Saturday, August 30, 2008

I didn't do it.

In lieu of the Olympics that are no longer on T.V., I've maybe watched too many episodes of CSI via CSI marathons.

Today, as I re-stained the wood edges of my flower beds in the yard, I was worried that I don't have anyone to collaborate my alibi if, for some reason, the red stain that dripped onto my clothes as I painted was to be mistaken for blood.

I swear I didn't do it. I was painting red stain onto my flower bed edges all afternoon.

It's red stain, I tell you.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I have a lot of frogs around here lately. I'm puzzled by the whole thing.

A few years ago, I had one frog. He and I were friends. He hung out by my water spigot. Then one day I was weed-whacking near the air-conditioner and I noticed a trail of blood . . . that led to what was left of my frog friend's dangling leg.

In my defense, the frog neglected to let me know that he was vacationing near the air-conditioner so that I would know to watch out for him.

So, last week I was mowing in my backyard, and I saw several frogs scatter in the grass as I went by with the mower. My first thought was that I had slaughtered an entire family of frogs with the mower, and that I would never get back into the good graces with the frogs.

Turns out, the frogs I saw were all of the frogs and they fled before I got there with the mower. So, no frogs were lost during the mowing of my yard.

But then I wondered . . . why all the frogs?

I'm a little rusty on my frog knowledge, but I'm pretty sure frogs come from tadpoles, which have to live in water. And as far as I can tell, there are no ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, oceans, or swimming pools in my yard.

Then, tonight I was out front moving the sprinkler and I saw two more frogs hopping around.

So, on the one hand I'm glad the frogs seem to have forgiven me for their friend's leg and they have returned to my land to once again make their home.

But on the other hand, where do they come from?

I will do my best not to hurt them. But on mowing day, they'd best find other places to be than in the path of the weed-whacker or the mower.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tyrant Can Read

One of my new re-favorite things to do these days is read.

I used to LOVE to read as a kid. I read all the time. Every summer, my mom would take my sister and me to the library to get involved in the summer reading program. We'd go each week and pick out our books. I'd pick more than I thought I could read, but I was usually finished with all of my books before it was time to go back to the library to return them and get more books.

We'd keep track of our books throughout the summer. It was fun at the end of the summer to see how many books we'd read. I was always a fast reader. I could read for hours. I could read while watching TV or listening to music and still absorb whatever I was reading. I loved it.

Then reading became schoolwork, and I was bored and not really interested in learning from reading. It's fun to read before they trick you into actually learning from the reading.

I think for a long time I also lost my attention span for sitting and reading. Even now, it tends to put me to sleep, no matter where I am.

Life also got really busy with too much information and stress filling up my brain. I don't think my brain could hold anything else that involved intentional intake.

But, life is much less stressful these days. I work normal hours. Which, I've discovered, is directly related to my stress levels and my brain's capacity to absorb more through activities, including reading. My brain no longer rebels at intentional information input that is purely for fun.

I read five books on my vacation a couple of weeks ago. This is huge for me. It might mean thhat I'm truly back to being a reader again. Of course, yhere were times on vacation when I would start to read and fall instantly to sleep (including once in a coffee shop). But by the end of my vacation, I gradually built up my reading stamina to where I could read and watch TV and keep up with both things at once.

It's entertainment multi-tasking, if you will.

In fact, these days one of my favorite activities is curling up on the couch, turning on the Olympics, and reading a book . . . all at the same time. It's genius. I watched all of Phelps's golds while reading about a childhood on an African farm.

I'm really into memoirs these days. I like stories of lives told by the people who lived them.

Of course, none of them are as awesome as my memoir will be. But, it's good to keep up with the competition.

This is something I've learned from my Olympics-watching.

It's pretty much a Summer Reading Olympics Program.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Heavy heart

My heart has been heavy today. It's the ninth anniversary of my sister's death.

Nine years since I had a sister. Hard to believe.

It's a day like any other day, but with a twist that I carry around for the day. Unbeknownst to many who don't know about it. And forgotten by many who have known.

I never forget. Every year.

I go to work like a normal day, expected to perform like a normal day, but it's not really a normal day for me.

Each year, I hear from less people. It's noticeable. This year, no one asked how I am. No hugs. No one to talk to. No knowing looks that comfort by communicating, "I know."

A few still remember and they let me know. I'm very thankful and appreciative for that.

It sucks being sad and feeling alone about it.

Good thing tomorrow is another day.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympic Blogging

If table tennis, trampoline, badminton, and speedwalking can be Olympic sports, I truly believe that in 2012, blogging should make it's Olympic debut as a sport.

But, in the meantime, I will blog my thoughts on table tennis. Incidentally, I will watch just about anything they call a sport for these Olympics. I'm not ashamed to say I watched trampoline finals tonight.

That's right.

Anyway, I do love what I know as ping-pong. I'm pretty good, if I do say so myself.

However, as an Olympic sport, it seems, well, not of the same level of glory and prestige in winning a gold medal as say . . . any one of Phelps's golds.

For instance,

  • There are 7 people in the stands watching the table tennis match that I'm watching right now.
  • Is it even called a "match?" No one knows.
  • The U.S. player is 44 years old. Compare that to the 12-year-old Chinese gymnasts who were probably on the uneven bars before they could walk. Did he have a real job and then one day decide to pursue his life-long dream of being Forrest Gump?
  • The two guys calling the match keep referring to one of the player's injuries. He has a back injury and a leg injury. Um, how do you get injured in ping-pong? Or was he moving his Lazy Boy recliner at home to make room for his new solid-gold ping-pong table when he threw his back out.
  • The players spend more time chasing down that tiny ping-pong ball than they do actually playing. Why don't they get ball boys like the tennis players do?
  • The U.S. team didn't even bother to send the real coach. They sent some other guy, who just had to help track down the tiny ping-pong ball for the players.
  • The players just broke the official game ball, which as the commentators just mentioned, is supposed to last the entire match. Do they not understand how many balls I can go through while playing with my friends? Those suckers are hard to find after I smash them on the table with extreme force and awesomeness. Fortunately, the Olympics pre-chooses a back-up ball for the rare cases that the original ball can't make it through a match.
  • These guys actually go over and towel off between points.
  • How do you train to become an Olympic Table-Tennis athlete? Is there a special diet? Weight-lifting? Cardio? I kinda feel like I could lay on the couch all day, eat a hunk of cheese and drink a Red Bull, then go down to the Rec Center and beat a few old people and some small children and call that a workout.
Don't get me wrong, those guys play faster than I can keep up with. I admire their skills.

Do I get a medal for staying up late to watch them play? I feel like I should.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Can't blog

Obsessed with Olympics.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's a good thing I don't live in China . . .

. . . because there are a whole lot of people out there cuter than I am.

I'd never get to do anything.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Well, my luggage finally made it here.

Seriously. This is how it ended up at my house, two days after I got back to my house.

When your luggage is "delayed," as the airlines call it, you have to file a claim. At that time, they have literally no information about where your bag might be or when (or if) you will ever see it again.

They ask you what it looks like (black, like every other bag in the entire world).

They ask you to describe a few items that might be inside the bag (which means they open it up and dig around in it to make sure it's yours).

They ask you when you last saw the bag (um . . . when I gave it to your people yesterday and they put a tag on it and sent it down that belt to where bags are then lost).

Then they give you a piece of paper with a record locater number on it and a phone number to call if you haven't heard anything by the next day. And you leave the airport feeling like you've left your child behind with a sketchy babysitter. This very personal thing that is yours and that contains some of your very personal things is completely at the mercy of people who mislabeled and misplaced your bag in the first place.

They are your only hope of recovering every pair of underwear you own and your most favoritest jeans in the whole world. And the only assurance they can offer you is "we'll do our best to get your bag back."

So, when I hadn't heard from them the first afternoon or at all the first night, I called them Sunday morning to get an update. The lady was very nice but said they had no new information. They still had not located my bag. But they might have an update later in the day.

I then discovered that you can check the status of your "delayed" bag online. So I obsessively checked online about every 30 minutes all day on Sunday. When the day had passed and I still had no indication from the airline that my bag was any closer to being found than it was the day before, I called them again.

Still no update. So I asked the lady what was her best thought on what happened to my bag. I've had "delayed" bags many, many times before (it seems to be a curse), but never for over 24 hours missing.

She rattled off, like, 10 things that could have "delayed" my bag. She said that since it was an international bag, it might be stuck in Customs somewhere. Apparently Customs can pull a bag and hold it for 24 hours for no good reason and without having to tell anyone.

I find it curious that luggage rules are so very, very strict. They dictate what you can take on the plane with you, how big your bags can be, how much they can weigh. They don't let you leave a bag unattended, for security reasons. They scan and x-ray your bags. Sometimes they open them and search them by hand. They don't even let your bag on your flight if you are not also on your flight.

BUT, should they decide they want to hold your bag while you fly away, they don't even have to tell you, the airline, security, NO ONE. Which means that in order to get your bag to you later, they have to put it on flight that you are not on.

This seems contrary to that whole rule that your bag can't fly on a flight that you, yourself, are not also partaking of.

Not only can they pull a bag and not tell anyone, there is no way to track that the bag has been pulled or kept. They can't even track if the bag made it to your first destination before being "delayed" before getting to your connecting flight.

You literally hand them your bag when you check in for your flight, then no one can tell you where it is until it is in your hands again at some point in time after you arrive at your new destination.

In fact, ALL bags are essentially lost the second they leave your control and become the responsibility of the airlines, until they arrive back in your hands.

Anyway, the lady concluded her "helpful" information by mentioning that 98.6% of all "delayed" bags are found and returned to their owners, and most of them are not missing any belongings.

That's really not as reassuring as I think she meant it to be.

So, after no actual news yesterday, I got a call this morning on my office line. It went something like this:

Me: Hello
Phone: Yes, hello. Is this The Tyrant?
Me: Yes
Phone: Ok. Are you missing a bag?
Me: YES. I am.
Phone: Ok, did you file a claim?
Me: YES. I did.
Phone: Ok, well I have a bag. What's the claim number?
Me: 123XYZ
Phone: Ok. I just needed to verify that this is the right bag. They put the wrong ticket on it when you checked it, so it doesn't match the luggage claim ticket they gave you when you checked the bag.
Me: Well, it must be my bag since you called my office line and I filed the claim with my cell number. The bag identification tag is my business card.
Phone: Oh.

Phone: Ok, we'll have this sent out to you today.
Me: Fantastic. When?
Phone: The driver will call you 30 minutes before he gets to your house.
Me: Fantastic. Thank you!

So, right after lunch I got a call on my cell phone, but I didn't recognize the number and the call cut off before anyone said anything. I tried to call it back but it wouldn't let me.

I called the "delayed" baggage number again to see if they could tell me if the delivery service had called because I would need to run home to meet my long lost suitcase. This guy was NOT helpful and it went something like this:

Me: Hi, I got a call that was cut off and I'm waiting for a call from the delivery service to give me 30 minutes notice that they will be delivering my bag to my house. Do you know if they called me?
Phone Guy: Do you have a claim number?
Me: 123XYZ
Phone Guy: M'aam, the bag was picked up this morning and they deliver within 6 hours, but the driver will call you 30 minutes ahead of time.
Me: Yes, I know. I got a call but it was cut off. I'm wondering if you can tell if the delivery service called so that I know if I should go home to be there when he gets there.
Phone Guy: I don't know if he called.
Me: There's no way to contact the delivery company and check?
Phone Guy: No, I can't do that. You should have your bag later today.
Me: Thanks.

Once again, they have NO IDEA WHERE MY BAG IS and no way to find out. Sheesh.

Fortunately, a little while later the delivery service called and asked if I could be home at 4:30 because they would be there at 4:30 with my bag. Done and done.

My bag was SO CLOSE to being home.

However, I come back from a meeting at 3:45 to find this message on my cell phone:

"Uh, hi. I'm from the delivery service and I have your bag. It's 3:30 and I got here a little earlier than I expected and I can't get anyone to come to the door. So, I'm just gonna leave the bag behind the fence on the right side of the house."
Did I mention that it has been raining most of the day today? And now my poor suitcase has been heaved over my fence into my soggy backyard.

So, I got in the car and hurried home to put my suitcase in the house. And this is what I found when I got home:

It's just the saddest long-lost luggage picture ever.

Oh well. At least I have my bag. And everything seems to still be in it that was originally in it, and there are no extra things that were not originally in it. I guess my bag is one of those 98.6%.

There's no real indication of what all my bag has been through during the past three days when I last saw it in Capetown. I hope it had a happy adventure.

But, I've certainly never been so happy to do laundry in my whole life.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Been around the world . . . again.

Sadly, I am back home after my vacation to South Africa. Not sad in the sense that I hate my home. But it's always sad to end one of my big trip vacations.

I just really, really love vacation. And I really, really, REALLY love seeing the world.

Regrettably, my luggage has gone rogue and decided to stay on vacation. Or maybe it's being held hostage somewhere by a group of rebels who enjoy stealing small suitcases full of dirty underwear and t-shirts.

Whatever the case may be, it's not here. And according to American Airlines, it is somewhere between Capetown and here . . . probably.

Hopefully it gets here. Otherwise, no presents for anyone. All of my shopping is also in that bag. With the dirty underwear.

More on vacation later. For now, enjoy this photo of me on an ostrich.

This photo also documents the last time I wore that outfit. I hope to see it again someday. Those are my most favorite jeans in the whole world . . . apparently lost somewhere around the world.