Sunday, February 26, 2006

Stephen King Comes to Tally


Last September, I flew up to the New Yorker Festival in hopes of participating in the Stephen King book signing. As you may recall, my bubble was burst when the bookstore limited admission to the signing to 100.

Fast forward to this weekend. My persistence in getting a ticket for Mr. King's presentation during the Seven Days of Opening Nights Festival paid off early Saturday morning when I checked the FSU online box office to discover that seats were available (note: tickets went on sale Feb. 14 and apparently sold out quickly; more seats later became available).

Mr. King read an upcoming piece, based (loosely) on his experience of being hit by a van. The story wasn't the usual physical horror associated with King's classic reads. There weren't any possessed girls or debilitating diseases, but an internal horror - the agony and challenge one experiences when their life is forever altered.

Afterwards, he stayed for a book signing. My friend Angie and I stood in line for about an hour and when we left, there was still a line out the auditorium.

I usually stumble my words when meeting authors, but I think I spit out something coherent.

QK: "Mr. King, I flew up to the New Yorker last fall to hear you."
SK: "Oh, yeah. What did you think?"
QK: (Should I share my disappointing experience with him? No.). "Well, I'm really glad you made it to Tallahassee. Thank you."
SK: "This is much better. Warmer and more laid back."

Can't believe I had a conversation with Stephen King! Better yet, I finally have in my possession a signed copy of "Cell" - AND, made out specifically to me.

Again, thank you Mr. King. You made my day.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Thanks for Making Me Smile

Growing up, rainy Saturdays were kept inside, curled up under a blanket on the couch. While it was gray and gloomy outside, my spirit was brightened by the antics of actor Don Knotts. Two of my favorite movies of all times starred him, "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" and "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken."

I know, these aren't Oscar-winning flicks and a bit on the cheezy side but there was just something in Knotts' genuineness, innocence and his expressive face that hooked me as a fan. Of course, he's best known for the "Andy Griffith Show" and "Three's Company" sit-coms, but I will always remember him as Mr. Limpet.

Don Knotts 1924 - 2006

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bright Surprise

I'm a fan of using paint containers for any occasion. Today, I received this from the Sundial Resort in Sanibel, Fla. - a marketing piece announcing completion of their renovation and encouraging meeting planners to book their next meeting.

The back of the can has the resort specifics with images and the stick has the contact information on how to book a meeting. A fluffy towel is stuffed inside.

This would definitely get me interested in hosting a meeting there. Can you imagine what the guest service would be like there?

Wouldn't It Be Nice...

Wouldn't it be nice to be supported by a man and be a woman of leisure and write all day? To be financially supported and do nothing or anything from sunrise to sunset?

And to think, there are women out there who have this opportunity; a chance to enrich their own lives, but take advantage of the situation and sit on their asses all day doing nothing but piss away money. Interestingly, the men don't like the situation but do nothing to change it.

Is this something I want? Nope. I'd get too bored. Plus, the moral fabric of my ethics wouldn't allow me to take advantage of myself or anyone like that.

I'm a Dog Trainer from Miamisburg...

At least that's what Googlism concluded when I entered my name. I stumbled across this site while researching. It claims to "find out what Google of you, your friends or anything."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Oh! What Technology Will Think of Next

While in Japan, I was amazed at the technology - heated toilet seats, televisions in cars, bathrooms that doubled as clothing dryers, razor-thin digital cameras and telephones. One of my host "fathers" told me that the Japanese are "not the inventors but the innovators. "

I thought of him when I found this site. Check out the list of MP3 players and guess which one I want.

Yes, I Admit to Following American Idol

Honestly, I have never watched a complete season of "American Idol, " but that may be changing this year. Not sure if it was Paula Abdul being more honest in her critiques or that there is actually some excellent talent this season, but I think I'm hooked.

My favorite: Taylor Hicks.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Disney's Expedition Everest Rocks

Although I had less than four hours in Disney's Animal Kingdom yesterday and crowds were anticipated to be at record levels, the 40-some dollar admission fee to search for the elusive yeti was worth it. Expedition Everest is the theme park's newest ride and riders are quickly prepped to find this greatly feared creature. Does it exist?

In true Disney fashion, we were led through a scene depicting Nepal. Backpacks, socks, caps and hiking boots hung from the carved wooden beams; a meditation garden was dotted with Buddhist statues. Colorful flags, showing their weathered age, drifted in the wind as the Himalayas stand majestically.

Slowly, the train leads us up into the Himalaya range and then, a slight stall. The coaster twists, turns and dives in smooth perfection. Upon reaching the top, the yeti has destroyed the train tracks. We stall and I scream. The entire car screams as we fall backwards, racing into dark caves. We catch a glimpse of the yeti's shadow. The car moves forward, racing through the snow-capped mountain range. I attempt to catch my breath but the cool mountain air is too thin to breath. We reach another dark cave where the huge, hairy yeti is waiting for us - swinging his arm down, he reaches to scoop up the train, but we're too quick and escape his capture. We safely arrive back at the train station to debrief the next expedition on the quest to find the yeti. And yes, he does exist.

My Brush with Curt Gowdy

I didn't know who Curt Gowdy was when my Mom asked the flight attendant, "is that Curt Gowdy?"

We were heading to Jackson Hole, WY the summer of 1987. As soon as our puddle jumper of a plane landed, Mom approached Mr. Gowdy on the tarmac (who was traveling with his son) struck up conversation and asked for his autograph.

I still have the picture of Mom chatting Mr. Gowdy up while he's signing his name. The Grand Teton mountain range looks on in the background.

Tonight, the voice of the Boston Red Sox is looking down on the world.

Curt Gowdy, July 31, 1919 - Feb. 20, 2006

Sunday, February 19, 2006

2006 Winter Olympics: Is Anyone Watching?

Have I missed the buzz surrounding the winter Olympics? I cannot name one Olympic athlete - American or not - who is competing in this year's games.

Over the years, I recall being excited about the games. And, Olympic-themed commercials, television ads, etc. only came out around Olympic time. While in school, I remember having our own Olympic games. Or, school work would revolve around the games. In the work-place, there were all sorts of themes and competitions.

With the onslaught of reality television, we are surrounded by competition of some sort 24/7. From "Survivor" to "The Bachelor" to "American Idol" to the "Amazing Race" - we as television consumers are saturated with competition. The original reality television performers are the Olympic competitors - not only did we cheer for them in our living rooms, but we watched their interviews with sportscasters to learn about their personal lives. They became part of our lives.

In today's society, we are letting reality TV "performers" into our living rooms daily. We talk (gossip) about them at work like they are our good friends.

We have become so jaded that the spirit of athletic competition is no longer important. We care more about how many maggots a contestant will eat or which young woman will receive the final rose over the pursuit for a gold medal.

I guess we will know these athletes' names once they star on "Celebrity American Dancing Survivors - Olympic Edition..."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Meet Here or MeetAway?

Another website has emerged to connect travelers. Unlike Airtroductions, which links travelers on the same flights, MeetAway.com's objective is to connect road warriors attending conferences, concerts, trade shows and business meetings - so they don't need to be the wall flowers any more.

Bitter, Party of One

Yippee! Valentine's Day 2006 is in the past and singletons can celebrate! No more being anxious or embarrassed or depressed about being a party of one. Celebrate your single status, until Thanksgiving...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Washington, DC: Blizzard Feb. 2006


Well, the weather forecasters in DC were somewhat right - it did snow Saturday night, but not so much the blizzard I was expecting. Following my conference on Sunday, I did make it home on time.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheney Shoots Fellow Hunter

By now you've heard that our Vice President shot a fellow hunter while quail hunting this weekend. From what I've read, VP Cheney didn't see Attorney Harry Whittington. Good thing the VP's medical team was with him - they were able to quickly tend to Whittington. So, the President travels with Secret Service detail and Cheney travels with medical staff. At least the quail are safe.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

National Museum of the American Indian - Washington, DC

I spent the cold and snowy afternoon at the National Museum of the American Indian in DC. Luckily, not too many other visitors had the same idea and the museum was not overcrowded and I could enjoy the exhibits at my own pace. In true Smithsonian-style, the exhibits are well thought out and relevant. Exhibits introduce visitors to who the Native Americans are today through their art, recorded interviews and culture - traditional and modern.

Washington, DC - Brink of a Blizzard?


I arrived in DC today despite forecasters predicting a major blizzard. The workshop I'm attending Sunday morning broadcast an email stating the seminar is a go despite the snow and would only be postponed if there were a loss of electricity. And so I boarded my flight to DC. Plus, I'm thinking logically - it's a city accustom to living in snow - life goes on in snow in our Capital, right? We shall see. As of yet (8:30 PMish) the snow isn't sticking. It's been snowing -since I landed, but not sticking. I even had the pleasure of being pelted with the salt chunks while returning to my hotel tonight. Enjoy some images of my day.

Southern and Proper

Am I to assume that "appropriate attire" is anything but a towel? Snapped this from my room at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm Old

I had an epiphany today. I've accepted the reality that I've become more "voluptuous" since Thanksgiving (yup, there are 15 more pounds of me now than then - guess it wasn't the dryer shrinking my cloths). But this isn't the epiphany.

This is: the realization that I'm old. My doctor had braces and looked barely 25.

While living in Sarasota, I was considered a baby in a community of retirees. When I went to the doctor's office then (last time in June), the nurses and doctors discussed strokes, cholesterol levels and arthritis. In Tallahassee, I seem ancient surrounded by college campuses. The health care workers in this clinic discussed HIV and syphilis tests and how lesions are healing.

Looking at myself in the mirror over the past few days, I've noticed persistent circles under my eyes. My skin has lost its elastic spring. I need to trim nose hairs and pluck stray, wiry hairs that pop up in odd places. I can no longer stay up until 2:00 AM and rise and shine at 7:00 AM. This is the part of the aging process that I didn't learn about in school.

Just What I Needed - A Reminder from Japan

I received a letter today from my week #3 Japanese host family. Haya and Yoko were one of the favorite couples I met during my month-long visit in October 2004. In their early 70's and childless, the first thing Haya told me upon meeting was, I would be "their baby for the week."

And they spoiled me. Not just with material things - private suite within their gorgeous home (which Haya designed) and stocked daily with every beverage imaginable along with sweet oranges; private driver to my appointments each day; wonderful meals daily; shipping of my excess luggage back to the US and a very generous gift upon leaving them - but with unconditional love. They seemed genuinely interested and cared about me. In the short period of time spent with them, I felt extremely close. Yoko did not speak English and I did not speak Japanese, but we found a way to communicate and appreciate each other. I had an extremely hard time saying goodbye to them.

It's ironic that I received their note today. I spent a lot of idle time in airport terminals and tarmacs, waiting. Everyone was calling their assumed loved ones to inform them of delays. I had no one to call. No one to bitch to about delayed flights and missed connections. No one to tell that I'll be arriving late. And, no one to pick me up at TLH.

The last line of Haya and Yoko's letter read, "We think of you any time. Your life is not only for you." This reminded me that there are people who care.

Boost a Sista's Esteem

Dove (you know, the soap and other beauty products) sent an email today encouraging people to support and help build the self esteem of girls. (Heck, I'm 35 and still have self esteem issues - do we ever outgrow them? Did I miss the boat on that?). They offer a menu of opportunities to educate girls about how fabulous they are, without changing themselves. Visit the site to learn what you can do.

Waiting to Exhale (And Finally Inhaling)

I spent the past four days in the confines of the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. I've never been to Arizona's Biosphere 2 (although, I've been intrigued about the project since it's inception and was disappointed with its downfall), but imagine the Gaylord Opryland is very similar. After all, there is no need to leave the "compound," to the visitor, it's totally self-contained with shopping, dining, sleeping and recreation. It even has a river flowing through the middle of the facilities which contained the water from more than 1,700 bodies fo water throughout the world.
A glass dome encompasses everything and there is greenery everywhere. Daffodils, crocuses and hyacinth, were blooming, alongside magnolias and tropical foliage. Birds swoop down picking up the bread crumbs left by weary guests (in which they left to find their ways back to their rooms). Fish swim in the man-made circle - being the south, I'm really surprised they don't offer fishing!

Oddly, the tree fronds rustled in a wind. A man-made wind is pumped in by vents carved into the man-made rock formations. After a while, I came to realize I was breathing circulated air. It's worse enough that I had to sit in airports and planes with circulated air, but spend the entire four days within it was disconcerting. However, makes me wonder if the Gaylord folks are the innovators in a sustainable society.

You can read about my previous visit to the Gaylord Opryland here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Burger King: Very Disturbing

Well, BK did it again. You may recall my post about the freaky Burger King television commercials. Now, the BK marketing team has used Super Bowl to demonstrate to the world how far they can push the limits of bizarre. This time, we have been introduced to "The Whopperettes:" scantly-clad girls dressed as Whopper condiments who are tossed onto a bun (which is another girl). Now, the ketchup is exploded out of a cannon ignited by the creepy King himself - is there suppose to be some symbolism there? Guess it's better it's ketchup vs. Mayonnaise!

And, why aren't there any male Whopperettes? All of the "characters" are females, except for the King. Can I assume that BK is gearing their marketing to the 16 - 35 male demographics? Are they encouraging men to EAT women? Are they implying that all women are meat?

If you haven't had the pleasure of viewing the commercial, here's a link to the site: www.whopperettes.com and select "Super Bowl Spectacular." Please, view at your own risk. And listen if I got the words right, after listening four times, I'm pretty sure the girls sing: "ask the freaky king for a Whopper your way."

Thanks Val, for bringing this to my attention :)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Freaked Out Or Flattered?

I don't know whether I should be freaked out or flattered by tonight's room service waiter. I'm eating dinner in because the property I'm staying at misplaced my boxes (they had them four hours ago) and I have to wait in my room until they resurface.

So, after a cordial greeting and showing me the flowers on the room service tray, he asks, "how many kids do you have?"

"Oh," to my reply.

"Are you married?"

I learn he's Italian and now calls Nashville home. He then offers me some gum (perhaps he smelled the grilled onions from today's lunch).

He then proceeds to ask whether I was visiting for leisure or business, etc. and offers to take me out on the town either later tonight or tomorrow night and that it's "O.K." He gave me his cell phone number. He asked what I liked to drink and ran and got me a soda!

He kissed my hand good night.

What should my reaction be? Perhaps I'm just not used to attention...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom and Go!

More than 10,000 traveler-submitted video clips are accessible at ZoomandGo.com. In addition to spectacular scenery, travelers offer advice and tips on destinations throughout the world.

Passing Time in the Skies

For us solo road warriors, we now have control of our seat mate. Well, kind of. A website called AirTroductions is a bit like a dating site and shows a list of registered travelers on your flight. You have control whether you want to meet a fellow passenger prior - either online or in the terminal for a drink. Registration is free, however there is a $5 to contact someone. As of today, there are just over 6,400 registered travelers.