Wednesday, May 28, 2008
This bird cracks me up. I first saw this on "Nature" on PBS. Unfortunately, I can't seem to actually find any info on the show itself, but fortunately, YouTube has just what I was looking for! I don't know why, but I just find this ultimately entertaining. My favorite part is about 1 minute in when he does this little bouncy thing that you can't help but try to emulate yourself, which just leads to you sitting at your desk looking like a giant dork who thinks he looks super cool. Then, you imagine somebody walking by and catching you doing this (or, God forbid, somebody actually does walk by and catch you doing this), and you see yourself through their eyes, and you crack up because you realize you are sitting at your desk be-bopping around like a giant dork. Either way, it's great entertainment.
I was going to insert video of a hippo licking a crocodile here, but YouTube has disabled this feature for this video. So, if you want to watch it, you'll have to go here instead. I'm sure there's some sophisticated way around this, but I am not that sophisticated, so you're just going to have to go visit the site in person. I just think this is funny because A) Baby hippos sort remind me of my Basset hound, and my Basset hound is super cute and B) How indignant it must be to be a crocodile, top of the food chain, master predator, scariest beast on...hey, hey, stop that. Stop chewing on my tail. Stop that! Hey! No, no licking my eyes! I hate that! How humiliating.
My husband likes to dive, and he has a buddy who is a shark fanatic. Whenever they are in the water, they want to go find the sharks. This, of course, scares the bejeezus out of me. While most shark sightings in Hawaii are of the innocuous reef shark kind, tiger sharks have been known to take people out out here. So, I've decided that if they are going to continue to go out looking for sharks, they need to start taking an octopus with them for security.
Of course, they'll need to find like a 1,000-lb octopus, but still.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Okay, so it may seem a bit late to be posting a review of U2's Vertigo Tour concert I went to in December...2006, but this isn't so much a review of the concert itself (you can find plenty of those on line) as of the feeling of perfection that existed for a few brief hours a year-and-a-half ago. Go back in time with me, if you will.
November, 2005: Tickets go on sale for U2's Honolulu show, which is scheduled for April, 2006. Tickets go on sale at 9:00AM, and I am sitting at my computer by 8:45, just waiting for Ticketmaster sales to begin. Anybody who knows me knows that this is impressive. By 9:02 I have my tickets. $55 for general admission!
March, 2006: My husband and I have just made the worst decision of our lives to date and have decided to purchase a Cold Stone Creamery. We are in Arizona for our franchisee training. At this point, we expect to be taking over our store by April 1, and we know things will be crazy, but somehow I will find a way to see U2. It is announced that U2's Honolulu show has been cancelled. They are considering November or December for a reschedule, details to follow.
This is a drag. Not only am I not going to get to go see U2 in April, but now I have to wait until November or December. On the plus side, by November, we will have been in our store for a while, it will be winter, so business will be slower (yes, even in Hawaii), and we will have a better handle on everything. All in all, it should be a much better time to try to take time off for a concert. As time goes by, we hear rumors that the show was cancelled due to an illness in one of the band member's families. While I genuinely hope that this situation improves for the sake of said band member and his family, I can't help but feel that this might not bode well for a reschedule. I'm not proud of this, but there it is.
May 26, 2006: We FINALLY take possession of our store. We have jumped in on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, summer is in high gear, all sorts of new programs are rolling out, we don't know what the hell we're doing, and we're short-staffed. So begins our journey into hell.
July 21, 2006: U2 has announced their new Honolulu tour date of December 9th! Pearl Jam has been added to the ticket as well. Nice. At some point, a second show is added due to popular demand. Meanwhile, we are up to our armpits in alligators trying to get our feet under us in the store.
October, 2006: My little sister and her boyfriend pack up their lives and move out here, from the mainland, to help us with the store. The day they arrive we have to tell them that we may be facing bankruptcy. The store is losing money fast and is secured, in part, by our home. Welcome to Hawaii kids! It's a great place to be homeless!
December, 2006: The only bright spot in my future right now is the U2 concert. I hate the store. I am devoting my life to running a business that will very likely cause us to lose our home. I have dragged my little sister out here and thrown her into a crap situation. I would be better off going into the store every morning, lighting a big pile of money on fire, locking everything back up and going home to relax for the day. At least I wouldn't be incurring food and labor expenses.
December 9, 2006: Come hell or high water, I am going to see U2 tonight! I don't care if I have to close the store and face all kinds of possible fines and trouble from corporate. The store has taken away our will to live; it has taken all the joy out of our day-to-day lives. I cringe every time my phone rings. I'll be damned if it's going to ruin U2 too. This is the one thing that I have had to look forward to for the last year.
Just as I suspected, my shift leader calls in sick for the night. We manage to scramble and bribe one of my other shift leaders to come over and close up the store after she gets off work at her other job. Phew! Crisis averted!
My husband and I are going to the concert with my cousin and her husband. We are worried that parking is going to be horrendous. We have general admission seats, which means on the floor of Aloha Stadium. We are afraid that it is going to be a claustrophobic nightmare. Well, they are worried about these things. I don't care. My main concern is that these things don't ruin it for them because I don't want someone else's bad vibe to ruin my night. I am going to enjoy myself, dammit, and you'd better not put a damper on this for me. I've been looking forward to this FOR OVER A YEAR NOW AND IT'S THE ONLY FORESEEABLE SHOT AT HAPPINESS THAT I CURRENTLY HAVE!
We get there about 3 hours before the concert. Parking's a breeze. Security is no problem. Well, not a big enough problem to ruin our night, anyway. We get beers and sit down at a table by the entrance where we can do some good people watching. We continue sitting and drinking through the opening band. Pearl Jam takes the stage, and we decide we should make our way onto the floor. We steel ourselves for the tight-knit, drunken mass that we know we are about to enter. We make our way to the floor where we have PLENTY OF ROOM. Sure, if you want to fight your way up to try to get by the stage you can, but really, what's the point? I'm pretty sure Bono's not going to pick me to come up on stage with him anyway. We're happy where we are, around the 50-yard line. We can see everything on the giant screens, we have room to move around, and we don't have to go all the way up the field to get back to the bathrooms or the beer.
Pearl Jam put on a great show, but I'm not here to see them. I'm here to see U2. Please tell me that they are, in fact, somewhere backstage.
After Pearl Jam, the stage goes dark in preparation for U2. At this point, I am still not sure that I am going to get to see U2. I'm so used to every bit of happiness I experience being cut short by the store that I'm not going to believe it until it happens. I'm still waiting for some guy to come on stage and say, "I'm sorry, folks, but U2 isn't going to be able to perform tonight. You'll all have to go home now." Then I would have to go home disappointed AND witness some guy getting torn apart by an angry mob.
A ticker starts running across the top of the giant screens showing all of the Vertigo tour dates so far. "#131 Honolulu" rolls across the screen. This is the final show of their tour. It's been a rough road, but they've made it. It's been a long wait, but we've made it. We've all made it! We're all here! Everybody is cheering. And then the opening notes of "City of Blinding Lights" start floating out over the audience and everybody goes insane. I'm jumping up and down cheering, yelling, rejoicing, tears streaming down my face. Oh my God! They're really here! I hear The Edge! He's actually ON STAGE, PLAYING MUSIC! You have no idea how relieved I am at this moment! I didn't want to have to watch a guy get torn apart by an angry mob. This is the first time I've been happy-really, honest-to-God happy-in about 4 months (and it's about the last time I will remember experiencing joy until almost a year later when we sell the store. Thanks, Cold Stone!). This is the best possible way this moment could have gone.
I have the play list from this concert on my iPod, and every time I hear the intro to "City of Blinding Lights" I throw my hands in the air (open palms, wiggly fingers, like jazz-hands, but more relaxed) and cheer (concert cheering, like for The Beatles, not sports cheering. There's a difference). When I am driving I only do it for a second and only when it is safe to do so. Don't tell my mom, she'll have a heart attack.
But I digress. Everything about this concert was perfect. It was just good. I know that sounds a bit anticlimactic after all I've just said, but I mean good as in "good vs. evil" or "all the goodness in the world" type good. The band was amazing, the crowd was happy, the vibe was good. The set was perfect.
U2 has a large body of work, and to pare it down to a concert-sized play list, I absolutely could not have asked for a better set. "City of Blinding Lights" was the perfect way to open the show. I had thought that they might open with something really powerful and high energy like "Vertigo," something to really get the crowd going,and I thought that was exactly what I wanted; but after such a long wait and so much trepidation and being mired down in the mental and emotional exhaustion that we were in, "City" was the perfect opening. It just trickled out over the crowd and said, "Hey. It's all ok. You can relax and have fun now. Now let's do this," and everybody was so ready to take that journey. "Oh, you look so beautiful tonight!" They were singing to us. We were singing to them, and truer words had never been drunkenly sung. It's a deceptively mellow song. Just to listen to it, you wouldn't think of it as being something with which to kick off a concert, but therein lies its beauty. It set the perfect tone. It has such a clarity and simplicity to it, an uplifting, life-affirming feeling that I can't even explain. It starts out quiet and builds to this joyful crescendo that the crowd can't help but become a part of. It allows for a sense of hopefulness, that everything might still be ok. And it was, just like the music had promised. For a few hours in December, everything was ok. Perfect, in fact.
There were 2 songs that I had hoped to hear but wasn't counting on since they are, to my mind at least, a bit obscure as far as U2 tunes go. I got to hear both "Angel of Harlem" and "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses". At the end of the show, Billy Joe Armstrong joined the band on stage for a rocking version of Saints Are Coming. Eddie Vedder and Mick McCready joined U2 for their version of "Rockin' in the Free World."
The whole experience was just good.
Even the porta-potties were good! I kid you not! The majority of the crowd had to trudge all the way back up the aisle and halfway around the stadium to use its permanent facilities, but for a privileged few down on the floor, they had the cleanest most efficiently-attended, easy-to-get-to porta-potties I have ever seen. There were attendants who would hold your drink or your sweater while you were in there. I don't think this was their job, but when all of us drunkenly handed over these items, they were kind enough to hold onto them for us. When we came out, they had wet wipes available for us so that we could "wash" our hands and they handed back our belongings which, due to the generosity of the attendants had not been thrown into a heap on the ground or given away to some other foolish drunk. When even the porta-potty experience is good, you know you have experienced a rare moment of grace!
Anyway, I'd wake up tomorrow to a house full of Hitlers. Alrighty...well, sleep tight everyone! No nightmare-inducing ideas here, no sireee.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Okay, for those of you who would like some semblance of "official" information, Wikipedia says that ghost crabs (which are what we have in Hawaii and which you can see here-they're excellent at camouflage, BTW.), can travel at 10 mph. That's pretty impressive. I can't run 10 mph; well, maybe I could maintain that speed over small bursts of distance like the crabs do, but I certainly wouldn't want to have to do it all day, and I definitely couldn't do it while crab walking (like we used to do in elementary-school gym class-did anybody else have to do this, or was this just some weird little thing our gym teacher made up to amuse herself at our expense?).
In addition to their freaky speed, ghost crabs also possess mad digging skills. They dig themselves holes on the beach, and while they may not be able to out dig a badger, they are still kind of fun to watch (I don't have many hobbies, okay?) They go down into their hole, grab an armful (clawful?) of sand in their big claw, scuttle out to the edge of their hole, and fling the sand out and away from their hole. It's almost graceful, like a ballerina running to the edge of the stage and flinging an armful of rose petals across the stage. Except, you know, scuttley...and with sand instead of roses. And those weird beady eyes bouncing around on top of their heads.
Oh, AND they are really curious. If you flick some little piece of beach debris in their direction, they will scuttle over to it and check it out. They pick it up, move it around, turn it over and just generally inspect it. They also spook pretty easily, so it's a fine line between giving them something interesting to play with and scaring the bejeezus out of them.
I need to get out more, don't I?
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Well, here's a tip. 3 or 4 days later, when you DO finally get around to cleaning out the fridge, and you've smelled the questionable spaghetti and decided that that's not what stinks and have smelled the fuzzy black beans and decided that THAT'S not what stinks and you are staring at the contents of your fridge wondering WHAT IN THE HELL IS THAT??? and you spy the carton of half-and-half that expired on April 11, and as you're reaching for it, you know in your heart of hearts that that's what stinks, there is no need to open it up to confirm that THAT is what stinks. I'm just sayin'.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Pro: It looks cool!
Con: A new one costs around $25,000 (you can pay a lot more, but I don't need all the bells and whistles).
Pro: I could settle for a used model, but nothing before 2005. There was a long, sad period of time where the Mustang went from looking cool to looking like a sensible-mom version of itself. Glad to see they're back on track. I love the classics, but at this point in my life, I am leaning more toward new cars; but if someone were to walk up to me on the street and hand me the keys to a 1965 Mustang Fastback, I wouldn't kick him in the shins.
Pro: I would be able to blow anyone off the line if I wanted to.
Con: The V8 engine is completely wasted on me because 1) I live in Hawaii. There is nowhere to put a V8 to good use where you aren't likely to get killed or arrested, and I'm trying to avoid both of those and 2) I am not likely to take advantage of my ability to blow anyone off the line because I am too much of a grown up and too many people out here would take me up on that challenge and then I'd be in the middle of a race and end up getting arrested or killed, and, as I've already mentioned, I'm trying to avoid both of those scenarios.
Pro: I don't actually HAVE TO engage in this juvenile behaviour, I just like to know that I CAN.
I also want a Toyota Prius. They're cute!
Pro: Saves on gas-good for your wallet AND the environment!
Con: Suspect that battery production issues might cancel out the "green" effects of the low fuel consumption.
Pro: It's cute!
Con: It looks like a hamster, and I like Mustangs. These two are hard to reconcile.
Pro: A new one will run you about $20,000-25,000.
Con: Used ones are hard to find.
My husband is baffled by this. He doesn't understand how I can reconcile my desire to drive a Mustang and also consider the Prius a suitable alternative. I understand this confusion...if only there were a way to marry hot and eco-friendly into one car...I bet it would look something like this, the Tesla Motors Roadster. OMG! I want one of these cars!
Pro: Did you see it?? It's hot!
Con: I could buy a new Mustang GT, a new Prius (Touring Edition!), AND a 1965 Mustang Fastback and it would still be cheaper than a new Tesla Roadster. Crap!
Pro: It's 100% electric.
Con: You have to plug it in. This is lame as hell. I do not want to have to plug my car in when I get home at night. I don't know why, but this bugs the crap out of me. I can barely remember to get gas once a week or so. How am I supposed to remember to plug my car in EVERY NIGHT? For $109,000 maybe they include some sort of reminder service. Like a car butler who will go out every night, plug your car in for you and then remind you that he will be back the following evening to do it again.
On a somewhat unrelated note, while the Tesla Roadster is my current dream car, if someone were to walk up to me on the street and hand me the keys to a Devaux Coupe (or on a more realistic note, an Audi R8 beause, you know, that's much more likely to happen) I wouldn't kick him in the shins.
So, what irreconcilable desires do you have??
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Stop Wasting Time Reading Blogs and Buy Your Mother a Gift! (But not before you finish reading this.)
1) Chocolates that will make her cry. I'm not talking about a box of chocolates that you ran out and bought at Long's Drugs or Walgreens on Saturday night when you stopped to pick up some Aspirin and Cheetos on the way home. I'm talking about organic chocolates made with dark sugar, cane rum and island bananas or how about Equadorian dark chocolate and filled with a mix of plum wine and plum puree? No? Mom needs a little more kick to her chocolates? How about a dark chocolate ganache with Tullamore Dew Whiskey? Oh, now YOU'RE interested. I see how you are. Go ahead and order a box for yourself while you're at it.
I ordered some of these as gifts for Christmas in 2006. I'd never tasted them before, but they sounded wonderful, and I ordered A LOT. I owned a Cold Stone and thought these would make nice gifts for my employees. The day they arrived, I had been in the store for about 9 or 10 hours, hadn't eaten anything all day, and was trying to decide whether to grab something to eat before my hour drive home or not. Instead, I opened up my box of chocolates to inspect everything. Along with my order, Lesley, the owner, had included a little sampler pack. You have no idea how happy this made me! I grabbed those suckers and headed out to my car. I don't remember which flavors she sent me, but I was having a hard time deciding which one to try. Whichever one it was, it was SO GOOD I STARTED CRYING. I know this may not seem very impressive, given my previous disclaimers about how everything makes me cry, but food has never been one of those things. Seriously, they were that good!
Now, it could be that I hadn't eaten anything all day, or it could have been the relief that I hadn't just spent hundreds of dollars on a sub-par product, or it could have been that after being in the store all day, these were the only bit of joy that were available to me, but these chocolates held up. I did include a box for myself in my order, and every time I'd eat one, I'd get a little teary-eyed. Oh, AND they lasted. I can usually devour a box of chocolates all by myself in one or two sittings, but I would eat one or two of these, be totally satisfied, and be able to put them away until the next day because even someone like me can't eat that much goodness all at once.So go visit the Life Is Sweet web site and pick out a nice collection of chocolates for Mom. You can go to their Artisanal Chocolate Flavor List to see descriptions of all the different flavors. There are several different collections available, AND Lesley donates part of her proceeds to support various fabulous charities. Mom will understand if her gift is a little late when she finds out you took the time to order a box of artisan chocolates for her and that in doing so, you made a donation to a good cause on her behalf. It just might make her cry. And if the chocolates don't make her cry, take them away from her and send them to me because, clearly, your mother has no soul and does not deserve chocolates this good. (One disclaimer: If you are ordering close to a holiday, they may be out of certain flavors, so you might not get all of the flavors that are listed in a collection, but Lesley and her crew will do their best to give you a good sampling of what they've got. If you find a particular confection that you are really set on, you might want to call and ask about it's availability. This could actually work in your favor-"Mom, I'm sorry your gift is late, but the hand-crafted organic chocolate collection that I ordered for you is still being made. They were out of the saffron-infused cream and Moroccan mint when I called, and I wanted to make sure those were included in your order.") Can you feel the tears coming to her eyes?
2) Hand-made jewelry. You can go to any Kay Jewelers or Zales and find Mom some diamond-studded ring or pendant that 8,000 other last-minute shoppers will be buying for their mothers too. Not that these aren't lovely, I'm sure, but come on. Get Mom something that doesn't scream out, "Oh @$^*! I forgot to get you something for Mother's Day, so I picked this up at the mall! Sorry about the Cheeto dust on the box."
Have something hand-made or even custom-designed. Julie at Silversmyth creates hand-made jewelry at reasonable prices. She makes these cool little box pendants that would be perfect for Mom. Not only is it a unique piece of jewelry, but there's room inside for a little note or a tiny picture of her kids or grandkids (your mom's kids, not Julie's, although I'm sure her kid's picture would fit in there as well). She also makes earrings, bracelets, rings, and chains, all the stuff you'd expect a jeweler to do. You can order off her web site or call her to discuss an idea for something original. Again, you might not be able to get this by Mother's Day, but if you tell Mom her gift is going to be delayed because the artist is still working on her original design, she'll probably cut you some slack; and if she doesn't, confiscate the gift when it arrives and send it to me because, clearly, your mother has no soul and does not deserve a beautiful piece of custom, hand-made jewelry.
3) Hand-crafted chocolates AND custom jewelry. You might want to reserve this for if you've REALLY screwed up bad recently or if you just have a really great mom and you want to let her know. Awwwwww!
I like these gifts for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I'm actually not big on consumerism (all evidence above to the contrary), but I believe in spending money on quality things that you really like. If you're going to buy chocolates, buy good chocolates and help out a worthy cause while you're at it. If you are going to buy jewelry, buy something thoughtful and unique that the recipient will love for both its beauty and the meaning behind it. Most people I know don't need more stuff. Raise your hand if you know someone who NEEDS another trinket to put on her bookshelf or another "World's Best Mom" coffee mug. Chocolates are consumable and jewelry allows you options-you can wear it or not, and you don't have to figure out what to do with it.
And finally, remember that you don't have to just celebrate YOUR mom on Mother's Day. Stepmoms, friends who are new moms, the mother of your child (AHEM! Guys, pay attention!), grandmas, aunts, or anyone else who has been like a mom to you. I'm not saying that you have to go out and buy stuff for all these people, but at least acknowledge them with a call or a visit to say thanks for being in my life.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Just as I thought, the newly cleaned portion of the carpet was, well, a lot cleaner than the rest of the carpet. So, now my carpet looks like it has some horrible disease. There's just this big streak of light-colored, welty carpet running across the floor. About half-way through the process, my husband came in to see what I was up to, and I asked him which was better, all the black spots or the streak of clean. He said he kind of liked the black spots because that way, whenever he walked into the office, he could pretend he was standing on a hyena. I don't know where he comes up with this stuff.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I recently reconnected with a friend with whom I've been out of touch for several years. For the sake of indulging in my laziness, I am now going to post the pertinent parts of our last few emails:
Me: What’s been going on in your world? Not much new here. Hubby is working like a mad man, and I have been doing the exact opposite!
Long Lost Friend: So you do nothing? How's that work? You always were wanting that sweet deal and to do nothing in Hawaii... it's seems so dirty and wrong! I like that idea! No really what's a day like? Do you love it there?
Me: Dirty and wrong-LOL! I suppose it probably is, but I like it too! How it works is I do a lot of reading and putzing around in my yard with the dogs at my heels. I also watch way more TV than I should, but…whatever. I do my best to keep the kitchen presentable and keep on top of laundry, but other than that, I am still not ever going to win the June Cleaver Housekeeper of the Year award. Hawaii presents a unique set of housekeeping challenges. [Blah, blah, blah]
LLF: What did you do today? I must live vicariously!
Me (The next day): Yesterday was an exciting day. I went and got a new military ID. Woohoo! My old one’s only been expired for a year. I spent all this time doing my hair, makeup, etc. to absolutely no avail. I now have a picture of me looking high that will probably get me stopped at the gate every time I try to go on base for the next 4 years. After that, we went to the commissary, an absolute must out here-$8 for a gallon of milk? No thanks. Then we came home, ate dinner, watched “Sweeny Todd,” read for a little while then went to bed. And…end scene! Whew!
Me: (A few minutes later and in a new email): Sorry, I didn’t do a very good job of helping you live vicariously. Let me try again.
Upon awakening, I had a nice, fresh-brewed cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate cake. Because I can. After leisurely checking email and surfing the ‘net for a while, I spent a good hour or so indulging in my beauty regimen in preparation for my photo op later in the day! Hubby and I then enjoyed a scenic drive along the windward coast of Oahu, taking in the beautiful blue water and the occasional small waves rolling in gently along the shore. After traveling through the majestic Ko’olau Mountain range, we drove onto Hickam Air Force Base. With its palm trees and 1950’s architecture, you could almost picture yourself walking through a picturesque postcard depicting the Hawaiiana of yore. After arriving at our destination, we strolled through the balmy weather to the imposing personnel building where I received my new ID. The black-and-white picture just accentuates that feeling of yesteryear, and I look like I’m having a great time to boot! After that, we visited the commissary, a privilege bestowed upon a select few in this nation! I couldn’t believe the prices! If we had bought all this stuff “on the economy” it would have cost twice as much! After putting away our groceries, we enjoyed a cool beverage and a lovely, home-made dinner (Italian-how worldly!). While we digested our savory meal, we enjoyed the lively but brutal tale of Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, while the tropical trade winds blew gently through our windows, keeping us comfortable throughout the night. After a peaceful night relaxing in front of the television, we retired to our bedroom, where we both read for a little while before falling asleep to the distant, gentle sound of the waves crashing onto the shore a mere 400 yards from our window.
So, you see what I mean? Okay, so I haven't discovered anything the ad men haven't known for years, but still. The two descriptions above really are both completely accurate, it's just a matter of how one chooses to interpret the situation. It's easy to become complacent about where you are in life, and I'm glad that I have people to help remind me to be...uncomplacent (and grammatically correct) now and then.