November 20, 2009

[Travel / Adventures] 071. Visit Houston (part 2)

Posted in Travel & Adventures at 11:54 am by Heather

BIG sharks overhead!

Part 1 is here.

The Downtown Aquarium is pretty nifty, but it’s definitely not a Shedd Aquarium.  It’s a cross between a KiddieLand and an aquarium plus a tiny zoo plus a restaurant.  Seriously.  Oh, and plus SHARKS!

When I mentioned the Shark Voyage to April, her reaction was “How is this here and NO ONE HERE told me about this??”  Well, that’s what friends are for, eh?

The first stop was the Diving Bell Ferris Wheel, which did give us some nice views of the city at sunset.  My camera battery was STILL dead, so I was forced to use my poor cell phone camera for these photos.  We headed back in for dinner, and saw the shark-carousel, which April decided to pass on riding, deciding to go inside.  The restaurant was lovely, and they had a ginormous aquarium with all sorts of creatures, including sharks and huge fish, and my favorite, the happy-go-lucky turtle.  No pictures, since my camera doesn’t have flash, sadly. 

Dinner was amazing, and I learned that sometimes, if you just ask for something, you’ll get it.  Case in point, I wished for dessert, but a key lime pie deal instead of the brownie that came with shark cookies.  I asked the waiter if by chance we could get the key lime garnished with the shark cookie in honor of the birthday girl.  Yep, my wish is his command.  He then walked by with some balloons, including a lovely shark balloon – and yes, we asked for it and got it.  Needless to say, he got a very nice tip.

And then, after a bottle of wine split between the two of us, we moseyed down to the main event: the Shark Voyage.  Surprisingly, this was the only ride that actually had a line, but we got there just as the train pulled up.  Nice timing.  I gauged the line and said “enh, we’ll get in, and why walk all the way down to the front just to walk back here where we’d get on anyway”, so unhooked the rope and we got on in the back.   Turns out, not everyone got on the ride.  Oops.  I blame the wine.

The ride was about 5 minutes long, and we stopped for 3 minutes or so (again, based on my perception so give or take 5 minutes here), in a shark tank that had an inverse U cut out for the train to go through, so we could see sharks above (see picture) and to either side.  The rest of the ride was more kiddy-land jaws stuff, but it was a fun time.

Since we were there, we popped into the actual aquarium exhibit, which had a distinctly low percentage of fish to other creatures.  I did find out that the schooling fish were very afraid of the shark balloon, which gave me minutes of entertainment.  And then, as we were exiting … TIGERS!

Last I checked, tigers have nothing to do with aquariums, but hey, there you are.  They reminded us of Vegas (not this one though), which we’ll be visiting in less than a month and they were very beautiful.

At that point, we called it a night, and headed back to the suburbs to get some actual sleep before Birthday Saturday.

Continued in Part 3.


November 19, 2009

[30 DAY HABITS] 075. Blog daily

Posted in 30 Day Habits at 10:16 pm by Heather

Today was better than yesterday, and I managed to get my laundry picked up and books set for the trip, but it’s just been crazy and I’ve been exhausted.

I was going to post my Houston trip pictures, but sleep seems like a better option at this point.

November 18, 2009

[30 DAY HABITS] 075. Blog daily

Posted in 30 Day Habits, For Me at 7:30 pm by Heather

If I didn’t have the challenge of posting 30 days this month, I’d definitely pass today.

I’d like to say that I did a lot, but I forgot to set my alarm, and woke up at 7:50 am when I had an 8 am meeting.  The only saving grace is I work from home so the commute was short enough to make it.

I manage to grab a luna bar and dammit if my teeth don’t HURT again.

Then 10 minutes before my next meeting my lip starts annoying me, like a wire is stuck out on the braces.  I go to the mirror, and no wire, but the bracket has done a 180 so the adhesive is on the outside.  A couple MacGuyver tricks later, I had the bracket oriented the right way and made the call to the orthodontist and got an appointment for 11:45 am.

… of course it is raining, and there is construction and they close the inbound express lanes at 11:15 am so traffic SUCKS.  Let me tell you – there is NO NEED to close it that early, the outbound traffic is always light until about 2 pm. UGH.

So I’m already late, I get to the parking garage at 11:45 when I’m supposed to be in the chair, and … there’s NO PARKING.  I don’t find this out until I get to the top where the (luckily free) valet is, but they’re behind and no one seems to be around.   I get my big girl pants on and find someone and give them my keys and run in.

And the bracket comes off – it was on a crown and while they did the magic “rough up the crown treatment” for my front two teeth, for some reason they didn’t do it on this one.  So they took the bracket off.  Turns out I DON’T NEED IT ON THIS TOOTH YET.


At least cosmos are $5 at the bar tonight…

November 17, 2009

[For Me] 029. Get braces

Posted in For Me at 10:49 pm by Heather

I’m back from the orthodontist, which I was dreading as you might have noticed that my first trip didn’t go so well.  I’m pleased to report that I’ve got my top set of braces on, and my teeth are not nearly as painful as they were the first time.

It’s interesting as on the top set, I don’t even have brackets on all my teeth.  My one tooth which is tucked back is going bracket-less for now, and a wire just goes from my front tooth to my incisor (basically the tooth between “hook” and “archwire” above is bracketless.  My own personal cheese slicer! No palette expander yet, either.

This will DEFINITELY make Thanksgiving next week a lot more tolerable, and I’m back next month for some adjustments.

November 16, 2009

[Travel / Adventures] 071. Visit Houston (part 1)

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:04 pm by Heather

Houston Skyline

Late night chats often turn into crazy hijinks, which is how my semi-impromptu trip for Houston during April‘s Birthday Month had its origins.

My flight got in very late, thanks to the storms flying over Chicago and delays from Houston.  April had to pick me up at about midnight, and after some crazy navigating of IAH, we made it out and back to casa April.

April, being the dedicated employee she is, was up 5 hours or so after we got home at 1 am to head into work for a half day.  I decided to accompany her to see what the Schipul was all about, and of course, we passed a Whataburger, and Gus Taunting promptly ensued.  I think Tony sums up Schipul when he wrote: “My understanding is that it’s apparently got something to do with the zoo, and somebody named Brandius works there. Also, there are sharks. Please be careful.”

April was only going to work a half day, and it was then off to James Coney Island (where Joel Taunting ensued) with JMO.   A nap then prudently followed, before we were off to attempt to a) find and b) partake of dinner at the Downtown Aquarium, recommended by the lovely Liz B.

Once we woke up and got dressed, we headed downtown and enjoyed some typical Houston traffic.  I also found out that google text searches really suck and couldn’t tell us the hours for the restaurant.  Plus, the battery on my camera died, and thus I was forced to take pictures of the beautiful Houston skyline with my wee Motorola Q.  We also managed to get turned around by the Juice Box, and took the scenic industrial route to dinner.

We did finally make it there, and decided to purchase our All-Access Pass and were set to enjoy the Aquarium Awesomeness.

Continued in Part 2.

November 15, 2009

[FOR OTHERS] 049. Participate in Clause & Effect

Posted in For Others at 10:18 pm by Heather

Just a quick note as I’ve been busy this weekend. 

At my workshop tonight, I’ve picked up a couple children to play santa claus for – it’s heartbreaking to know that there are many children who desperately need winter clothes and boots and even toys for christmas, and I’m glad to be able to help out.  Christmas doesn’t meant a whole lot to me, personally, as the way my family celebrated, there wasn’t a whole lot of magic to the holiday after we found out the truth about Santa.

In fact, I’m debating asking my family to adopt or add a $50 gift card to my kids instead of getting Christmas gifts for me. 

I’ll be buying gifts for a boy and a girl and that means a trip to walmart and the dollar stores are definitely in my future!

November 14, 2009

[30 DAY HABITS] 075. Blog daily

Posted in 30 Day Habits at 7:15 pm by Heather

Wow – this is just a quick update before I run off to a pub crawl – this blogging daily thing is harder than I thought!

I still have to write up my Houston trip, and I’ve taken Wrigley to the dog park twice this month to make up for my forgetfulness last month…

More to come!

November 13, 2009

[Challenges] 094. Rate all music in iTunes

Posted in challenges at 3:23 pm by Heather

I put this on my list as I really did want to be able to a) not listen to the stuff in my music library I dislike and b) listen more to the music in my library I do like.  Currently I have almost 5300 songs in the iTunes library, which obviously keeps growing as I buy more music.

I’m plugging along on this, despite a couple setbacks:

  • Over HALF of my songs got corrupted somehow in the library and their file locations lost.
  • Some random song files were truncated mid song, and the only way to find out is to listen to the song and go “hey whaaaa?

The solution to the first is pretty easy: make good friends with the  iTunes Library Updater
and let that run overnight. make sure to clean up orphans and add new songs, and tada.  It’s also a pretty cool tool to automatically add songs you download into iTunes for you if you set it up to run every so often.

The second solution has no easy answer – the files themselves are corrupt, so they need to be individually deleted from iTunes (including the files) and replacement files, ahem, found.

The best method I’ve found for rating files is to create a smart playlist for your unrated files (make sure to specify the music type to get music only, and turn live updating off), sort by album, and go to town. I mostly do this while I’m working, but I find I get into the groove on a project and have to occasionally go back 3 songs to rate them.

My rating system:
***** – Adored it and think all my friends should watch/read/listen to this
****   – Loved it – would see again
***     – Liked it
**       – It was ok
*         – Hated it and never want to hear it again

November 12, 2009

[Travel / Adventures] 067. See the Penn & Teller show in Vegas

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:34 pm by Heather

I made my first foray into getting Penn & Teller tickets for my visit to Vegas in December with the WPBT. The tickets are just shy of $100 each so I’d like to use my degenerate gambler skills and get the tickets comped, since I’m staying at a Harrah’s property and I have a shiny Diamond card.

One minor problem with this is that I don’t have a Vegas host, and I’d been putting off calling down there to get one. Finally, after a month of procrastination, I called the Paris hotel and talked to someone.

Of course, it turns out I can’t get a host until I am actually physically present there, and ask for a casino host in person. Frustrating. However, the service agent did say I probably wouldn’t have an issue to get a host and get tickets comped on Thursday when I get in. Still frustrating.

However, I might know a fellow craps degenerate who has a casino host in Vegas, so there’s still a little hope.

November 11, 2009

[Healthy Lifestyle] 007. Walk across the USA (5048 mi)

Posted in healthy lifestyle at 7:54 am by Heather

When I started this journey, I originally planned on walking the miles associated with the American Discovery Trail – 5043 miles.  And then I realized I have issues with math, and was setting myself the rather unachievable goal of 5 miles / day of walking.   So I modified it based on some suggestions, and am now logging every 1000 steps as 1 mile; 1000 of my steps is about 2.5 miles, so I’m planning on going half the distance.

At this point I’ve walked 337,000 steps since September 1st.  It’s actually more than that, as I frustratingly forgot my Pedometer in Chicago during my trip to Dallas where I did a lot of walking, but que sera sera, I guess.   I’m still on pace for my goal as I have 7% of my steps done with 7% of the 1001 days elapsed, although with winter coming on, I am going to have to make some modifications in my routine so that I can keep that pace up.

My 337 miles has taken me from Cape Henlopen State Park, across Delaware into Maryland, to the Chesapeake Bay, over to Greenbelt Park and then through Georgetown in DC to Old Town, Maryland.  At this point, I’m 20 miles into West Virginia, and am heading towards Streby.

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