Hello and welcome to what I hope will be a regular feature here at I Should be Sleeping, “Things You See While…” I’ve got a few photo collections that are two small to be Flickr photo albums, but would make interesting blog posts, so I’ll try to group them into categories and post them with commentary.
This edition of “Things You See While” is brought to you by my family’s recent trip to Boston, MA. It was an eventful drive. First, there was the rainbow that followed the rather impressive sun shower:
To pass the time on the trip, I gave the kids maps of the United States and magic markers, and told them to color in the states they saw on the license plates we passed. Imagine my surprise when we passed this bus:
It’s a little hard to see, but that’s one vehicle with two license plates – one from New York and one from Connecticut. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before, leaving me rather unprepared to explain it to my kids.
And speaking on unexplainable, I told them from the start that there’s one license plate they definitely wouldn’t see – Hawaii. We talked about how Hawaii was a series of islands, and how the only way to see a Hawaiian license plate is to find someone who had their car shipped to the mainland, which is expensive and rare. Of course, by the end of the trip…
Sorry for the fuzzy picture (Hawaiians, apparently, drive like maniacs), but I did the best Photoshop job I could. If you can’t see it clearly, you’re just going to have to trust me – it was an honest to goodness Hawaiian license plate on the Garden State Parkway! Needless to say, there was much excitement and coloring with magic markers!
In my case, I’ve gone a bit further, and combined the family members onto one map. As you can see by the key in the lower right, the red states are the ones my wife and I have both visited, the blue states are the ones that only I have visited, the yellow states are the ones that only my wife has visited, and the dots represent the travels of our children (Green representing Avery’s states, Orange representing Brandon’s).
If you’re interested in the requisite state-by-state breakdown, click through the break.
(And if you’re Barack Obama, apologies for the near-coronary. This is not, in fact, a political map. Red and Blue were just convenient colors in Photoshop…)
Here’s something you don’t see every day – an InstaPun:
A 410-year-old clam. “The clam, nicknamed Ming after the Chinese dynasty in power when it was born, was in its infancy when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne and Shakespeare was writing plays such as Othello and Hamlet.” And for all those years, it was happy as a . . . well, you know.
Nice one, Glenn. I’m groaning with you, not at you, I swear…
But it does remind me of a story from my past.
My wife and I went to Israel in 1997 and toured around the country on one of those package deals. One of the first stops was Masada, the famous mountain in southern Israel where ancient Jews held off the Roman army for quite some time, until they eventually committed mass suicide rather than be captured.
When you’re on Masada, your tour guide tells you that it’s considered bad luck to remove rocks, stones, pebbles, etc. from the mountain. So, of course, everyone grabs a rock and puts it in their pocket. Here’s the one I grabbed:
When I got it back to my hotel room, I washed it off, so I could put it in my suitcase without covering everything in dirt and mud. On doing so, I noticed the Hebrew letter (either a Vet or a Kaf – it’s hard to tell) that had been written on it, likely thousands of years ago when the Jews were there fighting the Romans. I’ve kept it to this day, as an interesting historical artifact and a nice reminder of a wonderful trip.
But, as with Ming the Clam, I distinctly remember the following thoughts going through my head:
1) “Wow…a Hebrew letter! This rock was around in the time of the Romans. It must be thousands of years old!”
2) “Come to think of it…*ALL* rocks are thousands of years old. After all, it’s not like they’re making new ones…”
Just got back from a wonderful four-day weekend visiting family in Maple Grove, Minnesota (just outside of Minneapolis). We did the standard things, I suppose – marvelled at the Mall of America (including the theme park formerly known as Camp Snoopy), sampled some local restaurants, and cooked S’mores in a bonfire on the driveway while neighborhood kids came by to play and dance to various Hannah Montana & High School Musical tunes.
As a daily Bleat reader, I made one additional suggestion. Isn’t the Minnesota State Fair going on? Wouldn’t the kids enjoy spending a day there? Also, I know someone who’s working there (well, “know” in the web-sense of the word – read what he writes every day & send him an occasional e-mail, which he reads and occasionally responds to as one of a sea of e-mails he receives from loyal readers).
Anyway, off to the fair we went:
A few rides, a TON of food (including several things “on a stick” that you wouldn’t expect to find on a stick – including a Snickers Bar), and then the long walk back to the car (we had a pretty good parking spot. I believe they call the lot “Wisconsin.”) Anyway, on the way back we passed the Star Tribune booth and I dragged the family off the beaten path for a second. “Excuse me, is James Lileks here?” “Why sure – he’s on the back porch.”
And so it was that I got to meet the man who writes the words I read every morning on my way to work. I told him so, and he said it made his day. Then he gave us some sage advice about holding our breath during the tour of the animal exhibits, and we were off – him to his Buzz.mn writing, us to our car. The next morning, this time at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport waiting for our flight, I pull up the today’s Daily Bleat. Lo & behold, look what I see:
It’s wonderfully gratifying to meet people at the Fair who read the stuff and enjoy it. (One fellow came up to the Official Buzz.mn Porch today, and told me he reads the Bleat on his Blackberry while taking the train into NYC. To Rockefeller Center! Made my day.)
Now how friggin’ cool is that? James, if you’re reading this (and there’s a chance you are, since I’m going to e-mail it to you as soon as I’m done posting it), please know that reading the reference to us the next morning made my day as well (and my wife’s day & my kids’ day…)
One more picture from the fair. It strikes me as something the Bleat-master himself might have posted if he had taken it (and, of course, he’s free to pilfer it as his discretion if he so chooses). Some contextual irony that can only be understood after passing the “Gator on a Stick” and “Teriyaki Ostrich on a Stick” booths:
Like I said – Perfect.
Two weeks ago, I flew from Charlotte, NC to Newark, NJ while torrential thunderstorms covered most of the northeast. As a result, my 3:20 flight was delayed six hours, leaving at 9:30pm, and ultimately getting me home well after midnight.
Well, yesterday, I was on the 7:30 flight out of Charlotte. The weather was beautiful in both cities. The planes were where they were supposed to be. The crews were available and ready to take off. All the stars had aligned. So?
A 90 minute delay.
It seems Air Force One was on a runway in Newark airport, causing Newark to issue a full ground stop (as is normal procedure for Air Force One) until President Bush departed. Now, to be fair, I got on standby for the 6:30 flight, and made it home at around the expected time, but still – we were so close to an on-time departure!
That settles it – I’m definitely not voting for that guy again…
– Watch 12 episodes of your favorite sitcom.
– Walk a marathon (avg speed = 4.4 mph)
– Cook 120 three-minute eggs (one at a time)
– Watch two average length NFL football games or two MLB Baseball games (or one of each!)
– Watch three average length movies (or four average length Disney films)
– Arrive on time for yesterday’s 3:20 Continental Airlines flight from Charlotte, NC to Newark, NJ and wait for it to take off.
They typically load passengers on the plane starting at the back, so people aren’t stepping over each other in the aisle. Logical.
They also pre-board their frequent flyers to provide an incentive for becoming one of their regular customers. Makes perfect sense.
So how come, when the flight’s a commuter flight (i.e., Chicago to Newark at 6:30pm), and more than half the passengers are frequent flyers, do they just randomly board all the frequent flyers first, as opposed to boarding the frequent flyers from the back of the plane forward? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone, including the frequent flyers, if they didn’t have to step over each other once onboard?
I’m just askin’ is all…
Just got back from a 5-day getaway at the Riu Hotel in Paradise Island. All you can eat and drink for 5 days, plus an awesome beach, super-clear (and warm) ocean water, and a pool to match. I won’t bore you with the mundane details of it all, but there were some blogworthy occurences to mention
– An 8-yr old Bahamanian kid who sat next my wife on the plane down there told her he’d been on many planes, but never one that crashed. He asked my wife if she’d ever been on one that crashed. It’s always great to see kids with goals…
– If anyone was wondering where all the smokers went after American cities starting banning smoking in public places, fear not – I now know the answer. It seems “all you can drink” also draws the “all you can smoke crowd.” Before this weekend, I might have told you it was impossible to smoke a cigarette while swimming, but not anymore…
– During our stay, a Bahamanian couple got married on the beach. Very beautiful, very romantic, yadda yadda yadda. That night, the groom was sitting at a blackjack table with us, losing $100 a hand. On his wedding night. Without his wife. Prognosis is not good…
– Speaking of the blackjack tables, and mostly because Jeff will ask, there is no Texas Hold’em in Paradise Island. Just some video poker, slots, and the usual array of table games. I lost some money up front, but got hot at thw blackjack table the last night and walked away with an extra $200 for the weekend. No complaints here…
– Had lunch in the airport Burger King on the trip home. The french fries came in one of those molded paper containers as per usual, but this one was labeled a “Frypod.” Shouldn’t someone be suing someone about this?
– Also on the trip home, our plane flew over a rainbow. Got to see the whole circle – very cool. As the songwriter wrote, “Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?”
Just to wrap-up the UK story:
Another successful day in the office. We split up at the end of the day, so I had to make my way back to the hotel, change clothes, and then head out to Picadilly Circus to meet a colleague for dinner. It’s amazing how 24 hours in a new city is enough to get you oriented. I was able to navigate the Tube (including adding money to my Oyster card and transferring lines halfway through the trip), and was able to walk around downtown London enough to find the hotel and Picadilly. Next time I’m there, it’ll take even less time to get my bearings, I’m sure…
As for the evening, we had dinner at a small Italian place right off Trafalgar Square (by the way, why is that one a square, while everything else is a circle/circus?) After that, we walked toward Buckingham Palace, and then down the Thames’ bank to see Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, and the Millenium Eye. By the time we got to Big Ben, it had grown dark. IMHO, Big Ben’s much more impressive when it’s lit up at night. At any rate, it was great to see some of the sights before heading home.
And oh, by the way, for all the political bickering that goes on around here, there is still something indescribably comforting about touching down in the United States after having been away.
More goings-on from the UK:
We had a successful day at work, including navigating the commuter trains to & from the office. Here’s a neat fact, by the way: some of the commuter trains divide in the middle of their trips, with the first four coaches (cars) going to one destination and the second four going to another. So you can get on the right train at the right time and still wind up in the wrong place! This must be why Britons don’t fall asleep on commuter trains as often as Americans do.
Of course, they still haven’t solved the same problem we have in the States, namely: how in the name of all that is holy am I supposed to figure out if I’m in the first four cars? It’s not like I can get out of the train and count them. My only real option is to start walking forward until I’m either in the front car, or can see the front car from where I’m standing (i.e., the second car). If they’re going to make announcements like that, why don’t they just list the car numbers. And if they’re not going to list the numbers, why did they bother numbering the cars at all?!? <soapbox>
Anyway, after work, we grabbed some fast food and headed over to a stereotypical English pub to watch a World Cup Match (Brazil def. Croatia, 1-0). Great fun (and Guiness) was had by all. I know this isn’t really news to anyone (not even me), but these folks root for soccer teams like they’re the New York Yankees. I will admit, though, soccer is a whole lot more exciting when you’re in a room with a couple hundred drunk Europeans who are really excited about it.
Two folks asked me during the game if I was from Brazil. I guess my New Yawk accent is fading… ;-)