Monday, June 14, 2010

The Hawai'i Vacation Post

Well, we're back from Hawai'i (henceforth spelled Hawaii), and as promised, here is the blog. I realize it's a bit ironic posting about a not-exactly-cheap vacation to Hawaii on a blog entitled Doug's Recession Blog, but in the end, this blog is already established, so convenience won out. I'll talk about the flights and week-long stuff first, and then go through our day-to-day activities, to the best of my recollection. I also will include lots of pictures to help you visualize.

The Flights

So, the flights...10 hours of sitting in an airplane doesn't exactly go by in the bat of an eye. But it's not forever, either. I was a bit surprised that it wasn't the boredom that got to me, but the discomfort. There was enough to do between reading and watching movies on the way in and sleeping on the way back home that I really didn't get THAT bored. However, about halfway in each way, my back and butt started hurting. By the time the plane landed, I was pretty uncomfortable and very much ready to spend the next couple of hours standing up whenever possible. Oh, and Jenny and I both found that it's pretty easy to sleep on a red-eye flight if you're tired enough. I wouldn't call it a good night's sleep (especially with 2 connections to make), but it sufficed.

I did manage to take a couple of pictures when we flew over the Rocky Mountains.

And I also took the opportunity to take some aerials of beautiful Hawaii.

The Hotel

OK, on to the week-long stuff- namely, the hotel room and the car.

We stayed at the Aqua Palms and Spa. No, our room didn't look like the one on the front page of their website- we got the Expedia Special. The only holdovers are the very nice 42" LCD TV that we didn't exactly spend much time watching and the very comfortable bed with- Jenny wanted me to be sure and mention this- 5 different pillows, with varying degrees of size and firmness.

We both found pillows that were quite comfortable for us. The room was perfectly fine, if a bit small, and missing a lanai (small patio). It did feature free wired internet access (a rarity these days, as well as a decent size fridge and decent size microwave, the combination of which saved us the cost of two or three meals. The room was on the 9th story, so we got a pretty commanding view of downtown Waikiki.

Service at the hotel was impressive, in my opinion. Staff were all very friendly, and I could tell within the first day of staying there that all employees of the hotel are coached to say "Good morning" (good afternoon, aloha, etc.) any time they see a guest. The front desk staff accommodated us by offering us free secure storage for our luggage between check-out time and our flight time (about 7 hours total), as well as a key with access to the parking garage and pool for the day as well. I was also surprised by the refreshing honesty of the staff person I asked if we could get a late checkout. He said that they do offer late checkouts, but unfortunately, they couldn't that day because there were only 2 rooms available in the hotel. Most hotels a) don't offer late checkout, and b) are quick to simply say 'sorry, we're completely booked", so I appreciated the employee's candor. We also received maps and directions to recommended restaurants as well.

All in all, the Aqua Palms and Spa is certainly not the massive, ritzy Hilton Hawaiian Village, but it is across the street from the Hilton, which means that we were able to make use of the Hilton's beach, restaurants and shops any time we wanted. We also spent about $120 PER NIGHT less at the Aqua Palms than we would have at the Hilton.

The Car

OK, moving on to the car. We rented a 2010 Mustang Convertible with 5000 miles on the odometer. I'm sorry to say that when I started driving my Maxima after we got home, I was sorely disappointed. It's not that my car is a poor performer, but that Mustang was very responsive, and had an overall much tighter feeling than my worn-out (9 years old) Maxima. Needless to say, the Mustang was a joy to drive, and we spent a lot of time cruising with the top down. I'm very happy that we got the Mustang convertible.

There were a few problems, however; although none the fault of the car. The hotel's parking garage is terrible. Every space is extremely tight and even the ramps are so tight that you can see a rainbow of paint along the edges of the wall. Yeah, it's that bad. So that was a bit nerve-racking. Fortunately, we managed not to damage the car with a lot of Jenny yelling "clear, still clear, wait, back up, clear, clear!"

Traffic was absolutely awful. And when I say awful, I mean worse than any traffic I have ever seen in St. Louis. Imagine rush hour on I270. Now throw in a couple thousand tourists who have no idea where they're going. That's a good day for traffic in and around Waikiki and Honolulu. Traffic was a major stressor for both of us, unfortunately. The one ray of shining light in the huge mess of traffic can be summed up in one word- courtesy. You need to get over two lanes when you're moving at 5mph on the highway? No problem, the guy beside you will let you in, and the guy beside him will also let you in. Someone needs to get in your lane? No problem, they turn on their turn signal and wait patiently to be let in. I heard very few honks and the only hand signal I saw in traffic was the shaka. The day I got back to St. Louis, I immediately got irritated with the discourteous drivers that we have.

Saturday- Day 1

OK, about 10 paragraphs in, we're up to...our first day in Hawaii!

We got off the flight, jumped in the rental car, and headed to the hotel. Once we got unpacked, we had dinner at Round Table Pizza (at the Hilton), and then conked out at about 8pm Hawaiian time (that's 1am Central Time). This was the extent of our Saturday.

Sunday- Diamond Head and Driving Tour

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early, Hawaiian time. So early in fact that the only place we could find that served breakfast before 6am nearby was McDonald's. Of course this was McDonald's in Hawaii, so it was....exactly the same as any mainland McDonald's. After that, we hiked up Diamond Head, which is a pretty big crater. The climb wasn't too harrowing, and the views from the top were spectacular.

After Diamond Head, we went on a driving tour of the island (by the way, now is probably a good time to mention that we stayed on the island of Oahu for the duration of our trip). We took our new best friend along with us, Nuvi the Navigator. She earned her $70 purchase price in reduced frustration just between the airport and the hotel. Every other day after that was just bonus. Yeah, she's that good.

We started off by heading to Kailua, where we had lunch at Pinky's Pupu Bar and Grill (Nuvi: Points of Interest -> type in "Pinky's", hit "GO". Pretty good overall. Also, a Lost filming location. We then headed...back to Waikiki because we forgot something (oops). From there, we decided to head in the opposite direction for a straighter path to the North Shore, where we had a few stops we wanted to make. Our first stop was Papaiola Beach (Nuvi: Points of Interest -> Type Papailoa Beach Park, hit "GO"). Yes, there is a reason why the link I included leads to a website called Lost Locations :). Jenny and I are both big fans of the show, and since it was filmed almost entirely on Oahu, we figured we'd check out a few locations, with Papaiola Beach being the first. Not much of a swimming beach due to the rocky bottom instead of sand, but we took some snapshots and moved on.

Our next stop, about a mile up the road, is nicknamed Turtle Beach. It's a pretty good nickname, since very large turtles like to sun on this beach.

The most surprising part for us was that we actually had to look for the turtles- they look just like the large rocks littering the beach.

From there, we headed to Sunset Beach, which is considered an excellent beach,i for sunning and swimming. We spent a bit of time there doing both, before moving on to our next stop.

Our final stop on the North Shore was Aoki's Shave Ice. The Shave Ice available here is famous, and we now know why. I wouldn't call it to-die-for, but it is extremely good, and the additions of ice cream and Azuki beans adds to the delicious flavors.

By this point, it was starting to get late, so we headed back to Waikiki, where we had dinner, again, at the Hilton. This time, we ate at Tropics, an outdoor restaurant with a really cool atmosphere. You're right next to the beach, and there are tiki torches and firepits lit all around.

Monday- Hanauma Bay, Ala Moana Beach, Benihana's, and Sunset Walk

Monday was another early morning, as our bodies continued to adjust to Hawaiian time. We took advantage of this by heading over to Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling after breakfast at the IHOP adjoining our hotel. Hanauma Bay's parking lot fills up early, and it can get crowded, so an early excursion was perfect. I think that the snorkeling was probably my favorite part of the trip. We swam with the fish, which allowed us to come right up and get within inches of them. There was a wide variety of fish of all shapes, colors, and sizes, some fish as long as my arm, some fish literally all of the colors of the rainbow. It was a really amazing experience for me. I have been snorkeling before, but not in such clear water with so many fish. Unfortunately, we completely forgot to bring our camera with us, so you'll have to make do with a stock photo in the blog. Sorry!

Lunch was nothing special- we had leftovers from our dinner the night before to save some money, knowing that we'd be spending quite a bit for dinner. After lunch, we headed out to Ala Moana Beach Park. This is the closest beach to the Waikiki area, but since it's not in an area with tons of hotels, most of the beachgoers are locals rather than tourists. We spent some time relaxing there, in and out of the water.

Dinner was at Benihana's, conveniently located at the Hilton. I dimly recall one meal in my life where the chef cooked the food on your table for you in an entertaining manner, and Jenny had never had the experience, so this was something special for us. We picked that night to go because it was our 7th wedding anniversary (awww). Benihana's was a really fun experience, something that I recommend if you ever get the chance. They sat us at a table with a family of four (the "kids" were twins in their 20's), and we had some great conversations with them. The highlight of the meal though was watching the chef do his work. Onions and mushrooms were flying everywhere, including into his hat and pockets, he flambeed some of the ingredients too and made a lot of surprisingly funny jokes as he cooked. He was a great performer and a great cook, and between the performance and our new friends, it was a great dinner. Oh, and the food was good, too!

After dinner, we decided to take a romantic sunset walk on the beach...along with about 100 other couples just in our general vicinity. The crowds of people weren't terribly distracting though, and it was a nice time to relax and connect with each other, in between photo opportunities.

Tuesday- Kayaking, Paradise Cove Luau

So by Tuesday, we're getting accustomed to Hawaiian time, so we didn't wake up quite as early. We had breakfast at the Wailana Coffee House right next to our hotel. It's considered a local favorite, and we were amazed at their cheap prices and very fast service. The food was fine, nothing special, but well worth the prices. They have an unlimited pancake breakfast that includes bacon and eggs, and it will fill you up fast!

After breakfast, we headed over to Go Bananas! to pick up a 2-person kayak. It was carefully tied to our car with the top down, and we were off. We kayaked in Kane'ohe Bay.

The waters are supposed to be very calm here, but unfortunately we picked a windy day, and it was rather choppy. We paddled out for awhile, learning very quickly to stay in the lighter colored waters, as the darker colors were indicative of the bottom dropping off and the waves getting choppier. Coming back in was pretty

easy- we just picked up the paddles and let the wind and waves wash us back to shore. Lunch was leftovers again.

For dinner and the evening's entertainment, we headed out to Paradise Cove Luau. Jenny got an orchid for her hair and I got a drawn-on tribal tattoo, and soon it was time for the start of the main event. The crowd gathered around and watched a couple of guys lift the kalua pig out of the ground, and then we headed over to the buffet tables. Aside from the kalua pig, we tried poi (I liked it, Jenny didn't), and I even tried poke- yeah, that's right, I ate raw fish. It was good! After a filling dinner, we watched their evening show, with music and dancers, and the best part- fire dancers. After the luau, it was off to the hotel, and then bed.

Wednesday- Pearl Harbor, Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, Makani Catamaran

Wednesday morning, we headed to Duke's Restaurant & Barefoot Bar for a nice open-air breakfast buffet (with omelet station- woohoo!) on the beach. After Duke's we headed to Pearl Harbor. Our tickets to the Arizona were set for 1pm, despite the fact that we got to Pearl Harbor at about 9am, so we started off with the USS Missouri Battleship. We were really impressed by this battleship. It's breath-taking just how huge it is- it feels like a village. Each of the 9 guns weighs an astonishing 100 tons. This battleship also has the distinction of being the ship where the Japanese signed the papers surrenduring to the Allies during World War II.

After the USS Missouri, we headed to the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet for some shopping. This is the place where you can get all kinds of Hawaiian merchandise for well under sticker price. We came out of there $35 poorer, having purchased two Hawaiian dresses, some Hawaiian swimming trunks, and a shell necklace. Not bad...

Next up was lunch at Pearl Harbor; nothing special there, just hot dogs and chips. After lunch, we headed for the queue for the USS Arizona Memorial, only to find out that they cancelled the tour due to there being too much wind (kind of a trend this week, evidently). This bummed us out, but not much we could do. Instead, we took a tour of the USS Bowfin submarine. Quick description- very tight spaces, and I would imagine living in one of these things, even for only a month or two, would be not at all fun. Cool torpedos, though!

After Pearl Harbor, we spent a little bit of time on Waikiki Beach, relaxing. Then, we headed over to the Hilton to get picked up for our sunset cruise on the Makani Catamaran. Dinner was a nice, no-frills affair, the cruise included free, very good drinks, and the views were spectacular. We spent some time with the motor running, and really hit some of the waves hard. I spent some time in the front of the boat on the net, where you really feel each wave. We also spent some time sailing, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful sunset. We really enjoyed ourselves.

Thursday- Waimea Valley Falls, Polynesian Cultural Center

Thursday morning, we started walking randomly from our hotel, Nuvi in tow, checking to see what nearby restaurant might provide a good option for breakfast. Less than a block from our hotel, a local walks up and asks us what we're looking for. "Breakfast". Soon after, we're following him to the nearby Harbor Pub, which serves a good breakfast on the cheap.

After breakfast, we head toward the North Shore, where Waimea Valley Falls and the Polynesian Cultural Center are located. Remember earlier when I mentioned that we checked out some Lost filming locations while on Oahu? Well, Waimea Valley Falls was the third such location, as it was featured in a couple of Lost episodes. This location was at one time an Adventure Park, but when that closed up, they left the trails open, kept some people on staff, and continued charging a reasonable fee for use of the trails and falls. It was a fairly short hike through some very lush foliage, and before we knew it, we were staring at a beautiful waterfall.

We both jumped in and swam up the falls for a refreshing shower. Our timing was great, because by the time we were getting ready to leave, a whole bunch of people showed up, and we ran into additional tour groups on our way out.

After hiking back to the car, we set our course for the Polynesian Cultural Center. There was exactly one restaurant directly on the path between the two according to Nuvi, so we took our chances at Ted's Bakery. We had no way of knowing at the time, but Ted's is a local favorite, serving great lunches at reasonable prices. Just as an aside, if you check out the Directions from Honolulu on their home page, you'll get an idea of just how convoluted the road system is on Oahu. 16 steps for about 30 miles...that's a merge or turn every 2 miles!

After lunch, we arrived at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We started off with a canoe ride to the other side of the park to help avoid the crowds, and then slowly made our way back to the entrance. Along the way, learned about various Polynesian cultures, saw the tribal dances at the Rainbows of Paradise Canoe Pageant, and caught a couple of shows. Our favorite show featured drummers and some audience participation. One of the tourist volunteers (who understood very few words of English) had us and the rest of the audience laughing so hard that we were in tears.

Yeah, that guy.

After the shows, we headed to the Ali'i Luau. Yes, two Luaus in one vacation- that's what happens when you find $45 off discount coupons in the Hawaii Entertainment book. This luau was similar to the Paradise Cove Luau, but with a lot more people there, no activities beforehand, and the evening show was a separate event. I had some more Poke, too.

The evening show is called Ha! Breath of Life, and it was really good. It's feature-length (about 1.5 hours), and the last 15 minutes is incredible. You've got a whole group of fire dancers twirling, juggling, throwing, and balancing fire sticks.

After the show, we drove back to Waikiki as part of of a very long caravan. The vast majority of hotels are in Waikiki, so the line was so long we couldn't see the beginning or end. At least we were going close to the speed limit.

Friday- Waikiki Beach, Check-Out :(, H3 and Byodi-In Temple, the Airport

Friday was somewhat of a mixed bag for us, because we were still in Hawaii, but we knew we would be leaving that day. We started out with breakfast at the Wailana Coffee House again, then headed across the street to Waikiki Beach to get some much-needed relaxing beach time in after our busy week. We then headed back to the hotel to shower and check-out, requesting secure bag storage and a card key with access to the garage and pool area. Fortunately, the front desk staff were happy to oblige on all counts.

Lunch was at the Oceanarium, where we dined with, and on, the fishes. The restaurant features an enormous tank filled with a variety of large fish and stingrays. The tank is so big that they send SCUBA divers in to feed them a few times per day. I had some more Poke, and Jenny and I both tried cucumber sushi. I really liked it, but Jenny didn't care for it. She kept asking me what the wrap was made of, but I didn't tell here the answer- seaweed- until after she had tried it.

After lunch, we went for a scenic drive on Interstate H-3, which goes through the mountains. We came out at Byodo-In Temple...our fourth and final Lost site. This beautiful replica of an ancient Japanese temple is situated in the Valley of the Temples, which is also a cemetary.

Back from the Temple, we spent some time reading by the hotel pool, then headed out to dinner at Lulu's the Charthouse, a recommendation from the hotel front desk staff. Why is Lulu's crossed out? That's where we were GOING to go for dinner, but several main streets in Waikiki were closed off entirely in preparation for a holiday parade. We spent 20 minutes in traffic, and we could still see our hotel, so we decided walking to a closer restaurant was a better option for us. Dinner at the Charthouse was good, if a tad expensive (it's considered fine dining). It was an open-air restaurant with a nice atmosphere, friendly service, and fish purchased daily from the local fish auction. Now that's fresh fish!

After dinner, we grabbed our bags and headed out to the open-air Honolulu airport for check-in, first stopping off to return our rental car. I was surprised that the car inspection lasted all of 5 seconds, but hey, that's a good thing!

We boarded the plane, kicked back the seats, and fell asleep. We landed in LAX with a 30 minute layover, so we sleep-walked to the next plane, which was 20 minutes late taking off due to the LAX baggage handlers taking an extra 20 minutes to load bags. That made our next connection window in Salt Lake City only 10 minutes. We made it fortunately, but our bags didn't. Once we hit the relatively empty Lambert St. Louis Airport and realized our bags were nowhere to be found, I headed over to the Delta agent to file for lost luggage. She checked, let me know that our bags were not "lost", but merely redirected onto a different flight due to the insufficient 10 minute connection window in Salt Lake City. About 5 hours after we got home, our bags showed up on our front porch. I'd say Delta handled the luggage situation pretty well.

Oh, and after a week in Hawaii, it is REALLY HOT AND HUMID in St. Louis!

I hope you enjoyed my Hawaii Vacation novel blog. I look forward to hearing your comments.

Friday, July 31, 2009

life update

Wow, it's been over a month since my last much for my promise for weekly updates. I guess I just don't really fell like I have super-important stuff to say. Anyway, here's what's been going on in my life lately.

I took a week off of work a couple of weeks ago; I guess you would call it a stay-cation. I didn't go anywhere because, with her new job, Jenny doesn't have enough vacation time built up for a week off. I did get some work done around the house, though. I weeded the backyard, brought in trunkloads of mulch (anybody have a truck I can borrow, for crying out loud???), planting three trees in our yard, and did a touch of painting. A touch more painting than I could have done, but a fair touch less than I should have done. I'm particularly excited about the trees- we have a flowering tree in the front yard (Cranberry? Cranapple? I forget, gah!), a flowering tree in the side yard (Pear), and a mighty (well, certainly not yet) Pin Oak in the back yard. We decided to get the trees because we only had one in the yard, and sadly, it's dying. It's lived a full life, I'm sure- it appears to be an old growth tree, possibly older than our 87 year old house.

We went to the Botanical Gardens a couple of weeks ago. It sure was crowded, but we were pleasantly surprised that we didn't have to pay to get in. Evidently, admission is free on Saturdays before noon. The vistas were beautiful, as always, and the Japenese Garden was especially compelling. I even ran into one of my colleagues there. After the Gardens, we decided to try out Ted Drewes. Evidently, we were bad people for having spent 6 years in St. Louis and never having gone to Ted Drewes. It was quite good. Probably not worth a trip to South County for in and of itself, but certainly one of the best ice cream-style snacks I've had in a long time.
We had dinner at the Boathouse in Forest Park, and I highly recommend it. It used to be that there'd be 1-2 hour waits for dinner on the weekend, but they've expanded their seating, and we were in within 15 minutes. Major bonus- dogs are allowed for patio seating, so Penny got to enjoy dinner with us.

I'll be starting classes in the Fall semester, so less than one month away, and it's finally feeling "real" to me. To be honest, I'm a bit nervous. Not so much about whether or not I can handle the classes, but more along the lines of just how much free time it's going to take up. I really like my free time, so time will tell just how people taking classes will or won't be!

Jenny's job is still going well. She is getting rave reviews from customers, and she has settled into the workflow. It's nice to see her not coming home miserable.

Well, I'm running long, so I'll finish up for now. One question before I go- I'm "hoping to" get a Wii for my birthday, which is coming right up- August 7. Oh, and it's my 30th(!!!) If you have/have played Wii, what games would you recommend?


Monday, June 22, 2009

long time, no see

Sorry about that, it's been awhile since my last blog. I'll try to be better in the future. Emphasis on try. Anyway, what's been new with me? Well, as of today, I am officially enrolled in a couple of courses at UMSL for the fall semester. That's right, starting in late August, I will be officially pursuing a Master's degree. I'm shooting for an MBA at this time, but I'm leaving the door open for a Master's in Information Systems. A lot of the classes are the same, so I have at least a little bit of time to decide. I'm thinking that an MBA would likely open more doors for me, but if I want to, say, teach at the college level, then a Master's in IS would likely be the better option. The trouble is, I just don't know what I want to do. I'm thinking mayble I'll try to teach a class or two as an Adjunct (part-time instructor, one who usually teaches a class or two on top of a full-time job) late into my Master's degree. Then I can get a feel for whether or not I like that, or if I should stick with a more business-oriented I career.

Jenny and I (and my friend Jeff) went to a place on Saturday called The Map Room. Unfortunately, it's in South City, so it's not exactly next door. However, we really enjoyed the place. It's fairly new, I think it's only been open for a few months. They bill it as a coffee and wine bar. We didn't sample the coffees since it was so hot out, but we had fresh Sangreas and a bottle of wine (not all of it, I had to drive home...) The prices were superb, closer to what you'd expect at a grocery store than a bar. The atmosphere was also great, with comfortable seating and a homey feel indoors and a comfortable patio. Every Saturday night, they show an old movie on their patio screen, and serve free popcorn, so we were treated to an outdoor screening of The Barefoot Contessa while enjoying our wines and popcorn. The proprieters were also very friendly. So, if it sounds like I'm begging you to go- I am. It was such an enjoyable experience, but it was far from a full house. This is a place that deserves to stay in business, and a lot of businesses are struggling in this economy, so I hope many of you will take the opportunity to try it out.

Well, I think that'll do it for now.

Friday, June 5, 2009

how we met

Hello again. It's been awhile since I rapped at ya (I don't remember what that reference is from, but I picked it up somewhere), so time for another blog.

Sunday, June 7, will be our 6th wedding anniversary. That's right, Jenny and I have been married for 6 years already, and we've been together for 11 years. Since I'm 29, that qualifies as more than a third of my life- wow. It's interesting how things come together. We met online not only before meeting online became popular, but even before meeting online was considered embarrassing. Some of you have probably never heard of ICQ, but it was the original instant messaging client, before there was AIM, MSN or Yahoo messenger, and well before there was Myspace or Facebook. We both would chat with people on ICQ, and she happened to find me and start talking to me one night (while I was "working hard" at my computer lab job).

We chatted every day for about a week, and then I made the next step and suggested that we meet in person. Our first date was actually a group date, where we saw a Shakespeare play at SIUE, and then went out to IHOP afterward (or was it Waffle House? Denny's? I don't remember...) The first date went well, so we continued seeing each other. This was toward the end of the spring semester, and soon she went back to Macomb, IL for the summer. I went to Macomb to see her soon after for her birthday, and at least for me, that's when things changed and became more serious. We saw each other at least a few more times over the summer, and talked a lot when we were apart.

Once the Fall semester started up and we could be together a lot more, we continued getting closer, and it soon became evident that we were in love. I was very hesitant to say those words, because she had told me that when her previous boyfriend told her that he loved her, she was, well, let's just say she was not at all impressed and she let him know it. But, because I knew it was real, I took my chances, and she did something that I still haven't gotten use to- she immediately responded back with "I love you too". No thought, no hesitation, no games, she knew how she felt, and she wasn't afraid to say it.

We talked about getting married, and decided to wait until we had graduated college before actually going through with it. So, Christmas day of our last year in college, I gave her a Build-a-Bear in a wedding dress as her gift. She thanked me for the bear and started to set it aside, so I had to suggest that she pay closer attention to the bear. She found the ring, I asked her to marry me, and just like when I told her that I loved her, she just immediately said "yes", before I had even finished my sentence. No thought, no hesitation.

Fast-forward to our wedding day... I remember the pastor saying not to expect the wedding day to be perfect, because it never is- something always goes wrong. Well...our wedding day was perfect. I can't think of a single thing that went wrong. A lot of the credit for that goes to our wonderful parents! Soon after, we honeymooned in Jamaica at the Couples Ocho Rios resort, which was absolutely beautiful. We had a lot of fun there, and we hope to get back to Jamaica sometime.

Now, 6 years later, a lot has changed in our lives- we've gotten accustomed to the married life. We have a house, lots of bills, and a wonderful dog, Penny, who is very much a part of our family. And I am just as much in love with my wonderful wife as I have ever been. I couldn't ask for a kinder, more caring person to spend my life with. We have a lot of fun together, whether we're running around busy, chatting, or just sitting quietly next to each other. Plus, it certainly doesn't hurt that I think she has become more beautiful through the years! So, happy (early) anniversary to my wonderful wife, and here's to many more happy years together! I'm not sure how I got so lucky as to be with you, but I'm sure glad I did!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

how's life? update

No national news and commentaries on this one; just an update on our lives right now.

Jenny is a few weeks into her new job, and deep into training. She says that she still likes it, so that's great. Obviously not too much to report on that front, since things are going well.

The big news right now, for me at least, is that I slipped and fell down a staircase at work last Wednesday. Fortunately, nothing is broken, but I did hurt my foot pretty good (or bad, as the case may be). It hurts pretty much all the time, but the pain is dull and not too bad, so it's bearable. I feel really bad, because it happened on Jenny's birthday, so it kind of took the spotlight off of her- not to mention that we had to reschedule dinner plans. Anyway, she has been really wonderful, taking care of both me and the stuff that I normally take care of like mowing the grass, cooking, etc.

We hosted a Murder Mystery Dinner Party last Saturday as well- our second one. We had a lot of fun with that, dressing up and acting out parts.

Well, that's all for now.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday's Update

So, what's new in our lives (and my strange brain) since my last posting? Well, let's see...

Jenny has finished her second week at her new job. She says that she enjoys it so far. She's currently in training, and will be for at least the next few weeks. She recently made the comment to me that she doesn't "wake up dreading going into work" like she did with her last job, and so that's quite a change for her, and a positive one at that.

I'm working through a VERY busy period at my job right now. It should calm down the week after next, but this has been a pretty brutal week for me, especially with a few extra time-consuming projects on top of the normal crunch time. Not to say that I hate my job or anything like that, but I'm definitely looking forward to getting through this busy time.

This next topic has nothing to do with the economy, but a friend blogged about the Miss California USA controversy, and I have my own thoughts on that which I figured I'd share. You know me- I tend not to shy away from controversy...

(first off, a video to get you up to date with the controversies)

First, I think it's ridiculous that she is being trampled for her belief that gay marriage is wrong. Whether you agree with her or not, there is no need to attack someone for his or her beliefs. Proponents of gay marriage tend to consider themselves open-minded, but there is nothing at all open-minded about attacking someone else for having a different belief than you.

Second, I think it's ridiculous that she is being attacked for her past pictorials. Whether or not she is telling the truth in that the most risque pictures that have been revealed are candids never meant for public viewing is irrelevant. Did you see pictures or video of her, or any of the other contestants, in the swimsuit competition? It seems stupid to me to on the one hand judge a woman on her body in a swimsuit competition and on the other hand condemn her for past pictorials which included risque photographs. I think there is a line to be drawn, and if the pictures were pornographic rather than artful, then I think that would cross the line. But if your competition celebrates a woman's beauty, don't disqualify her for showing her body outside of the competition...

Finally, I'll go ahead and throw out my views on gay marriage, just to be extra controversial... I think there should be a state-sanctioned union, with no direct influence from religion. That union would provide the benefits currently ascribed to married couples. Straight and gay couples can join into this state-sanctioned union, which exists solely for purposes of taxes, benefits, etc. People can choose to be married by the church, and be married in the eyes of God, and the state will ascribe the benefits of a state union to them. And people can choose to enter into a union by the state, and the state will ascribe the benefits of the state union to them. That way, the state benefits that a couple receive have no basis in religion (separation of church and state), gay couples can receive benefits, and the religious institution of marriage (a church-ordained union between a man and a woman) is preserved.
To me, that seems like a win-win scenario, and the best option. But I understand that a lot of people disagree with this viewpoint.
That's a wrap for now

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I don't have any specific topics today, so I'm just going to ramble on and see where it takes me.

Jenny is on day 3 of her job right now. She says that it's interesting, but so far it's mostly just training, with not much hands on. I think she's anxious to get to the job. I'm still plugging away at my job, although with the end of the semester fast approaching, it's getting a whole lot busier. Not overwhelming just yet, but that will probably happen right after the semester ends, since one of my two student workers is quitting. Between trying to find a replacement, and being down at employee, it'll be rough.

One thing that has been weighing on my mind recently is that all great empires of the past eventually fell. The big one that most people think of is the Roman Empire, of course. It was the world's center of culture, learning, prosperity and comfort. But the empire eventually fell against a greater military might. You also have the Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire. This empire fell most to an insufficient military as well. Then you have the Egyptian Empire. Greatest empire of it's time, but it fell due to a combination of its military actions depleting its treasury and environmental concerns. Yikes! Sound familiar?

So, given that even the greatest empires in history have all fallen, where does that leave us? As US citizens, we live free in a country (empire) that is greater than any empire to ever come before us. We have enjoyed diverse culture, unprecedented gains in knowledge, centuries of propserity, and we have been quite comfortable in our shoes. The world is our playground- literally. We've just been sitting pretty on the top, without a care in the world.

Maybe it's time to start caring. On top of our usual huge government waste, our government is spending trillions of dollars trying to prevent a repeat of the Great Depression and trillions of dollars on the "War on Terror", which we will not be able to effectively fight until we end our dependence on foreign oil. Where does this money come from? You'll hear the phrase that we're borrowing from our future, because future taxpayers will have to bear the tax burden. Sounds good as long as you don't have any kids of your own, right? Not so much- we're borrowing money RIGHT NOW, and that money doesn't magically appear from the future, where the lowest tax rate is 75% just so we can pay interest on our debt. No, that money is coming from other countries, like China (at almost $750 BILLION). But what happens when our debt becomes so big that other countries no longer trust our ability to pay it back? At our current spending rate, that could very well happen. But that's OK, I'm sure developing countries with rapidly developing military might and technology won't mind when the US files for Chapter 11...


-Douglas Hughey