Friday, November 30, 2007

2 Days Before the Event

Excuse me if I don't invite you in...ah heck, c'mon in, but excuse the mess.

Care for a cup of coffee?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tip Your Waitresses, Folks, They'll Be Here All....

NaBloPoMo #29

Clint and I grabbed a pizza and a beverage at the Esquire tonight, watching and waiting for a booth. We ended up taking over a table in which 3 quarters were stacked. I made a flippant remark: "I hope they left more than that!"

I have strong opinions about tipping waiters and waitresses. I've never waited tables in my life, but I still remember what it was like unloading trucks and busting my hump for a fast food franchise when I was a teenager. I've never worked as hard.

Do you know that Women are the worst tippers? And do you know that therefore, they (we) often get worse service, as the waitstaff might assume it's not worth their while to break their necks for us?

I care not. I tip my waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and baristas. I leave at least $1 for every beverage, no matter a cup of coffee, import beer, or dirty martini.

Food not up to par? Slow service? Lipstick on my coffee mug? My waitress still gets 20 percent, minimum. The waiter at our mexican restaurant brings me unlimited refills on chips, salsa, and drinks, meal on one main platter, beans on another, and foil-wrapped tortillas on another. He clears and replaces plates throughout lunch, which costs $6.00. The "high-end" recommended tip for my meal is $1.20.

$1.20, bringing his wages up to a grand $5.80/hr. And that's "over"tipping! There's still the guy that left the standard 15%, and the guy that left a quarter on the table.

I don't think so. There's no way I'm leaving less than 50% for that service and that much food.

If I'm well off enough to pay $3.90 for a cup of chai, then I'm well off enough to toss an extra buck to the starving college kid that filled the tea bag, poured the honey, frothed the milk, and handed it to me with a smile.

On the days that I can afford $15 for the $3 of spaghetti, I'm going to compensate the heck out of the young mother that's going to go home and tuck in her kids when this gig is done.

If you're a grumpy, stingy tipper, I urge you to read "Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress" by Kathy Ginsberg. I can almost promise you that you're going to see yourself in some of the complaints this waitress has: Need a few more minutes to make your decision...and then just a few more? Don't need a refill now, but, oh, pshaw, you'll have one more when she brings your date's drink back?

If you can afford to eat out, I say, Knock Yourself Out on the tip. Best you can.

What's YOUR view on tipping? Have you worked in food service? Best Experience? Worst?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

#28: Cheater Blogging

It's getting down to the wire for our Christmas Packages to Soldiers event, this Sunday; our schedules for the next few days are filling up fast: pick up cards and letters, pick up tables, get boxes, get tape, fill out customs forms, get gift wrap, get cookies and cider and cocoa...

So that you're not bored while I typeset NFP receipts to send to the printer tomorrow, why don't you go over here and read one of the funniest, albeit disgusting, true-story blogs I've ever read. The photos alone are enough to keep you tuned in.

Click here to check out: Oh My Stinkin' Heck.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NaBlo Lame-O


I'm working on a book at work that contains over 300 pages of numerical tables. Some have more than 20 columns. Align on decimals. Clear for fractions. Cells within cells. Don't forget continued lines.

I leave work in a complete stupor, a fog in my head that lifts in about an hour. My eyes looked like this at 4:30 this afternoon:
That fog never did lift this evening. No creativity, no can think of anything to write.

Hopefully this will constitute my lame-o-est NaBloPoMo entry. I'm allowed one or two, if I'm writing every day, yes?

Monday, November 26, 2007

#26: Bag Lady, Revisited

NaBloPoMo #26

I put out a call, a few weeks ago, asking everyone to find a functional bag to fit my current lifestyle.

Is it any surprise that it was a soldier that got me on-track? Sean suggested a few of his favorite rugged, outdoors-y brand names: Mountainsmith, Kelty, Keen's.

I didn't feel like I had time for internet shopping, but Sean set my wheels to turning, and I hit the outdoor stores in this berg. I fell in love with the first bag I found, at Champaign Surplus. Still, I moved on to comparison shop. Wild Country. Dick's.

I ended up returning to the first one I liked, figuring I could return the thing if I hated it, right?

Hey Mikey! She LOVES it! It's Eagle Creek brand, a messenger bag of sorts. It's larger than I'm used to, but I knew I was going to have to "upsize" my bag. It has about 1 million pockets, organized oh-so-efficiently. Here's an outside view of mine:

Under that flap, look: Pen, camera, card reader, blue tooth, water bottle...

A place in the back for me to throw mail, TFT flyers:

And the main compartment, with another inner pocket, a key chain hook, room for a wallet, checkbooks, and a book:

To top it off, the bag, though larger than a purse, isn't ENORMOUS. It's just...."a messenger bag" which doesn't constitute a second look in this University town.

And, ladies, don't overlook this:

The Number #1 Redeeming Factor of My New EagleCreek Bag:

It's Unisex! Clint looked just fiiiiiiiiine carrying that puppy around while we were in Vegas, loaded down with dual waterbottles, maps, tickets, and souvenirs. It's more backpack than handbag.

The Boy may be secure in his masculinity, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have done as much time with the cutesie lime-green handbag I'd been carrying around before.

Thanks Sean!

P.S. Sean's on his way to another tour in Afghanistan, folks. Go and give him some lurrrrve before he takes off.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

#25: CU Santa Rampage: December 8

I was going to tell you about this in another week, but then it hit me: You wouldn't have time to get your costume together! Horrors!

So. First Annual CU Santa Rampage will be Saturday, Dec. 8. As you'll read below, you just don your Santy clothes and show up downtown. This has been going on for years in other big cities, and I'm pretty sure we can outdo last year's D.C. attendance:

Get creative, people! If you can't afford or buy a santa suit, just throw on a red sweater, and grab a santa hat from Big Lots, or Target or Walmart (I bought ours at Target today for $3.99.) Kohl's has Santy-Jammies in the men's department. Get ye a union suit and some galoshes if you have to, and get OUT here and have a beverage with us, on December 8, y'hear? I don't know all of the official rules, but if you'd rather come as a reindeer, I don't see that that would be a problem either.

Here's the official information. (Psssssssst!! Pass it on, a'ight?)

Santa Rampage

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children Ages 21 and Over,

Let the Christmas season begin with the First Annual C-U Santa Rampage!!!

December 8th

The festivities begin mid-afternoon in your favorite watering hole in downtown Champaign-Urbana

Your browser may not support display of this image.

What the is Santa Rampage you ask?

Santa Rampage takes place in major cities all over the world involving tens of thousands of Santa's. It is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious & non-sensical celebration of holiday cheer, goodwill, and fun. There is no good reason to dress up in cheap Santa suits, run around town, sing songs, have strangers sit on our laps, and decide who is naughty or nice -- but it's a lot of fun -- so Santa does it anyway.

For official rules please visit these websites:

**Getting arrested is NOT FUN, for you and for anyone else involved! The authorities and local businesses usually take Santa's antics in the loving holiday spirit Santa intends, so be nice to them.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Carry Out Thanksgiving: A Review

NaBloPoMo #24

Yeeks! 14 minutes to meet NaBloPoMo, blogblogblog.

Let's return to Carry Out Thanksgiving dinner for a minute. I'd decided that I hadn't the energy to produce a full-fledged Turkey dinner for 7 on my own this year, after forbidding my sister and her family to contribute. "We'll carry out!" I declared, secretly also declaring myself a gynus. After all:

The guy at the deli explained to me: The entire meal would be ready to go, but I'd have to "reheat" the turkey in the oven for about an hour. The rest of the meal, I imagined, would be hot and beautiful, in deli containers, that I could perhaps, dump into my own serving bowls and beautify with some parsley. It's all about the presentation, right? Something like this, I thought:


Not so much.

I picked up the generic, white box, at precisely 3:30 in the afternoon.

I lugged the thing in, 1/2 hour before the guests (aka, my family) were to arrive.

I photographed the box, giddy in my excitement.

There it is! There's the entire dinner, along with some fancy deli thingies I bought to put on the side: dolmas, marinated artichokes. I'd throw that in along next to my own veggie tray, a caprese salad, and some pies. Lovely, just lovely.

Upon opening the box, though, minor disappointment immediately sat in. Here's the entire Thanksgiving dinner 30 minutes before Teri's familia was to march in.

This is dinner for 7.

I got kind of a sick feeling immediately, and yet a thankful one: Thank God it's "only" my family coming. As if I'd get away with feeding them any sort of gruel, but would have been mortified to dish it up to guests like you.

So. To the right of the turkey sits 2 bags of Yoder's mashed potatoes, "just like mother used to make," the bag read. There was also some stuffing that required 1/2 hour of baking, after the turkey,...




or claiming to be...


The gravy was... transparent. gelatinous. yellow. ish. yellowish. It was like lava-lamp lava, dumped into a plastic container. It was...mutant, I was sure someone would end up with a 3rd ear, if they tried the gravy.

The food was squooshed into serving bowls, things were heated up. It was a proper, processed-food Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was fine, the potatoes too salty, the stuffing a bit creepy, and the gravy downright scary. My homemade sides were good.

The Thanksgiving meal I served, though tolerable, and generally fitting the bill, freaked me out. Processed food, in general, freaks me out. I really, really wouldn't serve this up to anyone, ever again, if only to comfort myself.

And Clint, the only person at dinner brave enough to try the gravy?

I swear...there's an ear sprouting on his forehead.

Friday, November 23, 2007

On Censorship and Comment Moderation

NaBloPoMo #23

To ice the cake, I awoke Thanksgiving morning to another message from the infamous "Anon": a note explaining to me a few reasons why we will never be lovers. As if I'd imagined that His or Her referring to me as "Sweetie Pie" was indicative of a possible love connection. Jesus.

I deleted the comment, figuring I'd set myself up for a future onslaught. I couldn't care less about the odd accusations of my so-called political diatribes, but I've removed other vile comments from the same person, referring to my sex life, my boyfriend, my son, my family, and entire races, each with an accusational pro-war signature thrown in.

This morning, another comment came in which read, in part:

Silenced? Censored?? Oh tell me why, GnightGirl!

Of course, this is your blog, and you’re perfectly entitled to permit or deny all posts by any criteria you like.

However, you’re never going to learn much by silencing anyone who
disagrees with you. I did not stoop to vulgarity. I did not get fresh with you.
I only offer brief and very occasional perspectives that you’re very unlikely to
otherwise read.

Oh well, my gentle liberal friends, I will move on; hear from me again you will not.

You can resume your dialog only with people that think like you and, quite frankly, continue to view much of the world from a blissful state of ignorance.

It's still in the Tell Me entry, if you're interested.

So, since Anon is Anon, and I can't e-mail him/her, or address him/her in person, the time has come for me to do it here.

Dear Anon:

I will gladly tell you why I "censored" you. It's not because you intimidate or annoy me. It's that you're condescending and disrespectful. You're believe that if I walk away from your table that I'm too stupid to grasp what you have to say. Respectfully, "Sweetie Pie," has it occurred to you that you're merely crass and boorish?

I'd actually agree that your cause is worthwhile. I have wondered though, that you're willing to do so much disservice to it with your tactics, if you believe in what you say at all. If you're after educating people to issues they are blind to, drowning kittens isn't going to convince them to consider your opinions.

I'll admit to being ignorant of a lot of political issues. I'm not proud of it, but I'm tuning in, and listening, and reading up on what's happening out there. I'm protesting through polls, writing my congressman. On issues I don't entirely understand, it's easy enough to ask someone to explain it to me. Your friend Glock21, for instance, can answer some of my questions, and explain to me his point of view without an accompanying left hook.

You backpedal about getting fresh and being vulgar. Methinks thou doest protest too much. The truth is, you have been vulgar, and you know it. And malicious. Fresh? I don't know about "fresh," but I'll tell you that waking up on Thanksgiving morning to a comment from you that finished up " a love connection we are not..." was more than a little bit creepy. What in the hell are you talking about?

Hear from you again, I will not? It's the best news I've had all week. But don't for a second deceive yourself that I'm talking only to like-minded people, or that I'm blissfully ignorant.

Have a little respect.

And good luck with your cause.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Second Thanksgiving as Soldier Mom: Bucking Up

NaBloPoMo #22

Yeah, yeah, I was bluuuuuuuue last night, I admit it.

This is my first holiday season without my son in my home. I thought I'd buck up. I'm so good at bucking up! In all honestly, it's been tougher than I ever thought it would be. I've been inexplicably tearing up for the last week. The reason was glaring at me Monday, when I went shopping for today: My grocery list didn't have Brian factored into it. Nothing for the 10,000 calorie potatoes! No bacon! No Red Bull!

I didn't buck up. I started crying. For some odd reason, I kept shopping. I kept crying and pushing my kart, and blowing my nose. I imagined that the other shoppers couldn't see me if I didn't look at them, and I kept going.

I'm okay now. It just got to me a bit, this week. Still, I want to know: What is he doing today? Will the USO be there? Will he eat turkey? Will get get to call home? Did they get our packages in time? Oh, I hope he gets to call.


While I sat at home pouting last night, my sister was at home, shaving her head; the chemo is kicking in, her hair's falling out, and what's left of it hurts her scalp. Bzzzzzzzzzzt. I don't know why that fills me with so much apprehension. It did the first time she went through this also, but when it was all said and done, I never really noticed it. She was just Teri, bald. Big deal.

And my Grandmother is very, very ill, and I spent an hour on the phone yesterday, with an exhausted Aunt that is the sole caregiver. Things do not look good. They live 90 minutes away. The assistance we can offer is minimal, if not pathetic. I could only promise her that if she needed a break, I'll do all I can to relieve her for...what? A day or a weekend? Big whoop, Lori.

That said, friends, the truth is that despite a few of life's inconveniences, the scales in my life still tip in a favorable light. There are one or two things that might put me into an occasional funk, but I could create a list of 10,000 things that I'm thankful for.
  • My son is healthy, alive, and doing okay. There are a lot of parents out there suffering a lot more heartache today than I will ever imagine.
  • My sister is going to be fine.
  • Clint. My friend. A man that makes me laugh more than I knew I could, and leaves post-it I love you's inside of the coffeemaker.
  • My health. A doctor's visit for injury or illness is so rare for me that I don't even have an assigned family doctor.
  • Not only are life's basic necessities at my fingertips, I have more than my share of luxuries. I want for nothing.
  • Family. I got a good one. Between Mom's family, and Dad's family, I have 100s of family, did you know that? We don't get together often, but there are those that keep in touch, and I appreciate and love them.
  • My other sons. Don't I love getting the occasional email from Brian's friends, (as I did, from Seth, last night) asking "how you holding up?" or running into one at the grocery store and getting the stuffing hugged out of me.
  • Friends. My god, I am blessed with friends! I've made dozens and dozens of new ones in the last 6 months. And so many out there that I haven't met yet, but still would claim to love.
  • Strangers. Several, from all over the U.S. have popped in to give support, and to ask if they might have a soldier's name to send a gift to, and then again to tell me they've shipped off their boxes, and will continue to mail.
Well, look....if you really want the entire list of 10,000, I'll start working on it. The thing I meant to say is that I am thankful this morning. My life may contain a bit of chaos, but it hasn't always been so, and it won't always be so.

I am blessed.

And thankful.

And I'll be stuffing my face with Turkey in about 4 hours.

I have to run now, and find some eatin' pants.

And best wishes to all of you, I hope your day is mahvelous, and I can't wait to hear all about it!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


NaBloPoMo #21

Won't wake up to this tomorrow morning.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tell Me...

NaBloPoMo #20

Man, this blogging daily is harder than you'd think. I have ideas daily, but time, daily? Not so much.

Another midnight bedtime approaching, I'm opting for a round of "Tell Me"

New readers, here's how the game goes: I tell you something you don't know about me, and you share something I don't know about you. I love this game. Wendy hates mustard.


My screenname, Gnightgirl, is wrought from my favorite vaudeville act, George Burns and Gracie Allen. At the end of each show, he'd bid her, "Goodnight, Gracie."

Goodnight, Gracie. Gnight, Gracie. Gnight, Girl...Gnightgirl.

I tried my hand at fiction writing once, using the screen name "Clara Bagley," a character from this Burns and Allen script:
George: (looking at Gracie, who is arranging a large vase of beautiful flowers) Grace, those are beautiful flowers. Where did they come from?

Gracie: Don't you remember, George? You said that if I went to visit Clara Bagley in the hospital I should be sure to take her flowers. So, when she wasn't looking, I did.

I sucked at fiction writing, and deleted the blog.

Your turn. And look. I know you're all on holiday vacation, and can play along. Let's set a record here.

Tell me. No matter how inane.

I'm waiting...........

Monday, November 19, 2007


Crockhead, Blanche, Frugal Mom, Jag, MaryPoppins, Chez Bez, Champaign Kisses Pizza Girl, Gamera, Matt, Pundit, Woof, CatPeople, Pitcherlady, LarryJones, BlogPourri, Brown English Muffin, SpiderGirl, Tai, Kibmer, Blind Beth, NYC Joe, Dagoth Baby, DBA, Shy Smiley, Dogbait, Dorky Dad, Dumb Little Man, Frugal Mom, FMMary, Sean Idiot, John Cusack (Glock 21), GloZell, Laurie from Texas, TrapDoor, Jenne, KeyzerBaby, LastMinuteLyn, LBOTP, Prairie biker, Lord Celery, Mim, Nancy Marie Millard, PobbleBaby, Maladjusted, NYHack, Paradise Driver (I love you), Tangental C, (are you back from your honeymoon yet?), Rambling Inc, Scooter Mike, Slicksumbich, Steakbellie, oh steakbellie, Theory of thought, tiny oranges, TwistedDNA, Bunche, Svenyboy,

...and others (don't kill me if I skipped you)...

I may not be commenting right now, but I haven't missed a word.

Keep writing. I love it. I'm in the wings.

I have to get back to work now.



Sunday, November 18, 2007

On Breaking Tradition...

NaBloPoMo #18


I did it.

For years and years now, we've gathered together, usually in my home, for Thanksgiving dinner. I love to cook, and I usually start on Wednesday. Brian sleeps late, and wakes around 11 or 12. I feed him bacon when he wakes up. Then I crack the whip! Vacuum the house! Set up the folding tables! Light the candles! Stop smoking! (Hey. I can't help it. It's what Mom`s do.)

Teri brings big sides, like 100 lbs of mashed potatoes, and I force her to cook the gravy. Baby, I can roll some sushi, but gravy from scratch? Fuhgeddabout it. She brings that delicious broccoli cheese rice blop. We eat and eat, then we snap at one another to shut up while we watch Survivor. Mom nods off in the chair, while we whisper and point and laugh.

We are breaking with tradition this year.

It has been, for some reason, an enormous source of stress for me. Brian's in Iraq. Teri's second session of chemo will be on Monday. Mom? I cringe to say it, but Mom will just be merrily surprised to find out that today is Thanksgiving, and that she's coming for lunch with her kids.

Honestly? I'm wiped out. My dilemma has been: Do I spend $200 on groceries and cook for two days, alone, this time? (Clint is working, FYI.) I don't want Teri to cook. In fact, I forbid it! She started yammering about bringing this or that, and I told her to shut up, cuz I'm the boss of her. It's likely she may not feel like coming over at all.

I lamented to my girlfriends Friday night: What to do? Skipping Thanksgiving? God, that seems even more pathetic. No Thanksgiving on top of this?!!

How could I?

"Why don't you just buy one of those pre-maid dinners from a grocery deli?" Di asked? Melissa chimed in: Yes! Meijer does it! Schnucks!

Where have I been? I can CARRY OUT Thanksgiving dinner?

Hecks yeah, I can, and baby, my prayers have been answered.

THIS was in today's Sunday flyer.

Whoo Hoo! I'll fix a few pies, a salad or two, and at 3:00 Thursday afternoon, I'll race out and pick up dinner. I'll pop the turkey in the oven for 1 hour, and by 5:00, we'll sit down to a feast.

A completely handmade, homemade, feast, with everyone we love gathered around the table?


But it's a fair substitute: We'll still gather 'round a table. We can afford this. Teri can take a nap, if she wants. And when we hold hands and tell what we're thankful for this year...

I hope it's that we got a phone call from Brian.

And that's he's doing just fine.

Next year, though.

Hold on to ya hats. You're all coming over.

You are in charge of gravy.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


NaBloPoMo #17

Though I've been on my first week-long vacation in years, life still goes on at home. I set aside a little time each day to address or delegate the addressing to correspondences that roll in. The only free wi-fi on Fremont Street was at the Krispy Kreme doughnot shop, so don't feel too sorry for me, emailing on my vacation.

I have to share a special one that came to me on Tuesday morning:
Just wanted to let you know that you are always in the back of my mind, like a little voice that I hear where our military is concerned.

I was having lunch today with a friend at El Toro. There were three very nice young men dressed in their military uniforms having lunch a few tables over. I instantly pictured you stopping over there and hugging them. Since I am not prone to hugging strangers, I opted instead to anonymously buy their lunch.

I do not have any family in the military nor do I even know anyone (other than your son) who serves, however...those boys became my family today. I just felt very protective of them and very proud also.

Thank you for being that little voice that helps me see outside my own circle. Now, if only your little voice would stop me from eating that decadent flan, that would ROCK!!!
It's interesting, having a cause. You kind of hope to convince people that it's a worthwhile cause. As I've written before, I've been most amazed that I haven't had to do any convincing to get help. That's a good thing, for me, because I'm almost incapable of shoving something down someone's throat. I once tried selling a certain cosmetic associated with pink cadillacs, and totally sucked at it. I thought the stuff was too expensive, constantly apologized to my customers, and gave it to them at cost.

I didn't believe in its worth.

This cause I work for now, I believe in. I know it's a good thing. I hear it, from my son. I hear it from soldiers, and former soldiers, and spouses, parents, and friends of soldiers.

If no one had asked to play along with me, in the last six months, I'd still be merrily mucking away, boxing beanies and care packages, and mailing what I could from my own paycheck every week.

I don't have to sell it.

I only have to share it.

The lady that wrote the above note gave me beanies this summer. I met her in the Silvercreek parking lot after work, and we unloaded her trunk into mine. I've met dozens of others after work, at Prairie Gardens, Panera Bread, UI parking lots, at their homes, and in my own driveway.

Sometimes, we're just dealing with a win-win situation: I'm helping folks clean out their closets, and putting a few smiles on a few overseas faces. I don't assume that they think of us further.

And sometimes I find out that I, my kid, his dad and stepmom, or anyone else that's helped out, have managed to really touched someone. To change the way they think, just a little bit. If it's to put a face on a soldier, by writing that he's from a family that owns an apple orchard, or to put a face on a parent, or to accidentally reduce a vet to tears by telling him "Thank you. I mean it. Thank. You."

Don't know him. Served in 'Nam.

You never know what will move someone to "pay it forward."

But one reader out there has done just that. I imagine three guys out there went back to work after lunch last week, and told all of their buddies that their tabs had been picked up by someone in the restaurant. They told their wives, their mothers, their children. I imagine them, perhaps, 50 years from now, telling their grandchildren about being in the army in 2007, and how one time, someone even paid for their lunch....

That is powerful to me. That is changing the direction of the world.

It is just so easy.


So much easier that resisting the flan.

:-) Thanks, TW.

Friday, November 16, 2007

People Watching

NaBloPoMo #16

Back to work today, and already I'm happy that the weekend's here. You kind of need a vacation after a Vegas vacation, y'know? Lots and lots of walking, traffic, people, bells, whistles, post-midnight bedtimes, and frozen daiquiries in novelty glasses can wear a girl out, after several days.

When we pooped out from pounding the pavement, pulling up a park bench was often just as entertaining as the roulette wheel. I'm not sure why, but this is one of my fav photos from the week.


Thursday, November 15, 2007


NaBloPoMo #15

We checked out the BODIES exhibit while we were in Vegas. If you've not heard of this, it is, essentially, an exhibit full of cadavers, posed in different positions, and peeled open to portray different aspects of the human body. Pulmonary System, Nervous System, Digestive System, etc, were each portrayed with a number of, I guess, humans that had volunteered their bodies to art & science. There was also a series of cross-section slices of people. And display cases full of bits.

It's not normally the sort of thing you'd find me volunteering for, queasy thing that I am. I found it utterly fascinating; I loved it. I can't even pinpoint which display moved me the most. For some reason, I keep returning to a plackard that stated that there was no scientific explanation for the phenomenon of yawning. That we yawn for more oxygen is urban legend, I guess. The clean vs. smoker lung was fascinating, along with the garbage bin alongside, full of packs of cigarettes that people had ditched after seeing the exhibit.

I definitely walked away with this: Don't take your little kids to this exhibit!! At the end of the exhibit, there's a table for you to write your thought about the exhibit. I hovered around while parents of two small children looked over their approximately 5 year old boys writing down their thoughts. "Sad. scared. babies" read one little boy's entry. Yes, there was a baby room, with a warning telling you so, and offering another walkway to the next exhibit, if you find it disturbing.

I flipped through the book to read another entry, scrawled in childish handwriting:

"Someone needs to do something about this. Scary."

I can just imagine some little kid, thinking "For the love of God, someone needs to step in and stop this maddness!!!" while we adults browse through, fascinated and forcing ourselves not to touch the cadavers, as the signs tell us not to.

My overall take on the exhibit: Get a sitter and go see it.

If nothing else, I think you'll experience an urge to take better care of yourself, and start doing sit ups. As the sign on one cadaver said,

"It's never too late."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Las Vegas Motor Speedway: A Gift

NaBloPoMo #14

Clint surprised me yesterday, after making reservations weeks ago to do something I'd offhandedly mentioned was on my "list of things to do before I die": Ride in a veryvery fast car on a speedway.

He took a few lessons and got to drive the car himself, something I wasn't really capable of or interested in doing. I got to suit up and be a passenger, though, with a professional driver.

3 laps around the track at 160 mph, what a ride! Pix & details to come, here's a few to hold you over. Cheers!

Clint getting ready for his big driving debut.

Getting strapped in. Note the steering wheel is still on top of the car here.


My turn in the car.

Taking off. Seconds before warp speed!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


NaBloPoMo #13

On the way out to the Valley of Fire, yesterday, we noticed the highway and different areas lined with stacks of rocks. We were on the Moape Indian reservation, and my imagination ran amok with the possibilities of their significance. I asked one guy at the first stop we made, and he said "they mean nothing. People just do that."

Well. My wonderings of indian spiritual prayers were prematurely dashed. That's not very romantic.

Still, I couldn't believe that people would just pull over and stack rocks. There had to be an origin! The emperor has to be wearing some clothes here!

We stopped to ask a park ranger. After trying to convince us that they themselves place them there in memory of every tourist that was abducted from the park by aliens, he told us that they're actually called HooDoos.

The ranger was unsure of the origin, knew that it had been around a couple hundred years, but explained that with each rock you stack, you say a prayer. The higher your stack, the more likely your prayer is to be heard and wishes granted. They are, basically, indicative of fortune and good luck.

Ha! I knew there was some romantic spiritual connotation behind them.

High Five!

"But," the ranger went on, "we park rangers hate them."


He went on to tell us that though they do give folks inclined to spray paint rocks and carve their initials in them another avenue of expressing themselves, it's also one of the most frequently asked questions to the rangers, and they want folks to focus more on the petroglyphs, and the history of the park. There are bigger and better things to know there. They knock them down.


Maybe the emporer really is wearing no clothes.

But at least he's got his spongebob boxers on.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Valley of Fire

NaBloPoMo #12

Got away from bells & whistles today, went to the Valley of Fire State Park, well-known for the ancient petroglyphs in the rocks there. LOVED the petroglyphs, will soon put up an album of the photos we took of them!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Veteran's Day

NaBloPoMo #11

Before I left for Vegas on Thursday, I ran over to Lincoln Trails Elementary School in Mahomet for a very touching Veteran's Day Assembly. They meant to honor local veterans, and present me with a bit of a surprise.

One wagon full of beanie babies, that they'd collected.

WAIT! TEN wagons full of beanie babies, for a grand total of over 2100, that the children had collected during the month of October.

We listened then, through singing and readings of letters from children that had veterans in their family. One young man's great-great-great grandfather fought in the civil war. One's brother was a hero, he read, "because he signed up without even being asked." Children spoke of their Uncles, fathers, and mothers, while I sat hoping that my mascara wasn't running.

And today, Clint and I woke up and ran down the street to catch the Veteran's day parade here in Vegas. While we waited for the parade to start, I approached a few vets in the immediate area.

This guy served in the army from 1960 to 1980, and you won't believe this: He was stationed at the Reserve Center on Main Street, in Urbana, Illinois, from 1965 to 1966.

And I introduced myself to this man, who served in 1950, and asked him I could take my picture with him, to send to my son.

When we were done talking to him and taking our leave, he told me "thank you."

I had to pause only for a split second before I gave him a hug, and told him, "No. Thank You."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

Deep Fried Oreos

NaBloPoMo #9

Here's one form of debauchery that I won't be participating in, but Clint ate 6 of these things last night, for a grand total of $2.13

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I've been so busy....

NaBloPoMo #8

I have honestly not had the time to tell you...

I'm on vacation.

For one. whole. week.

It's photo blogging til the 15th folks, I have to log off and get about some debaucher-izing.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hope In a Jar

NaBloPoMo #7

Absolutely Bananas, at Absolutely Bananas (go figure) has started something new. We, women of a certain age (she's 22 for all I know. I just "met" her and agreed to play along with this splendid idea ::clap, clap, clap::). On the first day of the month, we REAL women are to make note of our REAL personal beauty secrets. I think the motive is to both educate and motivate. REAL women, REAL beautifying routines.

Since this is the first month, and we missed the first of the month, she's starting us on the 8th. From here on out, Hot Mama day will be on the first. Clear as mud. Just remember: After this, tune in on the first.

So. Today's the deadline, so here is my *official* first HMK (not to be confused with HNT).

I dragged my bff Diane, last month, into Sephora, for her first visit. Her first visit of the acres and acres of cosmetics, skin care, perfume, and surgical utensils meant to remove, pluck, file, and paint over issues we don't want the men in our lives to have any idea the existence of.

I don't have any money, you know, so I charged $78 on a 4-step kit of skin care, by Philosophy. Does this give you any idea of my desperate situation?

I actually bought a product called "Hope in a Jar."

What in the hell am I hoping?

I hope my skin won't be dry and skritchy this winter.

I hope it won't flake and crack.

I hope dark circles will disappear.

I hope to look like Cindy Crawford.

Yeah, when you hope to look like Cindy Crawford, it's time to graduate to the next product in the kit:

When Hope Is Not Enough.

It's a serum, ladies. Doesn't the word serum connotate visions of the fountain of youth? Serum. Potion. I look 10 years younger just thinking about this stuff.

You just spread this serum all over your face. [Gentlemen: I said serum, not semen. Nice try though.] Before or after the JarHope, I have not figured out. Just do it.

And when you're all done with the JarHope, and the SerumHope, you touch up your eyes and lips with TubeHope:

Hope in a Tube. It kind of sounds like something that requires an embryo and a petri dish, but no. It requires crows' feet. And not the kind on an actual bird.

Are you following me? At all?

There's also a cleanser in the kit, and a few samples of something called "The MicroDelivery Peel." Steps I and II. Roman Numerals.

I tried this peel, right in front of Clint. The first step requires you to spread some sugary, grainy, vitamin C, stuff all over your face. It has peptides in it.

The second step is "LookOut!" Step. The activator. STAND BACK! "An overall warming sensation will occur and a white foam will appear," the instructions read.

Before applying Step Two, I warned Clint: "You'd better take a good look, Baby, because after I put THIS stuff on, You will not. Recognize. Me."

God, how he laughed.

And when all was said and done, he still knew who I was.

So, does the stuff work?

Actually, I love it. I've always taken relatively good care of my skin, so I don't think it's just that I've introduced a regimen.

I think the Philosophy stuff was well worth the expense. $78 is a TON of money for me, but the bottles, jars, and tubes in the kit were full-sized, and will keep me in skin care for months ahead, even if I manage to stick to a disciplined daily use.

And, at least, if all else fails, at least they're not pushing a product called "No Hope."

There's always hope.

Even if it does come in a jar.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

P.O. Blues

NaBloPoMo #6

"The Post Office Blues" is what you'd have had, if you'd been behind us today, on Mattis Avenue. No reservations, no appointments (we checked), we had no choice but to just show up with boxes.

And boxes.

Aaaaaaaaand more boxes.

Channel 3 was there. I interviewed with them on Saturday, feeling mighty and confident, only to get this feedback: "You acted nervous." Said feedback made me feel shy and embarrassed, so I sent Jeff to TV duty, this time. He was energetic, enthusiastic, and definitely the man for the job. I'd have been more nervous about not asking nervous.

For the record, it takes 2 hours for one postal clerk to check in, stamp, check customs forms, and calculate the cost of sending this many boxes. Sincere apologies to the guy behind us that wanted to buy one stamp, but had to wait for another window.

They're on their way.