Rob and I got back from Vegas on Thursday... about 10 hours later than scheduled due to the extraordinary unhelpfulness of a certain airline, which will remain nameless. Our vacation itself, however, was fantastic. We loved having warm, sunny weather for days on end. And we loved vacationing with Mark and Chris.
For anyone not in the know, Mark is my bestest of best friends from college and Chris is his awesome, awesome, awesome boyfriend. Once upon a time, Mark was my college sweetheart. We dated for years before we figured out we were actually meant to be best friends. Very fortunately, we've managed to stay that way ever since. Even more fortunately, we have significant others who don't think we're crazy for doing so!
Vegas turned out to be the perfect foil to the endless winter we've been experiencing in Chicago. Sunday night we caught a great show called Le Reve, which was unlike anything I've seen before and pretty spectacular. Monday we slept in (yea!!), hit our first Vegas buffet, and spent the last couple hours of the day at the pool. (Oh, and I snuck in quite a bit more work than I'd like throughout the vacation. :P) Monday night was steak night at Delmonico's -- yum. Tuesday we rented a cabana at the pool and camped out all day long. Tuesday night was French food at the hotel -- even more yum. Wednesday we wandered the Strip all day. We rode the roller coaster at New York, New York, watched the fountains at the Bellagio, walked the whole length of Ceasar's (no small feat), and then some. We took a different route for dinner -- just off the Strip, Japanese food cooked at the table. A perfect ending to a gluttonous vacation.
Besides lounging and eating, we had an all around great time just hanging out and cracking up with Mark and Chris for four days. Truly nothing beats the company of great friends. We can't wait for our next trip together -- PV here we come!
Oh, and Rob and I are up a whole $14 from gambling. Sweet!
First off, I want to say a quick thanks for all the emails about my Uncle Ed. They are much appreciated. He lived a long, full life and his death came after several years of health struggles. Somehow that lessens the blow. But I am still grateful for all your thoughts.
Our trip to Cleveland went off remarkably easily given the weather in the Midwest this past weekend. We were very glad to be there, even if the airlines did everything in their power to make it impossible for us.
Now we're on our last night in Las Vegas. We made it here with no troubles as well. We're vacationing with Mark and Chris... and we're having a very relaxing and very fun time. The weather has been gorgeous, which we desperately needed. I'll post in lots more detail once we get home.
We're setting off on our first of five plane flights in five days tonight. We'd originally planned on just two flights, but fate has intervened.
My great uncle Ed -- 94-year-old brother to my maternal grandmother -- passed away this week. So instead of flying to Las Vegas tomorrow morning for a short vacation, Rob and I are heading to Cleveland tonight so that we can attend the visitation. My Uncle Ed was a fun-loving man who never married. He and his sister Helen lived out their adult lives together until Aunt Helen passed away in 1999. Every year until 1999, Uncle Ed and Aunt Helen remembered my birthday with a thoughtful card and a small check (always in Aunt Helen's handwriting :).
Uncle Ed loved puns. He had a great joke with the punch line " quarterback" that I wish I could remember now. He told it to me over a decade ago during a family gathering. At the next family gathering I asked him about it because I remembered enjoying the punchline, but I'd forgotten the joke. Turns out he had too. We spent an entire weekend trying to come up with it. :)
Uncle Ed was proud of the fact he never married. He once told me that it was very good for his health. He was rather fond of sexist humor. Never the raunchy stuff, but still I remember being a bit jolted the first time I heard it from him. It was so counter to my impression of him. I think he used that humor fairly sparingly around me. I'm not sure what he knew about my political views, but I'm sure he suspected they weren't in line with the majority in our family.
Uncle Ed hadn't been in good health for quite some time. So I am not surprised at his passing. That never lessens the loss though. I feel the pain particularly for my grandmother, who is one of five children but now has just one sibling left.
After our brief trip to Cleveland, we will belatedly head to Las Vegas, which seems especially sinful. We're meeting Mark and Chris there, so I'm sure they'll turn our spirits around quickly. And due to the last minute flight plan changes, we now have to fly through LA, which means we get to see Libby and Colin (briefly) on Sunday for lunch. A nice and fitting silver lining.
See, here I was naively thinking, "Why didn't Hillary release her first Lady papers and schedules earlier than this?"
I don't know why I didn't remember that the media is full of morons who, on the five-year anniversary of a war that the vast majority of Americans desperately regret and that continues to kill civilians on the order of 25,000 to 125,000 a year, would rather talk about really important, newsworthy things like this.
Updated: To make yourself feel better but also more depressed, follow the last link with this one.
Rob and I just saw a commercial for National City Bank that rocked.
The banker was explaining their email alert system that tells the customer when her balance has hit a certain point. The customer asks why it would do that. The banker says it's to help her avoid fees. The customer replies, "Ah, fees, I knew we'd get to that eventually. What's the fee?" The banker says, "No, it's to help you avoid fees." The customer says, "Yes, but what's the fee to avoid the fee?"
Sara found a Top Chef fantasy game you can play every week. The game even gives you programming code to show off the three players you picked for the week. Here's mine for Week Two (and yes, Rob, I'm sexist... I know):
This excellent post on Pandagon is a must-read about the way masculinity is put forth as both endangered and unfixed in American society. That is, men can lose their masculinity at any moment if they don't stay on guard... and men all around us are losing their masculinity. Oh my.
I recently had a bit of an email debate with some folks who will remain nameless about the propriety of insulting a man by calling him an a woman. The question was posed to another female who shared my views, "Are you insulted when someone calls you a man?" Ah, but that only proves the point. The idea behind the question was that of course you are insulted because you are a woman and by your nature abhor the idea of being masculine, and therefore it is a fair and proper insult in both directions. The catch is that no one ever insults a woman by calling her a man*... that label is saved for the times when you want to compliment a woman. So yes, you are insulted. But not because you've been called a man. Rather, because you've been told that your success makes you less of a woman.
* The pseudo-exception being lesbians, who are insulted for trying to be men. But I view this as yet another variation of the same theme.
This weekend has been a whole lot of cancelled plans. Friday night I bailed on friends to work. Saturday night I bailed on friends to work -- and turned down two more sets of plans when other friends called to see what I was up to while I was working. Today I bailed on brunch with my lovely husband to continue sleeping... after having gone to bed at 7am. Just now, I finished my work for the weekend. Thank goodness.
All this stuff to do stems from three things: (1) every single project I have right now got busy in the last five days, (2) I really love and care about the projects I'm working on, and (3) I have no ability to say no when someone says "do you have a few hours for ....?" I definitely need to work on the last thing. But in the mean time, despite my absolute exhaustion right now, I feel kindof empowered for having worked so hard for the past five days.
And I did get to sneak away from my computer for an hour on Saturday to attend a friend's baby naming ceremony, which was wonderful! So the entire weekend was not a wash as far as my actual life is concerned.
Anyway, it's sleep time now! If you haven't heard from me in while, well, now you know why. :)
My cousin Paul lives and breathes George Mason basketball. He's in this video clip about Mason on the Post. His snippet is close to the beginning. He is identified as "Fro, a GMU fan." I believe that's for the giant wig he often wears to games.
-- I got to have dinner with my friend Claire while traveling for work. We had awesome pizza that was too big to finish.
-- Rob went to a general election campaign kickoff for Anita Alvarez, who we were proud to vote for in the primary for State's Attorney in Cook County.
-- Scooters opened for the season! Our friends Jeff and Sara joined us in our first Scoot session of 2008. Amazingly yummy as always.
-- I skied down an entire mountain in Vail and didn't injure myself. Making good use out of catwalks, of course.
-- I had a sushi dinner on a private plane. (That sounds so much more posh than it actually was, so I'm going to leave it at that.)
-- Top Chef premiered. I already don't like the guy from NY who drops f-bombs all over the place and the gastronomy guy, even though his food looks amazing. I do like Stephanie and was psyched to see so much female talent this season. The Top Chef house is literally just down the street from me, so Rob and I are crushed we didn't see them while they were filming!
-- Coral left the Gauntlet III when she realized she can't manipulate the whole world any more. Yea!!!! (Although then I felt kindof bad because what will she do now that she can't spend her days manipulating the whole world? I'm not sure she has any other skills.)
-- When I got back from my last trip, which was less than 48 hours, Rob and I were so happy to see each other that you'd think we'd been separated for a month. We are such losers.
I say all this cheesy stuff, big and small, because some other crappy stuff has happened lately too. Mainly to people we love and care about. So it's good to think about the happy things... or else I'd sit around cursing the fates all day long. To those who fate is not treating as well as you deserve, we're thinking about you all the time. xoxoxo.
I was traveling* for work all last week and then was gone again Monday and Tuesday of this week. Now, of course, work is piled up.
Eventually I will blog about everything we've been up to lately. In the mean time, here's a thought-provoking blog post about Spitzer, prostitution, sexism, and more.
* I can never decide if I like to spell this word better with one "l" or two... seeing as both are correct spellings. So every time I write this word, I waste time re-thinking the choice, never remembering what I last did. I think the two "l" spelling is more British-English, but I think I used to like that better. Until today. When it looked weird. So I deleted an "l." Hmmm.
We have had a good weekend mostly at home. Friday night was a birthday party for some work friends. Then on Saturday, Rob and I drove up to Wisconsin to try out another ski resort -- Alpine Valley. We went late in the day because they have discounted lift tickets if you arrive after 3pm. All in all, we think we prefer Wilmot for Wisconsin skiing. The rental boots at Alpine Valley were a little lower grade, so our feet were looser, which meant we had less control over our skis. The slopes were fine, but it seemed like there were a lot more people, a lot more inexperienced people in particular. So I for one was more nervous heading downhill. We were definitely spoiled in Jackson Hole. When you're the worst skier on the mountain, you don't really worry.
After a couple hours, Rob dragged me over to an intermediate slope. As we unloaded the ski lift at the top, another skiier (who, strangely, was walking in her boots with skiis in hand) stepped into my path at the foot of the ski lift and then stopped. Yup, stopped. Right in front of an active ski lift. I tried turning to go around her, but I was only a foot or so away from her when she stopped. My attempt seemed to keep her from falling over, but didn't do me any good. We still collided. I hit the ground hard. My hat flew off. I cursed my less than nimble ways on skiis and scrambled to get up and out of the way of the folks behind me. (Meanwhile Rob rescued my hat. :)
I've got some nice bruises on my legs (from landing on the skier's skis, as she dropped them in the collision) and a rather stiff neck today. Could have been a lot worse, I suppose. Mostly just embarrassment knowing 30 or so people saw me smash into another skier. The good news is that I made it down the intermediate slope pretty easily. And if I hadn't felt like crap after hitting the ground at the top, I might have tried a couple more intermediate hills.
In happier news, on our way up to Alpine Valley, we had passed a giant sign for "Apple Holler," which looked like some kind of restaurant and orchard. So we stopped on our way back to Chicago and it was AWESOME. Most everything on the menu, which was expansive, had some sort of apple component. As did the large majority of the desserts. All the main courses came with 4 or 5 side dishes, so my chicken sausage came with apple kraut, potato pancakes, cinnamon apples, sweet potato casserole and veggies... plus we got cornbread and honey apple butter. Fantastic.
The whole drive to Wisconsin and back was worth it for Apple Holler alone. Seriously, so good!!! We also bought some apple wine and a caramel apple at the Apple Holler store, which we enjoyed post-dinner tonight.
We arrived home in time to meet Resa, Nick, Steph and Jason out for Jason's 30th birthday adventure, which included a scavenger hunt designed by Resa to make Jason find and talk to single women all night. We had a great time... such a great time that we were out until about 4am. Fortunately, Garcia's is open until 4am. We made it there just in time to get a late night snack, or early early breakfast before heading home.
Needless to say, today was a chill out, relax and run errand day. Tomorrow I head out of town for most of the week for work. So it was good to have some time to ourselves at home this weekend.