Monday, March 28, 2005

Rites of Spring...

At last the temp here is up above 60ยบ F, the sun is out, and they're laying my new septic line tomorrow morning. I couldn't be happier. Well, ok, maybe I could. ("Wake up, Cathy, it was all a dream, George Bush was defeated in 2004 and everything's Kerrific!") Sigh. Anyway, I'm pretty happy. Went to the butcher to buy some hamburger for the grill tonight, and while there was tempted by a can of Mountain Dew in the refrigerator case. Since I swore off soda a while ago, it's been some time since I indulged in that poison of choice.... but it's spring, and it's nice out, and I wanted to knock back a cold one. So I did; and, perhaps a positive sign, it wasn't quite as good as I expected. Maybe I'm outgrowing my taste for the stuff. Came home, went out in the yard to look at bulbs, and surprised a good-sized rabbit that was hiding in my groundcover. While I'm sorry I startled him, it was nice to see him (or her)--a change from the standard squirrel-based wildlife package that my yard comes equipped with. Once, when I first moved in, I saw a fox trotting calmly down my road. That was excellent; I haven't seen one since then, but i know they're around.

The Croc's website has been down for 2 days due to a server move, and it's kind of scary how much I'm jonesing to read the forums again. This could be because I get an ego kick off of the worshipful way in which fans respond to staff postings (mine included.) Or it could be that someone had just started a thread that I actually >wanted< to talk about, and then the site went down. Dang. It also means I couldn't really do any work today--or rather, I could have done work but it was boring work. So instead I did some work on my research project for Historical Interpretation class, and then came home to the aforementioned hamburger, Dew, and rabbit.

Double Your Fun

By the way, yes I know I now have duplicate comment links. The guys at enetation have not responded to my pleas to switch my old comment files over to the pro server (which I paid for about 6 months ago.) My solution is to have the link for both the old comments and the pro comments in my code; if one disappears maybe the other will stay put. Still no idea what causes this.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Vacation's Over.

As suspected, the Vegas euphoria didn't last long. When you have a company with only 3 people, and all 3 of them go to a trade show for 6 days....let's just say there's been plenty of fires to put out this week. That isn't such a bad thing, as it distracts me from the vague sense of nausea that creeps over me whenever I hear a mention of the Terri Schiavo case in the news. I'll refrain from going into depth.... but I know firsthand the pain of seeing someone you care about destroyed by a brain injury. Congress' arrogance in involving itself in this matter is nothing short of appalling. This is a matter for families and doctors to decide; the thought that this woman's parents are willing to not only force her to continue living in a permenant vegetative state, but are also willing to put her on the national stage to accomplish their own ends just makes me want to barf. OK, enough of that.

Yesterday was Purim eve, and I came home from class to find not one, but two invitations from different friends to come over for some hamentashen and recreational beverages. Purim is a great holiday—it's celebrated with a long story, noisemakers, costumes, gifts, charity, food, and fun with friends. It's a good time of year for it! Stupid class. But I'm promised leftover hamentashen, and Passover is coming soon. We all know what that means: time for Cathy to go to the Osco and buy the most expensive bottle of Mogen David kosher wine that money can buy. I'm budgeting about $3.

Problems in the comments lately, I know. I've emailed enetation, not sure what else to do since I've no idea what the problem is. Bear with me.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Never Bet More Than You Can Afford To Lose....

Ugh. I'm back. The trade show was good, though definitely too long by at least 1 day. Think I may have picked us up a couple new accounts, including ones in France, Germany, Italy, and Canada. Also made friends with some New Zealanders who make a niceWWII wargame, and might get to do a little painting for them. Our staff painter made friends with the guys from Rackham/Confrontation, who make some of the most amazing figures in the business. She managed to scam me a free t-shirt! It's good to be a hot chick in a guy-dominated industry.

To sum up my trip, I'm going to borrow Jane's "report card" motif. No photos yet; I'll need to trim them down and upload them to flikr. I'll post something when I do.
VEGAS ITSELF: B+ . I had expected it to be loud, bright, and debaucherous, and it didn't disappoint. However, I'd not realized how huge the strip is. I spent nearly the entire weekend walking endless miles just to get from point a to point b. I took the monorail a lot, but you still have to walk about a half mile to get from any monorail through the hotel casino to reach Las Vegas Blvd. My feet and back were killing me at the end of every day. My main goal was to go into as many of the themed casinos as possible just to see what they were like; I managed to hit 20 of them, but I was near death by from exhaustion by Friday morning.
THE RIVIERA (our convention hotel): B . Kudos for retaining the look and feel of an older strip casino (it turns 50 this year!) but low marks for theme decor and general appearance.
THE SAHARA: A- . Still with a slightly seedy overtone of old casino, the Sahara has managed to turn its cheesiness into an asset. Its Faux Moroccan look has a certain charm, and they have less expensive table games with friendly dealers. Plus, I won $30 there on roulette.
CIRCUS CIRCUS: C . The whole place has a slightly grimy patina that's hard to ignore. While the Adventuredome was kind of cool, even it had a sort of "theme park on hard times" feel to it, with empty spaces and missing paint. It is, however, home to Slots-O-Fun and the amazing $1.50 shrimp cocktail. (Not amazing in a good way, either.)
HILTON/STAR TREK: B+ . I wish the casino had had a little more Star Trekiness to it, but it was very entertaining nonetheless. I didn't get to do the "experience" but did go to a party in Quark's Bar on Wednesday, tried a "Warp Core Breach" and some Romulan ale, then soon found myself wondering where my feet were.
TREASURE ISLAND: B- . The outside is incredibly cool. But inside--what a waste of piratey potential! There was very little in the way of arrrr past the doorways. I also missed the show outside where the ship fires its guns; disappointing.
MIRAGE: B . This probably would have gotten a higher mark if I'd been there during the daytime. I didn't get there til around 11 pm on Thursday, so the white tigers weren't out, and the foresty jungle thing in the main lobby was pretty dark. It looked like it could be fairly cool--but again, didn't see a lot of the theme permeating the casino.
CAESAR's PALACE: A . Now THIS is a theme casino. Too cool, we walked around it and the Forum Shops for hours and I'm sure didn't see all that there was. The Celine Dion Store is here, as is the Elton John Store, which led us to an interesting discussion of what might happen if a shipment of Elton's "The Bitch is Back" T-shirts got delivered to Celine's store by mistake.
BELLAGIO: A- . Classy! Not sure what the theme was beyond "classy" but it sure had that. It also has (I'm told) the best buffet in Vegas. I can attest it was pretty damn good, I've never seen anything quite like it! Piles of beautiful food everywhere, it was one of three great meals I had while in LV.
THE VENETIAN: A- . The Italian street scene thing was impressive; I only dinged them a little because I thought Paris and Aladdin were even more striking in this respect. Ate at the Wolfgang Puck place here and it was fabulous.
HARRAH'S: D . Loud, kinda grimy, and even more confusingly laid out than most casinos. I had to walk through it from the monorail twice, and both times it took me about 10 minutes to find the door. No other casino was that difficult to navigate. I wasn't even tempted to play here.
IMPERIAL PALACE: F . Boring. Its vague Chinese theme is unrealized anywhere in the decor. I was in it for less than 5 minutes before my friend and I looked at each other and said "eh" and left. Even the older casinos have more character than that. Maybe we missed something.
BARBARY COAST: B+ . Not much of a theme, but a nice casino ambiance. I played blackjack here. Lost $40, but had fun doing it.
PARIS: A . Owned by Caesar's, and they know how to do ambiance! I loved the faux outdoor French city park look in the actual casino.
ALADDIN: A . Same thing, the casino was cool Arabian Nights style and the mall surrounding it was just neat-looking. Thunderstorm in the middle of the mall? Too cool.
NEW YORK NEW YORK: B . I was there on St. Patrick's eve, and it was horribly crowded. But also, the fakeyness of the exterior/interior seemed a little too fake, more over the top than the previous two. However, they were the only casino I saw that featured a Chuck-a-Luck table.
MGM GRAND: A . I'm a movie buff, and MGM holds mystique for me, so I was just thrilled to be there. But it's also beautiful, stylish and tasteful, and has a lion habitat with two handsome cubs and 2-3 adult lions. What's not to like?
EXCALIBUR: B . What could be a really cool theme is undermined by the cheesiness of some of the decor. It runs the gamut between looking very realistic (in a fantasy kind of way) and looking like someone just threw it together. I liked it, but I'd expected to like it better than I did.
LUXOR: A+ . Like Caesar's, this hotel has the theme thing down perfectly. What gives it that extra plus is the design of the hotel--its pyramid shape is not only cool for the casual visitor to the casino and attractions, but the rooms all look out over the central core of the pyramid. That's just awesome. And they had Donkey Kong in the arcade! I got the high score! Overall, a gratifying visit.

God, I've thought of at least two places I left out, but I've bored you all enough. Suffice it to say I covered a lot of ground and I had a great time. Now it's back to the grind, lots to do before spring break ends in about 24 hours....

Friday, March 11, 2005

Curse the Girl Scouts and Their Sugary Goodness!

It's cookie time again. Since I don't actually know any girl children between the ages of 2 and 20, I have been forced in recent years to depend on fate to deliver the cookie crack to my doorstep. Usually there are dealers on the campus of my school around the end of February, but as I hadn't seen any by last weekend I was starting to get a little panicky that I might have missed them. So I took it to the next level: I stalked.

Yes. I went to the Hoosier Girl Scout Council website and looked up the schedule for freelance cookie selling in the Indpls area; then I "casually" happened to go grocery shopping at O'Malia's. Sure enough, I was accosted at the door by three girls in brownie uniforms, sashes aglow with all the badges I never earned, offering me their wares. I played hard to get, made a show of needing to go buy some produce (I got some green beans, two overripe nectarines, and a nice mango) and then came back and dropped $15 on their table, grabbed 5 boxes and scurried off to my car to eat some before I even turned on the ignition.

The thin mints aren't the problem. I love 'em, but as addictive cookies go they're not all THAT bad; I eat a few in March and throw the rest in the freezer, to be broken out and eaten on my "I had a horrible day and I deserve something special" days. I usually run out in January, I'm pretty good about parcelling them out. But the Samoas are another matter. They're amazing... And they are heart-stoppingly bad for you. If you've never had one, they're a shortbread ring, topped with caramel and toasted coconut, bottomed and striped with dark chocolate. It's like a Twix bar on overload. I don't even like coconut, and I can't leave these things alone. One cookie is 75 calories, of which 35 come from fat. Compare this to the Thin Mint, which has about 35 calories per cookie, 15 from fat. Add in the fact that for your $3 per box, you get 15 Samoas, versus about 40 Thin Mints. Obesity, thy name is Scouting. It would be faster and cheaper if a Girl Scout just came to your door, rang the bell, and shot you instead of making you fill out the order form.

Don't get me wrong, though--I'm all for the scouts and their cookie pushing ways. I was a scout for about 8 years myself, I even stuck with it after my troop dissolved in 9th grade and I got merged with another troop. (Then I quit--the other troop was just boring. My mom had been the leader of Troop #1309, and we did all kinds of great stuff that other scouts didn't do. We didn't go camping much, but that's another story.) It's just that the arrival of Cookie Time coincided with the implementation of a diet and exercise plan, and I've gotten off to a wobbly start. I'm not "on a diet," mind you. I'm making some longterm changes in what I eat and how I eat it. It's not about counting carbs or calories (though I know that works for a lot of people! no offense implied) but more about eating natural foods, organic when possible; eating more fruit and vegetables; eating snacks throughout the day rather than huge meals with big spaces in between; and following an exercise program. Cookies, while not verbotten, are certainly not meant to be a daily accoutrement in the plan. It's all good, though, I finished one box of samoas and the other is in the freezer—and unlike Thin Mints, Samoas can't be eaten when frozen! I'd have to take time to defrost them to avoid breaking (another) tooth, and that cuts the whole impulse eating thing by 90%. I might even still have them come next January....

In an intriguing coincidence, another blogger has chosen the name cautionary tale for her trials and tribulations; her name is alex, and she apologized to me on her blog the moment she realized our names were so similar. I would probably never have even known, except that I noticed a canadian ISP had spent a bunch of time on this site and I thought, odd... I don't know any Canadians! So I went over to her site, and there's this apology. I figure, great minds think alike, so she must be cool. Anyway, if you happen to find her instead of me when you're googling "cautionary tale", say hi. I leave for Vegas on Sunday, so hopefully will return with tales of wild debauchery. Or, more likely, not.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

What's That Humming Sound? Oh, Wait, It's Me....

My brain's been in clickity-clickity-click mode for 2 weeks now, and it's only going to get worse right up til I actually leave for Vegas in another week. By this I mean that I have many diverse things to think about, most of them interesting, and all of them stressful. Job interviews, school projects, bipedal crocodiles.... And I can only think about one of them for a few minutes at a time before I click over to one of the others and obsess about that for a while. How do other people work full time and go to school? How do they stay sane?

The good news for the week is that Mr. Septic Professional came and evaluated my situation (see below) and tells me that he won't have to re-lay my entire line (hooray!) and that he can fix it without tearing up my rock garden and patio (double hooray!) and that it'll probably cost $1500, not $3000 (triple super hooray with fireworks and rainbows!) This clears the way for me to start seriously thinking about Phase II of Project Downstairs Destruction, the shock-and-awe phase. I need to have a plumber come in and tear out a bathtub and a really ugly sink; the sink gets replaced, the bathtub doesn't. So I've been going to the salvage store to look for a "new" sink. I'm strongly tempted by one that used to be in the LS Ayres department store bathroom--basically a white pedestal 2 tap sink, with a nice 1930's sorta look to it. But as I'm not a plumber, I'm not clear exactly on whether it'd fit where I want to put it. Also, they have a toilet from the West Baden Hotel in Palm Springs for like $50. Now, technically I don't need a new toilet, the old one just needs to be re-sealed. But a toilet from the West Baden? Dare I say, the toilet of the stars??? West Baden was a popular spa hotel in the 40's and 50's, and many movie stars and celebrities stayed there. Anyone could have used it. Marilyn Monroe could have warmed her cheeks on this very throne! It's so tempting. Of course, when I go back it'll be gone, or they won't have a tank that fits it, or something. But the thought is, well.....I can only say, magical.