Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Punctuality counts

I'm staying in a Sheraton for the week. I can't compain about this because it is, in fact, fantastic! But it means no free breakfast, so went to the gas station next door to pick up a couple of pop-tars and a chocolate milk. The chocolate milk was fortified with extra protien, so when it tasted wierd I paid no heed. But after a second swig I decided it would probably be a good idea to check the date on the milk. "Sell by Feb. 04 07" - yes my milk was more than three weeks past the sell by date. But it doesn't end there. I took the milk back. The guy told me I could get a new one. Most of the milk in the refrigerator was "Sell by Feb. 04 07" however I did find one that said "Sell by Jul. 04 06"!!! Oh my gosh! What gas station in their right mind would leave a bottle of milk in the fridge for 8 months?!? I suppose the faded-to-distortion boxes of crackers they had on the shelves should have been a red flag.

So people in California are really punctual. After two days we haven't had anybody show up more than 5 minutes late for an event. Props to the central California population!

I just got a tip on making spectacular brownies - add crushed up dried banana (banana chips). A man who had judged a brownie contest said that there was a pan of brownies containing this special ingredient and they stood out far above the competition. I will for sure be trying this tactic as soon as is humanly possible.

Salsa on a tuna sandwich is a delightful combination.

Who keeps milk in the fridge for 8 months?!?

I believe that I discovered an old friend on myspace today. I haven't seen him since 7th grade which is more than ten years! That is so much fun! I love myspace.

Aside from being punctual, the people here are not all that interesting...ok, I guess they're interesting - at lunch I met a woman who is roughly 3 times my size, confined to an electric wheelchair, has not top teeth and a daughter who looks like a man. I consider that interesting. But there hasn't been anyone as random or entertaining as the palm reader. There was a man tonight whose breath smelled like a campfire and I beleive he was slightly inebriated, but that's just annoying - not interesting. I suppose we have three days left in the area. I await the advent of random and intersting people with great vigor.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

All the Small Things

The beginning of my work week was small. I left the airport through a small terminal, and rode on a plane with only 13 rows. We didn’t even have a jet-way when we exited. We just climbed down the stairs of the plane. The turbulence was pretty extreme. I thought we were going to fall from the sky. Adventurous times. We only had one flight attendant. I’ve only ridden a plane that small once before, so it was fun.

Today we presented at the fairgrounds in Chowchilla California. It’s a beautiful stretch of country filled with orchards. The apricot trees are in full bloom and I felt like singing ‘popcorn popping.’ The people here are quaint and down to earth. Lovely people with lots of character. I don’t know that they’ll be successful on the internet, but they’re wonderful people regardless. Next door to the hall we rented for the presentation is the local RV dump. Certainly a change from the bold carpets and dramatic light fixtures of hotel ballrooms.

Despite the small people, places, and planes of the past two days I’ve been having some big dreams. Most of the people I work with are wildly successful in more than one area of their lives, and it’s engendering an adventurous spirit in me that makes me want to go out and be wildly successful myself.

I’m being impetuous right now. I bought some Crest Whitestrips and I’m trying them out. They’re weird – and gooey. They guarantee satisfaction though, so I hope they work. We’ll see.

This is my fourth week in a row on the road. What this means is that I paid for rent in February and then spent a total of about 4 days in February in my house. That’s some expensive storage. With any luck I’ll be buying a house soon, so it won’t really matter.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a great book.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Balmy with a chance of traffic

Our previews today were in a different hotel than what was printed on people's invitations. This is a problem. Luckily the two hotels were only about 10 minutes apart, but from people's reactions you would have thought we were asking them to drive to Orlando. People have no understanding anymore. Everyone expects everyone to be perfect in the world, but also expects absolute mercy and forgiveness. Amazing.

A woman in leopard print shoes was excited about the fact that I was a Mormon. She praised BYU, and I enlightened her about the reality of the situation, and the U's obvious superiority. Actually I just told her about the friendly rivalry. She found this utterly entertaining.

I'm really enjoying myself with the two guys who are part of my team. I don't count the speaker because we're never with him and he doesn't work for the same company. My manager and the other sales rep are awesome though. We have a great time. I hope to work with them again.

This is my third week on the road and I'm out again the next two weeks in a row. I'm pretty excited about that.

A woman in a bright red knitted vest read my palm tonight. She told me that a change would be occurring in my life around three months before the end of the year and if there was any hesitation that I shouldn't do it, but if there wasn't any hesitation I should go for it. She also told me I'd be successful no matter what career I chose - highly entertaining. She was short.

Jack Frost was at our evening event. How cool is that? - pun intended! His name was actually Jack Frost. Rockin'.

After our evening preview we went out for food. We tried Wendy's, but we weren't able to get food because they closed 5 minutes early and were very rude about it. Wendy's was also closed, so we went to McDonald's. There was a Jewish man lying in a booth. He looked like he'd gotten into a fight with several ketchup packets, and the ketchup packets one. One of his shoes was lying askew on the floor with a french fry attached to it. We really wanted to know what the events leading up to the inebriated state of the man were.

I have to shave again's like waiting for a root canal.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Turkey Croissant

There was continental breakfast…sort of. Pre-wrapped muffins, apples, donuts, juice and coffee. Luckily they had hot chocolate.

Last night they decided it would be fun to test the fire alarm at 2 AM. That’s the second week in a row that’s happened. What’s with that? And why is it that hotels always have paper-thin walls?

I’m currently reading “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton. Here’s my favorite quote so far:

"The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon. She had accepted this submergence as philosophically as all her other trials, and now, in extreme old age, was rewarded by presenting to her mirror an almost unwrinkled expanse of firm pink and white flesh, in the centre of which the traces of a small face survived as if awaiting excavation.”
Today on our lunch break we went down to the waterfront of Miami. We passed lots of condominiums under construction, got caught in traffic, and passed through some shady neigborhoods. We had about 3 minutes to spend there, but it was still fun. We looked at the water, wished we could get in, took a couple of pictures and went back to the hotel. It was nice to be outside for a couple of minutes and experience the balmy warmth of the winter Miami sun.

I am constantly amazed at the inability of people to listen to directions. Mostly the ones to hear directions but think they're above the directions, as if the given instructions don't apply to them and they can do whatever they feel inclined to do at that moment. I really just don't get it. Here's what happened - the door to the conference room today was on the side of the room. So before letting people in I said "Hey everyone I'm gonna have you go to the far side of the room and fill up those seats first so that people who may arrive late have an easier time finding a seat." The back rows were taped off to drive traffic to the front of the room - that's what we do. So what happens? People fill up the seats on the side of the room close to the door. Then other people had the audacity to break through the mental barrier that is the tape and sit down in the taped off rows. What effrontery!!! I just don't get it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jumpsuit Frenzy

The huxtable sweater strikes again! This time donned by a woman with an eye patch. Perhaps a misguided pirate wench who got caught in the 80’s?

I’m in Miami this week. It should have been my week off, but my boss called up and asked if I wanted to work because they needed some help in Miami, so of course I said yes. Consequently I’m in southern Florida enjoying the GORGEOUS weather.

I had a first today. It was my first time shaving with a manual razor. I usually have an electric, but to my dismay I discovered that I’d forgotten to pack it, so I had to buck up and do it the old fashioned way. This is not an experience I’m excited to repeat, and yet I have no choice.

A woman came to the lunch event today who looked kind of like Catherine O’Hara in the latter half of ‘For Your Consideration.’ For those who haven’t seen it imagine squeezing the skin around your nose closer to the middle of your face while stretching your mouth beyond human endurance. Some serious plastic surgery taking place. I don’t think she could feel her face. She certainly couldn’t maneuver it very well.

I saw so many jump suits today I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. Light blue terry cloth, bright pink satin, MC Hammer pants. Miami has apparently never left the early 90’s.

My hotel has 3 phone books and 6 plastic cups but no way to make hot chocolate. Granted I’m in Miami and probably don’t need hot chocolate, but maybe I want some – which I do. There’s not even a coffee pot. What kind of Hotel doesn’t have a coffee pot in every room? I’ll tell you what kind – The Red Roof Inn. However, this Inn destroys my theory of cheap hotel=free internet. I’m without again. The only possible redeeming quality may be a continental breakfast, but due to an extreme dearth of information, I don’t know whether that will be happening either. But the hot tub is open past 10:30. Maybe I’ll go get some water from there for my hot chocolate…

I got a brownie today. :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Miami - what?

In a random, and rather sudden turn of events, I will be spending the remainder of the week in sunny Miami. My boss called me up and asked if I could help out - I obviously said yes being that all I really had planned for the week was a movie club/birthday party (and extremely important, yet reschedulable rendezvous with a good friend). So I'll be having some more great adventures. Next week I'll be in the Bakersfield area of California.

On my way through the airport yesterday I saw a balding woman. I didn't think they actually existed, but this woman had a ponytail and a receding hairline. I almost wished for a camera at that moment.

Further down the airport I arrived at the point where you drop your checked baggage off so they can scan it for dangerous materials like weapons, anthrax, tabloids containing pictures of Brittany's new do, etc. The woman working there was two to three times my size. The man working there was about half my size - an interesting couple.

I've developed a system for rapidity in airport security. All one must do is wear easily removable shoes and put everything - watches, jewelry, phones, wallets, belts, spare change, small life forms etc. - either in your coat pockets or in your carry-on, beforehand. Then all you have to do is lay down your carry-on, quickly remove your shoes, and breeze through the metal detector. Just pray it isn't your turn for the random frisking which occurs at some airports.

I ate a Cinnabon. Mmmm.

I hate sharp turns in airplanes.

More from Miami.....

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I left my heart in Worcester

Our final day of presentations in England. A stroke of luck – we finish at noon! Unfortunately we don’t leave for home until tomorrow morning. I suppose that’s alright, it gives me a chance to recoup from the week. I’ve decided I need to travel abroad with my company more often. We have lots of heavy luggage that is constantly needing to be moved, and there are not always elevators in the hotel. I actually think I got a work-out this week.

My last two nights in England were spent in a Marriott Hotel. These hotels use huge beds with a pillow top, down pillows, and a HUGE down feather comforter. Delightful! Sleep shall be mine!

I believe that along with Eruomullets I am morally opposed to pointy shoes.

I took a bath tonight. A nice, long, relaxing, hot bath. I read a book and then just sat for a while and soaked in the joy of my repose. A hot bath is actually sort of a workout in itself. I was sweating and my heart rate was going. It took me a while to cool down, but when I did I curled up on the couch in my room and read a book while sipping not chocolate and nibbling a shortbread oat biscuit.

A week in England has come to an end. That means I no longer have to listen to the two people on my team try – unsuccessfully – to speak with a British accent. I no longer have to stare at people’s horrendous teeth. I no longer have to worry about getting an English sandwich.

I’m sitting in the airport in Atlanta taking a break from my reading blitz. In the last 7 days I’ve read 3 books and am in the middle of my fourth. Jane Eyre was wonderful; Howl’s Moving Castle was strange, but entertaining; Mere Christianity was thought-provoking if a little misconstrued as far as Christian truth in certain areas; and I’m currently in the middle of Demon in the Freezer – a non-fiction work about the smallpox virus, it’s actually quite good. It’s likely that I’ll finish that before I get home to Utah and I’ll then start on The Age of Innocence.

So that’s that. I would like to say right now that a British accent – of any kind – can really add to the attractiveness of a young person, but there’s really nothing that can compare with good old home-grown American eye candy.

It’s currently 3:40 at home in Utah, but my body thinks it’s 10:45. I’m starting to feel it.

Final thoughts from a week in England:
Enjoy Sunshine
Cherish the moments when friends and family members brush their teeth
Thank heaven the US isn’t plagued with roundabouts and a lack of directional signs
Read more

Friday, February 16, 2007


Rain – it’s wet.

After our morning event we had to travel a distance that should have taken about and hour and a half. 3 and half hours later we arrived, 45 minutes late for our evening event. After we explained to the people who had stayed what had happened, they were very understanding. Apparently the road we traveled is known as England’s ‘car park’ (‘parking lot’ for those of you not acquainted with English colloquialisms). The worst time to drive on that road is Friday around 4 – the exact time we happened to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on that road. Sad times.

I finished my second book of the week today. First was Jane Eyre, then Howl’s Moving Castle. I read the second book because I watched the movie, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature a year or two ago at the Oscars, a couple of weeks ago. The movie made very little sense and the book was only slightly more comprehensible. It was entertaining though, so I’m ok with that. I’ve started C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and have come to the conclusion that when reading non-fiction by C.S. Lewis it’s not something that one can merely peruse. It takes study, and therefore a study environment. I’ve been quite able to breeze through the other two books during events or car-rides, but Lewis is going to take a more concerted effort to understand and retain – which is fine, I enjoy a challenge.

I’m excited to get back to the states. I feel like buying something and everything is basically half price in the states when compared to the UK.

A final thought – when dealing with atrocious meeting hall carpeting, it is essential that the curtains and wall-paper are equally bold and horrendous – just ask Marriott.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Memoirs of a velveteen table skirt

People here say 'H' with and H sound so it sounds like 'haich.' It throws me off a little.

I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weiner.

Day after day here it seems to all be blending together. I think that's because it's all blending together. I don't really have the time or means to go sightseeing, and even if I did I'm fairly certain that all the sights are quite out of the way. Thus I get to observe England from the windows of hotel rooms and our car. It's a '7 passenger' car. This means that it will fit 7 people and probably a hand-bag. We can barely fit 3 people with all our luggage. Scary.

Rant – I hate it when people complain about free food. I don’t think it matters what your expectations were, what you may have been led to believe, what you think of the food you’re served, or what your general opinion of pasta salad may be. If you’re getting food for free, you have no right to complain about it. Comment perhaps, but realize it’s free and then appreciate that you’re getting free food.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lemon Custard Tarts

Our presentations today will be held in a tent. Not unlike that used by the USF for the Tent of Terror. I feel like I'm in a Dr. Seuss book.

Today is Valentine's. I'll be celebrating about as much as I would were I home. Single Awareness Day for me! I will enjoy the company of a young lady tonight - as long as traffic isn't bad, we don't get lost, and we leave on time tonight. All of these things working to my benefit is about as likely as the Queen joining me and Mariah in our Valentine's escapades this evening. Stranger things have happened...

I tried Turkish delight yesterday. Not what I thought it would be, but not unpleasant.

Fashion feauxpas of the century - the euromullet. I still can't undrestand it. I've also seen in in Argentina - at least the wealthier parts. It was rampant during my time at Disneyworld and it seems the seas of this fashion disaster have yet to be quelled. As the author of a rather hysterical fashion disaster book observed - "Just because a fashion disaster comes back doesn't mean it's now ok, it just means it's back."

Every week I'm on the road I become more and more grateful for the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act, now if the Salt Lake Valley could establish an outdoor clean air act we'd be in business.

I think at some point in the future I'd like to get out of sales, this is of course after I begin speaking, and become a motivational speaker of some kind - perhaps establish a motivational speaking company. The options, I suppose, are endless. Only time can reveal the full fruition of this germ.


After a blissful, yet brief, romp on the World Wide Web I find myself once again without internet access. I hopefully await the time when access will once again be granted, and if the Universe aligns that won’t be too long.

Valentine’s Day was less than romantic as a whole. I spent most of the day in a large tent with two married men. The night-time, however was spent in the company of a young lady friend of mine and was lovely. We shared pizza, pie, and refreshing conversation in my quaint, but clean hotel room in Swindon. I was able to meet Mariah around the time we had previously arranged. Luckily there was no construction, we left at a reasonable hour, and the road from Stevenage to Swindon was pretty straightforward...And the Queen sends her greetings.

I’m not eating well here in England. My mother will probably go into a frenzy of worry and concern for me when she reads this, but those are the plain facts of life. It’s not that I’m trying not to eat right, but I’m faced with two problems:
1 – The food in England is less than desirable. Consequently I find myself eating lots of dessert and candy because these are the things the British can do right.
2 – The price of food in England is nearly double the price found back in the States, not to mention that food is harder to find here. I end up eating what the hotel serves which is usually a sorry excuse for a sandwich, some sort of bizarre pasta salad, and an exquisite display of the properties of sugar. I’ll be glad to be home where normal food, and normal prices can be found.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Northampton on my mind

I am feeling absurdly annoyed with everyone I meet today. The British people seem so presumptuous. They come to the presentations and act as if they know what they’re doing, where they are and exactly what’s going one. The reality is that they rarely know much of anything at all in terms of what we’re doing. And bless their souls they’re congenial about it, but my life would be much easier if they would simply hand me whatever papers they’ve been mailed and let me direct them accordingly.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the English may be more conniving when it comes to squeezing money from every corner and crevice of one’s pocket than the Americans. They charge 25 pence to use the phone in the Hotel – for local calls! Apparently America is the land of freedom, there’s certainly not much, if anything, for free here.

A ray of hope amidst the gloom of overcharging and annoying foreigners in their homeland is a woman I met today. Her name is Happiness. I find that to be a delightful reminder of the goodness inherent in the world. How wonderful it must be for her. She brought a smile to my face.

After a delightful romp through an English mall (which was filled with American stores) I felt much better after dinner, however I was not delinquent in my observations. Two things have caught my attention – First is that most people here go by their last name and simply put their first initials. Even when asked what one’s name is, a person will usually give their surname. Along those lines I’ve noticed an aversion to nametags here. Many people don’t wear them when we give them, or express apprehension about placing the nametag. One man said “I don’t want to wear that and look like a prat!” Though everyone else who had crossed the threshold of the meeting room had a nametag positioned visibly on their person.

This week I have been fortunate enough to have my own room each night. My manager and the speaker like their room exceptionally cold during the evening (though they seem to enjoy having the car heated to extreme temperatures) and thus they have given me the single room. Tonight I am especially pleased with this arrangement for one reason – the room has a four-poster bed with a canopy!!! I’ve never slept in such a delightful place of repose. I’m rather excited. However due to road closures, incorrect cartography, and the general confusion caused by the British highway system we didn’t arrive at the hotel until after midnight – thus marring and shortening my enjoyment of this splendid room. On the upside they have free internet, though just in the lobby, so in the morning there will be postings! I hope, readers, that you share in my joy and will indulge me with comments of a resplendent nature. (I’ve been reading Jane Eyre this week and the writing style of Ms. Bronte seems to have infected my own.)

I made a phone call last night to a friend of mine who happens to live in London. I assumed (as one should never do) that it would be relatively inexpensive for a short conversation of this nature. It ended up costing me 8 pounds – that’s the equivalent of $16! For three minutes!!! What absurdity! Along with my aversion to fried food I’m beginning to develop an aversion to the UK.

Monday, February 12, 2007

In a roundabout way...

Apparently no one in the UK has caught on to the concept of free internet. In our hotel this afternoon they charge fifteen pounds an hour. That’s equivalent to over $30 – per hour! Ridiculous.

On a brighter note, it seems that the plague of hideous commercial carpet has not escaped the British Isles. We can rest well knowing that conference rooms, hotel corridors and airport terminals the world over are blighted with Huxtable-esque carpeting.

This evening I was given the once-over by a rather androgynous young person. On further observation I ascertained that he was, in fact, a young man. He possessed amazingly feminine facial features which made identification with any clarity quite difficult. This entire situation is an astoundingly subtle, yet intriguingly evident paradox in my life. Those who are intimately acquainted with me will see why. The rest of you will merely have to surmise.

I was going to make a not about British punctuality after today’s events. Not one person was late to our morning session. However, any thoughts I had in this direction were dashed after a half a dozen or so people arrived tardy this evening. I will say, however, that inhabitants of the UK are quite a bit more polite about their lateness.

I think comments on British cuisine will be held until the end of the week. I will say, however, that they really know their chocolate!

The beauty of the British countryside is down-right awe-inspiring – even in the winter. The skies have been a bit gloomy, but the green hills, the moss-covered centuries-old property walls, the antiquated buildings – even the people, to a certain extent. Wonder fills my thoughts and gratitude my heart. I enjoy finding the poetry inherent in the world. The cycle of life and death, light and darkness, old and new. Every place has its beauty and every scene is filled with celestial qualities. It’s awesome.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The motherland

I don’t much care for changing time zones. However, on a positive note, airline food seems to be improving. The fare on the plane last night was exceptionally palatable – even if it was accompanied by a Russell Crowe movie.

After three weeks of working I think I’ve mastered the art of the security check-in at the airport. A skill few posses and even fewer execute with flawless grace. By the end of the summer I should have it down to an art form.

What is with the roundabouts? They dot the British countryside like the acne of a pubescent teenager. I will say that they were useful more than once on our journey today.

After ascertaining the locations of our conferences on a map it seems that we’ll be traversing nearly all of the British countryside. Today we drove nearly the entire width of the Island. In the course of the week we’ll travel from the east coast to the west coast and back again getting as far south as northern London and back up to Liverpool. None of that will make any sense unless one views a map of England. We flew into Manchester. Check it out.

I am again without free internet access (despite residing for the night in a Best Western) and heaven only knows when I’ll be able to access it once again free of charge. Thus my chronicles may be published in one fell swoop at the end of the week. Let us pray, however, for more favorable circumstances.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

D.C. - Do Cavort

I’ve been to the mall twice in the last two days and didn’t see even one Huxtable sweater. I suppose my earlier sightings were merely anomalies – slight perversions in the delicate tapestry of fashion savvy consciousness.

My evening with Isaac was spent devouring Krispy Kreme chocolate donuts and enjoying “Take the Lead,” which I enjoyed immensely. It did introduce several plot points which were subsequently underdeveloped, but overall it was a delightful romp in an inner city school basement. A veritable Gershwin in the ghetto, a whimsical waltz of woebegone whelps - but I digress.

I’m developing a liking to public transportation – and an aversion to fried food.

This morning Isaac and I ventured to the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. What a sobering experience. The atrocities that took place in Europe during that time are unimaginable. The things that happened to those unlucky enough to be caught in the fervor of German conquest were unbelievable. Mass extermination, grotesque experimentation, merciless treatment. It is amazing to me that any one person could reach the point where they see a group of people as mere objects for their own disposal and benefit. It’s horrific. On the reverse, however, the stories of compassion, survival, and courage that have emerged because of the same circumstances are nothing short of inspirational.

I arrived at the airport two and half hours early for my flight. I don’t know that I’ve ever gone through the check-in and security screening process faster. This is ironic because I’m going on an international flight. Consequently I have 2 hours until my flight leaves and nothing to do. A ‘Maui Tacos’ stand is flashing its neon lights brightly in my direction. To the benefit of my lower intestine, I’ve already had lunch.

Anna Nicole Smith died this week. Will the world be changed?...probably not.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Virginia is angry

7 people got up and left today. Usually we may get one or two that get up after 15 minutes and leave in a huff, today we had many many more. I think it may be because of the return of the Huxtable sweater. I saw another one today. Evidently it's making a come-back on the east coast. The one today reminded me of the sweaters Neil wears in the Santa Clause 2 (those of you who've seen it can relate, those of you who haven't are lucky.)

Antonio Banderas came to our Lunch preview. His name was actually Eugenio and he was wearing floods.

I hate being a bad guy. I'm the one that stands at the table and when my manager deems that it's too late to let people in, I get to break the bad news to them. Fun? - no. Entertaining? - perhaps. But even then I get the "But traffic is so bad, and we came all this way" etc. etc. etc. I suppose it's a good thing I haven't had to be out it the cold at all today. Plus we got chocolate cake for dessert.

I may not have internet for the next couple of days. Plus I have an 8 hour flight ahead of me. I may need to save my energy to endure that. For these reasons my blog may be dark for a day or two. Please don't despair. Simply check back Monday. I'm sure I'll have all sorts of fun stories to share of travel companions, british customs and my adventures tonight and tomorrow perusing the Washington area.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Capitol Punishment

I met a woman today named D. Mullett Smith. Granted mullets probably weren't really around or officially established at the time of her birth, but regardless - what cruel parents she had. I almost hope it's a nickname like "Hi my name is Dee 'Mullet' Smith, and this is my friend Marge 'Hockey Hair' Jones."

Why is it that industrial carpet, such as that used in hotel hallways and ballrooms, looks fine in that circumstance, but anywhere else it would produce vomiting, riots, and general chaos?

Evidently there's going to be a fashion feauxpas every day. Today - hair plugs. No I understand that hair plugs can be effective, but when all they create is a thin frontal comb-over, it's probably better to just be bald on top and shave the sides to a reasonable length. I'm against comb-overs of any variety, but that's a soapbox for another day.

My lunch break today - wandering around the area of Arlington VA in close proximity to my hotel. Luckily I actually found something interesting to look at. They had a memorial called Freedom Park. At the beginning was a display of the Berlin Wall. It was closed, but I still got a picture. The rest of the walk was dotted with emblems of freedom i.e. replica's of Stalin's fallen statue, Martin Luther King's jail cell door, suffrage posters etc. Then there was a memorial for journalists who have died while in pursuit of truth. It was a pretty moving display throughout, aside from giving me something to do. It wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been, again, for two reasons. First I was alone. Things of this nature are always better when you have someone special to share it with. Second it was FREEZING! The wind was blowing and I was without scarf. Enjoyable nonetheless.

Dinner brought it's tide of interesting people. One lady came an hour and half before the presentation started to make sure she'd be on time. One man came an hour and fifteen minutes late - thus missing all but two minutes of the presentation (he rescheduled).

I got to spend some more time with Isaac tonight after the dinner show. We ate decent Mexican food and took a frigid walk to the Iwo Jima Memorial (that's the one with the soldier's hoisting the flag). Isaac is on an intellectual kick about evolution and it's implications with church doctrine. A very entertaining stream of conversation to say the least. I, personally, don't care about such things. I figure there are no official valid statements one way or the other, so why worry? Live the basic principles and leave the mysteries of heaven for heaven. (All opinions expressed in the preceding paragraph were done with permission of those involved.)

If a brownie costs me over $2, it should be one of the best brownies I've ever eaten, being that I can get an entire box of brownies for around $3. Today's brownie was less than ideal. Luckily I had two cups of hot chocolate (one with a mint candy in the bottom - delightful!) to balance it out.

My only qualm of the week - I'm in weather that would freeze a tongue to a pole in no time flat. At home it's a balmy 60 degrees, and has been all week. Why couldn't mother nature have made the spring fake-out week last week or the week of President's day?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Monumental Lunch Break

I think that bigger cities produce less of the anomalies of humanity that seem so rampant in out-of-the-way places. Most of the people I saw today were fairly mainstream people. They seemed rather with it. Except for the fact that a couple of them displayed a voracious and insatiable lust for cold-cuts and potato salad.

Fashion feauxpas of the day - pleather pants. Yes, I saw them. Be warned.
I also witnessed Huxtable sweaters. And yes, you read right, sweaterS. There were two today. Bright colors, bold patterns - they were right out of the Cosby Show. I guess people in DC haven't quite left the early 90's. It might have something to do with the un-updated educational films that still play in all the museums around town.

My lunch break was filled with adventure. I was hit on by a man in a ticket booth. A ticket is required to ascend the heights of the Washington monument. The man in the ticket booth was flirtatiously asking me why I only wanted one ticket. I found it flattering, but odd.

The Smithsonian is 1 block away from my current hotel. During lunch I took the opportunity to experience one of the nation's largest museums - The Museum of Natural History. I saw fossils, more fossils, some fossils, and the hope diamond. The day would have been more enjoyable under 2 different circumstances: First, if it had been warmer. There are several sculpture gardens which are ripe with entertaining photo opportunities, however due to the frigid nature of the air, and the grim state of outdoor plant life, the sculpture gardens held less appeal than normal. Second, I would wish for more time. There's so much to see. I only got to the Washington Monument and the Museum of Natural History, but there's the Air and Space Museum, and at least 6 art galleries of varying exhibits, and the museum of American History (which was closed for refurbishment), not to mention the remaining dozen memorials or so. This part of Washington alone would take a week or so to fully experience. I only had two hours. But it was two hours of blissful solitude.

Of particular note in the MNH was an exhibit about orchids. Small, but very aromatic. I wished to bask in the scent for hours.

I drank hot chocolate with dinner. Heaven in a coffee cup.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Airforce 1

Day one of a two week adventure. What my last blog didn’t include was information regarding next week. That’s because I didn’t know about next week at that time. Next week I’ll be in another capitol city. No, it’s not Salt Lake City, or even St. Paul – I’ll be in London. Yes, London England. I’ll be flying directly from Washington DC to London on Saturday. But that’s next’s week’s adventure – so on to this week.

We were almost late for our flight this morning. Luckily we weren’t. On the plane I got my own seat, actually I got my own row of seats. This is fortunate when one wants to nap – as I did. Before my slumbering I watched a short film about an orphan who drew pictures of a dragon that came to life and burned the orphanage. After my repose I saw a short film called "Still Life" about a young man who was driving while fatigued. He kept popping caffeine pills to stay awake. His car ran out of gas and he stopped in a small town to fill up. He wasn’t paying attention and ended up running into someone. When he got out of his car he saw that the person was a mannequin. It turns out that everyone in town was a mannequin. At the end of the film he ran into a house where there was a mother, father, and child mannequin living. He took a baseball bat and broke the mannequins by smashing them over the head. He ran upstairs, looked out the window to see a police car driving up, looked in the mirror and saw blood spattered across his face. The camera panned over to his face – there was blood. The police burst in and arrested him. They went back downstairs and past the bodies of the family – this time they were real, and lying in pools of blood. Disturbing, but intriguing. That’s what drugs will do.

I got to see my friend Isaac this evening. Delightful. We ate at a French restaurant, perused Barnes & Noble, took a walk on the boardwalk and gazed at the frozen river. It would have been quite the romantic evening under different circumstances. I’ll be here all week though, so I’ll probably get to hang out with Isaac more. Smithsonian museums, eating delicious food, appreciating great architecture. I may even get to see some of the immigrant vendors that permeate the streets of the city. Hooray for tourist traps that masquerade as centers of government!

Across the street is the Department of Education. Their doorways have little school houses built around them. The quaint little buildings boldly declare “no child left behind.” I’ve heard from every educator I am acquainted with that ‘no child left behind’ is the worst piece of educational legislation to hit this country since…well…ever. So every time I leave the hotel a little smile crosses my face.

I rode the subway by myself. I felt like I was in a coke commercial.