Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Ever since vacation, I feel like I've been jinxed. There was the trip itself and the petty annoyances that made it not such a great trip, followed by: me leaving my lunch at the babysitter's while I took Hayley's bottles to work my first day back after vacation; a rainy outdoor concert where we didn't get home until 2am; my car breaking down; and last night, our phone being dead and small, microscopic ants coming from the side of the oven. For some reason, we had no dial tone after work yesterday, even though I had a message on the machine when I first got home. When I called our number from the cell phone, all you would get is a busy signal. So I spent close to a half hour on the cell phone with the phone company, while trying to clean up the ants and feed Hayley her dinner, and then the phone company wanted me to go test the outside line to see if there was a dial tone there to determine if it was an inside or outside line problem.

Hopefully, things will be looking up soon. I'll get my car back tomorrow (no more Deathtrap) and when I called home after lunch today, the phone rang and the machine picked up, so hopefully that's all fixed. I need some good luck/good kharma to come my way.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Car Update
The garage called at 2:47pm. It was the starter and it will be fixed late tomorrow or early Wednesday. I can't wait to get my car back!
I can't believe how incredibly lame last night's "E! True Hollywood Story: The Real World" was. About 15 or 20 minutes into it, I realized they couldn't get permission to show any clips from any of the seasons and I thought, "Two hours of interviews of past cast members describing what happened instead of actually seeing it?" No thanks! How boring! Not even worth doing if you can't use clips from the show. It was only briefly interesting to see what some of the earlier cast members looked like now.

Otherwise, my weekend was very enjoyable, especially with the fantastic weather we had here - high 80s and no humidity. I spent Saturday night as a long overdue and much deserved Girls Night Out. Nadine, Wendy and I ate pizza and played the 20th anniversary edition of "Trivial Pursuit," which ended in a draw when I had to leave to pick up Hayley from my parents' house. And, as I said sarcastically to Wendy, "what a bunch of girls we are" as we spent the evening flipping back and forth between NASCAR and pre-season NFL football.

I really needed a night out after the day I had on Friday. After I dropped Hayley off at daycare, I got into my car and it wouldn't start - completely dead. We tried to jump it, but nothing. I'm not even sure if it was the battery, since I still had lights and the radio. So I had to call AAA, the first time in all the years I've had a membership, and they towed it to a local garage. This was all happening while I was supposed to pick up a cake for work on my way in for a big ceremony we were having later in the morning, of course.

The garage said they couldn't look at my car until Monday morning, so I'm still waiting to hear something. If they haven't called by 3pm, I'm calling them. In the meantime, I'm driving my mother-in-law's 1983 Mustang convertible - otherwise known as the "Deathtrap" and very practical for driving around a small child. I shouldn't complain - I should just be grateful that I have a vehicle at all right now.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Okay, it's not perfect, but it's late, so I'll try to fix the aesthetics tomorrow. At least you can read the part about me, if you're so inclined.
Update about me!
I'm finally putting the rest of my expanded Blogger service to work and I think I added a new web page to this site - the ubiquitous "100 Things," which you can link to from this entry, or hopefully from the link on the side bar. Let's give it a try, shall we?

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Morning Report
I love reading the daily "Morning Report," which is issued every day by the National Park Service as a summary of various incidents that occur in our National Parks. Most of the entries are hum-drum petty crimes, while others are more serious. But what makes the report so interesting is the style of the editor and writer. He has such a deadpan delivery on incidents that I wonder if he sees the humor in them, even in serious situations. I get the feeling he takes his job very seriously. Here are a couple of examples just from this week:

Morning Report from August 19, 2003
Mammoth Cave National Park (KY)
Arrest for Child Sexual Abuse

On July 16th, rangers received information regarding a possible sexual abuse incident that had occurred in the park. Investigation revealed that Robert Felker of Cave City, Kentucky, had camped with a female companion and a 12 year-old child at Houchins Ferry campground in late May or early June. While staying there, Felker attempted to fondle the child and also tried to coerce him into having sex with his female companion. The child's parents became aware of the incident when they noticed the child making sexual advances toward a younger sibling. When asked about his behavior, the child – who suffers from severe ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) – told his parents that he had learned it on the camping trip. The female companion who was present was identified and corroborated the child's story. The case was presented to a grand jury, which returned a sealed indictment against Felker on August 6th. Law enforcement specialist Brad McDougal and ranger Miranda Cook arrested Felker in nearby Glasgow, Kentucky, the following day. At the time of his arrest, Felker was dressed in the cowboy costume he wore as part of his duties as a performer at a local theme park that caters to families with children. Ranger David Alexander is the case agent.
[Submitted by Wayne Elliott, Chief Ranger]

Morning Report from August 20, 2003
Voyageurs National Park (MN)
Conviction for Illegal PWC Operation

On August 8th, a federal magistrate found Kyle Glennie and Kalan Wagner guilty of illegally operating their personal water craft in the park and refusing the lawful order of a federal officer. The conviction stemmed from a lengthy international pursuit of the two jet skiers on the afternoon of July 15, 2002. Ranger Karl Spilde was contacted by interpretive rangers when two jet skis passed the park tour boat at the west end of the park. Spilde placed his marked patrol boat within a narrow passage ahead of the jet skis and attempted to stop Glennie and Wagner, who had three young adult female passengers with them. They disregarded Spilde’s orders and continued further into the park. Spilde continued his pursuit for about 30 miles and requested air support from the park aircraft. Due to the high speed of the PWC’s, the jet skiers were able to reach a remote island before Spilde, drop off their passengers, and return. They passed Spilde and twice pulled ashore at cabins within Canadian waters as the park aircraft, piloted by Tom Hablett, followed them. When they saw the plane, they returned to park waters and the pursuit resumed. Although the PWC’s were operated at speeds estimated to be in excess of 60 mph, the operators were nonetheless able to entertain Hablett with hand gestures as they raced along the water. The 80-mile pursuit ended when the operators pulled into a Canadian marina and moored there, preventing Spilde from contacting them. Canadian and U.S. customs officials were notified during the pursuit, but were unable to provide support. A subsequent plain clothes site visit by the chief ranger led to verification of the operators’ identities and jet ski registrations. They reentered U.S. waters late that evening and were greeted by a Border Patrol agent. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date. The incident remains under investigation by Canadian customs officials.
[Submitted by Jim Hummel, Chief Ranger]

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Complaint Department
Here's the first of my complaint letters from vacation and, I think, the most serious.

Rocky Mount - Days Inn Golden East
ATTN: Manager
1340 N. Wesleyan Blvd.
Rocky Mount, NC 27804

Dear Manager:

On Thursday, August 7, 2003, my family and I stayed at your establishment with my 10-month old daughter. This was not a planned stay and we did not have our travel play yard with us, so we requested a crib for our room, which was offered as an amenity by your hotel.

The crib we received was in an unacceptable condition. The first thought that entered my mind was a report I had seen on Dateline, well before I even had a child, about the dangerous condition of many hotel cribs. As you can see from the enclosed photo, the crib we received was missing slats, creating a space large enough for an infant’s head to become lodged or stuck. The crib was also rickety and unstable, as it was missing one of its wheels. I tossed and turned all night, afraid that the crib would collapse during the night and injure my child.

If Days Inn is going to offer cribs as an amenity to its guests, I would expect that the crib provided would be in a safe, working condition. This one incident marred an otherwise pleasant stay at your hotel. Our rooms were clean, the price was reasonable and the children enjoyed the outdoor swimming pool. I have stayed at other Days Inn locations before, but this was the first time I needed a crib and I was very disappointed. I would appreciate a response to know how you plan to address this safety issue. For your information, I have enclosed a copy of the transcript from the Dateline report on hotel crib safety, as well as a checklist from the Consumer Product Safety Council regarding hotel and motel crib safety. I think if you use this checklist on the Gerry® brand crib we had in our room, you will find it does not meet these standards.

In addition to those copied on this letter below, I will also be posting a copy of this letter on my personal website to make family, friends and other readers aware of our experience. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Andrea [Last Name]

CC: Joseph R. Kane, Jr.
President & CEO, Days Inn Worldwide
1 Sylvan Way
Parsippany, NJ 07054

Lea Thompson
Dateline NBC Correspondent
c/o NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10012

Nychelle Fleming
Children's Product Hazards Specialist
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Council
Washington, DC 20207-0001

Monday, August 18, 2003

Big Brother is Watching
I love using bSTATS to see how people find this site. It's so interesting! Just by dropping one celebrity name, I can get a bunch of hits to my site. How many of you are actually hanging around and returning to read about my fascinating life is another question, but I hope you find my commentary about whoever or whatever you're searching for to be interesting, atleast. Brad Paisley has been my number one search term so far (so I'll mention him again!).

Some hits are a little strange. I came up as #5 on AOL for a search on "how to draw a girl laying down." Some combination of those words appeared in an entry about Hayley. I probably wasn't very helpful for the person doing that search!

Also, when I named this site "Real Live Woman," I was afraid I would get bombarded by people looking for porn, but thankfully, that's been kept to a minimum so far. It's the name of a Trisha Yearwood song, people! Please keep that in mind and read the banner at the top of the page.

The power of Google is amazing!

Friday, August 15, 2003

Friday Five
That last post was pretty whiny, wasn't it? Here's something a little more cheery. I'll try to start doing these more often (thanks for the referral, Eliza). I liked last week's Friday Five too, so I'm doing both.

Friday, August 15
1. How much time do you spend online each day?
At work, more than I care to admit to. It probably adds up to 4-5 hours on a bad day, 1-2 on a good day, from a work perspective, that is.

2. What is your browser homepage set to? At work, Yahoo! At home, the MSN default.

3. Do you use any instant messaging programs? If so, which one(s)? I have both AOL IM and MSN at home, but don't use them a lot.

4. Where was your first webpage located?

5. How long have you had your current website? I'm new - just since June.

Friday, August 8
1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country?
I just returned from a family vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC.

2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling?
Bizarre or unusual, instead of scary, would be the earthquake in Seattle. I was traveling for work in May of 1996 and was in my hotel room at just after 9pm when the curtains started moving back and forth, then a wave of movement swept over the room. Being from the East Coast, I had never experienced anything like this before. There was no damage, but it was a 5.3 quake, the largest Seattle had experienced in 30 years. The next day, I was brave enough to travel to the top of the Space Needle.

3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go?
I would drive across America, taking my time, visiting all of the national parks and other sites, and visit all 50 states.

4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car?
Depending on how far the trip is, and excluding this last trip to Myrtle Beach, I would say "car." You get to see so much more and you have more freedom.

5. What's the next place on your list to visit?
This list is very long. Dream list - the national parks in Utah. Realistically, we'll probably do a family vacation to Niagara Falls next year.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Back from the Beach
Sorry I haven't updated in a while - we were vacationing at the beach. We returned on Monday from Myrtle Beach, SC. And when I saw "we," I actually mean my two sisters, my two nieces, my mom, my cousin, Hayley and me. It was a Girls Only trip and I'm still trying to define it. It wasn't a bad vacation, but it wasn't great either. I had a good time with everything that we did, but I just wasn't up or feeling very relaxed, etc, for a variety of reasons.

One such reason was traffic. The trip got off to a very bad start. I was driving my parents' minivan, which housed my mom, my younger sister, her two daughters and Hayley. Eight or nine hours is a good drive to Myrtle Beach, so I was anticipating it taking longer than that with more frequent stops, especially with a baby in the car. But that wasn't the problem - traffic and accidents on I-95 were the culprits.

Just before Fredericksburg, VA, there was a an accident involving an overturned tractor trailer that had occurred at 2am that night. All three lanes were still closed, with only the left shoulder getting by, and there was a 13 mile back up. This was at around 9am, seven hours after the accident happened. We got off 95 for awhile to get around it, but so did everyone else, so we were trapped in a back-up for about an hour.

After lunch, we were cruising on 95 just before the VA/NC border when we hit another massive traffic jam. And I mean MASSIVE! We sat - did not move - for over a half hour. People were getting out of their cars. Then we inched along for 2 hours, travelling a total of 8 miles. Finally, everyone was diverted off 95 in Emporia - the highway was completely closed. During the two hours we sat on the highway - and leading up to it - we did not see a single state police officer, local police officer, Dept of Transportation worker or any other human being that could provide assistance. We also could not find a single traffic report on any FM or AM station - we scanned for two hours and nothing! Finally, after we got off of 95 onto Rt. 301, there were two local sheriffs directing traffic. We pulled into a gas station for gas (we were close to empty, as many others were, too), a potty break and just to get out of the car. We were so frazzled and exhausted and still didn't know what had happened. In the midst of all of this, the keys got locked in the van - with Hayley still inside! My mom was freaking out, but I was relatively calm. My sister went over to the officers directing traffic and one of them came over and jimmed opened the car. He was the one who finally told us that there was a serious accident with several fatalities that happened at 10am that morning. We didn't approach the accident site until 1pm and then sat until well after 3pm when we finally made it to the gas station. I cannot believe how poorly this situation was handled by the Virginia State Police. Then, we finally made it into NC and got stuck in another traffic jam due to construction. We had all had it at this point - especially with a car full of kids - so we stopped for the night in Rocky Mount, NC and made it the rest of the way to Myrtle Beach on Friday morning.

This incident launched the first of many during the whole vacation that involved the phrase, "I'm going to write a letter about this when we get home!" Stay tuned for more about the "bad" parts of our vacation, along with copies of the letters I will be writing.

But otherwise, we had a good time once we actually got there. Hayley loved the beach and the ocean. She wasn't afraid of the water or the waves and she played in the sand, including shoving handfuls of it into her mouth without so much as making a face. It was great to spend time with my family and to see the little ones having so much fun. And my sister's condo is great - she has it decorated really nice and it was definitely big enough for all of us and it's in a great location.

But it is not relaxing to go on vacation with a 10-month old. She still woke up at 6:30am everyday and I stayed up much later than I usually do at home. And I still had to make bottles and all that kind of stuff. I brought three paperbacks with me and only read about 10 pages of the first one and that was it. The ride home was uneventful - thank goodness! Hayley and I both missed her daddy very much. I'd like to go back with just the three of us for a more relaxing trip some day soon. This whole summer has just gone by way too fast for me. More about the trip, including pictures, to come soon!

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Fashion Police
Speaking of Doug Llewelyn, he's back! (courtesy of Hip Clicks)

Also, I updated the July 7 post with photos, if you're interested.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Party all the time
The planning for the big 1st Birthday has officially begun! I'm so excited to have a new project to work on between now and Sept. 13 - that's the day of the party, although Hayley won't actually be 1 until the 17th. The theme is "Raggedy Ann and Andy" - of course, but I was sort of undecided about it at first. I didn't want everyone to be sick to death of RA&A (it was the theme of one of my baby showers and the theme for Hayley's nursery), but I figured next year she'll be able to talk and tell me what she wants for her party, so I better get "my" party in now. Plus, I have the Raggedy Ann cake pan, so I might as well get one more use out of it.

I found great invitations at the Dollar Store that I call "Abstract Raggedy Ann."

When I first saw them, I thought "Raggedy Ann." Then a second later, I also thought, "Wicked Witch of the East legs curling under the house in The Wizard of Oz." A couple of other people thought the same thing, but hopefully, everyone will know better and go with Raggedy Ann. Plus, I'm going to stamp the outside of the envelope, so that should lead people to be in a "Raggedy Ann" frame of mind when they get to the front of the invitation.

I hope to mail them out some time this weekend or first thing Monday. Then I get to plan the decorations, put together favors and other such fun stuff! Good times!