Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Dentist

I had the joy of going to the dentist today. Just a cleaning and some X-rays, no biggie. But, they had a new hygenist, so I had to explain to her that I wanted ABSOLUTELY no pain. She did really well, so I'm pretty happy about the whole thing, today at least. But getting to this point in my life has taken some serious work.

I hate the dentist. Well, to be clear, I hate going to the dentist. I had a terrible experience as a kid and then had braces put on my already straight teeth when I was in high school (supposedly to fix an overbite, whatever, I noticed no change). Then came the years between college and the job I have now (about 8 years) when I didn't have dental insurance, wasn't making much money (if any), and I was afraid of going to and paying the dentist. All of that combined gives me some justification for hating going to the dentist.

But, when I got to Peoria and got some decent dental insurance, I found a pretty good dentist. I like his hygenist and I think the dentist himself is a pretty decent guy. On my first visit, he and I came to an understanding. He walked into the exam room reading my file and said:

Dentist: So . . . I see here that you are a lawyer.

Me: Yes.

Dentist: I hate lawyers.

Me: That's okay . . . I hate dentists.

Dentist: So . . . we're good then?

Me: Yep.

I like honesty and up-front-ness. Hey, he can hate lawyers, but I bet at least one has saved his ass a couple of times. And, I can hate dentists, as long as he gives me lots of painkillers and makes my teeth look good. In my book, that's a good relationship.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Something caught my eye on Yahoo news today - a list of 10 compliments that "WOW" a man, when spoken by a woman. I figured that this might be useful information at some point in the future, so I read the article. Here they are:

(1) Your arms are definitely looking bigger
(2) Ha ha ha (as in laughing at their jokes, I assume, not at them)
(3) Wow
(4) You the man
(5) The kids just adore you
(6) What do you think?
(7) Cute feet
(8) Meow
(9) Impressive!
(10) I want you

OK, so Yahoo is not the New York Times, but I expected something a little less . . . a little less . . . I can't even think . . . juvenile? Basic? Below the belt? Driven by the lower brain, if you know what I mean?

Sure, I can imagine commenting that his arms are looking bigger, if he has been working out, and laughing at his jokes, if they are funny. And I have been known to say "wow" or "impressive" or "I want you" from time to time, when appropriate. And, if the kids adore him, I will say so. I constantly ask people, in general, what they think, so that isn't a big deal. In fact, I bet there are a lot of men that don't want to be asked what they think, particularly by women.

But . . . meow or "you the man" or "cute feet"? Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't get out any of those phrases with a straight face. Seriously, is saying that stuff really a compliment? Or is it more of a sarcastic joke?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lazy Days

As of right now, I have not been outside of my house since Friday evening, which is almost 48 hours. I think this must be a record for me - I rarely allow myself this kind of down time. However, it was sincerely needed as I feel I have been running myself ragged for months.

The weekend has been a challenge for me because I am usually one of those people who has a whole list of things to go do, mostly errands and taking care of various house, self, or baby things. I have a hard time sitting still and not thinking - I could be doing this or that or the other thing. I never just sit and watch TV - I fold laundry or read or cook or organize or something to keep my hands busy. I did very little of that this weekend. I mostly relaxed in bed and read a couple of good books. Or I relaxed on the couch and drank some good wine.

I don't think our society allows for enough down time. It is always go, go, go. I am a victim of that mentality - I even have had nightmares about not getting things done. I hope I don't have one tonight, because there is a list in the back of my head. The grass needs mowing, the laundry needs to be finished, I need to iron clothes, I should clean out the fridge, I should go grocery shopping, I could even stand to get some research done for work.

But if I had done all of those things this weekend, I would have missed making some incredible memories. My son and I spent a lot of time playing on the floor. I spent hours just watching him play with toys, figure out how to manipulate blocks and balls. He discovered the joy of playing with kitchen stuff this weekend - banging wooden spoons on the floor, walls, the dog and his own head. He is so close to crawling and I watched him try and try and try to get his hands and legs to work together. He almost did it.

Now, of course, as Monday morning approaches, my to-do list is starting to creep back into my brain. I am going to try very hard to ignore it - maybe I can get another 12 hours of relaxation in before I have to go to work tomorrow morning.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Are New Parents All that Gullible?

I didn't enter the realm of motherhood blindly. I put significant thought and energy into the decision to become a mother. What I didn't think that much about was that I was becoming a very popular type of consumer and would be subjected to all kinds of marketing ploys.

Entering into this world of baby merchandising and product-pushing has been overwhelming. I have found products and services pushed on me like I was the newest lottery winner in a small town. Therefore, I decided to list some of the products that I think are useful, essential, and worth the money. And, of course, I will list those products that are ridiculous, needless, or designed to pray on new parents' insecurities. (Please note, I have not included the obvious things on this list that are good inventions such as car seats, safer cribs, nursery monitors, etc. Those are items are a given, I am focusing on newer things.)

The Good Thing List
(1) Baby Bjorns - the freedom of having both hands free to get things done while still making baby happy? Priceless.
(2) Battery Operated Swings - I remember the time when you had to hand crank the swing every 15 minutes. It made this horrible grinding metal sound, which inevitably woke the baby up, defeating the purpose of the swing.
(3) Simple Pack n Plays (see below for exceptions) - baby containment at its best. It keeps small babies safe from the dog, it keeps mobile babies safe while you are taking a shower. They can play there, they can sleep there, it fits in my car, and it holds a lot of toys when the cleaning lady is coming.
(4) Boppy - so many uses, so little time. I have been known to rest on it myself while watching TV.
(5) Sippy Cups - I know these are hugely controversial. A lady from Easter Seals told me sippy cups were to blame for all speech delays in young children. Well, I don't know about that, but they are a big convienence item for me. For me, they encourage independance, earlier weaning from the bottle, less mess in the house, and, therefore, a happier mama.
(6) Strollers with cupholders for parents. I love, love, love this invention.

The Useless Thing List
(1) Wipe Warmers - Give me a break! I know they can get a little cold, but take 5 seconds, hold one in your hand, and there you go. Warm wipes.
(2) "Toddler" foods - These are just grown-up foods in smaller portions but twice the price. If you can't dice or cut up food for your child, you have a serious problem.
(3) "Germ Protectors" - This is a whole category on Target's baby website, consisting of multiple items designed to protect your child at the grocery store, restaurants, or any public place. Why not just keep your baby in a bubble until he is 15? In the end, they are just not necessary and just take up extra room in your life. I am not saying one should dip their baby in a vat of germs, but use common sense with germ protection. Wash your hands and the baby's hands often. There are whole generations of us that grew up healthy without the constant extra protection from germs.
(4) Extra Fancy Pack N Plays - The pack n plays with changing tables, storage bins, activity centers, etc. are just a waste of money. You will only use them for a few months and they are not worth the extra money or storage space needed.
(5) Diaper Genie - learn how to change a diaper and wrap it to contain smell and spills. If you need a lesson, email me. Put them in a regular garbage can. When they get stinky, walk them outside. Much easier (and cheaper) than the genie.
(6) Battery Powered Formula Mixers - Seriously. If you are too lazy to shake or stir your baby's formula, think twice about parenthood.
(7) Special Swaddling Blankets - Swaddling is great, but you don't need a special blanket. Any blanket will work. Or towel, sheet, adult shirt, etc.
(8) Baby Bathtubs - Waste of money and space. Your baby will only tolerate this thing for a few months. Why not just fill the regular bathtub with about an inch of water, put down a washcloth, put the baby on it, and wash. Or, use a turkey roaster, as my mother suggested.
(9) Sleep positioners. Again, another item that you will only use for a few months, if that long. For most babies, simply placing the baby on his back to sleep is sufficiently safe without the added protection (and costs).

I am sure there are people who will disagree with me (there always are), but I get so frustrated hearing new parents talk about the things they felt they "had" to have when they had their first child. Months, and even weeks, later they realized it was a waste of money. Feel free to add your own items to the list!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Maybe I Need to Raise My Expectations . . .

. . . of my cat. I have been a cat owner my whole life and pretty much expect them to do nothing but, you know, cat things. Eating, using the litter box, sleeping the sunshine, playing with a few toys, ignoring me, purring, etc.

But then I read this story about the cat who can predict nursing home patients' deaths within a few hours. Jeez. That has certainly raised the bar for cats everywhere. So, I got to thinking about my cat's "special talents." Here they are:

(1) Eating Toilet Paper. My cat can find a roll of toilet paper within a one mile radius. He will search and then destroy by chewing the whole roll into tiny little pieces. If you are ever in my house and have to use the bathroom, please ask where the toilet paper is hidden. I haven't had a roll of toilet paper on the holder in either bathroom for more than three years.

(2) Instantly Teleport to the Location of a Newly Opened Window. Anytime I open a window anywhere within the house, my cat shows up immediately. I have no idea how he can travel so fast, but he can get from the basement to the second floor in nanoseconds if I open a window.

(3) Occupy Half of My Queen Size Bed. Seriously. He is a big cat (about 17 pounds) but not that big. But he can push me and the 100 pound dog around in the bed until he has half of the bed.

(4) Defy Death Multiple Times. I used to call him "Danger Kitty" because he has used about six of his nine lives. While still a kitten, he swallowed a Q-Tip whole and passed it (I didn't know until I cleaned the litter box). He has licked Nair off of my legs. He chews on plastic bags and eats the pieces. He attacks my 100 pound dog by biting her face, legs, and ass. He has attacked other similarly sized dogs in the neighborhood. Yet, he is scared of rabbits. He has fallen out of the second story window (he pushed the screen out). He has been enclosed between the window and screen for five hours because he closed it on himself trying to catch a fly.

All and all, I love my cat. I figure he is supposed to have issues because he is a rescue cat and probably suffered some trauma before he came to my house. When I mentioned the cat who can predict death to a co-worker, he said, "How do you know your cat can't predict death? Maybe he's never had the chance - you're not dead yet." Maybe I am glad my cat has the lesser feline talents.

Speaking of rescue cats, will someone please adopt the cat Eyebrows highlighted on her blog. I'm gonna cry if he doesn't get adopted soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's that Time of Year Again.

Oh joy, oh joy. It is that time of year again - time for the dreaded bra shopping trip. Why is it that all of my bras seem to fall apart around the same time every year? I stick my finger through the lace of one, rip the lining of another, the wire pokes out of a third, the hook and eye detach on the fourth, and so on and so on. The lingerie ladies tell me this is just normal wear and tear, and I suppose I believe them. I suppose any garment made of fairly thin material and lace, which contains wires and metal hooks and eyes, is going to wear out faster than, say, a T-shirt.

And I wouldn't complain (as much) if it weren't for three things:

First, bras are very expensive, even cheap ones go for $20 each, and the better quality ones are usually between $40 and $60 each. Anyone who has ever purchased a cheap bra knows that it is just a waste of money. The cheap ones fall apart faster than the expensive ones. And the cheap ones are usually less attractive than the expensive ones and made with courser material. There is nothing worse than an itchy bra.

Second, the physical act of bra shopping is about the only thing worse than shopping for swimsuits. When you enter the lingerie department, thousands of bras hang before you. They all look relatively the same. To the untrained eye (say, the male eye), it looks easy to buy a bra. Walk up to the rack, pick one out in your size (preferably the most revealing or "uplifting" as possible), pay for it, done. Works for boxers, right?

Wrong. Each one of those thousands of bras has a completely different fit. Each style (even within the same company) fits every woman differently. So, while I may be a certain size in one type of bra, I am a different size in another. So, on the advice of the lingerie lady, for every type of bra you are going to try on, you should take at least three different sizes into the dressing room. Which means, you are going to try on at least 40 bras to find two or three that actually work.

By the time you get to the dressing room, you are exhausted and the real work has not even begun. Now you starting trying them on. There are so many possible problems with any given bra. Straps - too far apart, they fall off the shoulders; too close, they show in certain shirts; too short, bad for the armpits; too long, the girls might fall out. Cups - too big causes too much movement; too small causes breathing difficulty; too high looks like an old lady bra; too low might be disasterous. Adjustments - do they slip? Do you have to take the bra off to adjust or can you do it while wearing the bra? Hooks - front or back? Padding - none, a little, or stand up on its own? Color - white, black, cream, taupe, or do you go with the crazy colors knowing you will probably not wear them that often? Decorations - will that little bow or lace or pearls show through shirts? Overall fit - too squishy, you get the dreaded unaboob; too pointy, you go Madonna in the Vogue video. I am tired just writing about it.

Finally, third - the matching underwear problem. To match or not to match? Do you buy the matching underwear knowing that, in reality, the two pieces will probably never be clean at the same time? Also, the likelihood that both the bra and the matching underwear fit well is nill. But, if you don't match, then you have that knowledge all day that your underwear doesn't match your bra. What if you are in a car accident and have to go to the hospital? Of course, then they are only going to cut that $40 bra off of you, so it probably doesn't matter.

Thankfully, the stores have mostly solved this problem by not offering matching underwear for most bras (except for Victoria's Secret, but that stuff is not really for the women, is it?) But what about those people who suffer from OCD (or are just a little pointlessly hypertechnical)? What are we to do? Just suffer in silence, I guess. Except for me, of course!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sounds Like Fun

When I picked my son up at daycare tonight, the following note was attached to his daily sheet:

Dear Parents: We will be having Wet Wednesday on July 25! Please bring a towel and a swim diaper for your child. Swimsuits are optional ;-)
Ms. [teacher] will boil some water for us so it will be nice and warm!

I read it and laughed out loud. The whole boil water bit . . . it reminded me of some evil witch planning to cook Hansel and Gretel by luring them to a pool party. I guess I had just had one of those days when you assume everyone is out to get you.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thoughts on the Air Show

So, I spent a good portion of my weekend volunteering at the Air Show. I knew I had to write something about on the blog, but I just haven't been able to decide what exactly I was going to write. As is my usual schtick, I could write some downright negative things. On the other hand, I could chose to focus on the positive. So here it goes.

Air shows are not my thing. My fair complexion really isn't suited for standing for hours in the sun on the airport runway. But there is something about the air show that brings me back every year, at least to volunteer. I decided today that it reminds me of very happy childhood memories. Although not completely the same, the Air Show reminds me of spending time with my paternal grandfather driving around to various construction sites and exploring all kinds of huge machinery.

My grandfather was a bridge builder by profession. In the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, the company he worked for built the majority of the highway overpasses in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota. He loved bridges, but, even moreso, he loved big machines. After he retired, he still spent a great deal of his time riding around Northern Minnesota looking at various jobsites and commenting on their technique. In the summers, he took me with him. We would drive around in his beat-up red pick-up truck (that I called "Pucky") and looked at the graders, backhoes, cranes, tractors, excavators, and dump trucks.

Seeing all the big machines at the Air Show reminds me of him. He would have loved the Air Show. He would have stood at the static displays and talked for hours to the pilots. He would have let me climb on them all day and never complained. He would have explained to me what each machine or plane was used for and why each part was important. He would have talked about what it was like to run these machines before they had computers or any fancy gadgets. He would have told me stories about building bridges in his day, or about the planes his brothers flew in World War II.

Most importantly, he was the only family member who could have shared this type of knowledge with me. My father inherited none of his father's interest in machinery, construction, building, or other more "manly" pursuits. (Don't get me wrong, my father has many wonderful traits - machinery is just not one of them.) My other grandfather prided himself for being an "educated gentleman" who didn't need to work with his hands. My paternal grandfather was the only one in my family who would have shared my time at the Air Show this weekend.

I spent a month every summer with my paternal grandparents until I was 18 years old. Around that time, my grandfather slowly started his long painful descent into Alzheimer's. I saw him less and less each year until, finally, he didn't recognize me anymore. He died shortly after I moved to Peoria, but he had been long gone years before that. In the last five years, he never lived in the present - he lived in what would have been his prime, talking to anyone who would listen about building bridges and the big machines he loved.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Blonde Moment

July is usually a pretty slow month in my office. The Supreme Court is not in session, the Court of Appeals doesn't hear many cases, and we aren't yet feeling the August-end-of-summer push to get cases done. So, I get a little bored and find ways to distract myself. This week, I have been distracting myself by checking out all of the interesting information about my blog compiled on my sitemeter.

I like to look at how many visitors I have had, how long they stay, when they log on, where they go when they leave, and how this changes by day and week. Perhaps the most interesting is the world map of my visitors. Of course, most come from the Peoria area, but I get a few from all over the United States and one or two from foreign countries.

So, I'm starting to notice some interesting trends, but then I noticed one particular person was always on my site. Everytime I looked, this person was on and sometimes had been on for quite some time! When I checked out the details, I found out this person's location was Virginia. Then I started to get paranoid. Who could it be? I have an ex-boyfriend in Virginia, but I haven't talked to him for years. Is he stalking me? Maybe it is the government? This is scary - this person is on EVERY TIME I check.

Wait a minute. Every time?

Yeah . . . it's me. My work IP address location is in Virginia. Duh. Just another blonde moment.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


On my way into work this morning, a young woman stopped me on Main Street and asked where the courthouse was. I am very accustomed to this question because people often get confused between the federal and county courthouses, particularly because they are within two blocks of each other. She was holding a copy of a traffic citation so I pointed further down Main Street and told her the county courthouse was just in the next block. She said thanks and went on her way.

After a few steps, she turned and looked at me again. We had the following conversation:

Woman: Do you know what happens if you don't put money in those things?

Me: You mean the parking meters?

Woman: Yeah.

Me: They give you a ticket.

Woman: Really? Do you have to pay it?

Me: Um, yeah.

I have spent most of the morning trying to understand how a person does not know you have to put money in the parking meters.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dollar Store Confessional

"Hi, my name is Ms. PH. I love the Dollar Store."

Many of my friends, colleagues, and (most certainly) my parents, would be horrified to hear me utter those words. I was not raised as a Dollar Store-Shopping person. But I secretly love it. I was shopping there the other day and realized that my love does have some definite limits. Here are two lists - the first of the things I would (and do) purchase at the Dollar Store and the second of the things that scare me at the Dollar Store.

Good Things:
- Art supplies for kids - crayons, paper, coloring books, paint, stickers, PlayDough, beads, markers, sidewalk chalk. Kids go through this stuff so fast and it's not like they are making masterpieces, why not get it cheap?
- Party supplies - same stuff as the better stores, large selection, better prices.
- Plastic Toys, but only with no metal parts (see below) - they are like Happy Meal toys without the added calories and nutritional nastiness.
- Storage Bins and Baskets - you know we all need tons of them.
- Helium Balloons - again, huge selection, much lower prices.
- Hair Accessories for little girls - they lose 90% of the stuff I buy, why not make it affordable to replace?

Questionable Things:
- Any toy or kid thing with metal - check out the recalled toy list. There are pages and pages of Dollar Store toys and kids' jewelry recalled because of high lead content. Yikes!
- Food or Drink of any sort - you are just asking for a night in the bathroom
- Cleaning Products - I already do enough laundry and dishes, I don't need to do them twice because the product doesn't clean.
- Diapers - I learned that one the hard way.
- Make-up - I wonder how many animals that stuff was tested on?
- Pregnancy tests - I am not kidding, they sell these at the Dollar Store. I think pregnancy tests are just one of those things you need to shell out the money for, seriously.

Interestingly, the Dollar Store does not sell condoms (which would have made my Questionable list). Political statement anyone?? Only the rich should buy condoms, which causes the poor to need cheap pregnancy tests? Maybe I need to rethink my support of the Dollar Store . . . . On the other hand, I really don't think the Dollar Store should sell pregnancy tests OR condoms.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Secret Identities

In my short time as a blogger, I have discovered some odd things about the blogger world. If you read blogs, particularly local blogs, you find that you know little odd tidbits about lives of people who you don't really know. In some ways, reading blogs is more intimate than simply knowing someone in passing because people share more online, in a semi-private environment, than they would in public. In addition, I feel like I know some of these people, even though I don't know their real names or what they look like. Sometimes that strikes me as odd.

For example, on Saturday morning I was tasting wine downtown at the farmer's market. As I was sipping, a man rode up to the tent on his bike. The wine guy introduced him by saying, "This is Kevin, he's a chef." As I started to say hello, I almost said, "Oh, yeah, we've met." However, we haven't actually met - I read his blog - but I kind of feel like we have. Then I almost said, "Oh, yeah, I read your blog." But then I thought, maybe this isn't Chef Kevin. I mean, it is completely possible that there is more than one bike-riding chef in Peoria named Kevin, right?

And then there is the problem of introducing myself. It sounds weird introducing yourself as Ms. Pointlessly Hypertechnical. But, using my real name seemed a little strange as well, particularly if it wasn't Chef Kevin. So, in the end, I didn't say much at all.

I was trying to explain my dilemma to a non-blogging friend over the weekend. She said, "What's the big deal with keeping your secret identity? It's not like you are Catwoman. It's not like your ability to fight crime will be destroyed by introducing yourself in public!" She has a point - but maybe part of me wants to be Catwoman. It was, after all, one of my goals in life when I was about 8 years old. I wore my Catwoman Halloween costume all the time for almost a year.

Perhaps that is part of what blogging is about - secret identities. I bet all of us wanted to be a superhero of some sort when we were kids. This is just the adult way of having a secret identity.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Peoria - Home of the Good Chain Restaurants?

I was recently shopping at the Coach store on Michigan Avenue. I went in specifically to purchase a new plain black leather wallet. As a side note, I have complained bitterly about the fact that Coach has fallen victim to the masses and started producing a cloth "signature" line. I think it is gross. As far as I am concerned, Coach is leather, not fun colors and designs and key-chain bobbles. Maybe I will write a separate post on that. But anyway . . . .

I walked into the Coach store and was immediately "assisted" by three or four chipper sales girls, all in semi-matching outfits. Apparently, early Tuesday afternoons are slow at Coach. They all wanted to help me, particularly after they saw the Coach briefcase I was carrying. Of course, what they wanted to help me with was to replace my 15-year-old briefcase with a snazzy new version. Someday, I said, but this has strong sentimental value and I can't let it go just yet.

After I made my wallet selection, which was carefully wrapped in layers of tissue, then placed in a box, then placed in a sturdy bag, my sales girl asked for my address and telephone number. When I got to the Peoria part, she exclaimed, "Ohmygosh!! You are from PEORIA!" I have never received this reaction from a Chicagoan. They usually say, "Peoria? Is that, like, in Illinois?"

My sales girl called out to another girl and said, "Lindsay, she's from PEORIA!" Lindsay came over and said, "REALLY? I LOVE Peoria. Home of the Chain Restaurants!"

Now, it is not often that I am at a loss for words, but I really didn't have a response to that. Lindsay went on to explain that she used to be from Peoria and loved the fact that Peoria always had all of the good chain restaurants. I found my voice and said, "Um, like . . . ?" She rattled off a few, such as Olive Garden, Old Chicago, Joe's Crab Shack, and Panera.

Oh, dear, I thought, I am going to say something really rude to this poor innocent sales girl. All I could get out was, "Yeah, I know, but we don't have a Cheesecake Factory! Bummer!" Unfortunately, I think my sarcasm was lost on Lindsay.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Tips for a Dinner Party in the Woods

There is one branch of my family that is much more "in tune" with nature than the rest of us. So, when they wanted to throw a party for my aunt's 60th birthday, they decided to do it in the woods. More specifically, they decided to have a five course dinner for 40 people on a primitive wild tree farm near Hurricane Ridge in Washington State. Here are a few tips I would give them, if they would ever listen to me.

First, just don't do it. It is a bad idea.

Second, if you must do a dinner for 40 people outside, make it outside food like grilled items and salads. Don't try to serve hot new potatoes (which were cooking in a small garbage can over open flame all night), herring, pork roast with prune stuffing, creamed spinach, gravad lax , rosehip soup, liverwurst, and Jansson's Temptation, among other things.

Third, don't invite elderly people to the party who can barely walk on flat ground, much less dirt paths. My grandfather is 89, his wife is 83, and there was another gentleman who was there who is 92. Seriously, people. To their credit, the elderly folks lasted longer than I did.

Fourth, consider a location with a working bathroom. Some people just don't like going potty in a make-shift outhouse using leaves for toilet paper. Or some people just won't go at all, making the party end prematurely early for them.

Fifth, consider your audience. Most of these people are not "woodsy" people. Being in the woods is enough of an experience. Eating woodsy food pushes the envelope. For example, cut the infamous "Oose Stew" from the menu. Oose stew was aptly named because it contains both moose and goose, hence "Oose." It is not funny . . . it is gross.

Sixth, warn guests ahead of time that the location is rustic and they will need warm layers, hats, and gloves. Tell guests it is very likely muddy, cold, buggy, and wet in the woods. Some people may not realize it gets down to 45 degrees at night in this part of the country. I packed summer clothes and had to make an emergency trip into town for a jacket, long pants, long sleeves, and socks. I also ruined my almost new tennis shoes walking on the mud path.

Seventh, provide a map and accurate directions to the location. The directions to the tree farm we were given were verbally given as "left, left, left, right." The road went from two-lane highway to a dirt two-wheel-rut path before we got to the tree farm. The road wasn't on the map, to say the least. And our rented Grand Marquis did not fair well in the mud.

Eighth, do not offer guests a trip to the sweat lodge as a form of entertainment. I am NOT crawling into a dirt sweat lodge naked in the middle of the woods with my family members. Or alone, for that matter. Never going to happen. Ever.

Ninth, if the invitation says the party starts at 3 pm, start the damn party at 3 pm. The guest of honor should not show up at 6:30 pm. The only entertainment (other than the outhouse and the sweat lodge) was drinking alcohol. The guest of honor was bringing most of the food, so we had three hours of only drinking. Yikes. I am surprised no one fell into the potty hole at the outhouse.

Tenth, don't try to show a family-pictures video slide show in the woods. It doesn't get dark this far north until 10 pm. The people who were left were freezing their asses off and not in the mood. Also, a row of trees does not make an adequate screen for video shows.

Not that I would know - I left the party with my son, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two-year-old nephew at 7 pm. We couldn't take it anymore. My nephew kept wandering near the poison ivy and my son had six swelling bug bites on his bald head. On the way back to the hotel, my brother saw a french restaurant. We formulated a plan - the women went back to the hotel and put the boys to bed. My brother ordered take-out from the french restaurant. We had a wonderful meal of bay scallops, salmon en croute, rare fillet with crab sauce, three desserts, and a bottle of wonderful Shiraz stolen from the tree farm party.

So, I guess it ended well for us. My parents returned at 11 pm, cold and really pissed off.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Aren't They Supposed to be Nice?

Well, I am back from a week-long and much-needed vacation. We went to the Seattle area for a semi-family reunion, and to celebrate my aunt's 60th birthday. While this week of vacation has provided many, many topics to blog about, I will start with the one that was an issue at the beginning of the trip and at the end. Flight Attendants.

Is it my imagination or have flight attendants become increasingly more surly in recent years? I remember a time when flight attendants welcomed each passenger on board with a smile and an offer of assistance, if needed. They would serve drinks with a smile and work to insure your flight was as comfortable as possible. They stopped to talk to kids, brought coloring books or wings to them and chatted with you while you were waiting for the bathroom.

On my last few trips, I have noticed that this is all gone. I know flight attendants are not really there to cater to the desires and comfort of passengers, they are there for our safety. Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. But shouldn't they at least try to be nice? Flight attendants are the most prominent face of the airline. Along with ticketing agents (who have always been surly, in my opinion), flight attendants are the people the public associates with the airline. Shouldn't this post command that they be friendly to their customers?

On my two long flights from Chicago to Seattle and Seattle to Chicago, I did not encounter a single friendly flight attendant. (I am not counting the Peoria-Chicago "hop" because they don't even have a chance to interact during that flight). On the way to Seattle, I needed four ounces of water in my son's bottle to mix with formula. I asked the flight attendant when she offered me a drink and she sighed and said "right now?" Yes, right now. Aren't you serving drinks to other passengers? I would like a Diet Coke and my kid would like four ounces of bottled water. If it makes you feel better, you can put it in a little plastic cup. Why is that so hard? So, she splashed some water in the bottle and handed it back to me. It had six and a half ounces of water in it. I figured I better not complain, so I drank two and a half ounces out of it before mixing the formula.

Even though I was travelling alone with a baby, not one flight attendant offered to help me. One flight attendant snapped at me when I asked her to tag my stroller for checking before entering the airplane. It was not her job, after all. Another flight attendant did not believe me when I said I had my seatbelt on and made me move my peacefully sleeping child off my lap to show her the seatbelt.

On the way back, one of the flight attendants was a retired Seattle cop (he had a pin proclaiming him as such). Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't think retired cops should be flight attendants. He was not a happy camper. He got pissed when I didn't have correct change for the snack box (which costs $5 on United). I had a $20 bill. I would think that if you are going to charge $5 for something on an airplane, perhaps you out to have A LOT of change with you. Most people who get cash before travelling get $20s. Everything on the plane is $5 (food, beer, alcohol, wine). Then he got mad because I couldn't hand him my garbage while feeding my son.

I wanted to be a flight attendant when I was a little kid - I loved to travel and thought it would be a great way to see the world. My dad urged me to reconsider because, as he put it, "You would have to be nice to everyone, all of the time." I agreed this would be too hard for me and chose a different career path.