[Taken December 14, 2006 | The Louvre by night | Paris]
I have been editing photos like a fiend, but since I took about 8G worth over vacation that project is taking just a little bit of time. I have been slightly hampered by the fact that my internal hard drive (130G) was full. My external hard drive (160G) was full as well. So I really couldn't do a lot until I managed to free up some disk space. The solution? Buy a new (250G) external hard drive and start transferring files. I have already managed to free up about 30G on my internal drive. Hooray! Now I can start filling it up again.
At the rate I go, the 250G drive should last me until about this time next year, at which point it will probably also be full.
[Taken December 13, 2006 | Stars | NYC]
Christmas was good.
Visiting with my folks was good. Saturday morning Mom and I hit the ground running. First we went to the grocery store (she needed stuff and I needed stuff for my own Christmas Eve dinner and she persuaded me that it was utter foolishness to expect that I would be able to get my own personal shopping done after I got back to Dayton on Christmas Eve) and then went to the West Side Market where I bought multiple dozen delicious gourmet ravioli and then sundry other errands. All of this before noon even. Much holiday baking followed and took up the rest of the afternoon until dinner.
I got to see Jeff and Kevin as well, as they were present for both dinner and the ritualistic trimming of the tree after dinner. My family has wierd ornaments. On what other tree can you find beautiful handblown art glass ornaments sharing a branch with a broken calculator and some random scraps of painted paper? Mom said that I could have an ornament to take home with me, and I chose the singing ornament. (Plug it in and it makes sounds like a chirping bird. My grandfather gave it to us when I was very small) As my Dad hates this ornament, he was glad to see it go.
Mom, Dad, and I did our own little Christmas exchange, as we all really wanted to see how each other reacted to the presents. I had a couple of misses... among the things I got Mom were a set of Paris coasters since she had mentioned she needed new coasters... but she already had an almost identical set. Miss! I also got her a set of espresso cups... but her espresso machine was broken. Miss! She did like the earrings and gloves, though. And Dad liked the books and hat, and they both liked the photos.
(The worst swing and miss present wise was with what Jeff and Kevin got Mom and Dad... they got them a new DVD player since their old one was broken... but Mom and Dad had already replaced the DVD player... and Kevin and Jeff had gotten them the exact same DVD player that they had already gotten to replace the old and broken one. You can't make this stuff up.)
Christmas Day was wonderfully relaxing.
John and I ate bagels and lox for breakfast while watching “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”.
I lounged around all day in some new flannel pajamas decorated with a print of little martinis my Mom got me.
John and I sort-of watched the "Mythbusters" marathon on the Discovery channel while playing many games of backgammon, carcassone, and cribbage.
I played with of my presents, especially the toy ray gun that shoots smoke rings and the new telephoto lens, both of which John gave me. Merlin is abjectly terrified of the ray gun. I am not sure of it is the noise that it makes or the smoke rings, but she hisses and races out of the room whenever I use it.
I made coconut fried shrimp for dinner, and we roasted chestnuts over the fire.
All in all it was a great Christmas. I liked everything that I got, and everyone
that I gave stuff to seemed to like it. I got to spend time with people that
I care about. I ate good food. I spent a day completely slacking off. That’s
what its all about…
[Taken December 15, 2006 | Near the top of Notre Dame | Paris]
John wasn't able to get the day or so after Christmas off, and is also working on Christmas Eve, so I won't be going to Cleveland to see my folks for Christmas, as I had tenatively planned. Instead I am packing a bag and driving to Cleveland tomorrow so I can spend some time with my family (and drop off/pick up presents) before returning to Dayton on Christmas Eve so that John doesn't get left alone for the holidays. Which would suck. It is the best compromise that I could come up with.
So I wrapped presents, along with all of my other household puttering and chores this evening.
I must be the world's worst present wrapper... the paper always folds funny, and wrinkles, and tears, and gets oddly lumpy looking, and the packages I wrap always look like they were manhandled by a drunken gorilla. Plus I couldn't find any of the many pairs of scissors that I know are in this house, so I ended up using a pocket knife to cut the wrapping paper.
I had been hopefully planning on using this weekend to edit the photos from the NYC/Paris extravaganza which are downloading onto my computer even now, but oh well. Between all of those photos and the photos that I took at the dance studio holiday party the Friday before I left, I am in severe danger of falling behind in my editing and uploadin to flickr duties. Damn.
[Taken December 15, 2006 | Sainte Chapelle | Paris]
Oh... I am back... and I still have that vacation hangover thing where you stumble around and can't quite believe that you have once again re-entered real life.
I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects NYC and Paris. More about that later, as I am still processing it all.
However, before I start to go into details about the awesomeness of it all, I would like, if I may, to get a little bit of a rant off of my chest first. People, if you are ever thinking about booking a flight on Air India, I have the following advice – DON’T DO IT! Don’t allow yourself to be seduced by the cheap roundtrip prices. Back away from the travel site and book elsewhere.
Remember that old adage about getting what you pay for? Ponder that for a minute…
When Erica and I were flying from Newark to Paris, we got to the Air India check in desk with what we thought was plenty (3 hours) of time to spare… only to be told that they had transferred us to a much earlier (leaving at 7pm as opposed to 9pm) flight without bothering to inform us of that fact because, despite the fact that we had tickets in hand, they could not guarantee us seats on our actual flight. (We will completely leave aside the fact that this would totally screw Chris over as his flight from Syracuse to Newark would not even land at Newark until after the earlier flight had left. Much drama with that. Ahem. We will just say that by dint of extraordinary persistence and luck on his part he managed to get to Paris only a few hours after Erica and I.) Anyway, Erica and I had to run to the Air France check in desk, race through security, and sprint to our gate in order to make our suddenly earlier flight. We actually came out ahead there, as the Air France flight was very nice indeed.
On the way back from Paris… oh man. Well, first the ditz at the Air India counter tagged my luggage with Chris’s name (this is important later) and then she assigned us all seats in a row which did not actually exist on the plane, though we did not find out that one until we had boarded.
Air India is also pretty ridiculous about security... more so then the entire US government. Security check number one came when we approached the check in counter – we had to open up our carryons and let a security guy poke through them. Security check number two came on the jetway to board the plane – we had to take off our shoes for inspection and let yet another security guy poke through our carryons. Security check number three came immediately after number two, and consisted of a very brisk full-body pat-down. Oye and double oye. Hopefully the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA does not twig onto these as “appropriate” and “reasonable” security measures.
Insert some drama about seating issues once we got on the plane here.
The plane itself… was pretty shabby, kinda falling apart looking (a lot of packing tape was involved in places) and smelled rather funky. It took off more or less on time but still managed to arrive in Newark over an hour late.
My luggage did not make it onto the plane, and unfortunately I did not find this out until I had been standing in vain at the baggage carousel for over an hour, had a very messy breakdown, and missed my connecting flight into Dayton. Turns out that a lot of luggage just didn’t get loaded on the Air India flight, but it didn’t occur to them to tell anyone about that. <sarcasm>Thanks a bunch, Air India.</sarcasm> Remember how my now missing luggage wasn’t tagged with my name? This caused some kerfluffle at the missing luggage department.
There were no other flights from Newark into Dayton. Or into Cincinnati. The best anyone could do was Columbus. Insert heartfelt thanks to John for driving two hours to come get me, showing up with water, booze, and snacks, and driving the two hours home while I munched, swigged, and snacked.
To recap… Air India? The worst air travel experience that I have ever had. I don’t know enough swear words to adequately describe my feelings towards them. You couldn’t pay me enough to set foot on an Air India flight again.
More later about the very very very fun parts of the trip. I just beeded to get off the rant before I forgot about it and mellowed out. Also, the fun bits will take a very very very long time to describe.
[Taken November 24, 2006 | Fall afternoon at the arboretum | Dayton, OH]
The holiday party was fabulous, the performance went really well, and we all had a lot of fun.
I just need to throw a few last things in the suitcase and I will be all ready to go.
It's vacation time.
[Taken December 6, 2006 | Rehearsal | Dayton, OH]
Tonight is the holiday party at the dance studio, and we are putting on a performance which we have been working quite hard on for the past couple of weeks. Wednesday was the (mostly) dress rehearsal, which went well. I can only hope that the performance goes as smoothly.
I am glad it is Friday. I am glad that in a couple of days I will be getting out of town for a week of badly needed vacation. I am even glad that it got suddenly very cold (seriously, one day I was wearing a t-shirt and my light leather jacket, and the next day I was wearing a sweater and my woll winter coat) and snowed a little bit, because that means that Johna and I have an excuse to use the fireplace.
Now I need to finish getting ready for tonight...
[Taken November 23 2006 | Before | Dayton, OH]
[Taken November 25 2006 | Primer, primer, everywhere | Dayton, OH]
[Taken November 27 2006 | Partilly painted | Dayton, OH]
[Taken December 3 2006 | Done! | Dayton, OH]
I still have paint in my hair and under my fingernails, but at least the kitchen is now 100% DONE!
It is so different now.
I really like it a lot.