Friday, September 28, 2007

Signs of the Apocalypse

I'm wearing DKNY Jeans, with a Hugo Boss belt.

All I need is an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt to complete the look.

Lucky I'm wearing an orange "Life is Good" t-shirt with a stick figure person hiking, instead :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Public Service Announcement - Head Lice

*Warning* The following post is almost guaranteed to make your scalp itch and your skin crawl.

It's not a pleasant experience to get a call from your child's school, asking you to come pick them up because they've got head lice. And then you see them and you wonder how on earth you missed the little sores all over the top of their little head, when you just washed their hair two nights ago.

It's also rather scary to google head lice and come across articles which tell you that most over-the-counter medicines and shampoos are useless because, just like Golden Staph, repeated exposure to various anti-Lice chemicals has built up their immunity and we now face...SuperLouse!

But discovering your child has head lice doesn't make you a bad parent...although there must have been a bad parent somewhere way back when who sent their child to school with lice and let them infect everyone else's kids, including your own.

It's also interesting to discover that the carpet in a classroom can be completely free of lice despite the room being occupied by kids infested with hundreds of lice, because lice need to eat about every 6 hours and don't survive very long when removed from their human host. In fact it's downright pleasing to discover that, because it means if you can get the lice off your kid's head and keep them off your own, you can eradicate the problem within 24 hours.

So they say the shampoos may not work, but guess what? They still make us parents feel better. And at least we're doing something, right? And maybe they don't kill the lice outright, but getting covered in irritating chemicals still can't be a pleasant experience, for a louse. And being repeatedly tugged through the teeth of a very fine comb can't be very pleasant, either. And combining the two experiences is almost guaranteed to make your average, common, everyday louse (and maybe even SuperLouse) lose his group on your child's hair and get washed down the drain.

So, while lice may be becoming resistant to anti-lice shampoos and washes, I'd still recommend using them as directed. And before rinsing the shampoo out I suggest using that little fine-toothed comb and comb through their hair first, yes, shampoo and all. Do it with your little one standing in the shower or bath and immediately rinse the comb under the water before running it through their hair each time.

And if all else fails, there's always MagiComb!!!

Now if you'll please excuse me, my scalp is itchy and I need to scratch!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A long, wet, and fun weekend

Friday night, after dropping the kids off with the in-laws, Liz and I made our way over to the Vineland Drive-In Movie Theater in the City of Industry to watch the Bourne Ultimatum. All of the weather reporters had been predicting rain & thunder storms but nothing had come down yet, although on our way over we saw a few flashes from down Orange County way so the thunder & lightning were out there.

It's very different to be "standing in line" but sitting in your car, waiting to buy your ticket to enter a Drive-In. There were only two lines going in so we were slowly moving up, bit by bit, when a car pulled up on our left, the passenger door opened, and a girl jumped out and ran up to the ticket window. A minute or so later the girl ran back and got into her car, and a ticket attendant came out of the ticket booth and opened a gate, letting the girl's car through and the one following it. Liz was fuming but calmed down somewhat when the ticket attendant closed the gate and stopped a third car that had come down behind the first two. She gestured at them to go back then ran back into the booth. The temperature in our car raised a little again when it looked like the driver of this car was thinking about trying to cut in front of us, but finally he managed to make a three point U-turn and back he went to the back of the line. The car behind him did the same thing but I think the third car behind them cut in line somewhere behind us.

Something that irritates both Liz and I is people who hold up lines by asking stupid directions, like: Where do I go? What should I tune my radio to?

To complicate matters the Vineland Drive-In does have four screens, one in each corner of the lot, but it also has sign posts, clearly visible while you're sitting in line, showing you what movie is playing on what screen and in which direction you'll find that screen, and it even has signs clearly posted at the front showing you what station to tune your radio to for each movie. But obviously some people still weren't paying attention at all and felt compelled to ask the ticket booth attendants "Where do I go to watch Halloween? What do I tune my radio to? etc, etc, etc."

Finally we got to the booth and I handed over $20 and said Two Adults, please. ($7.50 per adult, kids under 9 are Free!!! Not that the kids were with us.) The attendant said something in return and it took me a second or two to realize she was asking what movie we were here to see, which makes sense, they probably need to keep track of how profitable each movie is as they probably need to pay royalties based on attendance per movie. I said "Bourne Ultimatum", the girl rang us up and as she handed me my change I said to her, "Back behind us on the left, tune in to 91.9, right?" Both her and the other booth attendant happily replied, in unison mind you, "You got it!" It probably makes their day/evening to serve customers who know the routine and don't stop to ask, "Where do I go? What do I tune my radio to?"

I haven't been to a Drive-In for close to 20 years so it was quite fun and very nostalgic for me, and until this night Liz had never been to a Drive-In, ever. Although she's a woman of the world, having lived in several cities in three countries (four if you count six months in Australia) it makes me happy that there are still "firsts" I can do with her. She'd never seen Rocky Horror Picture Show until I stopped on it while channel flipping one evening, and this weekend at the Drive-In was another First that I was able to share with her.

Usually each of the screens at Vineland has a double feature but our screen tonight was a triple header, although it was "Halloween" both before and after "The Bourne Ultimatum". Not overly concerned about watching "Halloween" we made our way out when "The Bourne Ultimatum" was over. I found it amusing that they finally introduced David Webb in the third movie, when he's a huge plot element of all three Ludlum books. Then again, almost the only thing the books and the movies have in common is Jason Bourne. It's very easy to read the books and disassociate them from the movies, treating them as additional adventures in the life of Jason Bourne.

It's a good thing we didn't stay for "Halloween" because the rain finally came down shortly after we got home. I've never been at a Drive-In when it started raining, but I'm thinking it would drastically affect screen visibility.

When I woke up Saturday morning it was quiet...too quiet. I looked at my bedside clock and found a blank face staring back at me. I looked at the VCR and it was blank, too. The power was out. That would explain why it was so quiet; with the power out our air filter wasn't running. I got up and checked my watch and saw it was only 8am. Normally at this time I'd have breakfast then jump into Azeroth and get in some uninterrupted WoW-time, but we had no power, so WoW was not gonna happen. But I still needed to eat breakfast so I could take my antibiotic (to treat a Sinus Infection I've come down with) so I had breakfast, called the El Monte P.D. to ask about the power situation and got SoCal Edison's number. When I called SCE I got a recorded message telling me the power had been out since 4:30am but they expected it restored by 1pm. So I crawled back in to bed and snuggled up next to Liz, and went back to sleep.

An hour or two later we were woken up by people talking outside. It was the HOA President talking to another resident but Liz couldn't quite understand them. I knew what they were talking about, though; how to get our front gate open without power. They worked it out because when Liz and I went outside the gate was sitting wide open. Lucky my car is parked outside because our garage door is electric as well, although I'm sure there's some way to manually open and close it so we probably could have got Liz's car out if we'd really needed to.

We went to Liz's hairdresser first so she could get her hair done then we hit the local Norm's for second breakfast/lunch. It was pretty busy and when two seats opened up at the end of the counter I told Liz we should sit there instead of waiting for a table, so we did. I told the host we were sitting at the counter and gave her our name so she could cross us off the list of those waiting for tables, but she only remembered when another waiter called out our name and she turned to point us out. By that time our food was arriving so I'm glad we sat at the counter because my body needed fuel. I had no idea what my temperature was but it was 99.8 on Wednesday when I went to The Doctor's. Hot bodies need fuel, and mine was Hot. A medium-rare 16oz T-Bone steak, 2 Eggs (over medium), and breakfast potatoes got the job done.

Meanwhile the rain had started pouring down again and Liz was concerned about her hair getting wet on our way back to the car. I gestured to all the customers waiting for a table. I told her nobody was in a hurry for our counter seat (by now there were 8 to 10 counter seats available) so if we had to, we'd sit there drinking coffee until the rain stopped, which I knew it would, and soon, because it had been raining off & on all morning. Sure enough, as I was mopping up the last of my egg yolks the rain slowed down and before we'd paid our bill and made it outside it had stopped completely.

I called SCE and the recorded message had changed. "We expect power to be restored by 4:30pm." The power goes out, and it takes them 12 hours to restore it? Lovely. We went home anyway, planning to restock the fridge at SCE's expense. Hey, if they want to take 12 hours to restore power so the food in our fridge goes bad, they can reimburse us the replacement cost. Nearing home we saw lights on in the 7-11. Down the street there were several security lights on outside people's homes. We swung into the drive and the security gate was closed, but a press of our remote had it sliding it open. Hooray! We had power! We didn't need to take SCE to court to make them pay for our food after all.

We spent the next few hours bumming around the house, which meant WoW for me, and Animal Crossing on the DS for Liz :) With my Guild's help and a friend of a Guildmate we took on the 18 portals of Black Morass, wiped on the 12th Boss, but bounced back and blew through all 18 Bosses without any further incidents. And just like that I and another Guildmate had our Karazhan keys. And just in time to help Raid Sunday afternoon, which I did, but more on that later.

About 6:30, suspecting that rain would have brought out the worst in our fellow L.A. drivers, we left for dinner at the Red Ant, and so it was that by 7:30 we were on our way to the Blu Monkey in Hollywood to celebrate a coworker's birthday. Traffic was so light that we were there by 8pm but the Monkey doesn't open until 9pm. Lucky we spied a Pier 1 Imports so we managed to kill 20 minutes there, and then there was a Ross's down the road which hung out in until right on 9pm, despite it being one of the messiest Ross's I have ever seen...seriously.

While Liz was shopping, knowing my coworker is normally very punctual I texted her and asked if she was going to be there at 9pm. She said she probably would, but that we didn't have to be. I replied that we were right there, killing time in the Ross's just down the road, so we'd see her at 9.

With the Ross's about to start kicking customers out we left then drove across the road to valet park behind the Blu Monkey. We may have been able to stay parked where we were, given there's a 24hr Ralph's supermarket there, but I told Liz I'd rather not risk it. Who wants to leave a club in the middle of the night and find their car has been towed because it was parked in a supermarket parking lot for too long? Not me, that's for sure.

The alley/parking lot behind the Blu Monkey and its neighboring establishments was very dark, with not a single sign to point our way, but the valet had gestured towards the end of the alley so we slowly started down that way. Then we were passed by a guy carrying a case of bottled water. He looked like he knew where he was going so I asked him about the Blu Monkey. He was only its bartender, so of course he did. Yup, they'd barely opened their doors. We followed the bartender in and were their first customers of the evening...almost.

We walked in and there was no sign of Faye. I texted (you know, that word doesn't look like it should sound, I'm going to use txtd from now on :P So I txtd Faye "We're here. You're not. You're late :o" A few minutes later she was walking in the door :D

Having Reserved the Back Room, which is actually at the front of the club, we were a little surprised to see two large platters of food sitting on the two tables there. Two huge plates of empanadas, tiny strawberry trifle cupcakes, and rolled baklava. Along with someone's drink and 1/4 of an empanada (3/4 eaten). Pondering where the food had come from, if it was safe to eat any (I ate a baklava, one of Faye's friends ate a strawberry trifle), Faye's friends cheerfully piped up and said they'd ordered it. "Surprise," they said, but you could tell they weren't responsible.

Then another girl arrived and claimed the food. No, not a coworker nor a friend of Faye's. She was part of a different party. She also claimed she'd Reserved the room we were now sitting in. Faye turned around and looked at this woman and I could tell she'd just gone into combat mode. Faye may look all cute & girly-girl but she's not someone I'd want to mess with. She's a woman who knows what she wants and if you're in her way, she'll roll right over you...or through you. "I Reserved it too," she told this woman who'd dared to challenge her, "and I confirmed it earlier this week."

"We were expecting about 40 people," the woman said.

"I'm expecting 50," said Faye, "maybe more."

Obviously not as dumb as she looked the woman quickly backed down, so we graciously helped move her plates of food to the other end of the club. Some time during the next hour we found Faye's Reservation sign in one corner of our room, buried beneath some cushions. Nice try, silly woman.

It's been a long time since I went clubbing...a long time ago, in a country far, far away :P

We had a really great night without drinking too much, although the three Heinekens I did drink had me burping more than I usually do, and the pepper steak dinner I'd had at the Red Ant did not make for pleasant-smelling burps. Liz was being critical of me burping up a storm, until she made a burp of her own and it wasn't particularly nasal friendly, either ;)

Not being as young as we once were we Cindarella'd and were home by midnight, just. I was up again at 8am but unlike Saturday morning, this time I stayed up and finished sorting through the comics I brought back from Australia. By 12-noon I was done, with three Trader Joe's paper shopping bags of comics ready to go up on eBay, just awaiting pricing, photographs and descriptions. And my back was killing me.

I logged in to WoW and saw we barely had enough people on to hit Kara (minimum of 10, if we have a perfect class makeup) but Raid time was still almost an hour away. I got my Raid gear out of the bank, repaired my Armor and refilled my ammunition pouch, then made my way to Kara's front door. As Go-Time drew near more and more Guildies logged on and joined us, and a few people couldn't resist having a duel or two. One of our Rogues took down both our Protection-spec'd Warrior/Tanks, twice. The two Tanks then Dueled each other while the Rogue and I got it on, and I somehow managed to beat him. Rogues can be nasty if they sneak up on you from behind, because they can Stunlock you, basically getting in numerous free attacks while your toon stands there, dazed, unable to fight back. But most players don't have a Pet Cyboarg, who I'd set to Aggressive, meaning he would attack anything that came within range. Pets are good at sniffing out stealthy Rogues trying to sneak up behind their Master, so before the Rogue could close in and Stunlock me Cyboarg had hit him, bringing him out of stealth and preventing him from using his most devastating attacks on me. Despite not having done any PvP for a while, I've still put in many, many (far too many) hours on Kwazi, and for me, playing him is like riding a bike or playing a Piano. You may not do it all the time, but you never forget how to do it, so it wasn't long before the Rogue went down, but it was still a fairly close fought duel. As we bandaged up the Rogue mentioned our two Tanks were still going at it. With Shields for protection against each other's one-handed weapons, which don't do a lot of damage to begin with, they were barely hurting each other. It was one of the longest duels I've seen between two players with no way to heal themselves midfight. The only possible longest duel would be between two Healadins, or Healing specced Paladins. Holy Warriors with one-handed weapons & Shields, but who can also heal themselves and so take forever to kill. It was a closely fought fight that swayed back and forth as each player got in the odd big hit. And when it was all over and they'd bandaged up, I laughed my head off as they went at it again, with the same molasses-slow result.

Finally we had the players & classes we needed to attempt Kara and in we went. With this being the Guild's third foray into Kara for the week, several bosses were already down, and we were up to the Opera event, perhaps one of the most unique and novel Boss fights in the game. There are actually three different Opera events but the one we drew was Romulo & Julianne. Yes, a play on Romeo & Juliette :P

In the WoW version Julianne comes out swinging and the Raid has to take her down as fast as possible. Romulo then comes out to avenge her and the Raid now has to take him down, without a break. When he goes down there's a momentary pause...then both Romulo & Julianne pop up and the Raid has to defeat them both, with a twist. They must die within 10 seconds of each other or the one who fell will rise back to life. Several times we attempted this encounter but were never successful. On the second last attempt we took out Julianne but were unable to defeat Romulo within 10 seconds and Julianne came back with a vengeance. The last attempt was a repeat of the preceding one, Julianne went down and everyone turned on Romulo, and 10 seconds never seemed so long. Finally Romulo went down and everyone held their breath...only to see Julianne rise from the dead, followed by her lover, 10 seconds later. With our Casters and Healers out of mana, the lovers danced a lethal tango over the Raid and one by one we died a death. Somewhere along the way we stopped off at The Maiden's chamber, and after two attempts we successfully defeated the 50' tall colossus. So my first foray into Kara wasn't all doom & gloom, and despite dying numerous times it was still a lot of fun.

And that concludes a saga-length blog entry and this weekend :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Twins through IVF

In Vitro Fertilization is a method used by some couples who have (for one reason or another) been unable to conceive through more natural means.

One of my friends and his wife chose to use IVF when they'd been unable to conceive naturally...ok, ok, when his wife had been unable to conceive naturally. Happy now? So they did the IVF and his wife got pregnant, as frequently happens with IVF, and they ended up with twins, because after years of trying his wife had finally conceived naturally at almost the same time as she underwent IVF. Both embryos developed and in nine months she gave birth to twins...sort boy, one girl :) And they were as happy as pigs in mud...probably even happier than that :)

This morning I caught a news report from Australia about a Lesbian couple who'd used IVF to conceive and they were suing their doctor because they'd had twins and they only wanted one child. To one set of parents, two children were an unexpected blessing. To another set, two was one too many. Strange how the world works.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Britney Spears is not fat.

She's not in the shape she used to be a few years ago, but if you look at this picture...

and you really think she's fat...then you've got more problems than Britney does.

Her performance was very lackluster, the lip synching was not convincing in the slightest, and she didn't even seem to be trying, what with her dance moves that weren't, but she's not fat.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Tam O'Shanter

A Tam O'Shanter is a scottish bonnet or cap. The Tam O'Shanter I'm going to write about today is a Scottish-style pub or restaurant, but an upscale one, not quite somewhere you'd go with the lads for a pint after work or the game.

Two days ago Liz emailed me (at work) saying she'd made a reservation for Lawry's in Beverly Hills, but the earliest she'd been able to get was Saturday Sept. 15th. Wondering what Lawry's was, and why Liz was keen to eat there, I googled them and found out they are a steakhouse (of sorts) that specializes in Prime Rib. I promptly hit and discovered mention of a place called the Tam O'Shanter, owned by Lawry's, and reported to serve a Prime Rib the equal, if not better, of their parent company.

I emailed Liz back telling her about the Tam and a few minutes later she replied that she'd made a reservation for 7pm for the next night, being last night...and that she'd canceled the Lawry's reservation :P

So shortly after 6pm last night we tootled off to Glendale and the Tam, which is located no more than 10 minutes from where we used to live in Eagle Rock. We got there about 30 minutes prior to our reservation but the host checked her computer and said she could take us back, and we got our first real glimpse at the inside proper of the Tam O'Shanter.

That's not the entire restaurant, it's just one small area, but it's even more amazing than it looks in that picture.

Male waiters were wearing tartan waistcoats, female waiters were in almost full, formal highland dress. The busboys were wearing puffy pirate shirts ;), knicker bockers with knee-high white socks & blacks shoes. The dining area was divided into several smaller rooms and we were taken in to one of the back rooms and sat at a table in the corner. The table was set for two but was larger than most two-person tables. I hate restaurants that use tiny tables in order to accommodate more people (and make more money), then squeeze 3 or 4 people into a table designed for 2. The chairs! Oh, the chairs. You can see them in the picture and they were practically arm chairs. Large, comfy chairs that you sat back in to and said, "Oh yeah, I'm not getting out of this seat in a hurry." And we didn't.

Liz elected not to have an appetizer, but her Prime Rib meal came with a salad anyway. I chose to strart my meal with the Scotch Rarebit, a variant of the Welsh dish with a similar name, and I was not disappointed. Although little more than a warm, thick cheese concoction with a dash of whisky, mustard & nutmeg, it was surprisingly good when spread on the thinly sliced toast that came with it. I actually ran out of toast and ended up using bread to mop up the last of the Rarebit from the small, metal tureen.

When our entrées arrived (note: the entrée is what North Americans call the main dish, and no, I don't know why. Maybe just to be contrary?) we were not disappointed. My Rib Eye, cooked to "medium", was perfect. A little pink in the middle and very tender. I ate a few mouthfuls then cut off a slice to share with Liz, and I think I gave her the best cut from my Rib Eye, not to say the rest of it wasn't amazing as well, but the expression on her face as she ate was a sight to behold; it literally melted in your mouth. Liz's Prime Rib was good, too, but I thought my Rib Eye was just a little better.

The wine I had complimented my Rib Eye perfectly. I have no clue what it was, I ordered it at the recommendation of the waiter, but it was a delightful Pinot, not too rich with just a little bite to it. I drank the whole thing and enjoyed it to the last drop. Unusual for me, who's not a big wine drinker.

Although we'd rejected the chocolate soufflé at the start of our meal as the dessert of choice (you have to order the soufflé at the start of the meal because they cook them to order), we still took a look at the dessert menu and ended up ordering the Coconut Bread & Raisin Pudding with Vanilla Cream Sauce. Oh boy! It was goooood. Liz & I split one between us and we finished the lot, except for one small piece. I told Liz it's good manners to leave just a little bit because it tells your host you've had sufficient to eat. Besides which, we were both Stuffed! Yes, with a capital S!

Remember earlier I said we weren't getting out of those chairs in a hurry? We somehow took almost 2 hours to have our meal. For parents of two small children this is unheard of, but then our kids stayed with their grandparents last night so that helped immensely. We were able to take our time over dinner but it never felt like we were trying to stretch the meal out. It was a fantastic night for just the two of us.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

One fine day, down at the office

At work today one of the ladies noticed the roll of plastic wrap she'd put in the kitchen a few weeks ago was gone, so she sent out an office-wide email stating that while the roll was for general use by the office, she would appreciate whoever took it returning it to the kitchen. Perhaps in the vein of a letter written by a young lady over 100 years ago, my coworker's email was sent with the subject line of "Why Virginia...Why???"

I couldn't help myself and decided to throw a bit of fuel on the fire.

I hit Reply All and stated that maybe Virginia used the last of the plastic wrap so she threw out the box, but (I added), given that whenever we have donuts or cakes in the breakroom, the empty box is always left on the table and never thrown away by the person who takes the last donut, I said I thought it was unlikely that Virginia would throw out the box after using the last of the plastic wrap.

Then again, there's a lot more humor value in taking the last donut and leaving the box lying around, because you just know the next person to come in will see the box and get all excited, but when they open it there's no donuts, just Doh! Nuts!

The coworker didn't quite get my punny joke and stopped by to say the box of plastic wrap was practically brand new, but one coworker came back with a comment of his own, referring to Virginia as Ms. Wolf, stating that perhaps we could lure her out by leaving a couple of boxes of Donuts in the breakroom. A third coworker stopped by my desk and said he thought Virginia's last name was Slim.

I restrained myself and this time just sent an email to the few people that I knew would appreciate a good Pun ;)

I stated that Virginia Wolf was known to a couple of people, but she now went by Virginia Slim, but if Virginia continues to take the last donut, I said, she won't be Slim for much longer.

One of my coworkers rose to the challenge and replied, saying that leaving out a box of donuts sounded like an excellent way to smoke out Virginia Slim.

Boy, do we have some sick people in our office, me included :P

Monday, September 03, 2007

The real post

So the primary reason for going to Australia this time around was to meet Keith, the new man in my mum's life, and to walk her down the aisle when she married him.

Keith & Mum met us at the airport, along with my older sister, Kim. And strangely enough, it didn't seem strange seeing Mum with Keith. Even when they kissed in front of me it didn't seem that odd, even though Keith is not my Dad. I mean when you think about it this is someone who's not my Dad and he's kissing my Mum, but it was a non-issue. Both my kids took to him like he was a long lost uncle (or grandfather ;) and again I didn't have any problems with my kids calling someone not my Dad "Poppy".

During the second week we went out to the cemetery. In cleaning up my old things I'd found my old wooden Emmaus cross so I decided I'd leave that at Jonno's grave while we were out there, it was strangely symbolic because our Emmaus group pretty much died when Jonno did. In fact most of the Emmaus members dropped their crosses on his coffin before he was buried. I've left mine there now, too, just 18 years later. Funny to think that Jonno has almost been dead now for as long as he lived. That's one of those "What ifs?" "What if Jonno hadn't died? What would life have been like now with my best mate still around?" And honestly? I have no idea.

I got a little teary when I saw the plaque on Dad's grave and we put some flowers down there and I knelt down to wipe some grass off that had been sprayed there from a recent mowing and that was when I really broke down and cried. I'll always miss my Dad, but life goes on, too. Life has to go on, because the alternative is not an alternative, it's just a cop out.

Life goes on and now my Mum is married to the new man in her life and I still miss my Dad a hell of a lot, but I'm ok with Mum being married to someone else.

Walking Mum down the aisle was partly tradition, but I also wonder if maybe that decision was also made as therapy for me as well. By walking Mum down the aisle, as I mentioned in a post a while back, I had to confront the fact that my Dad is dead and life is still going on. Well, Dad being dead never entered my mind as I walked Mum down the aisle. In fact it wasn't that hard at all. I was looking Keith in the eye the whole time and smiling at him in an attempt to show that the wedding had my full approval (which probably has something to do with Dad's death), but of course Keith wasn't looking at me, he had nothing but tear-filled eyes for my Mum. Which just made the whole thing easier still, seeing just how much in love with my Mum he was.

Now that they've found each other and made this commitment to each other, I wish my Mum and Keith the longest, happiest & healthiest of lives together.

There and back again

I think I've used that as a title before. Meh.

Carol & Zac drove us down to the City last night (which was actually about 36 hours ago, now), we stopped at Kim & Shaun's place, had our Fish & Chip dinner, and after a tearful farewell Carol & Zac drove us on to the Formule 1 Hotel located a short walk from Tullamarine. We checked in and got two rooms on the third floor, and after discovering the F1 had no elevator were fortunate to be able to relocate to two first floor rooms, considering we had about 8 pieces of luggage between us all (including the in-laws). The in-laws and JE took one room and Liz & I and the bunny took the other. The rooms were very basic but cheap, and given that we really were walking distance from Tullamarine it wasn't a bad choice of hotel, just we had far too much luggage. It's probably an excellent choice for the economically-minded businessman traveling light. After getting settled in to our room I headed over to the airport and "borrowed" a couple of luggage carts, which I parked in our room ready for the next morning. Breakfast was a cheap $6 Continental provided by the F1, but given that breakfast at the nearby McD's would have cost the same (if not more) but with less food, it was the more economical choice. Then we hoofed it over to Tulla.

We checked in about 2 hours before departure time, smooth as silk (unlike LAX) and still got 4 seats together. The in-laws asked about switching to our flight (theirs was going via Aukland) but it would have required spending a few extra (hundred) dollars, so they got to visit New Zealand (Intl. Airport) for a couple of hours. Although they left just 30 minutes later than us, they touched down at LAX over 3 hours later, due to their NZ stopover.

At the wedding reception the previous Saturday, a cousin-in-law mentioned Emirates Airlines as being an extremely comfortable (pampering) airline to fly. Given that a lot of Big Oil probably flies Emirates, that's completely understandable, and from a fatalistic point of view, I honestly can't see Muslim terrorists targeting Emirates Airlines and daring to incur the wrath of their megarich brothers, so it's possibly one of the safest airlines to fly, as well. The CIL said Emirates allegedly provided even better service than Qantas, and he's probably right, I think Qantas' service, while still among the best in the industry, has slipped somewhat during the past few years.

We caught a shuttle home from LAX, a remarkably painless affair. $70 to be delivered to our door, and in a very quick time as traffic was the lightest I've ever seen it. In fact it was downright spooky to see just a handful of cars on the freeways at 8:30am on a Monday morning. Sure, it's Labor Day, an almost nationwide Public Holiday, but still. "It's quiet. Too quiet."

Finally home it still wasn't time to rest. Our bathroom looks awesome with the new shower stall in place of the old bathtub. It's a lot more open now, for a small bathroom. I would have liked the toilet moved into the corner but the plumber said it would have violated a building code by not having enough space between the toilet seat and the walls. Liz freaked out because all the items left on the bathroom counter were covered in dust, but given that the Plumber was a family friend and we barely paid him for the work (we paid for the materials, new toilet, floor tiles, shower stall, etc, but I don't think we paid him) I said we could hardly complain. Liz complained anyway. She likes to complain. Sometimes I don't think she's happy unless she's complaining. Weird, really, coz she's not really happy then, either. Or maybe she is.

While Liz cleaned house I went and cleaned out our Post Office box of two weeks of mail then picked up Anzac, and was happy to hear the girls apparently bring him out for a bit of a walk every day. In fact one of the girls said she usually gives him the run of the office during the day on weekends. It's a good boarding kennel because it's also his vet, and they do grooming as well so we get him bathed before I pick him up.

After dropping Anzac back home I still hadn't finished my errands. The weather report on the plane as we were landing said temperatures of 40C+ and it sure felt like it as I headed back out to get some milk and lunch. I don't like to run the A/C in my car if I can avoid it so I was sweating like a pig by the time I finally got back home.

After lunch we all took a nap (except for JE), and when I got up I emptied the suitcases of my comics and trading cards (watch this space for eBay auctions ;) Over the years I've accumulated more than 6 photocopy boxes full of comics. I have easily 1000+ comics, including quite a few Capt. America comics, which may be worth a small bit now that the Captain has been assassinated...unless "they" bring him back. Did I mention the 1.5 hour nap is all the sleep I've had in the last 24 hours? On the plane trip back I watched FF4:Silver Surfer, The Flying Scotsman, Borat, Ocean's Thirteen, and Blades of Glory. I'm only linking The Flying Scotsman because you should know of the others, but if you like bios (or Billy Boyd ;) it's worth checking out.

So, now we're home and somewhat unpacked, and fighting the ants which have still come in looking for food & water (even though we've been gone for two weeks), and for some reason with just the four of us here...the house seems strangely quiet. Even when we were down in Munro at Keith's place with just the six of us there (Mum & Keith and the four of us), the peace & quiet of slow life in a tiny country town (village, even) didn't seem as quiet as this quiet of our house right now.

It would be nice to move back to Australia, even to settle somewhere in Melbourne, but I can't see that happening unless we win the Lotto, because I'm doing too well here in L.A. to start all over again in Melbourne.

Did I mention it was my birthday while we were there? Being a Rowan Atkinson fan my family got me Mr. Bean's Holiday. No, we never went to the movies. Bean's Holiday was released pretty much everywhere but the U.S. many months ago, so it was already available on DVD in Australia. So while everyone else is watching Bean in the theatres here, I watched it in Australia on DVD, and I have it on the TV here, right now, because the kids love the physical comedy of Mr. Bean as well. In fact The Whole Bean (the complete set of the TV series) always accompanies us and the portable DVD player on long car rides.

Anyway, it's now gone 7pm, so it's time to get the kids some dinner and get them into bed, even though it really doesn't feel that late. That's Jet Lag for you.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

And here we go again

We're about 15 hours away from flying back to L.A.

We're currently at my sister's house in Melbourne and in a short while will be heading to a local Fish & Chip shop for our last genuine Australian meal. Sure, you can get Fish & Chips in most countries, but every country has their own version so it's not the same as what you get at home.

The time has gone by so fast and we didn't do anywhere near as much as I would have liked, never visited some of the people I wanted to. There's an old friend I never caught up with, and I regret that.

We get back to LAX Monday morning and I'll be back at work the next day. Two weeks vacation gone by, just like that.

See you all on the east side of the Pond.