Sunday, November 26, 2006

Just randomness...

Yesterday we were doing more planting and digging. And a little lizard jumped out of a tree or something I had just put on the ground. So I did what anyone else would do, I caught it. And then I went inside and got my camera (almost let him go in the kitchen...The Mom would have loved that. As would have The Cat) and took pictures of it. You can see how thrilled he was for me to be holding him.

This incident reminded me of a time back in high school when a lizard jumped onto my face from a Christmas tree I was holding on my lap in a car. Seriously. And it made me laugh again when I thought of it.

When we lived in New York, our family used to drive to FL - usually to the Ft. Myers area - for the Christmas break. We would buy some small tree in a pot at Wal-Mart or Lowe's or something, and some cheap decorations, and use that as our Christmas tree at the condo. So this one year we get a little potted tree and I'm holding it on my lap for the car ride back to the condo. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a lizard jumped out of the tree and landed right on my face! Of course I screamed liked crazy and scared the crap out of everyone.

And that's the story of how our Christmas tree attacked me one year.

Tonight we went to the Tampa Bay Lightning game. They won! We went and sat next to the glass during the pre-game shoot-around. I took some cool pictures, as is evidenced here. (I bet you guys never thought that you would have to suffer through my Thanksgiving vacation this way - it's like watching Aunt Helda's slides of hiking the Oregon Trail, or something equally boring.)

Holmqvist, the goalie, made many many awesome saves during the real game, not so many during warm-ups. And was one of the words to spell during an intermission spelling bee contest.

Marty St. Louis had a goal and an assist during the game. Prior to the game he attracted two (semi-non) blondes while meditating.

Marty's teammate, Doug Janik, didn't look as thrilled during the shoot-around. He did get slammed into the boards during the game, for which the evil Ottawa player got to spend two minutes sitting by himself in a plexiglass box and wasn't allowed to play with the rest of his teammates because he had been bad. Unfortunately, the Lightning forgot to notice that they had an extra guy on the ice and didn't take advantage of the power play and just skated.

This is a pretty, artistic shot. Really.

Brad Richards is really good. And he cut his hair recently, I think.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Box in the scores

I just realized this morning how much time it now takes to find a box score in the sports section of the news paper now. As I was searching through the Bradenton and St. Pete papers today for a high school football box score, I realized something...the sports pages of all of the places I have lived since I left NY suck. It's absolutely impossible to find box scores for games in any of them. Back in the day, the NY papers we read - the Poughkeepsie Journal and the Daily Freeman in Kingston made it open up the front page of the sports section and right inside was an entire page dedicated to box scores...high school, college, pro - whatever it was, it was there.

Now, in order to find box scores, you have to search the sports section far and wide to figure out who scored each touch down or served penalty minutes. It's like "Where's Waldo?" only without the red and white stripes to make it easy to find it. Sometimes the box scores are hidden in articles. Sometimes they are filling space between an ad and an article. Sometimes they are arranged according to sport. Sometimes by city. Sometimes by level of play. Sometimes they aren't organized. You have to flip through the entire sports section to find 1 box score.

To me, it's akin to how grocery stores lay out their products to make people walk through the entire store and impulse shop...bread is opposite milk which is nowhere near the deli or butcher. Seriously, once you have our 50 cents for the paper...does it matter if we look through the whole sports page or just get our box score?

And I never did find the box score I was looking for this morning. ***Sigh***

Friday, November 24, 2006

Day Two of Tree Extraction

We got it out! Yesterday (Turkey Day) we went back outside to tackle our tree relocation project. And I know that you have all been refreshing your web browser hourly to see if I have a follow-up to Tree Extraction 101. Well, here it is!

When I last left you, The Dad had brought out the chain saw and went after the roots using this new tool. (Flashback:)
When that didn't work instantly, we abandoned the job for the evening and went inside for dinner. And now, you are all caught up.

Yesterday morning we went back outside, brought the tractor back around to the tree, and tied it up again.

Then, another new tool entered the mix...the ax! Here's The Dad attempting to be Paul Bunyan without even realizing it:

And here's the Ax-Man at work:

The Dad chopped, and we dug, and we pulled and we pushed and we pryed...and at last...we achieved the impossible...we tore that tree right out of the ground!! (This picture is simply entitled "Victory.")

Aren't the roots cool? (Well, I think they are!)

Then The Mom started pulling the tree to it's final resting place at the front of the property line.

It followed much the same path as the first tree - including passing the greenhouse.

And along the bank of the pond.

Until it got stuck!
While The Dad was contemplating a way to get this tree to continue on his merry little way, I went back to take an "after" picture of what we did by removing this tree. But first...a little reminder as to what the front looked like before:

And, now:
Amazing difference! And since I was over there, I took a close-up of our abandoned hero:
Then The Dad put cardboard under the tree and that proved to be the trick, and the tree was back on the way to a new home.
Eventually we got the tree to the property line, and dug the appropriate size hole.

Then we got it into the hole, so that it could take a look at its pathetic neighbors...the holly trees.

And all the glory that is a pygmy palm:

And with his friend, the other transplanted pygmy palm:

So, to conclude this epic tale, two of the 5 gigantic pygmy palms have been moved. The other 3 will die shortly - due to their lack of willingness to cooperate with the ones who try to save their lives. There are 3 or 4 other little ones we will move, and then all of these giant holes left behind will be filled with dirt and new trees...which hopefully will not have to be moved in 2 years. But, I'll check back in in about 700 days or so and let you know!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day!

Food, football and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! Wahoo.

Funny note about the parade this morning...Matt Lauer was describing a Pokeman balloon (perhaps Peekachew? Is that really a character?) floating down the street and said that on screen the character is about 1.4 feet tall, but today he is the height of two tyrannosaurus rexes. Yes, great frame of reference, Matt - because everyone has seen a tyrannosaurus rex and can imagine what you are talking about when we see that ballon. I prefer to think of Pokeman as the size of 4 giraffes that have encountered a T-Rex and are now headless.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tree Extraction 101

Today's blog post is being brought to you by the color green, since I spent 2.5 hours of my day moving a gigantic pygmy palm, and another 2 hours attempting to move a second gigantic pygmy palm. It's too much to comprehend, I know. First the Cliff's Notes version, then the full illustrated version.

Two years ago, I helped The Mom do some work in a little garden in front of my parents' house, where we planted 5 little pygmy palm trees. Cute, yet attractive, little trees. They came in little 10 gallon or so pots that I tenderly carried around the store until they landed in a basket, went through the check-out at Home Depot or Lowes or a like store, and then eventually into the ground at our house. Part of the goal of these trees was to fill in a space that was vacated recently when my parents had to remove a palm tree that had gotten too big for it's britches and was taking over the area in front of our dining room - and threatening to eat our siding. The tree was moved to the front of the property where it now lives and prospers:

I include this tree not just to show the great beauty of a palm, but to show that The Mom doesn't have great judgement when it comes to putting trees in front of our house.

Anyway, the pygmy palms that were planted didn't live up to their names...instead they became giants, taking over the front of the house. So the goal was to remove the trees and replant them in line with the above relocated palm.

Easier said than done! Today we got ONE moved. In two and a half hours. Then we took a break for lunch. And started working on a second tree. And didn't get it out of the ground yet. Despite two solid hours of work.

Now the full, illustrated version.

As we began our mission, the three of us (The Mom, The Dad and The Steph) evaluated our five "clients" and choose the one closest to the garage with which to begin. We dug around the palm with our shovels, as you do when preparing to dig up any tree. And when I say "we," I mean The Dad and The Steph. The Mom watched. Or as she puts it, "supervised." After much digging, we began to feel like we were getting somewhere. And by somewhere, I mean closer to lunch. So we grabbed some rope, The Mom brought the tractor over, and we hooked up the tree and began pulling. We struggled, and chopped at the root bulb with shovels and used railroad ties as levers, and dug and sweated and pulled with the tractor. And let me tell you, this struggle was not without pain, for these palms have (what I consider to be) deadly prickers on them! SEE:

Eventually we conquered this massive beast and pulled it from the ground. Leaving behind a giant hole...

...which was bigger than Denny.

Next, we had to get the giant displaced pygmy palm to its new home at the front of the property line. But remember, we had to spend two hours just yanking it out of the ground. This thing did not like moving.

First, we tried putting it in our little trailer and attaching that to the tractor and pulling it that way. That was rather unsuccessful, to say the least. So we resorted to just tieing it to the tractor and dragging it. And off it went, leaving a little poop-like trail behind.

The tree had quite the journey. The Mom dragged it past our greenhouse.

And then past her little boat.

And then past the pond.

And how could I not capture this happy little parade on film?

We then got to the giant pygmy palm's final resting place, where we discovered that our pre-dug hole was not quite big enough for the little guy.

But then, through the magic of television and blogging, it was!

And through the magic of having a place to put the dirt from the hole to make it big enough.

Finally, our gigantic pygmy palm had a new home. Isn't he gorgeous?

But our day wasn't over, yet. We still had 4 more trees to move...although at this point in time we had decided that 2 of the 4 were going to have to suffer a brutal and horrible death rather than being transplanted, because it was better for them to die than from us to collapse in solid exhaustion from attempting to move them. However, we did want to save these two beautiful specimens that were covering for the aforementioned giant palm previously moved about 2 years ago from this same locale. We went after the one on the right, first.

And dug and dug and dug, attempting to get under the tree so that we could get to our no-fail plan of digging, chopping at roots, pulling with the tractor, prying with long wooden planks and pushing on the count of three. So the tractor got hooked up.

(This is what the tree saw from his view.)

Here is The Dad attempting to pry the tree up with a railroad tie while I pull with the tractor. This is what might be considered an "action shot" since I am currently on the tractor facing backwards, attempting to yank a tree out of the ground and capture the moment for all to see.

And we basically got nowhere. So The Dad proudly brought out the big guns...the chainsaw!!

Don't panic! We didn't chop down (that) tree! He went after the dirt and roots around the peripheral of the main root bulb. And no, we still haven't gotten the tree out. We gave up for the day and went out to dinner. Maybe Friday I'll have a success story to share with Tree #2. Because this tree is NOT going to get the best of us. The other 3 trees, they may have to die for their persistence and excessive growth. But not Tree #2. He will live and enjoy and long and lovely life at our property line if I have anything to say about it!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Line Dancing For One

I didn't get to see everything on my Top Ten list of things I wanted to see at the airport when I flew down to Florida yesterday, but I did see something I never thought I would see...a girl practicing her line dancing while waiting to get on her flight.

I had to connect in Atlanta, and when I got to the gate for the final leg of my journey, I saw a woman close to my age standing near the seats near the window, listening to an ipod. She kind of had her hand out like she was meditating and then brought them back in front of her, and repeated. I thought, "Oh, I wonder if she gets stressed out flying and is trying to calm herself or something." Seemed logical and not strange to me. So I went to the seats over in that area because there were a bunch open, and I shortly figured out why.

Before I knew it, this girl had broken out into a spin and then heel-toe-heel-toe and tip your hat and shuffle left. Yes, she was line-dancing in the Atlanta airport. By herself. To the music in her ipod. Which I guess is better than dancing to the music in her head in the Atlanta airport.

So I tried to read my book but it was really hard not to stare at this girl doing line dances in front of me. And no one else at the gate could stop staring either. The funny thing was that she wasn't doing the full energy line-dancing. And here's the best way to describe what she looked like.

You know the girl at the country bar that knows all of the steps to all of the dances and either is at the club by herself every weekend or maybe her friends don't dance and just join her for the beers and the cute butts? And when she's on the dance floor she tries to act like she is too cool to put energy and excitement into the steps - she's trying to look like she doesn't really care. So her movements are smaller - just basically going through the steps like the way that a figure skater does his or her routine in a mini-version on land while preparing for their performance.

Or the skinny little cowboy-wannabe that's at the country bar wearing a pair of tight Wranglers, cowboy boots that are a half-size too small and the plaid shirt tucked in all the way so that it doesn't even have a little bit of a "blouse" to it at the waist, and of course the obligatory brown leather belt with giant belt buckle with a bronco on it. He is permanently bent forward just a little bit at he waist so that you always wonder if he might just fall forward for no real reason. And he dances the whole time with his thumbs in his front belt loops, so he only does the footwork and kind leans with his shoulders to shadow the hand motions. But he is also attempting to be cool and blend in since he's the dorky cowboy that the girls don't really like that much. So in his attempt to be cool and show that he doesn't really care either - he has the restricted motion dance moves, too.

That's exactly what this girl did. Only she was doing the little mini-dance moves because there wasn't enough room for her to do the full-out dance. And everytime a new song came up on her ipod, an article of clothing would come off - a jacket, sweater. I was getting worried that if our flight was delayed and she got to dance to many more songs then I was going to have to find some $1 bills to tip her.

Yes, in the aiport in Atlanta.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Top Ten Things I Wanna See At The Airport This Weekend

You know how the airport is great for people watching? Well, I'm flying home to the Sunshine State this weekend for 10 days of sand and sun. I hope that somewhere between MSP, ATL and TPA, I see the following 10 things:

10. A family with a minimum of 4 crying children and 3 strollers.

9. At least 4 people frantically trying to find an outlet to plug in their laptop while they waste their $7.99 spent on Sprint WIFI.

8. 1 disgruntled teen-age girl wearing over-sized jeans walking 7 steps behind her parents and her 8 year old brother.

7. 1 aunt greeting her long-lost neices and nephews with red lipstick kisses.

6. 3 people contemplating whether or not a tube of lipstick is smaller than 3oz and can therefore be put into a zip-lock baggie and brought onto the plane.

5. A minimum of 8 people complaining that the lines to get through security are too long and their flight is in 15 minutes...and they just arrived 1.7 minutes before.

4. 47 really uncomfortable people trying not to touch each other or trip over each other's rolling bags on the tram that takes them from one end of the terminal to the other.

3. 6 drunk single people at the airport Chili's.

2. 1 underappreciated dad attempting to carry a Macy's bag with ripped handles full of crap and a "fold-up" stroller.

1. An entire family (consisting of a minimum of dad, mom 2 boys and a girl - possibly even a grandfather thrown in for good measure) wearing too-large green wool sweaters with red shoulders and giant white snowflakes in a black stripe across the chest.

(Close enough...)

Branding 101

KFC is changing their logo "again"...from this:

To this:

Nope, I don't really see much of a difference, either. Other than the Colonel and their name are now straight, rather than crooked, and the background red is crooked rather than straight. Oh, and he's cooking now rather than welcoming you at the door in a maitre d'- type costume.

Here's my thought - if you are going to spend millions of dollars to hire a company to come up with a "new" logo, then spend millions and millions of dollars in redesigning stationary, cups, napkins, signage, storefronts, sandwich wrappers, etc - then pick a new logo that shows that you changed it.

Honestly, if I hadn't read this article about the change, I wouldn't have had a clue that they were changing logos. As far as I'm concerned...someone gave them bad advice and they are wasting a TON of money on this.