Thursday, August 28, 2008

Puppy Angst

<< Real dog, Dribbler (the one without swim trunks, LOL)

I’ve been suckered by Facebook.

Sure, it’s my fault I added the Pokey! application to my profile page. But trust me – I’m not the one slathering on the guilt by putting my little imaginary golden Lab fluff ball on the “hungriest puppies” list and asking strangers worldwide to step in and care for him. For Pete’s sake, it’s only been five days, and I was busy taking care of my flesh-and-blood dog. You know, the one that won’t eat his Iams dog food that set me back $50.

I also didn’t write the software that makes this the slowest loading application in the history of slow-loading applications. It takes a large chunk of the clock to load little Pokey, only to see his (not real) pleading, pitiful eyes begging me for pretend food. Then you wait and wait for the food to pour, followed by more waiting as the program takes its sweet time to throw the Frisbee. Get outta here – this is just boring and I have more important ways to waste time.

So just quit the application, you’re thinking. But what if that action triggers a notice I euthanized my dog? Talk about guilt -- that's the motherlode right there. Besides, some sucker on the other side of the world is spending his hard-earned bones to feed a dog that doesn't exist. Maybe I can get him to pony up for a real bag of Science Diet, too.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Don't Blink

Getting my official CLIA card requires more work of me than the next travel agent. You see, they insist on a passport photo. And when the photo is official, you need to have your eyes open.

I’m a champion blinker. For years, our albums have featured photos of me with my eyes glued shut, including all but one of our wedding pictures. Professional photographers sweat bullets trying to capture a salable shot of me, and a shoot takes hours. Which means when I showed up at the post office this afternoon for my official mug shot, these folks were about to have their own “get outta here” experience.

The first lady tried four times before handing off the camera to a large, tall guy named Randy, who was quite sure he was a better photographer than I was a blinker. Two attempts later, and I could see the frustration mounting for him, too.

But like a typical guy, he decided to power his way through it. He whipped out a second camera, twice as big as the first, and BAM! He set off a flash that felt like a someone took a spiked baseball bat to my eyeballs. I’m still seeing the little blue/brown outline of that rectangle.

Well, I have a photo CLIA will accept. Unfortunately, for the next few years, I’ll be known as the travel agent who looks like someone just plugged my finger in a light socket.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Flight of Fantasy

Don’t listen when someone says flying sucks.

Sure, it can be unpleasant. But the industry is still full of human beings, so the odds of a good experience are just as great as those of having a bad day when you show up at the airport.

My husband and I showed up at the United counter on Sunday, booked on separate flights and routes from Calgary to Indy. It was going to cost several hundred dollars for me to switch to Ron’s flight and mine was oversold, Neil informed us. No big deal – it’s not like we didn’t know the score when we arrived. So we turned around to walk to our separate gates.

But Neil wasn’t ready to give up yet.

He found us a flight through Minneapolis with space and then “forgot” to charge us. Ooops, his bad. And, he apologized, we couldn’t sit together – one of us had to put on our big girl panties and sit in first class. When we trotted over to check in at the Northwest counter where he had rebooked us, the gal there was concerned that we weren’t sitting together. So she moved Ron as close as possible – to the exit row.

Did I mention they even tagged our luggage priority?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Golden Moments

OK, so maybe in a year or so the “where were you when Michael Phelps won gold medal #8” question won’t be top-of-mind with Americans. But even when his accomplishments fade, I won’t forget mine.

My husband won’t let me.

You see, I flew up to Calgary for the weekend to surprise him at a Toastmaster convention – a little “gotcha” I cooked up back in March. When I obviously wasn’t thinking Olympics or I never would have spent the frequent flier points. So as luck would have it, I was wearing a blue sparkly cocktail dress, new shiny pumps and sitting at a banquet table the night of the final medley. I’d seen two times posted: 10:58 EST, and 10:40 EST – right smack in the middle of dinner when you’re in MST. Not to mention NBC announced they’d moved up the start of the race by 30 minutes, so it could have been 10:10, better known as AT (appetizer time).

I didn’t take any chances. At the top of the hour, I excused myself and went downstairs to the hotel bar, grabbed a seat, ordered a Pepsi and some beer nuts and settled in. Of course, the correct time was the last one. I spent an hour chatting with a couple from Calgary, the bartender, and eventually another Toastmaster spouse who told his wife he had to use the restroom. At least I didn’t have to lie – my hubby just raised his eyebrows the second I stood up and started walking. He knew darn well he’d just been abandoned for a better offer.

When the race was in the history books, my shoes were off, I was jumping up and down in a party dress and high-fiving folks at the other tables. At one point the Canadian gentleman asked why he was rooting for the USA.

I knew why I was: This is my country, and Michael Phelps isn’t a Toastmaster.

I apparently missed a bad steak and half of a boring program. Great timing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic Schooling

I’ve heard all my life that travel is educational. Cynical me figured it was because some adult wanted to go to Disney World when the crowds are down in October. But I need to give that chestnut more weight – I mean, take a look at what I’ve learned from Beijing in just four days:

• Underwater cameras in the water polo pool do not transmit an attractive image.

• You can’t make cycling visually compelling, either. Not without Ben Hur-style spikes at least.

• Putting duct tape over the Nike swoosh doesn’t stop anyone in the world from recognizing this symbol.

• The 16-year-old Chinese gymnasts should compete next in coloring against the other kindergartners in their classes.

• Not even Bela Karolyi can decipher what Bela Karolyi is saying.

• Bob Costas’ wide-eyed little boy gaze isn’t working for him any more.

• Michael Phelps needs to lay off the Calvin Klein ads. Son, when someone in the excitement of celebrating pulls his pants down that far, there’s usually an action plan in mind. And my first hope was that it would ONLY involve peeing in the pool. NBC doesn't exactly want to broadcast history of another kind.

And just think, I gained all this insight without even going to the airport …

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Carbonated Comment

My husband was thirsty while we were driving home on I-65 the other day, and used that an excuse to pull into the Taco Bell drive-thru. There’s something about that purple and pink logo that calls his name.

But he was good this time and told the little squawk box he only wanted a large Pepsi with lots of ice.

At the window, the cashier cheerfully asked us for $3.97. Get outta here – we ordered a Pepsi, not a rum and Coke. Ron politely told her there was obviously a mistake since he’d ordered just one large drink.

“You guys are idiots,” she yelled back toward the restaurant.

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Derby Style in August

My get outta here moment happens fairly quickly in this little story: I found a hip, cool hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Yah, that’s not a typo. I’m talking about Louisville, city on the other side of the Ohio River on I-65 where my goal is always to leave whether I’m heading north or south.

My husband had a death in his family this week, however, that forced us to spend the night. I glanced through the usual suspects: a Super 8, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, the Seelbach, the Galt House. I just wasn’t in the mood to click any of the buttons. None of them seemed like the proper reward for standing at a funeral home for six hours in high heels, making up conversations with people you don’t know and trying to muster up a grief you don't feel.

Then I remembered an interview I’d had this spring with the owner of this new place – some hotel with a beaded limo that’s in demand for the Derby. I raced back through my notes to find the name – even 21c Museum Hotel sounded funky. So what the heck? I gave them my credit card number.

We were blown away from the sidewalk. The hotel check-in clerk doubled as our concierge, calling over to the restaurant to make reservations for our dinner and giving us a tour of the place. There’s a live performer singing on one side, and interactive art everywhere you look. I’m talking about a projected image of two people sleeping in bed on the floor, complete with the guy turning over occasionally. The bathroom has a series of video screens tucked behind the mirror with various eyeballs staring at you while you wash your hands. Yah, it sounds creepy but it's still cool.

Our room was incredible – 42-inch HD television screen; thick, bouncy carpet, and a rubber duck in the tub. And free WiFi. I’m not making that up. We’re talking a 4-star hotel that’s giving away Internet connections. Un-freaking-believable. I can’t believe I didn’t bring a camera to capture my moments at this little haven. Not that you can photograph a good night’s sleep on amazing pillows, but I would have tried.

Louisville. Get outta here.