Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!!

I'm in Austin, with the UT- aTm game on behind me. We got here Wednesday and the weather's more like late September than late November. We've been able to bike and hike and eat and do all those things that you'd want to do in central Texas in November. Mom made a whole mess of pies, and we delivered 6 of them to the Salvation Army Wednesday afternoon. They got apple, pecan, and pumpkin pies. Mom makes a mean pie, and it's nice to think of all those people enjoying it for Thanksgiving dinner. But not all the pies went to charity- she made apple crisp, key lime pie, pecan pie, and pumpkin pie for our Thanksgiving dinner. Today she'll make a lemon meringue pie, too. Oh, the humanity! Sometimes she just gets the bee in her bonnet to do something, and I guess this week it was pie. Aw, shucky-darn, we just have to do our part to support her hobbies!

Before the gorgefest yesterday we saw our very dear friends T&E and their little 20-month-old munchkin. He's the cutest little guy you've ever seen. What a flirt!! He'll hide around a doorway and peek his head around, look at you, and smile this sly little grin and it's IRRESISTABLE, I tell you! Almost makes me want one of my own. Or maybe T&E will let us borrow theirs.

Today my niece is coming to town!! Yay! Her birthday was Tuesday, and I haven't seen her since Christmas 2003. She's such a cool kid. She's getting old enough to appreciate the finer things in life, like clothes shopping, ice skating, and Harry Potter. This should be a fun weekend for sure!

By the way, update on the New York trip last week. I went to a Broadway show called Avenue Q. It's a parody of Sesame Street, complete with muppets and perky little songs. Very very funny. I'd love to get the music on CD. I'd highly recommend it to anyone going to NYC. Very irreverent, and SO much fun.

Oh well, this is getting to be a boring "what I did last week" post so I'll stop here. Maybe I'll think of something else to talk about to humor you later on. Have a terrific holiday and I'll eat an extra slice of pie for you!

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's Krispi and it's fresh, but it ain't doughnuts...
Nova Scotia was really fun. It turned out to be colder than The Weather Channel thought it would be, so I didn't really have appropriate clothing. I should've known -- if you go to Canada, BRING THE PARKA! Even if it's August. You just never know when a nor'easter will strike. Luckily, a colleague from Toronto took pity on me and gave me a bright red, most-super-fantastic took (or is it spelled tuc?) with my company's super-fantastic logo emblazoned across the front. If, like me, you didn't watch enough Doug & Bob MacKenzie as a child, a took is a hat, like a stocking cap without the ball, and kind of shaped at the top- not like a tube that's just been stitched together at a point, but a little more, um, square-ish. Mine also has a liner of black sweater material around it, giving the effect of 2 tooks layered together. It's most awesome. And warm.

Trivia for the Traveler-- Seafood in Nova Scotia is CHEAP. And GOOD. If you pretended the canadian $ were actually US$, it was STILL cheap. Then take the prices and multiply by about .78, and then it's like they're giving it away! And in a way, I guess they almost are. There were roadside trucks all over the highways selling-- no, not watermelons, or peaches, or even boiled peanuts (a southern delicacy).... fish! Smoked, fresh, live, whatever. Lots of fish. For sale on the side of the highway. I didn't partake-- allowing the local restauranteurs to do my cooking for me. But I could definitely live in a place where they sell seafood at every corner. Mmmmmmmlobsters. I'd buy a pair of big lobsters on my way home from work and do 'em up right, in crab boil! Extra spicy!

(slap-slap, focus! back to reality!) OK, anyway. On Friday I had nothing to do but sightsee and so I took my rent car, my took, and a crude Avis map of NS, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island on-one-page and followed the coastline along the Atlantic ocean and various coves, bays, waterways, fishing villages... It was Remembrance Day and I saw a band of WWII veterans at the Lunenberg Canadian Legion building looking distracted but very patriotic. What a great time. The only shopping I did was at a monster tourist trap called Peggy's Cove where I visited the busiest gift shop ever. I don't mean it was full of people-- I mean it was busy. My eyes never adjusted to the spectacle of tchotchkes. SNG got a groovy new magnet and I got a bunch of postcards (my pics weren't as good).

On the way back, I saw the funniest sign- hand (spray-)painted, out in front of a (ahem) business establishment:

Krispi Kraut
Always Fresh!

Eat your heart out, doughnut fans. Get them when they're hot??

This week's destination-- New York.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Chicago was fun. A coworker from Detroit was also there teaching, so we went to the Art Institute's museum and dinner afterwards on Thursday evening. There was an exhibit of old B&W photos of Paris dating from the mid/late 1800s to about the mid 1950s. Some very early photography, and it was surprising how good condition these pictures were in. One thing that was interesting were some pictures taken to document the original layout of some Paris neighborhoods that no longer exist. After the revolution, a big effort was made to tear down and rebuild some neighborhoods to make them more amenable to modern infrastructure, straighten street layouts, and widen the streets-- preventing the easy erection of impromptu barricades that were so key to neighborhood battles in the late 1700s/early 1800s. A photographer was hired to document these neighborhoods that would be completely flattened. It was kind of sad to think, this neighborhood, which looks like so many you might see in Paris, no longer exists at all.

This week I'm off to Halifax, Nova Scotia. How many times will I have the opportunity to visit Nova Scotia for free? I'm taking an extra day on Friday to look around. It'll be chilly, but not too bad. Weather forecasts say lows in the upper 30s at night. Heck, that's about like Raleigh. Anyone have suggestions for things to see in Halifax? I hear that the Bay of Fundy has some of the biggest tides in the world- that should be intersting to see. And I bet their seafood is outta sight.

The Guy Fawkes Day celebration was SO much fun!! I think we should have bonfires more often. Burning Stuff!! What a joy! It was like camping without the camping part. With a house! And toilets! And TV! And extra pickle relish in case we ran out! We burned the Guy F effigy and learned that yard scarecrows from the grocery store are not flame-retardant. They torch like they're made of lighter fluid.

During the bonfire, we were all cooking hot dogs and s'mores over the flames, and eating WAY too much. Everybody was QUITE full but still eating, when someone pointed out that we were really just eating as an excuse to keep burning things. Well, why do we need an excuse?! So we burned stuff. We burned everything we could find. Acorns, marshmallows, wrappers for everything, hot dogs, buns, mini chocolate bars, aluminum cans, paper plates, junk-mail catalogs, you name it. If it wasn't nailed down, it went into the fire. Did you know that aluminum can burn? Well, they melt into a little puddle. Close enough.