Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Back in the States

Well, we made it safely back to the United States this morning. We knew we were back when our taxi home from the airport was more than the cost of the taxis to AND from the airport in Mexico City AND all the subway fare that we paid during the course of three days there! Going to Mexico City was a completely spur-of-the-moment thing and so neither of us had any expectations or real knowledge of the city. Boy were we impressed. We went expecting third-world squalor, and while there is that, there were some amazing museums, buildings, shopping, and the highlight of the trip--the Aztec pyramids just outside the city. We were going non-stop from morning till night, coming home totally tired, but ready to see more. I wish more Americans would visit that amazing place. We went to the tourist information booth two times and both times, we were the only Americans listed on the log book. When people found out we were Americans, they were so excited to talk to us and try out their English. On one street, there was a school tour going by and some girls opened up their window and yelled in English, "What is your name?" I replied and they all burst into fits of giggling.

I'll probably talk more about the experiences we had there in the next few days--expecially since Margaret has the camera and so I can't upload the pictures we took to post them here until next week. Here are a few highlights that I'll start off with:

Arrival: when we took a cab to the hotel when we got into the city, we had no idea that traffic lights were just suggestions. We were so glad that we didn't rent a car--we'd've surely be dead right now. Pedestrians would go out into the intersection when the light said walk, then have to run the rest of the way because some taxi (they were the problem 9 times out of 10) was about to hit them. We got to the hotel in one piece... at 6:00 IN THE MORNING! We hoped that they would let us check in that early, because we had no idea what we would do if we had to schlep our baggage around until check-in. Fortunately we got checked in ok and took a little nap before heading out. Our hotel had a breakfast buffet that was amazing--the usual fresh fruits, cereals, and breads, but this one also had tamales, beans, enchiladas, moles, etc.--FOR BREAKFAST! Plus, the dining area was on the roof of the building overlooking the main city square. While we were eating breakfast and gawking at the square below us, we notice a crowd--and by crowd I mean easily several thousand people, clogging a street just off the square. We decided to go down there and check it out before hitting any of the more touristy things. When we got down there, we were completely amazed. We were expecting handicrafts and the like and it was more like Wal-Mart. Individual vendors just set up a tarp and put out their wares. And by wares, I mean things like tv antennas, clothes, tortillas, bootleg videos (in fact I saw a copy of X-Men III there--TWO DAYS AFTER IT WAS RELEASED IN THEATRES IN THE STATES!!!), etc. And the people shopping completely filled the street. Occassionally a taxi would zoom down those narrow streets and people would just move out of the way and then fill back in behind it. It was complete chaos. We bought a few things and paid full price--primarily because the prices they were charging for everything was so cheap we felt guilty trying to reduce the price. I mean, how much lower can you expect to bargain when a baby outfit cost $2.25? We were so entranced by the market that we spent the entire morning there, caring less about the museums than seeing a completely foreign economy in action--an economy that is so capitalistic that it makes the U.S. system look like Communism. It was incredible.

After we got our fill of the market, we decided to head south of the city to the area where Cort├ęs built a villa for his Aztec mistress. We got there via subway and that was an eye-opener! There subway was totally high-tech, well-designed, and DIRT CHEAP. You just paid to get into the system and could go whereever you wanted. And the price was 2 pesos--which amounted to 18 cents! We took the subway down to the colonial area where our guidebook recommended a particular street to walk down. The street was lined with these elaborate mansions from the time of the Conquistadors and they were walled in with prison-like protection. The streets in that area were cobblestone and very narrow. We ate in that neighborhood (we figured that the food in that particular part of town should be really safe) and got the good fortune of being seated on the ledge of the third-floor balcony where we looked down into a church courtyard. It was like their tourism department was working overtime to impress us and boy did it work. Plus the food was really good and once again we almost felt guilty that it was so cheap. After lunch, we finished the walk along the colonial street and ran into another street filled with street vendors. We soon found out that this was common throughout the city. People just set up a booth or food stand where ever they can find an open spot. It just amazed us that they made any money, but they evidently do, or they wouldn't be doing it. A couple of times we wanted to just buy all the merchandise from some old lady who was sitting there knitting baby clothes or blankets and selling them for 3 or 4 dollars! After leaving that market, we called it a night because we were planning on visiting the Aztec pyramids the next day and wanted to get an early start. I'll continue that story tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

t-minus 8 hours...

Well, we´ve managed to avoid getting Montezuma´s Revenge while we´ve been here in Mexico City. We only have to hold out for 8 more hours until we fly back home...and as long as I really push down the temptation to buy some random fried thing on the street on the way to airport, I should be fine.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Facial hair countdown

Well, Margaret only has to put up with one more day of these extreme sideburns. Tomorrow is the movie, and I won't be surprised if she makes me shave them off when we get home from the film that night. What does she have against the 70's? They brought all sorts of other cool things--like polyester, disco, and the Carter Administration. The way I figure it, if I can't grow it on the top of my head I may as well grow it on the sides of it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stupid ageing!

Yesterday at the gym I hurt my back and have been forced to sit at a completely upright position ever since. If I slouch even a fraction of an inch, I'm treated to a searing pain rivaling the pain medieval torture victims in an iron maiden felt. I guess it keeps me looking presentable at meetings when I'm sitting at complete attention while the other attendees are slouching or dozing off. Little do they know that if I were to nod off and bend down a little, I would scream like a banshee--maybe I'll have to try that in a budget meeting--they could always use a little livening up.

Speaking of back problems, I remember one time in college when my back went out so utterly and completely that I couldn't even lift up my feet to put on my pants to go to the emergency room. I guess my brain just turned off the signal to lift my leg up because I remember standing there staring at my leg that would not move at all. I finally had to just fall over and try to put them on while I was sprawled out on the floor. I convinced my roommate to take me to the hospital, but in his typical style--couldn't help me in beccause he had to get to the gym. Two good things came out of that episode: 1) I got a week's extension on an oral report I was supposed to do but hadn't finished. Phew! and 2) I was introduced to muscle relaxants--Man! I could TOTALLY get addicted to downers. Something about the heavy, comforting feeling of drug induced drowsiness really gets me. Why would someone WANT to get addicted to uppers--when I'm addicted to something, I'd want to be able to escape into nothingness, not get MORE stuff done! (Unfortunately Margaret took them away from me after we got married). Now I just drown my pain and weariness in Diet Pepsi.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Screwy sizing

The other day I found a cool t-shirt at Target that jumped into my hands and I was therefore compelled to buy. Unfortunately I was too lazy to go to the dressing room to try it on for size...I mean who has the energy to take off the t-shirt they're wearing...not me! Since I generally wear a size small, I just grabbed that size and made the stupid assumption that it fit. Fast forward a couple of days when I was going to wear said t-shirt. YIKES! It was tight enough to wear to a Spanish discoteque on Slutty Night. Now I'm going to have to take the shirt back or give it to my four-year-old nephew, on whom it will probably fit perfectly.

This in contrast to the Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt my brother gave me that was a size XXL and it fits me fine! He wears an XL, so he thought that a size larger should fit him. Obviously the t-shirts at A&F aren't meant to be worn but tucked into the back of your pants so you can show off your chest like all the models in their catalog do (and that's both genders!)

My favorite clothing size story, however, is someone in my family, who will remained unnamed, who wears snap-button shirts and constantly complains that since most clothes are made in Asia, they're sized for Asians--that's why a medium no longer fits comfortably over his belly. Umm, yeah, smallish Asians is the reason your shirts don't fit...

Monday, May 22, 2006

X-Men movie preparations

This weekend is the premiere of the new X-Men movie. We're putting together a group to go see it on opening night--I know, we're gluttons for punishment, but the excitement is worth the crush of bodies that have been standing in line since Wednesday to make sure they're in the first screening and don't have decent jobs and/or girlfriends that keep them from doing something so crazy. I can remember back in ancient history before the invention of Fandango when we had to buy our tickets IN PERSON! When the Star Wars Triology was re-released, I remember driving up to Salt Lake at the crack of dawn to get tickets only to see HUNDREDS of people in line already--many of whom had sleeping bags and tents. I remember when the box office opened and the line started moving that some guy near the front was still asleep in his sleeping bag. There goes his Jedi credentials! Nowadays it's just a race between people who have the fastest internet connection.

In preparation for the movie, I'm growing out some Wolverine-style sideburns. Margaret has already made sufficient fun of me for them, but since I only have to grow them out a week, I can put up with it. Plus, she won't be making fun of me when she sees how scary and intimidating I am with them. I'll post some pictures from the line on Friday--I'll be the balding scrawny guy with the big mutton-chop sideburns--just what you imagine when you think of Wolverine--or Brigham Young.

Comfort TV

YES! One of my favorite after school cartoons is being released on DVD! TALE SPIN! I remember rushing home from school everyday to catch the trio of afternoon Disney cartoons: Tale Spin, Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers, and Duck Tales. It was the perfect way to unlearn the things I'd just been taught. From the hypnotic opening song to the moral at the end of the show, I and half my college roommates were transfixed. Yes--I was in COLLEGE when I watched these shows. I know, I know... I should have been watching Masterpiece Theatre or studying for my Shakespeare final, or calculating the differential of something, but watching a problem be solved in 30 minutes by a trio of ducks, a couple of chipmunks, or some bears who fly airplanes just hearkened back to a simpler time--and they were much more engaging than the Smurfs. Although I didn't hearken SO far back that I watched the cartoons in my underwear like we did watching Saturday morning cartoons--that would be a little creepy--and probably a violation of the BYU Honor Code, I'm sure.

I remember my mom being mad when my brother and I, who were both in college, were home for summer and when Duck Tales came on, we both started singing along with the opening credits. She was livid that she paid good money for us to be in college and we evidently just watched cartoons! If she had any idea how that was just the tip of the iceberg, she'd have killed us!

You can read more about the release here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The DaVinci Code Crowd

Yesterday someone at work offered me a pass for two to see a sneak preview of The DaVinci Code at a theatre here in Portland. Through the miracle of high-speed photography, you could have captured me snatching the pass from the guy's hand. The chance to see the most anticipated movie of the summer--a whole DAY before the unwashed masses? Count me IN! The pass warned that they overbook and to be sure to be at the theatre well in advance of the screening. Since we knew this was going to be a biggy, we decided to get in line around 6 (the movie started at 7). We got there around 5:50, and I'm glad we did--there were already several hundred people in line in front of us. We weren't sure if we were going to get in, but decided to risk it, as we'd only be out some time if we didn't get in. The demographics of the line were pretty interesting. The last free sneak preview we went to was "She's All That" and that line had an average age of 16. This time, there were kids alongside grandparents. When we were in line at the same theatre to see Lord of the Rings, there were people dressed up as elves, but this time, there were no albino monks or evil Catholic Cardinals--how disappointing! When the line started moving, it was clear that we were going to get in, as they were showing the free preview on FIVE SCREENS! I guess that was pragmatic--they didn't want a bunch of fanatics storming the theatre in a desperate attempt to see the movie.

Not having read the book yet, myself, I had no idea why the Catholic church was so up in arms about it. Now I know why--to have the entire foundation of your faith put into question tends to make most religions a little fidgety. A couple of times during the film, I turned around and could actually pinpoint the instant when people in the audience lost their testimony of Christianity--it was pretty amazing. Actually, I was surprised that no one stood up at any point yelling, "BLASPHEMY!"

After seeing the movie, I wanted to visit France and solve some mysteries--and get a cool safe deposit box at the Bank of Zurich to put some cool artifact in--like my circa 1987 all-black Swatch. Since all my families millions were deposited in a Bureau of Indian Affairs' trust account, that money is looooong gone. In fact, if you've been reading this blog for long, you'd know that all that's left in that account is $0.16!

I really enjoyed the movie--it was much better than Mission Impossible, and the whole idea of a religious conspiracy of that magnitude is so intriguing. It made me pull out my temple recommend when I got home and put it under a black light to see if "so dark the con of man" was scrawled across the face of it. Unfortunately I couldn't see any hidden message because there was a big red "CANCELLED" stamp on it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Happy Explosion Anniversary

I don't know where you were 26 years ago today, but I still remember my brother's birthday picnic being completely ruined by the ominous and toxic plume of ash sent our way by Mt. St. Helens. The fact that it happened on his birthday has been very convenient, as it has made me remember the exact date that the eruption took place and that knowledge has served me several times during Trivial Pursuit matches. To celebrate the event, I'd recommend 1) Mixing baking soda and vinegar to make your own volcano in the comfort of your own home (or better yet, someone ELSE'S home), or 2) Binge drink so much that a vomitous volcano erupts right out of your mouth. Have fun!

(And happy birthday, Jayson! And if you're going to do one of the above, I'd recommend the first one--I'd much rather clean up vinegar foam than puke and I'm not willing to clean THAT up for you, even if it IS your birthday!)

Mission Impossible: Laughing quietly

Over the weekend, we went to see Mission Impossible III. We decided to go see it at a boutique theatre in Vancouver, Washington and between the overpriced theatre and the ridiculousness of the movie, the evening was just slightly more enjoyable than sitting through three hours of church. (Plus, at least the refreshments at church are free--$5 for a pop!?! Give me free bread and water any day!)

First, the boutique theatre: We had no idea how much a movie cost here when we came up. We were just enamoured with the idea of sitting in big leather recliners and putting our feet up on the ottomans in a theatre. Half the group had bought their tickets before we did, so we couldn't back out when I was told that our two tickets would cost TWENTY-EIGHT FRICKIN' DOLLARS!!! That's the annual wages for a Bangladeshi worker! Plus, my brother was put out because after he'd stood in line for a pop and sat down in the theatre, a waitress came in and asked if she could get us any refreshments. At $14, she should have given us foot massages during the previews and peeled us some grapes. All in all, it was an interesting, albeit overpriced, experience. Jayson captured it perfectly when he said, "That was the first time I've been to Vancouver, Washington, and after that, I'm never coming back."

Now on to the movie: Ugg, several groan-worthy scenes had Margaret and me laughing in incredulity at the sheer absurdity. The movie was filled with them, but the best example is Tom Cruise being revived with CPR and just when you think he's dead, he springs up, grabbing a pistol and checks out the room to make sure there are no bad guys. I would think that there would be SOME lag time to get your bearings if your heart has stopped beating for over a minute. Evidently not Tom Cruise's! I'm not that alert ever after I've drunk 96 oz. of Diet Pepsi! Jayson had a good time, though. It was his second time watching the movie, but his back had been hurting him so he took a hydrocodone (the preferred drug of Rush Limbaugh) and said that the movie was much more enjoyable with narcotics. I believe him--my brain was in the "on" position and I just found it mildly entertaining.

This has set the stage for me to be either really impressed by or really disappointed by The DaVinci Code tomorrow. One thing's for sure, though: we're going to see the movie in Portland--if I want to sit in a leather seat, I'll just bring a leather jacket to sit on.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Only YOU can prevent yard fires!

This morning we were awoken at 6 am to someone from down the street banging on the door yelling "Neighbor! Neighbor!" (That goes to show us that we should meet more of our neighbors, since that was the only thing she could yell to us... what can I say, we're reclusive) Anyway, neither Margaret nor I were coherent enough to realize that it wasn't a dream, and my brother, who was visiting, ended up answering the door. When he came to the door, she frantically told him that someone had thrown a cigarette butt on our planting strip in front of the house, and since it's been hot and dry here, the bark mulch caught fire and was smoking pretty bad. She had run down to her house to get a rake and bucket of water, but needed more water and was banging on the door to ask about a hose. Actually, that was pretty diligent of her to do--I probably would have just peed on it--kidding. Margaret, alway pragmatic, upon hearing about the fire, first asked if the blueberries were okay. Yes, Margaret, they were--but the dandelions and crab grass will never be the same. The fire got put out, but it's really incurred my wrath that a stupid smoker just carelessly tossed that butt on the ground and started the fire. Do they really think that that's not littering? Just because their lungs are trash-filled and burnt black doesn't mean they can do it to my yard! The neighbor pointed out several times that the cigarette butt had bright red lipstick on it, so now I'll be scrutinizing every woman and drag queen that walks by our house smoking. I just need to think of a just punishment for them for making our front yard smell like a camp fire and for waking us all up so early--I only wake up that early on Tuesdays so I can frantically pull the trash out that I've forgotten to do the night before.

Speaking of which, one time my parents had slaughtered an animal and had thrown the head into the garbage, but it was the day after the garbage man had picked up, so it just festered in the garbage can for a week in the summer heat. On the day of garbage collection, my brother set his alarm clock early so he would be up to watch the garbage man's reaction at seeing--and particularly SMELLING--the rotting pool of ichor that was surely at the bottom of that garbage can. Evidently from the trash collector's reaction, it was worth his while to get up so early.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Crazy Hawthorne guy

I guess I've earned my Hawthorne credentials today--I got on the bus with a full kitchen garbage bag and no one even gave me a second look! I would have thought that someone carrying around a bag of garbage who didn't smell like urine would have been noteworthy. Actually, the bag was full of moss (I know--random, but it is for centerpieces for an event my work is putting on) that I had bought at Wal-Mart some huge, faceless conglomerate. It all worked out, though, as I'd much rather people see me carrying around a bag of garbage than be seen carrying Wal-Mart bags!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Perils of public transit

Yikes--I think my stars have been out of alignment since yesterday afternoon... at least pertaining to public transportation--which planet affects that? Probably Pluto, since that's the one who's too cheap to just buy another car and insists on "saving the solar system." My problems started yesterday coming home from work. I saw the bus at my transfer and it was just pulling away, but it got caught at a stop light, so I ran up to it to catch it before the light turned. And when I say 'ran' I mean it--I'd just talked with Margaret and we'd planned on meeting at a burrito place near our house and I was very anxious to meet up with her to eat there. They have these delicious burritos with meat, peas, potatoes and... oops, sorry about the tangent--back to the story. I stood in front of the bus door for a few seconds before the bus driver looked over at me and SHOOK HER HEAD in the international sign for "Not a chance!" Evidently that's not allowed, but still--here's a huddled mass standing outside her door yearning to get on. How much effort would it have taken to push the frickin' button to let me on? Like a SECOND and maybe a third of a calorie of enegy! I stood there a moment, in disbelief, then walked back to the curb and waited there for a bit before the light ever turned green! I was so aggravated. I wished that when she pulled out into the intersection that she'd have hit something so I could have told her, "that wouldn't have happened if you'd have let me on your bus." Alas, that didn't happen. Where's kharma when you need it? (And don't go saying that this was kharma happening to me because I'VE been good!)

Fast forward to this morning, when I was running to catch the bus and the bus driver didn't see me and shut me in the door! She apologized, but I couldn't help but think that there's a conspiracy going on here.

Finally, when I transfered to the train to get to the office, it was delayed because someone had put a spike or some other sharp object on a seat and the transit people had to take care of it. I guess that signals to me that Pluto has shifted out of this 'death-bringer' phase, because if it were still in effect, I would have sit down on that spike and contracted some disease from it or be in the hospital right now. Instead I'm tethered to my office computer.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Comic strips that need to die already

This past few months, the local paper here in Portland has been trying out a few different comic strips and now that they're done presenting them, they're offering a vote for which one to choose--and one of them is reruns of Peanuts! With all the talent and new ideas out there, I can't believe they're offering that as an option! That's like people rather reading some old thing like the Bible rather than some fresh new ideas--like the DaVinci Code.

Also in the paper this morning was this little thought from David Letterman:
"Today is the 75th anniversary of the Empire State Building. This is a great historical fact: The Empire State Building is the only American landmark to have ever had a giant ape on top of it. Unless you count Maria Shriver as a landmark."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Mean Girls

Today's crazy news item that's surprisingly relevant to yesterday's news item in that they both have the word "rat" in them:

Judge finds girls guilty in poisoning attempt
A Lake County circuit judge found two middle school girls guilty of trying to kill two classmates by putting rat poison in their milk cartons.
[Gee, in my day, students were just tormented or ostracized, with the occassional violent wedgie or swirly--which was fortunate for me, since I was likely on the receiving end. No one thought of POISON!]
Stephanie Quesney, 12, and Holley Sweeney, 13, were found guilty of plotting and executing a plan to kill two classmates they disliked.
[I wonder what they would have done if they'd outright HATED someone?]
Authorities say Quesnoy and Sweeney put d-Con rat poison in the milk cartons of two other girls during the lunch hour at Daly Middle School last year.
[When questioned about their motive, Quesney replied, "Like, LaFawnda wore the same skirt as me, like, FIVE times! Plus her highlights were totally off for her complexion." "It was, like, totally social triage," added Sweeney, "we we trying to put them out of their misery.]
When the two victims finished their drinks, they saw pellets at the bottom. The girls did not feel good and were taken to the hospital.
[Initially they thought they had developed spontaneous lactose intolerance.]
The green, crystalline pellets of d-Con hadn't worked their way into the milk before the victims consumed it, authorities say, and no one was injured.


This takes the "Mean Girls" concept a little too far. Why can't kids stick with making other kids' lives a living hell rather than try to kill them?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Now Oregon's in the news!

Check out this article that was in the paper this morning:

MEDFORD, OREGON--The parents of a 6-month-old boy who was bitten as many as 200 times by a rat that the family found at a nearby creek were in the Jackson County Jail on criminal mistreatment allegations Wednesday.
Robert Horsfall, 21, and Maegan McCleary, 19,
[Evidently they didn't teach rat bite prevention in the teen pregancy class.] took their son to the emergency room at Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford with the bites early Tuesday, police said.
Medford detectives said the parents apparently believed the rat was a domestic breed,
[Yeah, that's my first thought, too, when I see a bedragled rat along a creek swimming in germs with that "plague" look about it.] brought it home and kept it in a cage in the same room where they slept with the baby. When they awoke the next morning, they found that the rat had escaped and bitten the boy, police said. [Wouldn't the baby have made any noise? Mom and Dad must have been REALLY out of it--or sleep with really effective earplugs! And what's up with the rat not biting the parents? My theory is that they were so reeking of patchouli and BO that the rat wouldn't come near them, and can you blame the rat? Living on Hawthorne Street here in Portland, I sometimes have to cross the street to avoid that particularly foul stench.] He had from 100 to 200 bites all over his body, including his face, and was being treated at the hospital for infected wounds, police said. [That poor baby--now growing up with those scars on his face, he'll have to explain to people that they're RAT BITES! Nothing ruins a nascent political career like rodent scars.]
Horsfall and McCleary were arrested on suspicion of criminal mistreatment, child neglect and reckless endangerment.
[Unfortunately stupidity isn't against the law, or they would be charged with THAT too! Well, it's a good thing it isn't, or our prisons would be even more overcrowded than they already are!]

Well, that racks up a stupid story from Wyoming a couple of days ago and now one from Oregon. I'll be on the lookout for someone doing something completely stupid from Idaho and we'll have a trifecta. Fortunately my tribe's General Council is today and tomorrow, so you won't have to wait too long.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Busted!

Dang it--my masterpiece of bathroom sign defacement evidently was too avant garde, as when I went in to that bathroom this morning, this picture shows what I found: a bare place on the wall where the sign used to be. So much for my viral marketing of the "gain the itch" campaign.

On a better note, Noah's Bagels is hiring--and since I've been looking for a job with little to no responsibility, maybe I should apply--one of the perks is free bagels!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Lax postings

Sorry I've been so sporadic in posting--at work I'm putting together a gala where we're expecting around 500 guests and it's got me going CRAZY. At times like this, I almost wish I had a job at McDonald's where I wouldn't have any responsibility and I wouldn't be kept awake at night thinking about all the things I need to get done before next weekend!