Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shut up, horoscope

(Dec 22 - Jan 19)
Saturday, Feb 21st, 2009 -- It's hard to let go of your grouchiness now, but it really doesn't serve you any purpose. Sometimes it's important for others to know when you are not happy with what's happening, but tough judgments may be out of place today. By allowing others more latitude than usual, you are also giving yourself permission to have some downtime. Anyway, being grumpy takes much more effort than relaxing and enjoying the present moment.

What's the point of being a goat if you can't butt heads?

Friday, February 20, 2009

What I drove: Yawn

I have driven three vehicles that I've yet to post "What I drove" entries about. The biggest reason is that none of them was all that interesting -- two pickups and a cute ute. The first pickup from three weeks ago was the Dodge Ram. They're touting it as all new for 2009, and it has new features, but I drove a 2008 last summer and it was fun. The salesman took me off road and was such a character, I ending up writing one of my best test drives (even my editor said so). I guess that was just too hard to live up to. I'm sure the test drive story was fine and the truck is nice -- as far as full-size pickups go, I just couldn't get excited about it.

Next up was the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350. It's Merc's small SUV. I think I have a hard time getting excited about SUVs because there are two sitting in my garage right now. Granted, neither have nav or heated seats or a sunroof, but they get me where I need to go -- and for a fraction of the GLK's $45,000 price tag. Yeah, it was nice. But when a car costs more than the first house I bought, it had better be nice. Loaded with extras, it was a fun drive mainly because I got to play with the navigation system and stereo. And heated seats are always nice. My biggest pet peeve with Mercedes-Benz is where they put the cruise control. It's right where you expect the turn signal to be. And even though the salesman says you get used to it, I hit that darn thing every time I drive a Mercedes.

Finally, publishing today, is my test drive for the Suzuki Equator. It's a small pickup that looks almost exactly like the Nissan Frontier (apparently it's built on the same platform). My initial reaction was the Frontier was interesting when it came out -- nine years ago. Today, it's just another truck. If you're a big Suzuki fan, this would be a great truck for you. You can haul all your Suzuki toys around with it. There was nothing horribly wrong with the truck -- although the back end did seem to bounce around a lot on bumpy roads in town -- it was just boring.

Am I jaded from doing two months of test drives nonstop? I don't think so. I still get excited about the new cars. I still find the best thing about every vehicle I drive (quite a feat with some). And I still get a little thrill when I see my byline and tell people I do test drives. I think I just hit a bit of a rut with these three vehicles. If a car had been thrown in there maybe. Not long ago, I drove a Hyundai Sonata and a Mazda3. I wouldn't call either of those cars especially exciting, but they both piqued my interest more than the three I drove recently.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I do miss the rain

When people ask me if I miss living in Illinois, the short answer is "No, but I miss my friends and family."

The longer answer gets a little more complicated and comes to me at random times. The other night, we were watching "Ghost Town" (cute, sweet, funny and worth watching if you're not in a totally cynical mood). In a scene toward the end of the movie, it starts raining. There's thunder and a nice steady rain.

Although, Colorado Springs has really great weather for the most part -- something like 300 days of sunshine a year (I'm not going to look up the exact number) -- we just don't get those steady rains. We get thunderstorms and downpours, but very seldom does it just rain for an entire day.

I must remind myself that not only do you get rain for an entire day in Illinois, you could get rain for an entire week, as well as ice storms. And it's hot and humid in the summer and bitter cold in the winter. One winter, we went a full 60 days without seeing the sun. We learned to live for those few perfect days in spring and fall when you would get a clear blue sky and a high temperature of about 72, with relatively low humidity. In Colorado Springs, we can get days like that any time of the year. I think I've a little blase about them.

So, do I miss living in Illinois? No. But I do miss the rain ... sometimes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What I read: "Summerland" by Michael Chabon

I began reading "Summerland" without knowing much more about it than the fact that its author, Michael Chabon, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay." I've been meaning to read that book but can't seem to get it at the library (must remember to request a hold). I picked up "Summerland" because it looked interesting and I'd heard good things about Chabon.

The book is a fantasy -- with giants, fairies and magical moments -- based around the game of baseball. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but was enjoying the story when I got to page 83 (of the hardback edition). A character disagrees with the umpire's call.

"You are blind as a bat, Brody" he was saying. "Always have been! Wandering around half blind in that drugstore, it's a wonder you ain't given rat poison to some poor kid with asthma! How can you say the girl's out when anybody with half an eyeball could see she had it beat by a mile?"

"She stumbled, Albert," Mr. Brody said, his voice a little more controlled than Albert's. But just a little. The two men were standing with their faces less than a foot apart.

"Forget you!" Albert said. "Man, forget you! You are worse than blind, you're stupid!"

It's not as if I need people to use the F word in books I read, but there was something really odd about that last piece of dialogue. "Forget you"? Who talks that way? So, I looked a little closer at the book's dust jacket. There it is, at the very bottom of the inside back cover: Hyperion Books for Children. Oh. I see. Trust me, this book was in the fiction section of the public library -- the regular fiction section. Not the kids' section. Not even the teen shelf (where they did file "The Book Thief," which seems less like a children's book than this one). Now, I don't normally seek out children's books to read. Ok, true, I may have read the entire Harry Potter series (twice) but I don't usually read kids' books for my own enjoyment.

Then again, I did enjoy "Summerland." From an adult perspective, it was light and fun. The team of good guys -- made up of two human (or "reuben") children, a changeling, a giant, a Sasquach, a washed up major league outfielder, a wererat and a fairy(or "ferisher") -- have to defeat the bad guys at a game of baseball to save the world. It has much of what you'd find in this type of book: a young hero and heroine, an absent parent, a journey, a quest, an epic battle (albeit baseball) between good and evil. Adults may find it formulaic, while kids may find it exciting or even scary at times. It was a bit of escape for me. And in this time of economic woes, why the heck not?

When they saw the miraculous ball field that had swirled into existence at their doorstep, the ferishers of Dandelion Hill threw down their tennis rackets and croquet mallets, and left behind the scarred gray patch in the grass where their old field had lain. They dived into the thick, new grass, and swam in it like water, and rolled over onto their back, and floated on it, and sighed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lost love

Those of you who don't watch "Lost" may not appreciate the love I have for this crazy show or the love for Hurley -- probably the best TV character. Ever.

Thanks to a post on Cake Wrecks, I have come across Jorge Garcia's blog, and he seems just as sweet and funny as he does as on the show.

Here's a snippet (and tell me this isn't totally cute):
So he called for the manager to open his drawer. And we waited. Now by this time there were people starting to line up behind me. The cashier apologized to them for the delay, but I knew SOMEONE in that group was thinking that the "guy from Lost was haggling over $1.00."

You can read the rest of that post and how he turned a wild pig into a cannibal, at his blog. Try not to fall in love. He may not be the prettiest boy on the island, but he's the most adorable.