutts-lazily roamed the streets. Some were just lounging next to things looking bored and others were just walking around with the people on the streets. It was a real eye opener and I'll remember what I saw every time I whine to Spencer about wanting an Apple iMac. I live like a queen in the lap of luxury compared to the poor people living in Tijuana.

The return to the US through the border was interesting. My passport was scanned and I was asked if I had anything to declare. We walked a short distance to meet the shuttle again and returned back to Bose in Otay. As we were leaving to head back into San Diego, we saw lots of men on ATVs who apparently were border patrol officers. That was the weird thing about being in both San Diego and Tijuana. I saw battle ships in the water in San Diego along with the sound of jets in the sky. Tijuana had lots of helicopters patrolling overheard and from the conference room where we sat during the day, we found ourselves waiting to see parrot troopers being dropped from military helicopters for practice exercises.

We decided since we left TJ so late in the day to not drive to Yuma, Arizona because my boss didn't want to be driving into the mountains late at night. We returned to The Best Western Island Palms for a free cocktail (Bartender asked me if I was 21 which made my day!), warm chocolate chip cookies and then we were off to Seaus Restaurant.

We also experienced many interruptions in our cell phones due to the areas we were moving about in. No reception at the border(s) and near some military areas.

I was very tired about 3pm and felt it the rest of the day. I think the time difference is catching up with me. After dinner, we returned to our rooms and I went to bed at 10pm. I'm now about to get ready to begin Day 2 meeting my group in the lobby for breakfast at 7pm. Today we're heading to San Luis, Mexico and then driving to Yuma, Arizona to stay for the next two nights.

Sep 24, 2007

Day 1: Boston to San Diego

The driver that picked me up at the house was from Albania. He had a heavy accent and talked like a bad version of Arnold you-know-who, but he was super nice and very chatty for the length of our ride to Logan Airport. He gave me a fresh perspective of living in this country by explaining to me what it was like to get around living in Greece and Italy and how driving in and out of Boston doesn't phase him in the least. I was in good hands the whole way.

I flew Jet Blue and the check-in process couldn't have been easier. In fact, my traveling companion Tricia had also just arrived at the airport so I avoided the anxiety of trying to find her somewhere in the terminal. She was right there! We had burgers at Johny Rockets and proceeded to make our way to our gate. Quite coincidentally, her husband and son arrived from their trip out west just a few gates down from where we were situated so she got to say hello to them before our flight left.

As we were boarding, Jet Blue had two big boxes of headphones for the trip. The free ones and the extra special ones that you had to pay a buck extra to get--I passed since I brought my Bose QC3 noise-cancelling headphones for the flight.

I was lucky to get a window seat and even luckier that only the aisle seat was occupied leaving the middle seat thankfully empty. Coach on Jet Blue boasts the largest amount of leg room available in its class and I can attest that I was very comfortable the entire 5+ hour flight.

Now I'm about to start gushing about all the neat stuff Jet Blue had so bear with me because I may tend to go on and on about it.

First of all, there were little television screens built into the back of every seat so I got to flip through 36 cable channels with my own remote control which was built into the arm of the seat. I watched an episode of The Smurfs during take-off which was surreal and awesome all at the same time. They also offered XM satellite radio, but I wasn't interested in it since I brought my iPod.

There were 3 choices of in-flight movies each costing $5.00. If I had decided to watch one, all I needed to do was swipe my credit card into the seat in front of me and I would have been able to watch a premium movie that's not available on DVD yet.

Jet Blue also offered Dunkin Donuts coffee, wine, beer, cocktails, Coca-Cola products including Arizona Iced Tea and unlimited snacks. I only took advantage of a bag of Doritos and passed on the drinks because I didn't want to have to get up to use the bathroom.

Another very cool feature of the television was Channel 13 which allowed me to see a Google Map with a little jet blue icon showing me exactly what state we were flying over at any given time. It also listed the speed and altitude the plane was flying for a little extra information.

About half way through the flight, I looked out the window to see an amazing thunder and lightening storm happening in the distance. It was like watching fireworks during the Fourth of July. Surprisingly I was very detached from the whole experience and didn't let the bad weather freak me out.

We landed and got our luggage quite easily in San Diego. My boss Ron called Tricia to let her know that he was going to bed and asked if we minded getting a taxi to take us to the hotel. No problem. We simply exited the airport, got into a line across the street and the airport personnel directed us to the next available taxi. I have to say the taxi driver gave me a scare with his reckless driving and by the time I managed to figure out how to strap myself in with the seat belt, the worst was over and we were rolling into the Best Western Island Palms.

My room is very nice and it has Wi-Fi so I was able to email Spencer to let him know I made it here safe and sound. Tricia went to bed and everyone else is asleep so I can't really take advantage of this amazing evening view. My room is nestled just outside the marina and I could walk out my door right now and dip my toes in the water--that's how close I am to the harbor.

Tomorrow we're meeting for breakfast at 6:30am and then leaving at 7am to make our way to the border for our visit to Tijuana, Mexico.

It's 1:18am East Coast time and my night stand clock is reading 10:23pm so I better try to get some rest for my big day tomorrow.

'Night East Coast.

Sep 22, 2007

Topical Small Talk

I was in Shaws supermarket standing behind an old geezer who was buying a few refrigerator staples such as Diet Moxie and ripened fruit. The Afro-American cashier was interesting looking as he sported tight braids around his head and a weirdly braided Mohawk design along the top of his crown along with an earring in his left ear.

"Think the Pats will win tomorrow?" asked the geezer to the cashier as he handed him a $100 bill.
"Huh?" asked the cashier looking like he heard what the man asked him the first time, but was annoyed to be pulled into some lame sports talk.
"The Pats. Think they'll win tomorrow?" persevered the geezer.
"I dunno. I don't watch football." replied the cashier.

It was an interesting exchange for me to watch primarily because in looking at how the cashier was dressed, he didn't seem like the type of kid who watched much sports. You can see where I'm going with this, can't you? I'm about to pander to the stereotype of this black youth hoping to rewrite a much more interesting scene.

I think if the old geezer asked this instead he would have gotten a rise out of the cashier:

"So, who do ya think won? Kanye or 50 Cent?" asks the geezer.
"Huh?" asked the cashier looking confused, yet interested.
"You know. September 11th. Who will sell the most CDs. Kanye or 50 Cent?" persists the man.
"Oh, I dunno. I guess Kanye?"
"Hmmm," muses the geezer. "I think Fifty's gonna pull it out."
When he gets no further response except being handed back his change from the startled cashier, he nods politely at him and as he walks away bellows out, "G-G-G-G-Unit!"

That's the way I want these crazy old white men to talk to cashiers at my Shaws supermarket.

Single Woman Offers Pies

I love Craigslist. I have several different RSS feeds on Bloglines to capture things of interest.

This entry was particularly funny:

Single woman offers homemade pies for a working lawnmower or chainsaw

I'm a single woman, 60, and I live close to the wire financially and need to do my own yard work. My lawnmower died two weeks ago. (actually I didn't see the short stump in the grass and the blade hit it and that was the end of the lawnmower.) I'm seeking a working lawnmower, either push or a ride-on. I'm also in search of a working chainsaw. Any other tools would also be appreciated. I can offer a home-baked pie (your choice) in thanks. I've been told I'm a pretty good cook.

In Case It's Driving You Crazy

In case it's driving you crazy-Antonio Banderas is the voice of the Nasonex bee in all those commercials.

This is a good example of how I get around to figuring things out for myself every once in a while.

Those commercials are fantastic simply because of the voice. Everytime I see them I wonder to myself if Antonio Banderas did the voice of the bee because it sounds so distinct. I state outloud to Spencer as we're watching TV that it must be him and I'm going to look it up. Then things happen and I forget all about it.

Tonight I was flipping through the Fall TV Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly and on page 61 there's the print ad for Nasonex with the helpful little bee hovering over the bottle. 'That's it," I say again to myself, 'This time I'm looking it up." So I start typing Nasonex Bee and Google auto-fills the search for me which tells me I'm not the only one out there on the web curious about it. Several entries come back from my search and Yahoo! Answers confirms what I thought all along. Finally, I can move on.

But there are more bees swarming your way with the premiere of The Bee Movie on November 2nd. That one's easy. The bee is voiced by Jerry Seinfeld.

OK-I'm feeling lucky so I looked up who does the voice for the bee in those Honey Nut Cherrios commercials. Why, it's none other than Billy West. He's not so famous as Jerry and Antonio...but at least he's keeping good company.

Sep 20, 2007

The Big E

It was worth taking the day off from work today to avoid the crowds at The Big E. Katie and I left at the leisurely hour of 10:30 this morning and found ourselves on the Mass Pike around 11am-just about the time I would have been involved in an inventory reporting meeting at work.

Parking was ample in Gate 9A and only $5 for a straight shot to the entrance. Katie commented on the lack of RVs and I commented on what a waste of money it would be to buy a program as we were entering the gates.

Our first little adventure was the free admittance to Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Upon entering, we saw three large LCD televisions displaying a video about soon-to-be extinct Cheetahs and I immediately walked forward to check out the surround sound. I thought they were using a Bose Lifestyle system, but it turned out I wasn't too observant because the words "JVC" were plastered all over the media exhibit. ( I was wearing my sunglasses in the darkened jungle exhibit) Of course, Katie thought I was being odd about just walking up to the electronics until I explained why I was so focused. We sat for about five minutes watching the presentation and then moved inside for the exhibit.

It was pretty lame. About the only excitement I had was seeing JVC couldn't provide outdoor speakers! (I just so happened to notice as we were entering and exiting the exhibit that there were Bose Freespace 51 environmental speakers carefully hidden amongst the fake flora. Hooray for Bose!)

There was so much food everywhere and it smelled so damned good. Everything was fried, great chunks of flavorful meat on sticks were around every corner and the cotton-candy was fluffier than pillows. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. I don't know what I was holding out for as we walked through the fair grounds. But it seemed like all I could do was focus on the food.

We did the traditional walk-through of all the state houses and I did my best to avoid standing in line for a Maine baked potato. I didn't buy the Maple Sugar cotton candy in the house of Vermont, but I did buy a $3.99 bag of Pez in Connecticut. We came close to buying a Strawberry Shortcake in Massachusetts, but kept on walking. Katie secured some lottery tickets in New Hampshire for her mom and I forgot to buy the fudge.

The Big E has lots and lots of outdoor shopping. Although I've never been to Las Vegas, I'd liken the experience of shopping there much like the over stimulation you'd expect in Vegas. It's very easy to just wander from place to place talking yourself out of buying things such as decorative mail boxes in the shape of a tractor wheel and cleverly designed expensive bird houses.

We passed a performance by Maxine Nightingale this afternoon and she sounded great. Katie appreciated one woman who was walking and decided to stop mid-stride so she could get her groove on during a disco tune. We also saw a brief performance of JIGU-Thunder Drums of China.

As we neared the threat level of extreme hunger, we went inside The Better Living Center for some perimeter eating. We eventually landed on a spot that had comfortable seating. I had a cheeseburger and a strawberry slushy. I managed to drip a HUGE gob of ketchup just to the left of my crotch while downing the burger and Katie dropped a dollop of BBQ sauce on her denim jacket while eating her chicken nuggets.

We wandered around looking at all the stuff to buy. I found a booth that sold outrageously ugly and comical ties for men. I bought Spencer this hideous tie that had fat, happy pigs being dumped into an Uncle Sam hat and coming out as sausage links. It was so bizarre that I just had to buy it. As an incentive to buy more ties ($12.95 for one, 2 for $20), I bought him a tie featuring books on bookshelves thinking it would be cute for him to wear at the library. It wasn't until I was paying for the ties did I look more closely to see the books actually were religious in nature.

We used the ladies room in the Better Living Center which was so much better than a Port-A-Potty. We encountered an attendant who had a knack for rhyming for her guests. Here are some of her choice phrases:

  • "Ladies, take your time. I don't mind."
  • "Rest your feet, enjoy your seat."
  • "I know a man made the bathroom stall, that's why it's so small."
  • "Thank you lady in brown for using the best bathroom in town" - directed at me as I tipped her a buck in honor of her cheerfulness.

After leaving the Big E, we had dinner at The Outback and ended up coming home around 7pm. It was a long day, but worth it.

You can click here to see all the photos I took today at the Big E, too. Enjoy.

Sep 10, 2007

He's My Moon Man

Congratulations to my boy Justin Timberlake! He swept the 2007 MTV VMA's last night!

  • *Quadruple Threat of the Year Winner
  1. *Male Artist of the Year Winner
  2. *Best Choreography for the video "My Love"
  3. *Best Direction for the video "What Goes Around...Comes Around"

I haven't watched the awards show yet, but I certainly taped it. It is going to be my well-deserved guilty pleasure after I put my bedroom back together again after the carpet installation. I'm going to settle into the couch with a bowl of burnt popcorn and feast my eyes on the glory of Timberlake.

As Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Lethal Weapon I-IV) would say, "I'm too old for this shit! " But who cares?

Kitty Food Porn

Hello Kitty has improved my life in so many ways. Mostly it's clever pink and white gadgets. Today it's all about kitty porn in a Bento Box.
A Bento Box is a single portion takeout of home packed lunch which is common in Japanese culture. A housewife is considered quite skilled if she can prepare a Bento Box containing rice, fish or meat along with a side dish of pickled or cooked vegetables.

This Hello Kitty Bento Box is a work of art and features all of the creatures of the forest including flowers and bugs. It's quite intricate in design and appears to be made out of rice, lettuce and cabbage.

I'm lucky if I can make a chicken Cesar wrap for my lunch without everything spilling out all over the place (thank goodness or toothpicks!) and causing noontime frustration. Whoever made this little gem has a lot of patience and skill.

You're Gonna Love My Carpet.

Big doings at the Perry household today. We finally got around to making the decision to replace our home's original carpet in the master bedroom.

Installing a carpet is noisy work. The sounds of ripping, cutting and hammering has resulted in finally seeing the actual bedroom floor boards. Alas, we don't have beautiful hardwood floors hidden under the carpet. Rather we have a floor that looks like planks of wood and I marvel that this wood has been supporting my family for 37 years. There's a lot of my history in this bedroom floor.

My grandfather built this house back in 1969. He and his wife Rose were the first occupants of the bedroom and he was the one who laid the carpet that is now being replaced. He died in that very same bedroom in 1978 of prostate cancer.

Later my mother and father took over the bedroom after the death of my grandmother Rose. As my mother's mental illness progressed, she began to stay up throughout the night leaving my dad to sleep alone in the bedroom with their two dogs Brandy and Sid.

Sadly the carpet paid the price of territorial disagreements between these two dogs and each of them played a role in destroying sections of the carpet with their urine. My parents lack of training the dogs resulted in a ruined, smelly carpet. My mother decided that the best way to handle the urine stains was to nail throw rugs over the pee stains to hide their messes.

After my father died suddenly in 1998 of a massive heart attack, Spencer and I moved back to my childhood home to look after my mother who was getting progressively worse. My mother moved into one of the smaller bedrooms and we took over the master bedroom. The room needed a lot of work as the smell of dog urine had settled into the rug. We used a Bissell carpet cleaner to suck out the stink from the rug as best we could and got the room in livable condition although the last thing I ever wanted to do was have anyone see the bedroom carpet. The history of the bedroom had become embarrassing.

All that is about to change today and I couldn't be happier. We are about to have a beautiful bedroom carpet installed and I'll be able to sink my toes into the plushness of its new fibers. We've done many costly home improvements to our home since 1998, but replacing our bedroom carpet is one of the most meaningful.

Sep 3, 2007

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I bought my first Pomegranate of the season today at the Stop & Shop in Westborough, MA. I was thinking this time around, I'm going to keep count of exactly how many Pomegranates I consume this season much like the little quirky list my dad used to keep of squirrels he trapped in the backyard and then let go at the park. For posterity's sake, if you will.

Pomegranate's are my absolute favorite fruit. Seeing them in the produce section of the supermarket signifies the beginning of Autumn here in New England much like the first snowflake to some means the beginning of winter.

Selecting a pomegranate can be tricky and I usually cheat by sticking with the POM brand because their fruits have always tasted the best. They have fruits the size of softballs in early October and always taste much better than the stickered 'California Pomegranates'. I've never bought a rotten POM fruit either.

When shopping for a perfect pomegranate, look for these attributes: thin, yet tough unbroken skin, a fruit that has a deep red color, heavy for its size and a crown that is free of mold.

There are many published techniques for getting at the tart seeds. One method is to cut the fruit in half and immerse the pomegranate in a bowl of deep water so the kernels effortlessly lift away from the inner membrane of the fruit. But where's the fun in that?

I love the tediousness of this messy seasonal ritual. I get a big sturdy knife from the kitchen, place the fruit underneath an old kitchen towel and slice straight down halving the fruit-careful not to slice my fingers. The towel absorbs the sure squirt of red juice which stains just about everything it lands on. (You can always tell it's pomegranate season because my cuticles are dyed red from the juice of the pomegranate

That slice is so very important because it's my first glimpse inside the fruit. Brilliant red quadrants of seeds make the most perfect pomegranates to eat because I know the seeds will be just the right amount of tart and sweet.

I paid $2.48 for my first Pomegranate of the season today. It wasn't a POM fruit, but rather just a plain old 'California' pomegranate. I should have waited. The seeds inside were a pale red and not fully ripened although the outside met the criteria mentioned above as a choice selection.

Once again, patience isn't something I practice very well. One down-how many more to go?

Meet Ira Proctor

I first saw the comedian Ira Proctor perform for the Worcester Firefighters benefit back on May 19th at The Worcester Hotel & Conference Center. I thought I was going to see Dennis Leary perform which had me all kinds of excited. Turns out he wasn't there, but instead there were four comedians that really did put on quite a show.

Ira Proctor was my personal favorite and I immediately went home, found his Myspace page and gushed via a post about how amazingly funny he was that night. He took the sting out of not being able to see Dennis Leary that night and I was so pleased to add him to my personal arsenal of favorite comedians.

Today I received an email from him letting me know a video of a recent performance at The Comedy Connection was posted on Ziddio under their Lucky21 contest. I signed in, watched the clip, voted five stars and was thrilled to see I could embed the clip here on my blog for you all to enjoy.

He's a funny, talented comedian. I can't wait to see him again.

Sep 2, 2007

Got HBO?

I found myself the other night becoming very frustrated with the emails flying back and forth between myself and Fanfire Entertainment because I couldn't log into the Justin Timberlake Fan Club as a paid member to see a teaser video of exclusive footage from his upcoming Labor Day HBO special: 'FutureSexLoveShow'.

I ended up resolving the membership snafu by actually calling them at 10:30pm to finally get to the bottom of the problem because I just had to see this preview. After all, I paid $45 for this membership and I was determined to get the most bang for Spencer's buck.

It's embarrassing to confess I'm not a virginal tween, but rather a 17-year happily married 37-year old woman whose got it BAD for Justin Timberlake. I just love the boy.

Once I was able to log into the site, I finally was able to redeem a $30 coupon for two JT t-shirts and a pin. I was able to send a few sexyback emails to friends using my JT email address and finally able to watch the teaser video a few times.

So I ask you? Do you have HBO? Could you tape the special for me on Monday, September 3rd? I've spent too much money on the boy already and I can't bring myself to 'justify' calling Charter to order another premium channel. (It's not lost on me that this feels like the old days when HBO was showing a Mike Tyson fight and everyone would call to order HBO so they could see it and then cancel HBO the very next day.)

I know...I know...I chose poorly by getting Showtime under their package deal when I upgraded my digital pipeline service. I love David Duchovny, but let's face it-his new show Californication is crap.

I also am aware that shortly this special will be made available on DVD to buy. But what's extra special about this concert performed back in February at Madison Square Garden is it's the only performance with Adam Samberg and Justin reuniting to perform the song, "Dick In A Box" together on stage. That's One Night Only, my friends

Patience has never been a virtue of mine. Damn You Justin Timberlake! Your sexiness is vexing me this Labor Day weekend.