Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I have never been prouder of my peeps!
John McCain made a very gracious concession speech. And I hope his supporters around the country respect his thoughts more than his local audience in Arizona.
And, no offense, but Michelle? Can we talk about that DRESS!?!?!
Monday, November 3, 2008
I am talking about paying damn good money for sub-par food, though.
Saturday night was a surprise 40th birthday party for my nephew (how I have a nephew older than me can be blamed right on FM) held at a restaurant here in town called Bistro Bella Vita.
They have a reputation for good food and better martini's. I did not join in the martini fun, knowing I had to drive home, but did consume a couple draft beers. And food that was no good.
This place is filled with posh looking couples and groups of people clinking martini and wine glasses and looking like they stepped out of magazine pages. Ocassionally I would see someone eating. More of a place to be seen on a Saturday night than anything. I must say, it's been more than eight years since I've been there, and I do remember the food being AT LEAST EDIBLE.
When I break down and shell out triple digits (or FM does) for dinner, I do expect it to be FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. Especially triple digits in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
If I had been served FM's Boeuf Bourguignonne, it would have went straight back to the kitchen. It was SO SALTY. I declared it inedible, but being we had waited over an hour and a half for it to arrive, FM just quietly gobbled it down and waited for his ankles to swell.
I had the Skate, which is a very light and delicate ray fish which the cook (chef? dare I call him that?) had used about three times too much oil to prepare.
And our Greek Salad appetizer? Since when are there no peppers in a Greek salad. And why the fennel? Not that fennel is bad, it just does not belong in my Greek Salad. Which, by the way, neither does SPINACH.
Whatever. At least you could eat it.
Woke up in the night with a very upset stomach.
In other news, our 1995 Taurus finally lost it's transmission enroute to one of the more exquisite golf courses around town. Whilst being followed by our financial advisor driving his brand new BMW.
Thank God he was there.
And Mike got SENIOR RATES at the course. Saved us $10, but made him feel a little sad, I think. Yes, we are golfing in November in Michigan. Going again tomorrow, as it promises to be 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The junk yard gave us enough money for the car to cover our golf on Friday or our dinner on Saturday. But not both.
Monday, October 27, 2008
And, it's also kept me aware of just how strongly both sides supporters feel and far they will stoop.
But, after returning home, I called a dear old friend (she's not old, she's just been a friend a looooong time). I typically don't talk politics with her, as we tend not to agree and are not going to change each other's minds, but she brought up the election.
Said she was very confused.
Seems her church is preaching that a vote for Obama will send you straight to hell. That any Christian who votes for Obama doesn't deserve to call themselves a Christian.
Now, I've heard of such things going on, but this is the first time I've talked to an educated person who's actually been subject to such bullshit. Whether you're for Obama or against him, I don't think a vote for him will damn you for eternity. . . .
On a better note, two other friends I had dinner with last week (and vowed not to talk politics with) openly admitted at the end of the night they were voting for Obama.
I was STOKED. And very surprised.
I didn't tell them they were going straight to hell.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I'm home from China, FM got to spend 36 hours here before reboarding a plane bound for Beijing (totally unplanned, of course, he'd never fly home for 36 hours) and is expected back in my loving arms on Tuesday night.
Of course, he'll probably be grumpy as hell and jetlagged to boot. Poor dude.
I've been shopping my butt off while he's gone. Spending money is so much easier when the man is not around. . .
On a good note (?), the shopping has left little time or energy for the drinking, so my liver is getting a break. All good.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Now, don't get me wrong. I like my politicians to have wit and charm. But I also like them to be able to speak about ISSUES without delivering a BADDA-BING after every point.
I just met this gal last week and she's already making me tired. Silly bobblehead.
I fear the average American will vote for her, thinking they're putting Tina Fey into office and at least she'll be good for a laugh over the next four years. Or maybe they think that was here on SNL.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I think I have a career as a travel agent in my future. Obviously, I have the experience. I know more about the available flights, schedules, and change fees than the representatives I'm talking to. Sorda.
I think we are sorted out now.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
- 6:30: Wake Up
- 6:30-7:00: Drink coffee to wake up
- 7:00-7:30: Get pretty
- 7:30 - 8:15: Make breakfast for our golfing foursome
- 8:15 - 8:30: Wait for foursome to show up
- 8:30 - 9:00: Entertain foursome, eat breakfast, drink more coffee
- 9:00 - 9:30: Ride a half hour in a taxi to golf course, while getting lost a couple times
- 9:30 - 10:00 Rent clubs, get briefed on specific rules of tournament, organize bags, take a pee, buy water, smoke some cigarettes. etc.
- 10:00: Walk to appropriate tee box
- 10:15-10:30: Wait for foursome ahead of us to tee off.
- 10:30 - 4:00: Play some really bad golf with a couple good shots thrown in to keep us coming back.
- 4:00 -4:20: Unpack rental bags, bid our caddies good-bye, take another shower
- 4:20 - 5:00: Drink beer in the clubhouse while waiting for food
- 5:00 - 5:30: Eat semi-decent food, hungrily
- 5:30 - 6:00: Award ceremony for those who actually played decent golf and booby prizes for those of us who didn't
- 6:00 - 6:30: Drink more beer
- 6:30 - 7:00: Wait for taxi to come and pick us up
- 7:00 - 7:30: Ride home in taxi
- 7:30 - 8:30: Take a "nap"
So, at 8:30 we discuss going for dinner, but decide to eat nectarines and pistachio nuts instead, watch a little TV and get ready for bed around 10:30. And, what does FM ask me?
"Did any laundry get done today?"
I am confused. Exactly who does he think has been doing the laundry for the last six months?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
MOST LIKELY TO BE CAUGHT SKIPPING:
Cuban Hurdler who can out hurdle anyone. Althouth he didn't break Liu's record from '04, he skipped away from the rest of the field like a gazelle.
MOST LIKELY TO BE CAUGHT LYING ABOUT HER AGE:
Oops, too late. Already caught lying about age. . .
MOST POPULAR OVERALL:
Not only a hit amongst the Americans, but the Chinese LOVE him. Adore him. Have a huge fan club here for him.
MOST SPIRITED OLYMPIAN
Samiya Yuusf Omar
200m Runner from Somalia who finished a full 9 seconds behind in her heat. But dudes, she's from SOMALIA. And, she's only 16. If she can run like this, she should just keep on running until she hits Egypt.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Entire Iraqi Squad
Australian Swimmer allegedly caught playing tonsil hockey with Michael Phelps. . . Think of the children they could have!
I don't care what the IOC says, this dude deserved some showboating. He only hurt his OWN chance at a BETTER World Record. Totally Irie, Mon!
LEAST AMOUNT OF OLYMPIC SPIRIT:
While Dayron brought nothing but fame to Cuba, Angel brought nothing but shame when this 80+ kg TaeKwonDo athlete kicked a Swedish ref in the face after disagreeing with a call. Nice.
And now, your King and Queen.
OLYMPIC PROM KING:
Michael Phelps (Uh, who did you expect?)
The most decorated Olympian ever.
AND YOUR QUEEN:
Monday, August 25, 2008
But, did you know we were there?
Oh, YEAH, Baby! It ROCKED!
Quite the game. You can read more and see other pictures here.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Okay, maybe I'm always a bit of a bitch and lately I've been a whole lot more.
But, man. People are really getting on my nerves. It was so bad Monday night I decided to stay inside and not interact with anyone on Tuesday. I needed a time out.
Yesterday I felt a bit better and did interface with a few people.
And then we went to Paddy O'Sheas to watch the basketball game. Besides meeting an awesome gal from Maryland and her son who kindly shared their table with us, everyone else in the place, including the staff was UNDER MY SKIN.
I don't know if it's Beijing, hormones, boredom, tiredness (is that a word?) or what, but I'm starting to think I'm about one idiot away from going postal.
It doesn't feel good.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
More later, but we are off to visit the Great Wall (again) with Randy.
Unfortunately, not as clear today as it has been the last two, but will probably be a little cooler.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Awesome seats, to boot.
Today I'm a little hoarse from all the screaming and yelling and beer drinking and popcorn eating.
Much more exciting than the women's Russia vs. Belarus game we saw on Wednesday morning.
Tonight we will venture inside the Bird's Nest for some Track and Field excitement.
I love Randy.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Ten Commandments of Taxi Travel in Beijing
1. Thou shall not communicate in English with the Chinese taxi driver. He does not understand “Forbidden City”, no matter how loudly or often it’s repeated.
2. Thou shall not enter a taxi without your destination name AND directions written in Chinese. Plus a phone number, just in case. And possibly a map.
3. Thou shall not tip. I like this commandment.
4. Thou shall not expect to be delivered to the doorstep of your intended destination. You should expect to be close enough the driver can unintelligibly wave you toward an unseen location, causing you to wander around and absorb the local culture for up to twenty minutes. Or possibly take another taxi to your actual destination.
5. Thou shall not be surprised the driver is encased in a plastic barrier separating you from him. Still not sure if it’s to protect him from you or vis-à-vis.
6. Thou shall not cringe and gasp, nor make audible noises of shock and surprise as your driver maniacally turns left into oncoming Beijing traffic. He knows what he’s doing. I hope.
7. Thou shall not try and change large bills. This man, despite what it looks like, is not operating a business. You should preferably have small bills, if not exact change.
8. Thou shall not be concerned if driver drinks tea, talks on cell phone, drives with no hands, bangs on the steering wheel, curses loudly in Mandarin, or any combination while driving
9. Thou shall not react when, parked in traffic, the taxi driver opens the driver door and coughs and spits out half a lung onto the roadway.
10. Thou shall not attempt to flag a taxi in the rain. Due to the record amount of accidents that happen during adverse weather, Beijing taxi drivers will almost never pick up a fare during the first twenty minutes of a rain shower.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
We took them out for Mussel night, because, really! It's Tuesday and I need my mussels.
And they were very cuil (get it? I'm so hip. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, look at Google's new rival, www.cuil.com) people. And didn't berate us too bad for being soooooo late, which was nice.
Nice to met you, Dan Limbaugh and Brian Sterling. And Happy Anniversary this month to Brian! 14 years with WOOD. CUIL.
Monday, August 4, 2008
FM's watching "The Sara Connors Chronicles" or whatever, and I'm sending emails and reading blogs.
He gets up to take a leak and says, "That dude's okay, he only lost HALF HIS HEAD."
Me: (not watching because of above activities) "Dude, we only use 10% of our brain, he's fine.
Me: But the bleeding can be bad news. Bleeding profusely from the head is always bad.
FM: Yea. That's a problem
He continues watching. I decide to blog about it.
Such is our live.
Oh yea. I'm drunk again.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
But what I have to say, IS, I hate all these bloggers who TAKE SO MUCH TIME contemplating each word of their posts to make them such WONDERS.
Where I just sign on drunk and blog.
Where's the honesty here, people???
Thursday, July 31, 2008
When I found out we would be here through the Olympics, I scoured the resources available (well, the internet) trying to find some tickets.
To no avail.
But, I humored him, and went over to the G&P to investigate. We were given a phone number to call for an organization called Golden Tickets who will have some limited availability tickets for sale "some time next week".
So, we had dinner and played some darts.
We've been to the G&P many times. Too many times, if you ask me. But, it was surprisingly unbusy last night, and Jessie the manager was extremely welcoming (as usual, I think he's 50% responsible for the popularity of this venue. . . it SURE ain't the food!).
They have a baseball pitching cage. After a *few* beers, I decided to check the speed of my infamous fastball (I don't really have a fastball, in fact I haven't thrown a baseball in somewhere around twenty years).
First attempt? 37 mph. That is SLOOOOOOOW.
I finally peaked at 52 mph. I felt a bit like a girl.
Until Mike peaked at 51 mph.
And, this morning? My shoulder and back feel like I'm 108.
Which would have been a very impressive speed.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
For the most part, it works. We provide each other "insight" into a whole different world of thought.
Or something like that.
On a deep, psyche defining level, we're probably more alike than we know.
But on a daily living basis I sometimes think there couldn't be any two more different people trying to forge out a life together.
FM's quiet. I'm, well, NOT quiet. He's calm and rational. I'm usually some kind of emotional mess. He's gentle. I'm rough. He's water. I'm oil. Get it?
We have the small potential of a mini-break coming up. Our proposed leave date from Beijing and our proposed return date may be so close together it doesn't warrant hopping into the belly of the flying beast and returning all the way home.
So what to do in the Asia area for a couple weeks?
My proposal: A trip into Mongolia, down to Shanghai, through some other Chinese towns I don't know the names of but will research and figure out at some point, to the Three River Gorge (a boat trip, I'm thinking), onto Hainan Island (the Hawaii of China) and maybe a quick hop over to Hong Kong, for old time's sake.
Obviously, not completely thought out yet, but we HAVE visa's for China, visa's that allow us to stay for A YEAR, and pop in and out of the country as often as we wish. Shouldn't we take advantage of seeing more of this fantastically huge and varied country while we're here?
FM's response: Why do you want to see more of China? It's all the same. .. right?
Me: (shaking head in dismay) What do you want to do?
FM: A week in Tokyo and a week in Hong Kong.
Me: But, but, but. . . we've BEEN to both of those places. Several times.
Me: Maybe I'll go on a five day tour by myself while you're working . . .
Me: Isn't there anywhere in China you would like to see?
FM: Nope. But maybe Mongolia.
Me: Okay, I'll leave Mongolia out of my tour, and we'll do that together.
FM: I said maybe.
Not that I should be surprised by any of this. It happens every time we try and plan a vacation. I want the new, the different, the unknown. FM wants the tried, the true, the familiar.
It's the same with so many aspects of our life. Even eating. I want to try new places, FM wants to return to where he knows the food and service are good. I offer to make a ahi tuna with seasame and ginger, he opts for Shepherd's Pie.
Usually we find some kind of happy medium.
He did mention he'd consider Tibet or Nepal, in combination with Hong Kong. Well, that's someplace new and different. And even a place I would like to go. Just not exactly what I want to do, nor exactly what FM wants to do. Sigh.
When we go "my" way, it usually ends up, well, not so perfect. Partly because we approach new things differently. FM is cautious, more guarded. I'm gung-ho, let's walk across town! Let's rent a car and drive 100 miles! Let's see everything here!
For two people who have traveled together for 8+ years, we definitely have different styles. It works out okay, what with him working all day giving me the time and space to wander and explore on my own. But when free time becomes available? Whew. It's a clash of worlds.
He just popped back from work this morning to pick up his passport and said, "I just heard a rumor we can't work on X date and X date, due to the incoming visit of our illustrious leader."
Me: SWEET! Four day weekend! We could go to Mongolia! Or Hainan!
FM: I want a golf weekend. Bye! (running out the door before he can get a response)
Me: (banging head on the floor) ARGHHHHHHHH!
In his defense, I'm sure my itinerary of a China tour thrilled him in the same mind-numbing way a proposed four day golf weekend in the scorching sun of China thrills me.
Ain't love grand?
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
While enjoying a couple beers al fresco at Schiller's the other night we got to talking to our patio mates. We do tend to meet the neighbors. . .
They were diplomats from Burundi and have lived in Beijing for 2 years and speak fluent(ish) Chinese, English and whatever language they speak in Burundi (I could Google that for you, but nah).
They asked FM and I how long we'd been in Beijing, we replied, "Four and a half months, and we'll probably be here around seven or eight."
There response was, "And you don't speak ANY Chinese??"
Well, we can say "Straight", "Left", "Right","Hi", "Thank You", "How are you?" and count to five or so.
We are pretty comfortable not being able to speak the local language, obviously. It's the case most of the places we live. However, the absolute lack of English here in China has made things a little trickier and we've had to resort to very different avenues in order to get around and communicate over very basic transactions.
But the Burundians couldn't believe it was possible to live here without any Chinese language skills.
We talked about shopping, and they told me it would help if I bargained in Chinese. Now, I'm a pretty good bargainer, and the sales girls at the markets all speak good English, so I haven't really considered this.
However, I don't think they are going to mistake me for a local.
Or the guys from Burundi, either.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Worth less than one US Dollar, and unsufficient to buy even a loaf of bread.
At least they won't need a wheelbarrow to bring their money to the market.
When we were in Korea, the exchange was about 1$ to 8000 Won. It's actually higher now, I don't know what's happening in South Korea to make their money worth LESS than ours, but that's another entry, I'm sure. . .
Point was, our rent in Seoul was 2.5 Million Won (sounds swanky, eh?), which equivilated to about $2200/month.
And we had to pay cash our first month. And the biggest bill they had is a 10,000 Won note.
Which meant we had to bring over three thousand 10,000 won notes to our apartment lease signing. And wait for them to count it. . . twice. We literally had to carry it in a garbage bag. Think about having $3000 dollars in one dollar bills.
Three thousand bills (of any denomination) is a lot. As an average American, I've never physically held 3000 bills.
Trust me, it's a bunch.
But at least you could actually buy something with them.
Here in China, we have 100 CNY notes, which equal about $14US. And sometimes it can be difficult to get change, from taxi drivers or small market vendors, which in itself can be a bit frustrating as the ATM's only issue 100CNY bills. I'm sure outside the major cities these bills are impossible to change and are generally stuffed into mattresses.
But two of them will get you a very fine meal and a couple drinks, or, as we found out yesterday, 2 VIP tickets to the movies.
About 2 PM on Sunday, in defense to a very humid and hot day, we decided to go to the movies. Sounds simple, yeah? I found a couple cinemas on line playing "Hancock" (I know, but there are only two English language films playing in Beijing right now, "Kung Fu Panda" and "Hancock" and we already watched the former on bootleg DVD).
The closest theater to us had many showings, and another theater across town was showing it on the hour. We tried the closer first, only to be told they were sold out until the 8 PM show.
After spending about 30 minutes trying to find a different theater in the SoHo plaza across the street (we never found it) we jumped the subway 8 stops across town.
Not a good experience. Like being a sardine in a can held over an open flame. Unexplainably, while we were waiting in the ticket line, the young Chinese dude in front of us BOUGHT our subway tickets for us. Just turned around and held them out to us. A whole 4 Kuai saved! I don't think we looked that down on our luck, but whatevs. Now we are responsible for performing a random act of kindness to someone else, you know, that whole pay it forward thing. . .
ANYWAY, we arrived at our stop, spent a few minutes getting oriented (unchartered territory over there), found the mall the theater was in, went upstairs and proceeded to try and buy tickets. It was now 4PM (yes, we'd already be gone long enough to actually WATCH an entire movie).
Next showing with available tickets? 6 PM.
In China, like many other countries (Japan, Korea, Greece, Hong Kong) when you buy your movie ticket you actually have assigned seats. They show you a computer screen mapping out the theater and you choose your seat. After laying out 180 Kuai she showed me the screen, which had 6 seats on it.
So, I chose our seats and we went back into the mall to waste two hours, wandering around, eating yogurt, looking at TURTLE SOUP (a whole turtle, shell and all, in a bowl, cut into quarters).
When we returned to the theater around 5:40 we were shown into a VIP lounge. Complete with it's own bathroom and BEER. When we were shown into the theater, there were 22 HUGE leather recliners positioned in groups of two around little tables.
We kicked our shoes off, reclined our chairs (with a remote control), got a couple beers and enjoyed a semi-private showing of a mediocre movie.
What a cool concept.
And we didn't even have to bring a bagful of money along.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
And in my dream it made total sense. Burt Reynolds wasn't *really* Burt Reynolds, but something/one very important to solving a major problem we were having in my dream.
But I dreamed the VERY SAME THING the night before, just didn't wake anyone up.
And I still can't figure out what the dire situation was that could only be fixed by finding Burt.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The newest campaign? Remove dog meat from the menus of restaurants around town.
Although I've been known to eat some odd things (scorpions, beetles, ants, octopus) I'm quite against eating dog. I'm also kinda against eating food that was prepared in the same kitchen as dog.
In fact, I would just as well not know people eat dog. But that's a little like burying my head in the sand.
Regardless, if you're coming for the Olympics and have a adventurous palate, you probably will have to apply some extra effort to finding dog on the menu in Beijing. I, for one, am not heartbroken.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Apparently, my Chinese Censor Friends have decided to let us all use Blogger again, at least until the Olympics are over, so I decided to stop by and post.
And also try and figure out why I have two Headers (which may be just a Blogger goof, as that has been know to happen as well).
But what to post about? Hmmm. The crappy weather? The delicious food? The Great Wall?
Been there, done that at http://www.aroundtheworldin80beers.net/.
Will stop back by when I have an original thought. See you in a while. . .
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
The weather report calls it FOG, but it's wet SMOG.
It's been ugly since Monday. And so dirty. When we open the window, which we do a lot, as it's a SAUNA in our apartment, it takes about 3 minutes for dust to settle across everything. Did I mention the air stinks?
140 days until the Olympics. I don't guess that's enough time to get this place totally shined up. I feel like I'm living in a toxic waste dump. And so do my lungs.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
We are in Beijing, and apparently I can't post pictures from here. I was going to make a blog entry about a strange street sign I keep seeing on the streets here, but I can't post the picture.
Anyhow, I'll try and get over here and keep you informed of the stranger side of life in China. I can't believe I can even get here from here.
More info always available at www.aroundtheworldin80beers.net
Monday, February 18, 2008
They, obviously, have an older audience.
But they now have billboards in town that say "Wake up with Wood", and I have to ask myself. . .
Do they know what they are saying???
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Friday night I went out with a couple of hotty girlfriends of mine. We decided to go down to FM and I's nephew's bar, Remedy.
This bar has had several names over the past years - Magoo's, The Brickhouse, and now Remedy. It has always had a reputation of being just a bit of a meat market.
FM & I have been down there a few times since we've been home, including New Year's, and haven't really noticed it being too meat market-y, so I thought it would be relatively safe for my married girl, my girl in a long term relationship, and myself. Now mind you, a little attention ain't bad, but I just didn't want it to get out of hand.
Well, it did.
Not in your traditional way, however.
We had a few drinks, then decided to play Wii bowling (they have an AWESOME setup there, plenty of room and projected on a large cement wall).
A couple dudes sniffed around, watching us play. They were playing pool with a blond chick just across the room from us. We offered to let them play the next game.
After a few minutes, the blond chick wandered over and introduced her bad self to me. Her name was Dana.
And she was a FLAMING lesbian, if there is such a thing.
She was 22, and used every line in the book on me for about forty-five minutes. It got to the point I had to be rude. She was actually even touching on me. Now I don't have anything against lesbians personally, and if it had been a guy I would have been just as rude, I swear, especially when the touching started.
By the time she figured out I wasn't interested (I thought telling her I was married would be enough, but OH NO), she decided to move on to my other friend.
And used the exact same verbatim lines on her.
We had to laugh.
I decided if I ever decided to have a lesbian encounter, I'd be the aggressor, now that I know what to say. . .
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Yesterday, we interred my brother Brian's ashes in the Hankinson Family Plot. Next to my Grandmother and Grandfather.
Standing there, looking around the snow covered hills amongst thousands of gravestones, completely renewed my desire to be cremated. I can't bear the thought of being buried.
But, it also gave me a feeling of peace. Knowing I was standing near my Grandparents, and even great-Grandparents (who I never met). And, knowing my brother's remains would be at rest here.
And even if I never go there, it's nice to know where he is.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
I'm sure we'll be able to sully it up in no time.
Spent the first day in a slightly hungover funk, but managed to make a pork roast for dinner. Extra points for that.
Also had managed to set in supplies for Bloody Mary's so we didn't have to face the New Year 100% sober. Thank God.
FM is off to work again on the 7th, but only for a couple weeks, so we will have to get some sully-ing in this week yet.
It's no fun to sully without him.
And now? We are off to a matinee of American Gangster.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!