Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Proud Alum of Wassa Matta U

I have a hankering to indulge in a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon-fest. I'm in serious need of a good dose of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Fractured Fairy Tales, Boris and Natasha, and lines like: "Hey, Bullwinkle. We're in real trouble now!" "Oh, good, Rocky. I hate the artificial kind."

Ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-ha.

The show, a brainchild of Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, was a kind of Borscht Belt-Cold War-cheap-animation-schtick combo that worked on many different levels. Rocky played the straight-man, er, squirrel and Bullwinkle, the loveable doofus. Boris, Natasha, Fearless Leader, and Mr. Big were the baddies you loved to hate. Mr. Peabody and Sherman told us the truth of history, thanks to the WABAC machine. Edward Everett Horton spun fairy tales with a little twist.

And didn't you love the cliff-hanger endings? An example courtesy of Wikipedia: "Be with us next time for 'Avalanche is Better Than None,' or 'Snow's Your Old Man.'" Great stuff, friends.

Raise a glass to the denizens of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. Throw a couple of DVDs in the WABAC machine, don your Wassa Matta U sweatshirt, and prepare to catch on to all those jokes that went right over your 10-year-old little head back in the day.

Weren't we lucky kids? Rocky and Bullwinkle, plus Mad Magazine and "Twilight Zone." No wonder younger generations hate us. Hey! Wassa Matta U?

(Down another 1.4lb today, even after that 9-hour stint at LaGuardia last Thursday. Slow, but sure. Slow, but sure.)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Airline Ponderings

Three conundrums cross my mind whenever I travel by air. And not one of them involves luggage.

1. Why don't airlines have little bottles of water available for pickup as folks board a plane. The flight attendants pass them out later, anyway, and most of the time people get real thirsty between the time they board and whenever it suits the crew to offer beverage service. Bottled water in airports costs an arm and a leg, and often passengers don't have time to stop and buy something before boarding begins. So. Doesn't it make sense to have those water bottles that will be tossed around later available as people board? Face it. It would keep the natives quiet until the real beverage service started.

2. Does it save more time to board from back to front or front to back? I've always thought it was quicker to board back to front, but almost every plane I get on now does the front to back routine, holding up the process as a lengthy queue forms in the jet-way. I think Delta is the only airline still boarding back to front. Perhaps there's a good reason for this switcheroo. Can someone explain it to me?

3. In the airplane toilet, why is the default sink-plug mode stoppered instead of unstoppered? You have to push down a little lever to empty the sink of water. I see why the faucets automatically shut off, preventing a sink overflow. But doesn't it make sense to have the sink unstoppered for the same reason? The way the system works now, I need at least three hands to maneuver the faucet/sink-plug. Explain that one to me, too.

Obviously, I spend too much time on airplanes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Guess God was trying to tell me something . . . .

Talk about a sure sign not to fly!

By the way, remember how I told the airline to just hold my bag in New York? Untrusting soul that I am (now), I double-checked in St. Louis before boarding my plane, and guess what? There it was. In St. Louis. Got in last night. I could've been wearing clean clothes today, if I'd known.

The good news is that both me and the bag got home to New York this afternoon.

As I sit in my humble Harlem apartment, refreshingly dressed in a clean t-shirt and flannel pj bottoms, a word of advice: Next time you're due to fly, be sure to look up into the sky to make sure God isn't trying to tell you something.

Get me outta here!

Talk about a trip fraught with disaster! When last I posted I was cooling my heels at La Guardia for 9 hours, hoping the evening flight to St. Louis would indeed take off. It did.

But my luggage didn't take off with it.

Got in to icy St. Louis around 10:30pm (central time; that's 11:30 real time), then waited patiently with the other passengers to get my bag and go. 'Cept it never came down the luggage shoot. Another women who was booked on my 12:55 flight found her bag piled up in a corner, so I was hopeful. But, no. Hoofed it to the baggage office, long line, even longer forms to fill out.

So I arrived at the hotel with no change of clothes (which I usually carry on with me), no Blackberry charger (which I usually carry on with me), no make-up (which I usually carry on with me). Well, you get the picture. Aaargh! Why I threw everything into my check-in bag, I'll never know. Massive brain-fart on my part, and I'm paying dearly.

I fluffed myself as good as I could yesterday morning, but I still looked like I'd been rode hard and put up wet. Called to check on my bag around midday, only to find out it was sitting in New York. "Shall we send it to you?" "NO! Hold it in New York - I'll get it when I return tomorrow."

So there you have it. I've been wearing the same clothes since Thursday morning (yes, I've been rinsing out the undies at night). As for the makeup and hair, well. Believe it or not, there is not a CVS or Walgreens within 5 miles of downtown St. Louis. How can that be? There are only office buildings, a few monuments, a couple of sports stadiums (stadia?), hotels, restaurants, and a Macy's. That's it. I trekked to Macy's to buy a new sweater, just to have a different look. Got mascara and eyeliner, as well. But the store had nothing in the way of velcro rollers or curling irons.

I return to New York - please God - this afternoon. I am ever hopeful that my bag is, indeed, waiting for me at La Guardia.

So let that be a lesson to you, kiddies. Always pack a change of clothes and your mascara. Now, get me outta' here!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Meet me in St. Louis. Just not right now.

Ah, those weather-related travel hang-ups. I'm due at a conference in St. Louis today, but since Lambert Field is a sheet of ice (so we've been told here at LaGuardia) all flights are cancelled until (fingers-crossed) 7:45 this evening. Got to LGA - my home-away-from-home - around 11:15 in plenty of time for my 12:55 flight. Then came the news. Flight cancelled. Next two flights cancelled. Most of us rebooked on the 7:45 flight.

There was never really any question about my going back home to wait for a few hours then coming back. I mean, they have my bag, and it would've taken all sorts of finagling to get it back. And by the time I paid $30 to taxi home, $30 to taxi back to the airport, re-checked the bag. Well, phooey! Might as well camp out at LaGuardia.

I'm in a nice cozy sports bar, table conveniently located next to an electrical outlet, answering emails, commenting on all y'all's blog-posts, drinking tea and Bloody Mary's. I can tough it out until 7pm-ish, when I suspect they'll tell us whether the flight is a "go" or not. If not, I'll slink back home and say "Fuggitabbatit" for the conference, since snow and ice are due here in NYC early tomorrow morning. A shame, really, since this is a great conference - "endowed parishes," so you can imagine the good eats and great workshops. Unsurpassed networking. Shoot. I'm hoping we're clear to go tonight.

Alas, I will miss one of the events I was most looking forward to - tonight's dinner and guided tour of the Arch. I've never been there and was really excited about travelling to the top of that thing. Double-shoot. With a couple of "damnits" thrown in. ***UPDATE*** Just talked to a friend at the conference who tells me that the trip to the Arch has been cancelled because of the icy weather. The group is eating at the hotel. So. Not missing anything much so far. It's almost 6:30pm and the word is that the flight will go out at 7:45. Here's hopin' . . . . I'm getting pretty sick of this LaGuardia terminal.

And another thing. Airport food is not conducive to WeightWatchers, though I'm doing my best. (Believe it or not, the Bloody Mary ain't so bad, point-wise.) Travel in general is hard on weight-watching - airport food, conference food, flight delays that just scream "Go get a hot-fudge sundae NOW!" I did manage to lose another pound over the past two weeks, even though I travelled South and was tempted with all manner of Southern goodies. It's all about portion-size, my friends. And walking. And water. Keep walking. Keep drinking water. Four more hours. Let's see how I do.

Another Bloody Mary's looking pretty good right now, though.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Presidents Day

As I was leaving work Friday, someone said "Have a Happy Presidents Day!" And I replied, "Well, if I can think of a happy president, I'll do just that."

Do you think there's any such thing as a Happy President? Really?

I mean once the inauguration champagne wears off and the guy (it's always a guy, alas) struts (because anyone elected president will surely strut) into the Oval Office and finally gets his hands on all the secret documents and red phone codes, he must certainly cease to be completely happy from that day forward. Too much at stake. Anyone can see that, unless you're one of the complete bonehead presidents - and we've had our share - who doesn't understand the magnitude of the job.

George Washington understood the potential power-run-amok-ness of the position - saw it right away, in fact - and refused to be crowned emperor or serve more than eight years. But George never seemed to be a very happy guy, anyway, did he? Rumor has it, his teeth hurt. A great man, who could've grabbed a lot of power from the git-go, but didn't - still, not a "Happy President."

Adams? Jefferson? Madison? Monroe? Jackson? Van Buren? Buchanan? Any of those seem to fit the "Happy President" mold? Not from what history tells us. Just a bunch of grunts - some brilliant, some not so - doing their job.

Lincoln? Happy? Hardly. Maybe a wry chuckle now and then, but with a Civil War, a whacko wife, and a couple of dead sons, the words "Happy President" don't come to mind.

And let's face it. It was all downhill for Teddy Roosevelt after his mountain-top experience at San Juan Hill (pre-president).

Wilson? Stroked out, and no 14 Points ratification. Coolidge? Please. Just look at the photos of him, though that may have just been his pent-up New England style. Hoover?

FDR? Well, at least he put on a good show. I figure he lost a lot of his happiness once polio set in at mid-life. Still, with the Depression and WWII and mistresses coming and going, you couldn't call the guy carefree.

Eisenhower? Too military to be happy. Plus all those heart attacks. Kennedy? What do you think? Johnson? Nixon? And poor Carter - basically a happy man who got beaten down (or beat himself down, depending on whichever side you're on). None of the rest, from Reagan to Bush II, seem particularly, genuinely Happy Presidents, though Reagan, Clinton, and the Bush boys could fake it pretty convincingly at times.

It's just the nature of the job. A conundrum. If you're a truly Happy President, then you don't understand the hugeness of the job. And will thus become unhappy when the people turn on you. And they will. We will. Just give us a chance. So happiness is overrated in terms of the office of president. Work to do. Arms to twist. Treaties to sign. Photo-ops to smile through. Sleepless nights worrying about this thing or that. Dodging slings and arrows. Building a legacy.

I realize this post seems packed with cynicism, though I don't feel cynical about the office of the presidency. Honestly. Only, I did start to wonder about "Happy" and "Presidents," and history tells us that the two words don't seem to go together much.

Except when they're mentioned in terms of a 3-day weekend in February. And I, for one, am very "Happy" to have "Presidents" Day off.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I Heart New York, Part 2

Central Park. Just one more reason to love New York. I spent a couple of hours walking through the park and along Central Park West today. It's a beautiful (and free) way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Alas, the low-res pictures on Shorty PJs doesn't do the place justice, but here are a few favorites:

The Bethesda Fountain Angel (but no water in winter, of course)

Lighted fountain near Cherry Hill

Sun-dappled building on Central Park West

One of the many Central Park bridges (this one is northwest of the Jackie O Reservoir)

San Remo Apartments, one of the famous two-towered stuctures on Central Park West. And, no, you can't afford to live here.

Statue of Daniel Webster in Central Park

I Heart New York

After a long workweek, I decided to pamper myself a little and spring for a good haircut. It’s hard to beat a fabulous haircut if you’re looking for a real feel-good experience (with finding a great-fitting pair of jeans coming in a close second). Anyway, a little place called Alice Hair Care on 2nd Avenue between 69th and 70th came highly recommended, so I thought I’d give it a try.

My appointment was for 7pm, and as I was in my pampering mood, I left work around 5:30, took the subway to 68th/Hunter College, and searched out a place for a little drinkie and a meal. I chose Cinema Cafe, directly across from Alice. I wanted to relax and do a little pre-haircut indulging over a lovely prix fixe dinner.

My table faced 2nd Avenue, allowing me to people-watch as the city darkened and its lights brightened. Yellow taxis and black limos glided toward Midtown or Lower Manhattan. Couples, singletons, small knots of friends or co-workers, some talking, some in silence, rushed to and fro heading home, heading out, or just heading in circles. Ah! Dinner and a show!

I had an attentive waitress, a stiff Tangueray and tonic, two full litres of ice-cold water, a bowl of perfectly-salted, warm edemame, a lovely whole-wheat ravioli stuffed with wild mushrooms, and the lightest-of-light puff pastry with raspberries. Oh, and a smooth, warming glass of house red. Everything except the G&T was part of the $29.95 meal-deal. A relatively inexpensive bit of pampering for dinner and a show, don’t you think?

As I sat there in my front row seat at the most glorious show on earth, Manhattan on a Friday evening, one thought kept running through my mind:. I love New York. I love New York. I love New York!

I finished my luscious and leisurely meal with five minutes to spare to cross the street for my hair appointment. The small shop was still hoppin’ at 7pm on a Friday night. Here’s what I noticed right off the bat: lots of energy, laughter, and all the stylists had great hair. There’s a real Alice, by the way - a young, pretty Irishwoman. My stylist, Caroline, is Irish, as well (I think all the stylists are). And she’s fabulous! Boy, she knew just what to do – lots of long layers that fall just the right way. And the price? Less than I pay at Carter-Barnes in Atlanta. Yes, I’ve found my New York hair-cuttin’ home!

And walking down 2nd Avenue and along 68th Street to the subway on a Friday evening, with my hair bouncing beautifully, I couldn’t help smiling and thinking, I love New York!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Under Penalty of Law

I've found my true calling. It is my mission in life to remove all "Do Not Remove" tags from pillows and mattresses in hotel and conference center rooms.

After an exhausting day of travel and having to be sparkly for the evening, I laid my weary head down on the pillow. Crackle-crackle! What? I turn my head. Crackle-crackle! Urgh! I reached my hand into the pillowcase and tore off the "Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law" tag. Much better.

I turned over and pulled the covers around me. Crackle-crackle! Oh, no, not again! This crackle was louder and bulkier. Everytime I moved the covers, the sound got rougher and uglier. With a huff, I sat up and turned on the light. Where was this crackle coming from, I wondered? I got up and yanked off the blanket. There at the bottom of the bed was a whackin' great "Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law" tag. One quick flick of the wrist, and it, too, was history.

Now, neither the mattress nor the pillow were new. How many good-hearted (but, obviously, authority-intimidated) Florida Episcopalians have suffered through the all-night tag crackles over the years? Hm?

People. Really. You can remove those tags once the item is purchased. Truly. There is no Pillow and Mattress Tag Penalty Division of the FBI. Trust me. Go on. Yank those suckers off. Now. No need to suffer through the nightly-crackles ever again. You are free, my friends. Free!

And while you're at it, go ahead and take the plastic coverings off your lamp shades.

Ah, the days of red construction paper and white paper doilies

Happy Valentine's Day, dear bloggers!

Monday, February 11, 2008

'Neath the Spanish Moss

Miss me? I'm in Live Oak, Florida, for a 3-day mission discernment meeting. Specifically, I'm at an Episcopal conference center called Camp Weed.
So far, I haven't seen any camping or any weed(s). Lots of Spanish moss, though.

Y'all take care of the world until I get back to New York on Wednesday. And try to behave yo'sevs.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy 4706 , according to the Chinese. Today begins the the Year of the Rat.

Imagine all the folks you know who can be celebrated this year! In 2008, instead of giving someone the finger or muttering under your breath when he/she rats you out, give 'em a little bow and say Happy Rat Year! Then just try to hang on until the Year of the Ox shows up January 26, 2009.

In the spirit of traditional Chinese New Year wishes: Happiness in the family! (y'all)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Banished for Forty Days

Chocolate. That's right. Chocolate. You're outta here . . . for the next 40 days.

Normally, I'm the kind of Lent-observer who tries to take on something positive - like writing more cards to friends or learning a new skill - rather than engaging in the giver-upper discipline.

But my favorite Welsh woman, Liz, has declared chocolate off-limits until Easter, and to show my support , I'm banishing the yummy, succulent, smooth, creamy, brain-cell-enhancing, endorphine-boosting, ultimate "reward" food, as well. Sigh.

Not that I've been indulging much lately anyway, what with the WeightWatchers and all. But the next time I feel the need for a pity-party, I'll have to reach for another stress-relieving drug.

On the up-side, I can let myself off the card-writing hook.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hymn-swaying: Is it just a Southern thing?

I make it a point to go to noon services on Tuesday at the Church Center, because that's the one day we have music. To me, it just ain't a worship service without some serious sangin', if you know what I mean. Mostly the hymns are standard Episcopal/Anglican/Methodist tunes, familiar and fairly singable. Once in a while the music guy will pull out a green songbook, chock full of unsingable numbers (and that makes us all sad . . . ).

But today! Well, we got to sing out of the African-American hymnal Lift Every Voice And Sing. And the place was rockin to the oldies. Having been raised Southern Baptist, I really didn't need to look at the book for the words of the songs selected for the service (is that too many sssssssss's?). Knew 'em by heart, and they were purely a pleasure to sing.

The last song of the service was "Softly and Tenderly (Jesus is Calling)." When we got to the third verse, friend Linda - raised in Chattanooga and Atlanta, as I was - leaned over and said, "Notice it's only the Southerners who are swaying to this one?" I looked around, and low-and-behold, she was right. Those of us from the South (and there are a few of us up here in New York) were belting and swaying, belting and swaying - heads thrown back with eyes closed, letting it fly to the heavens.

Now. Whether you believe the words or not, go grab that old hymnal and sing a few altar-call songs. It will clear your head and lighten your soul. And those of you not lucky enough to be born and bred in the South, remember to sway. After all, it just comes nat'rul to us.

" . . . earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling, O Sinner! come home . . . "

Not-So-Fat Tuesday

Goodness! How many big events can converge on one puny little Tuesday? Super Tuesday. Super Bowl Tuesday - as in, big triumphant confetti parade for the New York Giants through the streets of our fair city. And Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras.

Not enough for you? Other reasons to celebrate February 5:

  • Birthday girls and boys include Hank Aaron (Go, Braves!), Charlotte Rampling, Christopher Guest, Laura Linney. And the dead ones: Adlai Stevenson, William S. Burroughs, Belle Starr, Ralph McGill.
  • Verdi's "Otello" premiered at La Scala (1887).
  • Phoenix, Arizona, was incorporated (1881).
  • Pittsburgh Steelers won its fifth Super Bowl (2006).
As for me? Not-so-fat Tuesday. I've lost another 1.8 pounds, which brings me to a whopping 6.2 lbs. lost over the past two weeks. I even got a special star today for crossing the 5 lb mark. Still, the thought of a plateful of Shrove Tuesday pancakes is making my mouth water.

So, if you don't like any of the "Tuesday" choices today, take heart. It's almost Wednesday.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Wotta Week

Definitely a 5-day work week of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Worked late every night and brought work home 4 of the five nights. Deadlines loom - some real, some fictional (but just as real, if someone's pushing you to get something done).

Not to mention that for most of the week I lived in The House at Poo Corner. Remind me never to spend more than $6 on dogfood, because the uppity kind does not set well with Ms. Bailey. Try to give the old gal a treat with expensive food, and poor thing can only reward me with doggie-diarrhea. Don't worry - she's back to normal now, but cleaning that stuff up first thing in the morning or after a hard day's work added just the right comment on the week.

Anyway, the problem at work is that I'm being pulled in too many directions, and I feel I'm not doing justice to anything. I figure we're in the transition period after restructuring, as I'm being asked to do a few things for my new job while keeping the old job's fires stoked. The only problem is that my current boss doesn't see it that way. So I'm caught between current and future. Middle child that I am, I hate conflict, so I'm just keeping nose to grindstone (and my office door closed whenever possible). Still, I hate the feeling of know that some important things are just liquefying and dripping off the desk into deep cracks. Aargh. It will get better soon, though, I know.

And somehow I got sucked into Facebook (and while I'm at it, MySpace). I think I'm too old for both, but I seem to have more and more friends trying to add me to their lists or whatever, so I caved in. Not sure if I'll keep up with it. I have enough trouble finding time to blog.

As the political season heats up (what? not hot enough already?), I'll probably do less commenting on my favorite blogs. Seems I disagree with some of the stands being taken, and I don't want to stir anything up, or be stirred up. It's that middle child thing again. I've pretty much decided how I'm voting - ain't nobody's bid'ness but mine - so I'll skip over the political stuff on yo' blogs, if you don't mind. But we're still friends, right? Here's my 2008 campaign promise to you, fellow bloggers: I will keep Shorty PJs as politics-free as possible.

On a lighter note - wink! wink! - I lost 4.4 pounds my first week on WeightWatchers, even in the midst of the sturm-and-drang at work. All seems to be going well. Let's see how I do at Tuesday's weigh-in, however.

I'm cocooning today. I deserve it. Anne Tyler and Earl Grey will keep me very good company, I reckon.