Posted by: neblinoso | February 17, 2010

Reflections

Someone pointed out to me that i may have offended people from home as i was always praising the kindness and comfortability i felt from my Manila friends.  It was never my intention to offend anyone and i sincerely hope i have not done this. 

At some point i realized the difference between why i felt so different, better, halfway across the world versus in my own home.  I don’t know when this happened, it just came to me one day…a simple thought that seemed to be staring me in the face this whole time.  Perhaps i was looking too deep.  It has been a long time since i’ve had even one person in my life i could share everything with, like a best friend.  A person who understands why you do the things you do and even when they don’t, they still except you and want to try to understand.  Someone who likes doing  similar things, someone who has the same mindset.

I was devastated to leave and cried much of the way home.  In the midst of asking me if i had any knives or other weapons with me, the security lady stopped, looked at my puffy face and asked if i was feeling alright.  I told her i was just sad about leaving and she said, “Well, ma’am, you can come back anytime.”  It sounded like the most simplest solution.  Monetarily, though, it’s not so easy. 

This experience has taught me so much about myself.  I’m not even sure i can pinpoint any specific great revelation.  I just feel like i know myself better and am more comfortable with who i am.  My future is still somewhat uncertain and really, it always has been.  No matter how much you plan, you can never predict everything that’s going to happen.  That would be boring.

I feel like i’ve just closed the cover on one of the best books i’ve ever read. And it’s going to be torture waiting for the next volume, but i’m pretty confident there will be one.

Posted by: neblinoso | February 13, 2010

Dear Friends

This is perhaps the hardest post I’ve written as it makes me realize how much all of you have touched my life in so many uplifting ways.  If this were an actual letter, my words would be smeared, ink swimming in salty tear drops.  Let’s just hope I don’t short out my lappy. 🙂

Before Wave 1 folks even stepped foot on US soil I knew that meeting you would change my life forever. I just didn’t fathom how attached I would get.  I remember when our company first announced they were going to open an office in Manila.  During the question and answer period I asked if there would be opportunities to travel and a chuckle spread through the room.  Except I was serious.  I wanted to come here before I even knew you and now that I do know you, it makes leaving so much harder. 

You took me under your wing, eager to share everything about your culture, and I was just as eager to soak it all up, to learn as much as I could, to understand people, not just professionally, but on a personal level as well.  I’ve laughed with you, cried with you, shared meals, cooking lessons, stories, songs, and entertained you with my clumsiness.

Even though I will be returning to my home in Cleveland, I also feel like I am leaving my home here.  You are not just my friends, but my family.   I want to thank all of you for sharing your lives with me, whether it was through a game of charades, a night of poker, watching movies together, giving me fun toys and interesting foods to try, or just a smile.  I have been truly blessed to know each of you, and I hope you take pride in how wonderfully friendly and joyful you are to be around. 

Salamat!     Ingat!      Mahal Kita!

Posted by: neblinoso | February 12, 2010

Flat Stan

Flat Stanley is a children’s book from the mid-60s.  I had not heard of this book until recently. The story is about a boy, Stanley, who gets flattened by a bulletin board, hence the name Flat Stan(ley). 

My friend Tony sent me an e-mail asking if he could send a “Flat Stan” to me so i could take some pictures of him around the Philippines.  His niece’s class takes part in this nationwide activity of sending flat stan’s to people around all different parts of the world.  He then returns to the classroom to tell kids about his adventures and the places he’s visited. 

Flat Stan has had a lot of fun in the Philippines.  One of his first visits was to a local business that publishes legal materials.  He learned all about how a law is made and what goes into publishing it online.  He even made a few friends! 

Flat Stan accompanied us to Sonya’s garden where he had a chance to relax in one of the suites and enjoy the views of the garden.  Flat Stan also tagged along on our road trip to Banau to see the rice terraces, and although he was too small to climb the terraces he stayed at camp and watched over our hut.

Check out more pics of Flat Stan’s adventures here!

Posted by: neblinoso | February 12, 2010

Banaue Road Trip

I love road trips!  This past weekend we made a doozy of a trip to Banaue to see what some locals call the 8th wonder of the world.  The Hapao rice terraces.  We left for the 10-hour trip Friday around 10pm, lugging our pillows into the van with us to be as comfortable as possible.

We stopped a few times along the way to refuel and take cr breaks.  At one particular stop we’d had a few hours rest and wanted to get out of the van to stretch.  We peeked into the other van in our convoy, but we couldn’t see anyone and figured they were all asleep.  After a few jump shot photos we piled back in and tried to get some sleep along the bumpy road.

We arrived in Banaue around 7am and our convoy split as we were staying in two different areas.  Once we checked into the Hiwang Native House Inn we traveled back to downtown Banaue for a Filipino breakfast of rice, pork and fried egg at the Las Vegas Restaurant.  They had the best tasting coffee, which is still somewhat of a mystery.  I don’t know if it tasted so good because i was so tired, or if it was the hint of chocolate that sweetened the flavor.  Reenergized, we stopped at the local market, to buy food for our dinner later.  All the foods were so fresh.  Even the fish we bought was still doing flips in the bag.  Off to one side were tables of various meats and fishes in every cut you could imagine.  One table had a whole pig’s head just lying there.  I can’t imagine going to the market thinking hmmm, i wonder if the pigs heads are fresh today!  In the middle and opposite sides were stalls of fruits, vegetables and various other spices.

Back at the lodge, we dropped off our food and freshened up for the hike we’d be taking to see the rice terraces up close and personal.  The view from our hut was phenomenal.  I was very excited about staying in a native Ifugao hut.  When i did some research about the area and discovered this inn, i immediately knew that was what i wanted to do and was not going to budge on the issue one bit.  There were only six or seven huts, all atop the mountains at intermittent levels, overlooking the rice terraces.

The Inn provided us with a guide and our driver took us on perhaps the bumpiest ride i’ve ever experienced to see the rice terraces.  I think i have a permanent dent in my head from being slammed against the window so many times due to the roads rugged condition.  The road was also narrow and many times we encountered a jeepney that had to back up in order to let us by.  We traveled for about 45 minutes before getting out at the place we began our terrace trek. 

The guide led us down a concrete path that turned into grass and dirt.  We went through a small village, some houses and a school before entering into the cool shade of the forest, winding our way along the snake-like trail.  It dumped us out right on the edges of the rice terraces!  I have always been curious about how rice is grown.  I’ve just never seen it on the plant.  Some plots had green growth, while others were barren.  We traipsed along edge after edge, making our way up and down, until we were in the middle of the mountain, rice terraces rising all around us.  It looked like a huge rice terrace amphitheater. 

I can’t imagine how long it must have taken the natives to carve the entire mountainside without the help of modern tools.  It truly was a wonder!  We ended up at a small waterfall with a hot spring next to it.  The stream was freezing.  The spring,  nice and warm.  I took my socks and shoes off to try both and within a matter of seconds my feet were ice-cold from the river, but they were soothed by the smelly warmth of the spring.

We relaxed there for some time before returning via the same route.  Given my unbalanced nature, I was very surprised i did not fall into one of the muddy plots.  Many of the places we walked were pretty high up and one false step would either send you into the wet, muddy waters of one terrace or a sheer drop into another.  I did drop my empty water bottle, though.  The cap end stuck in the mud, making the bottle stand upright.  Luckily, i could still retrieve it by laying along the path and reaching down to it.

There was one point along the ride back i thought we weren’t going to make it.  I had nodded off, wrapping my pillow around my head to prevent any further head injuries, and i came to as the van lurched forward, then started rolling backwards.  We didn’t roll far, and the driver was able to rev the van enough to get us over the hump, but for one moment, i thought we might be taking a tumble over the edge.

By the time we returned to our hut, we were exhausted and starving!   We started preparing our market fresh meal.  I was in charge of keeping the fire going, which was boiling the rice and adobo.  Though it took a few hours to cook everything, it was worth it.  Nothing makes you enjoy a good meal like sitting there waiting for it to finish while your stomach grumbles impatiently.   Our meal consisted of a huge pot of rice, chicken and pork adobo, fish, chop suey, cucumber-ish salad.  I even learned how to cut up a mango properly.  Thanks Jing!  There was a spicy soy sauce for dipping, which i avoided after biting into one of the pepper seeds as it sent my whole mouth aflame.  I didn’t think i was going to recover from that, but a few gallons of water and some rice returned my taste buds to normal.

After dinner we started a bonfire and taught some of our colleagues how to make smores.  I love bonfires.  It’s one of my most favorite parts of camping.  My other favorite part is looking at the stars.  We laid on our backs trying to find the big dipper.  I thought maybe it would be reversed since we were on the opposite side of the world.  I think it was Jessica who finally found it among the bazillions of stars twinkling above us.

I think we finally went to bed around 11 or so.  All i know is that i was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.  The next morning we packed up our stuff saying our last goodbyes (with pictures, of course) to the rice terraces.  We returned to town for breakfast where we met up with the other half of our group.  We did a little souvenir shopping along the main street, finding some very good deals on wooden huts, cutting boards and other native tokens.

The ride home was uneventful, save for the bumpiness.  We got back to the hotel around 11pm, saying goodbye and parting ways to our respective rooms/homes.  This trip was the one touristy activity i really wanted to do as i am unsure of when i might return.  It was well worth the long drive…just to sit up on the mountain and see this beauty that has been around for centuries.  

See all the pics here!

Posted by: neblinoso | February 11, 2010

Bah, Bah Black Sheep, Have You Any Planners?

All you need is lamb.   This is the tagline for a meal deal going on in the hotel’s Café 6.   If you buy two australian lamb dinners you get a free lamb planner.  However, this has become somewhat of a challenging achievement.  

I first learned about this deal from Karen over dinner one night.  The biggest mystery seemed to be what exactly is a lamb planner?  Is it made of wool?  Does it have pictures of cute little lambs on it?  Is it shaped like a lamb?  When you open it, does a loud Baaaahh come out of it like some children’s books?

One week, Karen and Alissa dined at Café 6.  They each ordered a lamb dish, explaining to the waiter their intentions of getting the planner.  He excused himself for a moment to talk with his manager and returned to tell them the lamb dinners had to be on the same bill.  It also had to be a bill you paid in full.  We have these flexi-meals we can use to get a free meal for either breakfast, lunch or dinner and they had already told the waiter they wanted this meal to apply to that.  Plan failed!

They also learned, even if you somehow miraculously qualify for this planner, it still had to be ordered and would take two weeks to arrive at which point they would then deliver it to your room.  I told Karen she needed to plan this carefully, so that she had enough time before going home in which to get the meals and have them order the planner.  There is so much planning involved in trying to get this planner, you need the planner to plan to get the planner.  Have i lost anyone? 

The other night Karen decided to get the two lamb dishes, eat one and save one for later.  All for the sake of the planner.  She was told the promotion was no longer going on, even though the ad on the hotel’s tv station says it lasts until Feb. 14.  Foiled again!   

I’m convinced this was a conspiracy.  No one even knew that much information about this lamb planner.  We suspect that several years from now, you’ll be able to do a search on eBay and find these lamb planners…in their original plastic! 

I guess we’ll never know what the lamb planner really was…..too baaahhhhd!

Posted by: neblinoso | February 11, 2010

The Man from Qatar

Has anyone actually heard of Qatar?  I guess i need to brush up on my geography, because i certainly hadn’t until i met a man in the elevator the other day who claimed he was from this country.  I suppose i should be familiar given the U.S. government’s involvement in the surrounding countries.  It is like the thumb, or maybe just a flipper, of Saudi Arabia, sticking out into the Persian Gulf, pointing towards Iran.

The man was in his 50s with dark hair and a tan complexion.  He kept insisting that Qatar existed, and i kept saying, “Really?”  Then i felt bad.  Obviously this man wouldn’t lie about his country, and i was making him feel like he came from a place no one had ever heard of, when in reality, it was me who sounded stupid.  Then i realized i was stupid for questioning this man’s country’s existence, so i took another approach. 

I tried asking him questions about Qatar like where it was and what was the capital, but he kept on saying it was a wonderful country and yes, it existed.  I don’t think he was understanding me.  I tried another question, asking what kinds of exports his country was known for, but he seemed confused.  “Does your country grow coffee?” I plowed on.  “Coffee?” he said.  “Yes, i have coffee.  You come to my room and we’ll have some coffee.”  Oh dear, this was getting out of hand.  He told me his room number as we arrived at my floor.  I stepped out, quickly bidding him good-bye and ran for my room. 

Qatar does indeed exist.  The capital is Doha, and its main export is oil.  And the next time i meet a man from Qatar, i’m going to remember these facts so i sound somewhat educated.

Posted by: neblinoso | February 10, 2010

Dolphin Experiment

 Over the last week i’ve been conducting an experiment.  An educational experiment!  I received a small, blue dolphin that when put in water, over the course of a few days, grows to 600% of its size.  I felt like a little kid who just got a new toy.   As soon as i got home from work, i found a leftover food container, filled it with water and plopped the dolphin in, eager to see it expand.  I watched it for a few minutes, hoping to see some immediate signs of growth, but it just sat at the bottom, as if it were too embarrassed to do anything while i was watching.   

When i woke up the next morning, it was the first thing i thought of, and i jumped out of bed and ran to the bowl.  Tiny bubbles decorated the dolphin’s body, but i couldn’t tell if it had grown at all.  I left a note for housekeeping so they would not empty the bowl and possibly ruin this highly scientific experiment. 

Each day it grew to be a little bit bigger until after about six days it didn’t seem to be growing any more.  I took pictures along the way to document its progress as any true scientist would do.  Documented evidence is everything in science.  I mean if someone were around to take a picture when the Earth came into existence we wouldn’t have this whole creationism/evolutionism debate.  Maybe someone on another already existing planet did take a picture and their history books actually explain how we came to be.  Now wouldn’t that be something?!   

After about six days i decided to remove it from the water since it didn’t seem to be getting any bigger.  I set it on a paper towel, which perhaps was the catalyst in my experiment going backwards.  It was slippery, almost like when you catch a real fish.  

The next day i looked at the dolphin it appeared “off” somehow.  I finally realized the tail was shorter than the previous day.  Each day afterwards, it continued to shrink back down.  It still hasn’t reached its original size, but has instead become this malformed semi-version of a dolphin with birth defects.  Being submerged in water must be the only way it can remain big.  I’m glad i didn’t have to remain in water to stay grown.  I’d be sooo pruny by now!  I guess this means i’ll be turning my library at home into a half-science lab, so i can keep jars of this dolphin and all the other animals i got consistently immersed in water. 

Day 1

Day 2

sign to housekeeping

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Posted by: neblinoso | February 9, 2010

This Little Light of Mine

is burning out.  I have been so incredibly stressed out for the past few weeks.  I hope it hasn’t turned me into a monster of some sort, cuz often times when i get to that breaking point, anyone in my wake can feel it.  I apologize if that happened.  I don’t mean it.  I just lack all other ability to sensor and contain myself. 

It’s not just work that is stressing me out, although many of the reasons do stem from my job situation.  It’s my last week here and i’m trying to come to some terms with that.  Every time this thought pops into my head, i just push it back and tell myself i’ll think about it later.  Well, later has arrived and it’s going to happen and i don’t want it to be this soon.  I feel like i’ve barely had a chance to hang out with people.  And i’m extremely jealous of those who get to stay on and have fun without me, while i return to the snow-ladden lands of Cleveland.

I’m also stressing because i have some tough decisions to make about my future and i really don’t feel prepared to make them.  I haven’t been able to focus on anything but work.  I don’t even have time to jot down the questions i have.  I certainly feel equipped with the ability to make this decision, but when it comes down to it, i am completely indecisive.  I suppose making hard decisions is what makes you an adult and this makes me yearn to be a child again, where, even if i didn’t like it, many of my decisions were made for me by my parents or other adults.  Being an adult is hard.

I’ve also been feeling so incredibly lonely lately.  I know i am not alone and that people love me and what not, but sometimes all the people in the world can’t make you feel better.  I don’t know if this is part of the stress or just another battle i need to fight.  Perhaps it’s all this Valentine’s Day crap and my desire to be with someone even though i don’t feel ready to be with anyone.  I am mad at myself for allowing these thoughts to weaken me. I just hate being sad about something i really have no control over. 

I feel i am at a crossroads with life and down one way is the new, exciting life that will lead me to a land of sweet, blissful happiness and never-ending joy and the other path takes me to a life of regret and repetition of mistakes.  And this all hinges on my job situation.  I’ve pulled my hair out trying to weigh the possibilities.  It’s not like a choose your own adventure book when you pick the wrong page to turn to and you end up dead.  You can always flip back again and choose the other way and there’s no harm done.  If i choose the wrong life path, it will take me even longer to 1) realize i made the wrong choice and 2) go back to that first page where i made the wrong decision.  And at that point there will be two completely new choices and i’ll be back in the same boat again.  Aaahhhhhh!

My life is full of these dizzying ruminations, which causes me to ponder why do i think like this?  Why do i make it so difficult and if it’s not really difficult than why doesn’t it seem easier?  i could go on, but then this post would never end.

The power is about to go off here and then i will be left in the dark….to ponder the dark.

Posted by: neblinoso | February 8, 2010

Sonya’s Garden

Last Sunday we took a trip out to Tagaytay to have lunch at Sonya’s Garden.  It is a very elegant bed and breakfast/spa all nestled in a vast garden of flowers and organic foods.  I have been to Tagaytay a few times to see the Taal Volcano but had not heard of this oasis. 

We lunched in the classy restaurant, our table set with fine china and flower-embroidered napkins.  Chandeliers with colored-glass jewels dangled above us, as old love songs wafted its ambience around us.  It felt like we were in an old 1940s movie.  Small dishes with water and rose petals scented the air.  The meal was made entirely of ingredients from the garden.  We had bread and salad for appetizers, pasta for the main course and chocolate cake for dessert.

After lunch we received a guided tour through the greenhouse and one of the cottages where guests can stay.  The rooms were spacious with white bedding and an open stone shower off of the bedrooms.  On our way back we got a chance to meet the actual Sonya.  Her dog, a golden retriever, ran out of the gate to greet us and she followed asking if we were enjoying our stay.  We nodding, still full from lunch and thanked her for sharing this botanical paradise. 

We continued on to the gift store, climbing stairs off to one side to the secret “honeymoon” suite above the store.  It was fairly similiar in decor to the other cottage and had a more aerial view of the gardens.   Back in the garden, we weaved down the brick paths, stopping for the occasional photo-op.  This place made me miss my garden, even though now it’s probably buried underneath a season’s worth of leaves and a blanket of snow on top of that.  Gardens are rejuvenating, not only for your spirit, but for your lungs as well.  I could have spent all day getting lost among the flowers and plants.

Our next destination was People’s Park, a place we could go ziplining that had awesome views of the volcano.  Since i’d done the superman zipline during my last visit, i opted for the sitdown style, so i could take pictures. 

Shannon and i rode together, obeying the instructions of leaning out before our landing, so we didn’t hit the tires which stopped us on the wire.  It was a most interesting (and effective!) way to stop.  We were one of the firsts to return, so we sat watching other people come back until the rest of the group had made their return zip.

Posted by: neblinoso | February 2, 2010

Market, MOA and More

Saturday i visited the Salcedo Market, host to many local farmers and others selling goods.  The market was located fairly close to our hotel, but would have made a sweaty walk as it was a scorching day.  We made an initial loop just to check out all the stalls and then went around again to find lunch and other delectables. 

There was one booth that was barbecuing up a storm of pork and chicken sticks.  I don’t think i’ve ever seen a grill so long!  You could find almost anything a la on-a-stick, including squid.   There was even an entire cow (or maybe it was a calf, i don’t know) slowly turning over an open fire, its mouth clenching the stick between its teeth.  Yeah, i’d want something to bite down on too if i was going to be hung on a stick over scorching flames.

I really wanted to try the catfish-on-a-stick and it was so huge i was able to share it with two others.  I also got a jumbo mango shake, watching as they scooped out ripe mangos and threw them in the blender with ice.  Voilà!  Tastiness ensued.  Prince shared some of his pork-stuffed, fried frog legs, though i did not partake.  We shared a dessert called puto bumbong, a purple sticky rice with coconut and brown sugar topping.

After the market we went to MOA (Mall of Asia) for bowling.  I forgot to bring socks, so i had to buy a pair from the alley.  They pointed me in the direction of the pro shop.  The socks were on top of the counter.  They were all black.  “Do you have any fun colors?” i asked.  Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?  They only had black.   We bowled one game, trying to figure out the red pin bonus.  Apparently, if you knocked one down you would receive “exciting prizes.”  Never did figure that one out.

I agreed to have dinner with some friends that night, so some of us separated from the group, wandering around the mall for a bit.  Along the outskirts by the bay a large pool was set up with human-sized hamster balls rolling around on top.  Kids were inside trying to stand, but walking on water requires immense balance, especially when you’re in a bubble.  We took a cab to the bay near Malate to watch the sunset.  A concert was going on, so we stopped to listen for a while, Rico translating the songs.  Even the mayor was in attendance.

Once the famous Manila sun had set, we travelled on foot to Lau Chan’s.  This was my last opportunity to enjoy shabu shabu.  It was a very sad, but edibly pleasing night.  We ordered the regular items, substituting fish for pork since this was Shannon’s maiden shabu shabu voyage and she does not eat meat.  The squid balls were amazing as always and I left so full i could no longer suck in my stomach.  Pot belly’s in tow, we returned to the hotel and watched Edward Scissorhands.

Posted by: neblinoso | February 1, 2010

Hookah Hooplah

Friday night after work a few of us went to Eastwood, a city I hadn’t visited before.  It was full of bars and restos with outside tables filled with young people.  Music escaped windows and doors creating a lively atmosphere.  The night began at a place called The Bedroom, which had large, flat bed-like mattresses you could lounge on.   We ordered a Beer Tower of San Miguel light.  It tastes a lot like Bud Light, and that was the only beer available if you wanted the tower. 

The Bedroom was also a hookah bar.  I’ve seen a few of these places around my hometown, but i was never really sure exactly what went on in these establishments.  What better way to find out than to try it, right?  I did some research later and learned it is just flavored tobacco, and since it’s filtered and cooled by the water, it’s supposed to be smoother than a cigarette.  A circular piece of coal burns at the top, heating up the tobacco and sends it down the body to the snake-like hose where you inhale the smoke. 

They gave us a hookah menu listing all the flavors.  After we settled on rose, we placed our order, at which point they told us the only flavor they had was cherry.  Why bother with the menu then?  When they brought it, we had to be extra careful about moving around on the bed.  Two towering pieces on a little table, sitting on a unsturdy surface, was not the best idea, but we surprisingly made it through the night without any major catastrophes.  Occassionally, we did have to grab ahold to keep them steady when we changed our positions.

When the beer tower ran out we left, wandering around the area.  In the center of all the restos and bars you could find something similar to the hollywood walk of fame, only this was the Filipino walk of fame.  Even Manny Pacquiao had a star, but he was the only name i recognized.

After a quick pit stop (with square toilets!)  we found an outside table at G8 Avenue and ordered some food, complimented by, of course, mango shakes.

Posted by: neblinoso | January 31, 2010

Hip Hop Aerobics

I received a letter under my door the other day inviting me to join a hip-hop aerobics class for women.  At first i thought, they must been monitoring my fitness center attendance and thought i would be a good candidate.  Later i discovered this letter was sent to all female guests at the hotel.

I was unable to attend the class, though it did intrigue me.  In college my roommate and i worked out occasionally to The Grind.  It taught me all my sweet dance moves…whether i learned them is another story.  I imagine this class was something similar, learning a few hip-hop moves. 

The picture you see is the ad on the hotel’s channel, which advertises various events, menu specials and the weather.  It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to see by looking at this photographic example of hip-hop aerobics it was highly improbable we would be doing these specific moves.  Running on a treadmill is challenging enough with my instability.  i would never be able to master these jumps and flips.

I don’t even want to know what ‘s going on with that fourth person, who’s sort of hanging in the background.  Either something went terribly wrong, or they are being beamed up into a UFO.  I guess i will never know what hip-hop aerobics entail, but i would definitely be disappointed if they passed out those cool green and yellow outfits.  Maybe that’s what makes you able to jump around…tiny electronics woven into the fabric that give you a jolt and send you flying into a backhand spring!

Posted by: neblinoso | January 30, 2010

La Cucaracha

I just bagged the biggest cockroach i’ve ever seen.  After some friends left Saturday evening, i was toying with the idea of taking a relaxing bath with one of my birthday bath bombs from Lush.  I walked into the bathroom and there, in the sink, was a HUGE cockroach.  HUGE!  It seemed too wide to even fit through the drain.  I stared at it wondering where it had come from.  I’m sure it wasn’t as huge as i appeared to it, but i’ve had a few smaller ones that were easily squishable.  This one, however, did not look like  it was going to be stopped by the sole of my sketchers.

It made a dash out of the sink and positioned itself between the mirror and the faucet.  I moved my toothbrush and combs out of the way.  I guess that spider sent this guy to do his dirty work.  While he thought of his next move, i thought of mine.  I didn’t want to flush it or send it back down the drain, because it might return.  Maybe i could just bag it and let it go outside. The cockroach twitched its tentacles at me as if agreeing with this idea.  He scampered away heading up the mirror in a zigzag pattern.  I ran into the kitchen, making a stop by my line of shoes to slip on some sandels in case this situation got out of control and i had to jump on it.  Looking through my collection of bags, i realized i wouldn’t be able to tie a good enough knot to prevent it from crawling out and i really didn’t want that creepy-crawly sensation on my hand.

I have ziplock bags!  This would be perfect, as i could then carry it safely out of the hotel and set it free.  When i returned to the bathroom, my new friend was almost near the ceiling.  I think he was trying to make it behind one of the pictures hanging on the wall.  I knocked him down with the bag and somehow managed to scoop him into it.  Blue-and-yellow-make-green, blue-and-yellow-make-green i chanted as i pressed the colors together to seal the bag before he knew what was happening.  I held up my prize, victorious, at arms length and carried him like this out of my room and into the elevator.  When i reached the lobby floor, one of the staff guards was exiting another elevator and saw the bag.  I held it up.  “I was going to take him downstairs to free him.”  He took the bag from me, holding it up to examine it. 

“You found this in your room, ma’am?” 

“Yes,” i said, “in my bathroom sink.”

“And you weren’t frightened?”

I told him my plan as he looked at me like i was the craziest hotel guest he’d ever seen.  Two other guards came over to see what we were talking about.  They looked at the bag, then at me, with smirks on their faces, telling me the building was going to get fumigated starting Monday. 

The first guard asked for my room number and told me he would send someone up to spray.   He left, taking the bag with him and i chatted with the other guards for a few more minutes about the various other bugs i’d encountered during my stay.  Less than ten minutes after i returned to my room, the doorbell rang.  It was…The Fumigator.  He sprayed each room and left, bidding me a good night.  Sadly, i no longer felt the urge to take a bath.  My imagination on what may come out of the drain did not give me a relaxed feeling.

Posted by: neblinoso | January 29, 2010

Technically Speaking

Technology hates me.  I suppose it’s more the machines using the technology that hate me.  When robots rise to take over the world, i bet i’ll be the first on their TERMINATE list.  I’m already on my fourth room key.  The other night i returned from work to discover we  had to use our key cards again to access floors in the elevator. At some point during my previous trip, this was disabled.  A sign in the elevator apologized for any inconvenience.  No apology needed.  In fact, it made my life easier to not have to insert my card a million times before finally getting the green light.

A group of men stood around watching anxiously as i inserted my card and pulled it out.  Nothing.  I tried again. Nothing.  And again.  And again, nothing.  Finally, one of the men stepped in taking the card from my hand and tried it himself.  Was there a special technique i was not aware of?  A magic touch my fingers lacked?  It didn’t work for him either.  Another man poked his head in, opened a small door and turned some switch disabling the necessity for a key card.  Hallelujah!!

The next morning on my way down to breakfast there was an engineer in the elevator when it opened.  I say engineer only because he was dressed in the official hotel engineer outfit.  This consists of a dark blue shirt, matching pants and a thick leather belt equipped with all the tools needed to fix whatever.  He asked me to try my key card.  Ha!  Did he realize who i was and what poor luck i’d been having with key cards?  I shrugged my shoulders saying, “Sure,” confident of his impending disappointment.  I slid the card in and out looking back at him in anticipation of his facial expression.  It was my expression, though, that was the surprise.  The green light lit up immediately.  “Wow!  That’s never worked the first time!” I exclaimed.  One elevator ride of technology operating bliss.  One.  The machines are good at teasing.

Even the printers at work mock me.  One of them keeps giving me trouble by jamming every page.  I’ll send something to the printer…it will jam on the first page.  I’ll fix it and after recalculating and adjusting, it prints the first page.  The second one, however, gets jammed and i have to again, pull the paper from the printer’s innards and get it regoing.  I imagine it’s somewhat like surgery, only the printer tells you exactly what to open, which knobs to turn and a graphic display highlighting the jammed area.

I have somewhat of a reputation for having computer issues that no one else has ever had.  I like to think of it as providing a challenging opportunity to an otherwise boring day.  I think i have some sort of aura that’s interfering with technology’s magnetism.  For the last month i’ve had an issue not even the developers of the software could figure out.  I recently found out another colleague was having the same issue.  “Really?!  That’s awesome!”  I know she didn’t think it was awesome, and the problem is actually quite frustrating, but i was so delighted to find someone else who shared my issue.

My first attempt at using the microwave in my room almost resulted in the fire alarm going off.  I’m actually surprised it didn’t.  The microwave already had a burnt smell to it when i opened the door as if warning me this was not going to end well.  I tossed in a bag of popcorn, set the timer and went back to whatever it was i was doing.  After a few minutes, i realized i should have been hearing popping noises from the kitchen.  That was my usual cue to stand guard until all the kernels had popped.  I bent down, human eye to smoking microwave eye, squinting to see through the haze of smoke.  The bag still lay flat, a big burn hole on one side.  I quickly opened the door, sending smoke billowing out.  The microwave aimed for my face with precision.  I waved my hands in front of my face to disperse it and quickly shut the door again.  I ran to the window and opened it hoping a draft would send the smoke running.  No breeze.  I used the hotel guidebook as a fan to get some of the smoke out of the kitchen and away from the smoke detector, staring at it to see if it was also going to unleash hatred upon me by going off.  I couldn’t believe there was so much smoke!  And there was still some trapped in the microwave.  I turned on the oven fan and every half hour or so, opened the microwave door long enough to let out a little smoke until it was all gone and my room no longer looked like it was near the top of a mountain.

Even tonight i had technical difficulty with my lappy.  It is aware of this post and is making every effort to stop me from publishing it, i just know it.  I really needed to do some work back at the hotel, so i followed my normal routine of getting logged in while i put on my pjs.  When i tried logging on to the hotel’s website, i got the “try again” message.  i tried again.  and again.  and again.  I restarted thinking my lappy just had a momentary bout of amnesia.  The restart didn’t work either, so i called for help.  I was connected with IT support who told me to restart my lappy.  I humored him, even though i had just done this to know avail.  Since my lappy takes near ten minutes to restart (which is normal for a laptop, i’ve been told) he told me to call back if i again had problems.  It still didn’t work, so i called back. 

He must have been away, because i waited another half-hour before calling again.  The front desk tried his cell phone, but he wasn’t answering.  They hate me.  They all hate me.  Why today of all days?  After another hour and a half, i called again.  This time they connected me.  “Did you restart you computer?” he asked me.  I tried to sound polite, but my patience was paper-thin.  I finally convinced him to come look at the problem in person.  Five minutes later my doorbell rang.  “Do i have your permission to operate your laptop?” he asked.  “Have at it.”  I’d left the screen up with the offending error.  He closed the window, opened a new one and input my logon and password info.  He was connected immediately.  See, technology does hate me!  It doesn’t work for me for three hours, than BAM, he’s in?  I’m sure he thought i was crazy.  Yep, i’m just that crazy lady with the dragon tattoo.  Oi!

Posted by: neblinoso | January 27, 2010

Running Late

Jessica and i had lunch today and the hotel resto, Café 6.  We arrived at 11AM right when they opened and found a table. Our waiter convinced us to try the “business” lunch, which included soup or salad, choice of entry and dessert.  I’m not sure why it was called a business lunch.  The courses were definitely not brought with a i-need-to-get-back-to-work-soon mentality.  Normally, i wouldn’t have minded waiting an hour for my soup, but i actually did need to get back to work soon, or at least be ready for work by 12:30 when the driver arrives to whisk us away to the land of editing. 

We both had the ginger/coconut soup.  All the meals (and gingerbread cookies) i’ve ever eaten with ginger in it, could not come close to equaling the amount of ginger that was in this soup.  It was good soup, just overwhelmingly gingery, with that kind of spiciness that makes all other foods taste wrong. 

Our main course came at 12:20pm.  Ten minutes until we were scheduled to be downstairs.  Before the waiter left, we asked him if they could wrap our coconut pandan crêpe desserts and bring us the bill.  I scarfed down the curried chicken and  left Jessica at the table, since she was already dressed for work and power-walked my way out of the café, through the lobby and into the elevators.  When i reached my door and tried the key card, i got the dreaded red flashing light.  Really?  Today?  17 more tries still left me standing in the hall.  I was obviously meant to be late today.

Back down at the front desk i ran into a coworker and we chatted while i waited for someone to notice i needed help.  Once i had a new key card in hand, i ran back up to the room, pulled on a skirt and blouse and was out the door again.  My pinned-up pony-tailed hair was going to have to do since there was no time for styling.

I think we made it downstairs by 12:35pm, which was pretty impressive.  Now i know what the phrase “running late” means….so late you’re running around, which only makes you more late.

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