06 August 2009

confessions of a news junkie

I'm a self admitted news junkie. Junkie! Junkie! Junkie! Yep, that's me.

Daily I peruse the many news sources online, and I watch local and national news every morning and evening. I read the online versions of the small town newspapers in the towns near where I grew up. http://www.ruidosonews.com/ and http://www.alamogordonews.com/ I subscribe to
Time and Newsweek. I visit websites for Denver's channel 9 News, Denver's channel 7 News, Boulder Daily Camera, Sydney Morning Herald, and Irish Times on a regular basis.

I like knowing what's going on in the rest of the world, and tend towards the more morbid and disturbing news articles, much to my IM partners dismay. It's my duty to share these stories with those closest to me; I am one sick puppy. During the day, I try to be cognizant of lunch time and will attempt to refrain from sending really gross and disturbing information just before. Although, it might be a great diet aid. Might have to try this and see if it works; I'll keep you posted.

Reading about nature and science is quite fascinating for me – it stimulates my brain. If I could go back and do college all over again, I'd go for the natural sciences stuff. Maybe I'd study zoology or botany or maybe get a degree and become a National Park Ranger. So, yeah, I read a lot of nature, animal, & plant articles. http://www.cnn.com/ has some great links to science and nature as does http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/index.html. You should check them out if you're into that sort of thing.

Since I'm a travel fanatic, I read articles related to travel. Did you know that "Urilift" is considered one of the "world's greatest bathrooms?" I didn't. Do you even know what a Urilift is? I didn't. Apparently it's a urinal in various locations in Europe that "pops" up out of the ground at night when all the drunks are out carousing. Amazing, eh?

I subscribe to just about every travel magazine there is, and read them from cover to cover. If I can't go to an exotic location or live on a Caribbean Island, I can at least read about it!

Occasionally, I'll check out articles on some of the more self destructive of celebrities. Not that I actually *enjoy* seeing celebrities crash to earth with a resounding SPLAT! but sometimes it's good to know that even with all my faults; hangups; problems; crisis; or whatever, I'm by comparison, fairly normal. Did you know Nicholas Cage is in trouble with the IRS for not paying over $6 million in income taxes? Can you imagine having the kind of money it would take to OWE over $6 million in taxes? Both Britney and Lindsey appear to not be too thrilled with the bleach blond looks they both are sporting recently. Leonardo DiCaprio is holidaying in Ibiza "surrounded by beach beauties." Victoria Posh Spice Beckham is reputedly going to replace Paula Abdul on
American Idol. Not quite earth shattering, but entertaining none the less.

It is disturbing (and at times *very* amusing) some of the things I read or hear about. There are a lot of things wrong in the world – human and animal torture and abuse, starvation, poverty, epidemics, pandemics, wars, and the list could go on and on. These things have been going on since the beginning of time, but it's been just in the past several years how easily this information is shared. With the ease of getting all of this sometimes irrelevant and useless information, it's easy to see how I've become a news junkie.

In all of my news reading/watching it never ceases to amaze and amuse me some of the headlines that pop up. Just this morning on the CNN website I saw the headline, "Inmate Hides Gun In Fat Layers." My first reaction was, "whaaa?" I *had* to click on the article; this headline wasn't one I could just let go by without satisfying my curiosity. So, click I did, and was redirected to a Houston, TX television station news site. Only in Texas, right? As I read the article my "Whaaa?" reaction turned to "Ewwwwwwwwww!" Apparently a morbidly obese man (600 lbs.) had been arrested and was taken to the pokey, where he was searched, finger printed, and all that other happy inmate intake stuff. When taken to the showers he fessed up to the guard that he had a 9mm handgun and two clips of ammo on him – literally. This man had been searched three times already. Three times! One of the mucky mucks at the county lockup made this statement, "We teach officers to lift up and look under." Apparently, the staff is trained in lifting and looking, but I'm suspecting, being trained and actually having the stomach to do it are two totally different things.

So, before I head off to read some more interesting, mind blowing, mind numbing, stupid, entertaining, stimulating, and/or educational articles, I will leave you with a list of some recent headlines. Believe me, you can't make this stuff up.

Swiss Seek Pope's Blessing to Stop Glacier Melting (Reuters)

Man on Lawnmower During Beer Run Charged with DUI (AFP)

Pelican at Idaho Zoo Swallows Cell Phone (AP)

Apple Bans Dictionary from App Store over Swear Words (UPI)

Web Site Tells Movie Goers When to Pee (UPI)

Police Use Taser on Parade Participant (AP)

04 August 2009

Pet Peeves and Pet Pleasures

Driving into work this morning I was thinking about various and sundry things that have caused me heartburn over the past few weeks. Pet peeves. Irritants. Annoyances. Thinking it might help me untwist my knickers, I'm going to list some of them. In order to keep the cosmos in balance, I'll follow with a list of things that have brought a smile to my face as well. Pleasures. Joys. Delights. In no particular order and not directed at any one person, place, or thing.

People who drive right at or under the speed limit in the left hand passing lane on a road that clearly states, "Use Right Lane Except to Pass."


Liars. Even if you don't think it's a big deal, believe me, it's a big deal.

People asking "Can I....?" Ummm... I don't know "can" you? Are you physically able? Emotionally able?

People asking "Where is at?" It's before the "at."

Servers who refer to everyone in the group as "guys." As in, "How are you guys doing today?" I'm not a guy. Heather's not a guy. Laura's not a guy. Generally there isn't a "guy" sitting with us, with the possible exception of Ted and that's not very often.

People who make a mess and don't clean it up, and when asked to clean up the mess, respond, "What mess? I don't see anything." In addition to having selective hearing, apparently there are some people who have selective sight.

People who don't pick up their feet and shuffle as they walk.

Clerks who pretend they don't see you when you are obviously wanting help in finding something.

Hearing "like" and "you know" every third word. Ummm... Like I don't know; that's why I'm asking. like you know?

Bicyclists that run stop signs and red lights and flip *me* off when I slam on the brakes to come to a screeching halt in order not to have their spandex clad body smeared all over the front of my car.

Now for the things that have made me smile.

Watching Izzy and Willa sleep on/in their kitty condo in the sun.

Seeing the pretty yellow birds eating seeds out my flower garden and drinking out of my water fountain.

Smelling fresh cut grass.

Blue skies.

Seeing Heather rocking out to Aerosmith. I can't tell you just how cool I think it is that she doesn't think I'm a total dork mom and actually *likes* to do things with me.

Even though it's been hot in my bedroom, Doe snuggling up next to me in the middle of the night and purring.

Hearing "please" and "thank you" from people younger than me.

Heather and me washing our cars together and "accidentally" spraying each other.

Ted cooking dinner.

Christopher & Molly getting engaged.

Planning three day weekend getaways with Laura.

An ice cold beer on a really hot afternoon.

Knowing it's MY house.

Getting Sunset Western Garden book, so I can plan my garden for next year.

Until the next go 'round Slán libh!

02 August 2009

concerts at a more advanced age

Awhile back I somehow found out that Aerosmith was going to be coming to Fiddler's Green for a show (with ZZ Top,) and since it had been a long time since I'd gone to a live show, it seemed like a fun thing to do. So, I asked Heather if she wanted to go, knowing in all probability that she would based on the facts that while standing in line for Rockin' Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios several years in a row, she obviously was enjoying the music, and because she would borrow my Aerosmith CDs. Now here is where it starts getting kinda weird for a 40+ year old single mom because of the differences in how things were when *I* was 18 and how things are now that my daughter is 18. Heather is a product of her generation and probably can’t comprehend not having a computer, game system, MP3 players, etc. *I* on the other hand remember having to hand write – can you believe it? – hand write EVERYthing. I also remember when 8-track players came out and when I got one, I thought I was hot stuff. Not to mention my "game system" was the hills behind our house. We were allowed a limited amount of television per day, and once that allotment was used, TV went off. Granted when Heather was younger I limited her gaming time and television time as well, and as far as television goes that has served us well. She doesn’t have a whole lot of interest in television; the gaming, well let's just say her Gameboy and MP3 player are never too far from reach.

Anyway, I digress...

Heather tells me she'd like to see Aerosmith but doesn't care for ZZ Top. Well, this is a live show and you can't just fast forward through the bits you're not interested in, so she's going to have to sit through ZZ Top to get to Aerosmith. I happen to like ZZ Top, but frankly not enough that if they were the only act would I buy tickets to see them. Bear in mind here that there is no way, ever, ever, ever that my parents would have taken me to a "rock" concert, much less been the ones to suggest it. However, I do recall when Eddie Rabbitt was having his hey day, they did get tickets for us to see him at the New Mexico State Fair. It's not quite the same thing, but I'll give them kudos for even going that far, considering their musical interests and mine very rarely ever converged. While I thought Eddie Rabbitt was "OK" I tended more towards Judas Priest, Van Halen, BTO, Parliament, and oh, let's see, Aerosmith.

Now being the old(er) person that I am, the appeal of sitting on the ground is totally lost on me, so I opt for the more expensive reserved seats (granted not the $2K meet the band, sit in the front row seats.) Now back in the day, I would have chosen the "who cares where I am, as long as I'm there?!" tickets, but as I've aged so have my bones, and sitting on the cold, hard ground does not even remotely enter my mind. In fact, I'm sad to say, that if the only tickets left were "On the Green" I would have opted out of going altogether. Sorry, Heather but if we want to hear Aerosmith at ear splitting levels, we'll have to 1) play the CD in the car really, really loud or 2) head back to Florida to ride roller coasters. Both of which I know we will do anyway...

So, now we have our tickets for section 204, row S, seats 12 & 13. Not right up front, but decent enough seats. I print them out (I'm at least technologically savvy enough to buy most things online and this precludes having to wait in the "will call" line with several hundred of my closest friends,) and the tickets are tucked into my calendar in the designated week of the concert. Having a calendar to even tuck tickets into, again, shows the differences between being 40+ and 18.

After the purchase of the tickets, I don't necessarily *forget* the concert, so much as normal, adult life prevails and I move on to those events. The weeks go by and the concert slowly approaches, but I'm not giving it a whole lot of thought. Now mind you, in my younger days I would have been anxiously awaiting the "big day" and as the date got closer and closer I would have been having sleepless nights thinking "will this day never come?!," needless to say, this is not the case now. Sleep trumps just about everything. On Thursday or Friday, I start thinking we should get our plan in place – again as I get old(er) having a plan seems very important lest I forget something like say, the fact that we have tickets to a concert. I'm thinking that since the show starts at 7:30 and the gates open at 6:00, we'll head down about 4:00 find a place to get something to eat then head over to the show. Again, the planning of finding a place to eat reflects my age. In my youth, if we even considered getting something to eat before a show, it would have been while we were in the car headed to the concert, driving past Blake’s Lotaburger or Mickey D’s, and someone shouting out, "Hey! I want some fries!" But, since I'm old(er) and food figures heavily in the planning of most of the events in my current life, I feel compelled to Google "restaurants" near the venue. Ah ha! There's an Il Fornaio not to far from the venue! Score one for mom; Heather is a HUGE fan of Il Fornaio, and since the one nearest us had closed a couple of years ago, I *know* she'll be up for this. OK, so, now who other than some old(er), responsible, mom-type would consider Il Fornaio for a pre-concert dinner? Maybe a theatre production or visit to a museum, but an Aerosmith concert?! Geez, I'm really showing my age, but to my daughter's credit she doesn't find this strange at all.

Saturday comes, and again because I'm old(er) I don't want to wear myself out and be too tired before the show, I take it easy for most of the day. The few activities I do are wash a couple of loads of laundry, change the sheets, vacuum some cat hair out of the carpet, and that's pretty much it. I spend most of the afternoon lounging in my room with Doe and reading. About mid-afternoon I start getting ready, take a shower and do the make-up (even a bit of eye shadow which I rarely ever wear,) put on four different outfits before finally just throwing on a pair of jeans and a shirt. Laughing to myself, “Geez, Ruth you're going to see the band, not make a fashion statement; just put some clothes on!” Heather and I head down to Denver, find the restaurant (thanks to a Google map, mom doesn't look like a complete idiot and sorta knows where she's going with help from Heather reading the written directions,) and have our dinner. An hour and a half later, after gorging on bread and an appetizer (shared,) an entree, dessert, and nice glass of Pinot Grigio, I'm thinking a nap would be wonderful, but instead we head to the venue.

Now, I was expecting some crowds, but didn't *quite* remember what a chaotic mess getting into a concert could be. I'm in an area I don't know all that well, and in addition to trying to find some place to park that's not requiring me to take out a second mortgage for the pleasure of parking my car in a dark, weed infested, dusty, vacant patch of ground designated as a "parking lot," I'm having to dodge people who think that since they have tickets to the show it gives them every right in the world to jump out in front of moving traffic or better yet, walk down the middle of a four lane road; in addition, I'm trying to avoid all the other yahoos, who like me, kinda, sorta, but not really know where they're going. Granted it's harder to get upset with folks who have license plates from distant states such as Wyoming, Nebraska, and Maine. Maine?! Someone from Maine drove to Englewood, Colorado to see ZZ Top and Aerosmith? I'm wondering if they weren’t just passing through and saw the throngs of cars and people and thought they'd just stop off and see what all the hoopla was about. Heather thinks they’re groupies following the tour, which makes for a much better story. So after paying our parking fee (re. my spending money for the rest of the month) we park, and join the masses lining up to get in. Now *we* are the people who have tickets to the show and feel we have every right to jump in front of moving traffic or walk down the middle of a four lane road (though we don't, because I've lived in Colorado long enough to know that that is just STOOOPID.) Ah, now we are in line. And in line. And in line. And in line. The line snakes up for miles and miles, well, not really it just seems that way when you have someplace you want to be, and it's not standing on a sidewalk in the middle of Englewood, Colorado. For the most part, people are being well behaved; although, there were a couple of instances of people funneling into the line (cutting in) at various points along our route. The people directly in front of and behind us found this to be a great affront to their very being, and proceed to chastise, berate, and to my great dismay, even curse those poor souls who had been fortunate to park closer and didn’t see any reason to GET IN LINE LIKE THE REST OF US. That being said, I didn't really care, because 1) the show wasn't starting for at least another 45 minutes and 2) we had reserved seats.

Now for all the people that were there, I doubt even 20% of them were under the age of say, oh... 45. Heather is 18, and I tried to picture myself at her age going to a concert where the demographics were so skewed towards parental units and yes, even grandparental units, and I just couldn't. Of course I had to remind myself that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are both grandparents. With the exception of the Eddie Rabbitt show, I can't for the life of me think of any concert I attended in my teens and 20s that had "old" people as the audience. To Heather's credit, I don't think she really even noticed. Maybe because she's so used to going places with "mom" and "mom" tends to go to places with old(er) people. Heather did; however, notice the ratio of Aerosmith to ZZ Top t-shirt wearing fans were about 4 to 1. We also noticed several AC/DC shirts, one Grateful Dead, one Journey, and one I don't remember because I was so taken aback by the MULLET the man was proudly displaying. Seeing the blast from the past hairstyle, I almost felt compelled to run home, get out the curling iron, pick, and Aquanet, blue eye shadow and glitter, but I restrained myself much to Heather's relief.

So.... Heather and I finally get inside the amphitheatre and are greeted by *the* t-shirt stand, and there is no way we are going to get in that crush of people. I told Heather there was probably another stand further on with less of a line, and sure enough there was. The mass of people surrounding this stand was still quite impressive but not so formidable; we take our place in line and watch the money flow. After getting our requisite "official" concert t-shirts, we head for our seats. Oh. Boy. Lucky us. We are seated in front of a group of *very* inebriated men and one young boy age 10 – 12. I overhear the discussion of their drive from Nebraska which only took them three hours, and I'm thinking, "Please don't let them be driving later tonight." One of the less tanked of the group, albeit nowhere near this side of sober, actually advises another of their group to "go easy on the beer; the show hasn't even started." I'm thinking, "Maybe he'll just pass out before the show – please just not on me – and we won't have to deal with it." No such luck... ZZ Top takes the stage, and it becomes very apparent *this* is the band they drove three hours to see. Mr. I'm Not Taking It Easy On The Beer (INTIEOTB) jumps over the seat next to Heather and begins to dance (gyrate as only a drunken 40+ year old man who is trying to be oh-so cool can) much to Heather's chagrin. Frankly, I was surprised he made it over the seat without taking out several people and/or all of his teeth. I look over just in time to see him do "the bump" on Heather. Sweet girl that she is just smiles and moves ever so closer to "mom." Fortunately for us, and him, because he really didn't want “mom" going off on his ass, Mr. INTIEOTB decides the show would be more enjoyable for him if he went down front closer to the action, so he disappears into the crowd. Finally, we can just relax and enjoy the show and not worry about being “bumped” or worse yet, getting a beer shower. Heather’s really not interested in ZZ Top and I don’t want to use up what little energy I have, being old(er) and all, so we sit and jam in our seats. Well, I do. Heather sits patiently waiting for ZZ Top to get on with it so the real show can start. After about an hour, the band leaves the stage and our back seat friends rise to the occasion and start screaming at the top of their lungs, "Encore! Encore!" Fortunately for Heather, but unfortunately for our friends, there was no encore.

During intermission people were able to send text messages that would be scrolled along the bottom of the megatron screens, and Heather and I laughed at some of the more amusing texts:
"Thanks grandpa for bringing me here."
"Hey lady in front of me who can't dance, sit down."
"Where are the hot guys?"
"The hot guys are in section 201, row T, seats 21 & 22."
"Charles I'm having your baby." (hope he knew about it beforehand...)
"The people in front of us are smoking dope. Thanks for the second hand smoke."
“To the guy who spilled his beer all over my feet, thanks.”

So, intermission is coming to a close and Mr. INTIEOTB is complaining on how he doesn't have anyone to dance with. OK, well let’s think about this for a minute. You’re drunk. You smell like you’ve bathed in beer. You’re loud. You’re obnoxious. Basically, you’re not someone any sane or sober person would want to dance with. His friends are well and truly friends and decide to take it upon themselves to find Mr. INTIEOTB a dance partner, and that person happens to be moi. Oooh. I feel so lucky. Not even if you were the last drunk on earth. I feel a very light tap on my shoulder and pretend it's just the breeze or a very large fly or anything other than what I know it to be. The tap gets a little firmer, and I consider slapping at the "fly" on my shoulder, but think that might not be the best plan; I’m not sure if these are “happy” drunks or “belligerent” drunks. I turn around and get a blast of beer breath in my face as one of the true friends leans over to get a fix on one of my many faces that are swirling around in front of him. First he apologizes for whacking me in the head while he was doing his air guitar routine during ZZ Top, and I respond, "No worries." He then leans down even closer to me, so that I can get the full affect of the beer fumes, and practically shouts at me (thinking he's whispering, but woefully unaware that there is probably not a person within a three row radius that can't hear him,) that his friend, "really, really wants to dance with some hot chicks” and would I dance with him. OK, well then obviously you're talking to the wrong person here Bud. For one I don't consider myself a "chick" and certainly not a "hot chick," but again, sanity and reason prevail and I thank him and say his friend is more than welcome to dance to his heart's content but that I personally will not be dancing *with* anyone. He turns to Mr. INTIEOTB and explains in his three row announcement whisper that, "She said you could dance with her." Huh?! Whatever... Luckily I am saved from having Mr. INTIEOTB leap over the seat next to me to dance "with" me, by two people who finally show up to claim the empty seats next to me. I breathe a great sigh of relief, but then realize that I probably didn't have anything to worry about, because Mr. INTIEOTB is more than likely going to go dancing (stumbling, tumbling, crashing) down the steps to claim his spot "up front" to continue his drunken gyrations.

Aerosmith *finally* takes the stage and the crowd goes absolutely wild, including me. Heather and I are on our feet singin' and dancin' with the rest of the crowd! One advantage to standing for the entire Aerosmith portion of the show, I am not whacked in the head by the air guitar king sitting behind me. We do however, have a blocked view due to two tall men directly in front of us, one who insists on using his cell phone throughout the show so not only do I have two heads to try and see around, I've got an arm held aloft. Heather finally gets into a position where she can see the stage through the triangle of the man's bent arm, but since he is moving side to side and up and down, she ends up bobbing up-down-to-fro like a balloon on water. Periodically I get a whiff of something other than cigarette smoke and while dancing I do a subtle twist the head to the beat and discover that not only does the group behind us have a fondness for beer, they also enjoy a bit of weed as well. Now mind you, in my opinion I think marijuana should be legalized, but since it is still an illicit – ILLEGAL substance, I'm very NOT in favor of family, friends, whoever smoking in front a kid. The group behind us has a young kid with them! Don't they get it?! I can only hope that he wasn't partaking of the drug, and now I'm wondering if they had been giving him beer too! OK, Ruth, get out of "mom" mode. Granted it's definitely not cool to be doing this in front of/with said youth, at this point there's not much that I can do about it and turning around and lambasting them with a lecture on being a responsible adult will more than likely be met with either blank stares or outright hostility. Best to just keep my mouth shut and hope fervently that they aren't the *total* losers I'm beginning to think they probably are.

Next thing I'm wondering where did the past hour and a half go?! The show went by toooo fast; I didn't want it to be over just yet. There are still songs I want to hear! Not Fair! Although, honestly I have to say, the last 10 - 15 minutes were a bit loooong. Towards the end of the set Steven Tyler brought Billy Gibbons out to play a song with them and the guitar solos seemed to go on and on and on and on. I have to say, guitar solos are my least favorite parts of any show. Don't get me wrong, I love guitar, but 10 or 15 minutes of the same rift over and over again can, and does, get a bit tedious. Steven Tyler ( or for that matter the rest of the band) is not the young and agile person he was, say 20 or even 10 years ago, so his performance slowed down considerably as the show progressed. In previous shows he would be running, bouncing, jumping, and otherwise showing a LOT of energy. Not so much now. This show there wasn't a whole lot of bouncing, jumping, running, but a lot of strolling and foot tapping. I'm thinking to myself that even I was getting a bit tired towards the end. “Is that a blister I feel forming on my foot?” “Man, my knee is really starting to ache.” “Wow, my lower back feels a bit stiff.” So, if this is how *I'm* feeling just standing in front of my seat doing a bit of small space dancing, I can't really imagine how these guys are still doing shows night after night. Kudos to them!

Now the show is over and Heather and I have to decide whether to leave to beat the crowd or wait for the "encore" performance. I ask Heather what she wants to do, stay or beat the crowd. Her response is "what do you think we should do?" As proof that age, yet again, changes behavior I respond, "Let's beat the crowd." All those many years ago it never once would have entered my mind to leave the venue until I was 100% sure the lights were on for good and the band wasn't going to come back out one more time. Apparently, I am not the only old(er) person who feels this way; now people are streaming out of the amphitheatre and high tailing it to their cars. Luckily, I haven't yet reached the age where I've forget important things such as which dirt lot I've actually parked my car. Although, I do admit walking to the driveway of where I'm pretty sure we parked, and thinking to myself, "Were we really this far down?" Fortunately, Heather is walking with the confidence only a person who is absolutely and 100% sure that this dirt lot identical to the other 5 gazillion dirt lots is *the* lot.

Getting out of the venue area is times easier than our entry and soon enough we’re on the road. As we drive home, Heather and I commiserate about the concert experience and she assures me she had a great time and thanks me for taking her to see Aerosmith. She then laughs and says, "And I get to go to Crue Fest on Tuesday! Two concerts in less than a week!" I think to myself, "I’m really glad I didn’t offer to take her to that one. I’m too tired to even contemplate doing this again in three days.”

Observations on being an old(er) concert goer:
• Eating at a nice restaurant is times better than McDonalds
• I don't have to have beer/wine/spirits to enjoy a show, and I have the added benefit of actually remembering the show
• Reserved seats are the way to go - general admission sucks
• People are stooopid regardless of age; being old(er) doesn't necessarily make you smarter, it just makes the hangover a whole lot worse
• T-shirt prices are totally outrageous, but you still gotta buy one
• Crowds are annoying - drunk crowds are scary
• My ears will ring for two days after a concert, rather than just a few hours
• I'll still go to concerts even when I'm old(er) and gray(er) but can’t do it back-to-back