31 March, 2006

Without a Box

My parents once owned a large box that was probably 30" in every direction. It was blue and white cardboard, and had 6 cardboard drawers that pulled out. The drawers were each storage for a different year's worth of school memorabilia - poems, art projects, reports, etc.

Yesterday, I got (I'll assume) the first of six large envelopes with the contents of one of those drawers. I got the fourth grade. I got a poem about leaves, a map of New Jersey, a program from the Ringling Brothers et. al. Circus, and a few two-page stories. I did not, however, get their drawer or any other way to logically store these items.

I feel a snarky letter coming on. I mean honestly. As I've said before, I left contemporary clothes behind and haven't seen those yet. I have received some slides, but not nearly all of them. It's one thing to go though my father's 9,000 boxes of crap and pull out every piece of me. It's another thing completely to pick and choose which pieces of me can be sanitized and re-used for future generations.

It's Like Poetry

...ok, it is poetry. Scalzi's weekend assignment this week is simply to share a favorite poem. I'm sorry John, but I couldn't pick just one. I have three, although the first one below was the first one to pop into my head as soon as I read the assignment. So I guess it's really my favorite, but I couldn't leave the other two out!

We Are Seven, by William Wordsworth, is the story of the narrator speaking to a little girl. She is one of seven children, but two are dead. The narrator insists then that she is one of five, but she still holds tight to the idea that her siblings are all with her.

"How many are you, then," said I,
"If they two are in heaven?"
Quick was the little maid's reply,
"O master! we are seven."

"But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little maid would have her will,
And said, "Nay, we are seven!"
I know it sounds dark (dead children? come on!), but reading it always warms my heart. And I like to believe that no matter where you go or what happens to you, you are always part of a family. And they will always love you and keep you close.

Annabel Lee, by Edgar Allan Poe, is another poem about the dearly departed. Annabel Lee is the star-crossed love of the narrator, torn from him because they were happier together than even the angels in Heaven.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me--
Yes!--that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
Sure, the poem relates a truly broken heart, but I can't get over the amount of love expressed.

I was introduced to my final favorite, The Daffodils, also by Wordsworth, in choir my freshman year of high school. We sang this poem in a sprightly tune that I still remember to this day. This poem doesn't speak of love or death, but of a dream (or memory?) to which the author returns often and with pleasure.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
All three of these are poems that we studied during my American Lit class sophomore year with Mr. Benedetto. He must have passed a true love of poetry on to us if I remember all of these (and a few others) enough to quote them more than 10 years later. Thanks for that, Mr. Benedetto.

ps - I only plagiarized excerpts from these poems. I highly recommend the full versions, to which I have linked.

Extra Credit: Ever write poetry yourself? Funny you should ask! I only just today stumbled across a poem I wrote in the fourth grade. Keep that in mind as you read -- fourth grade!

by Jamie H.

Lovely Colors
Excellent Reds
After red comes brown
Very beautiful colors
Empty trees

30 March, 2006

Disappointed by Wal Mart

Last night, Scott and I went to buy the TV. He has been looking forward to this moment for... umm... 10 years or so. We had scouted out a model on a previous trip and knew which one we wanted. When we got to the electronics department, we found the tv, but couldn't find any blue-vested wonders to find us one in the box. When we finally got someone (which would be after the lady who sells cell phones said to me, "you need someone in electronics." sorry - didn't realize cell phone technology wasn't electronic!), he looked around in the front, then went to the back and came back out empty-handed. Our TV was out of stock.

Scott asked if he knew when some might be back in. "Maybe a couple of weeks" was the answer he got. So we left without a TV or a TV stand. And we won't be purchasing either from this store.

I realize it's Wal Mart, where customer service roams free like a ferile cat. I realize that Wal Mart is a zillion-dollar corporation, and that $500 probably isn't important to them one way or the other. But if I ran a store, you can bet I'd have a waiting list or a layaway plan or maybe even offer to call around to other stores in the area. I wouldn't let that money get away.

But that's just me.

29 March, 2006

Ancient History

I've been "making lemonade," as the saying goes, out of these boxes of stuff flooding our mailbox. Being the proud owner of tons of old family pictures is rather fun... especially when I get to share pictures that people have forgotten all about. I sent out 3 pictures to a handful of family members and got such a good response that I've made a web page with 8 "ancient" family photos.

This one is my mom's prom photo. This picture wasn't new to me - I think Mom may actually have a larger version of it framed or in an album somewhere. But I still love it enough to share with the world. The dress still hasn't come back into style, but I think I've actually owned the same shoes. That's got to count for something!

Awkward Cake & Punch

Our work division (which includes our office and the Guest Communications office) had one of those awkward cake & punch type receptions yesterday for those of us nominated for PIE. Hosted by management, and attended by the rest of us, it was one of those "sit at a table with people you know and no one gets hurt" situations. Of the 18 nominees, I know exactly 9. The rest were from the other office. We had 4 separate speeches from our upper echelon management on how proud we should be to have been nominated, we got certificates (more on that to come), we shook hands with our big-big boss, we posed for pictures, and we had cake & punch.

This, I would imagine, is the closest I'm ever going to get to being nominated for an Oscar or an Emmy. And I get what they always say now, because I'm so proud of me for just being nominated. I mean, someone has to think of 11 nice things to say about you and write them out. I can barely think of 11 nice things to say about myself... and I'm around me all the time!!

I guess none of this really sunk in until I got my certificate. It's so pretty I may have to rearrange the stuff on the fridge to make a place for it! I told Scott we need a den... because dens are good places to hang diplomas and cheesey awards and stuff like this.

There are six of us from the Help Desk who were nominated, and I'd be pleasantly surprised if any of us actually got the award. If anyone does, I'll be sure to make a note. But like I said before, I'm pretty sure this is the end of the road for me. And I'm thrilled I got to go to the awkward cake & punch reception!!

28 March, 2006

... and another box

I told Scott I'm just about at the end of my mental rope as far as these boxes go. Today's box actually included some of those items I said were missing -- my Playbills, the autographed picture of Ty (which I can't WAIT to show all the girls at work on Thursday!!), and some slides of my childhood (there's lots more).

I am finding some chunks of fun and humor in the boxes. The box full of naked Cabbage Patch Dolls and a saddle (for a Cabbage Patch Show Pony) made me belly laugh. It was like bad dolly s & m porn. A picture of my Aunt Rose and cousin Laura taken 30+ years ago when Laura was only 6 months old was instantly labeled "blackmail material" by Scott. Today I was reading notes between me and Bill, who was my boyfriend for a month or two during my freshman year of high school (today he's a waiter at a 5-star restaurant, and he lives with his boyfriend). How could I not know he was gay? It was painfully obvious reading the notes!

And of course, there's a certain amount of irony. Two weeks ago, I made a comment about not owning any pictures of myself in my orange sequin color guard uniform. Today, I have almost a dozen pictures of just that. I also have prom pictures, beach pictures (Aunt Mary in a bikini? lol), first birthday pictures, chicken pox pictures, an 8x10 of me Laura and Alicia wearing matching dresses, slides of my mother at age 5ish, slides of me dressed as Cleopatra for Halloween, and slides of me and Mom at the Magic Kingdom when I was really little (stroller age).

I keep telling myself to be glad that I have these tangible pieces of the past and that they weren't just thrown in the garbage. I keep finding the positive pieces in every box. But I'm ready for the boxes to stop coming so that I can sort through them all at once and decide what goes where. I want this chapter to be over.

27 March, 2006

Four More Boxes

I didn't mention the two boxes I got from my wicked step-mother the other day. At the time, there were too many raw emotions to be mature and logical, so instead I threw a sarcastic paragraph onto my BYE blog. Four more boxes arrived on Saturday, but went to the rental office where they were locked up until today. Today's boxes included some fabulous stuff:

  • The Jamie file from my dad's filing cabinet -- report cards, school reports, and other assorted papers I haven't gone through
  • A large envelope of pictures, many of those were small school pics of my cousins and pictures taken before I was born
  • An entire box of Cabbage Patch Kids - most without their clothes
  • An ecclectic box of clothes - my prom dress (the shoes were in another box), a CHS color guard uniform, my girl scout uniform (Juniors), my high school jacket, and a bag of baby dresses
  • The Vermont teddy bear I got for high school graduation (which was in its own box)
  • A personalized Lenox Christmas ornament for me and Scott from my grandfather that was mailed to us c/o my father. Now I have to send a 2 years belated thank you note explaining that I'm not an ungrateful bitch! The ornament is beautiful.
  • And the contents of one of the drawers from my bedroom: newspapers from the bus accident and letters from my Gulf War (Desert Storm) pen pal. Strangely enough, the same drawer also included Playbills from all of the Broadway shows I've ever seen. They weren't included.

  • I'm pretty sure there's still more to come. After all, I haven't yet gotten the slides from my childhood or my autographed picture of Ty Pennington. More details as this story unpacks!

    26 March, 2006

    No Good Deed

    ...goes unpunished!

    Memo to Me:
    The next time I think about organizing something fun and special for the people I work with, I need to remember these comments I heard tonight:
    * why aren't there nuts?
    * why didn't you cut the strawberries?
    * I don't like bananas.
    * the ice cream is too hard.
    * I don't like ice cream.

    Overall, most of the people said thank you to at least one of the Help Desk folk, and I did have a delicious banana-split-type sundae. I guess it wasn't a total wash.

    25 March, 2006


    I started a new blog tonight. This is actually a co-blog from me and my "fabulous" manager John. It's still in its infancy (as in he knows I'm doing it, but hasn't even seen it yet), and is really just something that he and I are playing around with. Who knows what's going to happen when I get to work tomorrow!

    Anyway, it is called John X: Adventures in Fabulousness, and I invite you to check it out. But please don't leave any comments... since he hasn't even seen it yet and it's "his" project!

    In other news, we at the help desk are throwing an ice cream social tomorrow night for the rest of the call center. The new bid starts on Sunday, so it's a "thanks for a great past six months" kind of thing. Mostly though, I want ice cream and thought I'd share with the world.

    24 March, 2006

    Charcoal Pantiliners

    I bet that headline caught your attention! So I was watching American Inventor tonight while talking to Scott on the phone when all of a sudden he got a big earful of "you HAVE TO turn on ABC RIGHT NOW!" There was a man on who invented charcoal pantiliners. You know, to ease the embarrassment of the stinky fart.

    Ask Scott -- I have said multiple times that I was going to find underwear made of charcoal for... umm... our friends with stinky farts. Yeah... that's it! Sadly, the judges didn't think it was such a great idea and didn't advance him. What a bunch of morons!

    ...but if they are ever mass-produced and I find them in the store I will buy them in a New York minute... for our friends with the stinky butts. ;o)

    22 March, 2006

    Cat & Mouse

    I think we're making progress on the barren cat tree. I had a brainstorm tonight and decided to tie the furry mouse-on-a-string to the top of the tree, and within 5 minutes Milo was up on the middle shelf batting it around.

    ...of course, Milo being Milo, he would pose for the camera every time I turned it on. This is his "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" pose.

    In other pet news, today was cleaning day for Zoe Pig. I rearranged the stuff in her cage. I do this every week in some kind of lame attempt to make her believe her life is more interesting than just living in a box. "Ooh...I must be in a new and exotic land. The chube is diagonal here!" Or maybe the frequent vista changes will make her paranoid and neurotic. But she's like that anyway. We'll never know the difference!

    As for Mr. Roach, he is still missing. Scott is trying to convince me that I hit him and he went under something to die. I don't buy it. I have the heebee jeebees like you wouldn't believe.


    It's been a long time since I've seen a roach in our apartment. The last time, it was on the wall in my bedroom. It was 2 am, and Scott was asleep. I considered waking him, but thought that would be mean. Even after I went into the living room for a shoe, I thought maybe he'd be glad that I was thoughtful enough to get him a shoe before waking him up. Ultimately, I sucked it up and didn't wake him up... until the SLAM of his big heavy shoe on the wall. I was lucky - the thing fell off the wall straight into his garbage can.

    When Scott and I talked about that roach the next morning, he revealed to me that he had actually maimed it the night before I killed it - when he woke up and it was crawling on him in my bed. We went and bought a bunch of roach baits, and I haven't seen one since.

    ...until this morning.

    I was grabbing darks off the top of Mt. Laundry Basket and saw a dark shape move. Yep - there was the back end of a roach hiding under Scott's favorite jeans. I thought about getting the can of Raid, but with Zoe Pig just a few feet away I didn't want to risk it. That left the shoe... on a pile of soft clothes. But I did it anyway. I got one of my old security shoes, got up on the bed (to prepare for the counter-attack), and slammed the shoe down. I think I killed the darn thing, since it was right between the shoe and the top edge of the basket. But it was under the jeans and I'm too chicken shit to pick them up and look. Even dead roaches creep me out to no end.

    Besides, what if it's not dead?

    21 March, 2006

    Unsolicited Advice

    The Naked Ovary refers to unsolicited advice as "assvice," which I think is rather clever and fitting. However, I'm about to dole it out to Matthew and Kristen, who are going on a seven-night Disney Cruise next week. (by the way, happy early birthday Kristen... watch out for the "special birthday dessert!") And when I speak, how could it possibly be "assvice?"

    Below is a letter that Scott and I wrote on the last night of our cruise. It is on the last page of the March section of our cruise scrapbook. A letter to whom? Check it out:

    4 March, 2006

    Dear Future Scott and Jamie,

    Here are some lessons we learned on this trip that you should keep in mind for future cruises:

    * Book a handicapped-accessible stateroom -- ROOMY!
    * Pack the following: random medicines, shaving cream, extra comfy shoes, body wash, extra pillow, water-proof camera, bottled water, watch
    * Skip the following: Nassau, aerosol sunscreen (which had pro's and con's), excursion packages at Castaway Cay (weather is too much of a variable), rigatoni at Triton's (which has blue cheese...yecht!), duck & goat cheese flatbread at Animator's Palatte.
    * Take a million pictures, and ask people to take pictures of you together
    * See a sunset... and a sunrise
    * Catch the fireworks
    * Tap water is decent - don't waste bottled water inside the stateroom
    * Don't over-schedule! relax relax relax

    Love, Past Scott and Jamie

    See, it's not really advice to you guys... it's advice to us, presented to you guys just in case you're interested. Oh - and one plea: PLEASE see the Cinderella show. It's the only one they don't do on the Wonder and I want to hear all about it.

    The Lion King

    I just e-mailed Scott, but I know he's not going to get the e-mail until he's home from his class, and I just had to share.

    The Lion King is coming to Orlando this December/January. And tickets are surprisingly affordable: $21 - $76. This is totally what I want for either our anniversary or Christmas. But I want to know in advance so that I can be all excited about it. Of course, I would rather see Aida, but it was so wildly unpopular it's not even touring in the US anymore.

    I need to check with Scott, but I also think this might be a fun thing to get a group together for. Who knows? All I know is that I'll be at that show come hell or high water.

    A Whole New Adventure

    Did you see the big news today? The Disney Magic is taking off across the Atlantic and spending next summer in Europe!

    Disney Cruise Line announced this morning that its Disney Magic ship will sail the Mediterranean in summer 2007.

    The ship, which spent last summer on the West Coast, will make stops in European locales including Barcelona, the French Riviera and Naples, Italy.

    Actually, more than the 10- and 11-night European cruises, the 14 night repositioning cruises caught my eye. The eastbound leaves from home, hits Castaway Cay and the Canary Islands before hitting Spain, Gibraltar, and finishes at Barcelona. Of course, the return trip (over Scott's birthday, I might add) is exactly the opposite. And the fare is, in my opinion, pretty reasonable - starting at $1999/person for the cheapest stateroom.

    Sadly for us, $4000, plus taxes and fees, plus one-way airfare is way out of our price range. We could do it if we really wanted, but that's almost a whole down payment on a house. Who in our position could justify that?? Still, it's nice to dream.

    The FSA Saga Continues

    If you missed Part One of our FSA saga, or can't remember the details, you should probably go back and study that before moving on. I present Part Two this morning, once again from Guest Blogger Mr. ParkHopper:

    It was returned yet AGAIN!!! muahh hahahahahahah! I told her, "just copy down whatever my wife's had on it, she got hers!" She said that the address they used had to come through the employer, so I checked. they are almost identical. So, she put me on hold for a while, and checked with "someone" about what to do. She came back and said the ONLY difference between our two addresses is.....are you ready for this?...... There is a comma in mine between the street and the apartment, and not hers. She said she really doesn't think that is the issue. I, somehow, agree. So I gave her my phone numbers so they could have the "lady in charge of the returned cards" call me...... Oh the drama continues.....

    And I thought I had trouble with Remanufactured Transmission. Compared to the FSA people, these guys look like Good Samaritans!

    20 March, 2006


    They say today is the first day of Spring. It's strange to live in Florida this time of year, since we've had our spring flowers for at least a month. We've got some beautiful azaleas (I think that's what they are) outside our office door, and every now and then I catch a whiff of orange blossom on the breeze.

    Pretty flowers have inspired me to participate in Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot for the first time in quite a while. He asked for signs of Spring, and boy am I delivering! Below I present Springtime in the Bahamas, as captured during our cruise two weeks ago...
    photos taken on Disney's private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay, where it's always lush and beautiful.

    19 March, 2006

    Cherry Bombs

    The muffins weren't bad. However, the little cherry surprise in the middle didn't add much flavor. In the future, I might have to add a little off that pie filling goo to the batter to make them super-tasty.

    Of course, when is it likely that I'll have a box of muffin mix that's not pre-flavored again? The only reason I had it this time is because I used a can of blueberries to make (sour) pancakes!

    18 March, 2006

    Smoked Breakfast Breads

    I'm about to wrap our oven with yellow caution tape, since it has become chokingly painful that neither Scott nor I should operate the dang thing.


    It all started a couple of days ago when Scott had a little breakfast incident involving an angel food cake pan and some sticky bun sauce that went amok. He smoked up the joint. In his defense, he was in the bathroom for most of the damage. I heard the drips sizzling in the bottom of the oven and never thought to grab a baking sheet to control the damage. We opened up all the windows, turned on the ceiling fan, and waited it out. It was really bad for the rest of the morning, but basically not noticeable when we got home from work.

    Then tonight I felt compelled to make mmmmmuffins. Before I even started cooking, I called Scott to ask if the oven was safe. In a word, he said no. But he assured me I could either scrape out the gunk or spray oven cleaner and let it sit for 20 minutes. Who has 20 minutes when they're craving muffins? Not me! So I set out scraping the bottom of the oven. I used dry paper towels and my finger nails to get out the big chunks, and wet paper towels to wipe out the sticky mess that remained.

    And then I turned the oven on. All the way up to 400. And I started mixing my muffins... and smelling smoke. But it wasn't too bad. I figured it would just need a minute or two to cook off whatever I missed. I apparently missed a lot, including the sticky mess on the actual oven racks. While I didn't have the big plumes of smoke Scott had, I once again found myself opening all the windows, turning on the ceiling fan, and joining the cats out on the balcony for some fresh air. What a mess!

    Actually, I think that despite my misadventures in cooking, they may end up tasting ok: regular muffin mix with a spoonful of cherry pie filling in the middle. I'm calling them "cherry bombs" but if they suck, I'll just call them "smoke bombs" in honor of our apartment!

    Pleasant Surprise

    I thought that Blogger had eaten the entry below, since when I published it yesterday afternoon, there was some kind of "error" and all of my typing had disappeared. I was psyching myself up to rewrite the darn thing tonight, but it has appeared. Thank goodness, because I really didn't want to write a half-a$$ version of what I had written the first time.

    It's an Irish miracle!

    17 March, 2006

    Warm Fuzzy

    As most of you know, I got nominated for PIE at work. That's a pretty big deal. And while I'm thrilled to be nominated, I don't feel like this has been my most excellent year of work and I feel rather undeserving. Of course, I did see a list of others in my workplace who were nominated, and I didn't really think most of them did anything stellar either. But I digress.

    Nominees are rated in the second step by their direct manager and by two others, one chosen by the manager and one chosen by the nominee. But since the manager and the nominee are expected to come up with a mutually acceptable list, I have had to come up with 4 names (2 plus 2 alternates) to list as my raters. And it's a lot of pressure. Like I said, I don't feel like I've done so excellently, so I feel it's a little like saying, "would you mind wasting your time thinking of nice things to say about me?"

    Anyway, I approached one of the newer people (secretary/treasurer of the Jamie fan club haha) and asked if she'd mind if I used her. Before I even finished talking, she said of course she would. And then another lady at the table volunteered to rate me. And another! One of the ladies who has been there almost as long as I have said that I could probably ask half the people in the building and they'd be happy to help me out. Strangely enough, the first one who volunteered isn't necessarily someone I have a strong relationship with. But she said that I'm one of the only people at the help desk who doesn't talk down to her, and that she knows that when she gets me on the phone she'll get the answer to her question with minimal attitude. That's nice.

    Maybe I'm a little bit excellent after all.

    16 March, 2006

    Z. Pig and the Weekend

    Last night, Scott and I cleaned Zoe's cage and I put her back in before actually putting the cage part back on top or putting her chube and hat back in. You know... so I could get a picture and not give her anywhere to hide.

    I'm such a rotten piggy mommy!

    Anyway, I feel bad for not posting at all over my weekend, but there really wasn't anything worth devoting an entire entry to.

    - grocery shopping at Wal Mart almost led to Scott going postal because the a-holes were out in force... with their children.
    - had Chinese buffet for lunch with Chris & Cathi on Tuesday
    - had mac n cheese for dinner on Tuesday, possibly the best I've ever made (added a sprinkle of parmesan to the top before baking)
    - have finished 13 sheets (26 pages) of the cruise scrapbook. the book has a total of 40 sheets, and I'm hoping to use 20 on this vacation and 20 on our December vacation.
    - got Harry Potter 1-4 on DVD from Columbia House, but haven't gotten to watch any yet. All of a sudden, we're over-run with DVDs... and have about 15 more than we have shelf space for. Time to rearrange!
    - last night, Scott and I made lemon chicken, brown rice, and steamed asparagus for dinner with creme brulee for dessert. I was a little disappointed with the chicken, but it was an excellent meal overall.

    and today, I return to work.

    13 March, 2006

    I'm Sorry

    Scott has a sore throat.

    He's pretty miserable.

    Strange, though -- we both thought that I caught what I had from him. After all, he's been having sinus issues for... well... about 15 years ;-). Anyway, it looks like I gave him the worst illness ever.

    But then where did I get it?

    At least it's almost the weekend. 8 more hours, and then he can camp out on 1/3 of the couch for two days.


    One of the ladies I work with got a call tonight that needed to be transferred to 911. It was for a cheerleader who broke her foot. I looked at her and asked, "you didn't laugh on the phone, did you?" which actually made her laugh. She never laughs.

    It's official: Cheerleaders are almost universally loathed. (no offense, Janette! lol)

    And so, we got to wondering how this young lady happened to break her foot at 1:30 in the morning at her hotel. Possibly by cheering? Funny... I thought that the finals of the competition ended tonight around 11 pm. Maybe she should've been in bed. Or participating in a nice quiet activity instead of doing back handsprings on the cement.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm not glad that she got hurt. I don't wish pain and suffering on anyone. I'm not even saying that she got what she deserved. Maybe she fell out of bed and that's how she broke her foot.

    I am, however, going to say flat-out that cheer chaperones are lacking in common sense. The chaperone in the room had one of the other children to call 911 rather than calling herself. Because a child is definitely the one most likely to be able to give the dispatcher the information needed during the call. Right?


    12 March, 2006

    I'm Not Lyin' - It's a Lion! (almost)

    So umm... there really was a Florida panther out in that parking lot last night. The guy that got dispatched because of my phone call actually saw the thing. Honestly, this never happens. We always call with random, stupid things like "there's a lizard in my room" and by the time pest control gets out there, the monstrous creature has disappeared. So imagine my shock when I found out that it wasn't a bogus call after all. The guys and dolls at work were all pretty excited, too.

    Disclaimer: We're not usually that easily excited. But the cheerleaders are in town... at this point, we'll cling to any interesting thought that doesn't involve a noise complaint or a prank phone call (I need my mom's room. last name O'Plasty, first name Angie)!

    11 March, 2006


    Tonight around 10:30, I looked at my manager and declared that we needed a little excitement. She was most definitely not pleased with me... especially after I suggested we open a bottle of cleaning fluid (you know - so that we'd have to evacuate the building). She said I should sit quietly and NOT wish for excitement.

    Fast-forward an hour...

    One of our two automated wake-up systems crashed. This means that instead of people setting wake-ups themselves, they were transferred to our operators, who then had to set them in the computer. It's not really a difficult or time consuming process, but in one half hour we were forecast to have 350 calls and ended up with over 650. I had to page our on-call IT person, who was remarkably pleasant for someone who had obviously just been woken up. And 15 minutes after I realized there was a problem, it was fixed. Yay!

    We got a call from a man who was angry that pizza delivery at his hotel wouldn't bring him alcohol. He was demanding to speak to the manager. It turns out he wanted the drinks delivered because the bar at the food court cut him off after only 8 drinks! We sent the manager and security.

    Overflowing toilet in high-strung woman's room. Need I say more? OK... phone calls every 5 minutes until we sent the manager out to her. That's all I'll say.

    And my final call of the night was to our pest control department: "please don't laugh at me - I'm only the messenger. a man says there's a mountain lion out near building 4 that reared up on its hind legs when he got off his motorcycle." To which the nice man replied, "let me guess - he was at Bike Week up in Daytona all day and he's been in the wild horse saloon all day?" In all honesty, it could've been a Florida panther. They have been known to pop up around here from time to time. But a mountain lion? C'mon people -- we're below sea level here!

    The moral of the story, as my manager was so kind as to point out: be careful what you wish for!

    10 March, 2006

    Feeling Burdened?

    Feeling burdened by all of your excess income?

    OK... probably not...

    Got $10 or maybe more to spare for a worthy cause?

    Laura over at Adventures in Juggling is raising money for the March of Dimes Walk America in honor of her very own "1lb wonder," Daniel. I've been reading her blog for quite a while, and she is an amazing woman with five amazing kids. So I thought I'd pimp her blog and her cause in just this one little entry here.

    So why not? Go ahead over and support Team Daniel.

    Is It Possible?

    I have found a medicine (courtesy of Matthew & Kristen's birthday gift to me) that tastes even worse than Robitussin:

    green Nyquil.

    It tastes like black licorice. And really, who wants that to be the taste that lingers in their mouth all night long?

    ick! For all the effort it took not to gag while swallowing the 2 gallons (was it only two tablespoons? you could've fooled me!) I consumed, this stuff better work really well!

    good night!(?)

    American Idol Top 12

    Well, I promised that there wouldn't be another AI post until today, when the Top 12 were announced. And I'm proud to say that I correctly predicted 5 of the 6 females and 4 of the 6 males that made it to the finals!

    In the girls' category, I predicted that Ayla would make it to the top 6. Well, she made it to the top 7, and then was eliminated tonight. Taking her place in the finals is Melissa McGhee, a Tampa girl who is more talented than I first thought.

    On the other side, I didn't do nearly as well with the male contestants (which I predicted). Jose was voted off last week, taking my perfect record with him. I was unsure whether Will or Gedeon deserved the last spot in the top 6. Oops - both of them were ousted tonight! In their places are Bucky Covington, the goofy looking country rocker with a twin brother named Rocky, and Kevin Covais, who looks a little like Chicken Little's dorky brother and sings like a kid in a school play. Kevin really doesn't belong in the top 12, and should be voted off next week, unless the people at have their say.

    As for the ultimate winner, at this point I think that the competition is Chris's to lose. The guy is amazingly talented, has an awesome stage presence, and he's kinda cute. Although I'm not sure how a married man with 2 kids is going to win the hearts of the teeny boppers with speed dial over pretty-boy Ace or one of the young girls like Paris or Katharine. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

    09 March, 2006

    Back to Normal

    I'm returning to the real world today. Scott checked his schedule online last night and found out that he started today at 10. Good thing he looked - his normal schedule is 2pm! So he's already gone. I woke up early and paid some bills (I'm such a big fan of online bill payments!), and now I've got nothing to do for the next 4 hours except make something for lunch and dinner and take a shower.

    Maybe I'll take a nap... after all, 1am is a long time away!

    08 March, 2006

    Hoop Dee Doo

    Monday night, despite still being full from all the Cruise Food, Scott and I headed out to Ft. Wilderness to see Hoop Dee Doo with friends. What friends? Well, Dave, Chuck, Matthew and Kristen, and Beth and Brian all came out. What could be better than sitting down at a table of big eaters (understatement? perhaps) for all-you-can-eat fried chicken and ribs with all the fixin's and strawberry shortcake for dessert? A good time was had by all.

    Today is my last day of vacation, and this cold still has me knocked on my @$$. My voice is coming back, although if I'm on the phone all day tomorrow I'm pretty sure it will be gone completely. I'm going to try to make it through today without a nap (hoping that the 10 hours of sleep I got last night will be enough!). Honestly, there was so much I wanted to accomplish before going back to work (web site maintenance, start the cruise scrapbook), and all I was able to do was watch TV and read.

    I shall be grateful that I had this time off to recuperate and that I didn't have to miss work the past few days. I guess.

    06 March, 2006

    It's a Start

    It took me all day yesterday and part of this morning to finish editing and labeling all of the cruise pictures. Between the computer having issues and my need to take a break every hour, it became a much longer process than I expected.

    Janette, you were partly right. I did take a nap, and I did watch the Oscars, but I spent about 3 hours working on pictures before I did either of those.

    Days One and Two of the cruise are now below. And it's time to stop. I need some tea and possibly a nap. I'm not promising to finish Day Three today, but I think it's probable.

    ...after the break.

    05 March, 2006

    ...and I'm spent!

    We're home. The cruise was great. And I think I have the flu. At the very least I have a very productive cough, no voice, and an inner ear issue. Last night I really wasn't sure if it was an inner ear thing or just the ship rocking. When I got home and stood in the living room and found the room moving around me, I kinda figured out that it was just me.

    Anyway, I'm going to post some day-by-day entries in a little while once I've taken a look at the 100+ pictures I took (they'll show up below this entry).

    04 March, 2006

    Adventures in Cruising - Day Three

    Castaway Cay

    There are few places that I have visited that compare to Castaway Cay, Disney's private Bahamian island. From the white sand beaches to the beautiful clear water, family beach to adults-only area, snorkeling to barbecue for lunch, it's just unmatched.

    I snorkeled for the first time this day. OMG - this was by far the highlight of the trip for me! At first, I thought I was going to hate it. As soon as I got my flippers on, I got tangled up in my own feet and fell flat on my butt. The first time I put the snorkel and mask on and stuck my face in the water, I immediately hyperventilated. I'm pretty claustrophobic, and I'm not the greatest swimmer, and I just thought, "this is not for me... I'm not swimming out away from the shore and drowning out there." But I finally got into water deep enough to swim, and was able to breathe in and out a few times in a row, and Scott and I set out on our own little adventure.

    The snorkel lagoon was absolutely amazing. And I imagine that every year will make it even better as the coral takes over. There are tons of domes designed to grow coral and house fish, plus big stone vases, a giant stone Mickey statue, a small boat, and even one of the submarines from the old 20,000 Leagues ride at Disney World. I'm proud to say I swam all the way out the the sub. I'm still not sure how I made it out there, but it happened! We saw over 20 different types of fish, including a giant barracuda that threatened to eat me if I didn't swim away (ok, Scott says it was a grouper that happened to have its mouth open and that it wasn't a threatening posture at all). When we were out at the sub, the wind picked up and the waves kept smacking into my forehead, which freaked me out. It was time to swim back to shore.

    After snorkeling, we went back to the adults-only area. The water was pretty cool, and the wind made getting in and out of the water unpleasant, so we sat on beach chairs and drank frozen things and basked in the absolute serenity.

    Lunch on the island was delicious as always. Of course, snorkeling works up quite an appetite. Burgers, ribs, chicken, and all the fixin's were gobbled up by everyone.

    Back on the ship, we enjoyed the final show, Disney Dreams. I really hope that the girl in the lead part was either sick with what I have or was an understudy, because she just wasn't that good. I still love the show, and was thrilled to see it again.

    After the show, we were buying souvenirs and I struck up a conversation with the cashier. He asked where I worked, and I explained that I answer stupid questions for a living. He had some of his own to add to my collection: "which staircase goes up?" (answer: all of them) "what nationality wears a patch behind their ear?" (answer: that's a sea-sickness remedy, not a cultural thing!) "what time is the midnight buffet?" (no answer required).

    It was during that conversation that I realized I didn't have much of a voice to speak of (or with). I was surprised, because my throat hadn't really hurt too badly since the first day and mostly I was having sinus trouble. By the time dinner rolled around, I had to have Scott order for me because I couldn't speak loudly enough to be heard over the dining room noise. Hot tea helped a bit, and I was able to squeak out "cheesecake" for myself for dessert!

    This time around, I had the best dining experience the last night of the cruise at Animator's palette. I had great canneloni and butternut squash soup, and we had the best time playing around with our server JoJo and our assistant server Sean (seen here giving Scott "Mickey Ears" for the picture).

    After dinner, Scott and I had to run back to our stateroom and get our bags packed. Then walked up on deck and contemplated how we could stay onboard for the next cruise (which is in Nassau today... without us). Of course, we didn't stow away. We got off the ship the next morning and came home as scheduled. As you can tell from the picture, I didn't get horribly sunburned this time. Yay! I got a little pink in patches on my face, and a few streaks on my shoulders and the back of one arm, which has to be some kind of record for me!

    03 March, 2006

    Adventures in Cruising - Day Two

    Happy birthday to me... in Nassau!

    We woke up as the ship was docking in Nassau. It was hard to sleep with the captain doing donuts in the water! After breakfast back up at the buffet, Scott and I headed to the pool. We were in the hot tub until I started to feel hard-boiled, and then got in the pool. Considering it was about 75 outside, the 80 degree pool water felt almost like bath water.

    After showers and getting ready, we headed out to explore Nassau... for all of an hour. After all, how much "braid your hair, lady?" "need a taxi?" "want a carriage ride?" can two people handle? We returned to the ship to dump our cheap booze purchases back in the room, and then had lunch at Triton's (mmm... pumpkin soup...) before heading off to our glass bottom boat excursion.

    The boat ride was fun, but I doubt I'd book it again. The first 25 minutes was a tour of Nassau Harbor, pointing out a lot of celebrity houses. We saw Oprah's, Michael Jordan's, Barry Bonds', a Saudi Prince's, etc. And after every lame joke in the script, the lady on the microphone would say "yeah mon," which I said for the rest of the cruise.

    Out at the fish-viewing site, we were herded down to the bottom deck of the boat. They made a point of saying that this was a protected area and snorkeling, fishing, and littering were punishable by fines and jail time. I took about 30 pictures, and they all turned out like this. I've found that most fish look exactly the same from above.

    We noticed that the fish were swimming back and forth from one side of the boat to another, and assumed that there were feeders underneath. It wasn't until we went back to the top deck that we noticed one of the boat staff throwing handfuls of Cheetos into the water. So let me get this straight: I'll get thrown in jail for swimming with these fish, but it's ok to feed them deep-fried cheese puffs? Riiight...

    Back onboard the ship, I was looking forward to that night's stage show: The Golden Mickeys. This is the only show onboard that I haven't seen on previous cruises. Actually, it was pretty much just a Disney cartoon love-fest. The Golden Mickey is an award handed out in categories like "best female warrior in 13th century China." Lots of favorite Disney tunes made it really fun to watch. Oh yeah - and Tarzan. Tarzan made the show really fun to watch!

    Dinner Friday night was in my favorite restaurant from previous cruises, Triton's. I had escargot, deep fried camembert, and four-cheese rigatoni, with creme brulee for dessert. And I was rather disappointed. The pasta had blue cheese in it. Who puts blue cheese in pasta?? And my creme brulee tasted great, but must've been sitting too long because the top wasn't crunchy any longer.

    I did, however, get a special birthday dessert: I didn't eat it because the red stuff on top creeped me out a little bit. The best we can figure, it's a giant petit for. I know the picture is dark and blurry, but trust me - it was beautiful. The white on the top is a white chocolate scroll with the ship silk-screened on in dark chocolate. Oh yeah - and I now have a new "today is my birthday" button to add to my collection.

    Despite the disappointments of the day, and the fact that my cold really sucked a lot of energy out of me, I proclaim 27th the Best Birthday Ever.

    02 March, 2006

    Adventures in Cruising - Day One

    I barely slept at all the night before the cruise. Yes, I was excited, but I didn't sleep because I woke up every 20ish minutes to swallow. This sore throat came out of nowhere and totally caught me off guard. So when I got up, I took some tylenol, some cold medicine, a shot of Airborne, and we finished packing. After a quick stop at Wal Mart to buy some more cold medicine, we picked up Mike and Reyna and headed toward Port Canaveral.

    We dropped off our luggage, checked in, and boarded without incident and headed up to the Beach Blanket Buffet on Deck 9 to start our 3-night food orgy. Just ask Scott how many shrimp he ate! After lunch, we went down and checked out our stateroom (which was even bigger than I thought it was going to be) and Mike & Reyna's stateroom (normal size, but with a lovely verandah). Reyna had sent a bottle of champagne and tray of sweets to our room, and that was waiting for us when we arrived. We got our luggage, unpacked our clothes that needed to be hung up, and went back up to Deck 9 for the farewell party.

    Actually, we walked through the deck party to go up to the bow of the ship to watch the horizon. We only stopped to pick up the colada/daquari swirl drink in souvenir cups. As you can tell from the picture, it was incredibly windy! I definitely prefer wind to hot and humid.

    After the deck party, it was time for the first stage show of the cruise - Hercules: the Muse-ical. The reason I love this show so much is because it doesn't take itself seriously. There's also a lot of pop culture humor injected. This time, Pain and Panic broke out singing "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me" at one point, and Hades made a crack about them being talentless like Jessica Simpson.

    I was pretty thrilled with our dining rotation this cruise because my least favorite restaurant was the first night. Parrot Cay ended up being a lot better than I remembered it. I got a grilled sirloin, Scott got the rib eye, and they had creme brulee cheesecake for dessert. Guess what I had. ;-) We actually had 9 people at our table - aside from our foursome, there was a family of 9 blonde people from Iowa. They were nice, but we mostly spent time in our respective groups.

    We closed the night exploring the ship and walking out on the deck. We got back to our stateroom to find a towel bunny left by Rudy our housekeeper at turndown. Ultimately, I was super tired and ended up going to sleep around midnight. As you'll see, exhaustion was pretty much my theme for the vacation!

    01 March, 2006


    Would it be completely obnoxious to throw in a "this time tomorrow..." post? Actually, truth be told, this time tomorrow won't be all that dramatic. I'll be squished in the back seat of Scott's car driving down 528 towards the Atlantic... looking forward to the immediate future.

    We are just about totally packed now. All that's left (I believe) are toiletries and a pair of my khaki pants that lost a button in the washer and need to be repaired. Scott's suitcase is actually fuller than mine. I'm not really sure how that happened, though I suspect the very large pair of dressy shoes may have something to do with it. And the undershirts. And his undies are bigger than mine.

    I'm babysitting this afternoon for the munchkin trio. And Scott is going down to spend quality time with his mom. I'm rather glad we're getting to spend some time apart before we get on the ship. It definitely lessens the chance that I'll kill him and throw him overboard. ;-)

    disclaimer: I am not going to kill my husband and throw him overboard. Just like he's not going to kill me when I'm pregnant.