Best Summer Ever

On our way to having the best summer (or spring or autumn or winter) EVER......

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sucking it Up

For those of you who have been keeping up with my life outside the blog-o-sphere, you know that I've recently moved. A whopping two blocks. Anyway, buying my first place has had its ups and downs, thrills and panic attacks, well you get the picture. One of the most consistent ups has been my credit card balance and one of the most consistent downs has been my bank balance.

While I've somewhat enjoyed just hemorrhaging huge amounts of cash on the new place, furnishings, etc, reality has started to set in that binge spending is not going to be a sustainable way of life considering the mortgage payment, condo payment, etc.

This is the state that I was in when I was at Lowes with Pam, standing in front of a display of vacuums. I had bought some lovely area rugs, which were starting to look not so lovely. I needed a vacuum. As I stood there looking at the ten different models while my mother expounded on the finer points of bag vs. non-bag and completely trashed the roomba (apparently my cousin got one and it sucked*) I realized that I really didn't care about the model or type of vacuum, but more about the fact that it would just be another blip in a long line of blips on my Amex.

I put my mother off by saying, 'I'm not mentally ready to buy a vacuum today. I need to think about this".

Anyway, I found the perfect solution to my little problem. I recently joined FreeCycle, which is a yahoo email group devoted to recycling. So, I posted a "WANTED: Vacuum Cleaner" email to the group and anxiously awaited a reply from someone who had an extra vacuum to give me.
This is how I met Brandon. Brandon for some inexplicable reason had not one, not two, but three vacuums that he had no use for. I'm not sure really what the back story is on the whole thing, but it's pretty safe to say that he had a lot to give. After a few phone conversations where I would politely say, "No, I will just take one" and trying to figure out a time for us to meet where the handoff could take place, I found myself driving through northeast to a strange address to pick up the vacuum of my dreams. I got the sense that Brandon sort of wanted to be home to meet the person who would be taking his vacuum(s). Over the course of our phone conversations, he definitely said, "Well, I'd like to be there to greet you". Unfortunately, due to some logistical issues, we settled on me just doing a porch pick-up, which I was fine with, because in all honesty, I just wanted a vacuum, not new friends or potential serial killers** at the door to greet me.

Before he gave me his address, Brandon provided a very thorough overview of my options. There was the blue one, which had superb sucking power, but was a little bit heavy. The yellow one just sucked and didn't work, and the grey one was a standard vacuum, but it had a lot of nifty hoses and attachments.

For those of you who have never had the experience, there is something very unnatural about walking up to a strange house and taking a vacuum off the front porch. I felt almost fugitive like as I wheeled the blue vacuum down the sidewalk back to my car.

Me and ole' blue (as I am calling the new vacuum) are doing just fine and my area rugs couldn't be cleaner. I only hope that through the magic of free cycle, blue's brothers (Gray and Yellow) also find good homes.

*Just a little vacuum related humor in case you missed it. Apparently, the roomba isn't that great of a vacuum. I have no knowledge of its sucking power. I think the issue is more related to the fact it just spins in circles.
**Note: This is added for dramatic effect. I have no knowledge of the rate of serial killers among recyclers. I would imagine its low, but then again, that's probably what recycling serial killers would like you to believe. I do not believe that Brandon was a serial killer luring young homeowners with his recycled vacuums. That would be pretty messed up.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Customer service*

I needed a little extra caffeine to get me through the first day of the workweek this morning, so I stopped in a Starbucks for a latte. Clearly, I needed this coffee more than I even knew, because one of my co-workers would later inform me that I had walked right by her on my way in without even noticing.

I digress. As I stood there waiting for my drink to be made, I decided to pass the time by reading the comments written about the "Barista of the Day." I learned that she enjoys riding her bike to work and going out to Latin night clubs, and that she is a student at American University. Then I happened to glance at her coffee recommendation for the day … "Tall Coffee!" A drink that isn't even made by the barista, but rather by the cashier. In other words, "Leave me alone. I'm planning my night out at the club, and don't have time to make your triple shot, extra hot, non-fat macchiato … or whatever else ridiculously complicated beverage you may want to order."

Hilarious. Thanks, Jessica, for your commitment to customer service.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Holiday travel is always a series of offenses, especially airport security. Between removing your shoes, clothes, liquids, laptops, and being screamed at to never let your boarding pass leave your hand the entire time, you can't help but feel like you are some sort of livestock. 

(An aside to TSA. I know I have to walk through the metal detector with my boarding pass in my hand so the person on the other side of the metal detector will see I have a boarding pass even though it was checked about 10 seconds ago. Everyone knows this. This is how things have been since the beginning of time - it was carved on the tablet that Moses brought down from the mountain - I want to say it was number 8?  However, I usually slip it in my pocket so I can do the thirty things I need to do to go through security in the allotted five seconds I have before the 600 people behind me get murderous. So, if you don't happen to see it in my hand as I am swearing quietly under my breath trying to separate out a non-threatening amount of liquids and gels, don't you worry, I haven't forgot it. There is no need to constantly scream at me to keep it out. If I had a third arm, I would, but I don't. So let's just try to be a little bit cooler about this alright?)

On the plane, I started talking to a woman with a baby. She was obviously of Arab descent, she had a black robe that covered her entire body with the exception of her face. As little Abdul (his actual name, I said they were Arab remember?) cooed and smiled at me, she told me about her time with airport security. 

TSA insisted on checking INSIDE the babies diaper. That's right, the baby who somehow managed to make it through the metal detector with his mother and boarding pass could somehow be packing heat in his diaper. This woman was obviously racially profiled, and because she wanted to get on her flight, she had to comply. I do not know if disrobing babies is standard practice, but this was the first I had every heard of it. 

Abdul, being 10 months old, which sort of gives him a pass from reasoning like an adult decided that he did not have to comply. 

So when the TSA agent opened his diaper, he started PEEING. All over her. 

"Can't you control this?' the agent asked his mother. She answered, "I do, by putting a diaper on him. He's 10 months old, what do you expect?". Even though I wasn't there (and oh my how I wish I was, because I think I would have laughed to the point of wetting myself a little bit), I like to think that little Abdul wasn't just peeing on TSA for himself, but a little bit for all of us who have had to deal with the indignities of a crazed security agency with its rules that at times, make absolutely no sense. 

*I have to say though, after flying in Europe, our security policies seem like they are rolling out the red carpet.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Congratulations to my sister and pal Laney for getting hitched last weekend! She married Cal (aka. Doug, David, etc, etc). Although no one knew what to call the groom, it was a great time and I had a lot of fun hanging out with some old, but very dear, friends. Plus, at the very end of the wedding, the last song is what is best described as a group sing a long of "Total Eclipse of the Heart", which seemed very appropriate at the time, but in retrospect is sort of confusing.

Here is a picture of the lovely bride and her lovely bridesmaids:


Monday, November 05, 2007



In a town full of Suits, how does one get away with wearing green sweatpants out in public?


Why, you dress up as the Family Guy for Halloween, of course!


Friday, November 02, 2007


As much as I love DC, sometimes she can be a royal bitch. There have been some completely utterly unforgivable things that the District has done to me lately, which I will carry in my bitter bitter heart until my dying day. Despite all of this, I decided that this Halloween I would extend an olive branch, in hopes of a possible reconciliation with my fair city at some point in the future.

That's right, for Halloween, I was a DC tourist. You know, the slow moving folks who cram our city each summer, dressed completely inappropriately for the weather conditions, stopping every few feet to determine if they are walking in the right direction, and pumping much needed cash into our t-shirt industry? I like to think of tourists as somewhat of a blessing. They provide us natives a glimpse into what the rest of the country lives like.

Sure, we go and see our families and friends for weekends here and there, but they are quick trips, and we all breathe a sigh of relief when the plane touches back down and we're home. That's where the tourists come in. They bring the rest of the world to us, so we don't have to leave DC, with its picturesque marble buildings, glorious national mall, and somewhat useful public transportation system. The tourists are here to remind us that the entire rest of the world moves at an infuriatingly kinder gentler pace than DC, and the importance of standing to the right and walking to the left.

Anyway, last Saturday, I ventured out to purchase my costume. I decided to walk (yes, walk) to the National Mall. Anyway, as a service to all of you out there who may at some point wish to purchase a DC t-shirt or have guests that wish to purchase a DC t-shirt, here is a brief overview of the DC themed merchandise (aka "crap") that our city has to offer:

Independence Ave - This side of the mall isn't really worth your time. After walking for a while, I found a t-shirt stand crammed behind USDA. Here I purchased my FBI visor and T-shirt for a whopping $9. I asked the woman behind the counter if they had beltpacks, and she looked at me in all seriousness and said, "No".

Having not seen anything else, I decided to try my luck on.....

Constitution Ave - There are definitely a lot more t-shirt stands through here, and they offer a little bit more variety than the one on the Independence side of the mall. The salespeople were exceedingly helpful and after I bought a lanyard, the one guy tried to upsell me on a matching coffee mug.
After hitting up three stands, and not finding a single beltpack, it was time to get serious. I remembered that there were some shops over by Fords Theatre, so I headed up in to Northwest to….

The shop on the corner of 10th and E - This was more of an emporium type feel, where you could buy an Old Town Trolley tour. The story was spacious, clean, and definitely had the most variety. Here I bought a scrunchie and a "I vote democratic" pin. There was also a fitting room, so that you could make sure that the $7 t-shirt you were buying was worth the money. My favourite thing in this store, that I almost purchased, was a mug that said 'Desperate Whitehouse Wife" and had a likeness of Laura Bush on it. There were some free maps and pamphlets that I picked up next to the register to complete my costume, but I have to say that this store was a little bit more expensive, and you had to pay tax on your purchases. They didn't have beltpacks.

Lincolns Souvenir Shop - I'm sure that one of our greatest presidents would be rotating in his grave like a rotisserie chicken if he knew that there was a Lincoln themed souvenir store right next to the house that he died in, but I put my principles aside, this was Halloween, and I had to find a costume. Anyway, the Lincoln shop was smaller and dingier, but they had a lot more unique t-shirts and a wide selection of sock monkeys, which was more confusing than anything else. I decided to pass on the sock monkeys and since I already had a t-shirt, I headed up the street to …

The Shop on the Other Side of the House Where Lincoln Died - This shop didn't have a presidential themed name, but they had an exceptionally helpful woman who took a break from her t-shirt folding to show me where the belt packs were. Granted, they only sold children's belt packs, but she did not hesitate to rip open the package pull the strap all the way out, and throw it around my waist. And with that level of "hands around my waist" service, she won the sale.

So, to draw this post to a close, here is the final product. Pretty damn good for $20:


Sunday, October 14, 2007


I want to start this post by saying that I like Bob Evans. I've always liked Bob Evans. As a child, my sister and I affectionately referred to it as "Blob Evans". My freshman year of college, a certain Cowboy and I would go there for breakfast on the weekends. We would pick up a copy of the Columbus Dispatch and spend a good hour and a half slurping down coffee, eggs, and spreading the paper all over the table. He would read Sports and Local News, I would read Style and National News.

Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year of college, I would occasionally go there with girlfriends after a night of drinking to take the edge off my hangover. When I was home from college, Bob Evans was the perfect place to meet my grandma for a quick breakfast because it was directly between my parents house and her house. I would go to Bob's with my friend Carrie on the rare (and extremely joyous) occasion that our morning class was cancelled.

Granted, I'm not as big of a fan as Ph, who actually inquired and looked into travelling to the Homestead (located in Rio Grande, Ohio if you are interested), but I think that the above paragraph demonstrates that I've been a fairly loyal, if not frequent customer.

This past weekend, while taking a break from the Book Fairs and went to good ole Blob's for some greasy breakfastey goodness. Anyway, I had been up and around for a while, and since I had a few more book fairs to hit up, I decided that I should probably go for something that wouldn't completely slow me down like the standard Blob's fare.

I decided to get some crepes. Maybe it's because I've seen one too many freakin' ihop commercials and they've somehow embedded themselves in my subconscious, or maybe it's because I was on such a book high that I completely lost all judgement, but somehow I found myself saying to our very perky waitress, "I'll have the raspberry crepes".

Now, as much as I've loved Bob's (and yes, we're at the point where I can affectionately refer to Mr. Evans as "Bob"), I should have known that Bob's would have a certain degree of difficulty making a flavourful, yet delicate French breakfast item.

Before I had time to ponder all of this, they arrived. Underneath the whipped cream, and raspberry pie filling, there were indeed what looked like crepes.

I took a bite.


I took a second taste.

Really sweet.

My third bite is when my teeth started to hurt.

I was pretty sure that I had developed Type II diabetes by my fourth bite.

My fifth and sixth bites were total blurs as the sugar raced through my bloodstream and my head started to spin, and I started to rock back and forth slightly in my seat. Ph probably noticed that I was talking a little bit faster as we discussed Beanie Babies, Boyd's Bears, and Precious Moments figurenes.

Now that I've come down from the sugar high (and yes, it took a day or two), one question remains..... Bob, why have thou forsaken me? Why would you do what you what you did to something so delicious in the first place??


Those of you who know me well know that I have a little bit of a book problem… to put it mildly. Despite the fact that I tend to neglect my other blog, I spent a lot of time reading, scouring Amazon for good deals on used books, and when there is a lull in the conversation… you guessed it, I talk about what I'm reading.

Saturday, I had a chance to indulge my inner nerd in a way that hasn't come along since grade school. Remember the grade school book fairs? Shelves and shelves of inexpensive books as far as the eye could see? Ahhh... nirvana.... Saturday, I attended not one, but TWO book fairs. Apparently, they still have them for adults.

The first was the Montgomery Public Library with Ph, and the second was a sale at the State Department with a brief detour to Bob Evans and then the two story DSW in Rockville. For a whopping $27, I picked up the following titles:

- Les Miserables
- Wurthington Heights
- Jane Eyre
- On Human Bondage
- Their Eyes were Watching God
- Oracle Security Handbook
- Dave Barry does Japan
- One Year Off
- Frankenstein
- Things Fall Apart
- Politically Correct Bedtime Stories
- The Underground Guide to Unix
- Kim
- Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

As you can see, quite the eclectic mix. So far I've read "Dave Barry Does Japan", which literally had me laughing at loud at parts. Granted, it's a bit dated, but some of the comedic essence remains… jokes about George Bush throwing up on Japanese officials in 1992 are still funny in my book. And Dave Barry's.
* If you get a chance, I suggest you check out the State Department book fair. It goes until next weekend.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Living in the District, you come to expect certain things: conversations surrounding politics, fines for jaywalking, the inability to register a vehicle, the occasional rodent wandering the streets (or in my case, inside my house). But every now and again, despite knowing what to expect, you find yourself getting DC'd.

And this past Saturday, I found myself getting DC'd. Over and over and over again.

It started off innocently enough. I awoke in my aunt and uncle's home in Ballston eager to head back over to the Hill to partake in my Saturday morning yoga ritual. (note: I took a temporary break from my Cap Hill home following the fumigator visit on Thursday to let nature takes it course…more on this later.) The class begins promptly at 10, so I leave adequate time to drive (gasp!) the twenty minutes it takes to get home. Seems as though most of the World had the same plan in mind as I approached what appeared to be a parking lot extending from 66E to 110S to 395N to my exit. Instead of the twenty minutes I anticipated, which would cause me to arrive at yoga just in time for it to begin, I spent the hour-long class in my car on 395N. Talk about getting DC'd. Nothing like bumper to bumper traffic heading into the city on a non-workday morning.

Having missed the entire class and now extremely frustrated for spending an hour and a half increasing my carbon impact on the environment, I decided I would make up for it by enjoying the beautiful 80-degree autumn(?) day. I walked on over to the Capitol and when I got there, I pulled a Forrest Gump and kept on going. As I made my way down the Mall, I was instantly surrounded by mobs and mobs of families (presumably from the mobs and mobs of cars on 395 N that morning). And the tents! So many tents! Turns out, my innocent walk landed me smack dab in the middle of being DC'd again! How typical. A festival on the Mall. Tis the National Book Festival time of year, and the crowds were certainly out for this one. I strolled in and out of tents to find unrecognizable famed authors, costumed characters from children books, Harry Potter fanatics, and the Magic School Bus (to my dismay, no sight of Ken Kesey & his Merry Pranksters on this one). Once I saw what there was to see, I received my free tote bag and commemorative poster and continued on down the Mall.

I walked over to the Lincoln Memorial, stared up at Abe, and then it occurred to me that it had been awhile since I had spent a good amount of time at the Jefferson Memorial. So, I walked around the Tidal Basin and eventually found myself in a very non-DC'd moment-- the Jefferson Memorial was nearly empty. The way I like to remember the Jefferson Memorial is crammed full of tourists non-stop sneezing and itching their eyes out from the Cherry Blossom Festival (it always goes back to a festival here).

I took a short break at the desolate memorial, and eventually turned around to head back home. Off I went down Independence, unsuspecting of the ultimate DC'd moment that was upon me. As I approached 7th Street, I was faced head-on with anti-war protestors. And, I must say, those protestors have quite the catchy chants, especially when it's coupled with the steady rhythm of a bongo drum. For the remainder of the day, I had their catchy phrases ringing in my head:
"Whadda we want?"
"When do we want it?"
"Whadda we want?"
"When do we want it?

And now it's stuck in my head again.

Anyhow, I had to make it across 7th Street to make it home, but the protestors kept pushing onward, blocking the entire street. What was I to do other than join the masses? Even when the masses include an elderly fellow wearing a Devil costume, holding a red pitchfork, and covering his face with a President Bush mask. Hmmm, I wonder what message he was trying to convey? What a cryptic man.

So I said a little prayer, took a deep breath, and embarked on a real life game of Frogger as I stepped one foot forward, one foot right, one foot forward, one foot left, and so on, until I made it safely across the street. It's true, on Saturday, September 29, I inadvertently joined a war protest for one or two of the longest minutes of my life.

As I was finally on the homestretch, I called my friend and neighbor, Kelli, to see if she wanted to meet up and hear about my DC'd-up day. We decide to meet up over on Barracks Row, and what do you know, it was celebrating it's very first Octoberfest. Need I say it? DC'd again.

*DC'd: Just when you think you know what to expect from this town, it continues to amaze you with how it lives up to its stereotypes.


Monday, October 01, 2007


Greetings from Dublin!

We made it over here after an almost missed horrible horrible flight on Ryan Air. Ireland is an awesome country - everyone here is so smiley and happy all of the time and I'm pretty sure the fact that there is a pub on every block has something to do with it.

In the day and a half that we've been in Dublin we have done many things! Here is a brief overview:

- Guinness Brewery Tour - saw how they make the stout and learned that the main ingredients are as follows: barley, hops, water, yeast. I took good notes during the tour and am looking forward to attempting to brew my own when I get home. Afterwards, we enjoyed a fresh complementary beer at the 'Gravity Bar' at the top of the complex.

- Jameson Distillery Tour - Kenn was an official taste tester at the end of the tour, which was very interesting, especially because they gave you a few free cocktails at the end.

- Dublin Ghost Tour - Did this last night. They took us around to all sorts of creepy graveyards and we learned about the spooky side of Dublin. I'm not much of a believer in ghosts, but some of the pictures that showed up on peoples cameras were really freaky. Like half of the tour group, our camera didn't work.

- St. Patricks Cathedral - St. Patrick brought Christianity to modern day Ireland. We got to walk through the garden which was the site where St. Patrick would baptize people. The church was very pretty, and obviously very historic.

- Book of Kells - This Bible was scribed circa 800 BC. It was astonishing to see how intricate the inscriptions and drawings were given the age of this book. Also, got to check out the Long Hall in the Trinity College library which was completely breathtaking. I think that it would be breaktaking to those of you out there who aren't book nerds such as myself.

Anyway, we're off to find a pub and down a few more pints. Tomorrow its back to London and then home.


Thursday, September 27, 2007


Today, we took the train to the city of Bath, which is approximately 12 miles away from Bristol and takes exactly 12 minutes via the train. (They take the timing of trains very seriously here) I purchased our train tickets at 3:27 and somehow, by a stroke of luck, pedestrians who saw us barreling through and knew to jump out of the way, and a wee bit of frantic sprinting, we managed to make the 3:30 pm train to Bath.

After arriving in Bath at 3:42 pm exactly (again, they don't mess with the timing of the trains), we located the hotel and went to the old ruins of the Roman Baths which were built approximately 2000 years ago. The baths were really cool and it struck me how advanced the Romans were. A part of it also made me sad, because its the same old story of an overly decandant society which ultimately fell to its demise. In unrelated news, our dollars are trading about 2 to 1, which causes me a bit of mental anguish everytime I mentally double the price of something in my head.

We had both thrown our bathing suits in our bags, but apparently, you can't actually bathe in the Baths anymore. The only thing that you can do is look at them. There are even signs which caution not to stick your hands in the water, or slip on the rocks into the water, but I couldn't resist dipping my hand into the slimy green mess that was the water to see how hot it was. To be honest, the water was so warm, the stonework so pretty, and the whole area so incredably impressive, and it was so miserable and cold out, I had a very strong desire to throw on my swimsuit and languish in the steaming hot spring water.

I resisted the urge and found refuge in a pub where I had fish and chips for dinner and a nice big beer. I'm hoping the rest of the trip won't be this cold and rainy.



Yesterday, I took a tour with Mad Max out to Stonehenge. Now, various people I had met along the trip so far had less than rave reviews about Stonehenge, however I thought it was AWESOME. It was so cool to see! I mean, you can't really argue with the coolness factor of something that was constructed over 5000 years ago, now can you?

Anyway, after that, the tour bus took us through the English countryside, where I saw the actual Salsbury Hill (think Peter Gabriel), and a little village called Lacock, which is part of the English National Trust. The village has four streets and 180 people live there. As part of a living history of England, it's oftentimes used for movies - parts of Harry Potter and Sense and Sensibility were filmed there.

This afternoon we head over to Bath, then back to London, and after that to Dublin for a few days, and then its back home.