Saturday, October 29, 2005

That really wasn't snow I saw today was it?

I am not ready for winter. Nope. Nuh-uh. Not even. But today, while rushing to meet MBH at Bartley's Burger Cottage in Harvard Square, there they were. Falling from the sky. Snow flakes. "NOOOO!" I thought. That can't be. It just can't be. The weather forcast had been calling for snow and rain and we even canceled our day trip to Nantucket because of the cold, wet forcast. But, even with all the pre-warning, I still am not ready for snow. Seems like it was just winter. Where did fall go? We didn't even get leaf peeping this year. Or, apple picking. Or make a trip to the local cider mill. And now I have to pull out the winter clothes and find the snow shovel? You think if I went home, pulled the shades, and put on steel drum music I could fool myself into thinking it was still summer? Weather tomorrow: Partly sunny, high 67.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Killing Time on Friday Afternoon

MBH sent me this link this afternoon. Brought back memories of playing paper dolls...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

I'm traveling on business for the next two weeks. This week Seattle at my company's corporate offices doing next year budgets and next week the Midwest: Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh on several jobsites. Poor MBH, left with a fridge full of home cooked meals and the cat box to clean. Me, I get two weeks of room service and 98 channels of cable TV. Two weeks of indulging myself with Lifetime movies, CSI (all three versions) and my newest guilty pleasure, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Yup, I have to admit, I'm hooked and last night, I popped some pop corn in the microwave in the room, opened a bottle of wine, sat on the couch in my pjs glued to the TV while the two teams went head to head over salad dressing. The perfect ending to a long day with bean counters and planning managers. Just me and my new best friend Martha.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Duelling Random 10's

My fellow blogger Andrea turned me onto this game and seeing how MBH just received his nice new shiny Ipod Nano, I decided to post both our results with Amazon links so you can listen along (of course). Enjoy.

MBH's Random Ten

1. Homecoming (Walter's Song) - Vienna Teng
2. The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkel
3. Window to Your Soul - Delerium
4. Homeward Bound - Simon and Garfunkel
5. The Sound of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel
6. Sting - Russians
7. Con te Partiro - Andrea Bocelli
8. Wheel of Fortune - Ace of Base
9. All I Need - Michael Franks
10. Phantasy-Danny Wright

My Random Ten

1. Bullet Proof Soul - Sade
2. I Love You - Sarah McLachlan
3. Ant's Marching - Dave Matthews Band
4. Beautiful - Mandalay
5. Gold Dust Woman - Fleetwood Mac
6. Please Forgive Me - David Grey
7. Cool- Patti Austin
8. Isobel - Dido
9. On a Date - Berlitz Rush Hour French
10. Autumn - Patrick Stewart

The last song on my list is the fabulous Patrick Stewart reading the poem Autumn. It is part of one of my favourite recordings of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Of course, I could listen to Patrick Stewart read the take out menu from the Chinese restaurant down the street.

And now you know why we could never share an Ipod.

Update: MBH, is demanding I give him 11 songs since he had 3 Simon and Garfunkel. His 11th song was Diana Krall - "I'll String Along with You". SHHH... Don't tell him it doesn't count.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lil' Bastard and MBH

It has been doing nothing but raining here for the entire week and not those gentle soft rains for fall but torrential downpours. It is monsoon time in New England. Sitting in my office this morning, watching the rain come down, I thought about a similar day six years ago that brought me the second best thing in my life, Lil' Bastard which led me to keeping the best thing in my life, MBH.

I was living in a small town about 45 minutes west of Boston in a condo that was converted from an old tenement building. My unit had a sloping front porch made of concrete and when it rained, it puddled about 4 inches of water right against my screen door. I was sitting bundled up on my couch, reading a book when I heard this god-awful sound coming from my front porch. Thinking some child was out in the street and had fallen down and hurt themselves, I opened the door and gingerly trudged through the small pond that had formed on my porch. Looking around, I assured myself that it wasn't someone and turned to go back into the warm house when I noticed huddled under my deck chair this gray mass of wet fur. The sound I had heard wasn't a child but rather a very wet and scared cat. After getting some old towels from the house, I went back out and coaxed the cat out from his hiding place and took him inside to dry off, pretty sure that I had seen the cat in the neighborhood and that he belonged to someone. A few hours later, after the rain had stopped, I went to all my neighbors asking if they had lost their cat. When no one claimed him, I went to the store, bought a few things a cat would need and figured someone would eventually claim him. Over the next few days, I put up posters, took out an ad in the local newspaper and left my number with the animal control officer. After two weeks, it became apparent that I had been adopted and Cedric and I became pals.

Fast forward a year, men had come and gone in my life. Every one of them had been studied and found to be wanting by not only myself but my cat. When I would bring a date home, Cedric would slink out and check them over before hissing at them and with his tail in the air, walk back to the bedroom where he would jump up on my side of the bed announcing to the visitor that it was he who was staying and that maybe not then but eventually, they would be going. Until the night I brought MBH home for the weekend. On the drive out to my house, I mentioned to MBH that in all likelihood, the cat would hiss at him, possibly take a swipe at his ankle and then sulk out of the room not to be seen again for the rest of the weekend. MBH assured me that was fine by him because he was, "none too fond of the foul beasts". I thought perfect, the first man that I really could like and the other man in my life was going to hate him.

I unlocked the door to my condo and again warned MBH about the cat and prepared myself for the typical reaction when man meets cat. Imagine my surprise when Cedric made his appearance sniffed at MBH's ankles, meowed at him and then jumped up on the couch to sit beside us. By the end of the weekend, Cedric had befriended MBH. I'm not sure if it was because he sensed that MBH was not going to back down and might hiss back or if it was the KFC chicken wing meat that MBH hand fed him (I suspect the later). And that weekend Cedric became Lil' Bastard because "Cedric is such a woosie name."

When Cedric and I moved in with MBH not too long afterwards the two became inseparable. Where one went in the house, the other was right there. As MBH works from home, they soon fell into a routine: wake up and have a "fight" (MBH and LB play rough with each other), fix breakfast, have another fight and then watch Teletubbies together, get some work done with cat tail swishing over computer mouse and plenty of mini fights, more fighting, lunch in which the cat gets a morsel for "vim and vigor", afternoon nap followed by more fighting and then WW comes home. I'd get daily phone calls, "your cat is a bastard" or "you know that lil' bastard is fast when he wants to be". Pretty soon, MBH was telling his folks about "his" cat. He taught him how to jump on a little stool for treats and to stand on a certain arm of a chair next to his computer for "butt scratches".

Now, 5 years later, cat and man are best buds. LB can do no wrong in MBH's eyes. Not long ago, when LB was diagnosed with feline diabetes it was MBH who took him to his many vet appointments while the right dosage of insulin was determined. It is MBH who every morning gives LB his shot and then plays with him. MBH buys books for LB with titles like "French for Cats". He even swears he is teaching him his shapes. When we have dinner, LB gets a little "snackeral" from MBH's plate. They really can't live without the other. And you know what, I'm glad that they are so close because I would have hated to have to send MBH to the pound...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Porky's Pig Palace

"Look! Over there!! It's Porky's Pig Palace!!!" WHAT?? It was almost 8pm and we were on our third train of the day; on our way to our hotel in scenic Newark, NJ. As we had been up since 4am, caught the 6:30am Amtrak regional from Boston to New York City's Penn Station, spent the day walking from Times Square to Noho to Chelsea and back to Penn Station to say MBH was a bit punch drunk was a mild understatement.

"What are you babbling about?" I asked him. "Over there. That rotating sign", he pointed to a rotating red, yellow, and white neon sign visible through the fog. "Porky's Pig Palace", he said with an assured air. The woman sitting next to me on the Liberty/Newark Airport Airtrain tried to squish herself even further into the corner where she had been cowering since boarding the tram car. She had issues. MBH was having issues and all I wanted to do was get to our room, kick off my shoes from my aching feet and watch a little cable TV. "That isn't Porky's Pig Palace. That is the Anheuser-Busch brewery you dork".

MBH gave me a look that said, "You don't know what you are talking about". I stared right back at him with a look that said, "I have no idea where the stuff that pops out of your mouth comes from". We both burst into peals of laughter. We had been doing that all day.

Our big day of funness in the Big Apple. I was attending the Audio Engineering Society trade show on Monday, Oct 10 and a one day mini-vacation spent wandering the bookshops and food shops of NYC was just what we both needed. We had started our day having a pretty good breakfast at the Stagedoor Deli and then I tried, in vain, to explain the NYC subway system to MBH. We were on our way to 18 miles of books at Strand Books. MBH and I decided we could probably spend a week there and not even begin to scratch the surface. "WW, I can't believe I'm going to say this but there are just too many books here". I knew what he meant. After we each purchased a book or two, we walked through the West Village. Destination the Chelsea Food Market, once a Nabisco Biscuit factory and now home of Food Network and several gourmet food shops. The Oreo cookie was invented in the walls of the Food Market and as I love both the Food Network and Oreo cookies I was pretty excited. We were both very disappointed. Not only was the food shopping underwhelming but you can't even visit the Food Network studios. The only thing walking through the Chelsea Food Market did for us was to make us very hungry. We had been planning on Chinese and had read good things about The Grand Sichuan. They have a restaurant on 9th Ave and as it was on the way back to Penn Station, we decided to give it a try. MBH rediscovered he does not like sesame beef and I discovered that you can mess up scallion pancakes. The wonton soup was very good though and the hunan chicken quite tasty as well as very spicy. We left just as it began to get dark and made our way to Penn Station via 7th Avenue.

By now our feet were hurting and we were ready to navigate the NJ Transit system to get to our hotel. Which is how we found ourselves as the unplanned Airtrain entertainment for an audience of one paranoid lady and two confused Swiss tourists.

Bet they didn't expect a stop at Porky's Pig Palace either.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

And an Ipod for thee, My Sweet

MBH has Ipod envy.

The first symptom appeared a little over two years ago when he noticed all the ubiquitous white ear buds lodged in everyone's ears on the MBTA. He would poke me in the arm and say, "Look, there is another person with an Ipod". Every time Apple would announce an update or come out with a new version of the Ipod, I would get a link to their site and a message proclaiming, "We need one of these". Then I would find myself dragged to the Cambridgeside Galleria Apple store for a visit complete with drool and the bright eyes of an excited 5 year old on Christmas morning. I half expected when Apple debuted the Ipod Mini that I would come home from work one day and MBH would say, "Come here and see what I got today". But, surprisingly he never did. Instead he made do with a RIO MP3 player and, while he seemed content, I could still see him look longingly at all those white ear buds as they jogged by us on the streets of Boston.

The full-blown case of Ipod envy set in when I purchased a 20 gig Ipod as a gift to myself when I landed my new job. I offered to let him use it when I didn't need it but frankly, our tastes in music are quite different and while I guess we could have set up different playlists, it just never seemed to be a good cure for his ill.

And then the Ipod Nano made its appearance. I remember exactly when the disease became terminal; about 5 minutes after Steve Jobs pulled that shiny black little box of joy from his front jeans pocket. A single link in an email appeared in my inbox. The link was to a glossy flash movie of the Ipod Nano. MBH now absolutely positively had to have one and he wasn't going to wait until Christmas. So, today after a few weeks of holding him off because I wanted to surprise him with one, I finally caved in and ordered it. With engraving of course.

We possess some strange twisted karma and if something can go wrong it will go wrong. If you have to fight through red tape, we will have to fight through triple the amount. If an order for something can get messed up, it will. MBH is the only person on this planet that Burger King will not make it his way. So, I don't know why ordering this little token should be any different and the fact that I only had about 20 minutes of free time this morning in which to place this order probably doomed it from the start.

I logged onto the Apple Store and began to place my order. Everything went smoothly. There was the Ipod Nano. MBH only needs 2Gig for his music and there it was in black, selected and ready for me to add a personal message for engraving. And this is where the trouble began.

I wanted MBH's IPod Nano to be personalized with: "To MBH, From WW and Lil' Bastard". A simple request really. You see, "Lil' Bastard" is MBH's nickname for our cat. LB for short. I typed in the first line: "To MBH, From WW" and WOW! It appeared on the picture of the back of the Ipod Nano for me to see and approve. So far so good. Then I typed in "and Lil' Bastard" and looked at how the two lines appeared. Perfect. Exactly like I wanted them to, centered and balanced. I felt the excitement building. I could see the look of glee on MBH's face when he opened the box and nestled in its protective wrap would be a small emblem of my love and the cat's affection. I hit submit. And there they were. Three red words that spelled trouble. "Inappropriate Message Text". WHAT? Oh no!! There went my perfectly selected and phrased inscription.

Now I understand, Apple doesn't want someone sending "hate Ipods" to people but surely if they knew that "Bastard" was being used as a term of endearment they would make an exception. If you Google our cat's name, the third entry is for MBH's homepage where he affectionately refer's to LB. Surely if I pointed that out to their customer service people, I could get the word "Bastard" on the back. I picked up the phone and called Apple Support.

After sitting on hold for 20 minutes (boy, Ipods are popular), I finally got to speak to a live person. Only the person on the other end wasn't very helpful. In fact, the person just kept repeating from the script on their screen over and over. "The word bastard is not allowed. Company policy" I said, "Google our cat. You will see. I'm not trying to be malicious". Nope. Sorry. Can't do it. "Please. You don't understand. It is a gift of love and affection". Sorry. After 20 minutes of pleading and begging (and talking to a supervisor). I had to settle with substituting the cat's name for Lil' Bastard.

I guess it isn't how it is said; it is just the sentiment after all. Engraved on the back of a shiny new black Ipod Nano...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Stumbling around in the Dark

I sometimes think I was born a couple centuries too late. For example, recently while watching a re-run of the PBS series "Frontier House" I thought to myself, "I could have done that". One of my favorite vacations is to go canoeing in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota where you can easily be 3 days from another person and whatever you need you have to carry with you. No electricity, no cellphone, no gas motored vehicles allowed. Just you and the quiet of the wilderness. I don't mind being without the modern conveniences of the 21st Century BUT, when I am in civilization I'm just like every one of us. I like my microwave, my wifi internet connection and I like being able to plug an appliance in and get 110V/60HZ AC power.

This morning, at 5:30am, just as MBH and I were stirring to begin our Saturday morning routine of showering, feeding LB (our cat), and deciding what book to take to Dammits, we were greeted with the sudden loss of our power. The only sound to be heard in the house was the quiet beeping of MBH's back-up power for his computers. I looked over in the pitch blackness of our bedroom at MBH and uttered "Perfect, you know this means I'm not going to be able to blow dry my hair". I'm sure, if I had been able to see him, he would have been rolling his eyes. It is amazing how many different appliances I need just to get ready to go to our coffee shop in the morning. I counted them. I need 7 appliances in the morning to get out the door: alarm clock, coffee maker, a can opener (cat food), blow dryer, curling iron or hot rollers, toaster, radio in the kitchen (to listen to NPR or BBC).

So, this morning, after discovering the flashlight we keep in the kitchen for exactly these cases needed new batteries and then spending another 10 minutes trying to find alternate flashlights and candles, I got to live my Frontier House fantasy. It took me 10 minutes to find a hand crank can opener to feed the cat. Forget putting make up on or doing anything but dragging a comb through my hair. And that morning cup of coffee that I require to make me human, not happening. Probably not a huge deal because considering the way I must look right now, human probably isn't required. OK, I'm thinking. I can live with this. Just consider it a camping trip at home. Then, it dawned on both MBH and I. We weren't going anywhere soon because the bus line we live on is an electric bus line and they probably aren't running and taking the car isn't an option because without electricity we aren't opening the garage door and the handle to the garage broke off anyways. So, I guessed we were hoofing it to Dammits where we hoped to find power for MBH's wifi and my coffee.

Much to our surprise, the MBTA apparently has alternate power because a bus did arrive not long after we reached the corner and we soon found ourselves in the part of Cambridge that had power. Not for long. We had just sat down in our normal chairs at Dammits and started to make ourselves comfortable when the power went out. It was just 3 employees, us and this poor guy who had just gotten off a plane from Paris and needed some milk stumbling around in the dark. On the good news front, I'm still living on Frontier House and no one can see me in the dark. Thank goodness they had brewed the coffee before the power went out!

So much for wanting to live in the 19th Century...