Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's Myrtle Beach Time!

Well, the time has come for us to depart on our vacation wonderland, Myrtle Beach :-)

Try not to miss me too much.

I've been such a slacker reading this month, I'm ashamed to post my book reviews. I'm giving myself an extra weekend to try to bulk up my May total of 6. Yeah. 6.

See you again on Sunday!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Stupid Parents Again

Tal was right. And I swear, Fredericksburg is at the epicenter of a plague of stupid parents.

Last night, Michael and I went out to dinner at a kid friendly place (Pizza Hut). There were two women seated at the table behind us, of whom I had a clear view, and with them, they had 3 children. One of the women was the mother, the other a friend or ?? The two older children were in the 7-10 range and the little guy was maybe 2.

They were seated and no sooner were they, then the two women dug out their cell phones and called people. The two oldest kids were bearing it pretty well, but the little one was not happy. He was squirming between the two of them, and making some noise, till Mom huffed into the phone and said she had to go. Finally the other one hung up as well.

Next thing, the little guy grabs the menu so Mom's friend couldn't read it. Mom was finished with her menu, and Friend was trying to convince him that she needed to see the menu for just one minute, but he refused to give it to her. So she said, "OK, I'll just have to take Mommy's." This sent the little guy into a fury and he starts screaming.

She takes Mom's menu, and this little guy hauls off and smacks her one with the menu, screaming his head off.

Now, internally I was cheering, but I was waiting to see what the discipline would be for such a thing. And all Mom does is turn to him and say, "That's not very nice."

They didn't take the menu away, they didn't yell at him, nothing.

If I had ever hit an adult, be it with a laminated piece of paper or a 2x4, my ass would have been grass. At the very least, my rear would have been put into a high chair and my movements restrained, but most likely in a restaurant, my parents would have picked me up and we would have left without dinner. And once would have been all it would take for me to learn the lesson we didn't hit people, much less Aunt Frannie who's been so nice to us.

I just shook my head as their phones rang all night and Little Jeffrey (or whatever his name was) started eating off the floor and hollering his head off whenever he felt like it. People like that really piss me off.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Are We Getting Stupider, Part Deux

Alright, in our latest attempt to annihilate the human race entirely by our own stupidity, I return to another rant about stupid people.

I have noticed a disturbing trend over the past, oh, I dunno, 10 years, but tonight it really hit home, almost literally.

What the hell is wrong with people letting their kids run around in parking lots!?

Tonight, the General and I went to Target to pick up some supplies for the house and for me to get a nice new kite to take to Myrtle Beach (Hello Kitty kicks ass!). In any event, we get back in the car, and as I am pulling out, a woman WALKS BEHIND US WITH HER TWO CHILDREN! We weren't "maybe" pulling out. We were actually pulling out and they walked behind us.

I wish I could say this were not something I face on a regular basis, but at least 3 times a week, someone walks behind me AFTER I start pulling my car out of my parking space.

One time, there was a woman who let her two year old run all by himself towards their car in a Walmart parking lot, and as I started to pull out, I heard a scream and she ran up to the car in the nick of time. A 2 or 3 foot tall little person cannot be seen in the rearview mirror.

For the love of God. Why do people seem to think that a car going backwards can't hit them!?


Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Tonight was the season finale of LOST, undoubtedly the best show on television. What a nail biter it was, literally.

I don't know anyone who watches it other than me, Joe, and Judy, so we always watch it and I call them during the commercial breaks.

Tonight, when it was over, all I could say was "Holy sh*t!"

From Hurley's heroic ride in the ancient VW to contact with the outside world to flash forwards and flashbacks, it was one hell of a way to cap one hell of a season. This past several months' worth of episodes has been incredible. It has been non-stop, grab you by the throat, balls to the wall, thrill a minute, amazing TV.

And even though I'm sad that it's over for what COULD be this year (2007), they left it in such a way that I'm almost glad it's over for the season so I can catch my breath. The first two seasons were great, but this season has been absolutely incredible. God bless the creators. I'll be tuning in on the website to see it again without all the commercials, and I just know it's going to be even more amazing.

A Red Letter Day in Health Land

So, today was the big day. My once in a while annual physical. Meaning, my last physical was in 2004, so even though it's supposed to be annual, it's only whenever I get up the courage to go.

I have always hated going to the doctor's office. When I was little (4 years old), I didn't want to get off my mother's lap for a check up or a shot or something at the doctor's office, and the doctor grabbed my legs and my mother grabbed my arms and they lifted me up onto the examining table. I was kicking something fierce, and kicked the doctor right in the stomach. I immediately knew I was "bad" and when the appointment was over, I went into hiding.

I've had a strong dislike for the medical profession ever since. That doctor and the ones to follow have never been unpleasant or mean to me. I had an excellent doctor in Boston, but have never really felt comfortable with any doctor.

Till moving to DC.

When you're F-A-T fat, it's hard to find a doctor you can rely on to talk to you and listen to your concerns without saying, "if you'd just lose weight, this issue would go away." Because frankly, I've been overweight most of my life, and it hasn't slowed me down any.

Moving to Virginia, though, the writing was on the wall. My dad became diabetic, and it was clearly time to make sure I was doing OK. The General of course, doesn't have these issues, so he was ready to go.

Living in Boston, we had been turned onto a website that lists doctors who are "fat friendly" and had added our PCP there to the list. Coming to VA, it seemed natural to try that list to find someone, and I liked the write up about a Dr. David Leonard. So I gave a call, and went in for my first head-to-toe inspection in at least 5 years.

If anything, the writer understated the excellent care you could receive from Dr. Leonard and his staff. The office is proudly adorned with articles from Washingtonian and Washington Magazine touting Dr. Leonard as one of the top doctors in DC. One magazine surveyed 54 of his patients and he scored 100/100 points for all areas of satisfaction.

If I could give him 200, I would. And I would for every last doctor on his staff. I have seen the 2 women doctors there and went with the General while he consulted with the other male doctor, and we have been treated with courtesy and respect by every last person on that staff, from the receptionists to the nurses to the lab techs.

Still, old habits die hard, and until one of his associates informed me over the winter that I should be darned sure to get my butt in for another physical, I kept on putting it off. Finally, the General announced we were going and I should make the appointments, and for some reason, that seemed right and I did.

Our appointments were this morning.

I got called in first, almost as if they knew I might chicken out, and was given an EKG to check on my heart. It was 100% fine, shipshape. The nurse gave me a gown and then Dr. Leonard arrived and he actually took the time to re-acquaint himself with me as a human being and not just some specimen on a table. We talked about my family and the major causes of stress in my life. He listened very carefully to all my concerns and asked questions about my family's medical history and we discussed warning signs and things to look out for. He asked me what I was most afraid of health-wise, and he helped me create action plans for how to improve my health without condemning me, making me feel guilty, pressuring me, telling me to start a whole round of medications or thinking about surgery. He handled every poke, every prod and every needle stick with caring and professionalism.

I suppose I'm gushing a bit, but after 30 years of abject terror of going to the doctor, it is so nice to see someone who treats me like a human being. My other doctors were competent, professional, and overall caring, but this guy is above and beyond.

If you're looking for a fat friendly health professional in your area, or would like to nominate someone to the list, you can visit the list at:

It's just so nice to be treated like a person and not a number on a scale. I'm glad it's over for another year, and this time I just might not wait around for 3 years before my next check up, and I feel like if (God forbid) something shows up that's not great in my blood tests, we'd work it out as a team--not him as the dictator and me as the minion--and it would be OK. AMEN FOR GREAT MEDICINE!

Monday, May 21, 2007


I haven't blogged in almost a week, so you're getting a few quickies tonight. Plus, I can't sleep. Quit complaining. hehe

I saw a bumper sticker on a car today that really confused the crap out of me.

The car had Texas plates and the bumper sticker read: "My governor is a Jewish cowboy."

As my friend Debbie would say, "What!?"

The Latest Round of Hilarious Spammer Names (And Perhaps Final)

I'm getting the feeling I might be the only one who continues to find these amusing, and as they're few and far between (this latest round has taken a few months to compile--since January), I think I'll just go on back to deleting everything in my spam folder as it comes in.

Be that as it may, may I present the final list of hilarious spammer names direct from my inbox...

Polygamy P. Format
Rubes L. Rubdowns
Udders B. Counted
Riesling R. Thoroughbreds
Hellenistic G. Hothead
Canute O. Coolant
Sexism U. Whetstone
Schnauzers M. Crosier
Sinai E. Linnaeus
Foregathered H. Troubled
Cookbook S. Telegraphed
Flops Q. Impulsion
Cluttering H. Paramilitaries
Violable B. Underwriters
Trailering D. Conic
Prophylactic F. Somnambulists (!!!!)
Paralleling H. Homesteaders
Underdone R. Tartness
Facing E. Indispensable
Groupie K. Baker
Domineering L. Rutledge
Unappetizing T. Psychologies (hehe)
Scarlet L. Imperturbable
Permanents K. Puberty
Draco U. Deposed
Iraqi B. Homograph
Hamlet B. Lipstick
Immigration O. Administratively
Subtrahends A. Ishmael
Deleted I. Grossness (poetic, no?)
Minutemen L. Pilothouse
Broccoli H. Downloads
Careers D. Wail
Sock E. Values
Hooves O. Locution
Michigander D. Beowulf

Hope this last round was as enjoyable for you as it was for me! :)

The New Baby

We've had our first experience haggling at a car dealership and one that I hope does not bear repeating in the next several years. But we've got a new car out of the deal, and one that's sporty, comfortable, and still compact. I drove one as a rental car and fell in love, so decided to take advantage of a friends/family discount and we took a test drive of a new Caliber this past weekend. Michael and I made it work for us, and here we have our new baby. The beauty of it is, we came home and applied for a different loan than the one at the dealership was offering to finance us with (in spite of our excellent credit--their words), and got a full percentage point off the loan. Yahoo!

It was so bittersweet to leave the Saturn behind. It was the first brand new car I ever had, only 21 miles on it when I bought her, and she was fun to drive, if leaving us a few aches and pains after our trips to Rhode Island and NY and Florida. We had some fun times in that car--trips to North and South Carolina, trips home, trips to the hospital and orthopedist, travels in DC on cold nights just to see the Capitol building lit up and just to revel in the one thing we'd ever owned that no one else owned before us. I'm happy that we'll have the same adventures in the new car, but it is a bit of an adjustment to say the least. So I cried and gave her a kiss, and drove away from her, quietly thanking her for her reliability, sweet temperament, and the joie de vivre we felt encased within her.

The only thing left to do is give the new car a name. Any suggestions? :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Are We Getting Stupider?

What's with these commercials for Ambien and Lunesta, two FDA approved sleep medications, that now warn you the drugs may cause drowsiness!? Is anyone really so stupid to think that they'll take a sleep medication and feel awake and alert?

I shake my head and wonder how humankind has managed to survive these thousands of years.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rehoboth Beach, 2007

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Las Vegas

So, we're back (clearly), and it was one hell of a trip. It was in many ways the perfect vacation for us and I'm so glad we went.

When we arrived, it was utter chaos. There was advertising everywhere, limo drivers looking for their pick ups, rows of baggage claims spitting out suitcases, tons of people. We were very fortunate in that our suitcases arrived quickly and the instant we walked out the door there was a hotel shuttle service and we were able to get a ticket and get on the next departing bus. This carried a downside, however, in that we stopped at a whole pile of hotels before we ever got to ours. So many, in fact, that we decided to spring for the extra $5 on the way back to the airport on Wednesday and got a cab so we could go directly to the airport without a bunch of intermediary stops. Still, the shuttle driver was very nice and gave a nice tour of the city and made recommendations on what to do and where to stay.

The Circus Circus lobby was little better. In fact, perhaps worse, since there was a HUGE line snaking through those tensabarriers and it was chock full of families with little kids running in and out and around, shrieking and carrying on. It took us 45 minutes to get to the desk, and then we literally had to get a map to find our room, the casino was so big. This was our first hint that walking was probably not going to happen.

After getting settled, we went to eat at a little fast food Mexican/Italian place which was quite good except the fire alarm went off in the middle of the meal, complete with flashing strobe lights! But, who cares? We liked the food and retired on full bellies. Circus Circus's hotel facilities were certainly adequate--they were nothing to scream about in terms of luxury, but were nicer than the Motel 6. Since we're not extravagant people, we were completely pleased with our room, which came with some nice travel guides to the area and extra pillows.

Saturday was our first full day in Las Vegas. We had read in the travel guides that there was a trolley that ran every 15 minutes, and having determined that the strip runs about 6.3 miles, we decided we'd take the trolley instead of trying to walk (Michael's been diagnosed with arthritis in his back). When we got there, a guy at the "Slots-O-Fun" told us the bus was cheaper and faster, so we bought all day passes for the bus and then decided to walk across the street to the Riviera for the buffet, which I had read about and thought sounded pretty good.

In fact, it was not that exciting. There was plenty of food, sure, but most of it looked like it had been sitting around for some time. So I was disappointed with our first buffet. Then we decided to walk out the back entrance and go over to the Hilton, which was "just across the street", to pick up our Barry Manilow tickets.

"Just across the street" took us about 20 minutes! Seriously, the casinos are massive. Even the old ones are huge. I couldn't get over it. We arrived and Michael was getting a bit sore, so we decided I would find the box office, which was right up front, and then we decided to play the slots. Since I'm cheap, we played the penny slots, and by some miracle, I won $50 on the Wheel of Fortune. So, we were conservative and cashed out. Then we went down to the Star Trek place, since Joe had given us the assignment to get a picture of the General making a face at the mannequins of the characters from Star Trek. Mission accomplished, and we decided to take the Monorail to Caesar's Palace, since I had gotten a couple of free passes on it for buying tours and whatnot on

The monorail is GORGEOUS. It's clean, efficient, speedy, and accessible. We got off at the Flamingo and strolled through there on our way to Caesar's, and it was nice. They have a beautiful courtyard with flamingos, and I got to see some of them. Then we headed over to Caesar's to pick up our tickets for Celine Dion.

Let me tell you now, Caesar's is MASSIVE. It's even more massive than it looks from the outside. We were all over the place looking for the box office, with nothing more than a sign reading "Apian Way" or "Via Yadda Yadda" or whatever aiming us in the right direction. Fortunately we found it, but by then, we needed another quick break, so I put Michael in front of the Bark Day something penny slot machine and he promptly won $60. Man were we feeling good. So of course, we cashed out, and left before Lady Luck won her moolah back. :-)

It was getting late by then, so we decided to head back to Circus Circus to shower and change for the Barry Manilow concert and have some dinner. The concert was GREAT. He allows you to take pictures during the show and they give you free glowsticks when you arrive, so that was really neat. Barry sang a bunch of our old favorites and we were singing along, having a grand old time. And I was pleased to note that there were a lot of people our age or younger there--definitely all of us had grown up with Barry since the 70's. Fun, fun, fun. I got a program and collected some of the streamers they shoot out at the end of the show. Then we headed back to sleep, as we had an early morning on Sunday.

Sunday was our busiest day with a tour and a show. We headed off to the Hoover Dam at 7:45, again taking a shuttle that stopped at a bunch of casinos after ours. Still, it was a great way to see the strip and we loved taking the ride around and seeing some of the places we hadn't seen the day before. I was particularly taken with the New York New York (obviously) and the Excalibur.

We boarded the big bus at Bally's and then took the ride out to the Hoover Dam via Boulder City. The desert was absolutely gorgeous, breathtaking, and spectacular. And the Hoover Dam? WOW. That's all I can say. WOW. We took the tour inside and then we had about an hour to walk the dam itself. How much of a loser am I, but I had no idea that the halfway point of the dam marks the border between Nevada and Arizona, so of course, we had to walk over to Arizona, as I'd never been before. The lake created by the dam is gorgeous, the river is spectacular, just an amazing tour. Go there. You will not be sorry!

On our way back, we stopped at Ethel M Chocolates and the Cactus Botanical Gardens which is behind it. It was a giant tourist trap--a subsidiary of some sort of the Mars Company, they charge $32 for a small box of truffles, and the factory was not in operation while we were there. The garden was small, although many of the cacti were in bloom and I got a couple of good shots on the new camera. Still, if anyone tries to convince you that your trip to Vegas won't be complete without a stop at Ethel M's, laugh in their face and save your money! The General and I bought some left over Easter candy, which admittedly was damned good, but we wouldn't have missed out on anything had that part of the tour been skipped.

As soon as we got back, we took a brief nap, and then freshened up and headed to Caesar's Palace to see Celine! Unlike Barry, Celine has restrictions about what can go into her theater, so I had to check in my backpack. We were spared the indignity of the metal detectors, courtesy of the General's white cane, and we got to be seated before anyone else was! The show was spectacular. It was choreographed by one of the Cirque du Soleil guys and it was very ethereal and visually stunning. And Celine was magnificent. I about cried through the whole thing and the General even shed a few tears. When we left the theater, one of the ushers noticed the white cane ("don't leave home without it!") and went and got the backpack for us out of the coat check. Before most people left the theater, we were in a cab heading back to the hotel! It was AWESOME!

Monday was another day of sightseeing in Las Vegas itself, and we got new bus passes and headed down the strip. I wanted to take a gondola ride at the Venetian, but unfortunately the day was extremely windy and they were docked. So we went inside the Venetian and saw the gondolas on the grand canal indoors. It was one incredible shopping experience. You feel like you're outside, you can't even believe you're indoors when you're at the canal. It became my favorite place the minute we walked in. I've had a dream of going to Italy ever since seeing "While You Were Sleeping" and this really cemented it.

We also checked out Treasure Island while we were there and the gigantic Siegfried and Roy gold statue with a big lion head. Some woman tried to put her head in the lion's mouth while we were standing there and almost got her head stuck, which was hilarious.

Then we got back on the bus and went down to the Bellagio to see the fountain show, but sadly, that was also off due to the wind!! Fortunately we had seen the fountains when we were at Caesar's picking up the tickets for Celine early on in our trip, but I would have liked to have seen them for longer. We went inside the Bellagio, however, and it trumped the Venetian. I told the General we're going to work towards a goal of actually staying in one of those 3 hotels, because the Venetian, Bellagio, and Caesar's are all too beautiful for words.

We wanted to have a relaxing afternoon so we went back to Circus Circus and did some reading and I wrote out my postcards to send to our parents and assorted relatives. And then it was time to head to the Rio to see Penn and Teller. I had wrongly assumed that the box office for Penn and Teller would be open like the box offices for the other shows, and had also wrongly assumed that there were no assigned seats, that it was first come, first served. So I got there at about 5pm. And the box office didn't open until 7pm. Oops. But I looked around the Rio a little bit and then happily found a Starbucks and had a chai and a fruit tart and finished my book. It was nice to have a quiet corner to curl up and relax after the "go go go" of the previous few days and if we go again to Las Vegas, I will certainly do the same.

So, Penn and Teller were AMAZING as well. They put on a great show and did some amazing illusions, including the one for which they were famous on "The West Wing" in which they burn the American flag inside the Bill of Rights in an instant. After that trick, the two of them took off down the aisles and as we exited the theater, they were standing in the lobby to sign autographs and take pictures. So that was a lot of fun... And then I headed back to the hotel, since we had another early morning for our last big day in Las Vegas!

Tuesday was our big rafting and Hummer trip. The raft trip was first and we went on down to the Hacienda casino near Boulder City (gambling is illegal IN Boulder City, but it was near there). They gave us some cool little lunch coolers and took us by van to the base of the Hoover Dam where we got onto a large pontoon raft and motored through the Black Canyon, which our tour guide Jerry called "The Grand Canyon's bastard stepbrother". heh The scenery was gorgeous. We went down an 11 mile stretch and saw plenty of wildlife including bighorn sheep, falcons, coromorants, lizards, fish, ducks, etc. We stopped halfway at a little beach in Arizona to eat lunch, so I can officially say I was in Arizona since I ate a meal there! A few more miles down the Colorado River, Jerry pulled the raft over and told us it would be a good place to go wading since it was starting to get kind of warm in the Canyon in the sun. So I got out and stuck my feet in the water and man was it COLD!!! Jerry then laughingly told us the water was 54 degrees at the moment. It was sure refreshing, though... I took a little walk along the shoreline and found some fool's gold, which I brought back with me, and which I thought was pretty neat. Then we arrived at Willow Beach and boarded a van. Most people were on a large tour bus, but since we had to go back to the Hacienda to get the Hummer tour, we were in a van. Then the tour bus started leaking and it appeared the radiator on it was shot. Fortunately it made it back to the Hacienda, where we were quite late for the Hummer tour, and I think the tour guide was a bit nervous about it. But we found him and it turned out that Michael and I were the only 2 on the "Rebel Adventure Tour" and so we hopped into the hummer and were off.

The Hummer ride was a helluva hoot. I felt mildly ecologically irresponsible (which my father attempted to poo poo by pointing out that "the Indians and buffalo never worried about tromping around on the sand, kid."), but it was a beautiful, beautiful tour. We went to Rainbow Gardens, an area with a large fault line that pushed up different layers of rock, which are all different colors, creating a "rainbow". Some of the rock was 60+ billion years old. We also got to see Lava Butte, a now extinct volcano.

The tour guide was, in my opinion, just waiting for someone like me and the General to come along so he could ham it up in that Hummer, because our 2 hour tour stretched nearly 4 hours. We were flying out of our seats, screaming across the desert. It was so much freakin' fun. At one point, the guide wanted to go through a narrow area and put the Hummer up the side of a steep incline. Michael and I were sharing a seat in the back, and he was a good four feet higher in the air than I was. It was an absolute blast. The guide was a New Yorker like me, so that made it even more fun. He gave us some great ideas for our next trip to Las Vegas, since we were leaving in the morning.

When the tour was over and we got back to Circus Circus, it was evening and we had to eat, pack, and get ready to leave early for the airport. Again, the cab ride was the right choice for us in the morning, since we zipped straight out to the airport, got dropped right at the curb in front of United, and were in and through security in under 30 minutes, which was a miracle.

We learned a lot out there. Number one, you can walk many places, but you can't walk the entire strip. But you don't need a car. In fact, I think a car would have been a real pain in the butt. The bus was efficient and cheap at $5 for a 24 hour period--not just the day you bought it, but you have a full 24 hours to use your pass.

Additionally, everyone out there expects a tip. They basically work for tips. It's kind of like being on a cruise. So bring cash for tips. We tipped the guys who got us the taxis, we tipped buffet servers, tour guides, bus drivers, you name it, they wanted tips.

For us, the Strip was nice for a few hours, but the shows and tours of the outlying areas really did it for us. We didn't regret a single penny spent on a tour or a show. Not only did we get to see our destinations, but we got to learn a lot about the areas around Las Vegas and see how gorgeous the landscape there was.

You really can do Las Vegas pretty cheap. We didn't eat anywhere too fancy, we didn't gamble a lot of money away, so it was a good, cheap vacation for us. I can see where people get carried away out there, but we didn't and we even managed to bring back souvenirs for a few people and didn't break the bank on those either.

We saved things to do for "next time" and are already thinking about a return trip. Isn't that half the fun?

I'm so glad we went, I'm so sorry it's over. We absolutely loved every minute of our time there and I was glad we had some downtime to relax as well as all the time we spent on the go. Go to Vegas!!! You'll be glad you did!