Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Midterm Results

Apparently Florida wants a different kind of change in 2010 - the results are overwhelmingly Republican. Which I'm okay with - balance is so important. I do get nervous about the Tea Party folks though - they're just another form of extreme and I don't think they would take our country toward the goal of balance.

All that said - here are the results so far. The amendment results aren't for sure yet since not all county's have reported in yet. Governor still isn't in, Scott is in the lead by 3% but I still have my fingers crossed for Sink.

We'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what impact there has been to the balance in Congress overall.

  • Senate REP - Marco Rubio
  • House (24) REP - Sandy Adams
  • Governor Still Unknown
  • Attorney General REP - Pam Bondi
  • CFO REP - Jeff Atwater
  • Agriculture REP - Adam Putname
  • State Rep (38) REP - Bryan Nelson
  • Supreme Court All - Yes to retain
  • District Appeals All - Yes to retain
  • Mayor Orange County Teresa Jacobs (REP but couldn't verify)
  • No 1 : No - 61% Repeal of public campaign financing requirement
  • No 2 : Yes - 78% Homestead ad valorem tax credit for deployed military
  • No 4 : No - 67% Land Use
  • No 5 : Yes - 62% Legistlative redistricting
  • No 6 : Yes - 62% Congressional redistricting
  • No 8 L Null result - 55% yes, but 60% needed Revision of class size for public schools
  • Yes - 72% Balancing the Federal budget
  • Yes - 55% Orange County School Ad Valorem Millage

Here are a few resources for checking the results in your district:
  • Orlando Sentinel
  • MyFlorida.com Election Watcher - this is handy for all elections, you can create an account and add your favorite candidates to receive updates or see a view of just them when you return.
  • Google News - on an election night they put up a nifty gadget that allows you to hover over a map to see the major results in the districts.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Voting for my FL Friends

Mid term elections are next Tuesday and in Central Florida early voting ends next Saturday. I invested quite a bit of time researching the candidates and amendments on the ballot in Central Florida and that I would like to share.

To see a sample ballot for you area go here.

NPR is always a good place to start. They held debates between local candidates on the local broadcast called Intersections. You can look at their archives and listen to those 30 minute debates for your self here. The one between Jacobs and Segal was especially interesting, Kosmas and Adams basically spent their entire debate mudslinging which is always disheartening.

While their name is sill, I found Ballot Pedia to be very helpful. They lay out amendments in lay man's terms, list out what those for and against the amendment say and then try to outline how it will be funded and what impact it might have. I felt like I was getting the straight story instead of looking at extremist websites. They also do something similar for candidates.

An especially interested source was PolitiFacts.com. You can search for a candidate and see all of the commercials related to that candidate with a summary of how true or false the statements are as well as who funded the ad. Its a great resource in trying to sort through all of the mudslinging on TV.

OpenSecret.org is a smart place to check if you're interested in how a candidate is funding their campaign.

Finally, when researching Senate and House Rep candidates I tried to put the facts into a comparison type of spreadsheet (which was challenging since there's no continuity) which I don't mind sharing here. I tried to keep it unbiased where possible.

Finally, I shamefully found myself having to research the differences between the House and Senate to understand the importance of my vote.

Something to keep in mind: An Incumbent (someone who already has the position and is running for re-election) has an 88% chance of keeping their seat.

  • House of Reps is the 1st group to vote on legistalation that will effec the entire nation
  • Fixed total of 435, with number from each state determined by state population
  • Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands each have 1 Representative included in that 435 as well
  • 2 year terms with no term limits (person can continue to run every election)
  • Qualifications: Must be 25 years old, must be US citizen for at least 7 years, must live in the state they want to represent
  • They earn $174,000 per year (plus many benefits)
  • Based on the population, Florida currently has 25 House Representatives
  • I am in the 24th District - which encompasses Orange, Brevard, Seminole and Volusia Counties
  • The House is currently in a Democratic Majority with Nancy Pelosi as the House Leader
  • Due to retirement etc. many incumbents are NOT running for re-election
  • The 2010 Mid Terms have more House seats up for a new candidate than there have been for decades
  • Senate is the 2nd group to vote on legislation that will effect the entire nation (after House)
  • Every state has 2 Senators (regardless of population)
  • Unlike the House, the Senate also has to consent to Cabinet memebers (who the President surrounds himself with), Federal Judges, Amassadors and more so they have more responsibility
  • Qualifications: Must be 30 years old, must be US citizen for at least 9 years, must live in the state they want to represent
  • Serve staggered 6 year term - every two years approx. 1/3 of seats in Senate are up for election with No Term Limits
  • They earn $174,000 per year (plus many benefits)
  • Florida currently has one Republican and one Democratic Senator
  • Incumbent (Democrat Bill Nelson) that would be up for re-election this mid-term is not running again
  • Senate is currently Democratic Majority so this Open Seat election could effect the majority
Don't forget to vote!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Google Confusion

I have never claimed to be a super political person, in fact if you read my limited postings on Politics you will see that I state this frequently. I often find myself getting fired up about politically motivated issues but not having the cause or place to pour my passion into. Lately my soap box has frequently involved Network Neutrality. Yes, I'm still on this.

Today I had the time to read through Google's Public Policy blog in an attempt to better understand their latest announcement regarding a joint proposal with Verizon. To be honest, I'm still not so thrilled with Google and I am still seriously contemplating a breakup - I've already started researching alternative services and ways to migrate my life away from them.

In their post summarizing the proposal Google frequently references how the proposal would require the FCC to do this, or allow the FCC to do that. There is so much that I don't understand (and I mean, really don't understand - as in, if you can help me to better understand this, please comment or email me because I really do want to understand) so I'm going to try to break it down.

  1. Why is the FCC so heavily involved? Network Neutrality is a global, international issue. So much of our current culture as a global community depends on our connection to each other via the Internet. The concept of keeping the Internet an open media requires that ALL governments keep their involvement to a minimum. Now I'm not naive, I understand that the US was the driving force behind the internet. The technological breakthroughs that allowed it to grow so quickly all happened here, many if not most of the main servers and connection points for the internet lie in the US. I also understand that the data that makes up the www travels over pipelines and that ultimately those virtual highways are either owned, maintained or subsidized by the US government. That said, someone from the US Gov't should be involved. However if you research the FCC's history, budget and responsibilities - I'm not so sure that they are the ones to do it....
  2. Why are Google and Verizon telling the FCC what to do? Here is an example
    "...both companies have long been proponents of the FCC’s current wireline broadband openness principles... Our proposal would now make those principles fully enforceable at the FCC"
    How is it that two major corporations can tell the government what to do? Shouldn't there be some sort of vote, or process before this happens? How a company go from being such a strong proponent of Open Source and User Controlled to thinking it is their place to dictate legislation confuses me.
  3. Why isn't this magical Proposal available to the public? The language in the Proposal summary and Google's response to it are both vague. I've searched and been unable to find the actual Proposal - at this point all we know is what Google is telling us.
  4. What can I do to learn more and encourage legislation to move in a direction that I believe in? I've sent the letters, I've joined the support groups and email groups. I still haven't been told of any action I can take, any activity I can participate in to help raise awareness and make my opinion known.
From what I can read - it's complicated. I need more information to decide - expect more to come.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Is Google Evil?

For some time now I've been following and supporting the concept of Net Neutrality, specifically through SavetheInternet.com. Computers and the internet are an integral part of my life. Chris and I both use the internet countless times a day to plan trips, keep in touch with each other, keep in touch with our friends and just generally keep our lives in sync. Knowing this, keeping it open, maintaining the internet as internationally neutral ground without interference or restrictions of our participation is very important to me.

When I say that we use the internet to keep our lives in sync, I am not kidding, but not just the internet specifically Google. In fact I used no less than four Google services to write this post. Here are all of the Google services that we use on an almost daily basis:
  • Blogger
  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Docs
  • Spreadsheets
  • Voice
  • Picasa
  • Translator
  • You Tube
  • Maps
  • Chrome
  • iGoogle
  • Images
  • Froogle
  • Reader
Yeah, it's a long list.

I've been a fan of Google for years, I've enjoyed seeing them set new standards and push the envelope in the technology race. I've also always admired their commitment to open source and the concept that the internet is a living organism that is kept alive by everyone that contributes.

It was based on this theory and history of action that I allowed my life to become so entrenched in Google and their services. I have even tried several times to obtain employment with Google.

So, you can imagine the great confusion and a sense of betrayal I felt when I read this article in MacWorld that Chris forwarded to me. The story was first broken by the NY Times and when it comes down to it every other story is just providing opinions about the original Story. The only new information I can find is at The Guardian and even then it's a tiny little quote that doesn't help.

So, I've been researching, trying to learn more. Honestly, hoping to find a shred of proof that Google is the decent company I thought it was. Because if I can't, if I fail to find anything otherwise, then I will be forced to extract myself and my life from Google and it will not be an easy, pretty break up... :(

Has anyone heard anything? Know of any resources where I can learn more?

Update @ 10:00pm - I found a Google Public Policy Blog that I will look over tomorrow. Hopefully it will hold some answers.

Pen Pal Perversion

When did Pen Pal become a code word for Cyber Sex?

I've had a lot of time on my hands lately so I was following up on old emails and found myself looking at the website for an American run orphanage in China that encourages the kids to have pen pals. This led me to search for other overseas penal opportunities.

After more than 20 minutes of searching and clicking around all I have found are sites that use pen pal as a code word for dating, hooking up etc.

It's a sad state of affairs.... :(

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Self Exploration

This has been a good few weeks. My Italian boys are in town which always puts me in a good mood, we have such a great time together. But aside from that, I've been insanely busy. Well, not even that busy but compared to my life a few months ago, or even one month ago, my social calendar has been pleasingly full.

The funny thing is that I'm realizing that I'm more of a loaner than I ever would have guessed.

I have absolutely enjoyed spending time with the good people in my life. Without a doubt. I look forward to further those friendships and relationships. However. I find myself seriously craving some alone time, in my house. An evening to wear crummy clothes, eat cereal for dinner and just generally do whatever I like.

I have no doubt that this alone time will find me soon enough and I have no desire to skip out on social activities to obtain it. I'm just surprised by my desire for it...

It's been a good couple of weeks :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Birthweek 2010 Wrap Up

My birthweek is over but it was a good one. I wrapped it up yesterday with some pool time with some friends and got to witness this little guys first pool dunk - he did awesome!
Then it was off to see Thomas at Bad Dog Production for the newest addition to my body:
I've been planning this for several years so I was stoked to finally make it a reality. Mom went with me for moral support and to do research for herself. As always Thomas did an excellent job. That's the top of my left foot, in case you can't tell. The heart shaped drum is to remind me to always walk to the beat of my own drum :) Perhaps that phrase or even image is a familiar one if you frequent my blog.

Finally then night ended with a massive girl's night out and my favorite sushi place - Wazzabi in Winter Park. It started off rough with a miscommunication about their ability to take reservations (they don't FYI) but eventually the manager did make it right by not only getting us a private room but also hooking us up with free Edamame and appetizers once seated.
After a delicious dinner we all went back to my place for wine and some Butterfly cake lovingly made for me by Daisy and her BFF Betty - it was just as yummy as it was cute.
After some swordfighting on my new Wii (thanks Mom and Dad) the night wrapped up and I slipped off to dreams about me new job.

Movies, game systems, DMB, friends from abroad, SeaWorld passes, Butterfly cakes, tattoos and sushi - what a packed and amazing birthday/week. Thanks everyone!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

DMB 2010

Chris and I splurged and used a small piece of our tax money to buy Dave Matthews Band tickets so we could join my cousin and aunt for some good times. It was my aunt's birthday gift and coincided with mine as well.

Since I just started a new job it was a bit complicated but completely worth it.

We spent a couple of hours in my cousin's RV before the concert. They happened to park next to the bathrooms which they turned into a huge Plus. People were offering all sorts of payment from food, to alcohol, to cash to sexual favors to skip the line for a porta-potty and use our clean, airconditioned option. We spent hours meeting new people, eating good food and bonding with strangers over DMB song quotes.

As we moved the party inside you could almost see the excitment of the crowd in the air, it was that tangible. When the band came on stage the roar was deafening.

The band played for three hours! This was my fifth DMB concert and this was the best song line up by far, hands down. It included Satelltie, Crash, Tripping Billies, Don't Drink the Water, Proudest Monkey, Why I Am, Dancing Nancy and so many more including a couple of never before heard songs. Chris took some great video of them performing Crash:

My man Tinsley was on fire. I have a huge crush on the Violinist - not only is he hot but incredibly talented which I also find attractive. Last night he went insane, dancing around the stage playing insanely complex solo's, challenging the other musicians... yum....

Everytime someone took a solo the crowd would progressively get louder and louder encouraging the artist to push harder, play longer. To me, the transfer of energy from the crowd to the band was inspirational. Sitting on the lawn, eyes closed, swaying with the music, the ground literally vibrating with the beat as those standing jump or dance - that is what DMB concerts are all about.
The Gorge last year was awesome but it was all about the environment and connecting through that. Last night was the best overall DMB performance I've been to yet.

It was a good night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For the Love of Country

Can someone please explain to me why it costs $49.95 to download a pdf version of the "Greencard Information Guide" from the US Department of Immigration's website?

Seriously? $50 to view an online file about the process?

Don't even get me started on my recent discovery that someone living in the US illegally can apply for and be awarded welfare and have their child educated in our overcrowded, tax funded schools.
So someone who opts not to follow the rules and lives here illegally can take full advantage of our tax dollars in nearly every way. BUT someone who respects the rules can not count on tax dollars to fund a pdf to inform them of their options...no, they have to spend $50 to merely learn about the process.

It is times like these I wish that I had the mindset for politics...

Monday, July 19, 2010


I went to DC with my Mom and our friend Daisy. While Mom and I hadn't been to DC in ages and were excited to go, the trip was all about Daisy who rarely travels and was insanely excited to go.

We had a good time and crammed a lot in. To read all about it check out my travel blog here. Pictures will be up soon on my Flickr page.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's a Small World After All

A few months ago I randomly bumped into a friend from early high school, Sarah. We hadn’t seen each other in FOREVER – in a department store. We decided to meet up for dinner the following week and successfully caught up on old times and she subsequently invited me dinner at her house with all of her girl friends. Among other people, it was here that I met Rachel.

Rachel and I have a lot in common, similar history and passions. Through random conversation we discovered that her friend and tattoo artist is the same guy who did my first tattoo, a guy names Thomas. I was told about Thomas by an ex from ages ago who was friends with Thomas and they had an ex in common. So I’ve just connected my ex from 9 years ago to my new friend by only two degrees.

One of the things I have in common with Rachel is an enjoyment of group games and game nights as well as a desire to be more social. We have both utilized meetup.com to facilitate both of these passions. At one such even Rachel met and befriended a guy names Andre. Andre is a guy that worked with both my mother and my brother for a few years and I have become acquainted with through game and movie nights at my house.

So, involving only one new person I have managed to connect an old friend, a new friend, an ex and a tattoo artist from different areas and times in my life together.

This is just one of many random, full circle type of connections that have been occurring lately. A friend just told me that one of her co-workers is married to another ex's buddy so I know the co-worker and the hubby. My cousin showed me pictures from a Princess Ball which he took his daughter too in which I saw an old co-worker of mine dressed up as Cinderella AND I found that C's cousin was the photographer at the event. This list goes on...

On top of reminding me that the world is small so you should be mindful of who you hurt or shun and which bridges you burn it also reminds me that Orlando specially is smaller than you would think. It equal parts annoys me and makes me want to leave for some place new and makes me happy that I have such a deep history and connection with a place. At this point in life I'm choosing to latch on to the latter and be grateful that I have a balanced reaction.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gator Excellence!

Today Chris took me for an air boat ride! It was a Christmas present that we just got around to fulfilling. We met Steve from Canoe Creek Air boats at Cypress Lake around 8:30pm for our two hour alligator filled adventure. I've always been slightly obsessed with gators and gator sightings and back in September of 2006 I went to the everglades with Megan in an attempt to get closer to gators. I decided then that I wanted to try in an air boat.

The drive out was really nice, through cow farm filled back roads with true Florida landscape
that hasn't been mucked up by crazy development. When we arrived the sun was just starting to set on the lake...

At first we just saw baby gator heads as they swam away from us, but as it got darker things got more interesting. For a few minutes it was difficult to focus on what was in the water with such a gorgeous display in the sky, we felt like we'd entered a painting.

Once the sun dipped though, the flood light came out and the fun began. Our first up close encounter with at grown gator was fantastic. He was about 7 ft long and got right up along my side of the boat, he was swimming away from us but then decided to turn around and came right back at us, for a second I thought he was going to try to join us in the boat. I found myself leaning over for a better look, but had to remind my self how close I was and to be careful. It was awesome. From there it just got better, over the course of the two hours we saw about 40 gator heads or eyes but we only got up close with maybe 20 or 25, most of which were 3ft or under.

I didn't really bother taking photos since it was dark and I was just to into it to be bothered with a camera. I did get a few videos that came out pretty darn good. Remember, we're on an airboat, so they're loud, you may want to mute your volume.

This one is of a larger gator, Steve said it was likely close to 11 ft, be patient it takes a few seconds to appear.

This video is of two smaller 2 or 3 ft gators that crossed our path.

On top of gators we saw a dear, cows, lots of birds including sand hill cranes and an owl. We saw fire flies and frogs that could leap on top of the water; we even had a tree frog join us for a bit, you can see video of him here.

The only thing I would have done differently would be to take some safety glasses and a bandanna to protect my nose, moth and eyes from the bugs. We had 3 inch dragon flies hitting our face at 25 mph - let me tell you they hurt! It was crazy how quickly they swarmed once Steve turned on the flood light.

Steve was a great guide and a nice guy. He's a local, born and raised in Florida. Air boats are his hobby, he's a full time Firefighter for Osceola County. He did a great job at spotting the gators and getting us close to them.

It was really amazing to be that close to the nature, an air boat gives you a totally different perspective on things. I have to admit, that seeing the noise disrupt nature was a bit bothersome at times, but for the most part the animals didn't even seem to care that we were there. I would definitely like to get that experience again.

Excellent Christmas present, who says you can't have Christmas in July? :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Yay for Cake!

I work in an office that is located in a strip mall. A couple of months a go a cake shop opened up right next door. Not just any cake shop, but this one was featured on a couple of TLC's specials, they do the crazy CakeBoss style cakes.

So we now have the smell of sugar, cream, marshmallows and fondant floating through the office, teasing our senses. The problem is they have yet to give us any samples so we don't even know what it tastes like! Customers come into the office, smell the sweet smell and ask - is that cake as good as it smells? We have no answer.

Well, today that finally changed. :)

One of the agents happened to go out back to get the mail right when one of the cake employees was loading up his car with all of the cake slivers that are left over after they make their shapes. "Is that cake you have there?" she asked loudly so we could all listen in. As the conversation progressed she let him know that we'd never had any and he gave her the whole load!

There's 3 lbs of cakes of all variety in our little break room now. And man, it tastes even better than it smells. My favorite is a marble cake with a sort of heath and chocolate flavored cream between the layers. Yum!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Black Thumb

I find myself becoming increasingly "domestic" and I try to maintain a balance between that emerging side and my adventurous spontaneous side. That said, I've become quite fed up with my seeming lack of ability to grow anything! A few years ago I managed to kill Daisies, which are a weed!

So this year I've decided to overcome my black thumb and turn it into a green thumb.

We planted some plants out front and back and I've also put some flowers into pots on the front porch and I have herbs on the back patio.

I will admit, that I have already murdered cilantro, mint and some impatients. But I think I know what I did wrong and I'm trying again...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dessert Relaxation

It's crazy how much life has changed. It used to be that these families would occasionally manage to sync up long enough to meet for a park day. Now, we're (mostly) grown up with more schedules to coordinate and we still somehow managed to sync up for a whole week! Mom's best friends, Velma and Cindy and their daughters, Mom, me and Laura all went to Indio, California - eight of us total.

Mom works for a timeshare company and got a killer deal, three bedroom suite in the dessert for a week. The resort was amazing, surrounded by lush green landscaping and then the craggly dessert mountains in the distance. The view from our balcony was perfect.

The theme of the trip, for me at least, was a balance between discover and relaxation. I spent a sufficient amount of time floating around the lazy river and lounging by the pool, read a book, listened to a book, read my Mental Floss. But I also went on a drive through the Mojave Dessert, hiked through an oasis, went to an art museum and explored San Diego.

See the Travel Blog for the full scoop and I'm working on getting all pics on Flickr.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bozo's for Head Hunters

With the recession that's fallen upon our country there is an overwhelming number of qualified and often over qualified candidates lusting after each and every job opportunity. Due to this fact, there is an increase in the number of companies who opt to hire a staffing agency to locate the ideal candidate hence saving them the time and trouble. I say trouble because they will inevitably chose the over-qualified candidate since that highly skilled individual is backed into a corner financially and desperate for any work they can get, even if this means using all of their expensive skills while only getting paid half their worth. Then, when this over-qualified candidate finds a job that pays fairly for their skill set and leaves the company can count on the staffing agency to deal with all of the sticky details. Underpaid employees is a whole other post....but staffing agencies-GRR!

I understand why they're out there and why they're currently flourishing. I do. But I absolutely hate the fact that I have to put MY job search, MY future, my FAMILY'S financial stability in the hands of some shmucky sales person who couldn't care less about me but who's sole focus is filling the seat so they can get their commission.

I interview really well. Until this recession and my recent run of forced unemployment I had a 95% success rate of being offered a job after scoring an interview. But with these staffing agencies I can't even get that far.

You've been unemployed for over a year, why the sudden rage? You might ask. I've been working with a specific staffing company, we'll call them Wacko Inc and with a specific agent, we'll call him Bozo.

LAST July Bozo thought he might have something for me, wanted me to come in and meet him quickly before sending me to interview with the client. This is standard but I am sick - like sleeping 20 hours a day, look awful, sound awful sick. But, the next day I use all of my energy reserves and go in to meet him. He's 30 minutes late, spends 5 minutes with me, doesn't have my resume or even remember which job I'm interested in. I follow up with him a few times and finally find out that the client hired internally. Overall it sounded like he knew the whole time that it was a long shot but wanted to throw a candidate out there just in case - never mind if I'm sick. Since I was so thoroughly unimpressed I was prepared to cease communication but an old colleague happened to give me Bozo's specific name as a lead I should follow so I stayed in touch.

In April Bozo calls and tells me that he has an opening to fill that's a perfect fit, very excited. Next day I get a call from his assistant, annoyed because she can't modify my carefully designed resume to insert the Wacko Inc logo. She's insistent that I need to send her a text only copy of my resume ASAP. Mind you that my resume is the result of hours and hours of tweaking and perfecting. I tell her it will take me a couple of days and suggest she just tack a cover sheet on to it. An hour later I receive a voicemail from Bozo, Nevermind he says the job's been filled. How convenient....(smoke coming out o fears)...I'm done.

Last week Bozo emails me to tell me a Jr PM position is open. Do I have any programming experience an if so do I want to be submitted. I give him an overview of my experience (basically, copy and paste from my resume) and tell him yes, go ahead and submit. I haven't heard anything since.

So yesterday I stumbled upon a job board posting for a Jr PM, programming experience preferred posted by Wacko Inc.... I submit my resume for good measure. This morning I received a call from a new agent, we'll call him Joker, my resume was a good fit, could I send him my resume so he could submit. I did and I've already received a second email from him that he successfully submitted my resume (apparently his assistant knows how to do a cover sheet) and could I be available for a phone interview this Thursday. He'll call me tomorrow to prep me for the interview. Sweet!!! A tangible lead. I'll take it!

But this now has me thinking...why did the client like my resume better coming from Joker than from Bozo, unless...Bozo never actually submitted it. Which makes me wonder what exactly went on with all of the other submissions. While Bozo twiddles his thumbs and slacks off my bank account is dwindling and my career is slowing down more and more.

I hate staffing agencies!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Paris Passions

Well, we FINALLY made it to Paris. It was our fourth attempt but gosh was it worth it.

What's funny is that I had no expectations, in fact, if anything I didn't expect to like Paris. I'd heard all about how rude the French could be and how Parisians hate American's. I figured the Eiffel Tower would look just like the mini key chains you see and I've never had French cuisine that I enjoyed.

As usual, starting with low expectations sets you up to be impressed. I had plenty of chances to use the French that I'd practiced and most of the people were nice and helpful. Everything was bigger than I was prepared for. And I even found food that I actually enjoyed. True creme brulee is truly amazing.

We caught the very beginnings of Spring time in Paris. As we
wandered we saw bits of green buds on trees and occasional flowers. When we finally stopped at Notre Dame we got our first real dose of Spring in Paris. There were Cherry Blossoms in full bloom, I spent time watching French children playing in a sandbox under a canopy of blossoms, their cheeks a supernat
ural rosy pink.

The Eiffel Tower wasn't at all what I expected. The base was far larger and the tower much taller than I imagined. I also expected it to be black or green and was surprised to see rusty orange patches. We
approached the tower through the Parc du Champs de Mars and then walked South East, as we left we passed through some gardens that aren't on the map but
which were in bloom and beautiful.

We met our friends, Fabio and Adrian for this trip so I had to be considerate of the boy attention span when it came to our museum trips. My new sis-in-law made us this great little packet tour that
took us through the museum to the highlights and included reasons why the pieces are so critical. I could have spent hours in the Louvre, I mean, the building itself was amazing and it was just so freaky huge! I have to admit, I got goosebumps when we stumbled upon the glass pyramid. Pics of the art we saw together as well as some of my favorites are up on my Flickr here.

I'm such a sucker for a gorgeous cathedral, you'll have to go to our Travel Blog to read about my impressions of Notre Dame.

The Icelandic Volcano put a bit of a twist on our trip. We were supposed to take a cheap(ish) flight on RyanAir and go back to Rome with the boys for a few days, but with all flights grounded we had be flexible. The boys had to get back for a business deal so they were
a tad more stressed than we were. In the end Adrian's brother, Marcello, drove the 15 hours up from Rome to get us and then we all five piled into one car and went South, through the French Alps, stopped for dinner and then straight through Italy and "home" to Rome. The camera battery died before the road trip so there aren't a ton of pics; it was a fast drive but very cool. While it wasn't our preferred method of travel it was one of those memory making twists for sure.

Can I just say that I LOVE Rome. It just feels so...comfortable and
comforting to me. I'm sure it has to do with all of the great memories I have of the city but every time I go back it hits me again. I just really love the city. This visit was shorter than the last, but the least "tourist" by far. We basically hung out with the boys, went to the dealership with them, ran errands, went grocery shopping, ate Adrian's amazing cooking and just relaxed in their condo. Oh, and I finally got to see the Spanish Steps with the Spring Festival flowers out.

It was a great trip. I'm already itching to get back to Paris on my own, to have more of an opportunity to linger at certain spots and more freedom to focus on the people and culture. I think I'm also now interested in exploring other regions of France - and the wine! I know I only tapped into the tip of French wine.

As always, the whole scoop is on our Travel Blog and our pictures from the trip are up on Flickr.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Creepy Clouds

> Got up early to take Chris to the airport. Felt/heard what seemed
> like an earthquake. Weird.

Then saw thus really odd cloud formation on the drive in. The clouds
were whiter and brighter than the dawn sky with a glow. Notice the tail.

We were imaging alien take over or an early coming of 2012. Very
freaky and creepy.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

History Repeats Itself

Lately I've become a bit infatuated with old movies and actors/actresses from the 40's-60's.

I've been reading the biography of Audrey Hepburn, next in line is a book about Doris Day and then Rock Hudson.

My Netflix queue has become top heavy with things like 'How to Marry a Millionaire', 'The Man Who Knew Too Much', 'The Nun's Story' and 'Easter Parade'. I am very much enjoying them, especially as I learn more about the actors, directors and events of the time. However I am quite disappointed as I find that many of the modern movies I like are actually a rather transparent remake of old lesser known movies.

For example 'Alex and Emma' is so similar to 'Paris When it Sizzles' that it's sad. And while 'Down with Love' was honest about it's tribute to Rock Hudson and Doris Day I was still surprised by all that it had in common with 'Pillow Talk'. Now both of these and most other examples I've found don't exactly try to hide the similarity they also don't give the old classics any credit either.

Not only do I now find myself searching for the classic behind the new release but I'm also increasingly frustrated with the lack of originality in Hollywood lately. It seems everything is a remake or the very poorly done, plot changed adaptation of a book, or a pre-quel or a sequel or based on a comic book and so on and so on.

I recently saw the movie Avatar in IMAX 3-D and I must say I was incredibly impressed. Not only does it do a scary good job of convincing your sight and mind that what you are seeing is real and not graphics, it also seems to be a wholly original idea which as I stated previously seems to be an endangered species on the big screen.

So, my point? Don't forget the old classics - they're the originals. And I wish there was more original good stuff in theaters today to admire, maybe then I wouldn't have a queue full of 50 year old movies. :)

Pilot Bachelor

One of my fellow Pilot Wives Club members, Nicole, put together a very well worded blog post regarding the new season of The Bachelor which features a pilot.

The pilot and the information provided online about him gives such a skewed and unrealisitic view of the industry and the lifestyle. I would get into it further but Nicole really summed it up so you should go read hers :).