Monday, July 30, 2007

Tastes like... nothing...

So did everyone have a nice weekend? I would’ve liked to have gotten out of the house and gone to see the Simpsons movie, but Friday night I was feeling awfully tired, and my throat started feeling sort of scratchy. And by Saturday, I had a bit of a fever and someone seemed to be slowly filling my head with heavy marbles. (I don’t know who was doing that, but really, it seemed so unnecessary…) Sunday wasn’t much better, and all those tightly-packed marbles had completely cut off my sense of smell and sense of taste. I had some completely tasteless oatmeal for breakfast, a bowl of completely tasteless soup for lunch, and decided to have another bowl of completely tasteless oatmeal for dinner. If I’d been thinking straight, I would’ve gone out to a seafood restaurant and ordered a nice piece of grilled salmon, or some seared ahi tuna. Probably the only time I’d ever be able to stomach the taste of fish (because, obviously, it would’ve been completely tasteless).

My head is feeling less achy today, but I’m still working on reacquiring my sense of smell and taste. I ventured out to Seattle’s Best this morning with mom, and as we drove past the neighborhood landscapers, I could’ve sworn I caught the slightest whiff of freshly cut grass. It only lasted about two seconds, but it gave me hope that this demotion to three senses will soon come to an end…

I can’t help but wonder where the chink in my immune-system-armor was – usually it’s so reliable and trustworthy. Throw me in a room full of sick people, and chances are I’ll emerge unscathed. But not THIS time. And the funny thing is, I don’t know anyone who’s sick right now. Which leads me to believe some cunning, diabolical stranger passed this along to me. And when I think back to the week leading up to the onset of my symptoms, I believe I know exactly who to blame:

We were at a movie – Live Free or Die Hard, to be exact (good movie, by the way). Rick’s sister Donna was in town with her two daughters, and we decided to go to a late movie with them. The theater was more crowded than we’d expected it to be – Die Hard had already been out for weeks, so we assumed everyone would be heading to Harry Potter or Transformers. But when we walked into the theater, most of the good seats were already taken, and we were forced to sit in those dreaded “up way too close” seats at the front of the room. But once the movie started, I discovered that if I leaned back in my reclining seat, the view wasn’t so bad. I watched a few minutes of the movie in relative comfort, a bit too close perhaps, but nothing I wouldn’t be able to get used to. And then I suddenly felt a weird resistance against the back of my reclined chair – someone behind me had their foot up against it. And this was a stadium-seating theater, by the way – plenty of room between rows. Which meant that whoever was behind me had to be slouching in their chair and all stretched out to reach the back of my own seat. So I did what anyone else would do in this situation – I began to randomly rock back and forward in the seat, in an effort to dislodge the offending slacker…

And eventually, it seemed to have worked. I no longer felt the resistance of a foot on the back of my seat as I reclined to watch the movie. Satisfied, I settled into my chair and allowed my arms to flop against my armrests. Rick was sitting to the left of me, but the chair on my right was empty – so I felt I had the privilege of using my entire right-hand armrest. At one point, however, I felt a strange rubbery sensation on the back of my elbow, and glanced over at my armrest. The offending sloucher behind me had stuck one of her feet on MY armrest. Well, this was even less acceptable than a foot on the back of my chair. So once again, I employed a subtle de-footing technique – I “accidentally” allowed my elbow to bump the foot aside, and finally, at last, my personal space was completely devoid of interlopers. Victory was mine! I was able to watch the rest of the movie in peace, having successfully delivered my message to the annoying movie-goer behind me.

But now, as I sneeze and cough and hope I will soon be able to once again enjoy the scent of movie-theater popcorn, I can’t help but wonder – what sorts of germs were lurking on that ratty old sneaker that repeatedly brushed against my elbow? Who knows where that foot had been before it decided to prop itself against my arm? Am I supposed to remember to lug around a can of Lysol with me every time I head to the theater? And exactly how many OTHER people had lounged against that armrest? That theater was probably crawling with viruses and bacteria… in fact, I should be glad I don’t get sick EVERY time I go to a movie…

Of course, I can’t PROVE it was the Armrest Shoe that made me sick… I suppose it could’ve been just about any random doorknob in any random place I’ve been the last few weeks. But that person behind me at the movie was just annoying. And so I choose to blame the Armrest Shoe… let that be a lesson to everyone to be more considerate of your fellow movie-goers. Don’t stick your feet on the chair in front of you if someone is sitting there. Personally, I would’ve thought that was common sense. And common sense, as we all know – unlike the sense of smell and taste – is unaffected by the common cold…

Friday, July 27, 2007

My eyeballs are tired...

I finished Harry Potter! And I managed to do so without hearing or reading any spoilers. Although I can’t imagine it would’ve made too much difference – the book ended pretty much exactly the way I thought it would. Which means I was slightly disappointed by the time I finished it, since I was expecting a few more surprises. Oh well. It was still a great book – it was a great series. In fact, as I approached the last few chapters of the book, I was suddenly aware that this was it – there will never be another Harry Potter book to anxiously await. And that made me feel a little bit sad, to be honest. Now that I have them all, I should start over at the beginning… read them all straight through, and take my time…

I rather rushed through the Deathly Hallows as quickly as I could… which actually turned out to be not too quickly at all. My week was punctuated by various events and responsibilities that required my attention, and I was forced to repeatedly set the book aside and tend to them. But this would explain why my blog has been so quiet this week – it was, understandably, on the back burner while I used all my free time to read. (Well, Harry Potter fans will understand, at least…:))

Anyway, I found another super-fun-crazy quiz on a random blog somewhere, and since I’ve got nothing very interesting rattling around in my brain today, I thought I’d answer it:


I think you guys should know that by now… but just in case – it’s Penelope Gwendolyn Yelena Ayesha Smith… or, er… something like that.


According to my mom, she named me Lisa just because she liked the name. But my middle name was in honor of my mom’s sister and my dad’s sister, who are both named Carol.


Uh, no. I really don’t. It’s untidy at best, and completely illegible at worst. I really should’ve been a doctor… I already have the incomprehensible prescription handwriting (and that’s really all you need, right??).


Eeewww. Not a big fan of lunchmeat. Most of it falls into that “ground up and smushed back together” category that I refuse to eat. Sometimes I’ll eat turkey, if it looks like it came from a real turkey…


Well, if I was another person who was just like ME, then I would totally be my friend, because I would be so excited to find another person who was weird enough to get me.


I have lots of random journals lying around the house. Most of them filled with my illegible prescription handwriting…


Do you think I would ever attempt to dethrone Rick, King of Sarcasm? Never…


Yep. My appendix, too. And I managed to hold on to my wisdom teeth until just a few years ago… really miss those wisdom teeth…


Uh, no.


I just discovered Double Chocolate Cookie Crisp, which is much better than the regular Cookie Crisp (which never tasted like chocolate, in my opinion). And I really like Cranberry Almond Crunch, although I eat it without milk… otherwise it turns into Cranberry Almond Mush.


Usually… unless I’m in a really big hurry to get my shoes off, for some reason.


I think I’m a lot stronger than I FEEL like I am most of the time. In fact, I KNOW I can be ridiculously strong when I want to be. And most people don’t give me credit for that… in fact, I don’t often give MYSELF credit for that…


Right now I’m addicted to the birthday cake ice cream they have at Cold Stone Creamery. It tastes just like canned vanilla frosting. (And as my mom will tell you, I LOVE fake frosting… even more than homemade. :)) I also love chocolate ice cream with marshmallow – which is a flavor I can hardly ever find anywhere. They used to have chocolate marshmallow ice cream at Friendly’s, and it was the best stuff ever.


Whether or not they smile. I tend to be wary of people who won’t even crack a smile when they meet you for the first time…


Red or pink what??? That’s not even a real question…


Oh, probably the whole “shy” thing… soooooo annoying. You loud obnoxious people don’t know how great it is to be you…


I miss Aimee sometimes… and I really wish I would’ve had more than three years to get to know her.


I’m just wearing plain old blue jeans and dirty white sneakers with blue laces. (Gosh, I’m such a stylish fashionista…)


Cranberry Almond Crunch cereal. Without milk, of course.


Gavin DeGraw on my iPod.


Well, it would have to start with coffee and end with chocolate… and in between I’d probably want to be traveling somewhere interesting…


I love that mingled coffee/book smell in Barnes and Noble or Borders or any other bookstore with a coffee shop in the middle of it.


I talked to mom about an hour ago…


Actually, I stole it from a total stranger off a random blog… heehee...


Alcoholic, or non-alcoholic? Hmmm… I like margaritas (but no salt – yuck yuck. I don’t get the “salt on a margarita glass” thing), and of course I wouldn’t be able to live without coffee…


Baseball!!! Duh.


Brownish-reddish, depending on the light and how much time I’ve spent in the sun… it’s darker this summer because we’ve had so much rain and so little sunshine. People who haven’t seen me in a while always ask me if I’ve colored my hair, because apparently it’s always changing shades. But I've never, ever colored my hair.


Green-brown… I put hazel on my driver’s license, since there’s no box for “green-brown.”


Yep. Rick is still trying to convince me to laser my eyes… maybe someday…


If I could eat anything without caring about fat, calories, cholesterol, etc., I’d probably say fettuccine alfredo – I love that stuff, but I pretty much never eat it. It has to be just about the WORST thing you can possibly eat. Which would explain why it tastes so good.


I think they both have their pros and cons. I mean, when I was a kid in school, I’m sure I would’ve unequivocally declared that summer is better than winter, for the simple fact that school is out. Now, however, I kind of like it when school is IN, since it means places like malls and movie theaters are less crowded. And I like winter, just because it’s a bit of a change from the Texas heat… and for a week or two, at least, you appreciate the fact that it’s so warm here… well, sort of…


I guess that would depend on who I’m with…


Um, hmmm… well, I like (yes, I have a weird obsession with flags…), and is good for a few laughs. I also love the NASA website that has a ton of satellite pictures to browse through.


Well, now that I’ve finished Harry Potter, I shall once again begin my slow trod through the Satanic Verses… (it's not the kinda book you can fly through like Harry Potter…)


I don’t have a mouse pad. I have a touchpad on my laptop.


I don’t think I watched much last night… we had dinner at Rick’s parents’ house, and didn’t get home until around 10… I may have caught a bit of Anthony Bourdain on the travel channel…


I think I’ve answered this before… and if I’m not mistaken, it was St. Petersburg, Russia… yeah, I think that’s right…


Um… I can wink with both eyes, but I can actually hold my left eyelid closed indefinitely. So I can make it look like the left half of my face is asleep, but the right half is awake. It’s really bizarre. (Is that a talent? Probably not…) :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shhhhh... I'm reading...

Yes, I ran out as soon as I could yesterday and bought the new Harry Potter book. Well, actually, I made Rick go into the store and buy it... I didn't want to take the chance of accidentally hearing anyone talking about what happens. There have been spoilers all over the place, and people speculating about what might happen, and I didn't want to hear any of it before I had the chance to read the book myself. And apparently I'm not the only one: I read somewhere that people waiting in line to buy the book at its midnight release were wearing earplugs and headphones so they wouldn't hear anything they didn't want to hear. I'm betting a lot of people bought the book and immediately turned to the last page... but I've always been the kind of person who LIKES to be surprised now and then. I never look ahead when I read a book... I never even searched for my hidden Christmas presents when I was a kid. I much prefered the fun of not knowing what I'd be getting. Christmas morning is so much more exciting when you don't KNOW what's hidden beneath all that wrapping paper. So for the next few days, I shall be reading my Harry Potter book, and trying very hard to not hear or read anything I don't know yet. Which means I will NOT be Googling "Harry Potter" any time soon.

And why am I wasting my time writing a blog post? I have 700-something pages to read...

Friday, July 20, 2007

This post got lost in China...

Okay, my internet is back, so now I can post what I wrote the other day. I had this all ready to go, and then the cable mysteriously died. (And by “the cable mysteriously died” I mean “the cable guy was installing cable at our neighbor’s house and cut our line with a shovel.”) By the way, today is my birthday, so I expect all presents to be in my possession by the time I return from dinner at Ruth’s Chris… (and no matter what Eric says, I am NOT 48 years old today…)

So I just read about this rather ridiculous “psychological” study on one of the news websites this morning. It was something about how Americans are so much more self-centered than other people around the world, because we have a culture that focuses on the individual as opposed to the collective. Now, I don’t necessarily disagree that Americans can be self-centered, and you certainly don’t need a “study” to notice a bunch of selfish Americans walking around totally oblivious to other people. But the study itself seemed so vague and simplistic that I can’t imagine how anyone could draw conclusions from it.

The “study” consisted of a table on which two blocks sat. The study participant could clearly see both blocks – however, the “director” of the study sat on the opposite side of the table, where a piece of cardboard concealed his or her view of one of the blocks. The director would then ask the study participant to “move a block.” The participants in this study consisted of two groups – European Americans (okay, already this study is flawed – last I checked, Americans come from a lot more places than just Europe…) and Asians (if I remember correctly, they were Chinese…) Anyway… when asked to move a block, the European Americans hesitated, because there were two blocks on the table and they were unsure about which one they were supposed to move. But the Asians immediately moved the block that was visible to both the participant and the director of the study.

The “conclusion” gleaned from this study was that Americans are less apt to see other people’s point of view, whereas Asians can easily see other points of view. I guess some psychologist came to this conclusion because the Asians would automatically move the block that was visible to BOTH parties, whereas the Americans would hesitate and were unsure of which block to move. What I don’t understand is how THIS was the conclusion they came to. I mean, think about this – if you’re participating in a study, and someone across the table from you tells you to move a block, wouldn’t you ASSUME that this person was AWARE of the fact that there were two blocks on the table, even if they couldn’t see both of them? Obviously the “director” of the study would have firsthand knowledge of all blocks on the table – visible or hidden – and, therefore, politely questioning which block was in need of repositioning would seem to be common sense. In fact, unless the person seated across the table was some random stranger plucked off the street who had no clue what was going on, the LEAST selfish thing to do would seem to question which block should be moved. You KNOW the director of the study is aware of each block, so how is it “self-centered” to wonder which block they’re referring to? It’s only self-centered if they’re NOT aware of each block… So MY conclusion to this study would be that Americans are savvier than Asians, who apparently believe that a cardboard-covered block will completely escape the memory of the person who placed it there. (I don’t REALLY believe that of course… lest anyone think I have some sort of xenophobic dislike of the Chinese…)

I think the ability to see other people’s point of view has less to do with your nationality and more to do with your experiences and upbringing. When I was in high school, and frequently ridiculed for my shy personality, I vowed to never do the same to others. Because of my experiences, I’ve always tried to put myself in other people’s shoes and think about what they might be feeling or dealing with at any given time. If someone is different than me, I don’t automatically assume horrible things about them, or think it’s my right to make fun of them. And yet, if I’d been in that study, I would have been one of those “self-centered” Americans who hesitated when told to “move a block.” And honestly – would that REALLY mean I was self-centered? I’d like to think it would simply mean I was sensible and logical…

Thursday, July 19, 2007


My internet has been down for an entire day! I'm at mom and dad's house, using mom's computer so I can post something before anyone starts wondering where I've disappeared to. My internet connection stopped working yesterday around noon, and at first I didn't think much of it -- it happens so often, I figured it was just another Time Warner cable malfunction in the neighborhood. Normally, I call my mom to see if her cable is out, too, just to make sure my house isn't the only one. But yesterday, after the internet went out for the millionth time in the last few months, I just ASSUMED it was once again a neighborhood-wide event. And as Rick will no doubt remind me for the rest of my life -- I should never assume anything when the cable goes out...

Because when it STILL wasn't back up by 7 or 8 o'clock last night, I finally called my mom -- only to find out it WAS just my house. Her internet was working just fine. And it was only at that point that I had a flashback to morning, when I returned to my house after going out for my morning coffee, and a Time Warner van was parked at my next-door neighbor's house. It didn't seem to be important at the time, so I just ignored it. But now I realize the cable technician must've screwed up MY cable when he was working on my neighbor's cable...

And once again Rick is saying, "always call your mom to make sure it isn't just our house... always!" Because if I'd thought about it when it first went out, we could've called up the cable guy and told him to get back out here and fix the problem. As it was, however, Time Warner didn't get the call until evening, and of course at that point they were shutting down and going home and past the point of caring about whether their technicians know what the heck they're doing. So now we have to wait until afternoon before anyone will be out at our house to fix the cable.

And I'm just wondering -- how in the world did we survive before the internet??

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Chicago pictures...

I spent the morning over at mom and dad's house, scanning in some of my mom's Chicago pictures. (I used to be able to scan pictures here, but Rick recently installed Windows Vista on his computer, and it doesn't get along very well with our scanner... guess we need a new one...) So here are a few random pictures from last week:

Dad and Eric, who apparently shop at the same t-shirt store...

Me on the stairs in Eric's new condo -- I love these stairs... (and there IS an entryway door upstairs, too, so he didn't have to lug furniture up the spiral staircase... that would've been interesting...)

Gazing at the view from the rooftop of Eric's building. (And no, I haven't suddenly grown several inches in height... I'm standing on some kind of concrete thingy...)

Here's another picture of the juggler rolling over Eric on the sidewalk. (Notice the cup of Starbucks coffee off to the left? Yeah, we drank a lot of coffee in Chicago...)

Underneath the bean... (it was the only place outside that was nice and cool... which would explain why so many people are crowded underneath it...)

Jason, Jen, Nathan and Meghan, who we met for lunch on Sunday. And then afterwards we went to Starbucks... (like I said, we drank lots of coffee in Chicago...)

Meghan and Nathan, enjoying their kiddie-sized espressos... well, I can't vouch for the fact that they're actually drinking espresso, but look how happy Nate is -- you don't get that happy from drinking apple juice, you know? And Meghan looks like she's about to be very upset with her empty cup. If this isn't a portrait of caffeine addiction, I don't know what is...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who wants nachos?

We’re back from Chicago, after a two-day drive through America’s heartland. We decided to drive home by way of Kansas City, which turned out to be a rather boring town. I’d read in my Rand McNally Deluxe Road Atlas – with guide to 81 destinations and a road guide to classic American foods (what? My atlas has a guide to classic American foods?? I didn’t even know that… I just saw it on the front cover…) – that Kansas City (one of the 81 “destinations” profiled) has more fountains than any city in the world except Rome. Well, that sounded rather interesting. So I was looking forward to seeing a couple of these prolific fountains. However, after wending our way to the hotel past what can only be described as the “neglected and abandoned” part of town, nary a fountain was in sight. Yeah, that’s right – nary.

The hotel itself was situated in a very nicely-maintained part of Kansas City, directly across from the Hallmark Card headquarters and next to an upscale shopping center. But, like I said, to get there and to get back to the interstate, it was necessary to drive through several streets full of empty buildings and boarded-up storefronts. It looked as if perhaps this was once a hip, trendy, fashionable part of town that business owners had left in favor of hipper, trendier, more fashionable cities. It was all just waiting for someone to come along and begin a Kansas City revitalization project. But in the meantime, the streets look rather sad and forgotten. Now, granted, we didn’t drive into DOWNTOWN downtown – we just sort of skirted the area. So I’ll have to give it the benefit of the doubt and say perhaps downtown Kansas City is a great place. And maybe that’s where all the fountains are…

Much of our drive home was through Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma… and I just have to say – Iowa really loves corn. I mean, wow, they REALLY love corn in Iowa. I’m not sure we drove past a section of highway that wasn’t bordered by a cornfield. And Kansas had lots of fields, as well… although I wasn’t sure they were fields of corn. And after a stop on the turnpike at a McDonald’s decorated with sunflower paintings, I remembered that Kansas grows a TON of sunflowers. Another month or two, and those fields of green stalks will be covered with giant yellow flowers. And Oklahoma’s claim to fame is its red dirt – I don’t know why, but much of the ground in Oklahoma is covered with red-tinged dirt. The banks of every river are full of red mud. In fact, the border between Oklahoma and Texas is the Red River – so-named, I’m assuming, because it really IS a red river. Gosh – green corn stalks, yellow sunflowers, red rivers – it’s like an environmental bowl of Lucky Charms out there…

Anyway, so now that we’re back in Austin we’re playing the “waiting to hear about the Chicago job” game, at which Dell is a very good opponent. We thought the whole thing was just about wrapped up, until we heard that the guy who has the job now – a guy who’ll be moving to Michigan soon – is really pushing to keep his job and handle everything remotely. So now we’re left wondering – will they tell him he can keep his job and decide they don’t even need anyone else in Chicago? Will they allow him to keep the job temporarily to give him more time to find a new job, but hire someone else for Chicago in a few more months? Will they allow him to keep his job AND hire someone new for Chicago (a possibility, I’ve heard, because the poor Chicago reps are very overworked and need some help)? Who knows… no one seems to be talking right now… which means that Rick and I are left wondering IF we’ll even need a condo in Chicago, and/or WHEN we do, if the few places we saw that we really liked will still be available. And if no one new is hired for a few more months, that would mean we’d be moving to Chicago just as winter was starting to rear its ugly, snowy head.

Oh well… life is so much more fun when it’s full of surprises. And corn. Lots and lots of corn…

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Well, apparently Blogger isn't going to let me type in a title for this post. Don't know what that's about... Anyway... we've had a couple busy days here in Chicago... we had the opportunity to go out with a realtor yesterday morning to look at a few condos. We wanted to get an idea of what's available, in the event we do have a chance to move here soon. We saw a few really nice places, but not too many had elevators -- which meant we were not only running all over Lincoln Park (our neighborhood of interest), but we were walking up and down quite a few flights of stairs. Couple that with the fact that Chicago has been in the middle of a 90-plus-degree heat wave, and we were pretty much exhausted by lunchtime.

But after lunch we decided to check out a couple more condos that were having open houses, even if we WERE slightly tired of all the stair climbing (hey, it's great exercise). Afterwards, we wandered around Home Depot and Bed, Bath and Beyond to help Eric outfit his new condo. And while his "computer desk" still consists of the floor next to his TV, and he's still in need of a dining room table and chairs, he IS the proud owner of several new pairs of curtains, AND a real, practical, kitchen garbage can (as opposed to the plastic bag he usually hangs on one of his cupboards...).

It's funny, because of all the places we've seen this weekend, our absolute favorite so far has been a condo in Eric's building. We saw it today when the agent happened to be in the building at an open house for another condo. We really loved it -- lots of windows and light, a great view of the city, modern appliances... we were really impressed. It's only a couple doors down from Eric... so it'll be interesting to see what we end up doing... :)

Some pictures from the last few days:

Eric wanted to show us "the bean" in one of the parks near the hotel -- it's this big shiny metal sculpture that reflects the city skyline (and everything else around it) on its surface. It has an official name -- something about a cloud?? -- but I can't remember what it was. And apparently everyone just calls it "the bean."

My picture-taking reflection in the bean...

While we were in the park, we saw a guy juggling on top of this spool -- walking on it like a log roller. As he passed by, Eric jokingly remarked, "show off." And the guy actually HEARD him... so he invited Eric over so he could REALLY show off...

He had Eric lay on the hot sidewalk (seriously -- it was hot out there...) so he could roll over him and juggle over his head. It was pretty funny...

Tonight after dinner (at Morton's steakhouse... yum...) we walked out to find ourselves on a movie set -- they're filming the new Batman movie downtown (notice the "GPD" police car -- Gotham Police Department). We hung out with a big crowd of people on the sidewalk to watch some of the filming -- which, to be honest, turned out to be awfully boring. It's no wonder movies cost so much to make -- there's a whole group of people pretty much standing around doing nothing for 45 minutes, until they're finally ready to film for a few seconds. While we were there, we saw them film a scene where a police officer walked around his car, opened the door, and got in. That was the whole thing. They filmed it about six times. How many takes can you possibly need when the scene is so uncomplicated?? (I guess quite a few...) Supposedly they'll be filming all night, so Rick went out to see if he could catch another scene. I think he's hoping to see the Batmobile... if he takes any better pictures, I'll be sure to post them later... :)

Friday, July 06, 2007

In Chicago...

We made it to sunny Chicago (from what I hear, it's STILL raining in Austin, so we're happy to be here). We met Eric for dinner last night and saw his new place -- VERY cool. We're all quite impressed with his new location. So much so that Rick and I actually ARE seriously considering the condo available in his building. He'll just have to put up with us. As long as I promise to not secretly stock his fridge with mayonnaise (as I threatened to do yesterday...), hopefully Eric won't mind if we're neighbors. Of course, we still have no idea if Rick will get the Chicago job, and we haven't actually SEEN the available condo yet, so for all we know, it's nothing but a beat-up cardboard box. Who knows. Hopefully we'll get a chance to check it out this weekend...

So this is the first chance I've had to sit and down and write something for my blog. Our road trip up was pretty uneventful... we left Dallas early on the 4th, and drove toward St. Louis. On the tollway in Oklahoma, there's a big McDonald's restaurant that spans the highway, and every time I see it, I want to stop and check it out. So we finally decided to stop this time. On the side of the building, a big banner proclaimed, "World's Largest McDonald's." Well, hey, how nifty... how often do you get a chance to check out the world's largest McDonald's? We parked and went inside, and we were immediately unimpressed. The building looked very old and neglected, and not nearly as large as I would've assumed the "world's largest" McDonald's would be...

Before we ordered any food, we decided to use the bathrooms. And this was when we realized that the world's largest McDonald's had the world's worst bathrooms. They were seriously in need of a good scrubbing -- although even a tub full of bleach wouldn't solve the myriad of problems in the dank restrooms. Some sort of explosive device would probably help... because then they would have no choice but to completely refurbish the facilities. I especially found it amusing that a sign was posted by a switch next to the door which read, "we take pride in our restrooms -- if this facility is in need of attention, flip the switch." I thought about it, but it really seemed like a lost cause. We eventually decided that the "world's largest" sign hanging outside the building must've been hanging there since sometime in the 1960s, which, interestingly enough, was obviously also the last time they cleaned the world's worst bathrooms...

So today Rick is off meeting a bunch of Chicago people he may or may not get the chance to work with soon. Mom and dad and I are waiting to meet Eric for lunch, and this weekend we may check out some condos. I need to take more pictures so I have something more interesting to post, but here are a few from the trip up:

World's Largest McDonald's!! (In 1963...)

"Jury duty -- serve with pride" sign outside St. Louis courthouse. Yeah. Really proud about that jury duty... kinda like McDonald's is proud if its restrooms...

Downtown St. Louis...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

It's morning in Dallas, and we're getting ready to set out on the longest part of our drive to Chicago -- we're heading to St. Louis, where I've heard the forecast is calling for thunderstorms tonight. Rick is happy about that. Me, not so much. The city of Dallas looks deserted this morning -- we have a hotel room on the 19th floor of the Hyatt, and I can see the empty city streets and the uncrowded interstate from the window. Hopefully that means today will be a decent day to drive -- I guess not many people travel too far on the fourth of July.

So we're off to St. Louis. Well, first we're off to find a Starbucks... :)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Spring cleaning (er... summer cleaning?)...

So a few weeks ago, we got a postcard in the mail from one of those Salvation Army-like charities that collects clothes and household items and furniture. It said they would be in our neighborhood today, so if we had anything to donate we should just set it outside by the street and they’d pick it up. Well, Rick and I saw this as a great opportunity to do something we’ve been meaning to do for about the last year or so – clean out the closet. I already had a small pile of clothing sitting on my dresser that I was planning on donating to someone, but I knew it was just the tip of the iceberg…

Yesterday afternoon we got to work. We figured not only was our closet long overdue for a good pruning, but this was also a chance to get rid of some things we shouldn’t bother moving to Chicago (assuming we DO move to Chicago…). And it started out simply enough – a dress here… a shirt there… a pair of jean shorts I’d owned for ten years and was getting sick of looking at. And then Rick pulled out a couple plastic bins we’d had stashed in the back of the closet for who-knows-how long, and we started going through their contents. That went something like this:

Me: Hey, I remember this shirt!

Rick: Ew. It has buttons. It’s ugly. (Rick has a traumatic fear of buttons… I have no idea why…)

Me (trying on and buttoning up the ugly-button shirt): Wow – when I bought this, it wouldn’t button up. I’ve lost so much weight.

Rick (sighing at the sight of those detestable buttons): You’re gonna keep it just because it fits now, aren’t you?

Me (secretly planning to sew buttons on everything I own): Yup.

And as we sorted through the bins, this became a rather common occurrence. At one point, I found a pair of American Eagle crop pants that I remember buying at some time when we were living in New Jersey. They used to fit perfectly, but when I tried them on yesterday, I was practically swimming in the things. They pretty much fell off of me. Which on one hand, makes me feel really good about how much weight I’ve lost since I lived in New Jersey… but on the other hand, it makes me think, “gosh, people must’ve thought I was really fat when I lived in New Jersey…”

I also re-discovered a Yankee shirt that used to be one of my favorites – I wore it all the time. So I put that in the “do not donate” pile. Too much Yankee nostalgia. And, interestingly enough, back when I wore it all the time, the Yankees were actually a GOOD team… maybe I need to wear it constantly throughout the entire second half of the season… I’ll do it – I swear I will. If Scott Proctor can hold a ritual burning ceremony on the Yankee Stadium field, the least I can do is wear a lucky shirt.

So, all in all, yesterday was a very productive day. We not only filled two whole boxes with clothes to donate (and cleared out a nice amount of space in the closet), but I discovered at least two shirts and a couple pairs of pants that used to be tight but actually FIT me now. It’s like I went shopping for new clothes without even leaving my house. Fun, huh? AND I discovered the article of clothing that is destined to turn the tide of the Yankees’ up-until-now-miserable-but-soon-to-be-storybook season. Yes, it was a productive day indeed… :)