Sunday, August 31, 2008

Boo! Are You Afraid of the Human Rat?

This is one of the funniest videos I've seen in a long time. It's from the TV show Scare Tactics, a reality show almost like Candid Camera but about scaring people. The season premiers Sept. 30 on the SciFi Channel.

Let me know what you think. I'm still laughing over it.

Updated Sept. 7: I removed the embedded video but it can be found over at AOL here.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Strips Giveaway: Labor Day 2008

I've previously blogged about how much I love Chick-fil-A and here I go again. This Monday - Labor Day - receive a free three-count new Chick-n-Strips when you wear your favorite football team's logo or attire. This includes professional, collegiate, high school, middle school or recreational. I think all I have is a pair of Gator earrings from the University of Florida. I asked at the local Chick-fil-A (Port Charlotte Town Center) if that was acceptable and yes, they do! (at the Port Charlotte Town Center)

So if Chick-fil-A is near you, be sure to visit on Labor Day between 10:30 a.m. to close for the Chick-n-Strips Giveaway. (And be sure to wear your favorite team's logo.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Batter Up! Cal Ripken Jr.'s Bringing Pro Baseball Back to Charlotte County

Ooh! Ooh! Look who I got to meet today. Cal Ripken, Jr.! Even I, a non-baseball fan, know who this man is. What an incredibly nice person. Since it's a late night, I'm going to share the experience another time (and do a mini-slide show) but in the meantime, check out my article about Ripken's new professional baseball team and the partnership with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Very exciting news for Charlotte County!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are Your Favorite Quirky Monuments in this New Florida Travel Guidebook?

Have you been somewhere in Florida, ran across a quirky or funky monument, statue or memorial and wanted more info about it? This may be your lucky day. (Okay, that's a little dramatic, but this new book is very cool.)

If you're a Florida fanatic or live here and looking for something to do, like a one-tank trip or a staycation, check out A Brief Guide to Florida's Monuments and Memorials by Roberta Sandler. It'll be hitting bookshelves soon, but you can pre-order the book (or maybe find an advance copy). Add it to your holiday wish list. It'd make a great stocking stuffer, too.

Want a sneak peek? Read my review of the new Florida guidebook.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cheerio! The Ice House Pub, Punta Gorda: British Style Pub


Last night I met a friend at the Ice House Pub in Punta Gorda, Fla. It's in a historic building which used to be...yes, you guessed it, an ice house. Dinner was fish and chips (of course) and not too bad. Drizzled vinegar on my chips and fish. Yum! Mushy peas were on the menu, too, but didn't order them for dinner.

I started with a six draught beer sampler for $6.95 (not a bad price). The samples are brought out on a tray sitting on the beer I ordered. Can't remember exactly what I ordered (not because I drank excessively, because I didn't - I only drank half of each glass because I was driving) but the names are so long! One was a cider, another was a cherry flavored and the dark one was a chocolate stout.

It was a casual atmosphere inside and like pubs in England, this had dim lighting, chunky tables and bar seating. Darts were happening in the back room and seemed to be popular - I heard there's a dart league.

Will definitely plan a return visit to the Ice House Pub.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What's the Word in Washington County, Oregon?

I love it when destination management organizations "get it" and jump into the 21st century with social networking. Such as the case with Washington County, Oregon. Earlier this summer they launched the "What's the Word" blog, a venue for residents and visitors to share their experiences about Washington County (which is located west of Portland).

When the blog launched, a contest was held (including a two-night stay in Washington County) and since I love Oregon (even though I've been once), I threw in my two cents. Read what I'd like to do in the comments of this post.

They have a sake brewery - how cool is that? And a rock and gem museum, I'm sure that really rocks! (Yes, pun intended.) And Nike headquarters are based there.

Someday I'll get to visit. So many places, so little time...*sigh*

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Leaping Lizards! A New Carpool Partner

Brief post today. Wanted to share this photo of the carpooler who joined me to work today, a little lizard. He didn't last long on my windshield and ended up sliding under the hood once we got moving.

Maybe it's a sign to change car insurance providers. No, that's not it, he's the wrong shade to be the GEICO Gecko.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Surprise, Surprise. Georgia Bigfoot Body is a Hoax

In May 2007 I was in Atlanta and spotted a Searching for Bigfoot vehicle and blogged about it here.

Fast forward to this month and the hype surrounding Bigfoot's body being found in the Georgia woods. A press conference was held last Friday in California with the folks from Searching for Bigfoot to reveal their find (read the article on FOXNews.com: "Bigfoot Press Conference Reveals...Little").

Today, FOXNews.com revealed the Bigfoot body was a costume and a hoax (read the article: "Bigfoot Body Revealed to be a Halloween Costume"). Apparently money was involved and now people are pissed for being duped (about 60 members of the media attended the Friday's press conference), at least one is out of a job and there's talk of pressing charges of fraud.

What I want to know is, did the guys who "found" the alleged Bigfoot body and hold the press conference actually think they'd get away with fooling the world? What do they have to gain from this?

So, has anyone seen Bigfoot? Or how about a Florida Skunk Ape? Why does society believe in these fury beasts?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Will I Get a Snow Day This Week?

Thanks to Tropical Storm Fay, my trip to Orlando for a conference was canceled today. Understandable. But rather than seeing the Blue Man Group tomorrow night, I'll be hoping my blue tarp doesn't have to be used. (Not sure why I purchased a tarp during my trip to Wal-Mart this afternoon; since I was picking up water, a flashlight and crackers, thought I may as well throw a tarp in with my provisions.)

TS Fay is anticipated to become a hurricane when it makes landfall (right now, landfall is anticipated for Tuesday afternoon).

The work plan is to go into the office tomorrow (I'll be bringing my cat to work - this'll be fun) then spend the duration of the storm at a friend's house until the worst of it is over.

The photo is a view from my lanai. You can see some clouds but I'm sure tomorrow will be gray, rainy and windy. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Getting Ready for Fay

Aug. 13, 2008 marked the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Charley's "visit" to Charlotte County, Fla. Although I wasn't living here at the time, I remember the day well. I was in Sarasota, hunkered in my make-shift safe room (bathroom) waiting for the direct hit, since it was anticipated the hurricane would strike there.

The silver lining of Hurricane Charley is the renaissance booming throughout the county.

Being August, hurricane season's in full swing and a little annoyance called, "Tropical Storm Fay" is spinning in the Caribbean and some forecast models show the storm barreling through Charlotte Harbor. Could it be a Category 1 hurricane when it makes landfall? That remains to be seen.

All I know is I'm preparing. I'm heading to a conference in Orlando in the morning but am bringing in all of the items on my lanai. As I learned while living/working it the Everglades, anything can be a projectile.

I'm concerned about leaving behind my cat, in case the storm does land here and causes more damage than anticipated. I know, a lot of "ifs" and since this building was built after Hurricane Charley, I hope it's built up to code. I'm sure all will be fine.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Buh-Bye Dorm Futon, Hello Modern Furniture

Is it time to ditch the college dorm-type furniture for grownup, Modern Furniture? My friend ZeldaMae thinks so. Today is my 3-month anniversary in the new job and new digs and when ZeldaMae helped me move in (which she said was the last time she'd help me move), she convinced me I need to focus on getting a nice piece of furniture. My dream? An excessive, buttery-soft, red leather sofa.

To help me achieve this acquisition of Modern Furniture, ZeldaMae found a photo of a red leather sofa in some random newspaper insert. She instructed me to post it in plain view so I could visualize it then work towards making the vision reality. But, I have commitment-phobia. Like getting married (again) or buying a house, purchasing a nice, big piece of Modern Furniture means I'd be financially committed for a period of time and will have to think about moving it wherever I move next (from an apartment to something I own).

*sigh*

Acquiring a gorgeous piece of Modern Furniture is a big step so I ask you. Take a look at my comfortable futon, there's nothing wrong with it, is there?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Girls' Night In: Black Bean Hummus & Fried Chickpeas, Yum!

My friend Kashi came over Saturday night and we had a great time catching up. Before we went out to a buffet of raw fish we munched on a few tapas I prepared.

First was Black Bean Hummus. Here's the recipe:
1 Can Black Beans (I used Bush's; drained)
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced (it was girls' night in, no worries about having dragon breath)
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil (or Tahini Oil, depends where you live)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (I just squeezed half a lemon in)
12 Spanish Olives
5 Basil Leaves (freshly grown on my lanai)
Salt to Taste

Throw it in the food processor until well blended and viola! Add a little more oil if need be. Garnish with basil and Spanish olives and serve with crackers, yum!


The next item, Fried Chickpeas with Spinach was something I tried while in Asheville last March. Here's the recipe:
1 Can Chickpeas, Drained (Publix brand for me)
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
2 Handfuls Fresh Spinach (3 if you're really into Popeye's food)
2 Sprigs of Rosemary (grown fresh on my lanai)
5 Basil Leaves, Shredded
Salt to Taste

Pour oil into medium sized frying pan set on medium heat. When hot, (carefully) toss in chickpeas.
When chickpeas have a nice golden color and bit of texture, toss in herbs, stir then toss in spinach.
Cover and let the spinach wilt.
Once wilted, toss with chickpeas and herbs and ready to serve!

Other variation: I've used lima beans with beet greens.

To drink? These 30-somethings aren't so wild and crazy on a Saturday night (although we were about ready to dance in the aisles during "Mamma Mia!" Two-parts fruit punch to one-part soda water. Ah! Refreshing!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I Don't Like Doing It

Although I had permission to blog about some recent items, I have since removed two posts upon request.

Have a lovely day.

Spanx is a Woman's Best Friend: My 20 Year High School Reunion

Earlier this month I attended my 20 year high school reunion up in Buffalo. For the last year or so, I debated with myself the pros and cons of attending. Even though I recently started a new job and didn't have vacation time, I opted to make a very quick weekend trip and overall, was glad I went.

20 Year High School Reunion: Apprehension
As time grew closer to the event, I was more apprehensive about attending. I hadn't lost 50+ pounds I wanted to, I'm still single (okay, divorced and there's a story that goes with it) and don't feel I've accomplished much in life (I realize there's probably no one else in the class who have met one on one with a Taliban tribe).

Remembering back to the 10-year reunion (in which I only attended the picnic version because I had just gotten married and had other plans that night), any of the girls from high school looked amazing. I mean, they looked incredibly fit. It looked as though they spent at least a year with a personal trainer getting in shape and as the days inched closer to the 20-year reunion, the less I wanted to attend.

"I haven't accomplished anything," a friend from high school told me as her reason for not attending.



20 Year High School Reunion: Preparation
A friend here in Florida helped me find the perfect dress for the "cocktail attire" reception at the town's ritzy country club. The first dress I tried was a bit too tight and not even Spanx would help me out with that dress so I went with dress number two, a black and white sun dress with a black shell. That's ideal "Florida cocktail attire."

When I arrived to the reception in my Dad's monster truck (yes, I felt like I was in high school, having to ask my dad to borrow a car. Was also given instructions on not to drink. And like high school, I didn't replace the gas I used...) and saw the other female classmates dressed in shiny cocktail dresses, I freaked. I agree, I looked good. My sister Lizzy had done my hair and makeup (thank goodness) which gave me added confidence.

After a panicked call to my Mom, I inhaled and walked in, meeting up with some classmates in the parking lot. I immediately recognized the gals despite 20 years of aging.

20 Year High School Reunion: Not So Bad
Inside it was "hellos" and hugs to former classmates. Some I recognized immediately because they looked exactly the same in high school. Other classmates I had no idea who they were. Not because I didn't know them but because they looked extremely different from high school. Some girls who I considered normal size in high school are now incredibly thin. Others looked simply fabulous and must have tapped the Fountain of Youth.

Everyone looked great and I was reminded as to what a 38-year-old woman should look like. I was reminded of what Mr. McCadden said, I believe he was my 11th grade English teacher. He said, "Just wait a few years, all the girls are going to be gorgeous."It was fun catching up with friends and learning more about those who I really didn't know in high school.

Some of the classmates I hung out with in high school were there but many of them weren't. Who else was missing? "Bald, fat guys," as my friend Stu said.

20 Year High School Reunion: Glad I Went
As Stu and I sat at the Harris Hill Inn around 12:15, RB and AC came walking in, two classmates whom I played field hockey with. There was an after party at one of the classmate's house but we chose a low-key option and chatted 'til 3 a.m. It reminded me of how important they were (are) in my lives during the high school days. (Hi girls! Yes, you made the blog!)

Stu was someone whom I didn't speak to much in high school. We used to live a few houses down from each other until I was 5 and moved away. We never really spoke in junior high or high school. I'm not sure why other than I never knew what to say. Stupid, I know. But the modern technology of MySpace has bridged the communication gap (that and 20+ years).

20 Year High School Reunion: Thanks, Spanx!
A big revelation came out that night, I wasn't the only one concerned about how I looked before the reunion (okay, that's not a huge revelation; but nice to know I wasn't alone in my thoughts). Other gal pals confessed to be donning Spanx.

If there was a revelation from the reunion, it was that some people will always be living in the high school vacuum. It's cliche but for some, high school was the peak of their life. For others, high school is just a stepping stone and learning experience for something better.

I'm glad I attended but wish there was more time to chat with classmates and meet up with some more of the people I hung out with. Maybe they just wanted to forget.

As for the next reunion, whether it be the 25 or 30, I have time to get myself in shape, physically and mentally. I'm on it, beginning tomorrow...

[Pictured: Stu, RB, AC and Me]

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Local.com: Finding Local Restaurants and Businesses in Port Charlotte

I spent last night catching up with my friend "Kashi" and part of it was spent at one of the local restaurants in Port Charlotte. Kashi is one of the friends I traveled to Japan with in 2004 so of course, the evening included sushi. Rather than running out to the neighborhood Publix (which serves decent sushi) I had the brilliant idea of heading out to one of the local restaurants in town.

Off we headed, chatting away and to my dismay, I forgot where the sushi restaurant was! (Remember, I'm navigationally challenged.) I should have checked with the site called Local.com. It's an online resource and gathers info from Citysearch.com, Superpages.com, Yelp.com and Yellowpages.com. I could have searched for local restaurants and read reviews by Local.com users.

When a friend introduced me to Local.com, I was skeptical as to whether it would have info about Port Charlotte, since it's not a major Florida city, but was happy to find Port Charlotte and other cities and towns in the area included, like Punta Gorda, Englewood and even El Jobean.

Like other sites, it's nice reading reviewers from customers and seeing business ratings. Local.com's format is clean and easy to read. Some content is sponsored (i.e.: paid listings) and weather for the city you're searching for is provided by WeatherBug. Right now, the site only has content for U.S.-based businesses.

So where did we eat last night? A fab sushi buffet place - I know sushi and buffet shouldn't be used in the same sentence, but I'm not sick today so it's my new favorite place. But that's another blog post...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Rate's Super Great at Super 8, Only $8.88

Hey budget travelers, take a look at this. The Super 8 Motel chain will be offering $8.88 per night motel room rates beginning Friday, Aug. 8, 2008 (08/08/08 - cute, I know) through Aug. 15. Read more to find out the details.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Nothing Profound to Say

Perspectives of my 20 year high school reunion along with other nuggets of useless information will have to wait for later in the week when I'm in the right mindset. Catcha later...