Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fall Decorating

Currently Reading: God Emperor Dune by Frank Herbert

As noted in last week's blog, it's fall and we are BIG fans of fall. One thing that's sort of new to me is fall decorating though. Growing up, we didn't really do much seasonal decorating. Yes, we did decorate for Christmas and maybe a little in the spring but mostly our decorating corresponded to spring cleaning or the purchase of new furniture.

CC, on the other hand, really likes to change the decorations around to match the seasons. In spring, she'll break out all the colorful flowers and moving into summer, she'll change the colors or patterns. Now we're into fall which means everything changes to reds and oranges and yellows and browns. Last year we spent a HUGE amount at the craft store buying decorations (it was our first year of real fall decorating) so this year we didn't need to spend quite as much. This year we really just added to what we already had. One benefit about decorating for fall is that you don't really need a color scheme. The colors have already been picked out for you so unlike Christmas, you can reuse everything year after year with no problems (my wife likes to be color coordinated for Christmas with each year having its own colors).

The 17th was our third anniversary and one of our anniversary gifts was a lovely kimono print, framed and ready for hanging. I wasn't sure where we were going to put it at first but CC pretty much knew right where it should go: the entrance hall. Of course, having it hanging right there looked a little too plain. Too much open space. So we had to buy something else to put in the hall WITH it. While we were out grocery shopping Monday evening, we came across some shelves. CC had already spent a decent amount of time online looking at hall tables and things like that with no luck. These shelves, however, seemed to be a good fit. They're simple, they're open, they don't take up much space, and the colors match. Even better, she can put anything she wants on them, swap things around, change things to fit the season. The only problem I have with this plan as a whole is what to do with our shoes. See, that entrance hall, right where those shelves now are, that's where we used to keep our shoe rack. Ok mostly it held MY shoes. CC has too many pair and they're hanging from a huge rack in the bedroom. Point is, now I gotta find a convenient place to put my shoes :-)

We get asked, quite often, what we did for our anniversary. Did we have plans? Did we go out? Did we do anything special? The answer to all that is, not really. You see, our anniversary fell on a Monday and I had to work that Monday. Worse, my boss has HER anniversary on the 16th so she was taking a 3-day weekend to celebrate. So, not only did I not get Monday off, I had to work Tuesday as well. CC and I don't mind that, of course, because we're doing our REAL celebrating next week when we travel to California for a 5-day vacation :-) Anyway, we DID manage to do a few things, sort of a mini-celebration I guess you'd call it. Sunday we went out and got decorations for fall, as I've been mentioning and as you can see in the pictures. It's been a bit slow in the salon so I was able to leave at 3. I picked up CC and we went out and did the shopping. We also managed to eat out between stops.

Monday, again, more work for me and for CC of course. And grocery shopping after that. And, naturally, more decorating. So, I guess you could say that we sort of celebrated our anniversary and the coming of fall at the same time. We hung decorations (ok it was mostly CC) and we set up the little displays that you see in all these pictures. The apartment looks and smells like fall and it's very relaxing. Just remember, we're doing all of this in addition to that California trip so you could say we're doing WAY more than most people would :-)

Speaking of which, the CA trip next week is going to include a trip to Disneyland! I think I've mentioned that before but it's worth repeating. I'm going to Disneyland! It's the sort of thing that makes people at work a bit jealous, especially my boss. You see, CC and I tend to take really good vacations. We pretty much always have fun and we don't usually spend a lot of money doing it. When we went to Nashville, for example, we had a great time, came back with lots of stories and pictures and it was a whole lot better than what other people did with their vacation. We've been setting the bar a little higher each time I guess you'd say. WELL, now we're going to California, hot on the heels of my boss taking a mini-vacation herself. Right now we have NO idea where that is but hopefully she had a LOT of fun and came back to work thoroughly relaxed and re-energized.

I was reading an editorial by Cal Thomas on Monday and in it he was lamenting the results of the latest quiz on American history and civics. A group called the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has released this year's Civic Literacy Report which is based on a test taken by American college freshmen and seniors (you can take it by clicking here). The teaching of history, government and economics leaves quite a bit to be desired in this country, especially at the college level. Going to a "better" school didn't help. In fact, chances are it actually HURT your score. I guess they're not really teaching much up there in those fancy, Ivy League schools. Even worse, in the case of Cornell University, the seniors scored LOWER than the freshmen which would suggest that not only did students NOT learn much history and government, they actually FORGOT what little they knew in the first place.

Now, I will grant you that I'm not what you'd call a big history buff, at least not American history and I will further grant you that I fell asleep a LOT in my history classes, government classes and economics classes. I will go further still and grant that economics and government not only make my eyes glaze over, but are almost completely incomprehensible to me. Given all of that, I STILL managed to score 80% on the test and that's 15 years out of college. CC, who's never had an American history class EVER scored 55%, placing her smack in the middle of the list.

Head on over to the website and check out the findings as a whole. It's pretty interesting stuff.

Now, for those of you who have been living in a cave for the past month or were otherwise far, far away from a television set, let's review the latest Britney Spears meltdown. This one came as the opening act of the Video Music Awards which themselves are growing pretty irrelevant these days.

Notice the glassy-eyed stare, the sort of stumbling walk and the complete lack of caring in execution of those "dance moves." I'm not sure if she's stoned out of her mind or just scared stupid because she knows she can't dance anymore.

I mention this because of a video I saw on the E! show The Soup. This is a clip posted on You Tube by a guy named Chris Crocker.

Talk about having a meltdown. He's having a MAJOR hissy fit over all of this. It's the sort of thing I could understand and be more sympathetic to if it was about someone with some real talent but come on, this is Britney Spears we're talking about. She's a marginal singer at best and is mostly famous for being well-marketed and being extremely rich white trash. She's not worth it.

Naturally the Internet couldn't just let something like that go unanswered. Let's face it, there are LOTS of guys out there with little better to do than post things on You Tube. The response to Crocker's fit was fast and furious and DAMN funny. One of the best comes from Seth Green. If you don't know the name you know the face and/or voice for certain. He's been in several TV shows and movies and does the voice of Chris Griffin on Family Guy. Here's his video:

And that's just ONE response to the Crocker video. To quote Ghost in the Shell, "The net is vast and endless." And, I might add, filled with smart asses. :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fall Classic

Currently Reading: God Emperor Dune by Frank Herbert

Ok, I'm right back where I started with my reading list, at least where the Dune chronicles is concerned. I know, not much of a big announcement right? Just warming up, that's all. You'll have to cut me a little slack.

You see, as September starts to slip away, we're entering one of my favorite times of year: fall. Why fall? Well, the colors for one. I mean, how can you go wrong with all the great orange and red trees all over the place. Yes, there are lots of falling leaves and those leaves will have to be raked up. But not by me, which is another part of the attraction I suppose. Besides that, unlike the spring flowers which color my OTHER favorite season, the fall leaves do NOT leave me sneezing and coughing and wishing I was indoors.

And let's talk sports too because that's another big part of the season. You've got football for real now. The teams are starting to get their acts together, they're playing more like teams, they're not screwing up nearly as much as they were in pre-season. Of course, the games actually count now too, I've mentioned that in a previous blog. You've also got a HUGE array of weather to play football in this time of year. Out on the west coast and in the south, it's still warm if not downright HOT. On the sidelines you'll see those misting machines to cool down players between downs. But up north and back east, well the temperature is slowly dropping and pretty soon, during those night games especially, you'll start seeing long sleeve shirts, the sweatshirts, then jackets and coats and finally, my favorite, snow :-) Oh sure it's too early for snow right NOW, we probably won't start seeing that until November but we're close. You can feel it right around the corner. Just a little nip in the air, maybe a brisk wind from time to time. It's out there.

The baseball season is winding down now as well and the fall classic will start up in October. Looking at the standings, we'll probably see quite a few of the usual suspects in the playoffs. Who knows, we might even see another Yankees vs Red Sox series and those are always great. They're gearing up for one now in fact. Unfortunately it'll be played over the weekend and I'll be working so I doubt I'll get to see any of it. That's another thing I like about the playoffs. To maximize television exposure, they play most of their games at night when I'm off so I'll get to see them. Yes, I know, all you non-fans out there will complain about having to wait a little later for the new episodes of your favorite FOX shows and I can understand that. Just remember, this only happens once a year and hey, overall it means fewer repeats down the line right?

And let's not forget one of the HUGE attractions this time of year: fall temperatures! FINALLY we can shut off the air conditioners and open up the windows. Let the apartment air out a bit so it's not so stuffy. We can go out and enjoy our balcony and our lounge chairs out there and just watch things go by out in the parking lot. Dangerous to do that this time of year though, if you're prone to naps that is. You might just end up sleeping half the day away. I know I've felt like that the past few days.

September also means we've got to finish up the paperwork for the INS. I sent out an e-mail to a lot of people (most of whom read this blog anyway so you already know about it) asking them to write up a little letter telling the INS that yes, CC and I are still married and aren't faking it. It's all part of making sure you don't have people getting married JUST for the green card like they used to in the old days. Now you get a conditional green card for a few years then you can apply to have that condition removed. That's what we're doing now. Next step after that is citizenship for CC if she wants it. She says she's going to go for it but I told her she doesn't have to. It's not like we force it on anyone. I guess she really wants to vote. She's already been called for jury duty so she probably already feels like one of us (no, she didn't have to serve on a jury; she's not qualified under the rules due to her not being a citizen).

We're going to California in a few weeks too, that's sort of our anniversary present to each other. We're taking a nice short vacation and visiting some of her relatives in L.A. We're also going to DISNEYLAND! I could only get 5 days off though. Yes, we'd prefer a longer vacation but the salon can't afford for me to miss more than 5 days. It's just not possible. On the plus side though, it's probably better for us financially to only stay the 5 days. The longer we stay, the more money we spend, the less we have for the holidays and you know the holiday season gets more expensive every year.

I think I'm going to go outside and enjoy that fall weather for a little bit. Maybe have a nap on the balcony while I'm at it. This season only comes once a year you know :-)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Delta Fair

Currently Reading: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Well now, if you've already seen CC's blog you know that we went to the Delta Fair on Sunday after I got off from work. Work, as you'll recall, was so very slow that day because of the holiday and I figured since I usually get out early on Sunday, that would be the best day to go visit the fair.

The fair itself is located just across the street from CC's office which is all of 5 minutes away from our apartment. If we REALLY wanted to, we probably could have just walked over there from the apartment but we'd have to cross a river and a cornfield to get there. Probably best that we drove instead. And, because we parked at CC's office, we didn't even have to pay for parking.

As far as the fair itself is concerned, it's pretty much like any other mid to large carnival you've ever been to. They have the usual assortment of vomit rides, rides that go around and around at high speeds with the sole purpose seeming to be to get you to throw up the over-priced hot dogs and sodas that you've eaten. Oh yes, and they have hot dogs and sodas naturally. I had a foot long corndog myself but here in Memphis for some reason they call them pronto pups. Guess they wanna feel different or something.

It reminds me of when I was working at the call center years back and we were doing a poll on the Mid-South Fair. One of the most popular reasons people went to the fair, one of the few things that got positive reviews across the board: pronto pups. Go figure.

Anyway, we had a pretty good time. CC said it was a little too carny for her which I got a kick out of. I mean, when was the last time you went to a fair or carnival and it WASN'T that way? Ok sure, you have your smaller, local carnivals which are better but when you start having the bigger rides and stuff, well you're in carny town.

We're actually stacking them back to back this year. The Delta Fair which I think just started up here in Memphis runs until the weekend. After that they'll be running the Mid-South Fair over in mid-town so all these people here will drive their carny trailers across town and set it up over there. Honestly, same people, same stuff, just more area on this side of town to set up so it doesn't look as big and doesn't feel NEAR as crowded.

One thing I did get a chuckle out of was the comparisons between the two in the paper. Most folks seemed to like that this new fair was over on this side of town mostly because it wasn't in a bad neighborhood and there was plenty of parking. Those are the big concerns at the other fair. The neighborhood just isn't that great and after dark you tend to get paranoid about things. Plus there have been a few gang-related incidents over at the other place too. And don't get me started on the lack of parking and the over-priced parking there. Everyone with a lot will be trying to rake in as much as 10 bucks a car just to park. It's crazy.

So, what did CC and I enjoy the most at the Delta Fair? Well here it is. Yes, that's right, we rode the mechanical bull. I went first. CC was a bit scared to go on but at the same time she kept telling herself she'd regret not taking advantage of the opportunity. So, I went first to get her going. That's me up on the bull there. I lasted quite a while thank you and that thing was bucking pretty good before I finally fell off. I lasted my 8 seconds that's for sure. I was a bit sore the next day though. Bruises on my thighs and my back hurts a bit but it was a LOT of fun.

And here's CC. I had some free time on Thursday so I thought I'd make HER bull ride pictures more interesting. Besides, she only took ONE of me :-)

And, so naturally I had to find some sort of video to bring all this together and wrap things up so we'll close with that 80's classic, I Wanna Be A Cowboy by Boys Don't Cry. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just stuff on my mind.

Currently Reading: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

We've just passed Labor Day so that means Fall is right around the corner. I'm happy to say that the heat wave has also finally passed. In fact, last night it was actually cool enough for us to sleep WITHOUT using the window AC unit in the bedroom. Let's hope it stays that way. I've had enough of the heat for a while.

I had to work on Labor Day though. Nothing sinister about that, I just work on Mondays. It was REALLY dead. Kinda of makes me wonder why we bothered to open up. It's Labor Day right? That means those of us who LABOR aren't supposed to work. Somewhere along the way we got that all mixed up. Now it's the people who manage who get the day off along with all the office workers. But if you're tied to retail like I am, you probably had to go to work like it was any other Monday.

We're also coming up to the end of baseball season. Looks like there might be a little bit of action going into the final stretch. The Yankees and the Mariners were slugging it out for the wild card slot over in the American league so that might develop into something. We've still got plenty of time to go though for one of the leaders to have a major meltdown and change the playoffs. We'll just have to wait and see.

CC and I are going to see the Shaolin Warriors in November. There's a group that tours the country putting on a show and they'll be stopping here in Memphis. That's going to be a great one. Can't wait to see it. We've already got our tickets and the show is on a Sunday night so there won't be any problems with the schedule. CC will be back from her October training in Florida, it's well after our trip to California at the end of the month. Perfect :-)

Speaking of the California trip, we still haven't figured out all that we're going to do. We're for sure going to Disneyland and we'll be seeing CC's relatives but other than that, we're still open. I told CC I'd like to visit the beach at some point. It's been an awfully long time since I've seen the ocean from the ground. So at some point we'll stop by one of the beaches out there. What else? Who knows? We may not even decide until we actually get there.

Football season opens this week! WOO HOO! It'll be great to have the regular players back in for the whole game and the games will actually have some meaning again. On the other hand, it was nice being able to watch football from Thursday through Monday instead of just on Sunday and Monday. Maybe if the ratings were good they'll spread the schedule out a bit more. Then again, once the regular shows start popping up again on TV there probably won't be as much of a demand for fresh entertainment. We'll have to wait and see.