Wednesday, November 22, 2006

its 6:50 AM in Aukland

We (and our luggage - woo!) have survived our Pacific flight!

A few notes:

I'm typing on a free computer in the termina. The keyboard has english and asian "letters" on it. Its confusing.

LAX is a hole. I've used nicer bathrooms on Bourbon Street.

We were very fortunate that we visited the United ticket counter a few weeks ago and got e-tickets. With e-tickets, they checked our bags all the way through to Christchurch. Otherwise, we would have had to a) only check our bag to LAX, b) get our bags at LAX c) take the terminal transfer bus with ALL OUR LUGGAGE to a new terminal. And re-check the bags. Having no checked bags was a definite plus. If this was The Amazing Race, we would have rocked this leg.

There was a family (I presume) of Maoris that I swear, were packing their entire house for shipment. Including a 42" plasma TV - still in its box. And 5 48"x24" grey tupperware roughneck containters. With the lids simply snapped on, as if that was sufficient. Yeah, I think they used 3 rolls of tape and stalled the line by 30 minutes getting those containers ready. Who does that? I'm just glad we weren't behind them.

Our flight was nice. Free movies (8" screen w/remote), free video games, free music. And FREE WINE! Yes, just what I needed. And the food was decent. My language lesson for the day: a blanket is known as a rug.

The staff were very helpful, seats were ok. The plane was a 777 and Will and I had a whole window section of seats to ourselves, so he sat by the window, I sat by the aisle, and all our crap went in the middle seat. I watched Devil Wears Prada. Will watched some car racing show. I ended up taking 2 lunesta and think I slept for 4-5 hrs. There was a baby who was screaming for a large portion of the flight (I felt bad for them), so I think I would have slept more if I didn't have to listen to that. I did listen to my mp3 player for most of the night and that helped. I think. We'll see how tired I am in 10 hrs.

I do have a lovely latte that I got for "take away" so that has pretty much made my day. Will is eating McDonalds. Ew.

Anyways, I'm now being jostled by this dude behind me wearing his huge backpack (put it on the floor, geez!), and Will has finished up his emails, so I guess we should find our flight to Christchurch!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

We're leavin' on a jet plane


We depart at 4 PM. Wooo!

We will have to endure a total of 26 hours of travel (flights and layovers). Our longest flight is 13 hrs.

Suprisingly, we don't have an ass-load of luggage. 3 checked bags. Total. And two backpacks.

Granted, we've got 2 large stuff-saks in there that can double as extra carry-on, if we need it. And, the large suitcase is only 2/3 full. Craziness, considering this is for 2.5 weeks.

Anywho, it will be at the very least a few days before I update the blog. Have a good Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Monopoly Money!

New Zealand dollars....

Look how pretty!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

1 week to NZ!

Ok, trip planning updates!!! And how I previously stated that I was going to try to keep this "itinerary free". Well, that's not happening. I now have a calendar with our route and stops blocked out. Its mainly b/c we want to do some really cool excursions and I fear that they'll book up. Which means we need to plan and figure out which day we'd want to do the excursion so we can book it now. So much for trying to be all spontaneous.... Now its only partially spontaneous. lol

We're going to do a half or full day wine tour here: This is the main wine making region in the country. We think its smart to take a tour, rather than us try to sample wine and try to drive this standard transmission RV on the wrong side of the road. See, I can be smart if I try!

We've booked a sea kayak trip with these people:

Its a guided 2-day catered tour, where you kayak during the day (and play with fur seals) then camp on the beach. Fun!

We're re-arranged our trip a bit, based on recommendations on someone I've found on the Lush Australia/New Zealand message board. Turns out she's a kiwi that lives on the South Island, who does travel bookings. What luck!

Originally, Will wanted to head here: basically a bunch of large round rocks on a beach. We'd be driving a good bit out of our way to see them, and I was wondering if it was worth it. I know we like taking pictures of rocks and everything, but this seems a bit extreme. My NZ person said that they were cool, but more as a "place to stop along the way" rather than "lets make it a destination" place. And its all farmland.
She instead suggested that we stay on the west coast and explore their glaciers - its the only place in the world where glaciers flow directly into rainforest.

We were going to drive over Arthurs Pass. However, we'd only be there to spend the night (and have the afternoon/morning to explore a bit) before we drove to those boulders. I'm thinking we'd have a lot more fun scrapping this stop for something really unique that would require a full day to explore (rather than driving half a day, then hiking b/c we feel obligated to do so, before we drive off some more)

I've got inquirys into a few companies:
She recommended these guys:

We'd either do a 3/4 day or a full day glacier hike, which gives us about 5-6 hours on the ice. Our guide book recommended Fox Glacier (about 1 hr down the road) - stating that there's fewer people who go there (Fox only has one licensed guide company, Franz has 2 - meaning there's double the people), Fox is cheaper, and that the hike to get on the glacier is 30 min and a medium ascent, vs 1 hr and a zig zag trail up the glacier face.

So, I've also made an inquiry to these people at Fox Glacier
I've asked about the full day tour (which has actually less ice time than the Franz tour) and the Helicopter tour. I think the helicopter tour could be *amazing*. However, I'm worried that there will be kids and annoying/whiny people who's fitness level isn't up to our standards. I'm almost betting that these types are attracted to the helicopter tour so they don't have to do the ascent or hike for as long.

My NZ contact has also recommended a helicopter tour at Mt Cook, which I think we'll do. I mean, this is the place to do a helicopter tour. And we have our 0% credit card. She also suggested that we visit this while we're in Mt Cook. Will really, really liked the observatory we visited last April in west Texas, so I think this would be a really neat opportunity. To see stars that we'd only get to see in the Southern Hemisphere.

And finally, we were trying to figure out which boat tour to take at Fiordland National Park Most people take the Milford Sound tour. But, me with my aversion to crowds and idiots, I'm thinking we'll do the Doubtful Sound tour. My contact recommended that we do both (which we don't have time for), but from the information I've found, the Doubtful Sound is definitely the less popular tour. Plus, you get a lake cruise and a power plant tour - in addition to the boat ride in the sound!

And then I'm still working on trying to get Will to go canyoning..... water slides down rocks in a canyon! Sweet! I can't imagine a better way to break bones!

We'll also do JetBoating in Queenstown and maybe bungee jump....

Monday, November 06, 2006

2 weeks before NZ!

Things are starting to fall into place..... sometimes its a bit like forcing a square peg into a round hole, but hey, why would things go easy for me just b/c I'm going on vacation...

I booked our tickets waaaay back in March, with Travel**** (think gnome). Why them, I really don't know. They had a good price with a very good itinerary. Problem #1 - they issued us paper tickets. Who issues paper tickets anymore? I never got a good reason for this, either. Some mumbo-jumbo about us flying on 2 different airlines or it being international, or arriving and departing from different cities. Whatevs. Being that we booked well, 8 months in advance, OF COURSE our itinerary changed. First, it was that our departing flight from Queenstown was bumped back and didn't allow us enough time to switch planes in Aukland. Fine. We switch our Aukland to LA flight to something later, and now we have a 4 hr layover in Aukland. Fine. Then our outbound LA to Aukland flight got bumped back an hour, meaning we wouldn't have enough time to clear customs and make it to our plane to Christchurch. Another call to the gnome call in center in India, another flight change. So, basically, the only paper tickets which are still good is our initial leg, from Houston to LA. Not really helpful. And since the gnome issued paper tickets, they can't re-issue them over the phone. Meaning we'd have to be there in person to get the correct tickets. They suggested arriving at the airport and EXTRA 2 hrs early to take care of this. Um, no thanks!

So, being me and slightly paranoid and OCD, we went to the airport this past weekend to get our tickets re-issued. This was complicated by the fact that we're flying Air New Zealand from LA to NZ and vice versa, and well, there isn't an ANZ counter in Houston. They were booked as "United, a partner to ANZ" so we strolled up to the United counter, thinking we were doing the right thing. A very confusing 20 minutes later (somehow the gnomes still kept our old flights, which we wouldn't have been able to catch AND booked us on new flights) the United agent managed to not only confirm our booking BUT ISSUED US AN E-TICKET! Yay!

Of course, I'll still be paranoid about "do we have the right itinerary???" but hey, at least now my paranoia isn't compounded by the fear of losing our paper tickets.

One of the "fun" activities we're going to do while we're down there is a 2-day sea kayak trip, catered with camping on the beach. We researched companies and decided on the one we liked best. A week ago, we booked on-line. 3 days later, no confirmation, so I emailed them. I finally got an email from them last night (6 days after booking) - telling us that sorry, they don't offer a trip on our requested day, and sorry, the website is wrong and you can't park your RV at X location for storage, you have to drive it to our facility 1.5 hrs away.

Again, me with the OCD, we have a trip calendar, which outlines where we'll be each night. Its mainly so we are able to see as much as we can without rushing or driving 12 hrs in one day. So, I break out the calendar, and the prospect of re-arranging things so we can take this kayak trip with this company one day later is making me hyperventilate. Badly. So, I email company #2 to see if they have availablity. And wow, they emailed me back 1 HOUR LATER telling me that they have 2 more openings for our requested days. Woo! I don't like their proposed itinerary as much, but hey, they responded quickly AND they confirmed the details posted on their website. Sounds like a winner to me.

And finally, clothing. I was really hoping I'd be a bit skinnier for this trip. But given the set back with my swim team, it hasn't happened. I should be happy to have maintained, really. But, I still wanted some cute casual clothes for the trip, so Will and I went shopping Saturday. It wasn't fun. Hardly anything fit, or if it did, I didn't feel like paying for it. It was depressing. But I did get some cute cargo pants and light weight khakis and even a pair of shorts.

I think we're just about set for the trip. I need to email the RV (excuse me, campervan) people to see if their vehicles have a cassette tape deck (so I can use my XM cassette adaptor for my MP3 player) and to see if they'll give us the phone number for our Vonaphone. We also need to exchange US money into NZ dollars. And book a wine-country tour.

And of course, I have to get my hair cut and highlighted. And do about 5 packing run-throughs.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

ok, I admit it, I suck

Sorry blog friends! I suck. I do! I'm a terrible blogger and internet buddy.

In the past month, I've been to NOLA twice, worked my ass off on a report, booked more things for my New Zealand trip, was sick for 4 weeks, tried out a different swim team, quit that swim team. And I haven't once updated you on my life. Again, I suck.

Will's racing Sunday, so I plan on getting my peeps caught up on what's going on in my world. Because I know you all care.

Or don't. I just need to get back in the habit of blogging.

Overheard in the gym locker room

So, no more swim team. (at least until my old team’s application to swim back at the ghetto school is approved). I was trying to swim with another team, but I didn’t like the pool or the coach or the members. So much for that! Then I tried swimming at the pool at my gym. Only the chlorine fumes made me nauseous – so, that’s not working either. My latest solution – spinning!

Anyways, I need to get on with the whole point of this post - a funny quip I overheard in the locker room, post-spinning. So, these two girls (skinny, cute, younger than me. Basically bitches). I guess they were both teachers and were discussing life and all that crap. Like “ohh, how great it is that we help kids!” then they segued on the topic from teaching kids to actually having kids. Here’s my attempt of capturing their conversation, although, keep in mind I’d just done an hour of spinning before the sun was up. And I hadn’t had coffee yet.

Skinny Bitch (SB) #1: So, you ever think of having kids
SB #2: yeah, I want kids. I’m ready for kids. But you know, I’m single. And I don’t have a boyfriend even. So, I don’t have a husband. So, I’m not sure how that would really happen. You want kids?
SB #1: [wrinkles face, looks in horror ] [editorial comment - maybe she’s not such a bitch? Just skinny? Nah, skinny = bitch]
SB #2: well, I suppose that working with kids all day makes you not want to have kids yourself.
SB #1: well, that, and you know, overpopulation. Just think if everyone had kids, what that would be like.
SB #2: wow, I know what you mean. Just think of how crowded all the restaurants would be.
Wow. Just wow. Forget the strain on the government, public resources, the planet, the environment. Remember, overpopulation’s most major threat is unnecessary over-crowding of public eating establishments.

And with logic like her’s (SB #2 teaches 6th graders…. shudder), maybe THAT’s good enough reason to not have kids. So that way your kids won’t end up having a teacher as ridiculously oblivious as she is.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Off to the Big Easy..... hopefully

Headed to New Orleans tomorrow, hopefully. I've been planning this weekend for a month. There's a convention in town and a bunch of my friends will be there, meaning drinking (hopefully at free convention parties) in the quarter, with much debauchery. I'll be staying with my SIL, who lives on Bourbon.... so even more debauchery. I haven't seen her since before Katrina, and I suspect she's been having a rough go of things lately, so I want to spoil her a bit.

The only kicker is that I've been sick for 3 weeks now. 2 weeks of a head cold which has now migrated into my chest. I was doing much better last weekend and in the past 2 days have become worse. And the idea of driving 5 hrs each way by myself while sick doesn't sound great. Neither does partying while sick. Seems like a dumb thing to do.

However, I'm not exactly known for being smart. Which is probably why I relapsed - my new swim team is at an outdoor pool. 5:30 AM in 60 degree weather, wet, AND sick? Yeah, not smart.

So, hopefully when I wake tomorrow I'll magically feel better (or on the way to better) so I can have a 3 day weekend drinking and eating tasty food.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Long time no blog (again)

I've had a head cold for two weeks and its kicked my ass. I've kinda gone into hermit mode. But I finally broke down and saw the doctor last Friday and am starting to feel mostly human....

Thought I'd give an update on what I've been up to....

Jewelry - worked a craft fair last month. Only sold $75 to strangers and then another ~$100 to friends. Not a stellar outing. I'm going to enter a different craft fair in October and see how that goes. And I haven't sold jack at that gym, so I'm thinking of pulling my stuff.

Swimming - haven't swam in 2 weeks due to this dang head cold. Hoping to swim with the new team tomorrow. I've entered a swim meet that's in 2 weeks, which is kind-of a joke, as I haven't done anything resembling fast swimming all summer long. I got pretty complacent this summer. Partially b/c I could only swim 2x a week and it was at the 50 m pool. And I was the leader of the slow lane, b/c well, I prefer to lead and make my own pace rather than be last in the fast lane and get my ass kicked. I know I did myself a disservice by doing this, b/c I had no one to push me into going faster. But it made me happier, so 'evs. I'm entering 100 IM, 100 free, 50 free, and 100 breastroke. Didn't put fast seed times. Hoping just to survive, mainly b/c I haven't done much of anything in the past 2 weeks.

Work - its mostly good. I don't hate the place, so that's a start. Trying to figure out politics, etc. Where I fit in in our office, how I can get ahead. My main problem is lack of diversity. See, we only have one project manager for the kind of work I do in our office. And she's got 26 projects open, which is about 15 too many. And she's the type that needs to know 100% of the details. While I understand the reasoning behind it, it still doesn't help me much, b/c she's the log jam on most of my work. Meaning, I end up waiting on her a LOT. And I was hired to help her out and relieve some of her work load, but frequently, I feel like I'm a gnat buzzing around her, rather than an asset. I need to diversify my project load (ie - get other sources of work). I've got one project out of our NOLA office and they LOVE me, so I'm hoping that will pay off. I did really good work for them last week, and they were very vocal in their appreciation of me. I told them that if they liked what I did, to keep me in mind for future stuff. They warned me about being careful of what I wished for - so I take this as a good sign. I don't have a lot of friends at work, which I'm ok with. Everyone is nice, but busy. And I'm pretty much over the whole needing to have friends at work thing, so its no biggie. As long as no one's stabbing me in the back and I like the kind of work I'm doing, its all good.

Fun things - did a pub crawl last Friday with my husband's friends. It was pretty crazy. Cheap tequilla shots, broken glass, Will's foot bleeding, me driving our drunk friend back to our house and making him spend the night. Good times. Next weekend I'm going to NOLA to hang out with my SIL and some other friends, so that should be a good time. Hoping I remember most of it....

That's honestly about it. I'm pretty lame, I know, but I'm hoping to have fun stories after next weekend.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I am soooo bummed

I feel as though someone has ripped my heart out of my chest and tossed it on the floor, and all I can do is watch it stop beating.

Got an email from my swim coach today - starting the 18th, he's moving all swim practices to a pool that is very, very far away from me. As in I'd have to drive an extra 50 miles AND leave half-way through practice to get to work on time. In other words, its possible to swim there, but not remotely practical.

In April, we lost access to the HS pool we were swimming at. Turns out our coach was paying the HS coach under the table to grant us access. Well, the HS fired the coach and changed the locks. And guess who was screwed? Us! The solution was to swim T-Th at an outdoor pool which is on the way to work for me and M-W-F at the far, far away pool.

So, its already been sucky to have my practices reduced from 4x a week to just 2. And now I'm essentially losing my team until we can get access to our very-centrally-located-former pool again. Which, I've been told, we're doing thru proper channels, but since its a public school district, they don't move very fast.

I'm bummed for so many reasons. These people are like my family - I've got a few "moms". Some really good friends. I'm challenged, but not in a way that I'll end up hurting myself. And its a good emotional/physical release from stress - had it not been for swim team during my past job, I'm not sure I would have ended up killing a few people. And I've been with these people for 2 years. Its amazing how you bond at 5:30 AM when you're cranky and half asleep.

Mostly I'm bummed over this disconnect from my friends that I see at practice. When I moved to Houston, I had a hard time making friends (despite what you hear, I don't find Houston a very friendly place.... unless you're a specific type of person, and by that, I mean not me). So, I joined a gym, in high hopes of meeting someone with common interests and goals. And no one talked to me. And they looked at me like I was a freak when I put on my "I'm really fun and friendly" face in hopes that maybe someone will strike up a conversation. I was really hurt over how hard it was to make friends in a social-sports environment. I even joined a social volleyball team, and all that got me was a broken thumb. From beach volleyball, In December. I've always had a fairly easy time making friends in sports - two of my best friends I met in summer league swim team when I was 17. And now I'm on this team and I'm comfortable and I have friends. And now its like our parents got a divorce, and our parents are on opposite sides of the country, and we (the team) are having to pick which parent to live with. And unfortunately, it looks like I'm going to have to live on my own for a while.

So now, I have to shop for a new team. And I'm not sure any will "fit." A few are at night and I'd have to fight heavy interstate traffic. A few are in the morning, but even earlier than my current team - but its fairly easy to get to work.

I've got a few calls and emails out for research. But overall, I'm just really, really bummed that I'm losing my family, even if it is for a month or so.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why I've been so quiet.

I've been making jewelry like a woman posessed. Why? I entered myself in a craft fair here in town and I'm petrified I won't have enough goodies to sell. So each weekend and most weeknights have been dedicated towards the persuit of making bling. Its in 2 weeks and finally, as of today, I feel that I have enough product to sell.

So, visit my website and let me know what you think!

Some of my favorite new creations:

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

funny spam

Sifting thru my spam-box today trying to locate and email that got lost...

New and hot You crave to shoot like a film star…
Wed, 9 Aug 2006 01:48:39 -0400

Order it on-line and impress your girlfriend with your wonderful
shooting Don’t be afraid I think, yes. Now it’s possible to do with magic tab
You always dreamt to rock hard erections… See our shop:
Never judge a book by its cover. Better wed over the mixen than over
the moor

I'm still not sure what all of this put together is supposed to mean.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ok, this made me laugh

Yup, this is pretty much how my experience was....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Updates in no partucular order

Following up from my last post, Project “please, lets just find something minorly interesting to watch this summer” has commenced. Watched Eps 1 and 2 of Firefly – good stuff. Watched Ep 1 of Twin Peaks last night with Will. He did not like it. Complained that it was the slowest tv show ever in the history of man. I didn’t remember it being that slow, but then again, I was ~14 when it aired and all I remember was the crazy Lodge and Bob, and the more bizzaro stuff (log lady anyone?).


We didn’t do the Subaru scavenger hunt (that we did last summer). Main reason was that it started practically in Galveston (50 miles away) and we really didn’t feel like driving all over for 5 hours and burning $60 in premium unleaded gas. The finish line was at the bar we frequent by our house. So, we just hung out and watched Firefly in our air-conditioned house and showed up ~30 min before the hunters did. (seriously, we are at that bar too much. We walked in the door and the owner, who was behind the bar, greeted each of us by name. And our usual waitress had Will’s beer waiting for him. AND they kept the kitchen open late for all the Subaru people. THAT is service, people!) Anyways, I think if we did the hunt, we would have fared well, as I had a lot of the random items in my house. Xray of your hand (check – when I broke my thumb in 2002). Pic of teammate in full on ski gear (tons of already developed pics of this, I wouldn’t have even had to dress up for this). Other items (in case you care):

Pic of teammate in a shopping cart holding a block of cheese
Pic of teammate in a porn movie theater holding a mop
Pic of teammate with a stripper (sense a theme?)
Pic of teammate in a dumpster – one with head sticking out, one with both feet sticking out
Pic of teammate doing a handstand in a hot tub
Pic of teammate in a bathroom tub display
Etc etc…. lots of random stuff. This is probably the last Hunt for the Subie crew. Not sure how I feel about that.


Job update – its going ok. Have had some deliverables. Think I’ve done ok on them. At least well enough to not get yelled at. I’m figuring out personalities now – who’s responsible, helpful, lazy, short-tempered. I think my boss may be on the short-tempered end, b/c she expects perfection. However, she’s very clear about those expectations and seems to communicate things fairly well. So its more like “if I screw it up, its my fault” rather than like at my last place where I did as I was told and they couldn’t tell me I was doing the wrong thing until my review where the slammed me. I just have to remember to keep my edge and stay focused. I used to be more like my boss, with the expect perfection bit, until my last job, which totally just killed any motivation. I don’t want to be a perfectionist again, mainly due to the stress, but I do need to eliminate “oh hell I don’t care this is good enough” attitude. Because, clearly, that is not going to cut it. Still rocking the Fridays off, though. Woo!


Swimming update – we’re still homeless. So, when its not raining, I’m swimming outside Tu and Th. Fridays off I’m swimming at the other pool, but its too far away to swim at on the days that I work. I also joined a pilates studio and am doing an hour long reformer class once a week. I have no races to train for, so it seems like I’m in a bit of a rut.
I’m becoming slightly obsessed over trip details to New Zealand. Trip 2.5 weeks in Nov/Dec to the South Island. Only our airfare is booked. I think the plan is to rent a small campervan (think a van with a pop-up top that has a stovetop, benches and smoosh together to form a bed, and a teensy tiny bathroom) and tour around.


Typically, when I plan a vacation, I become obsessed and plan everything down to the minute, ensuring that we squeeze as much as possible into our time there. It can be fun – but its also exhausting. And Will is also more of a “hang out and do nothing” type of guy. I’m more of a “if I wanted to hang out, I would have just stayed home for free” type of girl. He is usually a good sport, though, and plays along w/minimal complaining.

So, I’m really fighting the urge here to plan-plan-plan. For starters, this whole campervan thing is wigging me out. Can I tolerate such cramped quarters for 18 days? Can we access all the places we want to go? Will there be enough room for all our luggage (and all the Lush NZ stuff I plan on buying early in our trip when we’re in Christchurch – they have different products that I can’t get here). So, Will and I are going to go (probably this weekend) and look at RVs locally. Just so I can visualize this. Downside is that RV sales people are going to harass us for the next 5 years, thinking we’re buying something. Sweet!

Then the other thing is that I’ve got ~5 months where I can research, research, research. I literally feel like I want to read as much as possible, so we can pick and choose as we go along. My worst fear is to come back and have someone ask “didn’t you do this – it was so cool?” and our answer is no, we didn’t even know that existed. However, there’s a balance for me between crappy touristy junk and doing once-in-a-lifetime activities. How to balance that, I’m not sure yet. And there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of information (online, message boards) devoted purely to the South Island that covers more than main/populated areas of the big national parks. For me to feel comfortable, I want to see pictures, and there just isn’t a whole lot out there (at least that I’ve found so far).

My point is, I’m trying very hard to quell my OCD tendencies. The whole point about this trip is to hang out and explore. No rushing. The goal is to focus on 3-4 regions and explore at a leisurely pace. I have regions in mind, but being OCD about this stuff, I have to research to make sure we’ve chosen wisely.

Anyways, the first regional selection is the Marlborough Region, which is the NE corner of the South Island. Tons of vineyards, pretty scenery, hopefully not a ton of people. The Marlborough Sounds is basically a bunch of inlets/finger peninsulas, and most of the land is accessible only by hiking/biking or boating. So, adventure # 1 is sea kayaking here: Not sure if we’d do a one day tour, overnight camping, guided. I just figure it would be a good way to see some parts of the country that aren’t over-ridden with LOTR crazies, and still have a relaxing adventure. You jealous yet?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

My (hopeful) solution to the summer tv blahs

Is is me, or does this summer's prime time TV options suck more than it usually does? You know its bad when you're watching PBS or the Science channel b/c there's nothing better on.

The only new shows I'm currently watching are: 4400, Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency, and Treasure Hunters. That's it. 2.5 hrs per week. My tivo is really feeling neglected!

So, my solution to the "what the heck do I watch at night" issue is to put a bunch of tv series dvds on my Netflix cue. This week its Season 1 Disc one of Firefly (somehow, we missed this show when it aired) and Twin Peaks. I figure we'll work our way thru both of these series and then we can watch old Alias or X-Files episodes to pass the time after that. The series DVDs seems like a good solution b/c its easier to commit to watching 1 or 2 1-hr tv shows than an entire movie.

So, what shows would you like to watch for the first time or re-visit this summer?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stacy and Clinton - where are you???

My group leader is in major need of Stacy and Clinton's help. The woman is seriously fashion impaired.

Now granted, I've yet to see her wear something even "decent." When I interviewed with her, she had these fakey turquoise contacts (which she wears all the time), and a pants/shirt combo that was just too tight. She's not huge, but well, she's not exactly 21 with a hot bod anymore either. In fact, she's ~38 with a 2 yr old and is still carrying the baby weight. But I digress.

We were meeting with a senior technical guy all day today in preparation for a mtg with a client that's tomorrow. I'm wearing a brown linen eyelet skirt (hangs just below the knee) and a lace necked cotton shirt. Slightly casual, but cute and nice. and WORK appropriate.

My group leader shows up in a tan MINI (micro mini?) skirt and a tan long sleeved beaded knit/ribbed top. She sits down and the skirt is so short, you can almost see up it. Then at some point, she scoots her chair over to this white board and is facing me (and sr technical dude), still sitting in her chair with this TINY skirt and I swear, you could not help but look right on up her skirt. It was horrible. Awful. Then I sat there hoping she had the sense enough to at least let this thing be a skort. I have no idea if it was, but I prefer to think of whatever item of clothing I saw under her very tiny skirt was in fact part of her skort, rather than processing the fact that I just saw my boss' underwear during a meeting.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Working hard at home!

I'm working from home today due to flooding. Damn cats aren't helping though - all they're doing is sleeping, and consequently, making ME sleepy! And then I try to put stuff on them for a stuff on my cat photo, and they freak out, which only makes me more distracted with the goal of getting a photo worthy submission.

Yup, getting lots of real work done here!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Elk, Bears, Mountains and Crown - Montana June 2006

What more could you ask for! If you don't feel like reading the following novel, pictures tell a thousand words! Erin's Flickr Pics - Pages 1-3

I flew out to Billings a few weekends ago for the weddings of one of my college friends. This was basically the last time the 5 of us will be together, b/c two of the crew are moving to Africa for work (yeah.....).

Anyways, commentary on moving aside, I was very excited to head back to Montana as I hadn't been back since my Glacer backpacking trip in 2004. I decided to get a cabin in Cooke City Thurs night and spend Thurs and Friday exploring Yellowstone and the Beartooths. The rest of my friends were a)lame and b)bridesmaids and had to attend the rehearsal Friday, so I was solo for my adventures. Which I loved.

I'd been to Yellowstone/Beartooths twice before. The first time was for a Field Ecology course in college, where we spent a week camping, hiking, learning in the area. Which was bad ass. However, I didn't see anything remotely touristy. And my last time we were there, it was January and we didn't have snowmobiles, so again - no tourist attractions. I decided that this time, if I wanted to see it, I would stop, no matter how "cliche". Old Faithful, check. Geysers, check. Yellowstone Lake, Check.

I got my car at 11 AM Thursday and made a beeline west on I-90 to Livingston, then down to Gardnier to the park entrance. Make kick-ass time - was in the park by 2 PM. Woo! I loved seeing places I've been before with fresh eyes, noticing new things along the way. And since it was the first weekend in June, there weren't too many people (aka idiots) out. Woo! I'd drive and pull over is something was picture worthy. Take a short hike if I felt like it. I had crazy good timing with seeing wildlife and attractions. I pulled up to Old Faithful 15 min before it went off, not even knowing when it was supposed to go. Yay! I can check that off my list. I also saw (from a distance, thru a scope) a pack of 4 wolves with a kill (sweet!) and 3 black bears (close enough to see them w/out binocs [which I'd stupidly left at home] but far enough away where you wouldn't get hurt).

Total wildlife viewing tally:
Bison (tons), elk (tons), white tail deer (tons), 2 bighorn sheep, 1 trumpet swan, 1 blue heron, 3 bears, 4 wolves. Good day!

Some picture highlights from Thurs:

That was all from Thursday. Needless to say, I was a wee bit tired. Got to my hotel at 9:30, ate at 10 Pm. Woke up to the annoying sounds of highway construction at 7, was on my way out by 8 AM. Stopped in Cooke City for some coffee, asked the store owner about some good "quick" morning hikes before I had to head back to Billings. He recommended Trout Lake back in the park, then some stream behind this lodge just outside of the park "there's no trail, but if you follow the stream back for a mile, there's a nice waterfall."...

So, I went to Trout Lake first. Very nice!

I drove around the park some more (more killing time, I know its rough!). Then I tried this "waterfall" trail. It consisted of bushwacking thru hills with some pretty big downed trees. I managed to scratch my legs 3 times (so badly blood ran down my legs - two weeks later I still have a scab on one of my legs), then I saw fresh bear tracks and scat, so I decided to turn around...

Got a sammich in Cooke City, found this nice little waterfall (below) off the side of the road and had a lovely picnic lunch before taking the Beartooth Highway back to Billings.

Some pics of the Beartooths (some of my fav mountains)

Rolled back into Billings at 4 PM. Went to the rehearsal dinner, then out. Much craziness ensured. My friend H got very drunk, then decided to make out with the greasy guy with a comb-over. I so wish I had my camera, b/c she still doesn't believe me!

Saturday morning, we all headed to this tiny salon west of Billings - it was like the MT equivalent of the place in Steel Magnolias. Just bizarre. Anyways, I was the only one of the group who wasn't a BM, so I did errand running, which... whatever.

Then the wedding - they had a cash bar, but we were smart enough to bring 3 bottles of crown. Which about 6 of us managed to drain thru the course of the evening. Anways, the wedding was fun, slightly bittersweet, and beautiful.

The next morning, however, was not so pretty, thanks to the 3 bottles of crown and the fact that we went out afterwards and closed a bar down... But, this is true to how our group usually is, so it was nice to go out with a bang! However, in the future, I will do my best to not fly home hungover ever again, b/c it really, really sucked.

So, that was the last trip of the summer. Now all I have to look forward to is my 2.5 weeks in New Zealand over Thanksgiving! Wooo!

Reno trip

So, this would be a lot more vivid if say, I'd written this post right after I got back instead of a month later..... but all you really care about are the pictures anyways...

Erin's Flickr pages - Reno is pages 5 - 7

I needed some R&R between jobs and my HS friend Rochelle had M-W off, so with my handy dandy free ticket (me looove Southwest Airlines!) I booked a trip out there for 5 days to visit. And go gambling. And camping. And stock up on Moose Drool.

So, Monday we just vegged, went to the casinos that night. She went thru her allotted $40 like water, I played for ~1 hr and only lost $10.

Tues we decided to take her dogs and go camping in the Sierras. Now, I like dogs, but I don't actually own dogs - and camping with 2 very large dogs is well, different. Especially when you are all sleeping in a 3 man pack tent and the biggest dog (Griffin, 120 lbs) decides to use your torso as a pillow.

I can't remember where the heck we camped now, but it was by Truckee, CA by a set of 2 reservoirs off an old forest service road. Very isolated and pretty. Unlike anywhere I've camped in TX (except for Big Bend). I was a happy camper.

Pretty Sunset:

Wednesday we woke up, ate, packed up and took the dogs to the lake to play:

Had a nice picnic lunch lakeside, then headed back to Reno.

Thurs, Ro had to work, so I rented a car and decided to head to Tahoe. Because if you absolutely *have* to kill some time, then Tahoe really is a pretty good place to go. I know, it was rough, but I was a trooper. So, more photos!

Thurs night we made tacos, drank Moose Drool out on the patio. I miss cool, dry nights. Friday, I went back to Houston... Booo!

It was really one of my better ideas to head out that way to play. I came back grounded and relaxed - not to mention I got to hang out with one of my best friends and see mountains!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Further evidence of my freak magnetism

I had to go to Atlanta for a safety coordinator training session. I have never had so many safety-related trainings for a job ever. Its craziness. Anyways, they flew in several ppl to our Atlanta office for this training. Our instructor (regional safety mgr for the company) was an hour late, claiming he forgot about the training. And he also was happy to report that at least he wasn’t hungover today, b/c he’s had to teach this class hungover before, and he sure didn’t think that was too much fun. Professional, huh?

Anyways, training was supposed to end at 5 PM, and I had a flight back home for 9:30. Well, despite starting an hour late AND taking an hour lunch break, we finished at 3 PM. A group of 5 of us decided to head back to the airport and try our luck at booking earlier flights. It was me, another girl named Erin, a guy from Florida who was cool, and 2 people from Ohio who were older, and well, socially challenged (a man with terrible teeth who kept fishing for work saying he was very good in the field, yet couldn’t figure out how to calibrate sampling equipment…. and a woman who just got her ears pierced 5 times 3 days ago, to prove her 15 yr old daughter “wrong” that she was indeed cool enough to have multiple holes in her ears….)
I was lucky enough to get an earlier flight, but we still had a few hours to kill, so we went to a restaurant for beers and food. We had a decent time eating and chatting. Then it was time for me and the other Erin to leave for our flights. We all left the restaurant at the same time, stood around saying our good-byes. The Ohio woman (fueled by her Long Island Iced Tea during dinner) hugged the 3 of us younglings good bye.

Then the guy takes my hand. I thought he was going to shake it. Um, no. I do not have that kind of luck. He takes my hand and KISSES IT. I just stand there. He said that I had the furthest to fly, so that’s why he kissed me. The other 2 younglings stood as far away from him as possible and did the kind of handshake where your fingertips barely touch.

I’ve never wanted to wash my hand with OCD tendencies more in my entire life.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

this goes under the "only this could happen to me" file

I was just in the ladies room, and the lock for the stall door got stuck "locked". Like the threading in the latch got stripped or something. So, I had to wait for ppl to leave the bathroom before I got on the floor and shimmied out from under the door. I barely fit.

I am *so* special.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

home..... what's that?

Sorry for the lack of updates, I really haven't been home much. I still owe a post on my adventures in Reno. And I just got back from Montana for a wedding, and have plenty of stories/pics to share. But I don't seem to have much time these days, and once again, I'm oot this weekend to swim in the Danskin Triathlon. So, I'll do my best in the next few weeks to at least do a photo post, b/c I took some damn fine pics this past month.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

So far.....ok

Not much to report, and I still don't have time to do a proper Reno post....

Work is ok, except for the fact that my assigned "buddy" was in a car wreck last week and is still to sore to come into work, and my boss was out today, and I spent most of yesterday in orientation, then today I twiddled my thumbs b/c there wasn't anyone around to ask...

However, its not a disaster, the ppl are nice, things seem to work, my work phone delivers voicemail messages to my email as .wav files (cool!), and yeah, thats about it so far.

Still haven't figured out how to get AIM to work..... May have to do some research or something.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cross yer fingers!

I still owe a post about my adventures in Reno, but well, that will be posted later (complete with photos!).

I start my new job tomorrow! Cross your fingers for me :)


I had all sorts of witty stuff to post from my adventures in Florida, but its been a week and now most of it is *poof* gone from my head.

So, a summary:

My events: Sure, I came in last in all 3 races, but I improved my times (all best times since joining Masters).

For those that care, my times:

Splits for 200 Free
Leg Cummulative Subtractive
1 38.32 38.32
2 1:20.29 41.97
3 2:03.30 43.01
4 2:46.59 43.29

Splits for 100 Breast
Leg Cummulative Subtractive
1 45.60 45.60
2 1:35.92 50.32

Splits for 100 IM
Leg Cummulative Subtractive
1 40.46 40.46
2 1:27.41 46.95

The only sucky thing was I DQ'd in the 100 breaststroke because - get this - I wore my watch while I swam. Uber lame. *sigh*

Other cool things:
* my friend was the queen of second place, but got best times since joining masters.
* lots of sun :) I have tan lines now :)
* seeing lots of incredible swimmers
* Matt Damon!!! He was there watching someone (we're thinking his dad) and he was behind the blocks with his uber-pregnant and disgusting beautiful wife watching. I took a photo then walked past him, close enough to touch him. Sadly, he really isn't tall and he wasn't buffed out a la Jason Bourne. But still - cool!

And now, picures!

me on the beach, with a sunburn....

cool shot of the men's 18-25 100 free start (I'm proud of this shot)

Tobi's backstroke start (again, I kick ass as a photographer)

That damn watch!!!

Matt Damon!!! (super zoom.... I'm not really a stalker, I swear!)

And to conclude - my ass, thanks to one of my smartass friends...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

So, what do you swim?

So, we spent all day blissfully happy on the beach. I only have one strip of my shin sunburned....

Anyways, the hotel we're staying at has free happy hour - I got a Dolphin Daquiri :) So, we're outside drinking and decide to go to our room to order sushi delivery. These old guys see us leaving and yell "Hey Girls!" and block our path. They're regulars - claim they've been visiting this hotel on this very weekend for the past 5 years, and now was time for their "happy hour game" and it would be something "we'd never forget."

Understandably, we were afraid. We got to talking (well, them talking, we trying to figure out how to leave...) and we said somewhere along the line "we can't play your drinking game - we have to swim tomorrow."

One of the guys at the table decides to guess what kind of swimmer we are....

He looks at Tobi - "you're a backstroker". Errily correct.

He look at me - "you're a freestyle and breastsroker." Again, scary.

His wife looks at the expressions on our faces and says "oh, he could only tell that because of your breast size".

Upon which, Tobi and I began to fold over in laughter and tears and make our escape for one more round of drinks and back to our room. And sure enough, we won't forget that little moment....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


For starters, I quit my job.

Now, pick yourselves off the floor. I have a new job to go to. Sure I hated my old job, but not enough to be unemployed.

Then I reported both of my bosses to HR for harassment and unethical conduct. Wheeee!!! I'd been documenting various harrassement/negative emails my boss has sent me over the past 6 months. The kicker was they pulled a bait and switch with my annual review. Had my face to face back in March, got the finalized review in April, with my supervisor swearing that "nothing drastic had changed". When in fact, everything had changed, and the dumbass (in writing over email - I'm trixy) denied me both a chance to review my March version and the opportunity to discuss the changes face to face. And that my friends was plenty of documentation for HR to have fun with.

Lesson: do not fuck with me. I'm way smarter and craftier than I make myself out to be.

Anyways, I have a new job starting May 22. Last day at crappy old job was yesterday.

So what am I going to do for the next 2 weeks? Vacation!

Today thru Sunday I'm in Florida for the US Masters Nat'l Championship. Not because I'm fast.... its b/c my friend who's fast is going and talked me into entering with her. She bribed me with a hotel on the beach that has free happy hour. Its pretty easy to twist my arm. I'm swimming once a day - 200 free, 100 breast, 100 IM. May have to scratch the breast as I pulled a leg muscle last week and it still hurts. But that's not until Saturday, so we'll see. But I did get a pedicure and now my toenails match my swimsuit (dark hot pink). This way, if I can't be fast, at least I can be stylish. Hey, its the best I can do.

Then next week I'm off to Reno, NV to see my best friend from HS. She just moved there and her hubby is working nights (he's a cardiac care nurse). She's lonely and has M-W off from work, and I have a free air ticket, so voila! Camping and casinos!

So, I'll be MIA for a while, but you can be sure I'll be having a blast :)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

If your TiVo does this, you're basically f*cked

We turned on the TiVo on our big tv and this is what was on the screen....

The YELLOW screen of death! Sure, it says its powering up all friedly like and seems cheerfull with its very bright yellow sunrise. But having this vision on the screen for 20 minutes, all the while fearing you're burning that very cheery bright yellow sunrise onto your tv is *not* a good thing. At all.

I'm so sad. Hard drive cratered. 70 hr memory, less than a year old.... Good thing we got it for free.

I made Will call customer service last night (I was too drained after quitting to take care of it myself). Turns out, the CS guy he got was also a Broncos fan, so they talked about the Draft and the future of the team. They got along so well, CS is not only sending us a replacement unit (as they should), but he waived the 2-day FedEx charge! Woo!

We should have our new unit Wed. I'm just glad we kept our old unit (hooked it up in the bedroom). I moved it to the living room so we can watch our shows on the big tv. The only sucky part is that we lost shows on the old hard drive, and I still haven't caught up on Prison Break, but I'll deal.

Go Broncos! And this is the *only* time I say that and mean it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More adventures in swimming

So, once again, my normal pool is unavailable. This time, the high school fired the varsity swim coach and changed the locks to all the doors. But didn't tell us. Or give us a copy of the new key.

So, Friday we showed up and couldn't get in. So, its 5:45 AM and my hair is in need of a shower before I go into work. Only I don't want to drive alllll the way back home to take a shower. So, I drive to 24-hr fitness (I have a membership there too) for a shower. No workout, just a shower. Which was odd. But whatever - I was NOT swimming with more freaks like I did last time our pool was dead.

Monday I was a bum and didn't work out. hee

Today, coach rented some lanes at a different pool for practice this morning. An outdoor pool. And as it turns out, a long course pool. 50 meters per length vs our usual 25 yds. Which makes a BIG difference.

So, the air temperature was in the upper 60's so that wasn't a big deal. There were other issues, though. Like it being completely dark at 5:30 AM. So dark that if I wanted to read my watch (for pacing), I had to hit my indiglo button. And my goggles are tinted dark purple, which (go figure) makes swimming in the dark even darker (yes, there were lights at the pool, but only a few and none under the water). Also, they don't cover the pool and there's pine trees everywhere, so I had to get used to the sensation of having long pine needles stick to me as I swim, and not freaking out thinking its a huge hairball or bug stuck to me. Although, I think I did swallow a bug today.... And they had this weird aeration system - like BIG sprinkler jets shooting water into the air and back into the pool in big drops. Cold drops. And the drops were so big you couldn't help but swallow water as you took a breath, no matter how careful you were.

And if that wasn't enough - we ran out of hot water in the showers! But (sadly, this is considered luck), we were lucky b/c they turned the water off at the main about 10 mintues after I was done showering b/c they had a pipe rupture.

I think our team just attracts facility issues.

Overall, it was just ok. I didn't like the sprinkler system spraying me the entire time or the dark. But it was nice swimming outside and the light was very pretty when the sun came up - everything was pre-dawn glowing and the water was a lovely shade of blue. And it was better than swimming with the freaky people at the public gym, so I'll take this over the gym any time (as long as the air temperature is above 60, that is...)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My redneck neighbors

I swear, I could not make this up if I could..... I came home from Subaru happy hour tonight (I just go for one beer and dinner - Will stays later) and I hear this monstrous roar outside. I open the door and see this:

That is a mailbox next to the truck. This fucker is that big. I regret that I did not actually see the person who drove the truck. I suspect he's about my height and has a small d*ick. Its all about over-compensation....

This house is a rental - they moved in the beginning of Februrary. During Rodeo time. They couldn't park their normal monster trucks in their very long driveway b/c they had a horse trailer parked there. So they had to park their ginormous (although, not as big as the Don't Hate truck pictured above) on the street. And our street is pretty narrow, so this made it so I couldn't easily back out of my driveway, which is something that's helpful at say, 5 AM.

Anyways, when rodeo was over, the trailer went away, and now they only park one monster truck in the street, which is ok, I suppose.

Will and I are thinking they're Aggies. As in Texas A&M (I'm getting ready for the hate mail now.....) But as Will and I say when we refer to our neighbors across the street, they're "fucking Aggies". Hee.

BTW, this was a hard picture to grab - cars driving down the street would stop cold to look at this behemoth (a mustang was next to it - completely dwarfed.) Then the rednecks would randomly come outside. And I had to take this with a flash, so it was probably very obvious....

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Is it summer already?

Man, I hate Texas in the summer. I used to love summers. In Colo and Montana I was always outside, working at the pool or as a park ranger. Now that I'm in Texas, all you can do in the summer is scurry from one air-conditioned space to another air-conditioned space. Its horrible.

So, we had a first for us - rolling blackouts! Wooooooo! Because its so exceptionally hot here. I imagine that the electric generators weren't ready for the demand and didn't have all their units on-line. Ours didn't go out at the house - we have 100% wind power. Wooo! I didn't realize this until just now, but no blackouts is an add'l benefit of wind power. Sweet.

Anyways, in an effort to make something positive out of this, here's a list of things I'm currently enjoying because its warmer out:

* Starbucks iced coffee. But you have to order it in this ridiculous manner (for no other reason than its SB and they make everything sound as pretentious as possible). Iced grande unsweetened iced coffee. It took me about a month to get that whole phrase down.

*My post-swimming b'fast of Stoneyfield Farms lowfat vanilla yogurt, frozen/defrosted bing cherries, and flax seed. Yumminess!

*Daylight savings. I like the sunlight!

23 days to Nationals

Eeps! Really, this trip is an excuse to sit on the beach with friends and drink fruity frozen drinks under the guise that I’m competing at the US Masters National meet. For the record, I am entered in the meet. I did not qualify for anything but the rules say that you don’t actually need to qualify for anything if you enter 3 or fewer events. So, I’m swimming one event per day: 200 free, 100 breast, and 100 IM. Nothing too horrible or painful. I’ve been swimming a LOT of 200’s lately, so that should be a breeze.

The 100 breast is a slightly different story. I went to my coach in October asking for help with my stroke, thinking this would be a simple fix. Yeah, silly me. Nothing is ever simple with my coach. I then spent about 2 practices a month (sometimes more, never less) doing a short axis pulse with flippers. This basically looks like a dolphin kick, with no kick involved. Its basically doing a sin curve with your body thru the water. And its hella boring. Which is why I really only did this about 2x a month.

So, now that this meet is a month away, I’m now in semi-panic mode. I need to learn how to do this for the meet. So, much to my surprise, Coach has decided to speed up my progress a bit. Usually, he’ll give me a task, and that’s all I’m allowed to work on for many successive practices, which is boring. I think that since I’ve got this race in less than a month, he’s willing to speed the process up a bit. He even said that this week, I might be ready to take a complete stroke. Not multiple strokes in succession, mind you, but a single solitary stroke. Ha ha ha.

Today, I took half a stroke. Woo! Arm movements! So, I guess this week I get the arms worked out and then sometime btwn now and then I’ll work on my kick and timing (big laugh). This should be amusing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Trails on the Trail – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Will and I finally went on our 5 day camping extravaganza (!) to Big Bend National Park. We were supposed to go in March, but that got nixed due to me going to MA for work. The plan (and why I even try to plan is beyond me, b/c things never go according to plan) was to spend a few nights at Elephant Tusk (we stayed there last time, unmaintained 4x4 road = no other people for MILES!) and hike around in the desert and then move to another campsite for the remainder of the trip.

We leave Wed at 4:45 AM, make 2 gas/potty stops, and arrive at the park HQ at 2:30 PM. Woo! We get one night at Paint Gap (Will’s choice) and 2 nights at E Tusk. Decide to spend the final night in the Davis Mountains. Woo! We got our campsites!

We drive over to Paint Gap and unload our wordly belongings. Then we realize its hot. As in you can’t sit down or stand still b/c its sweltering out. In fact, the only way to create a breeze is to take a hike. I immediately curse myself for wanting to take a camping trip in the DESERT in APRIL when instead, I could have spent 5 days on a cruise in Mexico. Anyways, we swelter, the clouds show up, and life is tolerable.

The next morning, we get up, pack up, and head for the mountains. We hike up the Lost Mine Trail (1,100 ft elevation gain, top elevation of 7,650 – hey, I’m used to elevation of oh say 100 feet MSL, so being over a mile high is exciting for me!). Its nice and cool up there so, we find a nice tree, eat a picnic lunch, and take a nap. Well, Will took a nap and I got bored and decided to hike around and explore. We hang around for a long time, waiting for the desert floor temp to go back down to something tolerable. Begin hiking down at 3 PM. Its bloody hot on the hike down. So hot that we decide this isn’t fun anymore and we’ll spend one night at Elephant Tusk then book it the next morning to Davis, where presumably, its much cooler. We get to ET at 6:30, sure enough, its still hot, so we pop open the back of my Xterra and use that as shade. As there’s no SHADE in the DESERT (shaking head again – what were we thinking?) Go to sleep, wake up, pack up, and 4x4 out of the park to coolness.

We stay at the Davis Mtns state park, and well, its not really that pretty. Its brown and hilly, rather than oh, mountainy. But I guess Texans think anything with a bump is a mountain. But surprise! Its actually cool enough that you had to wear pants! Yay! So, we set up and veg. The park is close to the McDonnell Observatory, and we found out they do Star Parties, so after sunset, we mosied over there to look through their telescopes at the stars. Very cool. Get back to our campsite at 11:30 (I’m sure all the campers around us appreciated us driving up that late….) and its so cold I have to bust out my down sleeping bag and sleep the whole night with it over my head to keep my nose warm. We wake up the next day, decide to take the 2 PM guided tour of the observatory, which was cool. Will really likes physics, so he definitely got his geek on. Then we spent the rest on the night bumming around and doing a whole lot of nothing.

Sunday we pack up the truck and drive 8.5 hrs eastward to Houston. I have to say, we saw an awful lot of California license plates on the drive back home. Its like they released them all at the same time in a mass migration east. We’re thinking its spring break over there? But why would you drive across Texas for spring break? Ew….

And now, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

* Seeing someplace new: we’d never been to the Davis Mtns before (we went to Big Bend a few yrs back, but were sick, so it wasn’t that much fun – sense a theme?), so it was fun to explore a new place.
* The hike up the Lost Mine Trail was beautiful. Clear skies, mountains, no idiots on the trail. What more can you ask for.
* Good food – b/c I planned it. Sausage/peppers/onions, pork fajitas, Cajun dirty rice, steak. Mmmmm. I don’t screw around when it comes to camping food.
* Time to relax. Yay! I don’t get to sit around and read books very often, so that was nice.
* Seeing the planet Saturn in such detail, you could see the shadow that its rings cast upon the planet’s surface (badass!).
* Knowing more about constellations and star formations!
* We broke down and got an air mattress to sleep on. (Yes, Christine, I owe you an apology for making fun of you, although you sort of still deserve it b/c I still wouldn’t backpack with an air mattress). My hips go numb despite me buying one of the more cushy therma-rests, so we became soft and got an obnoxious air mattress. And we slept soundly each night. Damn, that means we’ll have to keep it.
* Pictures on Flickr of our trip (purty!)

The Bad:
* Desert in April is HOT. It doesn’t seem like upper 80’s should be all that hot, but when there’s no shade and all the rocks have been baking, its really no fun at all.
* The drive – 1500 miles round trip.
* The enormous amount of bug splatters on my Xterra. I’m gonna have to get it detailed….
* The night at ET, I laid down on my sleeping bag to go to sleep and immediately had a sharp stinging sensation on my left shoulder blade. I sat up and found a squashed bumble-bee on my bag. And the bastard stung me. Fortunately, I had hydrocortisone and bandaids, but damn.

The Ugly:
* Me going Tues – Sunday w/out a shower and being around a LOT of ppl at the observatory tour on Saturday. Good thing I brought some scented lotion!

I'm a sucker for cool packaging

Saw this wine in the grocery store last night. No idea if it tastes good - but the bottle sure looks cool!

I'll let you know how it tastes....

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My Girlification is now completely evident…

Make-up: High school I did, but nothing major. College I didn’t wear any (make up, that is!). And for a while in college, my typical outfit was jeans, flannel shirt, and my brown leather hiking boots with red shoe laces (b/c I saw a J Crew catalog that had hiking boots with red shoe laces that I loved, and so I tried to do a low-budget version of that – which resulted as me being known around campus as the “girl with the red shoe laces”). I was so crunchy that Will actually had to ask me to dress like a girl every once in a while.

So, since living in Texas, I now dress like a girl on a regular basis and wear makeup. MAC, Too Faced, or Urban Decay, to be specific. And I like girly things now too*. I didn’t realize how girly I am until coming out to MA for work this week. Especially at that women’s lunch thingy yesterday. I think I was the ONLY one in the room (of about 40) wearing both mascara and eyeshadow. And not beige boring eyeshadow – PURPLE SHIMMERY eyeshadow! And don’t even get me started on how many people are in dire need of an eyebrow waxing or plucking hairs out of facial moles (I was just in a meeting with a lady who had to have at least 5 black ½” hairs growing out of a mole in her cheek – eee! Don’t most people want to take care of things like that?)

And in this lunch meeting yesterday, I was the ONLY person to be wearing high heels (stylish black leather boots w/heels).

And now, I’m here, after observing how crunchy these people are, and I’m wondering if they’re referring to me as “that girl from the Houston office with the heels and a LOT of makeup?” eeks! That’s Texas exemplified! Not that I’m going to go to work tomorrow w/out makeup (scary!) but damn, Texas has really girlified me. Damn.

*yeah, so I really do have a serious addiction to Lush. To the point where I’m now having packages shipped to my office b/c I don’t want Will to realize just how much I’ve purchased. Since Feb – I’ve placed 6 (!!) orders. But to my credit – with every order, I got at least $10 of free stuff (sometimes upwards of $60 in freebies). In fact, I have one box containing 10 freebies and 1 L of shower gel in my office under my desk waiting for me to get back and take it home and I should have one more box delivered to the house Friday. And then I go and lurk on the Lush web forum and see a posting about a party at the Lush store in Boston and how if you RSVP, you’ll get a FREE goodie bag! Free! Goodies! How can I say no?!?! And if the store won’t take my 2-for-1 promo code (I don’t have paper coupons) for some lotion (that I’m getting for my friend for her b’day next month – but I’ll keep the free one, even though I just ordered 2 for myself and got them last week…..) then I’ll most likely place ANOTHER order for that lotion online. I. have. a. problem! But at least I smell good!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Monday night in Boston

I was very lame last night after work. Went to the grocery store for snacks. Then I took the world's worst pilates class at the gym at the hotel (its actually a health club for people who aren't guests). It was this older (50's maybe?) lady who popped in a Prince CD, and instead of providing directions or telling what to focus on, she mouthed the lyrics of the Prince songs. And I don't particularly care for Prince, so this feature wasn't appreciated to me. And peppy musich during pilates? Anyways, it was horrible on many levels. At some point during the "workout" she went into cat pose (you're on your hands and knees with your back arched or flat). Now, most instructors face sideways to the class so you can see how they're positioned and doing the moves. This lady was "facing" us ass first. So, I got to look at her bony tight-fitting yoga pant covered ass - complete with wear marks where her ass-bones are. Lovely! And you couldn't see what the hell poses she was doing. Another fun series of poses was where you are lying on your back, then lift your feet/legs straight up in the air above your head and do random (to me) leg movements while in that position. Which really, what purpose does this serve except to put a lot of pressure on your neck as your entire body weight presses down on it. I left halfway into it b/c I was getting nothing out of it and her poses was really random and awful.

I then ate dinner at the hotel bar/lounge. Had a Concord Pale Ale (eh) and listened to some lady bitch about how she was a "high powered executive" in Orange County, CA and got a DUI and lost her license b/c the cops in OC are on the hunt for DUI offenders to raise the tax base. Or some crap like that. It was annoying but funny at the same time.

See - LAME! Tonight should be better. My friend from back home that now lives in Baltimore is in Boston for work so we're having dinner/drinks tonight! Woo!

Musings from Bawston

Work sent me to the Boston area for the week to help out with my OKC project (only with our Boston engineering staff). I’ve never been to MA before, so this is a nice little adventure for me. It got off to a bad start – Delta and the black hole of Atlanta (yes I know, I should have expected this) lost my luggage. Or rather severely delayed its arrival. I blamed this, of course, on the fact that I was one state over from my friend who always loses her luggage (unless she’s going on a trip with me). Hey, I passed on my freak magnet-ism to her. She lost my luggage. Ok?

Hotel is ok – its some local conference/inn kinda place. Found a pool to swim at. There haven’t been any sightings of freaky people swimming in street clothes or with full-on snorkel gear, so that’s cool. I’ve had frost on my windshield both mornings, which makes me happy.

So, today at lunch, there was an organized “Women’s Leadership [Something or other]” meeting. I suppose some people have realized that there’s not a whole lot of women in upper management company wide and some women at HQ have decided to have monthly meetings about women’s issues. And since this was going on during my visit, I got to sit in. They did talk about some interesting things. Such as how most women have a hard time saying “I want” when it comes to career objectives (like I want this project/role/promotion). And many women don’t get the recognition they deserve b/c they don’t have an advocate. So there was talk of a mentoring network, monthly meetings for this group, etc etc. It was actually not as cheesy as it sounds. And you know, they had really good points. I really would love to have a mentor and someone to be my role model. I think I would work a lot harder and have a much better attitude at work if I had a mentor. And if I worked in this office, that would definitely be possible. But I don’t – with the exception of one Sr Mgr (who is clueless and I really don’t consider her a role model in anything except panicking or ass-kissing) I am the most senior female technical person in our office. And besides me, we have 4 other technical women – all of which are younger than me. And I’ve asked for a mentor and was told by my supervisor that I wouldn’t get any one person as a mentor, that everyone on staff could be my mentor. Which I suppose is true to an extent, except for the fact that I work with a bunch of anti-social freaks who wouldn’t know how to mentor a hole in the wall. And the lady I’m working here in MA with made some comment on how Houston is a hot-bed of opportunity. And here I am getting ready to quit that hot-bed. I suppose that if I stick around another year, things would be better (maybe?). And I wish that maybe I’d met these people a year ago instead of a day ago – because then maybe my situation would be different. I really get along with these people and they make me feel like I’m smart and capable and valuable. Unlike my Houston coworkers. But that’s why I’m looking at moving on – to a place that’s going out of their way to hire me and make me feel like an asset.

Anyways, some interesting things came out of that lunch. A lot of companies out there are trying to grow. And lets face it, half of the work force out there is comprised of women. And most companies in my line of business are mostly men. And one of the things my generation specifically takes into account when shopping for a job is how many women work at the company and what positions are they in. Its something I definitely look for – and have yet to find. To the point where if I find a place that has a LOT of women, I think it’s a freakish place and want to run. But if companies want to grow, they have to at least put front a “women friendly” face. But I can’t help but think to myself that these women friendly places are weaker next to their tougher more manly counterparts. Like where I am now in MA, someone put their Avon catalog in the women’s bathroom. Avon! Blech! At my Houston office, we’re lucky if the bathroom works!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

TAR, Season 9, Episodes 3 and 4

Because I didn't manage to blog about this last week. And also: I hate non-elimination episodes!

Episode 3
And I really don't remember much about last week's episode (or last week, for that matter, damn St Patricks day.....), so here's the high/low-lights.

They're in Brazil, and then they all hop on the same plane to go to Russia - home of vodka and people that smoke a lot (according to MoJo). Then they do some stuff that's not very exciting and then they meet up with Phil in Red Square, and Phil does not eliminate them. See? Three sentences for one whole hour!

If 3T Was on the Show
Roadblock - ok, this is a no brainer, as I am the swimmer of the team. And we really, really don't need Will in a speedo on Nat'l tv thankyouverymuch. And we would have selected the bus washing detour, b/c all those damn dolls would lead to an on-camera session of "Watch Erin be a huge bitch and watch Will just stand there." Not so much fun.

My main gripe is having people who are NOT GOOD SWIMMERS do a SWIMMING roadblock. Idiots. And its not like they even had to swim all that much (although, I'll admit that the high dive would have freaked me out too).

Teams that annoyed me
Team Nipple Ring and all this hookup crap needs to shut up or die. Fran and Barry are officially on my "dead to me" list for all the bemoaning about how they're soooo veerrryyy unnnfoooootunate and theeeey'reee goinnnng to looooosssseeee". So shut up and come in last already. Just quit bitching on my tv, please

Episode 4
Still not a whole lot of action. And yet, more people annoyed me. Lovely! This episode was the "Product Placement" portion of our season - Travelocity gnome and Mercedes. I think the Mercedes wall o' doom would have been much cooler if they'd have to actually drive it themselves, though. So, they're in Russia and have to fly back to Germany. And that's about it. Oh, and the teams were instructed to bring their gnome with them to the mat - but only a few teams did this..... I think there should have been a time penalty involved... Not to mention making the teams learn and perform the dance correctly. But I digress.....

If 3T Was on the Show
Gnome hunt... really do we care? This was so lame that I don't care. So, rock-paper-scissors. Loser has to find the gnome. And Bottles vs Dancing for the Detour.... I'd say bottles. Will was convinced the glass was really sugar, but I don't know.... But I also know that Will has NO dance skill what-so-ever past the "circle slow dance", so it really would be less painful for me if he bashed a bottle over my head repeatedly than to watch him try to slap his legs and hop around with some semblance of coordination and grace.

Team Commentary
I liked the hippies until this episode. Then (as Miss Alli from TWOP pointed out), it seems like every time they're on camera, they feel the need to do or say something wacky. Every time! Can't they just stand there and be normal? And wear underwear? I really think they spent time pre-race coming up with their little wacky sayings and doings just to use on the show. Its annoying.

I should just put the TV on mute each time Team Nipple Ring is on, they are *that* idiotic. I can't even see their schtick working.

Loved the random drunk guy Lake and Michelle picked up. Go Germany! Beer! Woo!

Inability to find and use a map: see Desiree and Wanda. And doing so twice.

Stupidity for not getting and using a map, and then following someone who also doesn't have/use a map, who gets lost once, and then STILL follows the once-already-lost team again and gets lost a SECOND time at the exact spot: see the Pink Girls. Dumb.

And that's about it - not much else noteworthy happened....

Sunday, March 12, 2006

March Madness Meet Results

Here's my latest results, along with my entry seed times*

Event Seed Time Actual Time
100 breaststroke 1:44 1:38.08
100 backstroke 1:27 1:27.63
100 IM 1:36 1:31.68
200 free 3:10** 2:51.86 (!!)
100 free 1:23*** 1:18.48

*Keep in mind that I was never that fast of a swimmer.
** First entry in this event since high school. This time was based on swimming 200's on a fast pace, then taking 5 add'l seconds off for it to be "challenging".
*** Fastest time for me in Masters using proper technique. My "improper" technique time was 1:19 in Dec 2004. Since fixing my technique, I've consistently been 5-8 seconds slower.

I am so amazingly happy with myself. First of all, this was a short meet. We're talking like 10 heats of the 50 free and the rest of the events were more like 4 heats tops. Then I entered fairly long events (ie no 50's) and had 2-3 events to rest up before I had to swim again (equates to 15-20 minutes). Not much time to rest. And honestly, for the 200 I really wasn't even going all that fast. I was so tired and my hypoglycemia was kicking in - my only goal was to get a time down. Imagine my suprise when I looked at my time. Craziness! I really thought I'd be hard pressed to make 3:10 - the day before I was working hard to swim this on a 3:30. And my splits were so good - 41.27; 42.98; 44.42; 43.91. Very consistent. Sure I need to work on negative splitting that, but I'll take consistency any day! And finally, after swimming 4 events, to cut 5 seconds off my 100 free using "proper" technique.... So awesome. Yay me!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Case study: why suburban mothers in Texas should never become costume designers

I soooo wish my husband's camera phone worked better to capture this image properly.

Got free tickets to see the Houston Rockets last night. Ridiculously good seats - 9th row behind the visitors bench.

The half-time entertainment:

(again, apologizing for the craptastic picture quality...)

What you see in this very blurry picture is some high school dance troupe doing some sort of african interpretive dance. As they walked out, all four of us had a "the hell?" moment then broke out in giggles. These poor girls. Their costumes were easily the most horrific thing I've seen for something like this. Even Santino wouldn't have come close. I felt really, really bad for them.

The costumes consisted of a black leotard, but with the mid-section as black mesh. Then it had a bias skirt in fake tiger print and a big floofy collar and headbands made of brown feathers and gold sequins. And one ankle band of feathers, and perhaps wrist bands of feathers too. Fake tiger print AND feathers? Pick and animal and stick with it please. Unless you're trying to depict what a tiger looks like while he's eating a bird covered in sequins.

The dance moves were pretty funny too. Plenty of unflattering poses, and a couple where the girls paired up, and one girl had to hold another girl in an unflattering way then crawl overhere (it was complicated and bizarre and very hard to describe.)

This ranks as really one of the most bizarre halftime performances I've witnessed. Just really, really strange.... and funny!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Random updates

Sooo....updates on me.

Turned 30 on Monday. Day really didn't go all that well. It wasn't that I was upset over turning 30. I just was hoping to have a good day, and well, it wasn't a good day. At all.

Swift kitty ate something in my b'day flowers and has been acting really mopey and quiet since Monday night. She's eating (but not her usual voracious inhaltion of food) and not puking, so I'm not worried enough to call the vet, but its enough to make me still worry.

Have a swim meet this Saturday. Entered myself in some pretty ambitious events.... 100 breast, 100 back 100 IM, 200 free, and 100 free. And there's only 2-3 events separating my events, and I don't expect this to be a big meet, so I probably won't get much rest. I figure I can deck-scratch if need be. This is kind-of a test-run for events for Nationals in May. eeps!

Swim practice is pretty good lately. I have this tempo trainer gizmo that I stick under my cap and it beeps at me on a time interval that I set. It basically serves as a cue for my stroke timing. I got it to help me coordinate my kick, core rotation, and stroke for the 6 beat rotation freestyle technique. Back in January, I talked to the coach about getting faster, and he suggested I use the tempo trainer on a regular basis to train myself into swimming faster. The idea is that with each practice, I bump the tempo a hair faster. So I'll be going faster, but only fractionally, so it won't really feel like I'm putting a ton of effort into actually going faster. Then over time, say weeks of bumping the time interval faster, I'll actually be going noticably faster. I started this in Mid-Jan, and 1.5 months later, I've cut ~3-5 seconds off of my medium paced 50 free.

A swim friend is trying to recruit me to do the swim leg of the Austin Danskin Trathalon. Open water (which I've never done before...) but its only a 1/2 mile. Couldn't be all that painful. So, we'll see. Apparently, someone is trying to put together "relays" for this, but they're really short on swimmers. And seeing as how I have no business running ever again, this would be a good way for me to experience triathalons.

Work is still eh. At least I'm busy. And the current opinon of me is postive around here, so I guess that will do for now.

Having my b'day party this weekend. Nothing too crazy (I hope). We made 2 batches of homebrew - a scotch ale and a vanilla stout and kegged it (5 gal each). Should be fun. Will post pictures and stories if there's anything fun to report.

TAR, Season 9, Episode 2

Episode 1 recap

So, for this episode, we're still in Brazil. Not a whole lot of excitement this episode, but there is some character development, and the fatal driving of a non-automatic-transmission vehicle.

So, we've got some taxis to a bus terminal, to bunching (I'm pretty irritated b/c we had senate primary results blocking out the starting times for all the teams. I *need* to see how spread out the teams are. And I really don't want to know if Tom Delay was selected to run for senate.) Then a boring bus ride. Then VW beetles! But I have to wonder - are these the same as the old-styled beetles that are produced as "new" in Mexico, or are these really 30 yr old hunks of rusting metal. For everyone's sake (and the fact that the seats looked slightly newer) I'm hoping they were newer than 1971.

If 3T was on the show
We would so rock this leg with the VW beetles, as I have 6 years experience driving one. A 1971 beetle, bright yellow, that most of the time only ran on 3 cylinders. One road trip I made, from Gillette, WY (summer job at a coal mine) back to college (Butte, MT) was sheer hell. Mountain bike on top of the car, creating massive drag. Two very vocal and inadequately tranquilized kitties in the front seat. 3 of 4 cylinders functional. Top speed of 50 mph. And complete this experience with a kitty accident of the liquid variety which required me to stop at a gas station around Billings to wash Swift off. Fun! Oh, and 10 hrs of this for ~400 miles. Not cool. Anyways, the race! First of all, I had to laugh at the "hippies" physically walking their VW backwards. Doncha know that for all VWs, to shift it into reverse, you have to push the stickshift vertically down and then shift back to reverse? Silly guys. And those ladies abusing the hell out of their clutch. Its not like VWs are particularly hard to shift.

And as we saw team members climb into the backseat, Will mentioned that he hoped that none of their feet punctured the floor of the vehicle. The floor of mine was so badly rusted that when Will sat in the back of mine (he was being nice and letting my roommate sit up front) his foot went all they way thru the floor of my car. Think Flintstones style. And it was winter, and in Butte, they don't plow the side streets, so you end up basically driving your car in 2 parallel ice ruts the whole winter. And the hole (with scrap metal bent outwards from the car) was in the center of the car, so the entire winter, I had to listen to rusted metal scraping against ice ruts. Yeah, I hate that car and don't really miss it. Why my mom wanted to keep it and restore it is beyond me.

Road Block - ethane or climbing. 3T's choice was decided by me. My knee is still tweaky from training for our backpacking trip in 2004 (I had cartlidge tear or something horrible and while my knee didn't require surgery or hurt, it grinds horribly when I do stairs, but it is getting better, so there's hope). Seeing as how those stupid climber things involve much leg/knee action, and combine that with the fact that in elementary school I could never manage to climb that damn rope to the required height, I chose the sugar cane/ethane option.

Team commentary
Well, my opinions of the other teams pretty much held from Episode 1. Team Nipple Ring are bigger idiots that I thought they were. Glamazons need to go away. The pink girls seem to be ok. Older couple needs to suck it up and start playing. Team Nerd Love is still adoreable. Basically status quo.

I was very satisfied with the ending. I did not like the meltdown between the sisters and how they basically gave up. Considering how many thousands of people applied for the show and would kill to be on it, I think its tremendously rude to just go and give up b/c you can't manage to drive a standard transmission VW beetle in Brazil. Go home, you suck.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

TAR, Season 9, Episode 1

Looks promising, with the glaring exception that producers elected not to include myself and Will in the cast (from here on out we will be known as Team Trailer Trash* [3T for short]). I’m going to attempt to do my own version of a recap of the show each week. Don’t plan on me recapping the episode event by event, like TWOP does. But rather, I’ll just comment on how, if 3T was on the show, which choices we would have made on the detours/roadblocks, and commentary on my love/hate for any or all teams (and Phil) on the show.

If Team Trailer Trash were on the show
Yay, DENVER and what’s more RED ROCKS!!! Wooooo! Needless to say, 3T would have rocked this initial part of the show, as I’m very familiar with the area and the airport. We would have avoided at all costs taking the Continental flight, because I hate Continental.

Brazil! Now, if 3T would have made the show, we would have invested in some Spanish lessons. So, please play along and pretend that we speak Spanish, which should help a tiny bit, even though Brazil’s language is Portuguese. (In hindsight, 4 yrs of latin in high school wasn’t the most practical idea. But my main reasons for taking it were a)it looked good on transcripts b)the teacher was cool and the class was a cakewalk b/c of her and c)the retreat every spring to Estes Park where I would ditch most of the scheduled activities and go hiking with hot mountain boys from other schools. Now though, latin doesn’t do me a whole hell of a lot of good.)

Roadblock: re-build a motorcycle or ride a helicopter to some building (or as I call it – “chopper or chopper?” Will didn’t think this was all that clever….). Now, at this point in the show, we pause it, and discuss the merits of each task and figure out which one we would chose. Now, being that we are both engineers and Will is somewhat of an engine repair enthusiast, we decided to choose the motorcycle option. However, after seeing how cool the helicopter ride was, I know I would regret that decision…. But I would hope that we’d perform better than the other teams in rebuilding the motorcycle.

General commentary on each team
Lake & Michelle – well, lets just say that this is one dental practitioner I would never visit. Could you imagine, sitting in the chair as Michelle works on you, and Lake yelling all the time? And you just having to sit there with your mouth open, feeling very uncomfortable?

Dani & Danielle – really don’t have much of an opinion on these 2. They lost major points with their matching pink outfits, although they seemed to accept the fact that getting dirty was a component of the motorcycle detour. They did win points by thinking the Frat Boys were tools, though, so there is hope for them.

BY & Tyler – first thing out of Will’s mouth (Cartman Voice) “Goddamn Hippies” (from the South Park “Die Hippy, Die” episode [we have this permanently saved on our TiVo, its that funny]). Apart from the hippyness, they did make me laugh a few times and generally have their game on.

Ray & Yolanda – no real opinion here about these two. I suspect they will be headed for dating-disaster by the end of the show though, as they are the typecast “long distance dating” couple. I was impressed by the restraint Ray showed for not beating the hell out of the guys commenting on Yolanda’s mechanical prowess.

John & Scott – the typecast gay guys, although supposedly they are “life long friends” friends, rather than a couple. Sadly, they didn’t have the chops to stick around. I did find them mildly amusing and I would have rather preferred the Houston Frosties to be Philiminated instead.

Dave & Lori – ok, say it with me now! Neeerrrrddds! Until reading their bio on CBS, I loved them. Perhaps I should have ignored the bio just now. Musician and Pizza Hut asst mgr? Oh good lord. But I guess there aren’t too many opportunities for high falutin’ jobs in Manhattan….Kansas. Anyways, last night, they were my top team in terms of like-ability. Just love that nerd love.

Eric & Jeremy – annnnd here are the “pretty boys” typecast team. But really, they’re not all that pretty. Or really all that fun to listen to. And they have nipple rings. Enough said.

Fran & Barry – ok, on the show last night, they were listed as being from Littleton, CO (woo! Go Littleton!), but the CBS bio says they’re from Silverthorne…… Hmmm. Anyways, based on the Littleton connection, I loved them right away (and no, I did not know them). But then the roadblock on the bridge lost major points….. Please perform better so I can like you again. K?

Lisa & Joni – wow, reality tv producers sure know how to pick winners from Houston, don’t they? Ok, so Joyce and Uchenna were great. But lets see…. The girls from the Bachelor, Brandy (with her red weave fro’), that Cat woman chickie, and Cassandra from America’s Next Top Model were all equally horrible. And this made me think, if 3T did make it on the show, I guess we’d be “from Houston” which I am just not prepared to actually have “Erin” and “from Houston” in the same sentence. So, based on this alone, I suppose its good 3T was not selected for the cast. Anyways, Lisa and Joni…. Yeah, don’t like them. One bit. The yelling, the spazzing, the Jesus prayers, the makeup. All horrible. Wish they’d been Philimated instead of John & Scott.

Team MoJo – ok, they’re growing on me. I for one like the t-shirts. I thought they were cute. Mo did lose points by crying in the lobby of DIA over not catching the first flight, though. But overall, they’re not too annoying so far.

Wanda & Desiree – at first, I found them annoying. But they really played well, mainly due to Wanda’s knowledge of Portuguese. To date, I feel pretty neutral about them.

“Baby” count. Will and I refer to TAR as the “baby, how bout we watch that ‘baby show’ baby?” Because it seems that there is no other term of endearment allowed on the show. And sure enough, as they left the parking lot of Red Rocks, I heard my first “baby”. Although, later on, I did hear a “sweetie”, and it was nice to hear something else for a change. Will claims if 3T was on, he’d be dropping the nicknames of “muffin” or “pumpkin” on me. And I told him that if he were to do that, I would basically ignore him the entire team and hit on some of the hottie single guys in the race instead.

Overally, TAR 9 shows significant improvement over the suckfest that was the family edition. I look forward to seeing how this season progresses.

*Long story from college. Will's nickname was "Third Wheel (Will) Trailer", given to him by his advisor - how nice of him! He soon became known as "trailer", which then went screaming downhill into "Trailer Trash".