In other news ….

I am exceedingly tired of looking at Tim Minchin.  So here’s a post to push him down the page.

I came across a really great tweet today and I’ll share but it occurred to me that the people who read this blog (that I know about, anyway) already know this.
To wit:    @SocialMedia411: We go to LinkedIn to look for reasons to hire someone, then go to Facebook to look for reasons not to.”

I thought that was very succinct.    Keep those filters working, folks!

Bob is gone this week, took his middle son to Seattle, mainly so he (Bob) could go on a road trip.   Can’t say as I blame him.   It feels like it’s been ages since we’ve been anywhere.  I’d love to get out of town, but last year I promised Cheetah I wouldn’t leave her with anyone else until she dies.  I told you all this, right?    She’s looking mighty healthy at the moment, which is 95% good news and 5% Oh-My-God-I-Have-Cabin-Fever.

Cheetah’s annoying half sister, Ray Lynn aka RayMo aka Mo, was born in 1995 and is a year older.  Two weeks ago the new vet said Ray Lynn (Rae Lynn? RaeLin? sigh) was in exceptionally good shape for a cat of that age and didn’t actually believe me about how old she was until she saw the  age marks in the iris when she looked closely.  So there are some good genetic factors there that are keeping us off the road, and probably will for more years than I care to think about.  Perhaps I will reconsider our stay-at-home agreement, but for the moment, one of us will always be here.  Too bad Andrew has a family of his own to take care of.  I miss that handy resource. 🙂  I always trust him with our animals and he’s not afraid to give Cheetah her shots every day.

Hah.  I just took a break and fed the dogs whipped cream out of a can.  Sissy is perfectly willing to just open up and have me squirt it into her mouth sans contact with the nozzle, but Goob was another matter. It was the tail end of the can, so we practiced.  He still wants to lick it and put his mouth all over it, so he doesn’t get to participate much in the whipped cream experience.  He didn’t get any better at it by the time the can was empty.   He’s always such a dork compared to Sissy.  I wish I could take a picture while I’m doing this, but it is just too delicate a process, if you know what I mean.  Plus, you know, PETA.

While Bob is gone I am experiencing deep, deep joy in letting my messy banner fly.  I always keep it in check (which requires HEAVY and CONSTANT policing on my part) when he’s around, but with him out of the picture I am dropping things and letting them lay. Lie.  Whatever.   I’m delirious with it.   I am, by nature, a completely messy person and apparently always will be.   I thought I’d get over it if I held it under tight control for a long time but noooooooooo, it’s always hard and I always love letting loose.  If I lived by myself one would need a shovel to get in my front door.  Probably.  Actually, when I DID live by myself last time I was fairly clean.  But it was out of fear that the landlord would come over because he felt sorry for my cat and was compelled to let her in and out while I was at work.   Little did I know that his son who had lived there previously was one of those people who would let garbage bags pile up inside the house.  So I looked like an angel by comparison.  Probably even on my worst day I’m an angel in comparison to that.  But in the dark recesses of my mind I see my crazy [depressed, addicted, addled] oldest sister’s crap pile of a house before she was incarcerated into long term care.  With the garbage bags and the dog poop and the dirty dishes and overflowing ash trays.  And I am motivated to stay on the side of godliness.

In other, other sad news, we attended a funeral in Idaho this week.  My 54 year old cousin Karma shot herself.  It was a terrible funeral — so, so sad and we all cried our guts out.  She was the first person in my generation to die in the family on that side.  I spent weeks every summer with Karma and her two brothers growing up.   I hadn’t seen her in ages, and didn’t even know she was in such rough shape.  That’s sad, too, the way we have all fallen out of touch, and I attribute some of my grief to that.   I spent two full days after the funeral with my other two sisters, walking, and talking, and drinking beer and watching old movies.  It was healing for me and I’m glad we had the time together.

Ug, I am tired of being sad.  I will leave you (and me) with a happy dog picture.  Her name is Ruby and she is a random dog in Sacramento via Facebook. Better looking than Tim Minchin, for sure.


PR Part 3

Here are my promised observations of Puerto Rico, and a look into my psyche via what made my favorites list.  Before you comment, let me just say, yes, I know I’m a little bit weird.

Favorite thing:  The lighted magnifying mirror in the hotel bathroom.  It made eerie white circles around my pupils and I looked like an alien when I put my makeup on. Cool! I could not get a picture of it, dammit.

Other fave thing:  My entire life I have been trying to learn Spanish but I appear to be functionally retarded at that and every other language besides English (and sometimes English).  I did, however, master the phrase, “Donde esta el banyo?” and have practiced it in my head for years.  I was with a group at the marina looking for the can and we spotted a guard.  One of the women asked where the bathroom was and got an apologetic “no English” answer.  I rattled off my line and the guy lit up and gave us great directions.  In Spanish, which no one understood.  But dammit, he understood me!  I was WAY happier with the whole episode than I should have been.

Other other fave thing:  The city bus drivers drove like maniacs.  I swear to God at one point we took a corner on two wheels.  It was great!  I’m a speed demon myself and truly appreciated their driving art.  Also, the drivers took care of their women fares. They made sure that each woman knew what direction they needed to go for their hotel or other destination.  It restored my faith in humanity.  Sort of.

The not so great part about the city bus drivers was that they obviously ran on island time, and the “every seven minutes” schedule worked out to more like twice an hour.  Still, it was much more exciting and a lot cheaper than taxis.  We went ahead and rented a car for the last two days.

We drove around quite a bit, trying to see if the crazy Puerto Rican drivers deserved their rep, but mainly it was the tourists who drove like spazzes (us included) because there are no road signs to speak of,  and when they were visible they were oddly placed and, of course, in Spanish.  The Spanish part wasn’t so hard, but many of the signs were placed  after where you were supposed to turn or at other odd intervals which was not so good.  Nevertheless, we found everything we were looking for eventually, and then some.  It was a little confusing – the speed limit (maxima velocidad) signs were in miles, and the “distance to” signs (what few there were), were in kilometers.  The gas is sold by the liter and is cheaper than it is here at home.  Proximity to SA, maybe?  The stop signs said Pare instead of Alto like they do in Mexico.

Other observations:  There were a lot of starving dogs around Aricebo.  I didn’t notice them in San Juan or Carolina, but along the Aricebo coast they were plentiful.  I gave one friendly dog at the beach some jerky, thereby probably prolonging its misery.

There are a lot of houses around the Aricebo coast that are being reclaimed by the jungle.  It’s so wet I’ll bet it doesn’t take very long to make one dissolve back into the earth.  I didn’t get any pictures of them and I’m sorry.  They were striking and poetic looking, somehow.  That area seems to be very poor EXCEPT around the observatory.

Horses and cows run around wherever they want, sans fences, on  a lot of the island.  You have to really pay attention when you’re out in the grassy areas where the rainforest has been cut down.  We saw one wreck that looked to be wandering horse-caused.  The horse appeared to be okay, the car not so much.  The tow truck driver had his lights flashing the whole time.

All service vehicles and some wanna be service vehicles in Puerto Rico drive around with their lights flashing, unless they are running a red light, then they turn them off.  We saw that a lot.  Sometimes the cops and ambulances have their sirens on, too. We asked a local how anyone could tell if the cops were actually pulling them over or just driving around like that, and he said You Can’t!  He cited several times of being followed through two or three lights and finally having the cop pull up beside him and holler YOU! YOU PULL OVER!  They’re all used to it but it made us laugh.

The people there were, for the most part, very nice.   Most everyone in the touristy areas was bilingual which made life easier for us tourists.  And the money is US dollars.

We stayed at the Ritz Carlton, if you can believe that.  It was a nice hotel, but my room had temperature control problems, and little bitty ants.  But really great shampoo and soap!*  There were so many free toiletries (which I stashed in Bob’s suitcase thereby adding 15 lbs to it) that Bob was afraid he was going to get snagged for grand theft when we checked out.

I would stay at the Ritz again if I was rich, but we couldn’t afford to eat there this time.  Seriously. Pancakes were $16.  Hamburgers were $18.  I’m not making that up.  A mimosa was $13.  We walked elsewhere for every meal after my conference was over.  We had breakfast at the Ritz once on the first day only.  Buffet was $26.  For breakfast.  So we had menu food, and it still ended up being almost $60.  FOR BREAKFAST, people.   It was good, but there isn’t a breakfast on the planet that’s worth $60.

Getting Our Exercise
We went kayaking at night on the ocean and through the Fajardo red mangrove canals into the Laguna Grande wildlife preserve where the bioluminescence bay is.  What a cool thing to do! I highly recommend it to anyone, even in the rain.  But no pictures!  You just can’t really take them there at night, and the guide said all the ones on the web have been photoshopped all to hell and back.   Here’s a daytime video of the entrance through the mangrove forest canal.  It was scarier at night.

Here’s some info on the bioluminescence –   about the light emitting dinoflagellates.  Hey, that makes them LEDs!

I have to go back to PR.  It’s a lovely place to visit and they take pretty good care of their tourists and there are a million things to do.   I didn’t get to see the Aricebo Observatory, which was my number one tourisy goal.  Next time!  And next time, we will stay somewhere with a kitchenette….

Bob took some great pictures of Old San Juan, posted here.

*I always collect all the shampoo etc every day and haul it home – we have a collection point at work and we periodically take it all down to the WEAVE  (Women Escaping A Violent Environment) center a couple of blocks away.  They appreciate it.   It makes me feel saintly.  And it was certainly no sweat off the Ritz Carlton’s back.

Various vexations in Virginia

I have my hotel room window Wide Open – haven’t been in a hotel room with a suicide window in a long time.  I’ve kept it open most of the time I’m here.  This morning I’ve been hearing loud calls from big Canadian geese circling the buildings.  They act like they lost something, keep coming back looking for it.  Their calls draw me to the window every time.  I hang out the window and call back to them, just in case it’s me they’re looking for.  I should put some clothes on.

I’m packing up; we’re leaving at 11 but I thought I’d get some hotel bashing in first.  The room, particularly the bathroom, smells like a #hobovagina (and did before I went in there!) and the carpet reeeeeallly needs to be cleaned.  My shower curtain rod was only connected on one end so I could theoretically have aimed the water toward the sink and still been covered.  Free coffee downstairs all the time and it’s drinkable.  Cookies sometimes, too, which I have been working (mostly successfully) to avoid. Staff has all been trained to say “Hi!” in a sprightly manner when you’re concentrating on something else (like all the coffee you’re hijacking to your room) and each time it makes me jump.  Good job!  

They have in-room exercise kits, that was cool! Mostly cool because their little gym is 80 degrees and moist from the pool.  No fans.  Makes working out in there more or less impossible if you need any degree of comfort while you do it.  The in-room kit has an 8 lb ball with handles, a yoga block and mat, and some handweights.  Should have a jump rope, too, but maybe that would be too noisy.  Anyway, I can do a little muscle work in-room and a little yoga and my various stretching things so it’s not all bad.  Downstairs they have a nice little pool replete with jr lifeguard.  I went down there and did some water aerobics, that was fun except for the chlorine OD.  It’s always something.

I have many bad things to say about the training we received here, but I’ll save that for another post.  I’ve got to get packing. Literally.