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Posts about my honeylovesugamuffin

Travel Update: 5/27/09

I haven’t seen my wif in holy cow a really long time (about 2 months? I’ll have to check), and now it’s time for the summer of togetherness that we tend to have every summer around this time. It’s like a tradition, at this point.

I’m currently leeching WiFi from Presidents Club in the Secret Alcove of Free WiFi, in Concourse C. I’ll make a map of it sometime, because it would be greedy to keep it to myself. It’s way awesome for three reasons: (1) free WiFi in an airport that charges for regular wireless (2) there’s an outlet right here for plugging in (3) it’s sneaky because it doesn’t look like you’re anywhere near a Presidents Club (I think the signal is coming through their back wall or somesuch).

Travel: Better than average. I shall count the ways:

  1. I did not have to leave stupid early this time. 2 days after Memorial Day, apparently even the 10:40 a.m. flights are cheap.
  2. Both of my monstrously heavy bags (bag A: clothes and whatnot; bag B: camping equipment) came in at just a pound or so under $50, so I only had the one bag charge. I can’t  believe I’m excited about this. How quickly we get used to oppression…
  3. MFE-IAH flight –> Exit Row! At check-in, I used the kiosk to look at my seat assignments and was surprised to find previously-unavailable exit row seats! The ticket agent told me that they don’t let people have exit row seats until they’re physically present. I’ll be checking from now on.
  4. In Houston, I had a sandwich. Did I pay $8 for it? Yes. Was it one of the best turkey-on-wheat sandwiches ever? Also yes. Tender, non-processed turkey, swiss cheese melted over it, delicious sliced high-quality yummy bread… I want another one.
  5. Hidden Alcove of Secret Free Internet!
  6. For the flight from here to BUF: Exit Row!

I realize things can turn ugly at a moment’s notice with any kind of travel; your hopes and expectations are focused and singular, and they are the reason for all aspects of your situation, at all points in time during the trip; maybe that’s why they’re so fragile. However, if things get crappy, I’ll try to remember the good times (i.e., now).

John Bear Pontiac Service Center: Two Thumbs Up

I’m always telling Alex she should look elsewhere for auto maintenance and service. She goes to the dealer. The Dealer. Dealers have a tendency to be overpriced, take excessive time to do things, and treat customers pretty poorly when things don’t go well. They keep their customers coming back by terrifying them with tales of unauthorized car repair disasters.

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Well, today I see why Alex likes this place. Yes, there was a hassle with this appointment (twice in one week she’s come up here after confirming an appointment, only to be told there is no appointment), but she says this is a rare occurrence. Her friendly customer service guy, Paul, was apparently in a bad mood the last time she came to a failed appointment, but she says generally he’s friendly and efficient. Today he got me in and situated in five minutes, and he has a soldering iron next to his maintenance forms. Bonus points for the soldering iron.

The car is now being repaired. Alex says she has had multiple experiences in which Paul has told her that certain things were near needing replacement, but repair/replacement was not yet necessary. More points for (apparently) not gouging my wife. This time it’s replacing rear brake drums. Honestly, I could probably do that without too much trouble. But I’d need tools. And I’d need jack stands. And I’d be out in the not-so-warm weather for a few hours, and probably do a couple of back-and-forths to the parts store. And if I did that, I wouldn’t be sitting here in the WiFi-enabled customer lounge, sitting in my ergonomic little faux-leather chair at a well-appointed computer workstation, blogging about my very first John Bear dealer maintenance experience while eating the apples and cookies provided for customers.

If the car is out within an hour (Paul’s projection), then the experience is even better. I can no longer blame Alex for resisting looking for places that are cheaper and closer to home. Shoot, who wouldn’t want to websurf and eat free munchies while their car got fixed?

Thirty Things I Did Not Know Last Year

It seems to be a “thing” to reminisce about the past year. I have found that certain outfits are all ga-ga over listing things we (as a people, I guess) did not know last year. Sure, they’re great and all — science and nature and the world around us and such — but really, what do they have to do with me?

Here are some things *I* did not know last year. They are numbered, but they are in no particular order.

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Flash Testing with Alex

No, not that kind of flash testing, you pervert.
Alex - flash test with guitar - 3

Alex - flash test with guitar - 1

I have a new(ish) flash for my camera, and have figuratively pounced upon my long-suffering wife as a subject for testing its functions and performance. They were only goofy test shots, but a few of them turned out OK. Naturally, the “mistake” (overexposed – top) was lots of fun. A few more, under the cut.
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Something horrible, something interesting, and something Alex

Something horrible: my friend Dan, a government researcher, told me several times of his despair over the fact that people simply do not comprehend large numbers of dollars, especially if they don’t come out of our personal checking accounts. Well, this bailout abomination is perhaps the best example of that, ever. Our bailout (now a multitrillion-dollar stupidicity) is the most expensive thing, EVER ((I’m sure there’s an Imelda Marcos or Donald Trump joke in here, but it’s not going to be funny.)). Consider this shamelessly ganked pie chart:

Something interesting: the recent discovery of a blond-haired, blue-eyed shaman buried 2,700 years ago in China with nearly a kilo of weed could also be mined for humorous purposes. But it got me thinking: could psychoactive properties be naturally selected in some symbiotic way? That is, if you’re a plant species, the crazymaking ((especially in the case of marijuana, which is not very physiologically addictive)) would eventually become a turn-off for certain animals ((Consider this historically accurate dialogue between a stoned gazelle and his buddy: “Hank! It’s a tiger!” “Oh, maaaan, his stripes are, like, sooo, soooo, soooo…” chomp.)). However, if humans used the plant for medicinal, recreational, or religious purposes, then they would protect and cultivate the plants. This would provide both natural and directed selection pressure for the species to get more psychoactive over time. I’m sure this comes under the heading of “things someone else already thought of a long time ago.”

Something Alex: I have to admit defeat (or at least detente) in a disagreement with Alex. Apparently, “Worcestershire” — as in sauce ((What percentage of humanity will ever have occasion to utter that word without also saying “sauce?” Not very many.)) — though usually pronounced as a 3-syllable word (e.g., “wuhstuhshr”), is also sometimes reduced to two syllables (“wuster” or something), and this was historically common.

Church is Fun

Sadly, I will not be going to church with Alex for… let’s see… about six or seven more weeks. Sigh. To assuage my sadness, please indulge my recounting of three fun things from church today.

  1. A South American man we know told us about how confusing it was, as a child, to spend half his day in a Catholic school and the other half in a school run by communists. I can only imagine.
  2. While the Primary children were on the stand (yes, today was that day), Alex leaned over and whispered, “I am a child of God… and so can you!” Okay, I thought it was funny.
  3. One of the children said, very loudly into the microphone, something about the Holy Goats. Boy does that have implications for my religious worldview ;)

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN! No, wait. This is my fault, actually.

Somehow I horribly mismanaged my schedule today. I hustled Alex out the door, and dropped her off at the airport two freaking hours early (instead of spending those hours together, um, at home). I zoomed to school, ran to the lecture & workshop I was late for, and… nobody was there. It took me the next half hour to figure out that somehow I had put this lecture & workshop in my planner for today, when actually it will be Friday (and that will cause other problems). By the time I realized this, it was too late to go back to the airport and spend time with Alex (except maybe another 20 minutes or so, for an hour of driving). I really want t0 cry. Or vomit.

At least we get to be together again in a week.

Home Again: Pros and Cons

So Good!

  • I <3 South Texas anyway, but now it’s GREEN (no, seriously green and even a bit lush)
  • Apartment not washed away in hurricane. Also not even moistened on the inside.
  • Office still there and not destroyed
  • Grackles!
  • Netflix waiting for me when I got home

No Good!

  • No Alex
  • No food (cleaned out fridge before leaving for summer)
  • No car (battery seems to have not liked 3 months with no use, in 100-degree-plus temperatures)
  • Messy house
  • Messy office
  • No phone or internet until end of week
  • Lots of standing water –> Lots of mosquitoes :(

Trying on Clothes in the Street

I don’t know why I was surprised to see people trying on clothes in the street, but I guess it makes sense, if you’re going to buy them there. Anyway, this may have been the same vendor from whom I bought Amanda’s Boston hat. Alex’s shirt came from a different street display. No picture of that.

In unrelated news, Alex crushed Amanda and me at Scrabble last night. She was ahead (but only by a few points, so we thought we had a chance) when suddenly she busts out “GRUMBLER,” placing letters on two triple-word-score squares! I mean, come on. We looked up the rules, and when that happens, you triple your score, and then triple the result. Ouch.

167 points for a single freaking word. But somewhere, underneath the poor-loserishness, I was still remembering that I find her braininess attractive.

Deep underneath.

Fair Verona: Where Civil Blood Makes Civil Hands Unclean

Fair Verona is Shakespeare as he never intended. Graham Jenner and Kerri Bojman have remixed and resampled Romeo and Juliet (with lines from other Shakespearean plays) to create the one-act tale of a community killing its most beautiful young people through an obsession with conformity and ritual. The text is pure Shakespeare, mashed up and rearranged. The themes of the play are not exactly foreign to the Bard’s work, but while they’re merely implicit in the original R&J, here they are explicit and a bit chilling.

The play is being put on at the McMaster University Summer Drama Festival (website here), a perennial celebration of theater completely by students. The budget is miniscule, the stage was built by volunteers, but the offerings at this festival are often amazing. McMaster has more than its share of talented actors, but it also produces skilled stage crew, directors, and (obviously) playwrights.

This festival is one of the best bangs for your theater buck anywhere. Talented young women and men come together every year to put it together from scratch, and their dedication always shows. The music was even composed by one of the actors, who is also an advanced music student.

Fair Verona starts this weekend, with three more performances next week. See the SDF website for more details. And here are some more shots from the rehearsals. Enjoy!

Pearl Company: Pearls Included

Alex’s latest play, The Constant K… etc. was housed in an awesome old 3-story building with an art gallery on the ground floor, a theater on the second floor, and a gorgeous massive loft on the top. The building is called “The Pearl Company.” I recently found out why. It used to be a jewelry factory. These pictures show leftover pearls still embedded between the floorboards in the art gallery. (one more photo after the cut). Continue reading

Two Rooms: The Musical… NOT.

Rakhee Totally rocks… not that you can tell from this picture.

Alex’s first play this summer is Lee Blessing’s Two rooms. It’s painfully, heart-wrenchingly horribly sad. It’s the story of a husband and wife. He is blindfolded, handcuffed and regularly beaten by his Lebanese terrorist captors. She, back home, lives in self-imposed isolation and austerity, to share the experience with him, since she can’t get him released.

Rakhee Sapra (above) plays the wife. Alex plays the State Department worker assigned to manage her. There are only four actors, but it’s very powerful. That means people (possibly including me… I admit nothing) cry. Last night, the show got a standing ovation. Yay! I didn’t even start it! Yay!

I must say that all four actors are outstanding, my wife most wholeheartedly included.

Sadly, the show right before it (it’s been double-billed) is, in my opinion, not so good. It’s an interesting effort by a student writer, but it seems to boil down to all the sexual, scatological and drug content of shows like Up in Smoke and Clerks, without any of the original or socially redeeming bits.

On the plus side, the people who aren’t frightened away by that tend to really appreciate something substantial and satisfying right afterward.

Go Alex!

Addendum after a sort of creepy anonymous comment on this post (hinting at the possibility of negative social consequences of my negative statements), I have decided to expand my review of the play preceding Two Rooms. I wouldn’t want people to think I just hated it, flat out. In fact, the first play had some strong points. There were several chuckles and a few belly laughs yanked from my abdomen, and some of the physical acting and comedic timing was especially humorous. The actors, most of the time, put forth solid efforts. Unfortunately, the writing seemed to me, as I have mentioned, a collection of clichéd comedic elements from a style of movies that have become ubiquitous and played-out in recent years. I had the distinct impression that the shock-value-humor element was overdone in the context of the other elements, leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth and insufficient justification for having acquired it. Part of this bad taste involved a little gratuitous sexual prejudice and some probably-unintentional-but-still-problematic victim blaming and/or misogyny. However, I am still impressed by the fact that an undergrad wrote this. It flows nicely from moment to moment, it has coherent plotting, it has reasonably well-defined characters, and (as I said before), there are some genuinely funny moments. By the standards of professional scripts, it would not fare well, but by the standards of undergraduate work, I suspect it shines quite respectably.

Travel Update 3

Still in IAH, had an hour conversation with a customer service lady, and another few minutes on the phone with another one. Final result: admission that I’m going to be late because Continental representatives made some very strange decisions, not because of weather. Yes, I’m going to be 2.5 hours late, but also, my next trip will be $100 cheaper. It’s not a full voucher, but it helps.

Also found out my luggage will probably not arrive today :(  The sucky things about that are not really the delay in luggage. They are (1) the line-waiting and delay and hassle of the claim process in the airport, and (2) the 6 hours of hanging around your house when the delivery folks call and say, “We have your luggage. We’ll be there sometime between 10 a.m. and 4 pm.”

Most important message: I’m not blown up, and I will see Alex tonight. Both of these things are Very Good.

Off to See the Wizard(ess)

a) this is a real sign just south of where I live. Is it not glorious?

b) in a few hours I go to see Alex. I get to stay there (probably) for the whole summer (at least most of it, even in the worst case assessment). This is a very good thing. I am even tentatively confident that I may have gotten nearly everything done to make this trip feasible. Yay. (?). And I am going to see my wif. Yay!!! (!).

project: embarrass wifey

I’m ready for my close-up now, Mr. Fiend

I love this photo, though it’s perhaps a little silly ((but also, you must admit, a little awesome!)). I think Alex doesn’t like it much. She’s not a prima donna ((in the colloquial sense)), I promise. There was context to this shot: she was getting makeup put on for her role as Lady MacBeth. That’s just how she has to have her face so the makeup person can do her thang.

In other news, our friends Craig and Melinda are likely going North before I get back from Canada. This saddens me greatly. I will miss them.

In other other news, a dream job opened up just last week at University of Waterloo. I’ve applied, and will be very, very fortunate if I get an interview (which I really don’t think is likely; I have a couple of strikes against me). However, if I get the job, then the travel/relocation crisis in our marriage shifts from the necessity of Alex leaving her home to the necessity of me leaving mine. Sigh.

Perversely, compromise doesn’t work in this situation. If we met each other halfway, we’d have to live here. And we’d both have to leave our homes and comfort zones. Nobody wins. Relashunships iz hard.