Thursday, February 26, 2009

Something New, #314

I don't have a lot of patience with telephone solicitors, but had a call today unlike any other I've received.

Telemarketers are getting trickier, because when I answered the phone, the person on the other end sounded live, and there were even pauses in his conversation that were appropriate. It took me a good 30 seconds to realize it was a recording.

That does it. I'm getting caller ID and checking again that I'm on the no-call list.

Something New, #313

I've heard that the sense of smell is the one that can invoke the most memories.

I was reminded of this at my cater-waiter job, when I caught a whiff of Palmolive dish soap and immediately thought of my grandmother. It was such a strong memory, that I had to stop at the 24-hour Wal-Mart and pick up a bottle on my way home.

I cleaned the house with it and it smelled great. I did learn, however, that while Palmolive may be tough on grease and gentle on your hands, it sucks as a floorcleaner.

At least my house smelled good.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Something New, #308 - 312

The whole group from Team Lenexa toured the Capitol. We had an abbreviated tour, because apparently, the Capitol wants to get as many groups in as fast as they can. We zipped through the main rotunda, old Senate and Supreme court. The Senate was out this week, so we didn't get to go in there, because as the Capitol cop explained, "It's like going to your grandma's house - when grandma's not there, you can't go." We did get to go into the House and sit in the galley for a while, and Officer McNeely gave us his personal overview. He pointed out the bullet holes in the ceiling from a shooting that happened in the late '50s and showed us where the President comes in for the State of the Union address. Trivia: The President has to be invited in writing by the Speaker of the House to speak there. It will be especially interesting to watch the State of the Union address next week, because we've now seen the actual space. I also learned that the high school pages who serve in the Senate and House make about what I do. I gotta get another job.

After that, The Big One and I went to the Library of Congress, which was by far, the most beautiful building we'd seen. Marble sculpture everywhere, and every surface either had mosaic work or decorative painting. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when we saw the Reading Room. My number one choice for dream job would be to work there.

I also learned that each entity in the Capitol area has its own police force. They are federal police, but separate divisions, such as the Capitol police, Library of Congress police, Supreme Court police, etc. I think I got more information by talking to the cops than any tour guide or brochure. All that I talked to were friendly and helpful.

We went up the stairs to the Supreme Court, but got halfway up, and I realized I just couldn't bear another security check. I really wanted to see the inside, but we were running out of time, so I'll just look it up online.

We took the Amtrak from Union Station to BWI, so that was another first, as I'd never ridden on a train that wasn't at the zoo. I bought the tickets at the kiosk and we got on the right train on time and everything. That was just about the only place where we didn't have to go through security. Our mentor for the team, Aunt Kathy, said she was looking forward to getting back just so she could walk into a building and not have to show her purse to a guard.

Speaking of security, Homeland Security is just too much. I realize there are rules in place for our safety, but some are just ridiculous. The Big One had purchased with her own money a 3" snow globe of the Mall. She put it in her carry on, and they said it wouldn't pass. They gave us the option of going back to the desk and checking it, but we couldn't go through that again. So they threw it in the trash. Ironically, as we went to our immediate left, there was a gift shop that had a huge display of, you guessed it, snow globes. I was so mad, but found one for her on eBay, so hopefully that will make up for it.

We got home without a glitch and went straight to bed. I didn't even bother to start laundry, which is another first.

It was a wonderful trip and opportunity. I was so impressed with all the hard work that all the kids did on their models, research and presentation. Over 11,000 kids from all over competed, starting at the school and regional levels and 39 teams went to nationals. These kids really are the cream of the crop and I'd like to see data on how many kids from 17 years of this competition actually go on to become engineers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Something New, #306

I had my handwriting analyzed at the Future City closing party.

I have to admit it was scary how spot-on the gal was. She had every one of my traits, hands down. Considering that I was once written up by a crazy HR manager, Psycho Sarah, for having bad handwriting, I was glad she didn't say I was a potential serial killer.

I wonder what it would be like to do that. I would think it would get tiring, because you would constantly be analyzing any handwriting, whether you meant to or not.

I met my friend John B for breakfast for dinner. He said he'd meet me at a stop north of where I was staying and texted me directions on how to get to that stop. Apparently, even someone who hasn't seen me in over 25 years knows how much I get lost. I got on at the station where I was making my transfer, stepped into the car, and there he was! The funny thing besides running into him like that was that I had moved from one line to another to enter the car, and if I hadn't moved wouldn't have seen him at all.

Even in a new city, it's a global village.

Something New, #305

Heard myself say, "I don't have anything smaller than a fifty."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Something New, #299 - 304

Still in DC:

Preliminary judging for the Future City presentation in the morning. The Big One is not a presenter, but is part of the team. I was very impressed with how well they did. They did a skit that explained how their model worked, and then the judges asked them random questions. They showed a lot of poise under pressure. Check out for the winners later.

The Big One and I then took the subway (we're practically natives now) and visited the National Archives. We missed the Emancipation Proclamation by a day, but did see the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. It was The Big One's idea to see these, so I have to again say, I'm impressed she's interested in doing these things.

Went to the Smithsonian and I learned that saccharine is derived from coal tar. I also learned that The Big One does not know who Fonzie or John Lennon are, so I feel like I've failed her in some way.

Visited the Holocaust museum which is humbling. It's still so horrifying that something like that happened in modern times. I do have an unanswered question, Internet - where did the Nazi party get their initial funding? I assume that after they came into power, they simply took what they wanted and had their victims as labor to build the concentration camps, maintain railroads, etc., but any organization, whatever its intent, must have some kind of start-up cash flow. Who funded the publication of Mein Kampf, covered the costs of printing the propaganda that was so widely circulated, fed and clothed Hitler's army, etc.? Shouldn't these people also be held accountable? Whenever I see that Fred Phelps and his minions have staged one of their "protests", I wonder who paid for them to get there. None of the members of his "church" really work; Fred himself was disbarred, so they have to get gas money somewhere. If anyone has any theories, I'd like to know.

Saw the Jefferson Memorial. It's big and marble-y.

Something New, #297 - 298

Another day in DC:

Visited the National Aquarium, where, ironically, there is a Lake of the Ozarks exhibit. My CFL has been generous to invite us to her lake house the last 4 summers, so I know Lake of the Ozarks. I also know it probably does not warrant an exhibit in the National Aquarium. The exhibit was mostly brown, and all that was missing was empty beer cans and Party Cove beads.

The Big One took a tour with the school group to one of the aerospace museums, so I took off on my own. Got off at the subway stop at Dupont Circle and realized I'd found my people. I walked over to Georgetown, which looked how I'd imagined DC to look, but was disappointed that like most of America, has become homogenized with the same stores, restaurants, etc., that you can find anywhere. I mean, we have an Urban Outfitters, American Eagle and Kate Spade in KC. I really was hoping to see something different. I did get slightly lost, which was a good thing, because I saw the Irish Embassy, the Greek Embassy and the embassies of a bunch of Slavic countries I'd never heard of.

Went back to the National Gallery to visit with the little Vermeers and the da Vinci.

Paid $16 for 2 slices of pizza. I swear, I've spent more on this trip for meals than our plane tickets.
Speaking of homogenization, it just doesn't stop with businesses. I swear, yesterday I heard a woman speaking in Russian, but she was wearing Crocs. If I'd just seen her on the street, I'd have assumed she was just another American.

Something New, #293 - 296

More of DC firsts:

Took the subway to Arlington Cemetery. We made it for the changing of the guards at the tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and also saw 2 wreath laying ceremonies. Both were very impressive. We also saw JFK, RFK and Jackie O's graves.

Went to the Natural History museum and saw lots of bones and the Hope Diamond.

Met my friend from the Phi Kappa Sigma house, John B. at the American Indian museum. My great-great-great grandfather's portrait was in the orientation film for about 3 seconds, but we go an eyeful of it.

Ate hamburgers in Chinatown.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Something New, #284-292

In DC for 9 hours now, and so many Something News, I'll be caught up for weeks!

Learned you really do need to get to the airport 2 hours early in a post 9/11 world.

Visited the National Gallery, and nearly wept in every room. I took so much art history in school, and grew up with so many art history books, it was almost surreal to see the works of art in real life. I felt like such a hick taking photos of them, but I didn't care.

Saw the Washington Monument, Lincoln Monument, WW II Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial. And yes, the Vietnam Memorial is as moving as they say. The Lincoln Memorial was packed, due to Abe's 200th birthday, but we got to enjoy it for as long as we wanted.

The Big One and I took our first subway ride. We also got lost for the first time on the subway, but that was to be expected.

I learned that in a pinch, the security lock on a hotel room door can be used to open a bottle of beer.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Something New, #283

I learned that when I get only about 5 hours sleep, "cardamon" looks an awful lot like "cinnamon."

I also learned that cardamon/sugar toast will probably not be the next food trend.

I didn't even know I owned a jar of cardamon. It must have come with the spice rack.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Something New, #282

Reaffirming my status as a Slacker Mom...

The Big One wanted to attend dance class with one of her new middle school friends. I'll call this new friend "Maddie" because about 25% of her class is named Maddie. The rest are mostly Madisons.

I had to take The Little One to Brownies at the same time The Big One was being picked up by Maddie's family. She was OK with that, and when I got back to the house, there was a note with Maddie's cell number, her mother's cell number, her dad's cell number and the number of the dance studio, so I felt even though I'd let her go with strangers, she was in responsible hands.

Two hours later, I'm still waiting for her to come home. Her own dance class is only 50 minutes long, so I assumed Maddie's was about the same. It doesn't help that I watch way too much CSI and Cold Case, so I did start to kick myself for being so lackadaisical.

But she got home safely, and I learned to let go of her. Just a little bit. She's only 13, after all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Something New, #281

I must be spending too much time with TNG, since most of my posts involve her.

Again, while I was walking her, I was inspired to try something new. A church in our neighborhood had just poured a new sidewalk. I managed to get TNG's paw in the damp cement, immortalizing her. Unfortunately, I didn't have anything to wipe it off with, so had to make do with leaves. I also did not get a good photo of it, but I'll check on it in a couple of days to see if it's still there.

Something New, #280

There was a perfect full moon out as I walked The Neurotic Dog.

It occured to me, I'd never taken a photo of the moon, so I did.

The camera phone does not begin to do justice of how beautiful the moon was. This is it rising over our library.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Something New, #279

A couple of years ago, my Kind Friend Bev, recommended I read Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life to help me get "unstuck."

I made some changes, but wasn't serious about it until last fall. That's when I'd make changes and see almost immediate results.

So when I started panicking about how to pay for this class trip, one of the first things I did was place notes reading "DC Trip" in my silver boxes in my Travel/Helpful People and Prosperity sections.

A friend of mine whose son is on the same team called me from out of the blue "I wrote some e-mails and made some calls and got your room comped."

Keep in mind this is someone I talk to about every other month, and I hadn't even whined to her about paying for this trip. Just like that, from out of the blue.

Read the book. It works.

I wonder what would happen if I wrote "Mr. Darcy" on a slip of paper and put it in my Love/Relationships section...

Something New, #278

There's a first time for everything, I've learned.

As someone who for years hated always being late, I finally embraced tardiness.

My Flippy Friend Jen turned 40 and a mutual friend planned a surprise party for her. However, I was the one surprised as I actually showed up early. 24 hours early to be exact.

The irony is, even if I had arrived on the correct night, I'd still have been 10 minutes late. Because, of course, I got lost.

But I didn't fall down.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Something New, #277

While walking The Neurotic Dog, I decided to act like Snoopy, and run along a picket fence with a stick. I figured that was Something New, because I don't think I've ever done it.

I also figured out why I probably fall down a lot, as I nearly tripped over TND while doing this, and looking up at the moon.

I don't pay attention to where I'm going. I'm too focused on looking at what is around me. Maybe I need to up the ADD meds and tell Tom Cruise, Bijou Phillips and the other Scientologists to just suck it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Something New, #276

It's official. I am a crazy-old-lady driver.

About a month ago, a new flyover opened that pretty much takes me from my street to my office. It's awesome and I can get to and from work in less than 10 minutes, even in rush hour traffic.

Today I realized about a half mile from my office, I'd been driving on the shoulder.

In my defense, the lines have not been marked yet and I was driving straight into the sun.

I drove at least a half mile before I realized what I was doing.

The irony is, yesterday, I saw another driver doing the same thing, and thought to myself, "Dumbass. Driving on the shoulder."

Karma has a sense of humor.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Something New, #275

"I happen to know that in the future I will not have the slightest use for algebra, and I speak from experience. " Peggy Sue Got Married

This is one of my favorite movie quotes and my defense for having only gotten as far as Algebra 1 in high school, and earning a BFA with no math at all.

However, today I did use algebra. I had to figure out a formula on my own to calculate billing time (attorneys have their own version of time). I have no idea how I did it, but the point is I did, and it worked.

Something New, #274

I am officially the parent of a teenager as The Big One turns 13.

She's still sweet, and not too surly yet, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I just remember pretty much all of those middle school years sucked.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Counting Down...

There are only 14 days until we leave on our class trip! Donations still welcome!

Future City - Team Lenexa
Westridge Middle School
9300 Nieman
Lenexa, KS 66214

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Something New, #273

Again, Americans have too many choices.

I decided to bite the bullet and get a mini-laptop. I've been wanting (not NEEDING) one for a while to check e-mails, etc. while away from my desktop and this upcoming trip was the deciding factor.

I did all my research online and picked a model and headed to the computer superstore with a list of questions.

I learned my lesson about asking questions at the computer superstore.

Apparently, if you don't know the answers to the questions beforehand, the sales people start to speak in some strange, foreign tongue with words I've never heard.

I just wanted to know what I needed to buy to get my e-mails away from home.

After a couple of calls to friends and relatives, I picked out a different model than I originally chose, and headed home, only to find it really wasn't "ready out of the box" like the salesperson claimed and thanks to Good Neighbor Charlie, who explained it to me in a way I could understand, have it up and running.

I hope I don't have to make choices for a while.

Something New, #272

I single-handedly discovered the reason there are so many anxiety disorders in America today while trying to find the best online deal for hotel rooms.

Americans have too many choices.

After checking out about 7 booking sites, I felt the beginnings of an anxiety attack. I had to call my CFL twice to have her talk me through it, because I'd get one answer from one site, and a completely different one from another. I'm trying to make reservations at the same hotel, for the same person for the same time, and I get 7 different quotes. Then I started nearly hyperventilating because I kept thinking I could get a better deal if I kept looking.

Finally I decided, "Screw it, just do it" and booked the damn reservation.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed it's a legitimate site, there will be a room for me and I'm not getting totally ripped off on the price.