my oh-so-normal life

Location: California, United States

There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind. (the five people you meet in heaven)

Saturday, September 30, 2006


I don’t know what I really expected of Verona prior to arriving. In fact, I really didn’t know anything about Verona except that:
1. It’s in Italy
2. It’s the setting for Romeo and Juliet.
Verona is pretty amazing. The town itself is stunning. The architecture dates several hundred years (at least), and the town is infused with the various colors of terracotta stains. It is like looking at a bright, cheerful paint palette. The vibrancy echoes throughout the town. This vibrancy is reflected in the people and their attitudes. Drinking wine on one of the piazzas until just after two, we left as we had an early tour in the morning. However, we left the square filled with people enjoying their Friday evening and enjoying life in general. C’è la bella vita.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

At the Airport:
CDG (Charles de Gaulle) or Roissy, as it's known to the French

Since I'd like to wear sandals 365 days a year, I guess I have to vote for "cool" for the sandals and "pas cool" for the cowboy boots.... Anyone else want to toss their shoe into the ring?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The smallest can of Coke... EVER!
Courtesy of the Air France Lounge in Paris. I've never seen a can this tiny, not even in Japan. (And I think that says something!) The can is about 5 oz.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Something Totally Cool

On my Air France flight to Paris, each coach seat had a small screen in the back of the headrest for movies, games, etc. As we were approaching Charles De Gaulle airport (or Roissy, as the locals call it), the video presentation was switched to the plane flying over the map showing where we were as we approached. Then came the most amazing bit. The screen switched from the map to a live shot of the ground below us. As we flew toward the airport, the farmland and villages were seen on camera. I could look out the window and see the scenery that was displayed on the screen. As we got closer, the camera angle shifter to be looking straight out rather than down, but we were able to see the entire approach, right up to the gate. That was quite a trip.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Crown Room

Leaving Kohler, I drove down to the Milwaukee airport and was able to catch an earlier flight since it had been delayed. I had high hopes (not unlike the ant with his rubber tree plant) of catching the 3:40 flight so that I would get home just before 6 rather than at 9:15 p.m. As we landed, I called and the flight out of Cincinnati was delayed half an hour. Yippee! I ran to the gate, anxious to get home. I stood at the gate and watched the flight leave, full, without a seat for me. Big sigh.
So, here I sit in the Crown Room, forced to wait for the 7:45 p.m. flight that will get me home at 9:15 p.m. I swear. I sent the pic below to S via camera-phone with the caption. “Doesn’t Look Like It Sucks, But It Does.” I can honestly say that waiting for 3.5 hours in the Crown Room I probably drank too many glasses of wine. (Hey, but who’s judging, and who’s to say how many is to much anyway?) Well, I already knew that I could drink more than a bottle on my own. But, I’m not an alcoholic. Alcoholics go to meetings. : )

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Piggly Wiggly
You gotta love their web address:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Back to Wisconsin

I guess I just can’t get enough of the Midwest. Maybe that’s a good thing, thinking about the future....
So, I signed up for a two-week gig in Kohler (Sheboygan), WI, at Kohler, you know, like the bathroom fixtures. Well, personally, I would love to wear sandals 365 days-a-year. I was not-so-pleasantly-surprised to discover that it’s COLD in Wisconsin. Once I’d arrived, I remembered wearing a light sweater and being cold in August when it was 70 degrees, but now it’s in the low 60s and even low 40s in the morning as I head to work. I wish I had remembered that while packing. Better luck next week.
The most memorable happening this past week was right after I had arrived and was signing in at the main office. I asked where the restroom was. I entered and was completely stunned. It was amazing. The flooring was incredible, not to mention the sink and faucet fixtures, or the toilets (despite being in stalls), or the light fixtures. I stood there, mesmerized. Then I reminded myself, “This is Kohler, after all!” Duh. But the truly amazing thing is that the bathroom at the distribution center where I am working is just as amazing. I’m in love.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sault St. Marie, a trip to the UP
Many years ago, I traveled with my parents through the Welland Canal, from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, on my dad’s then-boat. We drove up to Sault St. Marie to see the town and the locks. The locks reminded me of that trip from Dover, Ontario to Toronto. While the locks through the Welland number eight at my recollection, there is only one lock to get from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. (It’s always interesting to remember that the sum total of the locks in the Welland Canal is the height of Niagara Falls.) Shortly after we arrived, there was a commercial vessel that passed through. It is truly an incredible experience to see such an enormous vessel next to you. It feels like it’s within touching distance because it’s just so enormous. The crew was friendly and chatty and told us that they were headed to Duluth.

The town of Sault St. Marie itself is interesting. My mother commented that whenever she goes up to the UP (the Upper Peninsula of Michigan), she feels more like she is in Canada than in the US. I have to agree. The architecture and landscape are more reminiscent of Canada (and, to me, of Europe) than of the US. While you’re still Stateside in Michigan, there is something that is a bit different, something that makes you remark that you are in some place special, someplace different, someplace you don’t visit every day.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Argonne Supper Club

The year I was born, my dad went to northern Michigan to cover his sales area. Since he had stayed in town to await my birth, he went up to the “tip of the mitten” for two weeks. He skied over the weekend and met some other people who asked him if he wanted to join them for dinner at the Argonne Supper Club.
So, my parents have been going to the Argonne Supper Club for more than thirty years. Yikes. Anyway, their favorite thing on the menu is all-you-can-eat shrimp. If someone at the table orders the all-you-can-eat shrimp, everyone who orders shrimp has to get the all-you-can-eat. This is one of the things that is a must on the summer eat-a-thon.
My tiny little mother (a 5’4” size two) says, “I’m going to eat more than either one of you.” And I’ll be damned if she didn’t.
After two platters split between the three of us, I said, “I’m stuffed.”
My father replied, “Don’t be a wimp.”
This is when I realized that I am no longer cut out for the eat-a-thon. While my family motto is “Eat ‘em and beat ‘em,” after living in Japan for a good portion of this year, I can no longer keep up. Uncle.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Harbor Springs, MI
Liquor store and a gurney. Hmmmmm....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Leaving Frankenmuth, we headed north, to the northern part of the Lower Peninsula, to Petoskey. Petoskey is located on Little Traverse Bay. You can walk through the downtown area browsing through the shops and restaurants or walk on the trails along the water. The Victorians that line the road facing Little Traverse Bay are amazing. You can’t even tell which ones were really built just a few years ago. Last but not least, you can search for Petoskey stones. We tried but couldn’t find any. Then again, the polished product looks nothing like the raw form.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Word of the Day
-Courtsey of

Word of the Day for Friday, September 8, 2006

small beer \small beer\, noun:
1. Weak beer.
2. Insignificant matters; something of little importance.
3. Unimportant; trivial.

Small beer is beer of only slight alcoholic strength; the other senses are derivative.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Returning to summer vacation from saving the beer, I will segue into my trip to Michigan, where we started out in Frankenmuth. Frankenmuth is a German town between Flint and Saginaw (north of Detroit), and of course, Germany makes me think of beer. Funny how these things work out.
Going to Frankenmuth is like a return to the past and many childhood trips up to Michigan. Eating chicken dinners at Zehnder’s and the little plastic toys they give you on your ice cream, going to Bonner’s Christmas Wonderland which is now 5 football fields long, I learned some things about Frankenmuth that I don’t remember from childhood. The name actually comes from Franken, from Franconia, Bavaria, the region of Germany the settlers came from, and Muth, courage. While I remembered that the architecture was Bavarian, I had forgotten about all the signs around town in German.
It’s always interesting to go back to someplace you’ve been away from for a while and gather a new perspective at a different time in life. It’s quite insightful to see how your memory is affected by time and what impresses you at certain points in your life.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Washing The Dog
I’ll take a brief hiatus from the summer vacation travels to recount the washing of S’s dog Nick yesterday. Nick needed a bath, and S put him in the tub. The problem is that you need to get into the tub with Nick in order to give him a thorough cleansing, and Nick doesn’t like to have a bath. I was waiting with the towel, and he tried to escape a couple of times. In the final rinse stage, he started edging out. S let him go. He started to shake and wag his tail, dangerously close to the countertop where there was a full glass of beer. My comment? “Save the beer!” Remember the important things when bathing a dog: keep the beer out of danger. Happy September my friends.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I remember the television commercials for Wausau Insurance from my childhood. W-A-USA-U. I always thought it was kind of cool how they had USA in their name. Wausau was fun and laid back. We visited Rib Mountain where my dad had skied many, many years ago. A twenty-mile bike ride with S’s parents was more than enough to convince me that I need to get my bike out of storage. Playing on the swings, the seesaw, the merry-go-round reminded me that I need more simple fun in my life. (And maybe less alcohol? Come on, who am I kidding?) It was great to see children running around enjoying themselves. Life is good if we let it be good. We shouldn’t try so hard to complicate things. My philosophy of the week.

Wausau seen from Rib Mountain.