Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ghost Town

This will be a quick one today because I'm going to the baseball game! And this will start my rant against Roger Clemens. For some reason, I've never liked "The Rocket." I don't know why because he's never done anything to me, but he annoys me – and I don't have any Boston Red Sox issues (he did play for them for a long time, right?). Anyway, last Thursday (I think it was) I was watching Houston play somebody on ESPN (there's a definite lack of channels at the ol' RRI) and Roger was pitching his first game of the season (not sure why – did he show up to training camp overweight or did he decide late that he wanted to pitch this season? Anybody know?) and then while Brad Ausmus was batting (the only Houston Astro I could name because he's a former Tiger), ESPN decides to show some "reporter" interviewing Mrs. Clemens. I wasn't pleased. They were discussing how Boston was having some celebration this week (yesterday, I'm assuming) and that Roger couldn't be there because he had to be in Detroit, blah blah blah. At this point, I was so annoyed that I couldn't watch Brad's full at-bat that I almost didn't pick up on the reference to Detroit.

My 13-year-old cousin and I have been discussing going to a game. Between school (now over), his soccer schedule and my work and racing schedule, we managed to pick last night's game as the game we would go to. Now this is before anybody knew that there would be the big comeback. It was a Tuesday night game, I wasn't worried about getting tickets, as I've been going to Tigers games since I moved back from SF and it's never been a problem. Yes, I know, they're playing really well and all that, but still, it was a TUESDAY NIGHT game. GtG called me on Monday to inform me that the freaking game was sold out. Apparently they announced on Friday that The Rocket would be pitching and the city went bat shit crazy and the only tix left were SRO. I'm sorry but I'm old, I do not stand for baseball games (races? That's another story.). I talked to 13YOC and verified that his calendar for today was open, so GtG, 13YOC and I are off to the ol' ballpark today for a 1:05 start time! And we're heading down earlier so that the kid can get autographs on his. So, it's all Roger Clemens' fault that I'll be outta here at 10:00 a.m. and spending the day in the sun at the ballpark. I've learned my lesson though, no waiting to buy tix to see the Tiges for the rest of the year. It's plan ahead time.

Now for my rant re: Champ Car and the Icky Racing League reunifying. I hate TFG (Tony George) more than anybody else in this entire world. He is the only reason that open wheel racing in this country is in the trouble it's in. Before his great epiphany in 1995 about an All-American, All-Oval Racing Series (I won't even go there, let's just say that that great American Eliseo Salazar was driving for AJ Foyt who drank Tony's kool-aid the day he made it. Oh wait, that's right, Eliseo is Chilean, silly me), the series formerly known as CART was flourishing! We had a 28 car count at all races, we had growing attendance at the races and growing viewership on TV. Life was good. Since The Split in 1996, sponsorship for both series has suffered, neither series has a car count above 20 (don't let the Indy 500 fool you, TFG paid for at least ten of those cars to be out there, and the drivers needed to return them w/o a scratch, hence why they were all out there driving so damn slowly trying to stay out of the "real" racers' way). Attendance has fallen, too, much as it pains me to say it. The Ickies get decent TV coverage because TFG holds ABC hostage, "You want the Indy 500, you have to broadcast the rest of my races." At certain NASCAR ovals, they also get decent attendance because if you want NASCAR tickets, you have to buy the Icky Racing League's tickets and if you have nothing else to do that day, why not use the tickets you've paid for and go to the race. And if you watched the Indy 500, you saw the empty seats which never happened prior to The Split.

There have been many rumours regarding the unification. At first TFG told Kevin Kalkhoven (love him!) that he didn't care which chassis or engine or racetracks were chosen, he wanted a 60/40 cut. Now, let's look at this objectively. Kevin Kalkhoven is a SELF-MADE Billionaire. TFG inherited his money and the race track from his grandfather. TFG is the sole cause of the rift. Who would you want running the series? The man with a brain in his head or the man with the silver spoon? I know who I would pick.

Honda apparently has been very active this season traveling not only to the IRL races (where they are the sole engine suppliers), but to Champ Car races talking to every single team saying "We have to mend this rift or we're gone." Honda, from what I understand, has never wanted to be the sole engine supplier to any series. Personally, I say Champ Car teams shouldn't give a shit if Honda wants to bail because we have Ford-Cosworth engines (owned by Kevin Kalkhoven), so we're set for engines. If Honda bails, the IRL has no engines and I'm thinking it's awfully damn hard to run a racing series without engines. And that would make me the happiest woman in the world.

Smed posted yesterday in my comments that he just wants the good racetracks saved. Heck yes, I agree with that, however, I hope and pray that we don't race at Texas. In fact, the only ovals I care about are Fontana and Michigan. I would dearly love to have a race in my home state again.

The thing that really pisses me off is that I used to absolutely LOVE the month of May and the whole insanity of practice, the excitement of Pole Day, the stress and tension of Bump Day, the worthlessness of Carburetion Day and the pageantry of the actual race. I would watch everything there was to watch re: Indy, but since The Split, I don't care at all about it. I was sitting in the bar back in May and they were showing Indy stuff on ESPN and I realised that I had forgotten completely about it. I called HRH and said to her, "I f***ing hate Tony George." She said, "Uh, duh, why did you feel the need to call me and tell me that?" I miss all the stuff I loved about Indy and no, it's not the same now, and I don't think it ever will be. All thanks to TFG wanting to be the Bill France, Jr. of Open Wheel Racing in this country without realising he didn't have the brains or ability to carry it off.

So, I say NO to the unification and let Honda go away so that the Icky Racing League goes away and my beloved series can get back to the business of racing and away from the bloody politics of it all. And let TFG come to Champ Car and beg for us to deign to come back to Indy so that he has a race in May. Fucker! (Sorry if anybody is offended, but my fingers needed to type that out.)


Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I'm a complete geek in so many way, just not the way that brings in the cash (Hi Bill Gates), and I'm going to tell you all about them, just because.

Yesterday I opened an e-mail from the DSO (Detroit Symphony Orchestra for any new readers) with the subject heading: New Guest Principal Conductor and Artistic Director and there were no words, just a picture. Here's the geeky part: I KNEW THE PERSON BY FACE!!! I'm totally excited about this because after Neeme Jarvi, he's my favorite conductor and I've been saying that I want him to replace Maestro Jarvi here in Detroit, but a couple of years ago he signed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (a five year contract, I believe). He conducted the DSO earlier this year (January) in Mahler's Symphony #5 (my favorite) and it was unbelievable. Our former Guest Principal Conductor was Itzhak Perlman, so it'll be sad to lose him, but as I *love* his replacement I think I'll be okay with it. Here's hoping that he loves the DSO & Orchestra Hall so much that he doesn't renew his contract with Toronto and comes to us. Yeah, yeah, I know, as much as I love Detroit, I do know that it can't compete with the very cosmopolitan city of Toronto, but I can dream!

My weekend was utterly fabulous, as racing weekends almost always are. Friday sucked because it rained most of the day and I still managed to get a bit of a sunburn. I knew you could get burned when it's cloudy, but when there's actual water falling from those same clouds?? CRAZINESS!!! One of the Geek Squad got so fried on Friday that he wore pants and my Detroit jacket the rest of the weekend. Poor kid. The race on Friday was good, though, as my boys (and girl) aren't wimps and race (and practice and qualify) in the rain. That's why God gave us rain tires.

The rain was a mixed blessing, actually. I can't sit at a race track and NOT time the cars, so even though it was raining I was using my favorite stopwatch (yes, I have multiple stopwatches, deal with it, I told you I was a race geek), and it ended up getting messed up by the rain. Earlier in the day when we had been walking through the paddock we saw a merchandise trailer with all sorts of technical racing stuff including stopwatches. One of the stopwatches could time FOUR cars at once. HRH decided she had to have one, even though her stopwatches are perfectly fine. I found out that my favorite stopwatch isn't made anymore which didn't make me happy. Anyway, after my stopwatch stopped working I *had* to buy a new one and how could I not buy the AiM MultiChron stopwatch. I had it in time for qualifying that afternoon and within two laps I was in love with the darn thing. It is so freaking cool and it kicked butt during the race too! I ran into my co-worker who is also a Champ Car official Sunday morning in the paddock and showed him it. He turned it over and said, "Right here, it needs to read GEEK!" Woohoo!!! HRH & I are official race geeks and we're damn proud of it!!!

Public Service Announcment:

DO NOT STAY AT RED ROOF INNS, unless you enjoy slipping and falling in the bathtub. They have the narrowest and slopiest bathtubs ever. Every time I got in I almost biffed it big time. And as long as I kept my feet together and didn't move, I could stay upright. The tub is so small that even though I got in at the front, when I started to lose it, I was able to grab the "Oh shit" handle on the back wall of the tub and I slipped twice more while holding on. It was ridiculous. I know I'm a tad klutzy, but I get into my tub every day without falling and cracking my head open. My favorite part was when I was checking out and they asked if everything was okay. I told them that their tubs were very dangerous and that I damn near fell everytime I got in. The head housekeeping woman who had been standing next to me promptly moved five feet away as if I had leprosy and the girl checking me out said not a damn thing. No, I'll make a note of that or anything. When I turned to walk I said, "Thank you for your expression of concern." She looked up startled. I've been staying there for damn near 8 years and I won't be going back. When I was telling my friends about it, Spike piped up that when she and Row were moving, they spent one night in an RRI near their house (they were moving to another state) and she almost lost it in the shower there, so the big renovation from a couple of years ago resulted in them trying to save money by buying the smallest cheapest tubs they could, but I'm sure they'll end up costing them money in lawsuits.

So, to sum up:

Motels to Avoid: 1) Microtels because their walls are a micron thick and you can hear the people in the next room as plain as day. 2) Red Roof Inns for the reason noted above. I shall add to this list as necessary.

The worst part of race weekends is when it's all over and it's time to say good-bye to my friends – some whom I won't see again until next year's Cleveland race, and even the ones I'm going to see in four weeks in Edmonton. It's funny we see each other every two weeks (or so) for five or six months and then we don't see each other again for another six. I'll be forever grateful to the ESPN Racing Chat which brought such good friends into my life eleven years ago. Without it, I wouldn't have attended my 11th Grand Prix of Cleveland this past weekend. I wouldn't have gone to Laguna Seca from 1997-1999, I probably wouldn't have moved to San Francisco, I wouldn't be going to Edmonton in four weeks, etc. I wouldn't even be contemplating going to Europe next year for the 24 Hour Race at Spa, because I wouldn't know HRH. My brother asked us two years ago in Vegas how we met. He had known but had forgotten. Anyway, HRH said, "ESPN Racing Chat. I managed to find someone as stupid as me to spend all our money going to races."

I literally live for races. All winter long is spent preparing for going to races (talking to HRH about what races we're attending, getting hotels, renewing tickets, finding airfares for the away races), then Springtime is spent waiting for the first race of the season (unless we're going to Long Beach in April which we only did in 2000), and then before we know it, Milwaukee is past, Cleveland is done and there are only two races remaining on my schedule and that makes me sad. It'll be very strange on July 9th not to be in Toronto and watching the race on TV. I haven't missed Toronto since 1992, but my friend Toronto managed to find someone to buy my three tix, so that's that. HRH is going as she does live there and as she said How could she not go when she invested in the new stopwatch? I'm so jealous now I could spit. ;-)

Tomorrow I'll be ranting about Roger Clemens and the purported unification of Champ Car with the IRL and how I hate it all.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Stupid Test

Whew! Not too stupid!

The Stupid Quiz said I am "Totally Smart!" How stupid are you? Click here to find out!


I knew I could count on you guys. I thought the same thing but just needed to hear sensible people saying it too.

I had a great weekend at the races, but don't have time right now to tell you all about it! TWO WORDS for you: RACE GEEK!!! Woohoo!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New Religion (Advice Needed)

Advice time! Nope, I'm not giving it, I'm asking for it. I was chatting with my friend Lisa yesterday. We've worked on and off together (off is when she's on maternity leave) for the past five years. We both met The Libertarian around the same time and she's been pushing me to date him for oh, let's say, the last five years, and I've always just rolled my eyes at her and told her no (for the reasons listed previously as well as the fact that he's 8 years younger than me). Yesterday she decided to give me advice on men (she's married, has 2 kids, she's known her husband since they were 18), specifically The Libertarian.

Her advice is to date (marry, eventually) someone who worships the ground I walk on. It doesn't matter how I feel about said person because he'll treat me so well that I will inevitably fall in love with him. I'm not so sure about this. First off, how do you live up to being put on a pedestal? And that's huge for me. It scares me to think someone out there might think of me like that. Egads.

I'm not sure if I had second point against it, I just don't know that this is good dating/marital advice. I have a guy at work who is always at my desk or walking past and has let me know if he weren't married…but I find that he just annoys me. Same with the Stalker I used to have (only took him four years to figure that I didn't even want to speak to him) and now my Scuba Church Stalker (who was back last Sunday after being gone since April – oh, it was sweet not having to deal with him).

I don't know what kind of advice I'm looking for – maybe just your general thoughts on the various topics I've laid out in a very haphazard manner.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Beds Are Burning (or Sunday Drives and the rest of the Zoo)

Last night while watching the final episode of Babylon I started thinking about Sunday drives. Bruce Boxleitner's character John Sheridan was reminiscing about his childhood when on Sundays the family would pile into the car and go out for a drive. Do people do this anymore? Even before the days of $3.00/gallon?

It reminded me of the Sunday drives my family used to take way back when (either late 60s or early 70s). We didn't do it very often actually, but it felt like the FF drove forever and then we'd be in the middle of nowhere and there was this old farmhouse which had been turned into an antique/junk store called Nancy's Antiques. I remember the wide front porch which ran the length of the house and had rocking chairs and stuff on it. I think there was a cat that would lie around on the counter and along with the stuff (which held no interest to a young me) there were the things that did not appeal to me: the big suckers like you found at carnivals and the crème de la crème, big ass dill pickles in a huge ass barrel. Oh yeah, that was exciting. Honestly, it was the highlight of the trip for me. I knew the FF wasn't going to dish out for suckers, but I know the OS and I always got the pickle. A pickle from a barrel is still a treat in my book.

Here are the animals I forgot to mention in my previous entry:

I believe we have two males and two or three females and one of the females was rescued from a drug house. Yup, some drug dealer thought a lion would make an excellent watchdog. Dumbass. I believe he ended up calling the police for help.

Sleeping Male Lion






Right next to the lions are the macaques aka Japanese snow monkeys. This is another exhibit (like the prairie dogs) which seemed like we were missing a good number of macaques. I've heard that we always have more than we're supposed to (according to the AZA) because the macaques have a tendency to pick the birth control device out of each other (probably when nit picking), so the darn things are always procreating. The Detroit Zoo always has a variety of ages and sizes when it comes to these guys. You can spot the babies, the toddlers, the teenagers, adults and grandparents and it's so cool to watch them play and chase each other. I can watch these guys for a good half hour if they're being active. And in the winter, they really do sit in their hot tub (the building was closed, so we couldn't get in to get a pic of the hot tub which is tucked out of sight, but can been seen from inside.


Unfortunately for us, Sunshine our beautiful silverback was not out on this particular day. The Ohio Boys were, though. At least I think we got them from Ohio. Anyway, a few years back we got three male gorillas from this other Zoo, possibly in Ohio, and one of them last year thought they'd challenge Sunshine for gorilla supremacy. Yeah, they lost big time and since then, if the Boys are out, Sunshine's inside and vice versa. Here are two of the Boys. The last time I was at the Zoo, Sunshine was outside and sitting right next to the glass. OMIGOD, he was utterly fabulous and we stood there watching him for a very long time.



Lastly, here is a turkey vulture.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pictures Finally Posted

I just wanted to let anybody who wanted to see the Zoo pictures that they are now posted. I posted some of them medium size and others small. In order to see full sized pics, just click on them and it'll take you to flickr where you can click on All Sizes and I have to say that it's worth it to click on Large. So cool.

Thanks to MW who helped me out. Also, more pics will be coming because I had more pics than I talked about including lions, lionesses, gorillas, macaques.

Dare to Suck (Crackpot History and the Right to Lie)

I've been reading Scott's blog Hard to Want for a number of months now. I think I found him through Mr. Schprock who makes me laugh out loud and wish I lived near Boston, because I think it would be fun hanging out with him. I found him through Trinamick. In reverse order of how I listed them this is how I read them most mornings (Mondays I normally don't have time because of my weekly reports). I was just reading an interview Scott gave to Flood re: writing. I do not consider myself to be a writer. And I don't say that because I’m searching for compliments. I'm not. I babble and hope it's readable when it's over. I don't have the Great American Novel or Bizarre Short Story sitting in my brain, I know this, and it doesn't bother me. For me blogging is about connecting with people and sort of keeping some sort of chronicle of my life during this time. Anyway, in the interview, they discuss Scott's entry about "daring to suck."

The short story contest is closed and the results will be posted tomorrow at noon (if I read correctly). Winning or placing would be nice, but the contest already gave me a primer--a relit pilot light. I had another idea last night that I plan to work on. Part of my writer's block is an over exacting self editor--every idea had to be a gold mine. Basically I need to dare to suck. Besides, how many times have we all surprised ourselves with something wonderful out of nothing?

And that's what I feel I did this weekend. I normally don't "dare to suck" because I dislike failure – my own. I'm very forgiving about other people's failures, mistakes or faux pas (whatever they may be), but despise myself when I fail. I'm sure I can blame the FF for that, but we won't go there today, that's not what I want to tell you all about.

I might have mentioned recently that HRH, Roadrunner and I started discussing going to Europe next year for the 24 hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Being complete race fans (geeks or freaks, if you prefer), we feel the need to see the Mecca of road racing (Spa), but the F1 race at Spa is too bloody expensive (I spent more than $200 for a race weekend ticket to the F1 race in Montreal five years ago and I think Spa would cost more). The next best thing is sports car racing and a 24 hour race. In fact, it's probably better seeing closer to 60 cars on the track than the 20 (or is 18) cars that F1 has these days.

We're talking about making a two week vacation out of it, as it makes no sense to go all the way to Europe and not see some of it, right? Now, I know that rental cars in Europe generally have manual transmissions, but I've never been able to master the art of clutching, shifting, braking, accelerating and steering as I have zero coordination. I didn't want to make HRH do all the driving for two solid weeks, so I asked The Libertarian if he would teach me. He's told me before that he's taught many people and he could teach me, blah blah blah. Nobody else has been willing to let me learn in their car, so when the whole Europe trip came up, I thought of him. I know I complain about him a lot (because it's fun), but I have to give him credit, he was unbelievably patient and instead of just throwing me in the driver's seat and pretending I knew what to do, he took the time to explain not just what I should do, but explained why, i.e., how the gears mesh, etc. I basically knew, but he put it in terms that made sense.

He's always said that it's easier to learn on a Jeep or a truck, but I was thinking he was crazy as I don't like driving large vehicles (not that the Jeep is larger, but it's bigger than my cute little Focus). And as much as I hate to say it, he was right. We started out in low gear (as if I were going to go climb rocks or something) to get me comfortable with the whole clutch thing. Shifting wasn't even discussed (well, I asked, but he told me not to worry about it). After I was able to clutch/accelerate well throughout the four gears (since these were all low gears, I still wasn't shifting and it was apparently okay to start in each of them – I was worried for his transmission, but he assured me it was fine), he put the gear in regular gearing (how do you like all these technical terms?), so I could get the feel of what a real 1st gear feels like. 1st gear, in the past, has always been my Achilles' heel. The last time (before this past weekend) that I drove a stick shift was my brother's car out in CA (1997 or 1998). He was drunk and I wasn't, so I had to drive us home. He reached the point where he said, "Kat, you're killing my clutch. Just blow off the stop signs." Thankfully it was 3:00 a.m. and there weren't any cops or other cars around.

I think I stalled the car once in 1st gear on Friday night and The Libertarian gave me a B+ for the night. He said he was scared that if he gave me an A, I wouldn't feel the need to try harder on Saturday night.

Saturday night the Jeep was back – oh yeah, the Jeep. He has that baby jacked up a few extra inches since he does go off-roading in it and needs to clear rocks or something. I almost fell out of the damn thing on to my face one time Friday night because it was so freaking high and as I have said, I have no coordination. I hated to do, because I'm fiercely independent (especially when it comes to him), but I finally had to give in and ask for help getting into and out of the damn thing. I swear men do that on purpose, so that they have excuses.

So, Saturday we went back to the parking lot (where I almost hit a bicyclist as I wasn't expecting one to be there) and I practiced shifting up through the gearbox and how to make turns properly. It was nerve-wracking, but I apparently did pretty well, because the next thing I knew I was back in the passenger seat and we were heading over to a friend's house. I had no clue why, but figured whatever. Turns out that The Libertarian had talked to his friend ahead of time and that the friend had a CAR with a manual transmission and he was apparently willing to let me practice on it. When the friend opened the door, he simply introduced us and asked "Can I borrow the keys to your car?" Friend went and got the keys and handed them over. I looked at them both and said, "Aren't you going to tell him why?" "He knows." Oh.

After being in the open to the elements Jeep, it was weird getting into a closed off car (I have to admit that except for the lack of three-point harnesses, I liked riding in the Jeep, it was fun). We found a church parking lot and after maybe two circuits, we decided I was ready to try streets. I managed to find a cop which had The Libertarian reaching for his seat belt (just one of the reasons he makes me crazy). I laughed at him, but turned to stay away from the cop. I can be nice to The Libertarian on occasion.

I only stalled about 3 times and each time there were people on the street corner or nearby and I got nervous. I also have an issue with the proper foot movement re: clutching/accelerating when shifting. And part of the problem is that I don't remember if I'm supposed to accelerate before clutching and then shifting or what. I think The Libertarian decided that I need a break, though, because we made our way back to the car's house and put the keys back in Friend's hand. Of course, I woke up the next morning remembering that I had not moved the seat back in the car. OOPS!

We ended up staying at the Friend's house until damn near 3:00 a.m. drinking beer and talking. The Libertarian refused to give me a grade on the night because I was annoying him – we have very different ideas re: the 2nd amendment. For some reason I don't let him piss me off when he gets going, I just laugh at him, probably because I'm pretty sure I'm annoying him way more than he's annoying me. I hate to say it, but I had a good time with him both Friday and Saturday night. I was feeling a bit conflicted about this but then I simply reminded myself that he's a Libertarian, he's an engineer and that he owns guns. Lots of guns. In fact, Friday night he told me that whenever I piss him off re: the 2nd amendment, he goes out and buys himself another gun, and since I was pissing him off that night he wondered what my favorite country was, because he was going to buy one from that country. I looked at him and said, "Sweden."

Kathleen 1
Libertarian 0

I'm off to Cleveland on Thursday afternoon and as soon as we (Mom, The Geek Squad and me) get there, we're meeting up with my friends at Damon's for dinner or drinks. Cleveland is always a fun race with the wide open spaces of the Burke Lakefront Airport, but to me Cleveland is special because it's the one race at which most of us still get together. It'll be great fun to see Row and Spike, and DH1 and the Boys. And of course, LT, his wife and the kids will be there (at least they better be). Long time readers might remember their son Tyler from my Danica Patrick is a bitch story. (Starts around paragraph #8.) I see LT, his wife and the kids once a year but the kids just love me. Talk about unconditional love. They all want to sit on my lap and hug me. I think Justin's 9 this year (if I remember correctly, LT's wife was pregnant our first year in Cleveland – 1996) and he's been to every single race, same with Tyler and Jessica (the twins). Tyler really came into his own last year and was talking to everybody, complete strangers included. At one point I was sitting down with them (still our section but next to the aisle whereas my seats are on the inside) and Tyler wanted to sit next to me. We ended up sitting next to some African-American teenagers with their shorts hanging off their ass and doo-rags on their heads. Tyler patted the one guy's leg and said, "I'm Tyler." The kid responded by shaking Tyler's hand and introducing himself. I think they even chatted for a bit (as much as Tyler chats). I love finding teenagers who are raised properly and blow away the sullen stereotype.

My new camera arrived last Thursday (two days after I ordered it and asked for the cheaper delivery rate of 7-10 business days), so I'll be taking pics of the kids this weekend and then once I get my new computer, I'll be posting pics so you can appreciate Tyler yourself. I just love that kid. Yes, I love Justin and Jessica, too. There's just something special about my Tyler!


Friday, June 16, 2006

Easter Monday at the Detroit Zoo

Two months ago I made a trek to the Detroit Zoo. I didn't own a camera then (and don't really own one now as I just ordered it yesterday – YIKES), so had to wait for my co-worker who went with me to send me the pics. I got them probably a month ago, but have had so much more interesting ways to bore you that I hadn't gotten around to telling you all about it. Of course, it's now been two months, so God/Valen/Thor/Horus only knows if I remember the day or what I remember of the day. But I will include lots of cute animal pictures!

The Zoo trip started when there was the possibility of it closing thanks to the shortsightedness of the Detroit City Council. My one co-worker told me she hadn't been (she only just moved here within the past year or so) and we decided to rectify that situation.

As many of you might not know, the Detroit Zoo no longer has elephants. Last year Wanda & Winky were sent off to PAWS Animal Refuge in California where they'd have plenty of land to roam and where it's a tad bit warmer than Michigan. They had developed really bad arthritis due to Michigan's winters as well as not enough room to roam. I forget the exact number, but elephants in the wild roam a number of miles a day and even though their exhibit at the Detroit Zoo was significantly larger than the AZA (American Zoological Association) mandates, it was not enough for the elephants. Anyway, check out these pictures of the two grand girls in their new home.

When the day finally came (Easter Monday which we had off), we had quite the group consisting of Co-Worker #1, Co-Worker #1, Nephew (not of Terror Children fame), Nephew's Friend, Niece (again, not of Terror Children fame), and Niece's Boyfriend. The week up to Easter (if I remember correctly) had been beautiful, but Easter Monday dawned sunny, but windy and chilly. I dressed for it, though, because I'm an adult. The teenagers showed up in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. I could see my niece standing in line in her little shirt shivering. I made my nephew go back to the car to get her hoodie since she wasn't dressed for running. Yeah, I know, she should have gone back for it herself, but as I was already inside the Zoo, I would have been punishing myself and having to stand there longer waiting for them. Besides that, the most important thing was that the penguin feeding started at 10:30 and I didn't want to miss it. It's great fun watching the woman dealing with the more aggressive penguins who try crawling on her. It's hilarious!!!


In the old days, pre Arctic Ring of Life, the schedule for feeding was like this: 10:30 Macaroni Penguins, 11:00 Sea Lion/Seal feeding, 11:30 King Penguins, 1:00 polar bears. Oh, those were great days at the Zoo. We rarely made it back for the 11:30 feeding, but the other feedings were de riguer (I know no French, is that spelled correctly?), particularly the polar bear feeding. I never missed a polar bear feeding. Of course, without the Arctic Ring of Life, we couldn't enjoy pics like these:

Polar Bear Swimming1

Polar Bear Swimming3

Polar Bear Swimming2

As it was a tad windy/chilly that day, and had teenaged boys with us, we went into the Reptile House, a place I normally miss. The first pic is (I think) being a crocodile (alligator?) building her nest, not sure if she's pregnant or just in heat. The second one is a caiman (maybe).

The pics were taken through glass, so please excuse the glare.

Female Crocodile


This is either an iguana or a Gila monster. I'm so not into reptiles that I didn't pay that much attention.

Lizard 2

I always want to give the camels (domestic Bactrian camel, if you want to be particular) a good brushing. I think he's posing.


I have absolutely no clue what kind of animal this is. The Detroit Zoo has so many different types of deer-esque animals that I can't keep them straight.

Picture 007

In the center of the main walkway at the Zoo is a fountain with a statue of polar bears in the middle. It's tradition to get your picture taken in front of the fountain, regardless of the presence of water or not.



Next up were the tigers. We had male cubs last year and these might be them, but then I think I remember hearing that we got rid of the cubs to Zoos which didn't have tigers, because the father was having issues, but I have to say that I just don't know. At any rate, they are magnificent animals.




Ah, the white-handed Gibbons. This was kind of disgusting and definitely showed that we are city kids to the core. What you can't see is that in his right hand he's holding a dead bird. Yeah, we thought it was so cute because he was holding this bird and caressing it and whatever. Then he put it to his face and bit the beak off. Yeah, we left right around then.

White Handed Gibbon

After the tigers came my favorite animals, the rhinos, which we didn't have for a number of years after they put Rudy to sleep. We got two white rhinos last year after we shipped Wanda & Winky off to their new home. Tamba and Jasiri now live in W&W's old exhibit. I think they are just so darn cute!!!



I was going in order of how we did the Zoo that day, but I went through the pictures and renamed them from pic001 to Female Crocodile, etc., so now I have no idea what the proper order is. I trust everybody will be able to deal with this unfortunate turn of events.

Yeah, I have no clue. I just sat here and thought about it for a little while, but I'm literally clueless.

One of the best places to see the polar bears these days is outside the actual Arctic Ring of Life exhibit. There's a pathway that runs along the exhibit but up higher, so even if there are people standing there, you can see over them. That's where these pics were taken.

Polar Bear 5

Polar Bear in Pool

Polar Bear in Pool 2

Polar Bear 4

Polar Bear Not Quite Swimming

Staying with the bear theme, here are the black bears and the grizzlies. One of them, but I can't figure out which ones, are now in what used to be the polar bear exhibit.

Sleeping Bear

Grizzly Bear 2

Black Bear

Black Bear Butt

Last year the Zoo was lucky enough to have two wolverine pups/cubs born (first in captivity in forever, or something like that). Originally, they were named Bucky & Sparty in honor of U of M's main rivals' mascots, Ohio State and Michigan State, respectively, but apparently people who went to U of M-Ann Arbor have no sense of humor and they got all pissed off and threatened to withhold money, so the wolverines now have names of trees or something like that. Whatever. Bucky & Sparty are much better names. Co-Worker #1 wasn't as fast as the wolverine, so here's his butt as he runs off.

Year Old Wolverine

Up next are the giraffes. Co-Worker #1 didn't get a pic of the giraffe exhibit which contains the original artwork from the 1930s and has an Egyptian theme as you can see from the link. I love it and hope they never get rid of it. I think giraffes are exceptionally cool. One time years ago, I became enthralled with them when one of the giraffes was intent on getting some particularly tasty branch from the other side of the wall (which is gone now). I was fascinated with how prehensile his black tongue was. His neck may be long, but it was his tongue's ability to pick up the branch that caught my attention. Get your minds out of the gutter. I know how it sounds, but that's not how I meant it.


Giraffes 2


Right across from the Giraffe exhibit is the South American tapir. He's so ugly, that I feel sorry for him and think he's cute.


From there it was time to enter the Arctic Ring of Life where our polar animals live: Arctic fox (I don't think we saw one, they're very good at knowing where to hide), Snow Goose (supposedly, but I don't remember seeing them either. They live in the exhibit where our Snow Owls lived before succumbing to West Nile Virus two years or so ago. They were so incredibly beautiful.), seals (our sea lions were sent off to Chicago when the Ring of Life opened because they're not polar. I miss them) and of course, the polar bears. The exhibit is set up in such a way that it looks like the polar bears and seals are swimming in the same pool – always freaks people out the first time. There's a people tunnel that goes under the polar bear pool, and it was crammed full of yelling, noisy children, but for once a polar bear (Adak, I think) was actually in the pool. He even used the ceiling of the tunnel to push off with his feet. That was pretty cool.

Polar Bear Swimming4

Polar Bear Not Quite Swimming

Polar Bear Done Swimming

The whole idea of posting this yesterday became incredibly overwhelming considering my brain was dead from the allergy pills which were not doing their job at all. Talk about slackers. I told my boss at one point that I was going home and he asked, "Why?" He didn't look like he liked my explanation, so I stayed the full day, even though I didn't get a whole lot done. Hard to work when your face is pretending it’s a fountain. I knew there was no way in hell that I'd accomplish anything at the gym, so I went home, put on shorts and my Percy the Pug tank top, and went outside. I was hoping the sun would bake the allergies out of me. I did feel better lying down than I did standing or sitting up, so that was an accomplishment in my book. I faced the sun because I didn't want half of my face tan and the other side white. Unfortunately, that didn't really work because the sun seemed only to touch the parts of my face that stick out – chin, cheeks and nose. Forehead and side of face still white. ARGH!!! Ah well. Thank heavens for bronzer.

I'm better today, but not completely. I'd honestly rather have a cold, because then you know that it's going to go away at some point. I have year-round allergies which are just damn annoying. I took Alka-Seltzer Cold & Cough Nighttime last night when I went to bed (at 7:00 p.m.). It was all I could to last that long. I wish Alka-Seltzer would come out with an allergy version, as the C&C version didn't really do the trick, but still I was able to sleep through the night (mostly).

We ended the zoo, as we always do with the prairie dogs (I'm scared they're feeding them to the lions again, because we didn't have as many as we usually do), the otters (no pics, but they were so cute), and a trip through the butterfly house.

Prairie Dog2

Prairie Dog1

Picture 073

Picture 072

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Allergies are winning

My allergies are kicking my ass from here to Timbuktu today. I took an Alavert last night (I started taking them a month or so ago and worked like a dream), but it did nothing. I took another this morning when I couldn't stop sneezing, my eyes wouldn't stop watering and my nose wouldn't stop running. That was a good two hours ago and still nothing. I'm completely freaking miserable and want to die. Okay, probably not literally. I'm working on my Zoo entry complete with pictures which I hope will be up later today. TTFN!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Brown Paper Bag

I have decided (God only knows why, but it could be that I won't be home many of the upcoming Saturdays and besides who wants to waste their Saturdays inside doing laundry?) that Mondays are perfect days for doing the laundry. So, that was my goal Monday night and I could have accomplished the goal of getting four loads done, except for the minor problem that our "new" (read: used) washing machine sucks totally and completely. It doesn't spin the clothes very dry at all (and the agitator as a cupped base where water collects, so when the clothes get done spinning they sit in a pool of water) which means that it takes two full hours in the dryers (at a dollar a pop) to dry said clothes. I washed three loads (starting at 3:00 p.m., but couldn't get into the dryer until 5:00 since Ursamajor's OOMA was trying to dry the clothes he had washed earlier. It's a huge sign when there's a wet load on top of the dryer and a load in the dryer. Anyway, I got the towels dried, and my sheets dried (sheets finished at 9:15 p.m.), so my clothes got hung on the lines which we all means they're going to dry as stiff as a friggin' board. I'm not pleased. And unlike the Basement Dweller, I did not hang my undies for everybody else in the building to see and took them up to my apartment to hang in the bathroom. All this means that I'm calling Schneider sometime soon to complain about the "new" (read: used) sucky washing machine. I mean, really! Who has two hours to dry one load of laundry? And if you have to wash more than one, you're screwed. I'm going to have to start washing one load a day and hope that I don't conflict with everybody else in the building. I never thought I'd think fondly of the old avocado green washing machine.

BTW, this is Kvetch Day here at Kat's Bitch Fest Blog. My next bitch is that the cafeteria at work is going to close down the Mini-Marts (which serve breakfast, 6:30 – 10:00, lunch 11:00 – 3:00) and keep open only the main cafeteria which serves only lunch (11:00 – 12:45). The huge problem here is that the only thing they do relatively well is breakfast (lunch is so abysmally horrible, it's not funny), so I think I’m just going to stop eating during the day. I walk to work, so going out for lunch isn't feasible. Supposedly the caterer is losing money on this deal, but nobody's quite sure how since they don't pay rent. And I think that perhaps if you're in the catering business, you might be more successful if your food is edible. But what do I know, I wasn't a business major.

Yes, I could bring my lunch, but that would require me going to the grocery store a bit more often and although I do like Boca burgers, eating them for lunch every day is just not something I want to do. I love PB&Js, but I have discovered that peanut butter upsets my stomach, so after a day or two of PB&Js, I'm over feeling nauseous all afternoon. And if you saw my kitchen with its incredible lack of counter space, you'd understand why cooking isn't really an option. And once summer really gets going, my apartment is hotter than the hubs of Hell and cooking is even less of an option. Yes, window air conditioners would help, but I can't afford to buy three (which is probably what it would take to cool my apt) and then run them all summer long. The thing is that I really love my apartment and don't want to live anywhere else. It's in a great location and it's large and relatively inexpensive for the neighborhood.

Another bitch is that when I do eat lunch at my desk the number of people who come up to my desk, see me eating and reading, but don't go away. If it's something work-related and quick I don't mind, it's the people who stop by to chat and don't go away while my food is getting cold who drive me up a tree. The conversation is rarely worthy of my food getting cold nor is it better than my book.

I think I’m done bitching for now.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Gentleman Who Fell

I had a great weekend!!! The sad thing is that all I needed to happen for it to be a great weekend was that I got my hair cut. Yup, I'm easy.

Friday I went with the Libertarian to see The Proposition. Holy shit, people! If you don't like excessive violence (which I don't), this is not the movie for you. Was it a good movie? Yes, I have to say it was. It was well done and the story was a good one (and although I figured out the ending, it didn't detract at all from it). I spent a decent amount of time with my eyes closed. At one point, I turned my head and closed my eyes and the Libertarian whispered to me, "Did you miss that?" "Yup." "Good." I love it when I make smart decisions. It was a rough movie. I was very stressed throughout and spent the last half of the movie digging my fingers into the Libertarian's arm with the occasional turned head and closed eyes. He didn't always let me know if it was safe to look, so I caught some violence that I could have lived without. Even now thinking about it I can feel myself getting tense, but the crazy thing is that it was an amazing movie and I'm glad I saw it (and gladder that I figured out when NOT to look). I have to say though that there was one part where I really really really wanted to stick my fingers in my ears as well as close my eyes, but I thought that might have been too juvenile of a reaction.

After the movie we headed off to the party where I had a great time and where I knew there'd be someone interesting to meet, just because the Libertarian was with me. Of course, I've heard it said many times that guys find women more interesting if they're with another guy (weirdness, if you ask me), but maybe that helped. Who knows. Of course, this is all a moot point I'm sure because I'll probably never see him again.

I was in full klutz mode on Friday. I was drinking red wine from these fabulously tall glasses that my friend Andrew has. The problem is that I'm a KLUTZ, so the fact that they were extra tall just had me bumping the damn glass and then red wine would go sloshing all over the place. Thank God I was wearing a wine colored dress. I'm positive one of the guys at the party (whom I had met at the last party) thought I was stupid drunk. Trust me, I wasn't. I readily admit when I've drunk too much, but that was not the case that night. Just call me Grace. I wish I were graceful. *sigh*

Saturday morning I once again experienced the fact that the local radio station which supposedly has "The Best Traffic & Weather Together on the 8s" doesn't. I don't know about you, but I think that if you have two freeways of two lanes each merging into what is normally four lanes, but on this particular day is only ONE lane that the traffic report might say, "Hey, if you're heading to I-96 West from I-275 or I-696, you might want to take an alternate route." Fuckers. I was stuck on the interchange with absolutely no place legally to go for over an hour and a half. I hit the first exit and got the hell off and took the alternate route I would have taken in the first place if I had had a bit of warning. We got to the World's Greatest Yarn Store at least an hour after I had planned on getting there. We spent an hour there picking out yarn for my two cousins' afghans. One cousin was with me so if she doesn't like her afghan, it's her own fault as she picked the yarn out, but I don't think that'll be a problem. The base yarn is absolutely beautiful alpaca/silk/wool blend in a gorgeous blue and I picked up a carry-along yarn to give it a little more character. For the cousin who just got married, I picked up this incredible super bulky yarn (Cascade Magnum in Color #9338. The cousin who got married loves green while her husband likes blue. It's mostly green with hints of blue. I hope it's enough, because I am loving this yarn and how it's knitting up. I'm bound and determined to buy myself a digital camera so that I can take a picture of it and share it with you all.

Saturday night was supposed to be Knitting Club night but it didn't happen. SK had the flu (or a cold), JU had other things going on and I ended up with a massive headache. When I got home from all the driving I did (I went straight from Lansing to downtown Detroit), I took three ibuprofen and took a nap. I woke up two hours later and my head was still hurting, so I called up EGC and decided to stay home. Of course, I ended up knitting anyway and that's when I started the cousin's afghan.

Sunday was the big day in that the mop on top of my head got taken care of. After another two hour Mass (Fr. O told me that he's going to have to do something about it – love that man!), I booked out of there and headed off to Pamela's for the hair butchering. After that, we headed downtown to the Detroit Festival of Arts (Hey, Detroit, if a street is One-Way, it might behoove you to put up a sign so that people coming off a side street know that.) where I bought a new ring. It was the first booth we stopped at. It helps that Pamela also prefers silver jewelry with an edge. The woman had these very cool rings, but every single one of them was huge and fit only my RH index finger. I wanted one for my LH ring finger which takes a size 4.5 ring. The woman told me she could size any ring down or up. I figured it would be a process and that I'd have to wait for the darn thing to arrive in the mail. I was so wrong!! She took the ring I preferred and within moments she had it sized down (of course, my fingers are cold right now, so it's a smidge big) and it fit perfectly. The stone is irregular in size and shape (which I prefer, cabochons are boring, IMO) and she told me it's called Petersite. Pamela bought the other ring I had been contemplating which had a stone that the woman had found at George Lake (no clue where this is) and had polished herself. It was sweet. There weren't that many booths this year, so buying at the very first booth we stopped at ended up not being a problem. We caught most of the DSO's concert which was very well attended. All in all, it was a good day and a good weekend (traffic jam not withstanding).

I hope you all had a fun weekend!

Friday, June 09, 2006


You might remember the letter game that I participated in a few weeks back, go and read my friend Sal's entry on the Letter C. I think he did a fabulous job!!! Of course, I'm biased as he was my best friend in SF. After my brother I miss him the most from my years in The City.

I'm tired today. Wednesday night I did something extremely stupid. I ate this chocolate bar. The entire damn thing. The problem here is that the caffeine kept me up damn near all night. The only caffeine I ever get is from chocolate and I'm usually very circumspect and eat only one or two squares of this really lovely chocolate, but the hazelnuts were speaking to me on Wednesday and the next thing I knew the foil wrapper was empty and I was unable to sleep. I'm a dumbass.

And then last night was the nephew's graduation ceremony. He was right, it did only take an hour, but then there was the hanging out afterwards to take pics, to say nothing of the traffic of all those people trying to leave at the same time. I had driven there with my brother, and he ran into somebody from work, so we chatted with her for a while until the traffic cleared out. In the end I hit my bed around 10:30 way way way past my bedtime.

And my weekend is scheduled to the hilt once again. Tonight I'm going with the Libertarian to see The Proposition the movie written by Nick Cave who, of course, also wrote the score. I have a feeling that I'm going to be absolutely spent after seeing it as every review, even the good ones, talk about how violent is. I'm not a fan of violence, but I'm a HUGE fan of Nick Cave, so I'm going. A couple of years ago when he was touring to support his album, No More Shall We Part, he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It was simply bizarre, as Nick's musical style is not usually showcased on network television. I had missed it (being way past my bedtime) but my friend Jason taped it, so I got to see it. He did "15 Feet Of Pure White Snow" which is a great song, and I would have loved to have been in the audience that night just to see the reaction. Dame Edna was on the show that night, and I just loved when the cameras showed the guests milling about the stage during the credits because I got to see Nick greet Dame Edna with a very collegial kiss on the cheek. For some reason that just cracked me up.

Anyway, after the movie I have a party to attend, so I'll be dragging the Libertarian there. That'll be strange as when people see a man and a woman (or a guy and a girl) arrive at a party together, there are thoughts of couplehood and that is so not the case. Ah well, we'll see how it goes as we usually end up arguing about politics and how stubborn I am.

Tomorrow I have to get up early (dammit) to go to the Lansing yarn store. I'm taking my cousin to pick out yarn for the afghan I'm going to knit for her. She's moving into her own apartment in a couple of weeks and I told her that I would make one for her. I want her to pick out the yarn she wants and the store is having a 20% off sale! Woohoo!!! That'll help. And then I have to drive to downtown Detroit to the Pure Detroit store to pick up a present for EGC and then tomorrow night is Knitting Club night at EGC's house.

Sunday is will be a good day because I'm getting the hideously long and misshapen mop of hair on my head cut. I haven't found anybody to go to the Detroit Festival of Arts with (Martha wants to go tomorrow, Ursamajor has too much to do to get ready for her big Yellowstone trip), but Pamela might go, depending on how everything goes (her mom was scheduled to have a heart catheterization this morning). Sure, I could go alone, but that's not so fun. Ah well. I can always watch Babylon 5. ;-)

When I posted on Monday about getting a lot of my new book read because I was stuck in that damned airport for so long, Beth shared that she finished The Shining on a long layover and that inspired to me to think about books read on planes. Lately, I've been knitting on planes because that way the people sitting next to me and talking up a storm don't bother me, but I had felt like a slacker over the measly four books I had read in May, so I was determined to finish a book over the weekend.

The one book that I think of when I think of reading on planes is Aztec by Gary Jennings. This was the first HUGE book (1056 pages) I started that I really wanted to finish (I had started a Michener before that, but couldn't get into it at all), even though it was taking forever. I had mostly read books of about 300 pages before this, and when you read 300 pages of a thousand-page book it doesn't really feel like you've gotten anywhere, and that's a tad discouraging, no matter how fabulous the book was. Anyway, I believe I started this book in 1988 and took it on a trip that February to CA to visit my aunts who live there. I flew to LA first and then had a flight up to SF to visit another aunt. The flight from LA to SF took an eon because we sat on the plane on the ground for at least an hour due to inclement weather (I think it was significantly longer than an hour, but it was so damn long ago, I can't remember exactly) and during that time there was nothing else to do but read my book. That helped me get over the hump and I was able to finish the book on that trip (if not on that particular plane). I absolutely loved that book, but I do have an Aztec fixation. When Gary Jennings wrote his next two books I picked both of them up and I found them a much quicker read, perhaps I was used to his style by then.

I'm always amazed by people who get on airplanes with absolutely nothing to do, and they just sit there staring straight ahead. I'd be bored spitless sitting on a plane for even an hour with nothing to occupy my mind or hands. My carry-on bag is always chockfull of things to keep me busy and out of trouble. Back in 1988, I didn't just have my book, I also had my drawing supplies, and my diary. Normally, I take more than one book because I read pretty quickly and don't want to get stuck with even a half hour on a plane with nothing to do. These days I always have knitting (usually more than one project), a book (or two) and an electronic game.

I'll finished the Alex Zanardi book yesterday. What should I read next? My Hitchcock/Truffaut book or should I continue with the racing theme and read the Senna book I got for Christmas two years ago or The Lost Painting?

What do you do on airplanes? What book do you think of when you think plane travel?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Raspberry Beret (not by Prince)

I went to post my scintillating prose yesterday, but blogger was having major issues and I had to get home. I have this problem that I know if I get home past a certain time, I'll NOT go to the gym as I think it's too crowded and I won't get an elliptical machine. So, I had to bail.

You'll find yesterday's post at the end of this one.

I did go to the gym and attacked the Trail Blazer program on the elliptical machine for 45 minutes. Or should I say the Trail Blazer program attacked me. My face was beet red for a couple of hours after I was done, and my t-shirt was sweat soaked within minutes which makes me wonder about people who can exercise w/o sweating! Last year when I was going to the gym religiously, I would see these two women wearing full-on cotton sweatsuits a la the 1970s & 80s on the cross-country skiing machines moving so slowly that even in full sweats they did not sweat a bit. They'd do the same on the treadmills, basically taking up a machine that someone who really wanted to work out could have used.

Tonight I have to go to my nephew's high school graduation ceremony. The OS had sent out an e-mail last week asking who wanted to go as they had extra tickets. I have been to enough commencement exercises in the past year so I didn't respond, but Bug (my nickname for my nephew since he was a baby) called me on Tuesday evening to ask if I were going. DAMN!!! I could be passive-aggressive and ignore the e-mail from the sis, but there's no way I could say No directly to him. He promised it would be a short event (in ten years the longest one was 62 minutes and that's with 300+ kids), so how could I say no? And I was so looking forward to the possibility of not seeing my mother for almost two solid weeks. Yes, I know, I'm a bad daughter, but I need breaks from her.

I think I've kvetched a bit here about how my church has been having 2 hour masses, and if you're Catholic or know any Catholics you know Mass is generally an hour (usually less than). So, two Sundays ago I kept track of all the singing and announcements. (I thought briefly about my stopwatches at home, but they beep every time you start and stop them, so that wouldn't be cool at church.) Just the singing and the announcements alone had us at 54 minutes, well, no wonder we're up to 2 hours for Mass!!! I'm thinking of having a chat with Fr. on Sunday. I mean, really! There is no reason to sing every friggin' verse of the processional hymn or the offertory hymn and there's no reason to wait until everybody is done going to Communion to start singing whatever new song they're doing that week. JUST NOT NECESSARY!!! I don't even care if the sermon is 20 minutes (it was only 7 minutes that day), at least it's usually worthwhile. And no offense to the choir, but they aren't that good. I’m just glad that the Easter season is officially over, and I'm hoping against hope that means we go back to our normal Alleluia before the Gospel. The one the choir's been singing sucked so badly it wasn't funny. I mean, really, is it necessary to use the word omnipotent in a song???? Talk about unwieldy!!! And it lasted 4 minutes. Ridiculous.

This weekend is the Detroit Festival of Arts and I'm hoping to get there Sunday to hear the DSO's free concert. The schedule looks like a good one.

Festival Overture (Shostakovich)
Hungarian March from La Damnation de Foust (Berlioz)
Overture to The Barber of Seville (Rossini)
Hungarian Dance No. 6 (Brahms)
Morning Mood from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (Grieg)
Thunder and Lightening Polka (Strauss)
Blue Tango (Anderson)
Franz von Suppe (von Suppe) and the Finale from Symphony No.4 by Tchaikovsky
Of course, I'm a little biased toward Russian composers, so pretty much I just need to see the names Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky and I'm there.

I emailed Ursamajor to see if she were interested in going since we went last year and had a lot of fun, but she hasn't responded. Ursamajor is a riot to hang with and she's very good at people watching. The friend with whom I go to most of my races, HRH, is terrible at people watching. She doesn't understand the joy of a "good" mullet or anything like that. She did appreciate the pink flowered elastic waistband shorts on the middle-aged man, though, so she's showing improvement.

HRH, Roadrunner and I are discussing going to Europe next summer for the 24 Hour Race at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (D.R.E.A.M.) which would include a two week vacation in Europe (but not Sweden, DAMMIT!). I'm pretty damn excited. The F1 circuit races there and it's every driver's favourite race track, but F1 races are too damned expensive and packed, so we decided to do the smart thing and get the most racing possible (this year's tickets are 60 Euros for the whole shebang, so that's doable). To this end, I've asked The Libertarian to teach me how to drive a stick shift. I have had a number of people over the years try to teach me, but I'm so uncoordinated it's not funny. He thinks he can do it, and told me that he has more patience than I do. I told him that wasn't hard as I have zero patience, but he's willing, so there ya go. I'll keep you posted on my progress (getting out of first gear will be incredible progress).

Wednesday, 7 June 2006

I'm back and refreshed! You would have thought I was a five year old on Monday. I went to bed at 7:19 (I know the exact time because someone called me right then) and was asleep by 7:45 (had to play a few games of electronic solitaire, even though the brain was already gone and didn't really need relaxing). Yes, I do live an exciting life here in the Motor City. It was practically broad daylight when I crawled into my fabulously comfortable bed (unlike the hard-as-a-rock-hotel-bed).

I woke up yesterday when the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m., and although I wouldn't say I popped right out of bed, I did NOT snooze at all and rolled out of bed. This is a huge accomplishment for the Alarm Clock Snooze Queen. I snoozed for two hours one day last week. First alarm went off at 4:00 and I was completely unable to drag my sorry butt out of bed until 6:00.

Do you know the best part about making your own mixed CDs? At least, for me? Every single song elicits an "Oh, I love this song." from me when it starts up. Stupid, isn't it? Of course, I love every song. I made the damn CD! Why am I so surprised? Because I'm a goofball, that's why.

I was too darn tired on Monday to go to the gym, but I did not let myself talk me out of going yesterday. I did 45 minutes on the elliptical machine (Fat Burner program) and I didn't once have that issue of being bored and wondering the time was ever going to be up, because I'm loving my Alex Zanardi book. When he describes each race, I'm reliving it in my head from when I watched it on TV. I'm such a racing geek, that I’m tempted to go into my closet and pull out the old videos and watch those races all over again.

And on that note, it's time to get to the gym. I'm such a slacker, if I let myself not go today, I'll find a reason not to go tomorrow.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lucretia/My Reflection

There is nothing quite like the feeling of sitting in an airport for longer than it would have taken to drive the distance home. Yeah, next year the Dan Ryan Expressway through Chicago better not be under construction because I'm driving to Milwaukee. I got less than three hours of sleep last night which is not enough normally, but when I woke up yesterday morning in Milwaukee, I was already tired. Race weekends are great fun, but bloody exhausting. Too much sun, not enough sleep in a bed that is not my own, in addition to the whole no sleep thing last night has made me pretty much useless today. I'm trying to do my usual reports, but have no brain power for anything. Blog entries are a different story. ;-) Or not.

My goal is to get through the day and into bed by 8:00 p.m. tonight or maybe earlier, depending on how damn tired I am at 7:30. How sad is that? It's broad daylight here at 7:30 and I'm contemplating going to bed like I'm 8. Getting old is not for the weak of heart! ;-)

The weather in Milwaukee was the best it has been since I started going to the race four years ago. It was sunny and around 70 every day (my poor ears are fried since I have no hair to cover them, and I was stupid and only used SPF 30 on Saturday). Saturday there was a great breeze, well, it was a wonderful breeze/wind for those of us in the grandstands sitting in the sun, but it was not fabulous for the drivers. It was blowing in such a way that good, experience drivers were being thrown into the wall in Turn 4, not a single rookie hit the wall (maybe during the race, but I can't remember for certain, as my brain is home asleep on my lovely feather pillow). I think the reason might be that they're (the veterans, obviously, not the rookies) more comfortable with the race track and therefore were pushing it, knowing the usual limits of the corner, but the wind had other ideas. It was just crazy, especially since in the previous three years that we've been going, we haven't had a single incident during any of the practice or qualifying sessions.

The good news about sitting in the airport for so bloody long is that I got over 200 pages read of my new book. I knew I was going to have some time to waste at the airport (I just didn't know how much time) and as I was close to the end of the book I started on Thursday, I picked up the Alex Zanardi book at the track. I finished the Caleb Carr book I was reading in time to get up to the seats and watch the 1972 Mark Donohue car from the Indy 500. That car had a very impressive provenance, ending with Rick Mears. I never realised before that Mark died on my b-day. Glad I wasn't following auto racing that closely back then as that would have sucked. Anyway, if I finish this book this week, I'll have finished half the number it took me an entire month to read last month. And to decide what is next. I have the latest John Sandford. I'll never understand why John Grisham is more popular than John Sandford. Mr. Sandford keeps me interested and guessing all the way to the end. Grisham makes me bang my head against the wall wondering if it's ever going to end, and couldn't he just kill off all of his characters as none of them has any redeeming qualities (okay, that's The Firm, his others might have redeeming characters) and then when it does, it's done in so haphazard a manner that I want to kick myself for wasting good reading time on his dreck. Thankfully, I've only wasted my time on two of his books. Anyway, if you like good fast-paced, detective-esque books and aren't scared off with a bit of violence, definitely check out John Sandford. I have read everything he's written as John Sandford (he's a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and this is his pseudonym).

I think this post is extremely disjointed, so I hope it makes sense. I'm just hoping at this point that I can stay awake until 7:30. I'm ready to crawl under my desk and take a nap!

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Hello Everyone! And Happy June! Tomorrow I'm leaving on a jet plane, but unlike the song I know when I'll return – Sunday night. I'm off to Milwaukee for my first race of the season and life is good. I still need to pack, but I've gotten a bit complacent over the years about packing for races, so I just wait until the last minute, and then I forget the damn tickets (that was Cleveland last year).

The Memorial Day Weekend was like this: Family, More Family, Slightly Less Family, A Bit Less Family. I'm a tad family-ed out. Friday was my last DSO concert of the season (I did have tix for tomorrow night but they have been given to my aunt & uncle) and I went with two of my aunts who were in town for my cousin's wedding which was Saturday. Sunday was a BBQ at my aunt's (the married cousin's mother) house and then Monday was a BBQ at the BAB's house. I discovered that when it comes to one aunt I have about a millisecond's worth of patience for her. I have had issues with another aunt, so I feel like I’m always walking on pins & needles with her. The other aunts are all fine. In fact, I was checking out Aunt #1's Egypt pictures and about fell about of my chair when I saw this man. I couldn't even speak as I stumbled over my tongue, "You know …?" Aunt #1: "Oh, Hawass? Yeah, I've known him for years. We went out to dinner with him." There were pictures of him scattered throughout the CD so they saw him a lot on their trip (them = my aunt and her friends). I was dumbfounded. And the pictures just made me that much more anxious to get back to Egypt, but that'll not happen until 2008, so I wait.

Since it is a new month, it's time for the monthly feature showcasing my reading and movie watching for the previous 31 day period.

First up, Movies:

Babylon 5: Season 2, Discs 3-6 (N)
The Lady Vanishes + Commentary (so watched it twice) (K)
Amores Perros (N)
North by Northwest (K) (Commentary only)
Babylon 5: Season 3, Discs 1-6 (W)
Babylon 5: Season 4, Discs 1-6 (W)
High Anxiety (N)
Expo: The Magic of the White City (N)

I've mentioned my obsession with Babylon 5 previously, so just figure that I recommend these highly.

The Lady Vanishes & North by Northwest are both Hitchcock, so again figure that I recommend them. I have seen them both so many times that I thought I would check out the commentary. It was interesting, but unfortunately this whole idea came about after Hitch was dead so we're not getting commentary from him which I think would be fascinating. Warning: I picked up three more Hitchcock books, so they'll be appearing on the Books Read List at some point, so no, the Hitchcock Obsession has not died.

Amores Perros was highly recommended to me. It's a Mexican film and could definitely be described as DARK and not very happy. It's a bit on the Memento side in the set-up as it follows the 3 or 4 different story threads. If you like dark, sad foreign films I would recommend this to you.

I had seen High Anxiety before, but before I had watched all the Hitchcock movies I could find, so I thought I would see if there were any references I had missed. The only one was the HUGE one of Spellbound, but other than that, nope, I caught all of them.

Expo: The Magic of the White City appealed to me because I had read the book The Devil in the White City sometime last year. I had never even heard of The White City before the book, but I really wanted to see more of it, as I'm a visual person and have trouble visualising things from words. I do much better with lots of pictures. This documentary wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was narrated by Gene Wilder (whom I adore) and it was interesting and did show me more, so things make more sense now.

I'm being lazy and don't feel like linking today.

On to the Books:

The Flies (Las Moscas) by Mariano Azuela
The Bosses (Las Caciques) by Mariano Azuela
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

I'm a little disappointed in my reading for the month of May, but watching all that Babylon 5 and being beyond lazy and NOT going to the gym really messed up my reading schedule. I am vowing to do better this month about reading and going to the gym.

Unless you have great interest in early 20th century Mexican history, I wouldn't necessarily recommend the Mariano Azuela stories. I enjoyed them, and the book that I bought with them did have a nice Foreword which explained some things. The Flies was amusingly sarcastic while The Bosses was darker and more serious. It reminded me of Los de Abajo (The Underdogs) also by Azuela which I read while in college. I might have even read in Spanish but crap it was so long ago who remembers. Anyway, they weren't exactly uplifting, but worthwhile.

Anansi Boys was typical Neil Gaiman; different, but funny (not really laugh out loud funny, but a more subtle humor, I think), and cleverly different.

I had read Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next Books, so had to pick this one up when I saw it. Fforde's work is hard to describe. He creates his own worlds out of our world, but I wouldn't call it fantasy. In his Thursday Next Series, Thursday Next is a female police office who works in the Literary Division. I'm so not explaining this at all well. ARGH!!! The year is 1984, but it's not our 1984 (or Orwell's). The British are still fighting the Crimean War against the Russians (I think that's the war, it's been over a year since I've read the fourth book in that series). Thursday is charged with keeping the peace in the literary world and she learned the secret of popping into and out of books. In the first book, The Eyre Affair, she changed the ending (don't ask me, I never read Jane Eyre) while battling this evil person. I'm telling you, I'm really not explaining it at all well. Anyway, once I figured out what the hell was going on, I really enjoyed the books, so picking up The Big Over Easy was a no-brainer. The first ten or so pages I had to reacquaint myself with his writing style and his world. In this one, the cop is Jack Spratt and he works in the Nursery Crime Division and is trying to solve the murder of Humpty Dumpty. It's extraordinarily clever and mixes in characters from nursery rhymes, fairy tales and mythology. I realise that I'm doing a really bad job at making it sound appealing, but it sucked me in and now I can't wait for the next volume in the Jack Spratt Investigates series.

And on that note, I'm outta here. Gotta pack, check the batteries on my stopwatches, mail packages and NOT forget the tix!

Have a great weekend, everybody!