Monday, September 29, 2008

Congress listened!

Well, they kinda listened. What a cool thing it was that representatives voted down a measure that was practically a sure thing because of the feedback they received from their constituents. Listening to the media, you would have thought they were cows being led to the slaughter. I've had it with the media. They are painting this to make it look like the general public doesn't know what we're talking about. We're the dumb idiots who don't realize the implications of our outrage at providing billions of dollars we don't have to people who took a chance and lost.

None of what is on the media gets to the point of anything. More money won't solve the problem. We are a nation of debtors. We rely on credit today more than we ever have. The whole idea of credit is pretty ridiculous. I'm reminded of Wimpy on Popeye. He was always pleading for "a burger today, that I will gladly pay you for tomorrow." Sometimes you have to suck it up and actually work for something. (Here's an article published almost a year ago, which is oddly foresightful about our current mess:

Beyond the credit crisis is a deeper crisis of leadership. All of the financial markets are now victim of a thing called fear. I'm amazed that no one sees the correlation between what Wall Street thinks will happen and the prices of the stocks they trade. When the media says the Congress is going to dump a bunch of money into Wall Street, stocks go up. When the bill fails stocks go down. Why? Because people make decisions based on fear. Wall Street is no exception.

What happened to the days when the president came before the nation and said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Or "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Granted these sayings were both said by Democrats, and I hardly consider myself a staunch liberal. More to the point, both of these go beyond party politics. They reminded Americans that we are something more than the current crisis we face. We built this nation into what it is not by promising to make good on a debt sometime in the future, but by using every resource we had to make something work. We need a leader who will remind us that we can be better, that this too will pass, and that there is hope in our future. Most importantly we need someone who will do more than just pay lip service to our hopes and dreams.

I'm tired of the blame game and the currency of despair we face every day. No wonder people get discouraged by the news and politics. I think we all need to make a point to find something positive in our lives to remind ourselves that life is a beautiful thing.

Enough of my soap box. For those of you reading this, thanks for your patience while I have vented my opinions about these things.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Yes, that's me with a gun. My mother would not be so happy. I wasn't allowed to have any type of gun as a kid. When I finally got a small Daisy BB gun that used a small pump you had to crank to build the pressure to fire the BB, you would have thought I had a semi-automatic unlicensed weapon. Never mind that I had injured myself riding an ATV and the BB gun was consolation prize. But that's a different story.

This weekend a bunch of guys from church packed up the cars and headed to Elks Neck State park in Maryland to fire some guns at a gun range. I haven't fired anything but a .22 at scout camp, and a shot gun once. I was looking forward to expanding my horizons. I brought along Peter, Tommy, and my roommate's brother, David.

All of the guns were provided by two guys, brothers actually. Now we're not just talking guns. One of them was a 50 caliber missile launcher of a thing. That's Tommy being the first one to man-up and fire the thing. You could feel the shock wave from 20 feet away. From what I heard, the gun has hit the target from up to 2 miles away, and was designed to take out engine blocks. How can you not feel a rush of testosterone after firing this thing?

Fortunately, the wildlife / engine block pulverizer wasn't our only option. I stood on the sideline for a while biding my time for the right moment. I was apprehensive about shooting these high caliber weapons of destruction, but eventually I stepped up to the plate. I'm going to loose some man points for not knowing, but I'm not exactly sure what kind of gun I was going to shoot. The guy loaded it for me, told me how to hold it and stepped back. I released the safety, took aim, and gently squeezed the trigger. Click! Nothing happened. Yep, the bullet jammed. I called the guy over and he took a look at it. I guess it's not a good sign when he says, "Well, I've never seen this before." Since I only pulled the trigger I'm pretty sure it wasn't my fault, but I felt bad for ruining this guy's gun. After that I wasn't too keen on taking another chance on either ruining another gun or having some other kind of mishap happen.

For the rest of the day I took on the name of "Jammer." Plus I got a few cool pics of me with a cool gun. Don't let the pics fool you though, I never got to shoot any of the guns. Dab nab it!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A letter to my US Congressional representatives

Rep. Sarbanes, Sen. Mikulski, Sen Cardin,

I have never before written to my representative about political matters. I feel I must write now to voice my opinion about the government bailout you are about to vote on. I, like many of those around me, feel this is an action that is taking advantage of the American people. While I do not want the economy to be worse for me or my friends and neighbors, I do not want to provide easy money to those who caused this mess.

This deal is bad all around. I'm sure you are already thinking about oversight of the spending, aid to average citizens, and salary caps for executives. Let me just add, that this money is coming from the people. When you vote please consider that you have been entrusted to speak for us. I realize you cannot speak for everyone, but as my representative I want you to know what I would like you to do... I urge you to vote against the bailout.

Thank you for taking time to listen to my voice. I wish you all the best as you work in Washington to make this world a better place.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Up and Out

Today I got rid of a ton. 5 bags of clothing that have been cluttering up my closet plus all kinds of stuff that has been sitting out in the garage. I love being about to set things out and have them picked up. I don't know why I never did this before.

Next, I am going to call the ReStore place Chanda recommended tomorrow (not open on Mondays) and have them come take away all the stuff sitting out in the garage left from the remodel projects we have been doing around the house. So happy they will come and get it:)

It will be a relief to park my van in the garage again. yipee.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What a crazy government we have!

I'm not sure if I can speak for everyone else in the United States, but the government bailout of the financial industry currently in the works is ridiculous. Our government is getting ready to give away our money (the government gets its money from the people through taxes) to a bunch of corporations. One report estimates the bailout may be as much as $700 billion!

Let's do some easy math. As of July 2008, the estimated population of the United States was 303,824,640 people. If we take the total money the government is planning to spend for the bailout and divide that by the number of people paying the bill...

700,000,000,000 / 303,824,640 = $2303.96

This is the amount each of us are paying for this! And where does this money go? To the same companies that are paying their CEO's and other corporate officers millions of dollars. What do we get out of this? Nothing, really. We will still have mortgages to pay, because the banks aren't going to suddenly decided that the money we gave them should go towards the debts we already owe them. We won't get cheaper insurance. In the end, we won't get any kind of financial benefit other than a "safer economy" based on the opinion of those spending our money.

How about the government gives us the money. I promise to go out and spend what they give me. I'll spend every last penny. The money will still go to the companies they are trying to bail out, but at least I'll have something to show for it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


A few years ago I happened across a great website for music. Similar to a blog, Paul Irish uses his space on the web to share a variety of music with the rest of us. Through his site I've found some great songs and artists. Whether you're looking for some chill music to have on in the background, or some dance remixes of popular songs, you'll find something on his site. You can even download the songs he has posted there for free, without the fear of legal action by the RIAA nazi's. Take a walk into the eclectic at Aurgasm.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What the... Why am I peeing blue?

My friend Cailin alluded to an experience I once had on her blog recently. This is one of the better pranks that I have had the fortune to be the target, so I guess I should share it here.

I attended school in Hawaii. My time there was split into three "periods." I went for two semesters before my mission, one semester after my mission, and then for four semesters after a break in Arizona. This prank happened during the second period in Hawaii.

My roommate at the time and I had made friends with several girls who lived in the Green House. The girls were awesome. For my birthday they found a pinata shaped like a fish and baked me a birthday cake. I was amazed at how considerate they were. Little did I know the birthday party was just the set-up.

A few weeks later they invited us over to their house for dinner. We had been a few times before, so didn't suspect anything unusual. During dinner they mentioned they had a special surprise for desert. You don't have to be around me long to realize that I have a very acute weakness for brownies. I was all too excited to find they had made a whole pan of brownies for us. Although there is no photographic evidence of this prank, truly a tragedy, let me try to paint a picture. We gathered in the kitchen to prepare the brownie-from-pan extraction procedure. Before sinking a knife into the chocolately goodness, I commented, "These look kinda metallic. Cool!" Hmm, you think that would be a sign for some people. Not me. I ate several large pieces of the laced brownies. I now realize that the girls were not just eating morsels because they were being girlish.

On the way home from the dinner / brownie surprise my roommate and I started having stomach cramps. We both commented on how a trip to the bathroom was clearly imminent. Still not connecting anything unusual to the brownies, we chalked it up to something from the dinner that was not sitting well. After a manly trip to the bathroom, the flushed colons provided enough relief to dispell any further suspicion, at least until the next morning.

Still groggy from an ordinary night of sleep, I made my way to the dorm bathrooms to take care of business. A moment into the ritual I noticed something that shocked me. My pee was navy blue. I found a picture of the effects of the prank on another blog:

I could only wish my urine was the color in this picture! I had eaten so many brownies that my urine was a much more intense shade of blue. We're talking dark, dark blue. The initial shock of seeing something other than a more human color of urine leave my body lasted only for about 5 seconds. Fortunately I had heard my father tell stories about how he would prank his friends with urine dye in high school. After realizing what had happened I was actually enjoying the new color palate I had to paint the porcelain. My roommate later came to the room to ask if I had anything unusual happen earlier in the morning. I confirmed that we had both been punk'd.

I had eaten so much that it took about three days to clear my system. I can't remember how the first encounter with the girls post-blue-urine went down. I believe they timidly asked if we were feeling okay. I'm sure we tried to play off that we had no clue what they were talking about, but I probably bubbled over about how cool it was to pee blue for three days.

So, in case you are wondering, the secret ingredient was methylene blue. As it turns out the girls were considerate enough to call poison control prior to dosing us to ensure there would be no harmful side effects. After confirming with the operator there would be no major injuries or reactions, the operator inquired about what had happened. The girls responded by saying, "Oh nothing, we're just going to prank some of our friends." They noted enough of the operator's shocked reaction to relay to us before they hung up on her.

Where does one get methylene blue, you ask? Well, the girls found it as part of a fungicide fish dip at an aquarium shop. When I graduated I was given the remainder of the bottle as a present. Let me just say now, I've never been as good a prankster as my Hieatt ancestors have been. My retaliatory attempt at revenge was haphazard at best. I decided to mix some blue fungicide into a batch of enchiladas I had made. The problem with that is the filling is clearly blue, especially if you add the dye to the enchiladas directly after mixing the filling. Needless to say, the gig was up after the first bite, and the enchiladas were only a hit with the guys anxious to pee blue. (Nobody did.)

How did this experience become a topic of conversation on Cailin's blog? Good question. Turns out that while I was visiting the Temple's in Brooklyn over Labor Day weekend Iz found a bottle of methylene blue. He brought it back for me to add to my arsenal of mischief. Do I need to say that he was one of the ones eating the enchiladas?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I don't know if you have ever had one, a phone call in the middle of the night that scares the crap out of you. I had one last night... I have caller ID and don't ever pick up 'unknown' numbers. I don't know why I did last night...

Reporter: Hello my name is Richard Lazano, I am with the LA Times, I am trying to reach the family of Carl Pack.

Me: Yes he is a relative of mine.

Reporter: Are you aware of the train accident that happened in the Los Angeles area ma'am?

Me: (puzzled) Yes I am aware that there was a accident, what does this have to do with Carl Pack.

Reporter: Ma'am I am sorry you have not heard or been notified but Carl Pack was among the dead.

Me: (feeling sick) I am sure you must be mistaken. Carl Pack is my father in law. The accident happened yesterday, I am sure our family would have heard had he been on the train.

Reporter: The coronor just released these names, in the last hour.

Me: I just talked to my sister in law 30 minutes ago. She is his daughter and lives in town. We talked about the crash and later in the conversation I asked about her parents. She would have told me. We would have been notified.

Reporter: Are you sure? I have his birthday at 01/01/50, he is listed as 58 years old.

Me: Yes that is his birthday but I am sure your information is incorrect.

Reporter: The age was released by the coronor.

Me: I am sure we would know.

Reporter: But you haven't talked with Mr. Pack

Me: No.

Reporter: Can I relay this information to my editor? Can I have your name.

Me: My name is Jenni.

Reporter: Jenni Pack.

Me: No, I would rather not give my information

He already knew my information, I didn't care. All I wanted was to get off the phone so I could make some calls. I love my father in law but I don't talk with him often. I was sweating, sick and almost crying by this point. He left me with his name and contact info and told me to contact me if I knew anything.

I called my mother in law. She calmed my fears (even though she is on the other side of the country from her husband right now). CW came home he called his dad just to make sure he was ok. Everything is fine. Except we can't figure out the mix up. Identity theft? who knows. But it was scary. Here is some info on the crash if you are interested.

*Names have been changed to protect everyone but me...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Australian Ballads and Rhymes

My Grandmother bought me a nifty little book for my birthday in honor of my upcoming trip to Australia. I'm thinking I am going to take this book with me to keep me company during my time in another country.

I just happened to open it up tonight and read the first page. I thought I'd share it here.

"A Voice from the Bush"

"O! mihi praeteritos..."

High noon, and not a cloud in the sky to break this blinding sun!
Well, I've half the day before me still, and most of my journey done.
There's little enough shade to be got, but I'll take what I can get,
For I'm not as hearty as once I was, although I'm a young man yet.

Young? Well, yes, I suppose so, as far as the seasons go;
Though there's many a man far older than I down there in the town below -
Older, but men to whom, in the pride of their manhood strong,
The hardest work is never too hard, nor the longest day too long.

But I've cut my cake, so I can't complain; and I've only myself to blame.
Ay! that was always their tale at home, and here it's just the same.
Of the seed I've sown in pleasure, the harvest I'm reaping in pain.
Could I put my life a few years back, would I live that life again?

Would I? Of course I would! What glorious days they were!
It sometimes seems but the dream of a dream that life could have been so fair.
So sweet, but a short time back, while now, if one can call
This life, I almost doubt at times if it's worth the living at all.

One of these poets - which is it? somewhere or another since,
That the crown of a sorrow's sorrow, is remembering happier things.
What the crown of a sorrow's sorrow may be I know not; but this I know, -
It lightens the years that are now, sometimes to think of the years ago.

(Poem continues, but not here. You have to get the book to read how it ends!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A sister for me?

Happy Birthday, Sis!

We have so many stories. Since it's her birthday let me share this one:

My sister and I are 11 months apart. "Irish twins," apparently. I wasn't even a year old when she became a part of my life. Like so many of my stories about my early childhood, I don't remember the events of this one myself. I don't know that we kids were that outrageous prior to gaining our own awareness, or just that parents tend to remember crazy details to hold over you when you get older. What a perfect scenario. Just remember some stories that are impossible for your kids to remember because they are too young, then repeatedly tell them and they have no defense!

So, anyway, the story goes that I was at home when my sister came home from the hospital. As a matter of introduction they set her on the floor with me. I had been playing with some kind of bottle (probably plastic, but who knows), which I promptly used to bump her on the head. My guess is that I had just watched the Knights of King Arthur and was merely christening her into my kingdom. She obviously didn't suffer major brain damage, and you only hurt the ones you love right? Hmm, maybe hurt is a strong word. I'm going with "love tap."

I believe this story has its origins in a picture my Mom took of the two of us together. The next time I have a chance to look at the 'ole photo collection I'll have to do some investigating.

My friend sent me a different kind of survey a while back. Usually you fill out details about yourself to forward onto others. This one had questions you answer about the person who sent it to you. My sister and I exchanged surveys, and these were our responses about this particular incident.

Amy's responses:

1. What is my name? (If you get this wrong you're fired!)Arron

2. Where did we meet? At home - you hit me with a bottle!

3. Take a stab at my middle name:Carl

4. How long have you known me? 31 years, and 2 1/2 months

5. Do I smoke? No

6. What was your first impression of me upon meeting? You were a meanie

My responses:

1. What is my name? (If you get this wrong you're fired!) Amy

2. Where did we meet? At a bottle factory. I saved you from a falling pile of bottles, but unfortunately one escaped and accidentally beaned you in the head.

3. Take a stab at my middle name: Lou, Sue, Lynn

4. How long have you known me? Since you came into this world.

5. Do I smoke? Only when you cook.

6. What was your first impression of me upon meeting? Who let a baby in this bottle factory? She's gonna get beaned by a bottle!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Rusted Buoy

I went away to school in Hawaii some time ago. The beautiful island of Oahu offered not only an education, but a variety of experiences to grow from as well. One particular day some friends and I ventured down to the water's edge for a rest from our academic pursuits. Not far from the beach was a small island that had been set aside as a wildlife refuge. We saw others making the trek across the reef connecting the island to the beach, so we followed.

The little island was full of things to explore and discover. We slowly toured the island taking in all we could. We found all sorts of things that had washed up on the island's beaches and sifted through them looking for anything interesting. Eventually we came to a large shelf that was filled with water to about our ankles. We found many sea cucumbers, starfish, and sea urchins while walking along the shelf. After a few moments something greater caught our attention.

In the middle of the shelf lay a big, rusted buoy. We trudged over to the buoy to look it over more closely. We soon decided that it had been tossed onto the shelf when the waves had been much bigger. As the water calmed and receded the buoy was left stranded, waiting for us to find it. While inspecting our discovery someone suggested pushing the buoy back into the ocean. At once we were at work. We quickly rolled the buoy across the shallow pool to the edge. However, the edge of the shelf posed a much greater problem. The waves there were rough, and every now and then one would be big enough to crash onto the shelf. As the bigger waves would crash we would run away from the buoy for fear of being crushed under its weight. Not only would the waves stop our efforts, but they would also push the buoy further back onto the shelf.

We finally abandoned our attempt to free the buoy and it remained on the shelf. Despite the failure that day I succeeded in learning one of life's greatest lessons. Many people find challenges and weaknesses have become trapped in their lifes, like the buoy. With valiant efforts they struggle to overcome until, finally, they reach the edge where they are ready to cast away those difficulties. While the journey to the edge may seem easy, they soon find waves of frustration or failure pushing them back. The last step is sometimes the hardest to take.

I often find myself trying to cast off my "buoys" only to be pushed back. The more I live my life, the more I realize that I cannot do it alone. I have learned the way is much easier if I follow God, and turn to Him for help. While we must go to the edge and do all that we can to overcome, we can never truly free ourselves until we cast away our problems despite all that keeps pushing us back. I've found that just as the ocean reached past its bounds to place the buoy on the shelf, it can also reach past them to take it back.

(Modified from original story written in 1995. Posted here by request from Cailin.)

A little blog-lovin'

Ok, so I am in love with this blog. Laughed so hard lemonade came out my nose (boy did that hurt). Enjoy (the blog or my pain your pick).

Let's talk about the weather

Hi my name is Jenni and I have compulsive weather syndrome.

If you didn't already know I was a nerd, this just confirms it. I am obsessed with the weather. I have to check on it constantly. When I can't check on it at I am checking on it on the Weather Channel. At night I will stop what I am watching at 10pm so I can watch the weather on the local news.

I think this disorder may run in the family. My niece 3 states away can't go to school without first turning on the weather channel, she's 10. You want more evidence... My dad stayed up every night till after 10pm even though he was up at 4am "to watch the weather". I would definitely say it's hereditary.

My disease has gotten progressively worse since we moved to Texas. We didn't really have weather where I grew up. Arizona has Sun, Sun, Sun 300 days a year and in case you haven't heard California is known for it's mild weather. So all this freaky Texas weather is making my CWS a serious problem. I will be honest, cloudy weather really just depresses me.

Who knows? Maybe I was meant to be a weather girl (on the radio obviously).

So right now I am watching Hurricane Ike and wishing it could just stay to the south. Here's to hoping for no company, from my little brother and his family or from Big Bad Ikie.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


These past few blog entries have reminded me why I started a blog in the first place. I like writing. I have never thought I was very effective as a writer, but I figured practice would make perfect. I have been jotting down ideas I've had about what to write about next. Who knows if any of the ideas will ever be launched into this small space on the internet, but maybe they will.

So, I decided to look back through what I've already written and see if any of it was worth posting. The bulk of my writing was when I was new to the LDS (Mormon) church and is very spiritually oriented. There are two poems I wrote which kinda stand out at the moment. Just an early warning, most of my writing is unusually hopeful. Isn't that what religion should be about? I'm including one of those "The sun'll come out tomorrow..." poems and a goofy one.

Church "Hymns"

I've always wondered why there's only church "hymns."
Isn't it wrong to have no "hers" in them?
It wouldn't be much, just a line here or there,
to balance it out and make it more fair.
I'd even help. I'd pen a few words
so they'd feel wanted as we sing like the birds.
You know, it's amazing what this would do,
not only to hymns, but all the hers too.


When you're up to your knees in mud and it seems you can't go on,
take another step ahead you'll see it won't be long.

'Till the sun will shine, its light will fill your soul.
Soon the world will dry; look up, you'll see your goal.

There's heaven beyond. Look past this dismal vale.
Let your heart sing out, listen to it's tale.

Though the rains may come and the mud, deeper, may seep,
with every step you'll earn great blessings to reap.

Up to your knees in mud? Heart of pain and despair?
Step ahead, look up, sing out. Trust the sun will be there.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Education of a Mom

Two important subjects were discussed at the breakfast table this morning.

Alex: Mom, have you ever had a really important job?
Me: What do you mean important? I have an important job now.
Alex: No I mean really important, like the president of something.
Me: I have an important job raising this family (teaching moment) my job raising you kids is so important that the President of our church issued a proclamation to the world about it.
Alex: President Hinkley
Me: yep and I even have a copy if you want to read it.

Eating resumes....

Alex: Guess what Mom.
Me: Alex if you are going to spout random trivia at me I would rather not guess.
Alex: (crestfallen)
Me: Is this random trivia?
Dad: Is it useful information Alex?
Alex: I think so...
Me: Ok tell me.
Alex: Mom, did you know that 20 buttons are lost every minute.
Me: (cracking up) Ok Alex, just so you know, THAT was random trivia.
Dad: Well at least you have something to blog about later.

Moral of this story, don't wish for more to blog about it or you may be subjected to questions about your job and infomation regarding the buttons of the world.

:) Good day!

Can You Play?

I saw this on Cailin's blog, who saw it on Bettina Grange's blog and thought it was fun.

Here are the directions:

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you. If you don't want to play on your blog, or if you don't have a blog, I'll leave my memory of you in my comments.

Labor Day Weekend with the Temple's

My friend Cailin is showing me up! I've been home from my trip to Brooklyn, New York (not to be confused with Brooklyn, Maryland) for a week already. Cailin has posted not one, but two entries on her blog about the adventure. You can check them out by clicking on the links below.

She did a great job with her posts. I should just leave it at that and not say anymore, but I won't. I had such a good time. I enjoyed every moment I got to stay with Cailin, Israel, and the boys. Keahi and Jarom are growing so quickly. I'm amazed to hear Jarom talking since he was only about a year old the last time I saw him.

Keahi is as brilliant as ever. I read a few pages from a space book with him during my visit. I was asking him questions, not like a grown-up would typically as a child. You know, like, "What are the shiny things in the sky?" No, with Keahi I was asking him why Pluto is not a planet anymore. The discussion was more like two colleagues talking about the decision of the IAU to demote Pluto to a sub-planet status. He continued on with the irony that Mercury is still a planet even though it's smaller than Pluto. (NOTE: This is really not true. See the comments for more details.) He then told me Pluto has an irregular orbit thus complicating it's bid to be an official planet. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up.

We did make it to several New York attractions. The Natural History Museum, the Bronx Zoo, the Brooklyn Labor Day Parade. I should've got a picture of drunk-head-stand guy, but was too enraptured watching the police escort him out of the parade. For a moment I thought he was his own little parade party.

My boss had told me Friday before I left that I would be lucky to get to Brooklyn in 5 hours being the holiday. I actually made it in about 4 1/2. The drive back was an easy and uneventful 3 hours. I was surprised there was no where near the volume of traffic I was expecting.

Anyway, here are a few pictures from my end that I think capture the fun of the weekend holiday.

One of the few pictures of Keahi pushing Jarom in the truck. Jarom was so happy to push Keahi, and Keahi insisted on being pushed. Little Jarom was drenched with sweat when we finally left for the museum.

Israel was quite the gentleman and let Cailin ride up front with me when we went to pick him up from work. He had to cram in the space between the two car seats in the back. He did bring us sugary donut goodness for our trip to the museum though.

Typical Keahi! He gets so excited about specific things that he doesn't care about all the stuff in between. The highlight of the Natural History Museum for him was the blue whale, whale shark, dinosaurs, and meteorites. Honestly, though, what kid or adult isn't excited about those. Israel did teach me that sperm whales (seen here) aren't really threatened by giant squids. The injuries they get from them are superficial... only flesh wounds.

Cailin posted a picture of the smoothie stand in her blog, but how about a picture of Cailin at the smoothie stand. In case you can't tell which one she is, she's the Asian girl waiting in line.

I was surprised how much the Brooklyn Labor Day Parade was made up of politicians and local leaders. Here's Mayor Bloomberg and his entourage. His appearance makes sense, but the Attorney General and his posse?

The first exhibit we saw at the Bronx Zoo was the Butterfly Garden. The "guards" announce as you enter not to touch the plants or butterflies. Keahi, ever the brilliant one, decides that blowing on the butterflies is not actually touching them. Notice Jarom helping a brother out.

Keahi and Jarom were hiding in the folds of a fake tree at the gorilla exhibit. I guess Keahi is making sure Jarom is really hiding. I think he was halfway choking the boy. This was just after Jarom spotted me sitting on a waiting bench and made a beeline towards me shouting, "Uncle Arron!" How can I not love these kids?

No trip would be right if I didn't climb something. Notice Israel in the back taking a picture. If you flip back and forth between the two it's like you're watching the Matrix.

Apparently 3 adults, 2 kids and a stroller is too much for Skyfari. This is Israel and Keahi ahead of us on the ride. Israel was smart and got a video of the whole ride. I just took pictures. You can hear Keahi ask about Mommy, and if the cab would split open if it falls. We weren't as concerned about them. Oh no.

Jarom and I pretended we were on a wild roller coaster. I told him, "Jarom lift up your hands!" and he did it. He didn't ask, "Uncle Arron, what crazy thing are you making me do?" He just did it. What a cool kid.

Thanks Cailin and Israel for sharing your family with me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Robin's unholy fruits of hellfire

I'm from Arizona. Being born and raised in a desert means that you are used to certain things. For example, seeing snow on TV and in the movies... and only on TV and in the movies. Another example is the anticipation and eventual joy that is monsoon season. Practically all of the annual rainfall occurs during a three to four week period. Everyone has their idea of what Arizona is, but I'm sure most agree on one thing, the place is hot.

Hot isn't just the temperature though. From a young age we are taught to appreciate hot flavors as well. Case and point, when I was not even old enough to walk my parents went to a Mexican buffet called Pancho's. The place is awesome! All the Mexican food you can eat, and you can raise a little Mexican flag at your table if you want more food. Tangent! Back to my story. We're sitting in Pancho's, when Dad looks over at me and sees me sitting there sucking on my pacifier. (I was a clever kid.) Having probably just dipped a chip in some salsa he suddenly decides to enroll me in a social study involuntarily. He reaches over and grabs my pacifier, dips it in the salsa and sticks it back in my mouth. Obviously I don't remember this personally, but when he recounts the story he usually says, "I figured if you cried I had milk." Gee, nevermind the fact that you just stuck salsa in your kid's mouth on purpose. However, according to Dad, I instantly noticed that my previously saliva-flavored sucking toy now had a new taste to it. I was intrigued. A puzzled look crossed my face as I tried to decide on whether this change was to my liking. After a moment of thought, and few more hits on the pacifier, I reportedly determined the change was good and continued sucking on it without further response. "That was when I decided to keep you," my Dad finishes.

All of this is to say, I'm definitely no stranger to spicy food. So, about a week ago a co-worker mentioned she had a garden and had been growing all sorts of stuff she was trying to pass on to interested people. She told me about peppers she had and asked if I wanted any. Not one to pass up on free food, I happily accepted the offer. She brought in the peppers pictured in this post last Tuesday in a crate. I grabbed about 3 of the orange ones, 3 of the green ones, the two yellow orange ones, and a small greenish one. As she gave them to me she cautioned that she had eaten a few of them over the weekend and thought they were pretty hot. She suggested cooking them to reduce the intensity.

That night I went home intending to make some sort of stir fry. I had remembered from my time in Arizona that often the seeds of the pepper are what makes it hot. I proceeded to clean out the seeds and cut them into pieces. This probably goes without saying, but I boldly performed this cooking ritual unprotected, without gloves. I had a skillet with some sesame dressing, some vinaigrette, and a small amount of soy sauce. At this point I am tossing anything I think will go well into the skillet. After the peppers I added some cubed chicken, and some cola rice I had made previously. I finished off my creation with some cabbage stuff they add to pupusas, and simmered for a few minutes.

Red flag #1. As I was cooking everything I noticed I was coughing every now and then because of the fumes. "Maybe the sauce and everything heating up is just a little smokey," I reasoned to myself. Nevermind that my roommate, helping me tear up the kitchen floor, was also coughing.

Red flag #2. I happened to brush my nose with my hand at some point in the process. What can only be described as a mix between Icy Hot and sticking your hand on a metal slide that has been sitting in the Arizona summer sun began pulsating on my tender nose parts. My nostril was on fire and rubbing it wasn't making it any better.

Red flag #3. After cooking the mix long enough to make sure it was well cooked (you have to cook out the hot in the peppers right?) , I sat down to eat my meal. The first bite was too warm to taste. "I just need to let it cool down," I again reasoned to myself. After 10 minutes the temperature of the food had not diminished and my nose was still smoldering. I decided to call it a game and not risk punishing my intestines for the next few days with what was obviously spicy food.

Having ignored all of the signs, I went on with my night thinking I had just made a meal that was a little too ambitious and hotter than I really knew I could take. If my story ended there I would have been a happy man. Oh no, I'm an idiot.

I continued my nightly rituals, checking email, watching TV, a nap of three to four hours. I woke up sometime around 1am and discovered that my contacts were dry and my vision was blurry. Yep, they had to come out. Let me pause to tell those of you who don't already know exactly why you never handle hot peppers without gloves. What makes them hot, Capsaicin, is oil based. That means you can't just wash it off with water. So when I put my pepper juice covered finger in my eye to take out my contact, the delicate surface of my eye screamed in pain. "Yeooooooooowwwww!" I groggily murmured. Unfortunately I didn't get it out with the first try.

My mind raced through the events of the night. Take peppers home. Cut open peppers. Wash out peppers with bare hands. Red flags 1, 2, and 3. Burning, tired eyes. Dry contacts. Oh crap! I paused to survey my pain, and then manned-up and went in to retrieve the contact. With one out, and a now swollen right eye, my left eye was waiting in fear. "I gotta get it out," I reasoned, though reason had clearly gone to a different home that night. The burning was much worse that the nose, now only an ember of the previous fire earlier in the night.

All said, the ordeal of getting the contacts out wasn't long lived. I restored my sight with my blessed glasses and went to bed shortly thereafter. I knew the next morning was going to be a challenge and did a quick search on the internet about ensuring the pepper juices of liquid fire were removed from my hands. I found a page where some guy had capsaicin on his hands and was barely able to tolerate the pain. A few posts suggested pouring milk on his hands for temporary relief. Another post suggested lemon juice. A few other posts unwisely suggested bleach. I also learned again of the oil-based qualities of my now immediate nemesis.

The next morning I set off to make sure my hands would be free from the pepper juice. I went downstairs to the kitchen to engage in cleaning. I first poured olive oil on my hands thinking I would get the one oil off with the other. After that I poured milk on my hands. Who knows, maybe there was some inactivating enzyme that would work its magic. Finally I poured some lemon juice. "There, clean from eye irritating oils," I concluded.

You probably already know the next part. My hands weren't the whole problem. When I took the contacts out I had smeared them up with the juices, and left them all night to soak in a water-saline solution. The oils hadn't gone anywhere. I realized this just after I put the first contact back in my eye and it swelled shut for the next 30 minutes. Having taken a step down the path of no return, I again manned-up and put the other contact in. I don't think I would be exaggerating when I say that I considered putting head through a wall to stop the pain. I had to turn off all the lights just to be able to slowly open my eyes. I grabbed some VISINE® FOR CONTACTS® and tried to flush things out. Surprisingly the visine was helpful, but I couldn't get enough into my eyes to actually make a huge difference.

I eventually regained enough composure to venture on to work. I wore sunglasses, like always, but had to cup my hands around the outside of them to keep the sun out. Would you believe the cool air from the AC was wonderful? I got to work and began setting up for a training I had to do. While sitting in the room one of my co-workers walked by and asked if I was crying. "Well, yes, but not for what you think," I replied.

A Comeback?

I think I can, I think I can...start blogging again that is.

It's not like I have nothing to say. As those of you who know me can attest, I never seem to run out of things to talk about. Even talking about the most mundane things makes me happy. The problem is when I actually type out these things, they seem well, what's that word again???


But I'm going to try not to worry about what my fan club out there might find interesting...I know all 2 of you that actually read my blog might find that appalling but live with it. :)

Okay, so maybe I will find something interesting to "type" about.