Tuesday, August 30, 2005
These past few days, I've been feeling like I can barely keep my head above water. It's just been busy. I'm sure you don't want to hear about it (do you? Nah, of course you don't), but I have resolved to get through tomorrow and Thursday, and then start out September fresh with lots of interesting things to say. I've written hardly anything about the new house! And my gosh, the adventures of the cat alone could fill pages. (Just kidding -- I won't sink that low, though it is cute and amusing and oh, well, maybe I will just a little bit.) But seriously, right now, I gotta get back to work.

Saturday, August 27, 2005
Next week is the first week of school, which means that my slower summer pace is over and I have to go back to work. And that sucks. But what's worse than the first week back to school is the week before the first week back to school -- or this past week. Aside from the obvious psychological trauma ("oh crap, here it comes"), there's the realization that all of the stuff that we just left at the end of the school year thinking oh, we'll get to that over the summer, needs to be gotten to, because in fact, we did not get to it. We were on vacation, and who wants to think about work when they're on vacation? Not you, not I, not anyone.

And then aside from the general housekeeping stuff and scrambling to get things ordered and repaired and set up, there were all of the new G5s that my boss ordered (yay!) and then asked me to install and set up (boo!). And those came in late, and then we realized that we needed adapters to get the CPUs to work with the cinema screens, and those took a while to come it, and then I was out of town, so the ending result was that I had to get all of that computer stuff done this past week too.

So basically what happens is that I have to do more stuff during my last week of vacation than I do during the school year, which I guess makes the impending school year -- all nine months of it -- seem not so bad after all. How strange.

The other result of all of this is that I've been falling asleep on the couch at like nine all week. Fuck! Next summer, I'm going to be more productive during July.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
A polite letter that is not intended to offend anyone but concerns something small yet nonetheless important that's been bugging me for what seems like a really really long time, from Scoop.

Dear whole wide world:

Please please please, when you're describing something and trying to sum it up and demonstrate that there's a big-picture, whole-world, super-ultimate implication to it, please stop using the phrase "at the end of the day." Please. I hear it like ten times an hour, and I'm pretty sure the day ended like a year ago.

No offense taken, I hope. Thank you for your time and consideration. Should you have further questions about my small (tiny, really) request, you know where to reach me.

Your often friendly but occasionally easily irritated but still friendly regardless pal,


Monday, August 22, 2005
Big-ass hotel, yo. Here is a shot of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. In the foreground is a hedge carved in the form of a horse and buggy (the buggy's not in the shot). As mentioned, we spent a really nice afternoon at the Grand Hotel, and as also mentioned, there was something about it that bothered all of us, and also as mentioned, I will tell you what it is. It's something that Paul actually told me about before we went up there last summer (my first time up there), and it's something that my mom started hinting at even before we told her that it bothered us too. It's this: almost all of the visitors and guests at the Grand Hotel (and on all of Mackinac Island, for that matter) are white. I'm not saying they're all white, but if I had to put a percentage on it, I'd say it's about 95%. That's a lot, especially given that the biggest city in the state is Detroit, and I am pretty sure that whites are in the minority there. But almost all of the wait staff and non-salaried-type Grand Hotel employees (and the non-front-line employees of almost all of the other hotels and businesses on the island) are not white. I'd say most of them are Caribbean-American, or just Caribbean and up from their home for the summer to work. What this does is it gives the whole place a seemingly Old South, plantation-type feeling, where the white people are enjoying themselves and the black people with heavy accents are doing all the work. It's enough to make any self-conscious person kind of uncomfortable.

And of course, there's the other side to the story: these are mostly decent jobs, and I would hope that these employees get paid well. And right, no one's holding a gun to any of their heads and forcing them to travel up to a tiny vacationy island in northern Michigan to pour coffee and be exceedingly polite to sloppy tourists and swap out damp towels for fresh ones. And hopefully they live in a decent place on the island and get three squares a day. And everyone, guests and staff alike, was very nice and polite and generally relaxed, and there wasn't any subdued hostility (not that I could pick up on, anyway). But still. It was just weird.

So that's what bothers me about Mackinac Island. I'd say it's just me, or just me and a few people I spend time with, but I have a feeling that it's not.

Thursday, August 18, 2005
Two wheels good. One of the coolest things about Mackinac Island is that there are no cars on the entire island. Wait, I take that back. There are a few emergency vehicles like an ambulance and a snow plow and a fire truck, and the stupid golf course has stupid golf carts for stupid golfers who are too lazy to walk, but other than that, no cars. This makes the entire island refreshingly and eerily quiet, especially at night. It also leaves you with just a few options for getting around: walk, ride a horse, ride in a horse-drawn contraption, or ride a bike.

Biking seems to be the preferred method of getting around, and there are at least half a dozen bike rental places that will let you use a bike for as long as you like for a very fair price. You can also bring your own bike over, which costs a few bucks on the ferry. We didn't bring ours this trip, and instead rented these cool old-school screaming yellow one-speeds you see here. You can rent three speeds and mountain bikes for biking the hills on the interior of the island, and they even have the oddly popular tandem bikes for mother-daughter pairings, the blindly and newly in-love, and the codependent. Since we were staying on the perimeter, which is mostly flat, and since we were feeling sufficiently independent, as we do on most days, we got the one speeds. I should also mention that they looked the coolest, which I would like to pretend was not a factor, but it was. Not all of the bike rental places had these cool yellow bikes, but these were the ones we wanted.

The perimeter of the island is 8.3 miles -- not a super long distance on bike, but certainly nothing to sneeze at either. Paul and I got up all three mornings and biked around the entire island. By the third day, we had gotten pretty good and did the entire thing in about 45 minutes. (In case you were wondering, yes, you can bounce a quarter off of either one of my quads.) My mom and dad even rented bikes one day, even though my mom was worried that she hadn't been on a bike in like 20 years and might be wobbly. We told her not to worry, and that she could do it, because riding a bike is something you don't forget how to do. It's like riding a...yeah, you know. She did surprisingly well, and got two and half miles in before saying something about her butt being kind of sore and turning around. My dad shocked all of us by completing the entire trip around.

The bikes were only four bucks an hour, but you can also hire horses by the hour. They're a more substantial $30 per hour, and I really wanted to ride one. Except for lame circular pony rides as a kid, I've never been on a horse, and I figured the horses on the island were about as gentle and kind to novices as any horses out there. The price was steep, but I was ready to fork it over to go clip-clopping down the road. Unfortunately, we never got around to it on this trip. So I am looking forward to it next time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005
This last trip was definitely a good one to end on. We're back after almost four days up in breezy, sunny, carless (that's carless, as in no cars, not careless, as in no cares) and fudge-filled Mackinac Island, and we (that being me, Paul, and my mom and dad) all had a great time. I have some good pictures, which I will surely put up at some point, but let me tell you what we did yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday afternoon was spent at the Grand Hotel, which, true to its name, is indeed quite grand, and is on many lists of top hotels and best places to stay. We did not stay there -- it's extremely bordering on insanely expensive -- but anyone can come into the hotel for the day to look around and check it out. It's quite the architectural marvel, for one thing, and it's all very classy. They try really hard, and for the most part succeed, in creating an elegant horse-and-buggy old world charm. It feels royal, almost. In fact, they charge you ten dollars just to walk through the front door. Yes, ten dollars. Just to walk in. Like it's a museum or something. And I believe that this is not, as some will tell you, to keep out the riff raff. The $17 price of the ferry over to the island weeds out most of whatever riff raff there might be, depending of course on your definition of riff raff. And honestly, the truly riff raffy would find a way to sneak or con their way into the place without forking over the entry fee anyway, much like we did in October, but that is another story for another time. I think they charge you ten bucks to walk in just to make you appreciate what they've got going on there. It's like putting a value on a product: you think the $72 Burberry umbrella is better than the $4 Target umbrella because of the cost value on the product. Same thing here. The Super 8 doesn't charge admission. The Grand Hotel does.

So we were at the Grand Hotel looking at all of the crazy antique furniture and stuff on the walls and super long porch with rocking chairs, and it was lunch time, and we had lunch there. Now: this is not like walking into the Holiday Inn and getting a sandwich. Lunch at the Grand Hotel isn't even lunch -- it's luncheon. (Ooh -- see the difference?) It's a luncheon buffet. Normally I don't do buffets, but I occasionally make exceptions, and this was one of them. It was, like everything else at the Grand Hotel, expensive, but mom and dad were splurging, and who were we to say no to that? So we went to the luncheon buffet.

Let me tell you: if you only do one buffet if your life ever, do the lunch(eon) one at the Grand Hotel. Forget Vegas, forget your local all-you-can-scarf Chinese places, and for the love of all things pickled, deep fried, and covered in gravy, forget the Old Country Buffet. This place had raw oysters! And smoked fish! And all kinds of tasty treats that you don't normally get to have, and it was all in one place, and you could have any and all of it and as much as you wanted, and no one would tell you to stop. And yeah, they had your basic buffet line stuff, like mac and cheese, but man, that was some good mac and cheese. And the desserts! Oh man. I couldn't decide what I wanted, so I had like four. Is that wrong?

It was just a really nice afternoon, and even though it was all-you-can-eat, and we all tried really hard to get our money's worth (I feel like I ate at least $20 in cold-smoked salmon alone, and here is a fun fact: I can probably eat a pound of cold-smoked salmon in one sitting, though I've never actually tried, because who can afford that?), we weren't stuffed. I mean, we didn't have that sickly gorged and nauseous feeling that you sometimes get after overeating, and that I always get after lunch at the Indian buffet with my lunchtime Indian buffet friends (another buffet for which I'll make an exception). I think we focused on quality rather than quantity, which made a huge difference. Paul and I are already talking about going back to Mackinac Island in the fall and having lunch there again. Man, that was some good food.

So yes, several days on vacation, and I talked about food first. Are you surprised? You are not. More soon, including other stuff we did and what bothers me and a lot of people I know about the Grand Hotel. (Hint: not the cost!)

Sunday, August 14, 2005
The last vacation of the summer is here! Mom and dad are in town, but they're not big fans of Kalamazoo, so we are all heading up north to Mackinac Island. Apparently there are too many cars and too much noise down here for them. We'll be back Wednesday, hopefully without too much horse poop on our sandals.

Friday, August 12, 2005
The start of a brief conversation I had yesterday, the type of which can make you roll your eyes so hard you give yourself a headache.

The Conversers:

  1. Me, dressed in khaki shorts and a red tshirt with the name of some rugby team on it, and with my hair pulled back because I was doing stuff around the house and didn't want hair falling in my face.
  2. A door-to-door salesman (yes, in this day and age!) who worked for some company that sold and installed vinyl frame windows.
The conversation started off as follows:

Me: (Opening door, which was no easy task because there are some boxes in the front entry way, and looking out to see who was standing on the stoop) Yes?

Door-to-door salesman: (Smiling and clutching clipboard.) Hi! Is your mom or dad home?

Me: (Looking obviously dumfounded in a way that was way more mature than the way someone living with their mom and/or dad might look.) Excuse me?

Door-to-door salesman: (Sheepishly.) Uhh...oh, is this place yours?

Seriously, I know I look young, and I know it's supposed to be some kind of compliment when someone assumes I'm younger than I am, and I don't even mind so much being carded when I order a cocktail, but is my mom or dad home? What the fuck? And I don't think he was trying to flatter me or anything like that just to get me to buy some crappy windows -- judging by the look on his face after he saw the look on my face, I think he seriously thought I was like 12. Maybe I need to rethink a few things.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Last night I actually got a decent hit in our softball game, and as I was passing first and hauling ass to second after a throwing error, I felt both of my quads go out at the same time. Call it a combination of not doing Cybex for the past two weeks, carrying lots of boxes up and down narrow attic and basement stairs, and piss poor running technique. My upper legs still hurts now, and I figure they'll hurt for a few more days, but last night it felt like my muscles were sheared off at the thigh.

Monday, August 8, 2005
Okay again. I think my anxiety level is back to its normal position. I got all concerned and worried on Saturday because of all the boxes surrounding us, and because of how much stuff I still had in my old place, and because when where I live isn't all put together, I get a little antsy. But we worked hard on Saturday and even got some stuff for the house, including a kickass chrome rack for the kitchen, which I put together. That's the extent of how handy I am.

Then we took Sunday off and went to the beach. It was beautiful, and the water was warm, and we took a much-needed break from this unpacking nonsense, and I didn't even let the supremely dysfunctional family next to us who kept yelling at one another that they were kicking sand on them upset me, even though I desperately wanted to tell them to please just shut up please and pick up your fucking trash, you pigs. I kept my mouth shut. People.

Friday, August 5, 2005
Okay! Hoo. Okay. Okay. I am back online and in our new place, and man oh man is my life unorganized right now. There are boxes everywhere, and stuff is piled on top of stuff piled on top of other stuff perched precariously on top of old furniture which we may or may not keep. We haven't decided yet. And it's been taking forever, because I have this obsessive need to clean everything before it gets set-up, and that takes a while, and there are only so many hours in a day. But things are coming together slowly but surely, and we even have a few rooms set up, including the ultrafabulous office/study/library/reading room/upper parlor/place where the thinking gets done. The walls are red, and the other night we managed to get a blue loveseat up the narrow stairway, around a crook in said stairway, through the doorway at the top (after removing the heavy heavy French door from its hinges), and turned into the office/study/library/reading room/upper parlor/place where the thinking gets done. It was quite the feat, involving lots of on-the-fly calculations of spatial relations and a good deal of hot end-over-end vertical flipping action. (Of the couch, not of ourselves.) But you know, that blue loveseat really ties the room together.

And we're having fun, relatively speaking, figuring out all of our new dilemmas. We bought a lawnmower for the yard, and I rigged up a system to keep the cat downstairs when we don't want him pawing all over the house, and now we're attempting to tackle the problem of our water being almost-clear-but-not-quite. We've already put pellets in the water softener. Next step is to call the city. Step after that is to drain the tank. Step after that is yet to be determined. We're new at this stuff.

So yes, we've got things hooked up and quietly humming along, and soon (oh please soon) everything will be unpacked and in its place and ready to go. And if anyone has solutions for water that's a little rusty, I'm all ears.

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