Monday, April 26, 2010

Some Reflections on Business Travel

Friday night, I arrived home, late, on my last commercial flight in the forseeable future.  We move in ten days, to a place driving-distance from family and friends.  No security lines, weight limits, narrow seats or mucus-filled oldsters.  As such, this trip made every effort to stick in my mind for a long time.  Let's talk about some of the highlights.

I've never had problems with hotel rooms since they started offering non-smoking rooms.  However, I managed to wake my first morning with a glorious glowing rash on my chest.  I'm quite happy it didn't appear elsewhere, and very happy it went away after a few days, but I don't think they're using enough ammonia and arsenic in their detergent, since I still had skin. 

And I know housekeeping is dealt a difficult, thankless task, making the room appear new every day.  However, if I take the velour decorative pillow off the bed and hide it in the corner, it is not necessary for you to put it back on the bed every day.  If I move the coffee table into the opposite corner, instead of in the middle of my path, it is not necessary to replace it to perfect shin-contusing feng-shui position every day when I go out.  And I am eco-conscious.  Not always eco-friendly, as evidenced by my rental car, but at least conscious.  You do not have to throw away my drinking cup every day and replace it with a new one by the coffee machine, leaving me to realize once the aspirin are dissolving in my mouth that I have to find a new one and extract it from the military-grade plastic bag in which it is contained. 

I will say that the desk staff at the hotel are great, and after spending 14 nights there in the last 25 days, they know me by name. 

And yes, I had a "grand" time in my g-man car for the week.  I'd love to tell you I got some wonderful 7 MPG or something, but since the car didn't have a trip odometer, I can only guess.  I still can't get over the size of the trunk on this thing, but while I like lots of storage space, it sours me some when I have to lift it back out, over a two-foot ledge.  On the plus side, my car didn't burst into flames on the interstate.  The same cannot be said for the pickup truck 1/4 mile ahead of me on said interstate.  I've never seen flames shoot from a car, and that they were shooting down and licking up between the cab and bed, where the driver and passenger were unaware of them, only made it more interesting.

I may have mentioned, some time back, that I was felt up by a security guard at the Tampa airport.  Hey, my sex appeal knows no bounds.  However, as if I didn't already know I needed to lose some weight, I was again given the special privilege of entering the glass box at Akron-Canton Airport, and having my tummy-tum felt up with a little too much excitement by a man with a bad '70's mustache.

At least I didn't get the extra-special double-secret security check in the back room, like the young woman behind me in line.  She emerged from security sobbing and red-faced, fumbling for her cell phone, surely to call mommy and daddy.  Amateur travelers.  Gotta love 'em.

We hit what was the most turbulence I've encountered in 18 years, and I was afraid to even take an in-flight beverage.  Because bad things could happen

I have one more business trip this week, but at least I get to drive my own car.  I assume it won't burst into flames.  I also assume I won't get felt up.  But hey, the week's still young.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trendy? Me?

**Author's note.  My apologies, this was originally scheduled for 8:00 this morning, but it never published. 

So I've never been a trendsetter, nor have I ever been a follower.  I've kind of made my own way, and nobody seems to care what that is one way or the other.

But if putting fried eggs on bacon cheeseburgers is a trend, haul me up onto that bandwagon, baby! 

I'm up in the greater Cleveland area again this week, and eating restaurant food far more often than I should.  By chance last evening, I found the B Spot.  Beer, brats, burgers, bologna (fried), it's quite the place.  How often do you go someplace that has a pickle bar?  Not often enough, in my opinion.  Pickled onions, green tomatoes, spicy pepper relish, hot sweet pickle chunks, garlic dills and house-recipe ketchup.  Fresh rosemary on the crispy sliver-cut fries.  Yolk running down my fingers and commingling with juices from a truly rare burger. 

(Really, dark pink, soft and beefy, just the way a burger was meant to be.) 

I was surprised, during my meal, to look down at the paper holding my fries to see Chef Michael Symon's name on the logo.  I knew he opened a few more restaurants since my last major visit to the city.  But this was a sight to behold.  An entire page of beers, many of them on draft?  Pulled pork and pickled jalepenos on fries, the midwestern answer to the nacho?  A vanilla bean apple pie BACON milkshake?

I'm not a fan of 'celebrity', of style over substance, but I have to say, I like what I'm seeing and I want more.  I'm ready to take back most of the less-than-kind words I may have had for Chef Symon in the past.  Only time will tell.

Oh, and an amusing rental car anecdote, for those of you who can't get enough of it.  Monday night at the restaurant, I caught sight of a car behind me, out of the corner of my eye, as I was pulling gracelessly into a parking space.  When I turned my head, it was gone.  But, convinced I must have missed it, and concerned that I might back up to straighten my park job and strike someone's beloved automobile, I looked again.

The Grand Marquis is so sporking big, so...damn...huge, that I mistook my own rental car in my peripheral vision for AN ENTIRELY SEPARATE VEHICLE. 

Gee. Thanks, Enterprise.  Way to make me look forward to Friday.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

If it weren't for disappointment, I wouldn't have any appointments

Hey, kids!  Still busy, and back in Ohio this week.  And sadly, I feel that you deserve far more than a cursory 'slice of life review' here at CDS Enterprises. 

Prepare to be disappointed, because 'slice of life' is all I've got today.  Nothing new to share, nothing witty, urbane, or uber-nerdified.  Just a few things to share with you this morning, brighten your day, keep the ol' NFG in your frontal lobes.

I may have mentioned, once or twice, that until recently my job called for lots of travel.  As such, you've been blessed (or subjected as the case may be) with my ever-popular rental car reviews.  This era is coming to an end, nearly has, as this week's rental car will be the last rental car I drive for some time, if I have anything to say about it.

Enterprise has always been quite kind to me.  Usually when I swing a free upgrade, or an upgrade to an upgrade, I'm quite happy with the result.  Over the years, I've driven SUV's and sub-compacts and may things in between.  However, this week's 'upgrade' is great only in that I know I dodged a bullet.

Those of you who've known me the longest know that I have a thing for landyachts.  Grampa cars.  Tanks.  Some of you may remember as far back as the big blue Impala I named 'Baby' back in 1992.  Most recently, the car was a modest Buick Regal, that I loved and took for granted for nine years, and it repaid me the way few cars do, by starting every day and running like a champ.  A few months ago, I got the itch to get something different, and after facing grave disappointment at the hands of a base-level Chrysler 300, I drove a Grand Marquis.  Once I got past the overwhelming grandmaroma, it was a powerful car, much nicer than the 300.  V8 power.  Bells and whistles.  Low miles and a low price.  I was crushed when it sold before I could get back to give it another look.

Last week, I actually bought a car.  But when I hesitated, balked at spending more than $5 in one fell swoop, the salesman offered me a Grand Marquis as a comparison drive.  I was underwhelmed, Lori was seasick.  Obviously, I did not buy the Mercury.

Which brings me to Sunday's adventure at the Akron airport (slogan: we now have a second baggage carousel!).  Out of mid-sized and intermediates, they 'upgraded' me into a shiny black Grand Marquis.

I feel like I need dark sunglasses and a black suit.  Perhaps an earpiece with a little coiled wire trailing into my collar.  Perhaps a Glock.

It is, in fact, a very nice-looking car.  Very regal.  Very conservative, imperial, and big-brother-y.  I want to like it.  I want to adore it, with its eight-body trunk, its 7 MPG, its bench seat.  It should, in theory, be everything I like about a car.

But I don't like it.  It's squishy.  If I had to describe the ride quality, I could only compare it to lying on a waterbed as toddlers jump up and down all around you.  If I adjust the seat so I can reach the gas, the brake pedal is way too close.  Back up so the brake is the right distance, the gas is unattainable.  The V8 seems doggy, like I'm fighting up any hill I face.  I have to lean halfway across the car to change the radio station or turn the volume down, since it seems to get louder as I drive.  And everything is plastic, aside from the leather seats.  Cheap.  I shouldn't have to open the arm on the cupholder by hand, once I pull the combination lighter/ashtray/cupholder from it's unwieldy spot under the dash.  I shouldn't be worried that I'm going to smack my knee on it every time I step on the gas.  Oh, Enterprise, I'm left wondering what might have been.  And I still have four more days of driving it!  At best, I can only give it a 'C', and that's based in part on my desire to see it do well rather than on true merit. 

And, as long as we're on the subject of disappointment, let's talk about Monday's dinner.

Last time I was up, the owner took me to this great little tavern, where I had an awesome burger.  Real beef, real rare, with bacon and cheddar and onions, oh my.  I went back tonight, and since their sign proudly boasts their ribs before their burgers, I figured, hey: signs don't lie, right?

Wrong.  Again, such high hopes.  They smelled wonderful.  Looked beautiful, glistening under their sweet sauce, promises of slow, day-long cooking taunting me as I fought to get the steak knife through the first slab.  Tough, undercooked (for ribs), and clinging to the bones for dear life.  They really need another few hours in a slow cooker.  Some things just shouldn't be rushed.  I couldn't see abandoning half of my meal, so I brought them back to the room with me.  I may, from the privacy of my own hotel room, with wet washcloths and a roll of paper towels at hand, be able to work my way through them.

The Lyonnaise potatoes, though?  Heaven.  Slightly oniony, very buttery, and golden brown.  The potatoes of dreams.

There you have it, dear reader.  Disappointment all around.  I'll try better next time, promise.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fun Fact Friday - Well, well, well.

Melissa and I were watching an episode of 'Holmes on Homes' the other day, and if you're not familiar, it's the kind of show that will make you second-guess ever hiring a contractor again.  Especially if you live in Canada, apparently.

They were replacing the entire septic system on the house in this episode, and the contractor was using dowsing rods to find the pipes.  Walk over the pipe, the rods cross.  Oooh, dowsing, it's some cool, magical stuff, lemmie tells ya.

I was all set to post about the science of dowsing, a form of divining (like throwing chicken bones to predict crop yields, and such.)  Sounds science-y to me. 

Turns out it's all just hooey.  Dowsers with rods or bendy sticks have the same success rate as anyone with dumb luck.  In some cases, it's even less accurate than dumb luck.  This is just compounded by people using the same method of dowsing or 'witching' to find just about anything.  Looking for gold?  Try dowsing.  Rubies?  Dowsing.  Water?  Dowsing.  They probably even use the same stick for all of it.

However, there is some science involved in the process.  In our brainy subconscious, we can cause things to happen just by thinking them.  Like the Ouija board pushes to 'No' every time you ask your dead grandma if she loved you best.  For experienced dowsers, knowing the lay of the land and where water typically appears, minute muscle twitches can cause the branch to turn, a slight twist of the wrist can make rods cross when your brain is convinced this is where water should be.  

And even then, you could be wrong.

When I was in college, I had a bit part in a play called 'The Diviners'.  It was about a young boy with 'the gift' of divination, using a rod to find water so critical in depression-era Indiana.  And of course, there are skeptics.  We were all small-town rubes in the play, especially me, my role called for it.  But it calls to mind the following movie quote.  Since we didn't have a Monday quote this week, I'll let you guess on this one instead.

"You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons."

It shouldn't be difficult. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Movie Mania Monday - Don't Torture Yourself

So I'm back from Ohio for a week, first week at the new job was phenomonal.  Plus, I've managed to find us a place to live, big bonus.  As for rental cars, I had a Dodge Avenger R/T, quite well-optioned for a rental.  And I needed those heated seats on Friday, when it dropped to a crisp 35 degrees outside.  Only one real complaint about the car, they have a chrome inset on top of the shifter that perfectly reflects the sun into ones eyes on those bright days we had until Friday.  Still, quite zippy, comfortable for a smaller car, and Avis was nice enough to let me drop it in a different place than I picked it up.  I'd give the car a solid B+.

Not much news on the weekend, worked on packing the garage and breaking down shelves, I'm going to be Sir Gimpsalot by the time you read this, I'm sure.  Oh, and I broke down and actually bought a car.  I still think it's an impulse, though Lori thinks that the years I've been ogling new cars constitutes a measured purchase. 

This week in movies, La Bev quickly identified last week's quote from The Addams Family.  I was always a fan of the original show, when it was on in syndication between Bugs Bunny cartoons and The Munsters.  Loved the Sonnenfeld films, they gave the characters a slightly darker feel, as I think Charles Addams originally intended.

As for this week, I'm tired and quite sick of fighting with the computer, so I'm forgoing the quote this week.  Let's just call it an Ohiatus.  Because that's how I roll.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Random Acts of Thursday - Sing a Song of Six Gents

Happy Thursday, one and all.  I started on a 'TMI Thursday' post, and I even understand that LiLu is discontinuing the process.  No problem, I wasn't in full-on rant mode when I started it, so we'll hone that puppy for you another time.  Of course, I managed to screw something else up, and this never posted this morning.  As such, for many of you, this will be a Random Act of Friday.  I wasn't even drinking last night, though I was quite tired when I wrote this. 

I'm sure there are lots of cool Ohio-related things I could be sharing with you, but I'm exhausted and nothing comes to mind.  Not even SkyMall... 
Meanwhile, since I've been here, I've been listening to a lot of radio, I'm quite impressed with all Cleveland has to offer music-wise.  And me, being the Blogger of Quizzic Doom that I am, I thought of a little test for you, dear readers.  

Below are six artists mentioned in some form by another artist or group in their songs.  Your task, name those artists and song titles. 

Elvis Presley

Bo Diddley

T Rex

Neil Young

Jimmy Page

George Clinton

AAAAaaaand.....go!  Remember to show your work.

Oh, and as for fun Clevelandish items, we finally have an address to call our own in this little burg.  Huzzah!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Movie Mania Monday - Most people live in terrible neighborhoods.

Congratulations to Samsmama for her astute identification of Fletch Lives.  In addition to being an Iron Quote-Guesser, she wins a cup of hot fat and the head of Alfredo Garcia.
I'm not actually here right now, I'm there.  As in Ohio.  Here's hoping it's not snowing on me as you read this.  I don't know how my weekend was, or even my flight in, as they haven't happened yet.  Just pray with me that I'm not homeless by the time you see this.

As you've come to expect of these little weekly tests of memory, let's review the rules du semaine.  Identify the film being quoted below using your gray matter, that big swirly mass of fat and synapses in your head.  No web searches of any kind, though you can phone a friend.  If you're the first to identify the film, you win the peoples' ovation and fame forever (or at least a week) and the honorary title of Iron Quote Guesser.  Wall of Fame is still coming, keep watching for it.  Try to give others a fighting chance, but once it's been guessed, feel free to leave any other irrelevant comments you may feel necessary.  This week's quote:

Last night, you were unhinged. You were like some desperate howling demon. You frightened me. Do it again. 

Allez guessing!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fun Fact Friday - It's not easy being green

I've never shied away from planting trees.  In third grade, we were sent home with elm seeds, a new variety reportedly resistant to Dutch Elm disease.  That little seed grew to a massive 30 feet or more by the time I saw it last, probably ten years ago.  

A few years ago, I started taking an interest in bonsai, the Japanese art of miniature trees.  I haven't found the appropriate outlet for this interest, never found the group here in Tampa.  Killed my first tree, but that doesn't mean I won't try again once we move next.  We planted a Japanese maple at the corner of our home in Wisconsin, and it's still strangely exciting to drive by and see how it's doing.

I saw a headstone in North Carolina a while back that had a beautiful Japanese maple growing from it, maintained lovingly by someone to keep it in perfect scale with the planter built into the stone.  I would love such a thing, if that isn't too morbid.

We were cleaning out the flower beds and continuing our mulching efforts last weekend, and I noticed a foot-high oak sapling, just taking root perfectly in the corner of the yard.  Away from mowers, perfectly spaced where it could be a feature, I can only hope the next owners decide, as I did, to leave it be. 

The next step, of course, is arborsculpture.  Rather than emphasizing the natural form, trees are made to do unthinkable contortive feats, to great effect.  I've seen some works of this in the past, gazebos made entirely of living things, and I love whimsy in the garden.  These are some cool pieces, and some things I hope to mimic the next time we have a permanent garden of our own.

However, planting trees has become more politicized in my lifetime.  Growing up exploring the forests of Wisconsin, with all the pines in straight rows where the paper companies reseeded fifty years earlier, I never thought of reforestation as 'politically correct', I just took it as something that one does.  More recently, the term 'carbon footprint' has been thrown around, and I'm being encouraged to buy 'carbon credits' any time I book travel or buy electronics (and no, I don't actually buy electronics, but bear with me).  

I never thought that suddenly my blog, the most ethereal of non-tangible things, could have a carbon footprint.  Adrienzgirl, over at Think Tank Momma, posted Wednesday that a blog receiving 15,000 hits a month produces eight pounds of carbon dioxide in that time.  (Would that I could get 15,000 hits a month, better start posting more pictures of Danica McKellar and Bo Derek, since those get the most hits of anything I've done.)

By posting this button in the sidebar, and telling the nifty people over at Machs Grun (which I assume is German for 'more green', but what do I know) about this post, they will plant a tree on behalf of your blog.
How simple is that?  And who doesn't like wood trees? 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Random Acts of Thursday - Ready For the Madhouse

Ah, April 1st.  Le jour des imbeciles d'Avril!  Convinced anyone that Coca Cola is going back to classic Classic, complete with coca leaves in the mix?  Planted a thumbtack on your favorite cow-orker's chair?  Get cracking!

In my own little reckless way, completely ignoring convention and putting together a quiz based on famous firsts, or famous fools, I thought I would instead regale you with a happy little story, Mad Lib style, using our current quest to sell old and acquire new housing as a basic theme, and using film titles old and new to fill in the blanks.

The Home Viewing - First Impressions

Today our Realtor took us to the House on Haunted Hill.  We had high hopes for this one, not like that Nightmare on Elm Street.  Did you see the wallpaper in that one?  Walking up to The Doors took forever, this house had The Longest Yard I'd ever seen.  The Realtor handed the Keys to Tulsa, who turned the Lock Up and over to let us in.  Immediately we knew this was the Home of the Brave.  

The Wall in front of us was stories high.  Even though the house only had Four Rooms, we had to climb The 39 Steps just to get to the second floor.  As I walked to the Rear Window, though, I could see the appeal of this home.  It was right On The Waterfront.  And still, there was space for The Shaggy Dog to run around and do his business.

The downside, since there is always a down side.  The Basement and the Kitchen both showed some signs of past water damage, but nothing major.  Certainly I could overlook the Stain on the floor, at least there were no Cracks in the Ceiling.

When the breeze picked up, the metal roof crackled and groaned in the sun. It was almost like there was a _________________________________________________ .  (It was a stretch, I know.  I just can't bring myself to fill it in.)

Think you can do better?  Give it your best shot in the comments.  I'm on the road for the next week, so I may not get to your comments right away, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't leave them.

Be nice and share!

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