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Updated: 06/27/05

Other places to visit

The Bleat
Spaceflight Now
Japanese Engrish
Eric Conveys an Emotion
Free The Grapes
Tim Blair's Blog

What's on the nightstand

"The Art of Eating"
by MFK Fisher

"Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight"
by Alexandra Fuller

back to work


Monday, 27 June, 2005

What a whirlwind weekend. Gary came back from the shore on Thursday evening and we went out to dinner at Standard Tap, a couple of blocks from the house. As always, the best calamari I've had. I also had an enormous serving of mussels in a white wine and garlic broth and Gary had his usual hanging-off-the-plate huge rib-eye. Delicious. The kitty was extremely glad to have us home - she was so excited that she got the hiccups while purring.

I went to work the next morning, and Gary planned to pick me up at the office before heading to the airport. Unfortunately, I had put his keys in my purse the night before and forgot to take them out, so I left work a little early and we ran some errands. We bought a wireless card for my laptop. We have discovered that someone - either in the Longport building or very close by - has a wireless network that we are usually able to tap into. Now with both of us having wireless cards, we can surf the internet at the same time, and at a faster speed than the dial-up.

Off to the airport, where we checked in at a kiosk and were through security in about five minutes. We stopped at the Asian Sky restaurant and grabbed some sushi for lunch. We were flying US Airways, despite our lousy experience that past couple of times we flew them. But they are non-stop to LAX, and now that we are in thunderstorm season I prefer to not chance stopping to change planes somewhere in the middle of the country.

I called Chinois On Main, a restaurant in Santa Monica, CA, to see if I could make reservations for dinner when we arrived. It is one of Wolfgang Puck's restaurants and I had eaten there a couple of times several years ago. The woman at the restaurant said she could take us at 6:00 - I said that our flight wouldn't arrive until 6:30, did she have something at 7:30? At that moment, they began announcing our flight and she said, "You're at the airport now?" I said yes and she said, "I will take you at 7:30."

The flight was on time, but crowded. We had pretty good seats - second row in the coach section. I had the window and Gary got the middle seat. He began tallking to the woman sitting next to him - as it turned out, she was also a physician from the Philly area and they knew many of the same people. What a small world.

We went to Alamo and picked up a Sebring convertible - Gary always hates my choice of cheap rental cars and they had a special flight+hotel+car special when I booked the tickets, so decided to get him a convertible. Unfortunately, he said he hates American cars as a whole, so he wasn't thrilled. Oh well. We drove to Santa Monica and walked into the restaurant at 7:30 on the dot. When I gave my name, the woman at the door said, "How was your flight?" :-)

We had a lovely dinner - way too much food, though. Soft-shell crabs and barbecued eel to start, with a curried lobster dish and roast duck with plum sauce. The duck was the only thing that wasn't outstanding, and it was still pretty good. We each tried a different glass of Merlot, and the waitress gave me a second glass at no charge. Service was really wonderful, the restaurant was beautiful and our only regret was that we were too full to try the marvelous sounding desserts.

We had a great package deal at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown LA - that's the one with the cylindrical building sections and glass elevators running up the outside. Several movies have been filmed there including "True Lies". We had a nice room with a view of Warner Brothers studio, the Hollywood Hills and the sign, which Gary hadn't seen before.

We were both up early but went back to sleep until 7:00 - late by our internal clocks. We got ready, checked out and headed down to Orange County. We got to Mom and Dad's around 8:00 and had fruit, toast and coffee with them. They are still on Tokyo time, so Mom only got about two hours of sleep. Dad was pretty tired too. We left around 9:15 and drove to Santa Ana for Uncle Dick's service. It was very nice - his grandkids, Andrea, Rachel and Jonathan all spoke. There was a reception afterwards at the church and another one at Debbie and Harry's house, so we got to visit with everyone, including cousins Linda and Scott. He will be retiring in January after twenty years in the Marine Corps, but he'll probably take the same job he has now but as a civilian contractor.

Around 2:30 we drove up to Ron and Pam's new house in Burbank. Mom and Pam rode with us - poor Gary was driving into the sun the whole way and was pretty tired. We stopped to see Aunt Mur first. She still looks great but feels very fragile, and is obviously very frustrated that she cannot speak clearly. She and her caregiver, Mabel, came up the house with us.

And what a great house! Absolutely lovely, and Pam and Ron already have it looking great, with new hardwood floors downstairs. They have a beautiful Jacuzzi outside with a spectacular view of Burbank. Mark and Mary came over, and Ron and Dad stopped to pick up roast chicken and fixings for us after dropping off Mur and Mabel. We ate a light meal - early, since Gary and I had to leave around 7:00. It was nice to spend time everyone. Pam will drive Mom and Dad back down to Orange the next day when she goes to pick up her brother in Mission Viejo.

After goodbyes, we set off down the hill and made our way back to LAX. We had printed our boarding passes at Ron's house, so we breezed through security and ended up in cruddy Terminal One. LA is not a hub for US Airways, so there was not much in the way of shopping or restaurants. We did go to the Brookstone store and Gary bought me a neck pillow for the flight.

The plane was packed, and we had the requisite screaming baby across the aisle from us. I had the middle seat this time, but as soon as we lifted off I took a sleeping pill and slept the whole flight. Gary wasn't as fortunate. We landed around 6:30 in the morning, and were back down in Longport by 8:00. We went for a bike ride and had brunch at Downbeach Deli, then relaxed on the beach for the afternoon, taking little cat naps. A nice way to recover.

We watched two movies - "Alfie" (the remake with Jude Law) and "The Village" by M. Night Shamalayan. I really didn't care for either one. We went to dinner at "Barrels", a local Italian place. Very nice and again, a lot of food.

[A full weekend.]

We heard from our realtor on Friday that there were three tied bids for the condo in Ventnor, so we increased our offer a bit, but didn't get it. Oh well, we will keep looking. Since it is supposed to rain off and on this week, at least it will give Gary something to do.

[When he's not shopping.]

May I say a few words about the legislative and judicial branches of our government?


First, stop with this nonsense about an amendment to the Constitution banning flag burning. I get just as offended as the next American when I see that happen, but the fact that we are allowed to do that is a big reason that we are called Americans, that I can write this blog and that we can have nutball celebrities (see below) mouth off about whatever they feel like without being sent to Siberia. Or our equivalent, which I guess would be International Falls, MN.

Being able to show disrespect to the government is a right that I want to keep, Buckos. I don't want to burn a flag, but I want the right to be able to. Now there are 286 members of the House of Representatives that are not on my Christmas card list, and there will likely be at least 67 Senators soon as well. They are all standing up for a very important principle: how will my vote on this affect my future electability?

Secondly, the Supreme Court of the United States just waded into a states rights issue, by allowing a local government in Connecticut the right to declare eminent domain and condemn a group of houses to make room for private development. Private, people. Not for public works, but for condos and a casino. Nice. In my not-so-humble opinion, the SCOTUS should have said, "We don't have a dog in this fight, since it is a local government issue", but instead they said "Oh, sure, go ahead."

No, no, no. That decision should be with the state, who should then say, "No, you may NOT tear down Miss Elly's house so that Behemoth Corporate Development Inc. can put up new yuppie housing that will bring in higher tax revenue." Or if they don't say that, the local populace can punish them by throwing them all out of office and having them serve as a warning to any other towns that start looking at confiscation as a way to up the tax base.

Personally, I think that Atlantic City, NJ would be a better place if they were able to bulldoze several dozen blocks and reform that entire place into a family friendly destination. But this is America, and we shouldn't have to worry about the government using our homes to make some land barons even richer.


This is a public service announcement for Tom Cruise: Knock it off.

Seriously, get over your bad self. At first I thought this whole Katie Holmes thing was kind of cute, although the jumping on the couch bit on Oprah was awkwardly over the top. But when you went on the Today Show and started getting in Matt Lauer's face about psychiatry and how anti-depressants are not necessary and how Brooke Shields should have treated her post-partum depression with vitamins and exercise - just stop it.

You are a mega-star, but you've been reading your own clippings for too long and obviously drinking the L. Ron Kool-Aid. Despite the fact that you claim to totally understand the "fraudulent" psychoanalytical sciences, you are not a doctor. Matt Lauer has moved up immensely in my estimation for not punching you in the face at the way that you talked down to him from your position of Thetan Seven, or whatever your Scientology rank is.

Actually, this goes for all of you entertainment types. Stop. If you want to give me your professional opinion about science or medicine, then go to school, study and get a degree in whatever it is you're talking about. If you want me to hear your political position, then run for office, a la Ronnie and Arnold. Otherwise, shut up. Your current job is to entertain us, and until you decide to change professions, you are the modern day equivalent of the court jester. Which, historically, has not been considered a position of knowledge and respect, mind you.

So to Susan and Tim, Barbra and Robert, Janeane and Alec - I don't care about your opinion on anything other than which character you will be playing in your next movie.

[No, really.]

Quote du jour:

"Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun, it shines everywhere."

-- William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

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