Friday, September 28, 2007

Daily Update

I went running yesterday. I ran forcefully, just like the howling wind, but not as fast as it. No, speed was not a factor. I was similar to the wild Hyena of Northern Australia who was still tired from running fast last week. My paws were still tired, and my claws have been getting dull. I'll need to sharpen them this weekend in order to grip the track more effectively. There were many other wild animals up there in the Outback, but none like me. I may not have been fast, or 'show off-ish' as some of them, but I could have taken them out with one swipe of my 'angry claws of fury' if I needed to. But I didn't need to. The weather is turning cold. I could see my breath in the air.

I met up with Josh and Jeff at Natalee Thai's Restaurant for dinner. I brought my roommate Mike, and Josh brought a friend of his who was in town. The second I sat down they started telling 'Old Jim' Stories. I couldn't do anything about it. Like a bear trap, I went for the food in the steel jaws of the trap, and I was stuck. Every embarrassing story you can think of, so did they. So they reminded me of all the stuff 'I need to work on'. How nice of them.

We all went over to watch the office at Autumn's place after Supper. She has a sweet projector set up on her wall (the only down side is all the pets combined with my allergies). It was really fun. We also had cookies.

Lunch was sponsored by BJ's

I'm listening to some sort of Techno music right now.

European Adventure - Day 5

Day 5- Today was a great sleep in day. The city of lights hasn't let me down with sleep yet. We left the hotel around 11. We had accomplished most everything we set out to do in this fair city so far and we still had a day to spare. We decided to visit the Sacre-Coeur church, the white onion dome, byzantine looking church as seen in the movie Amelie. Part of the reason this place is popular is because of its location and setting; on top of a hill with lots of grass and stairs leading up to it. The streets leading up to it were very touristy. All the shops had tons of postcards, nick-knacks, artwork, and stuff like that, good prices too. Both Ryan and I decided that on our way down we would finally start buying stuff for people back home.

As we approached this park area leading up to the church there was an eclectic carousel and an organ grinder, and lots of people hanging out. I think I heard the sounds of a school nearby too, accompanied by the occasional clanking of a tea cup and saucer, or a knife and fork on a plate from the nearby street cafe's. All these were distractions for the real business going on here: Black Market Bracelets. Yes, the infamous friendship bracelet. As you approached the park you had to make your way through crowds of people, but these crowds were mostly made up of pushy salesmen. Although 1 said he was from Jamaica, I couldn't identify all of the different accents I heard. So, one guy would come up to you and ant to talk for a second, then he'd whip out a few strands of thick tread, and try to immediately weave this thing to your wrist. But as push as they were, they wouldn't take NO for an answer, so I had to be forceful to get the point across, like telling them NO in multiple languages, and then "go to hell VooDoo Man".

And just as I was finishing telling one guy NO I would turn my head just to be faced with the same situation. I tried ignoring them but still they tried to tie me down with their 'flaxum' cords by the wrists. then I started folding my arms, so they couldn't really get at my wrists, that only stumped them for a few seconds, then their attacks kept coming. By this point I was sick of them doing that, so I folded my arms, tucked my head and just ran like a running back in football. I ran thru a group of them and up the stairs. Apparently stairs are 'pester-free zones'. But looking back I noticed 4 guys at the top and bottom of each staircase. As well as each possible entrance to the area. While running I left Jeff and Ryan behind and hoped for the best. While running by them I noticed that they noticed what i was doing, so one Jamaican dude got pretty upset. The whole time all three of us were laughing pretty good. Jeff later told me that the guy was all insulted and yelled, saying that I was "treating them like animals". Funny that HE was saying that, they were the sharks in a feeding frenzy. So after that I didn't feel bad about the Voodoo comments, or Black Magic, or the Bob Marley Look alike contest comments. I kind of wish I had heard the guys remarks, cause I would have then argued with them about it, but whatever. While passing lots of these guys they would all try to guilt trip guys into buying stuff for a girls they were with, or just start weaving one on your hand as you walked, and then when you said NO they'd say "come on man, don't be like that!" and act all offended. It was really annoying, but running by them helped.

So after we passed the gauntlet we made it to this nice church. There was a service going on, so they really didn't want me taking pictures, which just made me want to do it more. On the inside it was like most Cathedrals. On the way back down the hill, still in search of 'the perfect souvenir' we came across a quaint little market shop at a lovely intersection. I think it was one of the markets they used in the movie Amelie too. They had posters and post cards from the movie. So we got our lunch at this little market which was a typical French lunch: cheese and Bread. I had bought the baguette in the morning and was just carrying it around with us, just so the frenchies would think I was one of them. Jeff got some sort of Bree cheese. (yest the kind with a thick crust of mold on it... and i still don't like it.) So I had water, Apple juice, and chocolate for lunch, while Jeff ranted about how good cheese was, and Ryan would wonder where every brick came from and "what park was made of". So when we were done eating, or when I thought we should be done, I'd pick up my bag, and start asking where we should go next, what fit our schedule, etc. But as soon as I do this, Jeff decides he needs to start feeding the filthy pidgins with MY baguette! (this was a little irksome cause I hate pigeons, I hate littering, I hate insects, I hate dirty-disgusting creatures, and I hate wasting time, especially while in Paris!) I finally got Ryan to follow me by engaging him in a conversation about how many leaves were on a tree, but Jeff was so attached to these flying rats, It reminded me of when Parents drag their kids out of a toy store without getting anything, He just didn't want to stop feeding the flying menaces who pollute towns, destroy statues and spread disease! So to hold onto this dream, he would leave a bread crumb trail that lead out of this cobblestone park, down some steps and somewhat in our direction. This was exactly like the story of Hansel and Gretel leaving the bread trail in order to find their way home.

In the past couple of days I've noticed that it gets kind of noticeable when either Jeff or Ryan gets hungry. Jeff starts checking all the outdoor menu's of every single cafe/restaurant that we'd walk by, then follow up by suggesting we go back there "if we wanted to", or "when YOU GUYS get hungry". I first confirmed this suspicion when we walked by 4 cafe's right in a row, and yes, after every one we got the same spiel. Ryan on the other hand is much more obvious. He just starts blabbing about how much he doesn't care about anything else at the moment other than food. Then after anything that Jeff or I would say, he'd snap a response back by asking "only if they had food there", or if a person "would know where to get food", and so on, but in a more belligerent and pestering manner. Then there's me. I don't have any quirks like that, I just kept water and snacks in my day-pack so I didn't resort to those tactics. But if I did, you'd probably have to read their blogs to hear about it :)

So any way, we're walking around again, looking for the Artists district that me and my brother stumbled across so many years ago. I asked some lady (who apparently wasn't local) and she said she didn't know of Anything in this area (but I was sure it was there) Then Jeff asks if she knew where such a district could be (because he was being helpful and she was kind of 'Euro-cute'). So he's taking detailed notes and getting streets and metro stops from her, discussing every move he/we should make to get to where ever she was thinking of, and went on and on about this distant (expensive) art district/gallery area that I'd never go to; and I only wanted a helpful conformation of this nearby area! So finally they separate and Jeff is glad to know where some new weird place was that I had NO intentions of visiting. But we pressed on. We ended up really close to the Moulin Rouge area, so we decided to stop by.

[Reluctantly I should say, a few days earlier Ryan said he wanted to visit the area (he said this at night time). I had to scold him for wanting to go to the Porn/Red light District. He had never heard of such a thing. He kept repeating in shock "the movie wasn't like that at all!" Good thing, he sort of has a sheltered sense of reality, however Hollywood (or Utah) portrays it. (similar to the Da Vinci Code)]

But it was during the day so we thought we were safe. It wasn't that exciting. Nothing there except bars and nudie shops. There were a few video stores, cinemas and 'shows' that Jeff kept wanted to investigate. On one theater he saw the word Cinema, which he's interested in, but he didn't see the bright neon sign above that reading 'Girls Girls Girls". He didn't think a 'video' store in this area would be bad and kept wanting to go and look at "French" films. I kept having to remind him what district we were in. There was one 'classical' theater he kept trying to go in. He was trying to get a detailed look at what kind of 'theater' it was, but Ryan and I saw from across the street that it was a place of ill repute, with large posters above eye level that labeled what went on there. He kept wandering around in front of this place as if he had lost his wallet, but eventually gave up. Jeff must have missed those que. We did find a store in the area that would sell me a new memory card though.

After that we hiked back up to the artists district. I had seen a postcard which informed us of its location. It was a pretty cool little area, lots of artists in one little plaza area selling their paintings and drawing caricature's of people.

We made our way back to the Opera House with hopes of getting in to see the Theater room. When we were there a few days earlier it was closed. But with all the metro stops and switches (and hunger) we got there only 10 minutes late. So we wandered over to the neighboring department store. Ryan wanted to get some 'hip and fashionable' jeans. As we started wondering around I feared that he was going to try to shop all day, just like he wanders around museums. And I was correct. He stopped to investigate every single item as if he was tenderly pondering taking it home, and rescuing it from its current prison; just like adopting a puppy from the pound. I got sick of it after 2 minutes and told them I'd meet up with them later. Jeff got really nervous with this idea, fearing that we would never be able to find each other again. So I made Ryan promise no more than 30 minutes, max. So I just sat down somewhere to rest as I made fun of all the shoppers.

From there we were just in wandering mood. So we just started going from place to place. The map we had listed the touristy buildings and places in bright yellow, so it wasn't that hard to do. We saw a church (Saint Madeline's),the fashion district, Concord plaza (where Marie Antoinette was beheaded), and the Louvre Gardens (they were just OK).

At that point we had a lull in our schedule, so I suggested we go see the Pompidu Center which is interesting Architecturally. The visit lasted 10 minutes cause someone said it was in the Gay District. I just needed to take 2 pictures.

And just as the clock turns we all got hungry very quickly. we went to our hotel and got a recommendation for a place 1 block from there which was pretty good. Very local and acceptable to eat at.

Earlier in the day I told some kids not to fight in public. We were at a metro stop and they were loud, so I felt compelled to tell them off.

A day or two ago I got eaten by bugs. Mostly on my right side arm and hand. It itched like crazy! Some fingers have 2 bites on them. I hope /assume it was at Versailles where I got eaten. Giving the hotel cleanliness the benefit of the doubt.

Also, at night some retard with a pint size scooter started popping wheelies near us. I tried to convince Plewe that the dude was trying to impress him.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Daily Update

I did a lot of emailing last night. Most of it was troublesome due to some weird virus on my laptop. I think this weekend I'll reformat everything, so if you need anything off there, let me know before Saturday morning. That and I was half way thru writing one of my long 'Euro-Adventure updates' and some Pop-up ad came up, and when I closed it, it closed all of the windows, so I had to re-type everything. I was mad for a few minutes.

Yesterday at work I showed one of the new guys Stan's Donuts. He was amazed at the goodness that came from each bite of Donut. I tried a Peanut Butter and Jelly donut, and it was a bit to much like a Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (therefore no good). So much with being experimental with my donut selection.

Also at work I started on another project with one of the new guys. His name is Reynaldo. He likes sneaking up on people and startling them as he whispers really closely in their ear. We were discussing the Lobby layout for the building we're working on he called it 'Pretty', waved his hands a lot, and had a Brazilian lisp. (I could swear that he's gay, but in his office he had a picture of him and some girl (although he is the focal point in the picture). He kind of reminds me of Ricky Martin.

Last night Cheryl and I went to see 3:10 to Yuma. It was pretty OK. Not exactly how I would have done it, but not bad. The theater was cool, they had nice couches instead of seats, therefore assigned seating. There was also some crazy lady who kept talking to us and giving us candy and gum. I'll definitely go back to that theater, just for that experience.

Lunch was sponsored by Jamba Juice again.

I'm listening to a comedy show right now.

European Adventrue - Day 4

Today Jeff had someone give us a wake up call. We were all somewhat determined to leave the hotel by 8am. But Jeff proved he was the most determined I guess. A phone call in the wee hours of the morning is hardly ever a welcome treat on a vacation.

Our schedule today took us to the Palace of Versailles, former house/Palace of Louis XIV. Just getting there was eventful. We left the hotel in such a determined manner, it left no time for food. (Thats saying something with French-Jeff included.) We got off the metro and 'someone else' decided to go left. I quietly voiced an alternative opinion, but didn't want to bug anyone to early, cause they hadn't eaten and the nerves were already on edge. After a 'fun' 15 min walk I
noticed we just passed the previous metro stop, meaning = we were going the wrong way. I pointed this out but hunger had taken the lead, and 'someones' theory of there being a bakery on every block was just proven false. Not more than 5 minutes more and we found 'bakery supplies'. Then through my control I led our team on a 'better' way back; ending any question of IF we would attempt to walk any more, so we caught a bus. forget this walking crap, it was to early. the supposed 10 minute walk idea turned into a 24 minute bus ride. Boy I'm sure glad I vetoed the walking plan. But thats not all. So as some of you may know I have a little bit of
experience with buses, trains and traveling around Europe. There was an instant where I didn't know quite how to explain it, but let me try... While we were traveling towards the Palace on the bus, I saw a big butch lady waiting at the next bus stop in a uniform type jacket. In the next half second, I thought that it was a controller who was going to check tickets. (From my last trip there, I was 'un-welcomed by the french thoroughly', and realized that they were there only to
pester tourists for even more loot). We had just purchased bus tickets two stops ago and the driver gave us the tickets at the last stop. No one told us to 'validate' the tickets (by getting them stamped with the date) except for a girl that Plewe was checking out. So I think to myself "Plewe is in the middle of nursing a chocolate-croissant down, and hasn't validated his ticket yet!" I quickly negotiate with jeff to validate my own ticket, and I sternly told 'Nurse Plewe' to
"Punch His Ticket! Do it! Do it now!" Annoyed with my rude interruption he tries to console me in his best So.Cal Beach Bum tone of voice, that "Ya, ya, he'll get to it". Distressed, I yell to him again to Validate the ticket. AS annoyed as he was with me, he slowly made the effort, to punch his ticket, only to be blocked by the big angry Butch Frenchie who was mumbling something at us. (this whole thing went down in about 6 seconds). She was yelling at everyone, especially males. She hates guys. The six seconds was barley not enough time for us. Luckily French-Jeff was there to explain that he's just a dumb American tourist who just bought a ticket, but what saved us is the school Girl who Ryan was checking out who vouched for our story. Then Butch started scolding him in her squeaky fake English accent. During her whole tirade I was poised ready to grab his arm and yank him out of the bus, and we would have ran away. There was no way she was going to waddle after us. There was also no way I'm letting them push us around again! How many wars have we had to bail them out of?! Exactly! Towards the end of the bus ride Jeff all of a sudden jumps off the bus two or three stops early and starts walking away. I was confused cause I was waiting for the end stop (our stop). Luckily Some nice older French
lady was trying to tell me to stay on the bus longer, and that my comrades had just wandered off the bus mistakenly, both in different directions. She obviously knew where I was going, but I had to chase 'Lost-Jeff' down to get him back on the bus. Thanks lady, but Jeff apparently likes to walk.

So anyways... Versailles was spectacular. A lot like a bunch of the other 16th century palaces we've seen, but when you realize that the scale of this project as absolutely ridiculous, and it practically bankrupted France, And its construction basically caused the French Revolution, it leaves you in awe. Good ol Louie the 14th, good ol' frenchies. This one Palace was bigger than most small towns. The ceilings were like 20 feet high, gold leaf covered just about everything and I think there was only 1 ceiling that didn't have a baroque style mural on it. Absolutely everything was meticulously detailed to the finest degree. The doors the doorknobs, and even the hinges we crafted to show off the artists talent. The best room to visit was the Hall of Mirrors. A gigantic ballroom maybe 300 feet long by 40 feet wide, covered in decorations, chandeliers, paintings, gold leaf, glass windows on one side, and mirrors on the other.

After a while of that we moved on to the Gardens. If you thought Central Park was big you haven't seen anything yet! We're talking most of Manhattan here. I tried talking the others into renting a golf cart, (they didn't have the carriage rides like last time). But they didn't want to spring for it with me (but we should have!) Apparently there was something in the 'upper 40' that jeff needed to see. it was the small play village where Marie Antoinette would play 'peasant'. yes, thats right we saw her house, life sized doll houses, her jail cell, and tomorrow we'll see her place of execution. I feel like I know everything about her now. We've seen a lot of her name pushed around lately, a lot. I think the current Frenchies regret getting rid of their king and queens. So now they have to latch onto the English Monarchy, like Princess Di. It actually turned out to be worth seeing, but it was a ways away from everything else.

Right before our train ride back we found a bakery. The worker girls there fell in love with me. I was playing the saucy American card after all. And although I was indeed portraying my best Plewe imitation, I out did him at his own game:) Only minutes after sitting down on the train, I rested my head in my hands-elbows on knees. It was the typical Sacrament meeting Napping Position'. I really don't know how long I was out. Maybe 20 min, maybe 30. But as soon as I woke up I noticed a puddle of drool on the floor right below my mouth. After I realized what was going on, I switched seats. I didn't want anyone thinking it was me after all.

So as soon as I woke up I pulled out my trusty pocket map and asked where we were going. Jeff told me the plan, I re-investigated and then realized we needed the next stop, so we jumped off and continued across town on the metro. Our next destination was going to be the happy little Chateau 'just outside paris'. It turns out that ' just outside Paris' would cost us 50 bucks, so we reconsidered. Napoleon's old palace would have to wait till 'next time'. Our next option was a
castle, again, on the opposite side of town. We ventured over there to the very old, beat up run down shell of a castle. Having been to Germany, I've seen better, but it was a nice try France. One thing going on there that was interesting was a group of people Dancing around the front facade of the main Large tower. They were attached to the top of the tower with climbing gear, then twirling in sync, or in pairs, in place or side to side.

Upon leaving that venue, we were in need of our next bakery. It was only a few short moments before we happened upon one. and we started snacking on our spoils back at the castle lawn. And a lovely and typical European afternoon wouldn't be complete without rain, so it started to sprinkle. Jeff and I made a dash for the nearby Metro stop, but Ryan was determined not to let a few water sprinkles ruin his snack time. For a moment we weren't sure if he had gotten lost between the lawn and the stairs to the metro. (seeing that he would typically travel 10 feet behind us, sliding his clogs flatly along the ground with about 18 inch steps. Neither Jeff or
I was interested in going back up to see where 'Little Bo Peep' had gone, in fear of getting wet, or not being able to savor every last bite of our croissants. Then a few short minutes later he comes strolling down, pointing out that it had indeed started to rain harder.

Now it was about time to visit another museum, so we went to the 'Muse d'Orsay'. And again, it was across town. This museum was an old train station at one time converted into an art gallery. As much cool stuff that they had there, we went straight to the impressionist collection. They had a room dedicated to Claude Monet, and a room for Van Gogh. It was all pretty cool. What wasn't cool were all those blasted little annoying school kids and the loud obnoxious American Tourists taking away from my thunder. After going to the gift shop and seeing the other
paintings, we discovered another gallery to visit. We went there, but upon getting there, they wanted to charge us more of this 'funny-money' (I'm referring to Euro's) to get in! and i would have none of that so I stormed out of there. As we left we noticed a really long line to get in. We didn't have to wait at all to get in. But to be funny I started saying real loud to the others that the museum was closed, and that they turned us away.

The next stop was all for Jeff. It was the Cinema Museum of Paris. Its here film preservation started. I think for Jeff it was a must see. For me, I would rather have had someone punch me right in the mouth. But for Jeff, it was like releasing a kid into a toy store, most literally. it was very small. maybe 3000 square feet total, on two different floors. Then there was the bookstore. oh no. I should have just taken a nap or something. HE spent just as much time in there as in the full museum. At one point he wanted me to take a picture of him in the bookstore. Now thats dedication. On the way home we found food, and ate it in the Metro, This
has become a habit cause it costs more to eat food at the place apparently. Home was again on the other side of town.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Daily Update

After work I met Josh and Jeff at Panda Express. I was a little late getting there because I rode my bike to work. They tried to make fun of me for doing that, but I put them to shame when I pointed out that they didn't love the earth or environment like normal human beings should.

Last night was Flag-Football practice. We had a grand ol time. Lots of people came out to participate. J.Bonds (one of the twins) brought a friend from school with her, which was cool, but her friend got Lots of attention from all the boys. It was funny to watch.

After practice we had a J-Crew meeting at my place, hosted by 2 dozen ice cream sandwiches, and we watched ESPN, something on Stephen Hawking, Reno 911, and South Park.

I'm listening to the sweet sounds of silence, as most of the people in my office either aren't here or have gone home.

Lunch was sponsored by In N Out.

European Adventure - Day 3

Well I know this might come as a shock to you, but we woke up late today. Kind of around the time that the House keepers barged in our room for a second time (10:30ish). We started organizing for the day ahead. Which means: jeff showers, I clean up, and ryan checks his email. We had internet acess at this place so he decided to use it. Soon after ryan went to email people, I followed him down to the lobby, to do the same. So when I got there he was just logging onto his LDS Link-Up account. Wow, ryan, sure getting the most out of your vacation. I waited in vain behind him in hopes of checking my email as well. but after his 'important' Link up he had to check his 'important' school email, then it was his 'important personal email. Then I lost track. He finished 2 minutes before jeff was ready so we just had to leave. The one email I was able to look at was a forwarded news article from my dad telling me all about what was happening in London right now. "apparently there was a tube strike in London on the Day I was there, and he wanted to know if it was true." Sorry, but my feet were s till hurting.

Today our goal was Notre Dame, right after a bakery. We of course ran into a lot of gypsy pick-pockets right in front of the church. At one point I even think I witnessed rival Gypsy clans fighting/argueing about who's turf it was. But the church was cool. and after waiting an hour to hike to the top of the bell towers , it was really cool too.

From there , there was a bunch of small visitable things right in the area. One was Saint Chapelle, a small High-Gothic cathedral loacated on a secure government site. So we had to go thru heavy securing to see it, then there was this place called 'the concierge'. Its where people went right before the Guillotine, so Marie Antoinette's cell was highlighted heavily. The Brits have Lady Di, and The frenchies have Marie Antoinette.

From the top of Notre Dame we discovered a new destination, the Pantheon. It was a good trek over there, but Jeff made friends with the locals and they showed us a short cut. This place was amazing. It was humongous. It was a church at one time, but now it's not. It just has big statues n' stuff in it. Its where Victor Hugo and a few other french authors are buried. Normally you can go up in the tower, but jeff wanted to see 'something else' first really quick before we went up, which turns out to be 2 minutes to late for the last group to go up. (kind of like needing to upt money in a non-working vending machine just as the metro pulled up, then wondering why a vending machine on a train platform didn't work as the train left the station. That happened once for sure, and almost three other times.) Then again our tummies led us quickly to our next venue which was a really cool sandwich shop right next to a lovely plaza. We enjoyed life there for a few moments, then moved on.

Our next destination was the Louvre Museum. One of the most Grand museums in the world. Its super huge. A normal person might not even know where to start. But then there's me, the 'super tourist' who knew exactly where to start. We dove right into old Renissance Paintings, Nepeoleon's old apartments, then sculpture. One of the only things that Ryan wanted to see was the Mona Lisa. Thats usually a given, but this time we needed to know why he wanted to see only a few spacific things. Well, its because they were in the movie Da Vinci Code. Yup, the only reason. Then he would quote to us what he 'thought' was reality when he had actually only seen a hollywood movie. I tried to remind him that it was only a movie, but he ignored me just like when I tell my grandma she shouldn't be racist, and he continued to tell us what he 'thought' the set up would be like, i.e. the movie set. I don't think I rolled my eyes so many times in such a short period before. He was so determined to see everything about that movie there.

We finally saw the two paintings and 1 glass pyramid, and we didn't really need to see anything else, so we moved to the gardens. Even on its overcast day, we could tell that the sun was pushing itself below the horizon as we lingered there. Luckily Digital cameras look past that with a smile. We got some cool evening shots. And although I didn't take the usual amount of pictures I'm still running out of space on my memory cards quickly.

Finally to end a lovely day with soar feet and all, we walked along the river, with hopes of finding a river cruise, but only finding a place to eat instead. Around here you know when you're nearing a bakery cause jeff's eyes turn from the serious Archivist/lawyer to a kid in a toy/candy store.

Only think I've learned in the past days is how to get around, only the metro, with others. For a while I'd just sit back and let French Jeff lead away, but the building number of questions and U-turns forced me to step in. There is a difference, I think, between being able to navigate a map and knowing How. I know maps and have a good sense of direction. MOre than a few times I would come out of a subway and think our destination is one direction, but our guide leads us another, just to be informed by some friendly locals that I was correct in the first place. But no big deal. Where/when I decided to take the help is when he kept thinking/ trying to get us to go the wrong way. All I do is look at where we are, where we need to go, and then find where the colored lines match (metro plan). Innocently difficult for a friend thats color blind. NO big deal, I'll just make sure I'm the one in front of the map from now on.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Daily Update

I went running last night. It was a little more difficult than I thought. I had just finished eating a heaping mound of spaghetti when CB called and wanted to go. Sure, I'd love to come with... oh boy. I was like a Tiger who had just eaten two rotting Antelope carcases, and wanted to take a nap under a breezy North African Tree. It was a slow day for more than just the food reason. There were a bunch of people there also training to become great athletes. They must have seen me in a magazine or on a poster. Every time my foot hits the ground my shoes give my foot a
hug. Its so nice of them. I think they do this cause they missed me for the two weeks I was gone, and were slightly jealous of the shoes I took. We also ran into Sylvia up there. it was funny. She's training for something called a 'Marathon'. Have you heard of such silliness? You apparently run for an extended period of time, and call it fun when finished. Who would have thought.

We had a new guy start today. He's real quiet, and I don't remember his name. But one of the newer guys, Steve, he's still loud and still weird. He still talks to the wall, and swears real loud for no good reason. One time today I thought he had just gotten in a bad car wreck, but no, he was just sitting at his desk, writing with his pencil. Just that this time he had head phones on, so he needed to reach a certain decibel level to hear himself think. Then he couldn't get his computer to 'work right' (which means he didn't want to listen to my suggestions) and then he
left for the day super early. He complains a lot, about everything. I think his new nick name is Princess Steve.

I'm riding my bike to work for this month. I've almost been hit every day. Yesterday I really wanted to run into some Lexis for being dumb. Then I could have faked some injury, freaked out, made her cry, then I would laugh and ride off. I'm sure I'll have another chance to do that.

Lunch was sponsored by D'Amore Pizza. They are a new sponsor for me, and I look forward to their future sponsorship.

I'm listening to Queens of the Stone Age right now.

European Adventure - Day 2

So we had to get up super freaking early today cause Jeff wanted the earliest train out of town possible. Come on Jeff, its supposed to be a vacation! We caught the 'Eurostar' from London to Paris. The tickets for that train ride were a lot more than we expected. A lot more. (Sorry guys thats my mistake, I didn't think it would be like that, my bad.)

As soon as we got off the train in Paris, 'French-Jeff' took over. He took the time to read every French sign as closely as possible. He was loving it. And, like I've noticed before he really likes to stop suddenly, and at random places, all the time. But we coordinated and led ourselves to our Hotel, via the Metro. It was a quaint little place close to all the action of Paris, with a metro stop right at the mouth of our street. I was determined to get right to business: First Destination- Eiffel Tower. You can't get more 'Paris' than that, right. As we set out our stomachs decided to change our minds. Luckily there was a bakery a block away from our
place. It was there where I decided to go Frenchie all the way, so I bought a baguette and just tucked it in my book bag to tow around with me for the trip. On the way to the Tower we first stopped by the Paris Opera House. I had a teacher in school who would talk this place up, so it was a must see. Super ornate and clever design, the best architectural example from the once famous 'Ecole des Beaux-Artes', (translation= it means The fancy type of architecture).

Next Jeff decided we needed to stop by the super large department store across the street. With our metro pass they gave us a coupon for a 'Free Gift' from this store, and according to French-Jeff, it was a must have. Turns out this Free Gift was a coupon for a mere 10% off something from that store. Joy. As we left the store we had our first run in with Gypsies. Luckily Jeff and I took the time to sit Ryan down and educate him as to the ways of people outside of Utah. So when some little sorry looking girl came up and asked if he spoke English, he just started laughing and then called us over, then pointed and laughed some more. So Jeff and I ran over and scared the gypsy kid and her black magic away.

There were a lot of people in line for the Eiffel tower. But no one in line to take the stairs up. I originally was against that, but it saved us about an hour of wait time in line. We hiked up all 668 steps to the second , and then third level, then from there we had to take the elevator up to the very top. This whole time I was parading around wearing my new beret, thats right, I bought a beret at the store we stopped at. So I was Frenching-it-up with my beret and swinging my baguette around like a magic wand. Most other True Parisians were doing the same. Plewe at his best was making all sorts of new friends in the elevator line to the top. Including
some Germans which he volunteered me to speak with as well.

By the time we got down the tower the sun was going down, so we wandered around until we found a suitable street cafe to eat at. We found a lovely little place with a fun view of the city, and let French-Jeff order for us. Those frenchies sure like their creative mixtures of food. You can't just get a salad, it has to have raw salmon on top, and the 'normal' 'goat cheese and tomato' needs to be served on top of a paistry. French-Jeff was loving every savory bite of everything he ate and then when he came up for air, would exclaim how good it was, then give us three
reasons why it was better there than back in America. His talk almost became Treasonous, so Ryan and I had to keep him in check. Ryan just liked being able to drink water out of a wine glass. Its the simple things that he loves. Oh ya, and he 'loves' everything.

From there we walked back to the glistening tower of light, boldly sticking out of the skyline

Across the way from the tower there is this look out point where lots of people were taking pictures, including two model looking girls. Well, at least they thought they were models with how they were seductively posing for each others snapshots, all sassy like. I tried to get Ryan to be one of the many guys who would go up to them to offer his photographic services. But he was to chicken.

Next on the list was the Arc de Triumph. the massive monument in all of its Grandeur sat comfortably at the end point of the popular Champ Elysées. We took a handful of shots before we left. I'll be honest though, monuments don't like working with my camera very much typically, but tonight, it was working great, even magically well. I didn't have to get the monuments, or buildings to work with me as much as I do normally.

I don't know if its the food, or the time change, or what, but my 'bathroom-break' schedule has really been thrown off. One [clean] example is when we were walking down the Champ Elysées I all of a sudden 'had to go'. luckily with a few steps we found a McDonald's to use, but when my body calls, I have to listen.

To this point we've only heard 1 person playing an accordion, and that was in a subway. Then other musical talents have included a violin outside the Louvre, and a weird mixture of African tribal/mid-eastern music with bucket drums and a snake charming horn.

Also having to go through Bag Check security check points with a Baguette wrapped in a French beret was funny. I wasn't sure if they would let me through into there 'sensitive' areas with a loaf of bread, but when they questioned me about it, it was always "Do you have any cheese for that?", or "where is the wine?" (or something to that effect) as they rubbed their hands together licking their lips and blankly staring at my baguette and not me. I wasn't sure if it was me they were trying to flirt with, or my baguette! It was kind of like showing a little kid a toy of
mickey mouse; they immediately wanted it, and wanted to know what else they could get to go with it. Good ol Baguettes.

We had crepes for dinner. It was a great opening day in French-land.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Daily Update

On Friday I had to wait to go home from work for a while until there was a break in the rain. But it didn't break long enough for me to make it the whole way, so I got drenched. I used the rest of the evening to recover.

On Saturday I treated myself to a spectacular Hot Chocolate and Pancake breakfast. what can I say, I deserved it. I only left my Flat for a football game in the evening. Although hopeful, it rained for about 10 minutes there, then there were blue skies the rest of the night.

The rain messed up our church building. A bunch of rooms flooded, and the roof caved in n' stuff. It made church interesting.

I'm listening to Blue October.

Lunch was sponsored by In N Out.

European Adventure - Day 1

While sitting and waiting at the airport i started remembering all the stuff I had forgotten to bring. Oh well, I'll have to do without. The flight was so long and one of the most uncomfortable things ever. I wasn't able to sleep that much, maybe 3-4 hours, usually its not a problem for me. They were showing Die Hard, Fantastic 4, The Office, and then a few other dumb shows in the head-rest TV's. It kept me busy for a while, but not the whole time. The airplane food was very mediocre, like expected. As we were getting off the plane the person in front of Ryan freaked-out/collapsed and they had to call the paramedics. I really wanted to take a picture but ended up not just cause everyone was super sensitive at that moment. Jeff suggested under his breath that she was probably a terrorist who got cold feet, thats why she got so nervous. Although it was funny, I instructed jeff never to use such words in an airport when i was anywhere near him, that or he should submit his jokes to a funny/appropriate committee before he use them. The second we touched the Ground the 'Adventure-o-meter' started going wild. First off, the bathrooms are much different there as I was reminded quickly. Very clean, everything was automatic. Even all the graffiti was only on signs or papers, rather than carved/scratched everywhere.

Getting through Customs was a treat. Obviously the lady had forgotten who had to bail them out of World War 2. She was probably thinking back to the Revolutionary war, where we kicked them out the Promised Land (the US). She was annoyed that we didn't have a hotel booked or a train ticket out of town. How Ridiculous that she didn't notice either Ryan's or my large Backpack, and neither of us were wearing 'Towels', 'Sheets', or Anti-Freedom/Anit-English speaking T-Shirts. Finally after Jeff showed our Paris hotel reservations she begrudgingly stamped us through the customs line. Right after we walked by her I said to Jef real loud like, "Did you understand anything she said? Real Funny accent. I wonder where she's from." I felt vindicated.

While on the tube into London we made friends with some of the locals. Our best bud looked like a skinnier version of Mr. Dursley (from Harry Potter). Right before his stop he told us that there was a train strike tonight. The Underground Tube drivers had a point to prove I guess. So with the strike (that they called an Industrial Action) It left us walking around town, a LOT.

Walking around with a backpack is not horribly difficult. Walking around on cobblestone roads with a roller suitcase and a bowling bag is very problematic. While walking anywhere he would find a way to walk diagonally in front of me, cutting me off in an awkward manner. Now imagine this 5 times every 20 minutes. For a moment 2 times in 60 seconds. He started zig-zagging as if someone was following him(Hmmm, like me and Ryan perhaps). So after I figured it was pointless to try to walk next to him, so I then would just follow behind him. Oh this was a great idea, until he realized that I wasn't next to him, then he would stop, then look around, then notice that I had just bumped into him because of the sudden stop, or that I was within arm's reach, then continue. Not just a 'look-as-you-go' walk. No, thats to much multitasking. It was a full stop, then he'd turn and then wonder why I kept running into him as well as the 5 busy commuters behind me as well. (This as well happened repeatedly. At least 3 times per minute) To solve this situation I'd take the lead, but then I'd have to stop and let the other two catch up every few minutes. It was the most problematic in the train stations, but it more or less continued through the evening.

Then there was Ryan. One of the friendliest guys I know. And you have to remember this when traveling with him cause he wanted to stop and talk with every 3rd person we passed, just chat about life, talk about teeth, or Utah, or whatever. Sure I sometimes stop people randomly to ask silly questions, but I usually do this when the other two are watching me. Plewe would walk behind Jeff and me and instead of walking 'To' a destination, he would simply walk with his gaze wandering often from point to point. I think he was trying to use 'the Force' to follow us too. One time Jeff and I actually had to go back a few streets just to find him talking with some stranger. Yes, just a random person who he said had a Utah sweatshirt on. I reminded him not to talk to strangers a few times. So like I said, lots of walking with the Underground closed. We found a hostel for 17 Pounds a night near Waterloo Station (which is a great deal for London). We left our stuff there and then started cruising the town. With the Tube system on strike, that meant we had a lot of walking ahead of us. Now let me add as we would walk, every 20 feet we would all need to stop and photograph something else. No, I'm not kidding. Every 20 feet. I would snap shots on the move like a ninja, but not everyone is a professional photographer like me. Often I told the two NOT to wait for me if I did take a picture, which just confused them. Also quite often Ryan would just take the same pictures that I would. So I started to take him under my Photographic wing, so to speak. Another difference between Ryan and my Photography is that he HAS to have a person in it, which will thus slow two of the three of us down, which thus would slow the group down. That and he takes pictures like my Dad does, takes his sweet time.

Our stomachs quickly led us to this cool little pub/bar and grill called the Red Lion. (Lots of Lions everywhere in the area.) I got the Fish n' Chip's of course. They got something called Ale Pie (obviously a recipe by Julia Childs). It was all pretty good, the fish was a little 'artistic' for my taste, but acceptable.

That night we visited the Parliament Building/Big Ben, Westminster Abby, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, The Tower Gate bridge, London Bridge, and then our Hostel. This all happened anywhere from dusk to late night; all those things were closed, but we were still there. We were desperately trying to get to Kings Cross Station to find Platform 9 3/4 but didn't make it. Maybe next time