Thursday, June 25, 2009

2 In One Day

Wow, 2 of pop cultures biggest icons died on the same day. They both died fairly young. Farrah Fawcett was 62 (February 2, 1947 - June 25, 2009) and Michael Jackson was only 50 (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009).

Man I loved this poster. I was between 6 and 8 when it first came out, but I do clearly remember being very interested in Farrah. It made me feel funny, you know.....down there. This is why I don't write obituaries.

Earlier last week I wanted to get a t-shirt with this picture on it for a new poker shirt. I found it on her website so I thought why not? I'll tell you why not. The damn thing was 100 bucks. Screw that, I guess I'll try and get some bootleg version. Of course those probably tripled in price today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Turning 40

First of all I want to thank my wonderful husband for a great birthday week. This was the first time I've ever had my birthday celebration last a whole week. Gifts aside, I truly appreciate the thought and effort that he put into making this birthday very special. About the gifts... he really outdid himself. I love everything he gave me, and I did get a ring. I know most women think I'm crazy, but I'm not a big jewelry person. I wear a watch and a plain gold wedding band. I have other jewelry -- rings, necklaces, earrings -- I just rarely wear them. So every time we have talked about or looked at diamond anniversary bands, I've talked myself out of it. I just could never see spending so much money on something that is really no big deal to me. But this time I did it. It's nothing outrageous or excessively expensive, but I love it. It's a three diamond anniversary band with not so large diamonds but just the right size for me. My small hands can't pull off big honkin' rocks. But my new ring is perfect for me! Thank you Brian!

Now on to turning 40 and what it means to me. Some people dread 40; some people hate it when they get there; some people even get depressed over it. I must say that I have never dreaded it or been bothered by the thought of it. In fact, I've looked forward to turning 40. I look at it this way: at 40 I am wiser, stronger, and more comfortable than I was in my 20s or 30s. That's not to say that I have it all figured out because I know there are still plenty of life lessons to be learned, but I've taken to heart all I've learned so far. There are also some physical changes that go along with aging, but I've chosen to take a positive attitude about those too. The lines that are starting to form around my eyes are from years of smiles and laughter. The small aches and pains that are new to my body are from years of fun and activity. Best of all, the fact that I turned 40 means that I'm still here, alive and kicking and enjoying a wonderful life. I have been truly blessed with a fantastic husband, a great mom, wonderful friends, the best dog ever, and a comfortable lifestyle that allows us to do things we enjoy. I am embracing 40 and looking forward to what's to come!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Stacie!

My baby has a milestone birthday today. I did it a little different this year by making it her birthday week. I had a different gift each morning for her. They weren't very extravagant, but I tried to put some thought in to little things.

Sunday - I went to Church with her. This is something she always wants me to do, so I got up earlier with her and told her I was going to tag along.

Monday - I got her 2 planted pots full of bright orange Asian lillies. When they are done blooming, I will plant them beside the concrete bench in the back yard.

Tuesday - I bought her a CD from The Fray.

Wednesday - She received a gift card for a hour long massage.

Thursday - I'm getting her Clemson tag put on the front of her car this weekend. This has been on my to do list for only 8 years. I tried to do it before, but it involves drilling in to the bumber and with my luck, I would hit some airbag sensor or something crazy like that. We are getting a brake job on Saturday, so I will have them put on the tag plate holder while they've got it.

Friday - We are actually going to the movie theater. She's on vacation today and I'm leaving work a little early. We are going to go to an early show of The Hangover followed by a casual dinner. I think this is the 3rd movie we have seen in the theater in the past 2 years. We are keeping the day low key. She said she didn't want a party. She would rather just she and I go out for the night. Her other gift for the day is a trip to the jewelry store when she is ready to get the ring she keeps talking herself out of buying. I still doubt she will get one, but we'll see. Before you tell me to just buy it for her, that ain't how it works with the moneys in our house. I still scares her to spend that much money on something like jewelry so I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't end up buying it until our 20th wedding anniversary.

Is Twitter The New Drunk Dialing?

I joined Twitter so I can follow the WSOP action and of course added other bloggers in the process. I'm loving the first person behind the scenes viewpoints. It was funny following Daniel last night. I really got a kick out of how he did for day 1 compared to Phil. Phil is playing "absolutely great poker" and is "perfectly calm" while Daniel started off the night getting hammered at the NHL awards event and ends up with over 3X Phil's stack. His middle tweet was the funniest. It reminded me of some college night drunk dialing. The only thing missing was "I love you man."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Love Blazing Saddles, Just Not Sitting On One

There are many, many days that I miss owning a motorcycle. Today is not one of them. If you are properly dressed, sitting in suburbia traffic at lunch time when it is in the 90s with ball sweating humidity is no fun. It will be even hotter and muggier by Friday. Hello Summer, aren’t you a little early?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Magnum Solo, p.i.

Must share awesomey goodness!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Losing Some TV Shows And Watching Some Great Movies

It looks like a few of my favorite shows won't be back in the Fall: Life, The Unit, Sara Connor Chronicles. Chuck got another shot and although Medium was dropped by NBC, it is owned by CBS and will be moving there. I wasn't sure if The Cleaner was coming back, but I see it starts back up on June 23rd. Stacie and I borrowed season 1 of How I Met Your Mother and we are about 7 episodes in to it. It is a good show to watch during dinner and it is starting to grow on me. When it originally aired, I didn't like the pilot enough to keep watching but apparently it has gotten much better so I'm giving it another shot. I'm also watching Generation Kill from Netflix. My quick opinion of it after 2 episodes is that it is Band of Brothers in Iraq. I loved Band of Brothers, so hopefully this will turn out as good.

We watched Slumdog Millionaire last night and I thought it was fantastic. Stacie enjoyed it but I liked it much better. I was really impressed with the story and thought it was very well done. I agree with her that it was very hard to watch at times but that made it terribly interesting to me. I thought the music fit very well, but I could have done without the music video at the end. It was very distracting and didn't fit with the rest of the movie. I think you would have more profound feelings after finishing the movie if the Indian Macarena number wasn't there. Just make it an extra on the DVD but finish the movie with some more of the great score.

Another good movie we watched last week was Seven Pounds. It wasn't as good as Slumdog, but I thought it had a great story as well. I think that is it for serious movies for a little while. It is back to comedies and action/sci-fi/fantasy for the next few movies with a chick flick or 2 thrown in for date nights.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

San Diego Trip Report Part 1

Day 1 - Saturday
We got into San Diego around 10:30 a.m. In our not-so-zippy little bargain priced Versa, we headed to Oceanside, with a couple of wine tasting stops along the way. It was a little too early to eat lunch in San Diego, so we headed up the road and randomly picked an exit along the way. Brian really wanted to try and In and Out burger, but we couldn’t even get in to the In and Out. Instead we opted for another local chain, Rubio’s, which is similar to Moe’s, Chipotle, etc, except with the offering of fish tacos and burritos. I had a fish burrito and Brian had two pork tacos. We decided it was good but not something we would crave – good thing since there aren’t any around Atlanta.

Next we stopped at a tasting room for San Pasqual Winery. For $7.50 I got to try 8 of their 16 or so wines. They also give you a lovely San Pasqual souvenir glass, but I opted to not keep it since I didn’t want to have to travel with a wine glass that might get broken. I tried something I have never had before – a passionfruit wine. It was pretty good. It was slightly sweet, but not as much as I had expected it to be. I don’t think I would be able to drink more than a glass of it though. I had a couple of other whites and the rest were reds (no surprise there). They had a Grenache blend that was quite tasty and a Grenache Rose that was surprisingly good, especially for a summer sipper.

We then headed up to Carlsbad to taste some wines from Witch Creek. Their tasting room was in the shopping area of Carlsbad Village, which was a nice little place just across from the ocean. We didn’t spend much time here though as we wanted to make it up to Oceanside to spend most of the afternoon there. At Witch Creek, you could taste 8 wines for $10 or one for free. After perusing their selections, I decided there weren’t 8 that I really wanted to spend $10 on, so I opted to try their Cabernet Franc, and it was an excellent choice. Brian tried it too, and even he liked it…and that doesn’t happen very often. It turned out to be the best wine I had the whole time I was there. Of course it was also the most expensive. Hummpff! Were it not for the fact that the bottle would have had to sit in a hot car all day on Monday, I probably would have gotten a bottle to have for the week, but alas no purchase.

We finally made it to Oceanside Beach, a grand, expansive beach that’s about half way between San Diego and Los Angeles. Oceanside is a lovely area with many beautiful homes and yards and great ocean views. There’s definitely some money here. The beach was by far the longest, deepest stretch of beach I’ve ever seen. The amount of open, free and clear sand was pretty incredible. It being Memorial Day weekend, it was also pretty crowded, though not unbearably so. There were lots of surfers and kids playing in the water, and all I can say is that their tolerance for cold is much higher than mine. It was a nice sunny day, but the water was very brisk! We walked up the beach for a long way and still had plenty of sand stretched out before us when we decided we should probably make our way back. We also walked out to the end of the very long and world-famous (or at least CA-famous) Oceanside Pier. I almost forgot to mention that the sand in one particular area of this beach was the softest, most powdery sand I have ever felt. It felt like baby powder!

Day 2 - Sunday
Our bodies still being on Eastern time worked to our advantage to be able to get an early start at the Wild Animal Park in Escondido. We got there when the gates opened at 9:00, and we were sitting in our seats for the first Safari Tour of the day at 9:20. We read online that it was best to get there early, and later in the day we saw why when the line for the tour was past the 2 hour wait mark. The tour takes you through the African Plains and relatively close to the “Safari” animals such as giraffe, some cheetahs, black and white rhinos, wildebeests and more species of antelope than I ever realized existed. It was awesome to see all these animals in such a “real life” habitat. This expanse of land they have for their Safari animals is huge and impressive. Throughout the rest of the park they have other various animals in more zoo-like habitats, and those were good as well, but the highlight of the park is by far the Safari experience. They also had a cool dinosaur exhibit called “Dino Mountain” with various and abundant life-size, very realistic looking, mechanically moving and sounding dinosaurs. I for one am glad those suckers aren’t around anymore. Talk about scary creatures!

After spending most of the day at the Wild Animal Park, we stopped by Orfila Winery, which was only a few miles from the park. Since I had found a coupon in one of the local travel books, we each got to have a free tasting of 6 wines, so between the two of us we sampled 12 of their 14 wines. Some were just average and some were good, but none of them were exceptional.

Since we were short on time, we grabbed a quick sub for dinner and headed back to Oceanside to meet a couple, Ray and Tina, that Brian met through online poker and a Vegas tournament. We met them for drinks and a little poker at Oceans 11 Casino. Brian played and I watched with nervous excitement as he lost money and then won money. I finally convinced him to quit while he was ahead – by $176 to be exact. He can blog more about the poker details. It was a fun night and was good to meet Ray and Tina and spend some time hanging out with them.

Day 3 – Monday
We left Escondido for the hiking trails of Cuyamaca State Park and had to travel slow, winding backroads to get there. It took longer than we expected, but there was some nice scenery along the way. Before lunch we hiked a 4 mile round trip hike to the top of a lookout point on one of the Cuyamaca peaks. We were going to hike to the highest peak, but it was a much longer hike, and it was too close to lunch time to take on that. It was a decent, fairly strenuous hike with lots of switchbacks and uphill climbs. The view from the top provided a great view of Cuyamaca Lake and the surrounding mountains and valleys. There were some beautiful flowers in bloom along the trail, but mostly I was happy about what we did not see – rattlesnakes and mountain lions! It’s not a good feeling to start a trail with warnings of those two.

We had one option for lunch, The Cuyamaca Restaurant on Lake Cuyamaca. While it was in a beautiful setting by the lake, I was more than skeptical about the food. Luckily we were quite surprised by a very tasty lunch. Don’t judge a diner by it’s laminated table tops and limited menu. After lunch we “hiked” (it was more or less just a walk in the woods) to a river with a waterfall and several pools areas that many people were enjoying. It was Memorial Day, so it was a popular place with lots of families having picnics and playing in the water. Again, I don’t see how people stand such cold water! Overall it was a fun and relaxing day in Cuyamaca, but it was time to start the San Diego part of our trip.

Day 4 –Tuesday
Again we were up bright and early to spend the day at Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. After learning that Balboa Park is 1200 acres and one of the largest parks in the world (much larger than Central Park), I was surprised that we had never heard of it before planning this trip. This park is amazing. It encompasses the zoo, dozens of gardens and museums, walking paths, picnic areas, a dog park, hundreds of specimens of trees from all over the world, astounding architecture and lots of green space. It is truly a magnificent place. If we lived in San Diego, I could see us spending a fair amount of time here. We happened to hit the Rose Garden at just the right time of year as most of the roses were in bloom and were such a sight to behold – hundreds of roses in various colors and sizes were breathtaking and smelled amazing too. Hard to believe that just a short distance away was a smell that was just the opposite of roses – the zoo! Even the best zoo in the world still smells like a zoo, and we have decided that Flamingoes are the stinkiest of all the zoo critters. For us, the zoo lived up to its reputation. It is huge and really is a nice place to walk around and look. Most of the animal habitats weren’t unusually grand, but the zoo itself is landscaped so nicely that you don’t really feel like you’re in a zoo. As you would imagine, they have a lot of animals so I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will say that our highlight was the polar bears. We have learned that a good zoo experience is completely dependent on the activity of the animals at the time you see them. I love tigers, but the tigers were just resting, so it wasn’t all that exciting to see them. But the polar bears had just gotten their food and were feeling very playful. We watched a male and female play and wrestle in the water for at least 10 minutes, and it was spectacular and fun to see.

We picked Tuesday for our park day because supposedly, some of the museums have free admission on Tuesdays. Unfortunately, they have changed this to a benefit for residents only. That's too bad because we went on "Testosterone Tuesday" which would have included the Air and Space Museum, Automotive Museum, along with the San Diego Hall of Champions .

On Tuesday evening we went to Old Town and walked around a bit, and I did another wine tasting at Hacienda de las Rosas. Again I had a coupon (whoo-hoo for the coupons) for a $5 (normally $9.50) tasting of 6 wines. They did have some good wines, but what I remember most was the amount of their tastings. Holy cow, after tasting just 6 wines I think I had the equivalent of 2 full glasses. They really want to make the tasting an experience for you. They have a room with tables and chairs set up specifically for tasting, and they provide cheese and crackers. It was a nice touch and much different from just standing at a bar and moving from one wine to the next. After the wine tasting, we met another on-line poker compadre, Iamhoff, and his Dear And Patient GirlFriend, for dinner at Casa Guadalajara. We had a delicious meal with great company. I got the special of the day – seafood tacos with lobster, shrimp and scallops. I was pleased to see that they did not skimp on the lobster as each of the two tacos had three generous hunks of succulent lobster meat. Man, I’m getting hungry now!