Thursday, August 31, 2006

Smelling the Roses

A couple of Saturdays ago, I was in Chicago and went with my sister, brother-in-law and 17 month-old nephew to the Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar in Skokie for an early dinner. Anyone who has been to this place in the middle of the day knows that it is a loud place - and that the wings are really good. There are televisions mounted everywhere and the place resembles a sports bar more than a restaurant. The place was loud enough that I practically had to read my sister's lips when she spoke to me from the seat to my left.

That being said, looking around at the other diners that afternoon, I couldn't help but notice the number of children at this place with their parents. For me, this is very odd. My husband and I do not have any children and usually, when we go to dinner, there are no children in the restaurant at which we are dining. I actually thought that it was very nice that all of these people brought their families out for dinner and didn't keep them at home every night. I even commented to my sister and brother-in-law when we were seated that I thought that there were a lot of little kids at the restaurant. My sister remarked that it was because it was a loud place and that the kids' random noises wouldn't draw too much attention. All of the tables but one in our section had small children at them.

The place was generally filled with people in good moods, just out to catch dinner with their families. Upon our entry, as I was checking out the other diners' tables while the others were getting my nephew situated, I couldn't help but notice that the table directly behind me wasn't as happy a table as all of the others. There were two small children at the table, each about under the age of 6. The mother was at the far end of the table, facing in my direction and the father had his back to me. All I know was that they were having a disagreement at that table in front of their children and the tones were uncomfortable. She looked upset with him. I don't know what she was saying, because it was so loud in there, but her gestures and posture led me to think that she was telling him off in front of the kids. I averted my eyes from that table VERY quickly, hoping that they hadn't noticed that I had. For most of the rest of that meal, my attention was devoted solely to my family and the food.

Toward the end of our meal, I think my nephew started to get a little restless in his chair. Who can blame the kid? He's 17 months old and he was finished with his meal but yet was strapped to a chair. For some unknown reason, he decided to let out a scream. I guess the whole screaming thing had just started that week with him. Frankly, I thought that his screaming pretty much blended in with the cacophony in that place. The place was just that loud. My sister and brother-in-law tried to get him to pipe down. He let out another scream. I thought it was kind of cute -- it was kind of amusing really. The kid discovered his pipes and wanted to use them at that moment, while his parents were trying to settle him down. Every kid I know has gone through this. I was sure that my nephew couldn't see me as there was a tall condiment tray in between us, and I started to laugh. When he let out the next scream, I laughed even harder because it sounded like a squeal of delight. The people at the table behind my brother-in-law thought that it was cute and were giggling and watching him. The waitstaff seemed to think it was cute as well. A couple of them had told us that they had toddlers at home. My nephew probably let out four or five of these outbursts in a row. From my vantage point, all I saw were my sister and brother-in-law trying to get my nephew to quiet down and waitstaff and people at other tables either not noticing at all or oohing and aahing at what a funny little toddler we had at our table.

Then, the man at the table behind me who had been arguing in front of his children turned around and said to me in an angry tone, "You DO realize that you have to make her stop doing that instead of laughing about it." I looked over my shoulder at him and realized what a pathetic man he really was. His family looked miserable there. I had previously only seen his back, and when faced with his front, felt a tad revolted. He was so rigid and angry and yet was so nerdy-looking. All I said back to him in that moment was, "Yeah -- I feel sorry for your kids." He turned around and said nothing more to us. I really wanted to lay into him but I wasn't about to do that in front of his kids. I guess I had more respect for his children than either he or his wife did. I don't really feel the need to put unhappy people down because they're already there.

My nephew screamed a couple more times - and I laughed when he did - and then his parents were able to settle him down. Suddenly, my nephew was a minor celebrity with the neighboring tables. A couple of folks stopped by on their way out and said a very friendly goodbye to him. A passing woman had asked his age and said "hello." The angry man and his family left the restaurant about ten minutes after the screaming had ended. They were eating their dinners when we had arrived at the restaurant, so I know that they weren't leaving on our account. His kids stopped a few feet from our table and just stared. They didn't glare - they blankly stared. I didn't see any emotion in his kids at all -- they weren't happy, they weren't sad, they weren't angry -- the kids were in a fog. Just then, I was very glad that I hadn't given their father a piece of my mind. His kids had been through enough at dinner.

The whole thing still bothers me when I think about it even though it was weeks ago. I think it bothers me because I didn't get to tell that man exactly what I thought of him. Aside from the obvious verbal barrage starting with "No but I DO realize that you are an a**hole" and "who do you think you are to tell me what I HAVE to do," I wanted to shake him and tell him that he and his wife were jerks for arguing in front of their kids in public or in private. Then I wanted to tell him that I felt sorry for his kids because he obviously didn't take the time to enjoy all of the moments of their short childhoods and must run his home like a military operation. Why shouldn't I laugh when my nephew does something that is funny? We weren't at church or at a five-star restaurant. We were at a loud restaurant/bar with lots of other loud kids dining there. Nobody else there seemed too upset by the episode. I imagine that if one of his kids did something like that, he'd probably be terse with them or threaten them rather than try to reason with them. I would tell him that I felt very sorry for him because he obviously is not enjoying his life and the things that should be good in it. It seemed as though the merriment coming from our table was too much for the man at the unhappy, tension-filled table and that is why he said anything at all. He should know that not everyone has to be as serious and unhappy as he and his family are. If he was trying to bring us down or make me enjoy the scene less, my subsequent laughter had to have told him that he failed in that. If folks just tried to appreciate the small things that happen every day, rather than cruise through every day looking toward the end, they'd probably be happier. Lastly, I wanted to inform the angry man that my nephew is a HE and not a SHE -- Though, unlike the angry man, my nephew has hair, he is, in fact a boy -- Some guys have hair, you know. (I know that last bit was just mean - but it felt good.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Help! I am Addicted to MySpace!

What started out as a harmless foray into what I incorrectly thought was a bed of teenage angst, party invitations and sexual overtures, has become a minor addiction. I have become addicted to - the social networking site.

My sister and her husband and some of their friends signed up at myspace and she asked me to join as well as it would be "fun." The service is free to anyone that wants to join. I checked out her profile there as well as the profiles of some of her friends and I had to admit, that the profiles were, in fact, pretty entertaining. She almost had me sold on the idea. I then browsed for other people within 5 miles of my zip code who were between the ages of 30 and 40 and was presented with 2,065 profiles -- and I live in a sparsely populated suburb. When I ran the search with the zip code from my previous apartment in Boston, I was presented with 3,000 profiles -- the search feature caps out at 3,000. So much for being for teenagers. Then I heard that the director, Kevin Smith, was addicted to myspace and that he had over 50,000 friends on the site (these days, that number is closer to 96,000 friends). One night, I heard him on late-night television saying that for fun these days, he sits at his computer and hangs out on myspace. Now, for me, that was quite the endorsement, as I admire Kevin Smith and his work. He and I are the same age and I happen to like a lot of the same things that he seems to enjoy. My husband and I already spend a lot of time in front of our computers for our entertainment. Why not add an additional source of entertainment to the mix?

I was pretty convinced that it would be an interesting endeavor at the very least. My husband and I got ourselves hooked up at the site and promptly put up our profiles.

People put up a bunch of information about themselves on their profiles - occupation, education, location, likes, dislikes, sometimes pictures, polls, etc. - and then they link their profiles to the profiles of their friends. Once friends with someone, you can leave notes and make comments in a section of their profile specifically reserved for just that. There is even a place there for members to post blog entries on their profiles (which I don't use because I blog here instead). There are also several groups that people can join with full discussion boards as well as an email feature within myspace. The site can send emails to an outside email address whenever someone posts to your profile, wants to be your friend or sends you a message so you know when you should check in. You can send bulletins that go to all of your friends on the site at once so party invitations and other information is quickly disseminated. It's a neat little package of services - and, though it isn't very well done - the interface is a tad clumsy and the servers aren't the greatest - the size of the community makes it appealing.

Some people use sites like myspace for finding prospective dates. Some people use myspace for keeping in touch with friends in different parts of the world. Musicians, comedians, DJs and actors use myspace to interact with their fan bases. We, like many others, use it to swap amusing or shocking photos or animations with one another. We also use it to read the profiles of the many other denizens of the myspace community that have made their profiles public for anyone to see. I like reading other people's profiles and reading the comments that other people have left for them. There are profiles on myspace of people who I would probably never meet in a lifetime in person: People who live in places that I don't visit much and who are in professions or social circles with which I have no contact. It's interesting to see what they are into and what their friends are into. I like finding funny or shocking things to post on my friends' profiles. It's a lesson in sociology at your fingertips.

Now that we've had myspace profiles for about a month, I find that I too have become somewhat addicted. I find myself browsing the profiles of people who live in my neighborhood and in other neighborhoods in which I have lived. I have run searches on my graduating classes from high school and college to see who shows up. It's all pretty interesting. I'm a real party-pooper though with my need for anonymity (see my previous post "The Fear of Being Me") - nobody from any of my schools would find me by running a search - and if they did, they wouldn't know who I was as I have no pictures of myself on my profile. Oh well. The entertainment value of the site is high.

Even our dog has gotten into the act. I noticed that some profiles on myspace were those of dogs and that other dogs were their friends. Some of these dogs had hundreds and hundreds of friends. Granted, my dog sits on my lap a lot when I sit at the computer, but cyber friends are not something that I think she grasps too well. I threw up a profile for her anyway just to see why other dog owners bothered. I joined a couple of dachshund groups and invited a few other dachshunds that seemed to get a lot of traffic at their profiles (and who looked like good doggie citizens) to be her friends and then posted a cute picture of my dog in their comment section with a "thank you" for being her friend. It's been under a month and she has 57 friends -- with not a lot of effort on my part. People stumble onto her profile when looking at others and then if they like her, will invite her to become a friend. Once that happens, I post her thank you and picture on their profile and the cycle repeats. It's pretty amusing actually. The other dogs have pretty cool profiles. Some have full slideshows of themselves and their assorted real life friends and family. There is pretty good advice to be had in some of the groups from other dog owners as well. The other dogs and their owners are a pretty friendly lot, actually, and send nice little messages like "Have a Nice Week" regularly. I think our dog will keep her own profile on myspace. She has a happy little profile when you're in the mood for that.

Unlike my dog, I do not have many friends. I either personally know the people that are my friends or they are bands or celebrities like Kevin Smith (But of course I am one of the 96,000 and growing!) Very few of my friends in real life have myspace accounts yet and I don't think that many of them ever plan on having one. They seem to either think that it is for teenagers like I did or they think that it is just garbage and people trying to get dates. When I tell someone that I have a profile on myspace, I get strange looks and they don't ask much about it. That's all fine. More friends on myspace will just make the addiction worse.

It's not a bad site. It's actually a lot of fun -- and unfortunately, I have been spending a lot of time perusing its pages lately. I can think of worse things to do -- but I can also think of better things to do. I am trying to slowly break the need to peruse myspace or look for funny stuff to put on someone's profile. It's only been a month, and I feel as though I have been sucked in. I feel addicted because I feel the need to check my profile daily to see if anyone put anything funny on it -- but then I get caught up looking at other people's profiles. Once you sit down to look at people's profiles, hours can pass and you will not have noticed. Others can let the comments go for weeks before checking. My goal is to not feel the need to look at it more than once a week. That seems like a healthy goal. It is definitely much more entertaining than TV these days though. OK, well maybe twice a week. We'll see...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Mexican Flag Flying at a US Post Office ?!?

This is not what I usually write about, but this story really touched a nerve. I was cruising through cyberspace and ran across Michelle Malkin's post entitled "Hoisting the Mexican Flag at a US Post Office." Apparently, over the weekend, Illegal Immigrant Activists went on over to the Maywood, California post office and hoisted the Mexican Flag while chanting Anti-American epithets. Now Maywood is a supposed "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants and a group called "Save our State" was protesting in front of the city hall there. The Illegal Immigrant Activists showed up to counter that protest, and apparently, that is when the Mexican flag was hoisted up on the flagpole over at the US Post Office. (Also see the Terry Anderson Show for an account).

I was born and raised in the United States, but both of my parents, and most of the older generation of my family here in the United States, immigrated to this country from the Philippines. Most of them immigrated in the 60's and early 70's, but there are still members of my family - doctors, nurses and engineers - that have their resident visas and are awaiting the day that they are made American citizens. My family immigrated to the United States LEGALLY. It was a long process and it took years for them to gain citizenship and all of the rights and privileges that accompany citizenship. My family cherishes their US citizenship and I am very grateful that they came to this country and made it their home.

As someone who has watched other family members legally go through the process of US immigration and as the child of immigrants, I have a definite understanding of why people want to immigrate to the US and of the difficulties surrounding the process. That being said, I have a very hard time justifying the tolerance of the large numbers of illegal immigrants in the United States today. The key word here is ILLEGAL.

I think Immigration to the US is a wonderful thing as that is how our country was born and that is how our country has thrived. Some of the greatest minds and souls that have graced our shores have been those of immigrants. However, there is a process in place and there are rules that need to be upheld in order for one to become a legal resident and eventually a citizen of the US. As a citizen of the United States, I do not think that I really want people who come here and wave their middle finger at our LAWS by trying to bypass them to have the same rights and privileges that legal residents and US citizens enjoy. The Illegals have come here to the US, broken our laws, and want us to treat them well, educate their children for free, provide health care and not be upset at them for their blatant disrespect of our country's right to enforce our borders. Excuse me? If I drive 10 miles over the speed limit, I am subject to a nasty speeding ticket. These people have broken much bigger laws of the federal variety, and it has become politically unpopular to speak against them and call for deportation or stricter border control. They don't even get a slap on the wrist. They are criminals. Why would we want to give criminals citizenship anyway? They're obviously not law-abiding -- we should be showing them the door or treating them like the Illegal Aliens that they are. Instead, we have rolled out the red carpet for them. This is hard to stomach.

I am seriously tired of hearing the excuse that they do the jobs that Americans "won't do." Are you kidding me? We're not just talking about the day laborers on the farms in California. There are WAY more illegal immigrants in this country that are NOT working on the farms than those that are. That picture of the migrant worker picking tomatoes is exactly what the activists who want to protect and empower illegal immigrants in this country want the general public to keep in their heads. But in reality, we are not just talking about jobs in agriculture. We're talking about nannies and housemaids and cashiers and painters and carpenters and plumbers and waitresses and home health care workers and cooks and other people in lots of other occupations that US citizens would be more than willing to fill. (Granted, in some cases, their employers may not want to cough up the additional money to hire a US citizen, but that's for another story.) Look around. They're in plain view every day - they're not hiding. With the current unemployment situation in this country and all of the citizens of this country who are homeless and in need of assistance, wouldn't you think that it would be in the best interests of this country to ensure that those jobs go to its citizens and not to illegal immigrants? Shouldn't the folks that can't find work be the ones that don't have a legal right to work here? Common sense dictates that higher employment of citizens leads to lower welfare, Medicaid and unemployment costs for our government. It leads to higher tax revenue which, in turn, helps drive the economy further and should lead to even more jobs.

In addition, the Illegals are seriously draining the resources that we have in place for legal residents and US citizens. Look at California (where the Mexican flag raising incident took place). What a disaster that state has become. People who pay taxes and who are here legally have the right to the services that the country, state and local governments provide. Do you honestly think that the quality of services that the law-abiding California taxpayer receives isn't seriously diluted by the effect of the Illegals? It's ridiculous. Legal workers actually pay taxes to this country. Illegals, for obvious reasons, do not. Have you looked at how much of your paycheck gets taken away for taxes recently? And for all of that money that you fork over to the government, what do you expect in return? I expect that the laws of my country are properly enforced and that our sovereign borders are upheld and protected.

I am SO sick of the politicians who have come out and tried to say that stricter border control is not the answer and who go on pandering to the relatives of the Illegals for votes. Take Senator Ted Kennedy from my state of Massachusetts for example. Does the man have any clue of what is going on in this country? Seems to me that Senator Kennedy has muddied the waters between "Illegal Immigration" and "Immigration" in his speeches so that he doesn't cast the Illegals in such a negative light. There is a HUGE difference. He thinks the "Immigrants" walk around waving the American flag, celebrating America. I guess he doesn't get out much. Guess he didn't see the March incident in at Montebello High in California where Old Glory was hoisted upside down BELOW the Mexican flag. Guess he wasn't listening to what the people at those protests last spring were actually saying. They don't want to blend in with the rest of the populace of the United States. They want to take it over.

Why are we inviting the elements of civil unrest and potential class war into our country? Why are we weakening our economy by allowing the current practices to continue and to grow?? Why are we showing such disrespect to those legal residents of the United States who are actually following our laws and waiting years to gain citizenship? Why are we short changing ourselves and our fellow countrymen? We deserve the services for which WE pay and we deserve to have our borders protected. Why do we tolerate and give care to people who thumb their noses at our laws?? There are legal limits governing immigration that were put in place to protect our country and its citizens - we need to protect our security and our economy. If we can't adequately protect our security or our economy, our country is doomed.

If you're here without a legal visa, thank you for your visit -- now GO HOME! We are the United States of America and if you want to live here as a resident or citizen, respect and follow our laws and GET IN LINE!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Good Thing I Didn't Get a Crewcut

A long time ago, I told my husband a true story about my aunt and uncle. I was trying to give him background on them and their relationship because he was new to my family at the time and wasn't familiar with everyone yet. When my aunt and uncle met, my aunt had very long straight black hair that went all the way down to the middle of her back. It was very pretty hair and my uncle really loved it. He actually made no secret of the fact that he really loved her hair. One day, after they were married, she went downtown to see her hairdresser and came home with curly hair that barely touched her shoulders. My uncle wasn't happy about it, but I think he must have thought that it was temporary and that she would grow her hair back again one day. I think everybody did. She actually ended up wearing her hair like that for a few years. Then one day, when she came home from her hairdresser, she appeared with a man's military hair cut. It looked good on her, but I couldn't help but feel terribly for my uncle who had to have missed the long locks. Part of me thought that she cut it to spite him for some unknown reason. You could tell that he wasn't really pleased with the decision to cut it all off. She has worn her hair in that military fashion ever since then -- it's had to have been over two decades now that she's had that hair style.

I have always had long straight hair (other than when I was a baby and had to grow out the baby fuzz and back in the mid-80's when I got the ill-advised spiral perm at Vidal Sassoon). At times it's been as short as shoulder-length (when I was working and had to look respectable), but most of the time, it stays long enough to reach the bottom of my shoulderblades. I always joke that I can't have a short hair style as my ears stick out too much and I'd look too much like an elf or a gremlin. I know that my husband likes my hair the way that I keep it and it's actually important to me that he's as happy with my appearance as I am.

I didn't realize just how closely my husband had been paying attention to me back when I told him that story about my aunt and uncle. I think I told him that story ten years ago. The other day as he and I were sitting in our family room he said with a smile, "I love you because you keep your hair long because you know that I like it that way."

Friday, August 25, 2006


Last night, we were watching part of the pre-season game between the Miami Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers. We were also actually hoping to see the halftime commentary on other NFL players that were not involved in that specific game because fantasy football drafts are coming up soon. I really enjoy football -- both college and pro -- and I think that I always have. While we were watching the game, my husband turned to me and, in his best impersonation of Hank Williams, Jr. said, "I love you because you're ready for some football!"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Reason - Ay Carramba

Our TiVo recorded National Geographic's Most Daring Moments the other day and my husband and I watched part of it before determining that there wasn't a lot of truly "daring" stuff going on. One of the items featured showed a the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona and the major beating that a man took as he was overcome by one of the said bulls. As a lead-in, the show had clips of bullfights. I have never understood where the entertainment value lies in bullfighting. I'm not a PETA-lover, but I do think that bullfighting is unnecessarily cruel to the bulls. I understand that it is culturally significant in some parts of the world -- I am just glad that that isn't the case in my country.

I tend to look away from the television when something that I find objectionable is on the screen. Unfortunately for my husband, I also tend to say silly things to him while I am looking away (as I am usually looking right at him). That night, I decided to ask him for a reason since I hadn't heard one for a few days. What I got was the following: "I love you because you don't like the whole bullfighting thing."

I felt a little short-changed at the moment because it sounded like a lame reason to love someone. He countered by telling me that the fact that I don't approve of bullfighting says a lot about my underlying character. I'll buy that for a peso.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Reason and the History Channel

The other night, we noticed that our TiVo recorded a show from the History Channel called, UFOs in the Bible. My interest was piqued and my husband and I started to watch it as his was as well. I always have found shows like this one to be compelling even though a lot of people would probably not give it the time of day. I find UFO shows to be generally entertaining (though I honestly think most UFOs are man-made or natural phenomena) and the Catholic school girl in me is always happy to watch someone throw a new spin on Bible translation (the nuns didn't do a very good job with me). People make their cases and sometimes they're plausible and sometimes, you have to wonder where the show producers found the so-called expert. My husband finds these shows entertaining as well. Hence, my reason for the day: "You like to watch shows with names like UFOs in the Bible."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Security Please

While in Las Vegas last Saturday, my husband and I went to the Mirage Casino to see Jay Leno's live show. It was a 10:30 pm show and the casino was totally packed. In addition to the usual gamblers and diners, there were people leaving the early Cirque du Soleil and Danny Gans shows as well as people arriving for the later Cirque du Soleil show and Jay Leno. We had pretty good seats right in the middle of the theater. As we sat there before the show, I noticed that there was a single empty seat between the woman to my right and me. A minute after that a young man of about 15 years of age and of potentially Middle Eastern descent showed up to occupy that seat. He was wearing a black DC hat and sneakers and long baggy black shorts that made his crotch appear to be much closer to his knees than nature had intended. He also had a medium-sized black backpack which he set down between his feet. I really wouldn't have thought that anything strange was going on with him except that he acted very nervously and fidgeted a lot with the backpack and his hat. He didn't look comfortable at all.

It was then that I realized that the security in place at those casinos was insufficient to meet our current needs. The eyes in the skies in those places weren't going to protect against a kid with a bomb in his backpack. Neither were the two air-headed women that checked tickets - they could barely handle line management.

I knew that the odds were stacked in favor of him just being a kid that wanted to see Jay Leno's show. That didn't comfort me much at the time, however. He kept fidgeting. The lady on his right was oblivious to anything and everything besides the color of her date's eyes. I decided that I would engage in small talk with him and that afterward I could make a better assessment of the situation. Turned out the kid was in Vegas with his family and opted to see Leno while the rest of his family saw Lance Burton. Seemed like a perfectly normal kid from San Diego County. I joked around with him for a while and he settled down. He was actually a pretty nice kid. Part of me felt bad for even suspecting that something sinister was going on with him. But most of me was glad that I did and that I did something about it. That's what I would expect of anyone else in my position.

I have traveled to other countries in which security is stationed at every entrance of the large hotels and shopping malls. They screen everyone that walks in the door and place all bags through X-Ray machines. A lot of checkpoints had K-9 units as well. I've been to places that stationed armed guards at the entrances to fast food restaurants. Can you imagine an armed guard at every door of your local McDonald's or Starbuck's? There are places on this planet where that is standard practice. In those places, however, labor is not very expensive. We can't say that about our country. I, for one, wouldn't want armed guards everywhere in the USA anyway. We live in a free society and not a quasi-police state. However, I think that for large hotels, casinos, shopping malls and other large gatherings like concerts and plays, the case is easily made in this day and age for enhanced security. I can definitely say that I slept easier in my bed at the Shangri-La Hotel in Manila where you are greeted by a security checkpoint at the entrance than I did that Saturday night in my bed at the Wynn.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My Reason in Metaphor

He said, "I love you because you are my own personal ocean."

Now I could take that badly if I didn't know exactly what he meant. I could have thought he meant I was huge and engulfing. Or salty and tumultuous. Oceans are good for him though. Oceans give him a sense of calm and relaxation - and given the opportunity - he would always choose to be near one.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pack Your Patience - Leave the Liquids at Home

Last Thursday morning, my husband and I headed to Boston's Logan Airport for a short trip to Las Vegas. What we encountered at the airport was unexpected and somewhat surreal. We arrived at the airport at 6 am for a 7:40 am flight. We would normally arrive only an hour prior to flight departure as we never check bags and have status on American Airlines that allows us to bypass the long security lines and get through security relatively quickly. On Thursday, we were flying America West, as they run the only non-stop flights from Boston to Las Vegas. As a result, we added time in our schedule for longer check-in lines and longer security lines. By now, everyone knows what happened in London overnight last Wednesday. At 6 am on Thursday, we were about to find out.

The security line was longer than we had ever previously encountered. When we checked in, the ticket agent warned us that no liquids, creams or gels would be allowed in carry-on baggage as a result of the events that took place in London overnight. If we wanted to transport liquids, creams or gels, we would have to check our bag. As I believe that a checked bag is almost as good as a lost bag, we decided to chuck the liquids, creams and gels rather than check a bag. We could replace whatever we needed on the other side. As we had uncharacteristically not tuned in to the news prior to leaving our house at 5:30 am, we were unprepared and were hungry for information about what exactly had transpired overnight. We got in the long security line and as my husband held our place and used his Blackberry to find the latest news, I headed over to the trash can with one of our bags and started throwing out every liquid or gel that we had in it.

Luckily, I had our toiletries consolidated in one of the bags and the offending items were very easy to locate. Several other people were doing exactly the same thing and we had a kind of "parting ceremony" with our stuff. Everyone seemed to be very good-natured about the entire situation. It was a little after six in the morning and we're standing around a garbage can at Logan Airport tossing out things that we find generally innocuous. You don't realize how many liquids and gels you lug around until you're forced to toss them out. I personally tossed the following items: Kiehl's Facial Fuel, Shaving Cream, Mouthwash, Toothpaste, Hairspray, Contact Lens drops, Eye drops, Pevonia Moisturizer and Eye Cream, Caudalie Grape Seed Water and Facial Cleanser, Sunscreen, Chanel Perfume, Lip Gloss and Lip Stick. The others around me were tossing similar items. Other items that ended up in the garbage included bottles of champagne and wine, Pepto-Bismol, Liquid Makeup, Mascara, After Shave... the garbage cans were filling up quickly.

If the airline security situation wasn't so serious, a lot of those people at the airport would have been pretty unhappy. We were tossing hundreds of dollars of perfectly good stuff into the garbage and were waiting in what seemed to be an endless security line. All of the flights were obviously delayed and everyone would be arriving late to their destinations. The passengers at the airport that morning with us all seemed to understand the situation and were compliant. We would do whatever the TSA wanted us to do to ensure the safety of our flights that day. They could hand inspect every piece of carry-on baggage (which they practically did at each boarding gate). They could have made us check all of our baggage, as was the case in the UK. Anything for safety's sake. You can replace anything that you take with you on an airplane besides your life and it seemed that most folks at the airport that day were fully aware of that fact.

I actually view our experience at the airport on Thursday as a positive one. Through the line waiting and liquid/gel purging the passengers that we encountered were patient and good natured. The TSA and the airline personnel were professional and did pretty well by us under the circumstances. There wasn't an empty seat on our flight by the time it left the gate a little over an hour behind schedule - so one can assume that the airline didn't leave any of the passengers behind. There were no commercial aviation fatalities that day in our country. The American flying public and the airlines adapted as well as could be expected to the situation. By Sunday, when we returned from Las Vegas to Boston, the security line in the Las Vegas airport was shorter than the line for Burger King.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Today's Reason

He said, "Your reason for the day is that when I envision my future, you're always in it."

That was sweet, but then he went on to say that technically, the statement wasn't correct because he doesn't actually ever envision "his" future -- he envisions "our" future.

Friday, August 04, 2006

My Scars Are Only Skin Deep

The more I think about all of the dumb things that members of my immediate family have told me in regards to dating and relationships the more thankful I am that I didn’t listen to them.

My parents are naturalized citizens of the U.S. and immigrated to this country from the Philippines in the 1960’s well before I was born. A lot of the bad advice that I received from them and from others in the family is advice that has been repeated through generations of the family. In the culture of the Philippines, I guess the advice wasn’t as stupid as it sounded to my ears. I guess.

One of the things that people in my family are very strange about is scarring. An unsightly blemish of any kind on one’s legs or arms or face is almost equivalent to the kiss of death. A scar of any sort supposedly made one much less desirable to members of the opposite sex – and, mind you, this really only applied to women and scarring. Men in that culture seem to be able to get away with anything (including infidelity – but that’s for another time).

Much to my mother’s dismay, I wasn’t ever a very girly little girl. I refused to wear dresses and liked to run around in jeans. I was constantly getting bruised and banged up and liked to show off my band-aids like badges of accomplishment. I was told then that if I had scars from the cuts and scrapes, I wouldn’t ever find someone to marry me. They said the same thing to me when I got the chicken pox: If I scarred from the scabs, I would be ugly and would not ever get married.

I listened to their warnings and then proceeded to pick off my scabs and throw myself off of the front stairs onto the concrete walkway. I still have the scars on my knees and on my face. The scars have faded over time and became less noticeable as I became an adult. I never really minded them much. I know they bothered my mom. Whenever I would catch her looking at them, she would have a look of disgust pasted on her face.

While packing up from a picnic, a cousin of mine flew into a terrible crying fit when she cut her thigh with a knife end that was poking out of a bag that she had been carrying. The cut was about two inches long and wasn’t wide or deep at all. There was barely any blood coming out of it. She kept repeating that it was going to scar her leg while she bawled. The older women tried to reassure her that if she took care of the wound, it wouldn’t scar badly. If I had listened to my parents, that could have been me sitting there being a stupid drama queen.

During the last summer I spent dating the boring attorney, I flew off of my mountain bike while biking in the woods in Wisconsin. I sliced my elbow up enough to require eight stitches at a hospital. When my mother saw the damage that was done, she said, “At least Tom was with you when you did that.” I gave her a look that told her that her comment required explanation. She then went on to say, “Since he was there with you, he won’t hold it against you.”

Hold it against me?? What kind of stupid thinking is that? My husband and I joke about it from time to time. He'll say I'm lucky that he was able to look past the scar on my elbow. Now, would I have actually wanted to marry someone that couldn't?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Unpackaged Reason of the Day

My husband purchased a MacBook Pro a few months ago to use while traveling for work. Recently, a warranty issue arose regarding the batteries on them. Yesterday, he printed out the information, put it on his desk and said that he would look into it later because he wasn't in the mood to deal with it at the time. He said that we would have to file with Apple because his battery had to be exchanged. Today, I looked into the matter for him while I attended to some other matters on the Internet. I found the relevant serial numbers and discovered that his battery was not one of the batteries that had to be exchanged afterall.

When he got home from work, he picked up the paperwork and said that he was going to deal with it tonight. I told him what I had done and pointed out the serial number information that I had noted for him. I asked him to double check and make sure that I didn't misread the information from Apple. I was pretty sure he didn't have to worry about it.

As he gestured toward the paperwork, he said, "I don't know how to package this properly, but this is your reason for today."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Where Has All the Good Work Gone?

Last week, my husband and I replaced the old, rotting deck that came with our house when we purchased it. Last fall, I hired a contractor that came highly recommended by the owner of our landscaping service. I met with him and he showed me pictures of several other projects that his company completed. He was licensed and bonded and his other work looked solid. We discussed what we wanted for our new deck and he said he understood. When we received his bid for the job, the amount seemed reasonable and in comparison to the other contractors that I had met with, I thought that we would do best with him.

After several delays resulting from our town's permitting process, (including the acquisition of a plot plan and an architectural drawing of the deck), demolition and construction began. In total, it took eight days to demolish the old deck, put down new concrete footings and build the new deck. We paid him 50% of the total last week and have withheld the remainder until job completion.

My husband and I finally got a chance to look at the deck today. Structurally, the deck is solid. The huge disappointment is in the finishes. Our deck is mahogany. It's a beautiful warm color. They used stainless steel nails instead of the rust colored ones that are available on the market. As a result, there are silver lines where the nail heads lie all along the floor of the deck. Instead of placing the holes that they use to secure the railings to the posts on the bottom-side of the rail, they are on the top. So, if you look at the joints, you will clearly see three large holes drilled at an angle -- at every attachment point. They didn't even finish sanding the ends of the wood railings before they installed them. In several places, there are wood spikes hanging out of the railing ends. Even the finishing caps that sit on top of the posts are screwed up. They aren't supposed to have four nail holes in their tops. They are supposed to be secured without being an eyesore. We had them make a gate for the deck so that our dog, (and any small children that visit), won't be able to run down the stairs. The gate they made is very long - instead of being in two pieces with hinges. They secured it with hinges to the entryway -- and the hinges are not going to hold that gate for very long - the gate weighs too much.

What is surprising to me, is not that the workmanship is poor. What is surprising to me is that I expected to not be satisfied with the finished product. While my husband lamented over all of the things that were wrong with the new deck, I couldn't help but think that I wasn't surprised by any of it. It wasn't that we didn't pay a lot for the deck, because we did. I wasn't surprised because I can't remember the last time that I thought that any contractor did a great job. Our landscaper shows up regularly to mow the lawn and supposedly apply fertilizer and weed killer -- but we still get weeds in our lawn. Our painting company is one of the most reputable in the area and while their work is mostly good, the last couple of jobs that I had them do here have had issues that they have had to correct. Our plumbers are slow in getting parts for our projects. Our electrician rushes and sometimes misses things (luckily nothing serious yet). I fired our interior decorator because she was a flake and thought that $5,000 was a reasonable price for a love seat for our family room. Does anyone take real pride in their work anymore?

My expectations for this deck were pretty low. I have to say that the work came in below my expectations. My husband is pretty bummed out. I am not sad that the deck isn't perfect. I'm mostly bothered that my husband isn't at least somewhat satisfied. It's not like we can make them re-do all of the nails or re-do all of the railings. The idea that I half expected this is pretty sad. When you find a contractor that does a good job, you want to hang onto them. Despite their issues, I am keeping my painters, landscaper, plumber and electrician - their work is mostly solid and I guess that's all one can expect these days. The guys that put up our deck are going the way of the interior decorator. I really never want to see them again.