Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sunrise on Amelia Island (Christmas Day)

1. The sun is not out of the water yet...

2. It's all beautiful and pastel now...

3. And the dramatic ending...

Amelia Island

For Christmas weekend we decided to go to Amelia Island. It is about 25-minute drive east from Jacksonville and only 2 hours away from Daytona Beach. It is quite an upscale place. As a matter of fact, we didn't even realize how upscale it was until we got there.

Unfortunately, I didn't get off work until almost 6pm that Friday. So we only made it to the Amelia Island Resort by 9pm. We were hungry and thirsty, but not hungry enough for room service ($5 for a bottle of water, anybody?). Fortunatelly, a girl at the check-in desk had a spare copy of the Chinese take-out menu. After studying it for a couple of minutes we decided that we could get some good dinner for the price of two water bottles at the Resort. Cheap eats always make me a bit nervious, especially when it comes to ethnic food (although I guess the US version of Chinese is heavily modified and reflects little of the original substance). But this time I didn't have to worry. The food (crab rangoon and hot and spicy shredded chicken) was excellent, one of the best I've eaten in my life (and I've eaten plenty of Chinese food in the US). Sorry, I don't remember the name of this place, but it's probably the only Chinese place on Amelia Island.

So we ate Chinese food and watched the "Forrest Gump". I'd never seen the whole movie before, just bits and pieces. Well, it was great - just the right mix of funny, sad, smart and dumb, lucky and purely incredulous.

The next day we set off to explore the resort. It can be done several different ways. You can set off on foot, rent a bike, a golf cart, or even call for a complementary shuttle bus. We chose good old walking for the simple reason that I was too cheap to spend $40 for bike rental. Soon it proved to be the best choice - the resort is small enough and there are places and things that one simply can't get to on a bike.

The day was sunny and warm and the tide was low. So we started off by walking on the beach. There are miles of unspoiled beach on Amelia Island. And the scene is as picturesque as one can hope for - few people, no cars, no little ice-cream trucks with their annoying jingles, no water enthusiasts on jet-skis, just a few happy and well-behaved dogs and a scattering of sea shells as far as the eye can see. Better yet, the newly built ugly condominiums are kept reasonably small here (2-4 stories) and so they get partially hidden behind the sand dunes.

The whole walking and shelling part got us really hungry, but we were still not ready to settle for the hotel's breakfast ($16/person and not even a buffet). Instead, we remembered seeing a little shopping village right by the reception center the night before and headed there. Immediately we spotted a nice-looking deli with a impossible to pronounce French name. The prices were much more reasonable and the food was good. This deli also sold a good selection of wines, spices, chocolates, cheeses, and gourmet foods. Afterwards we stopped by some of the shops where most of the clothes and home decore items were frumpy, pseudo-colonial, and kitchy. But it was not the cheap in-your-face bright-pink plastic flamingo kitch of Daytona's gift shops. Instead, it was carefully matched to the overall atmosphere of the resort and the status level of the patrons. Natural materials, be it wood or cotton, prevailed, flamingos gave way to golf and West Indies themed products, and the inconspiquous price tags were not slapped on the merchandize, but swung demurely on schticks of raffia.

So we walked past the stores and into the nature center where we got to see a couple of snakes and lizards native to Amelia Island. Then we stopped by the Spa. I picked up the list of services and learned that they too were overpriced. Besides, most were various procedures for stress-reduction and relaxation while my primary interest was in toning, cellulite reduction, and getting rid of stretch marks. But just in case I asked the Spa associate if they had any kind of treatment that would immediately transform me into the most gorgeous and sexy woman in the world. The girl said they didn't have any such stuff. Unwilling to spend money on anything that delivered less than a total miracle make-over, we left.

We spent the evening in the room watching some strange show on Bravo! (and which of their shows is NOT strange?) about some wanna-be fashion designers half of whom were arrogant pieces of work and the other half couldn't control their artistic emotions try as they might. We did bring our own wine, cheese, fruits, and chocolates from Daytona and had a nice picnic in the room that night.

The next day we woke up extra-early to watch the sunrise. I'm not going to say a word about the experience. Just look at the pictures. Better yet, get out of your house, drive or fly to the beach, and see it for yourself. The rest of the day was unremarkable, except that I saw this little owl and then found a racoon sleeping in a tree. We also went to Christmas brunch buffet. It was very much like a Sunday brunch at a Picadilly restaurant (and I really don't like Picadilly). Unable to stand this overpriced boring existence for another night, we left early and returned back to Daytona only to find Xander getting even fatter (he eats a lot when we're not home).

Choosing a Place to Live

Ok, so I bet y'all are dying to learn the outcome of my review at work. Drum roll please... Зайцы, дробь.... I GOT A RAISE! Yes, yours truly is a great employee who does an exceptional job worthy of a 5% raise.

Next item on the news is our possible move to Raleigh, NC. So the rumors travel fast. That's ok, I'm more than happy to answer all the questions. First of all, why North Carolina? Ok, let's think logically here (get your road atlases out now). From South to North:

Florida - been there, done that. The only good place is Miami, but expensive and hurricane prone.

Georgia - hmmm, have you ever been to this state? Its coastal areas stink, quite literally. Atlanta stinks figuratively with all the traffic and urban sprawl. The only semi-decent place is Savannah. Although, as charming as the historic district is, the rest is more sprawl, slums, and unpleasant smell.

South Carolina - Charleston is nice, but has the same disadvantages as Savannah. The rest of the state is off limits - my boss lives in Greenville and I really wouldn't want to move there or to Columbia. I prefer to work with minimal supervision.

Now from North to South:

Maine - too cold and desolate.

Rhode Island - expensive (but very nice).

Massachusets - getting even more expensive. Plus I feel that Boston is too big of a city for me. I'd love to visit, but can't stay (no offense to my friends from Boston). Plus they have too many traffic lights and too few public restrooms.

New York/New Jersey/Connecticut - ok now, we'll have to sell our body parts to organ harvesters to afford living there. So maybe we'll afford renting a place, since the salaries tend to be higher in the Tri-State area. But owning even an outhouse is out of the question unless we settle for 3-4 hours of commuting to work (one way).

Virginia and Maryland - these are nice (in parts) and even though they are more expensive than down south, we'd consider them if we had a solid job offer.

I probably skipped a state or two (Delaware comes to mind) and completely ignored Washington, DC. But you get the picture. So what's left of the Eastern seaboard is really the great state of North Carolina that seems to have it all.

Now, going from East to West:

Any Midwest states are out the running for the ideal place to live. No offence here. I've been to some of these states, notably Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, and one or two others. And on average I was extremely bored. The plains depress me and so does the absence of significant bodies of water within easy driving distance. Or the absence of large cities and cultural attractions in general. Plus the coastal states tend to be more cosmopolitan and trendy, even though it does get annoying from time to time. At least it's never boring.

The West Coast would be great. I would love to try Seattle area, rain nonwithstanding. I was there in May and it only rained once in 3 days. Plus Seattle's multi-cultural atmosphere and its surroundings (mountains all around, forests, water everywhere) totally make up for lack of sunshine. I've heard Portland, OR is also a good place. But unfortunately the West Coast is out of a question as well. One reason is financial. The other, more important, is that it's too far from both our families (and they don't show any desire to move).

So back to North Carolina. There are two cities we marked as possible targets for our move - Charlotte and Raleigh. Now, Raleigh is the state capital, which means tons of government jobs. And everyone knows that government jobs are the best. You get great benefits, all federal holidays, long vacations, easy work... Plus it's harder to get fired, easier to move up the ladder, and you don't have to be very smart at all! If you think I'm wrong on this, just visit any of the government offices in your town (starting with the DMV, Social Services, etc). But Raleigh also has the Research Triangle Park - only the largest technology park in the world, with companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, IBM and the likes. And it is a pretty place too, very nicely planned and landscapted, with sidewalks and bike paths and all. Most impressive!

The Raleigh-Durham area has several universities, including North Carolina State U. and the Duke University. Duke is the 4th most prestigious university in the US and one of the best medical research facilities in the country. I always see it mentioned in my fitness magazines (for example, a study that concluded that if you eat right and exercize regularly, you are more likely to loose weight than if you don't - that was very motivating). If we move, I will be able to start a Master's Program at a state university as soon as I become a state resident (after 1 year). Unfortunately, due to the lack of organic funds (read - I'm not making enough money), I won't be able to afford Duke. Well, maybe I can earn some money by participating in their medical research for fitness magazines.

I don't want to dwell on the real estate market. It's not nearly as expensive as in New York or even Florida. The houses are nice too, most with fireplaces and hardwood floors, but with no garages. We didn't really see as many homes as we hoped to see, but the three that we saw were nice. Well, the first one actually had a flooded crawl space and the wall between the master bedroom and the master bath didn't quite reach the ceiling and the yard was screwed up and the view was mostly of the interior of the neighbor's house and there were a couple of other things... But the other two places were nice.

There are enough Russians in the area to support 3 stores and a Russian Sunday school. This is very important to me, since I can't live without some deli items that Americans seem to not like (i.e herring, cold smoked fish, cold salted and dried fish, fish in oil, fish in tomato sauce, and some fish salads). Oh, plus Raleigh is about 2 hours away from the ocean and 3 hours or so from the mountains. So all in all, Raleigh looks promising.

Will we move there? We haven't decided yet. We're considering some other places as well. Again, if one of us gets a really good job offer in Virginia or Maryland, we'll take it and move there. But either way, I'll let you know as soon as things are more certain.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Getting Ready for the Holidays

I apologize for not posting anything for the last two months or so. No excuses here, just got lazy. Well, a bunch of things was happening as usual. So this is the post with updates:

1) I officially have no happily married or even married friends anymore (relatives don't count here). All my friends are either single or going through some kind of a messy divorce. So, if you're a happily married couple that stumble on this post and decided to be-friend the author, drop a line. Knowing that you are out there somewhere will reinforce my belief in the "happy every-after" and make me less paranoid about my own marriage.

2) My house may no longer be used as a temporary "going-through-tough-times" shelter! This is getting seriously old and very annoying. I'm not being unfriendly or mean, but I've had my share of drama for the next couple of years. Short-term happy guests are still more than welcome!

3) Work is going... I'm supposed to talk to the Boss tomorrow about my performance and such. Keep your fingers crossed - I need a raise.

4) We're thinking about moving to North Carolina. So if you know anything about Raleigh area (Research Triangle) or have interesting job leads there, drop me a line. We'll be going to Raleigh this weekend and I'll provide a more detailed update when we get back.

5) The holidays this year promise to be very interesting. Chris got us reservations at a resort on Amelia Island, FL for Christmas. And I'm planning a little getaway to Savannah for New Year's celebration. I'll post updates as things move along.

6) If you were planning on getting me something for the holidays, my Amazon gift list is posted out there. Just search for me and you shall find 3 pages of books. Yeah, that's a not-so-subtle hint... Apologize for such straightforwardness, but no time to beat around the bush...

More stuff happened, of course, but I just can't think any longer. I'm falling asleep... Until later then...

Monday, October 31, 2005

Weekend in New York - Part III - RUSSIA!

On Sunday my parents and I went to Guggenheim Museum to check out a collection of Russian art. Creatively named RUSSIA!, this exhibition is billed as the most comprehensive and significant exhibition of Russian art outside Russian since the end of the Cold War. It is largely useless to try to explain in this blog how wanderful the whole experience was. You simply have to go and see it for yourself. Let me just tell you that most of the artworks have never before traveled abroad. In addition to over 250 masterpieces of Russian art from 13th century to present day, there is also a selection of first-class Western European paintings and sculptures from Russian imperial collection and from Morozov's and Shchukin's collections.

Word of advice here - go early and allow plenty of time (upward of 3 hours). We got there at 11am on Sunday and by the time we were ready to leave, at 2:30pm, the museum was packed and the line went clear around the building. Also, spending extra $5 on an audio-tour is recommended.

Afterwards we went to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. It is a noisy, smelly, dark, and dirty place crowded with thousands of hustling and bustling Russians with attitudes as thick as their accents. It's a place worth visiting for all the great people watching. Based on the mix of stores there one might think that Russians are born to eat, drink, read books and medicate themselves. So why do I try to go to Brighton every time I'm in NY? Well, because I love to eat, drink, read books, and medicate myself. In all seriousness, just this time I spent over $70 on books (and books are cheap here, compared to Barnes & Noble). There are also some food items that one cannot buy in a normal American grocery store, especially not in Florida. These include all sorts of dried salted fish, smoked fish, pelmeni, varenniki, all sorts of chocolate, including bitter dark chocolate, blinni, and other such yummy goodness.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My weekend: Part II - Russian Samovar

Ok, so after spending time at the museum walking all these floors and looking at all this art we all got very hungry. Luckily, my brother picked us up and we all went to Russian Samovar restaurant on 52nd Street (yes, the place from one of the "Sex and the City" episodes).

Our motley crew must have projected an air of slight cashlessness or rather of unwillingness to part with too large a chunk of our fortunes. Plus we didn't have reservations. And so we did not get to see the upstairs private rooms (damn you, Kerry from "Sex and the City" for getting it all!). Instead we were shown to a small and rather rickety table downstairs, opposite the grand piano and handed the menues.

And now I have a bone to pick with this place. A 4-dollar glass of hot tea?! Gimmieabreak! I understand, this is not a girl-scout lemonade stand we're talking about, but 4 bucks for a SMALL glass of tea with a SMALL slice of lemon and a TEASPOON of cherry preserves seems a bit too much. At least through in a little dry vanilla сухарик in the package! Lesson learned - don't waste money on tea when you can waste them on vodka.

Let's move on... The whole point for us Russians to order Russian food is to eat something that Mom either doesn't cook because it's too much pain in the butt or that she doesn't cook too well or that can't be bought 10 times cheaper on Brighton Beach. Follow our example. Don't waste your hard-earned dollars on a small 8-dollar plate of vinegrett salad when a pound of it can be bought at a deli for half as much.
Don't go for exotic-sounding pelmeni that would cost you roughly a dollar each when your friend's wife or mother makes them every Sunday (not to mention a great little вареничная on Brighton where 50 of those cost $4.95). Admittedly, the food there, at Samovar, is excellent in quality. And yet, if you are looking for a taste of exotic Russia on a budget, try to get some appetizers instead of entrees and skip the desserts (a 10-dollar piece of cake anyone?). This way you don't just save a lot of money, but will also stay in great shape. And that, ladies and gentlement, is becoming more and more of an exotic thing in this country! (And later on you can always grab a 2-dollar hotdog from a street vendor. We did it and survived!).
To be continued...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Museum Mile - my weekend NY-style

First off, my highly critical brother, Arkadiy, advised me to change my profile picture in this blog. Apparently, on it, I look like I have a gap between my front teeth or even a whole tooth missing. This, he said, could be attributed to the loss of pixellation quality due to re-sizing (not verbatum, just how I understood it). So, I took a closer look at the picture and here's my solution - simply enlarge the picture and the "gap" disappears. Of course, in this case my face looks like I've survived a particularly unforgiving strain of the smallpox - all covered in some sort of pokemarks. But don't you get scared - it's all due to the loss of quality (see above) and I'm much better looking in real life (even my Mom says so!).

And since I"m too lazy to sift through pictures looking for that perfect one where my eyes are open, my mouth is slightly open in a sweet-heart smile, all my teeth are present, my hair is nicely done, my skin tone is even, my posture is straight, and my fat rolls are particularly well-hidden, I am going to keep this picture for a while, a long while.

Now, with this matter settled, let's move on to my weekend report. In short, it was a great and terrific weekend. The minor snags, such as ugly weather and my parents' arguing did not do significant damage to the fun level of either Saturday or Sunday.

SATURDAY: My friend Irina K. came down from Boston. To celebrate our reunion (we haven't seen each other for, hmmm, I'd say at least 5 years) we decided to spend the day in New York City. Irina was up for anything and proudly proclaimed that she was going to be my "tail" for a day. And I really wanted to go to MoMA (that's the museum with all the weird modern art). So Irina picked me up and all four of us (yes, including her cousin and her little brother) took a train to NYC. Here we are, at the train station.

As we arrived to NY Penn Station and got outside for a leisurely stroll to MoMa (that's the museum with all the weird modern art that you have to pretend you understand) the weather turned from bad to worse. The rain almost stopped, but the wind picked up and it got much colder. In short, it was a perfect museum day. We were walking along Fashion Ave, talking about stuff and snapping pictures. Little did I know that a little kitchy dream of mine was waiting to happen just around the corner or rather straight up the road. For right there, right on a little pedestrian island in the middle of Broadway stood a very special dude that I have heard about for the past several years but never had a chance to see. Yes, it was Mr. Naked Cowboy himself - boots, a hat, a pair of tighty-whities, a guitar, and not much else - basking in the warm glow of camera flashes. Ok, don't get me wrong - I don't think he's all that (not in this cold weather anyway, if you know what I mean, wink-wink). But rather he was a curiousity and a symbol, a cross between the Statue of Liberty and a two-headed calf. And who wouldn't want a picture with either of these?! So here it goes.

Anyway, after some wandering around we finally found MoMA and got the tickets (people, DO carry your student ID on you at all times, even if it's expired. It saves major dough, i.e. $8 off a regular ticket price). By the way, go there on Friday evenings when it's FREE.
Also, pick up an audio guide which is free, unlike the little printed version.

I'm not going to talk much about MoMA since the best thing to do is to just go there and see it all for yourself. Or at least check out their website. I will post some pictures from the museum next week when I download them on my computer. But here's a little advice

- don't waste too much time on the top floor unless you are really interested in quick-on quick-off condoms, bullet-proof evening dresses, virus stuffed toys, and cardboard houses. These are all wanderful and fascinating, but not if you only have a few hours and haven't been at MoMA before.
- do go see Jackson Pollock paintings even if you're not a big fan of his artwork, you might enjoy having an opportunity to sit down and watch the little museum official shoo away art-lovers that get too close in their quest to fully appreciate the complexity of the paintings' texture.
- the Contemporary Gallery is the most fun (from the little that I had a chance to see). Go there if you are looking for some anatomically correct 3-D nudity and stay for a movie. While watching a movie in which some menacing-looking spreading foam causes a chain reaction of little explosions, fires, more chemicals being spilled, and old trash put to ingenious use, keep in mind that your time is precious and limited. Overall, this movie is great - low on plot, high on anticipation - non-stop action yet a total lack of climax or ending. Enjoy!

To be continued...

Monday, October 17, 2005

In New York

I'm in New York now, for the next couple of weeks. Of course, I have to work during the week, a normal 9 to 5:30 deal. But I still get nights and weekends, right? Sounds like my cell phone calling plan.

It's cold here, especially after Daytona Beach. Maybe I'll get used to it in a while, but for now I'm wearing two sweaters and surviving on gallons of hot tea.

Mom and Dad are doing just fine. The are being same as usual, except even more so. Dad keeps talking about moving to Russia once he reaches the retirement age. Mom keeps buying boxes to store stuff in (and she's got tons of stuff). The boxes are all different size, shape, and made of different materials. So there is a dizzying array of them all over the kitchen. Some are even double-stacked матрешка-style.

The house looks much better from the outside - the landscaping is almost all done now and there's a rock wall and a real lawn too. Most of the tools are now stored in a shed, instead of laying all over the yard. Of course, Dad wouldn't be himself if he wasn't walking around talking about how something or other is really poorly done and won't hold for another year all because nobody listens to his advice.

I spent last night at Masha's. Pasha went to Ohio for the weekend and Masha was afraid of staying in the house by herself. At first I was very skeptical and wanted to make fun of her. But after laying in the dark room late at night listening to the cracking and gurgling noises produced by their heating system, I stopped being so brave myself. It was a lot of fun though. First, we had a little party. I saw several of my old friends and met a couple of new people. In general, everybody seemed to have tons of good time, including Alisa who just couldn't stop giggling.

She's so funny now. She makes cute little faces and constantly wants to grab things (especially keys, bottles, forks). In a true Robin Hood fashion, she immediately gives her bounty away to anyone who happens to be next to her. She also likes to get her face dirty with whatever it is she's munching on - apples, bananas, strawberries, and little cookies. At some point yesterday her face was covered in minced foodstuff mixed generously with saliva. She crawled under the table and stood by me for a minute or two before I picked her up. When I did, her face was already clean, if a bit sticky. I didn't give it much thought until later that night when I noticed strange stains on my jeans and figured out that Alisa used them as a fancy napkin.

I wish I had pictures of her to put here, but I don't have any right now. But if you imagine a little girl with showlder-length reddish-blond hair, a pair of sparkling blue eyes, a little snubby nose, 8 teeth and a big smile, you'll get an idea.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Crazy Busy Weekend

Boy, am I glad that this weekend is over! It was absolutely exhausting. Yeh, I know, you must be thinking that I got tired playing strip dodgeball. C'mon, I don't do it, leave it up to professionals. More about strip dodgeball later though.

First, we had some painting to finish. I know, it's much less exciting than dodgeball, but bear with me. So, yes, we finished painting the guest room (it took us a month from start to finish). But then we went even further and painted an accent wall in the living room. Those of you who saw our house understand the magnitude of the task. Oh, and we also hung new curtains and bought a mattress set. So yes, we're going all out on this. Why? Because my parents finally decided to visit us for the first time in almost 4 years. But first I'll be going to New York to see them for a couple of weeks. More on that later...

Ok, so after we were done with painting, shopping, and cleaning the house, we went to the MILFamania strip dodgeball tournament. Ok, it was supposed to start at 2pm and go on until 6pm. We got to Ocean Deck at 3pm and the stip part was already over! After elbowing our way through a dense crowd of about a hunderd people, we saw two groups of women playing dodgeball in their swimsuits (only 1 was wearing a thong). You can see more action on the beach during any summer weekend.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad even though my favorite contestant (a 300lbs M(ILF)) wasn't there! Others were rather plain looking. Some of the MILFs had all the accourtments of their age and social status, including stretchmarks, huge tatoos and breast implants. But to be completely fair, they had tons of attitude and were much more impressive than a bunch of youngsters in bikinis on the opposite side of the improvised court. As for the Future MILFs, at least on of them looked like she was recovering from giving birth to a septuplet. And the sad part was, the Future MILFs lost even though they had numerical advantage all through the game!

Either way, by the time we found an empty table, ordered a couple of drinks and appetizers, the whole thing was over and some crazy-looking dude started preparing an in-doors stage for a karaoke contest. By the way, as nice and popular as Ocean Deck is, don't go there unless you're prepared to pay $1.00 per each halapeno popper or $4.00 for a bottle of beer (import).

So we finished our appetizers and got out of there just in time to make it to the car before the rain started. Chris was free to go home, but I had more planned for the night. Namely, a couple of my Russian friends, Eleonora and Albina, and I were getting together at Albina's for a fun karaoke of our own. We bought some drinks and a Key Lime pie and sat around a cozy living room enjoying a gorgeous view of both the ocean and the river from the 15th floor of Albina's condo. We had tons of fun singing (mostly off-key) some Russian songs, culminating in a spunky trio performance of "Zaika moya". After our repertoir was exhausted, we just talked and entertained Albina's daughter, Bianka.

On Sunday, my husband invited me to the "Wing House", a "Hooters" look-alike chain. "V Tulu so svoim samovarom"! I'm not sure if the waitresses there are any better looking that at "Hooters" (the practice of hiring girls of certain type suffers heavily from the EOE requirements). But if you want to get some good food, go straight to the Wing House. Their wings are great, whether mild, medium, hot, dallas, or what have you, especially if ordered "naked".

That's it. Back to work today! Monday is almost over!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My Mama's Birthday

Today is my Mom's Birthday. As hard of a life as she had (just imaging dealing with me, my brother, AND my Dad for years), she's as lovely as a daisy. Those who know her know that she's an awesome woman. For those who don't - believe me, you're missing out on knowing one of the best people in the world. She's no angel, but she's damn close to being one!

I know it's only Thursday and so there's not going to be any big birthday bash at my parents' house. And unfortunately I won't be in NY for another couple of weeks. But maybe when I get there, we'll remedy this situation. Mom doesn't like big parties. She's a very private person. So maybe we'll just go to the City like we did a couple of years ago when she was getting her American citizenship. We had a lot of fun exploring the Chinatown. Or what about the other time when we went to see Christmas Spectacular at the RadioCity Music Hall?!

So yes, I'll be in NY very soon. When? I don't know exactly, but I think I'll be around the 15th of October. I'll stay there for a couple of weeks so I have a chance to see most of my family and friends. And then my parents are going to fly to Daytona Beach for a whole week! FINALLY!!!

In the mean time, some of the upcoming events in the Daytona Beach area:

1) Saturday, 8 October 2005 - MILFamania strip dodgeball at the Ocean Deck! (I'll try to get there to get some pictures for my blog).

2) 20-23 October 2005 - Biketoberfest, yes again (I'll miss all of it, so I'll have tons of catching up to do come Bikeweek time).

3) 29-30 October 2005 - Florida Skyfest. Hopefully we'll see the last half a day of it with my parents. It's really cool 'cause they do the airshow over the beach.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A trip to Charleston

Well, what can I say - working life sucks! Of course, I gotta work to make money, but wouldn't it be much nicer if I were to win the cash though? I mean, then I could do what I want to do most - travel.

Finally, last weekend we got out of Daytona and went to see my cousin Olga and her husband Noah at their new place in Charleston, SC. Of course, because of our jobs, we couldn't leave until Friday evening. And of course we had to be back on Sunday evening. Now figure in 6-hour drive (one-way) and you get the idea of how much time we got to spend in Charleston. And, to make it all even better, my boss absolutely insisted on me working overtime on Friday night! So we didn't get out of the house until after 7pm. But we made it to Charleston and even managed to spend an hour or two talking with Olga and Noah, Russian-style, in their little kitchen.

If you think we didn't wake up too early next morning, you just might be right. Either way, after spending time eating breakfast, talking, and getting ready, we finally set out on a tour of Charleston. First, Noah drove us all around a local getto. It looked very Southern - some of the people on the streets might have come straight out of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" or "Gone with the Wind". The whole place didn't look dangerous or scary, not by the light of day anyway, just very sad - old row houses that haven't seen any maintenance in decades with their peeling paint and grimy siding, with walls leaning in every-which direction and sagging porches, with old rust-covered air-conditioning units practically falling out of the half-boarded windows.

After such a great start, things started to look up. We parked in the Historic Distric and walked around a bit. Since neither one of us really knew any appropriate historical facts, we just read occasional plaques and mostly gawked at the architecture or landscaping details. Here's the thing about Noah - he walks very fast, almost at a running clip. What's more, he walks very determinately, as if he had some particular destination in mind. Put the two together and you turn a leisurely sigh-seeing stroll into an endurance race with a couple of short stops to read an inscription or two. The thing is as far as I figure out, there is no particular destination we MUST get to. May be it's Noah's propensity as a journalist to move quickly, always on a look-out for a story.

Still, our walk was most enjoyable, if somewhat short. We returned to a car and drove to Mt. Pleasant to "keep it real", as Noah jokingly suggested. What a nice place it was! The word "pleasant" would describe most of what we saw - tastefully rich houses (with their expensiveness merely suggested by architectural details, location, and landscaping, rather than by size and gaudiness), narrow sandy beaches, remains of old fort that gave South Carolina its Palmetto State status, a small diner on a tree-lined corner, and a tiny and welcoming elementary school.

After a short drive and a shorter still walk on the beach, we returned to Charleston for some afternoon drinks on a rooftop terrace of some posh restaurant. The sun was shining straight down on us and the temperatures must had been well above 80. We found a cool place under a striped umbrella and I started imagining a large frozen drink - a daiquiri perhaps - so cold that the beads of water slowly run down the side of the glass, cooling my fingers... I was almost tasting my drink, when the waitress announced that they do not serve frozen drinks or tap beer. By the looks on some other faces I could tell that it wasn't just me who just seen a dream die. But there were plenty of other drinks to have and so we ordered. My Flirtiny with Smirnoff Raspberry vodka was mild and sweet. Olga's Perfect Manhattan was perfectly strong. And Chris won the prize for the fruitiest drink of all - bright pink in a tall glass full of ice-cubes and with a cherry on top.

Later that evening we went on a short walk in the park by the Citadel, trying to find some magnolia pine cones for Olga. But it was getting dark and as we couldn't see too well, we returned home to some food and wine and a totally weird Russian movie about the Hermitage Museum.

The next morning we had little time to waste and yet we wasted it plenty. The time spent on getting ready to get out of the house is apparently directly proportional to the number of people involved. And so we didn't step out until noon (and that's without spending time on breakfast, mind you). First we head straight to a local bakery for some brunch (oh, the delicious grilled portabello mushroom sandwich!). And then we decided to briefly stop by the library that was having the book sale. Hehe, that was a major mistake since we spent at least an hour or two there.

Finally, we said goodbyes and exchanges invitations and were on the road home. The most memorable part was a small country store on Rt. 17 that was selling peach and cherry cider. If you ever drive in those parts, make sure to stop by - it's worth a small delay.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Talented Mr. Xander

Сейчас Зэндер - еще котенок. Но когда вырастет большим - непременно станет библиотекарем...

А может быть - строителем...

А может быть - разработчиком баз данных...

Но пока-что он у нас - кот в решете...

New week - new hurricane

Do you know that we have about 2 months left of the hurricane season (in Atlantic Ocean) and only 4 hurricane names left? I kind of wander what if we run out of names before the year is over?

In other news, Xander's flees have a conference today on his neck. I used to think it was more of a mating meeting, but I firmly believe it's a war conference now. They are strategizing how to resist our repeated attempts at exterminating them.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Anne Oakley and I

Anne Oakley: As a youngster, Oakley learned to shoot in the woods of Darke County. During hard times, she helped support her family with the game she caught.

I: As a youngster, I learned to shoot in the woods of Fort Jackson. The best way for me to support someone with my rifle is to lend it as a crutch.

Anne Oakley: She captivated the royalty of Europe. Queen Victoria was quite impressed with her. And on one famous occasion the crown prince of Germany encouraged her to shoot a cigarette from his mouth.

I: I captivated National Guard range safety personnel my poor shooting skills. I was repeatedly encouraged to keep my rifle pointed "up and down the range" and to remember "breathing and trigger squeeze".

Anne Oakley: At 30 paces, she could slice a playing card held edgewise. She could shoot holes through coins at a smiliar distance. It was even said she could "scramble eggs in midair."

I: I shoot 4 out of 4 at 300 meter and 250 meter targets. And I shoot 2 out of 4 at 100 meter targets.

Anne Oakley: At the height of her career, she was one of the most famous cultural icons in the United States.

I: Six years after enlisting (I guess, it can be considered as the height of my career), I shot 37 out of 40 on M-16 rifle range (paper targets) and 26 out of 30 on M-9 pistol range (pop-up targets).

By the way, the whole entire Army structure is rigged towards the officers. If I had any doubts left after 6 years in, they were dispelled at the Camp Blanding, FL firing range last weekend. Most officers have to qualify with M-9 pistol only. It's very light and easy to shoot (and easy to clean, by the way). The targets are much closer, with the furthest being just 31 meters away. You shoot from the standing position only and hold M-9 with both hands for greater stability. And to top it all off, you are given extra bullets!!! Yes, I am not kidding - officers are given 40 rounds, but only 30 targets to shoot at! What a life! Oh, and to shoot expert you only need to hit 26 out of 30 - that's 86%. In comparison, on a rifle range, you must shoot 38 out of 40, or 95%, to qualify as an expert.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day

Ok, so I changed the name of my blog and its purpose. Now I'm going stuff that I do during my LEAP YEAR. For explanation of what the Leap Year is all about, see blog description. If it's still not clear - e-mail me.

So, here are the latest developments:

1) Before you read any further, please go to the Red Cross website and donate whatever you can to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

My cat, Xander, is growing just fine. He must be 5lbs now, if not more. But in his mind, he's still a tiny kitten. No doubt, he's very spoiled already. There are certain things that just have to be done every day, like letting him play with water out of the faucet, or allowing him to mess up a perfectly made bed. Or playing with him whenever he wishes. A couple of days ago Xander discovered two things - toilet paper and paper towels. Here's a picture of a paper towel roll. Believe me, toilet paper roll looked MUCH worse.

3) Gas is $2.95/gallon here. A pound of tomatoes is $1.99. Now, at least gas is as good as it can get. Tomatoes, on the other hand, look like crap and taste like cardboard. Same is with other veggetables, except for potatoes. Apparently, this lack of taste does not bother most people here. I suspect they simply don't each too many veggies. What gives me this idea? Well, first of all, these 200-300lbs "dieters" at Wal-Mart or Publix always fill their carts up with sodas, chips, and frozen dinners. Second, every time we're at the register, I have to educate a cashier on the names of different produce items. For example, yesterday one lucky cashier learned three new veggies - red cabbage, radishes, and zuccinies (which were originally mistaken for cucumbers). So, what to make of all this? Nothing other than this - wanna good food cheap - grow it yourself! Our old dacha came to mind and Chris and I ran to the nearest Home Depot. Half an hour later, we ran out carrying several pots and some plantings. Now we're testing our green thumbs on two tomato plants, two bell pepper plants, an italian parsley and a chocolate mint. To top it all off, we are attempting to grow our very own pineapple.

4) Since it's Labor Day today, we'll be having a cook-out right outside the garage (remember - we live in a townhouse). The usual American holiday fare of grilled chicken, steak, and potatoes will be supplemented by a no less typical Russian holiday dish - a beet salad.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Elenora's Birthday

My friend Ela had a birthday this Saturday. But we started celebrating on Friday. You see, originally we (Chris, I and Ela's husband, David) were planning a great big surprise for her. Namely, we were working on getting Ela's mom, Olga, to travel from Ukraine to Florida just in time for Ela's birthday. Due to the stupidity of the staff at the American Embassy in Kiev, she was refused a visa. So much for this plan...

Well, last Friday we all decided to go to a baseball game, but there was none (imagine that!). So we had to re-group and choose some other sporting venue. And so we ended up at an ice-rink. Now, I should note here that none of us can skate. The only difference is that some of us can't skate more than others. Unfortunately, these "some of us" included Ela. At first she refused to even get on the ice. We had to resort to the carrot and stick method, alternately shaming her for wasting our time and money and telling her that she'll do great in no time and that it's very good for toning butt and thighs. After about 2 hours she made much progress and was able to peel herself away from the railings and skate more or less on her own.

At this point we decided to stop. Our feet were hurting from the improperly sized rental skates anyway. Plus we had to celebrate Ela's success, right?! So we went to Stock Exchange, an 80-ies themed bar in the Halifax Marina. Yes, the place is a bit cheesy in its attempt at catering to young professionals. And yes, they even have a tiny dance floor and a disco ball. And yes, they play 80-ies music, but only for the first hour or so. After that the whole thing degenerates into a more "normal" rap party. Which is hilarious considering that most clients are well past their prime. Oh, and DON'T drink beer there - it'll kill you with its sour taste! Apperently, other drinks aren't all that great either, since we all woke up with headaches next morning.

On Saturday, Ela and I went shopping for her gift. We decided that she needed some awesome club outfit for two reasons. One is that she and David are going on a cruise later this year. The more important reason is that we decided to have a total "party" year - eat, drink, do crazy things, travel, and be merry so that we can have a sense of accomplishement in the partying department before having children. Ok, so the outfit thing... Here in Daytona, clothes shopping (or any shopping at all for that matter) is an excruciating experience. We only have one mall and it's tiny. To make matters worse, it doesn't have ANY good stores. The only reason to go there at all is to eat at Mr. Dunderdack's. It's a German-themed deli with walls covered floor to ceiling with hundreds of jars, bottles, cans, bags, and boxes full of delicious or just plain weird food stuff from Europe and with a scattering of tiny tables that only accentuate the generouse portion sizes of the delicious sandwiches served there... A mere recollection makes my mouth water!

We did buy a little hoochy outfit for Ela, after hours and hours of combing through the racks mostly filled with crap destined to become dish rags in some Third World country. Then it was time to go grocery shop for a barbeque on Sunday.

Now, yesterday we had this epic barbeque. Those in attendance (Ela, David, I, Chris, Albina with Bianca, Tanya, and Mike) had plenty to eat and even more to drink. The general atmosphere was that of merriment. Unfortunately, the designated photographer (me) got too involved in eating, drinking, and generally having fun to care about her primary duties. Sorry, no pix this time.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Unexptected day off

It's Friday morning here and my weekend has just started. How come? Well, it's because of the hurricane Katrina. But don't worry, we're perfectly safe and doing fine. But down in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area many people have no electricity. Of course, our server is down and it's unlikely that FPL will re-prioritize its missions to fix it first thing today. Consequently, I can't work even though we have no problems with electricity here, in Daytona. Such are the drawbacks of technological progress.

Of course, I can't do much in terms of entertainment either. Chris is at work until about 5:30 and he's got the car. So I'm stuck at home. Such are the drawbacks of living in suburbs.

But I do have time to update my blog with news. Our biggest success this week is that we moved into our newly renovated office. It's actually much nicer than I thought it'd be. The floors look fabulous, no less! And we bought some bookshelves, which are slowly filling up. We also got a new desk for me and office chairs for both of us. So now we can work in comfort. The biggest winner is, of course, Xander. He quickly found a couple of places to hang out at, as you can see.

Funny enough, most my news revolve around Xander. That's probably because I spend so much time in the house with him and get to observe him a lot. He got over his cold completely and gained a pound and a quarter in the past 3 weeks. But more importantly, he's super-curious. And he has some kind of fixation on two areas in the house - the bathroom and the kitchen. He's still too little to jump up on the kitchen counter. But he figured that he can climb up our legs and backs to get there. In the bathroom he's mostly interested in everything that has water in it - the shower, the toilet, and the sink. Sometimes I let the water run just a little bit in the sink and he tries to break the stream with his paws. If I slow the flow of water down to a dribble, he attempts to bite every drip and it looks absolutely hilarious.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Chris' News

I really don't have much to say about the last week. Chris, however, has tons of news. So, I'm just going to quote him:

"I started a new job last Thursday working as a clerk in a Accounts Payable office for a company called Delco Oil. Delco Oil is a 20 year old company that buys and sells and transports petroleum products to gas stations here in Florida, but have aspirations to go nation-wide. For right now my job consist of paying invoices using a program that looks like an old DOS program that has had a few upgrades. There is nothing hard about the job, just a lot of program commands to memorize. After I get comfortable with this I'll start coding invoices. There are codes for different vendors, product/service purchased, and location that the product/service was sent to. Those codes are how the invoices are entered into the system. This job fits right in with what I am going to college for, Accounting. Oh, that is the next piece of news - I start my courses this Tuesday. In almost 2 years, assuming no deployments, I'll finally have my B.S. in Accounting. After my first 3 courses I'll have an Associates."

In other news, we're continuing to renovate our place. Our big project now is creating a workable home office for both of us. We already replaced an old, stained, crappy dirty-blue carpet with pretty laminate flooring. And we got some large bookshelves and a new desk. So we really hope to finish setting it up by the end of the week. For now both computers are in the living room. So it's very crowded and uncomfortable. More updates are to follow.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Weekend is here - nothing to do

Xander is recovering from his cold. Now he spends most of his time chasing everything that moves and biting it. His specialty is cursors (the little thing on a computer screen that you control with a mouse). When he gets tired of chasing and biting, he comes over to me or Chris (or both), flops on our laps belly up, and requests to be scratched.

He also finds ever-more creative ways of waking me up in the morning. Today he started off with laying on my face. After he realized that suffocating me is not in his best interest, he started tugging my hair, then moved on to sniffing and ultimately sneezing into my ear. Let me tell you, it really worked!

Chris wants to find a part-time job to supplement our income. Of course, a job must have some fringe benefits (since most jobs here are uber-low pay). He pointed one out to me today - a candy-maker at a local chocolate factory. Sure, the pay sucks ($7/hour), but think of all the free chocolate!

Gas is $2.42/gallon for regular. Now more than ever I am thankful that I work from home. Other than that, ain't nothing going on now. Daytona is increadibly hot and boring this time of the year (it's boring any time of the year, actually).

Sunday, August 07, 2005 Daytona

Ok, the title of this post is not very original. But I'm running on very little sleep and am completely worn out, largely thanks to Xander. Yeh, not much sleep last night. First, Xander jumped on the bed and tried to hunt our toes under the blanket. He was surprised at our general lack of enthusiasm and shocked at our rudeness in returning him back to the floor. After several attempt at conquering my side of the bed, he decided that Chris looked like a big softy and tried to approach him. Big mistake that ended in Xander getting kicked out of the room. After which, Xander had nothing left but to try to negotiate his way in. He started off with outrageously demanding "I'm a part of this family now", quickly escalated to "But I'm so soft and cuddly and nicely behaved", and piqued with "Please, let a poor little kitten in so he can spend the last few moment of his young life laying humbly on the floor by your bed". On this last meow, I gave up and went to open the door to the bedroom. A millisecond later the kitten was making himself comfortable on the blanket. This battle continued, with small breaks, for several hours. I would kick Xander out of bed and he would retreat, just to return a few minutes later, when I was fast asleep. Finally, I gave up. The sound of the alarm clock scared Xander and he left. I pretended that I never noticed him sleeping in our bed. And he pretended that he slept all night long on the floor under the bed. As if!

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Chris picked up Xander today and completely surprised me. For the first hour or so the kitten was exploring our place. He was so curious, but so scared, even got scared by his own reflection in the mirror. But little by little he became more adventurous, found out a couple of hiding places in case he poops in Chris's shoe, ate a little (probably in preparation to said pooping activity), and played with one of the toys we got him. We decided to leave him alone and not to fuzz around him. Big mistake - he quickly got in Chris's lap and demanded all the scratching and petting that a little kitten can possibly get.

Then came an unpleasant surprise - our kitty brought his own pets with him. Yes, he's got flees. But we should've expected that from a cat picked up at a shelter. So we bought some anti-flee medicine which seems to bother Xander more than flees ever themselves.

I would write more, but I'm dead tired - woke up at 3:00 AM today. So I better be going to bed now. Until later...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

My Birthday

Happy Birthday to ME! Happy Birthday to ME! Happy Birthday, DEAR YELENA! Happy Birthday to ME!!!!

The picture is self-explanatory: me looking pretty, a nice cake that Chris baked for me, some red roses...

Other birthday activities included going to Bucca de Beppo with David and Elenora and getting a cat. He shall remain nameless for another couple of days until we get him back from Humane Society mostly because we have't come up with some really great name for him. Any suggestions? E-mail me or post as a reply. Or call me (if you know my number).

Friday, July 29, 2005

Parallel Universe

Moving sucks. As Russians say - oдин переезд как семь пожаров or something like this (after all, I haven't been back to Mother Russia for over eight years). The whole experience is like living in a parallel universe for a couple of days. In this universe you eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, use paper cups and plastic forks, and wear same T-shirt two days in a row. In this parallel universe everything is done on the floor - sleeping, eating, watching TV, and even typing this blog, since all the furniture is already in the truck. It's almost like urban camping experience - we sit in a semi-circle in the clearing, on the floor, surrounded by a forest of boxes. Ordinary stuff, like spatulas and silk orchids that stick out of the open boxes throw odd shades on the walls. The TV screen glows softly in the middle, drone of the "talking heads" is cricket-like. Kumbaya, oh Lord, kumbaya...

Until Monday then, boys and girls. Wish us safe passage and попутного ветра.

Monday, July 25, 2005 July

Ok, so as promised, here's the account of our trip to the Everglades.

So Everglades is huge, some one and a half million acres. Most of it is a total wilderness - no roads, no trails, no human presence. There's a 37-mile long two-lane road that goes through the park, from Homestead to Flamingo. Along it there are several stops, some more entertaining than others, that serve as getaways for hikers, kayakers, and even casual walkers. The guidebooks are quick to point out that Everglades are teaming with exotic wildlife, such as panthers, alligators, and rare birds. Of course, most of these animals are hard to spot (we only saw 2 alligators there). The one animal that makes itself known and presents itself in abundance is a mosquito. Somehow the brochures fail to mention the extent of mosquitoes' presence in the park. And naive tourists like us tend to trust the brochures...

Here's what one of the guidebooks says about a short trail accessible from the Royal Palm stop: "The Gumbo Limbo Trail, a 1/2-mile jaunt through a tropical hammock, begins near the end of the parking lot". Nowhere does it say that billions of mosquitoes that inhabit every cubic inch of space on this trail will mount an attack on you body. And the only ones who are bothered by the stench of the industrial strength insect repellent is you and your buddy. Oh, wait, no it's just you 'cause your buddy ran off at a fast clip, his mosquito-covered t-shirt disappearing in the dense hammock, arms flying wildly around his head in a vain attempt to scare the bugs away. The park brochure has the following to say about this experience: "DO NOT FEED WILDLIFE".

Anyway, we survived this experience and drove on to a famed Pa-hay-okee Overlook. No mosquitoes there, but no overlook either - it was closed for repairs. We decided to skip the rest of the stops and to drive straight to Flamingo. At first it was great - beautiful view of the Florida Bay, cute little cottages, small boats bobbing on the water. And then we got out of the car... Ok, here's me trying to hide from mosquitoes under a palm throng.

The moral of the story is Everglades sucks in summer.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Last Weekend in Ft. Lauderdale

Yes, it's almost time for us to move back to Daytona Beach - only 4 more days. I have mixed feelings about moving back. Of course, I'm glad because we won't have to pay both mortgage and rent. Plus I have friends in Daytona. The beach is much closer and a lot nicer in Daytona as well. But at the same time I feel a bit sad about the move, since there's always so much to do and see here!

So this weekend we decided to not waste any time on grocery shopping, cooking, or cleaning. Instead, we wanted to get out of the apartment and explore. We started on Friday by going to the movies to see the Island. Let me tell you, boys and girls, don't waste your money, wait for the DVD release. Here's a quick run-down: a couple of clones run away from an evil doctor/owner of a cloning facility. Of course, tons of stuff gets destroyed, a lot of people get killed quite needlessly, and the clones fall in love with each other. Basically, wakefullness (lots of action) without detectable awareness (no mental effort went into writing the script) - persistent vegetative state.

After the movie we went to the Sofa Kings Sports Bar, an R-rated bar with scantily clad dancers pretending to be naughty schoolgirls. Obviously, 11:30pm was too early for a Friday night, since the place was not too busy. But things started heating up as the girls played the Twister and danced on the tables. Our cash money ran out after the first round of drinks, so we couldn't tip the dancers. Watching them shaking their money-makers for free seemed a bit unfair to the hard-working ladies and so we left.

On Saturday we woke up late and decided to go to Miami Beach. I was anxious to re-visit the Art Deco distric and to show it to Chris. Once we got there, two things became apparent
1) Chris had no interest in Art Deco
2) It was increadibly hot

This left us with only one choice - to go to the beach. I'm not going to describe how gorgeous the beach was or how warm and blue the water was. Just look at the pictures.

And on Sunday (today) we went to the Everglades. Hmm, that's going to be a separate entry since I have a lot to say on the subject.

In the mean time, my brother returned from California and posted some really cool pictures of his trip here: Arkadiy's pictures. Check them out NOW.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

This Little Piggy

... we finally picked up our piggy. Now we can start saving money! Hurray, we're going to be rich now!!!! Except first we stopped by a beer-garden for some wurst (quite ironic if you think of it). And then we even had some gelato, which, by the way, did not taste much different from a regular ice-cream.

So, here's our little piggy, in all its glory. Chris painted one side and I painted the other. It's up to you to figure out which one. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Here's a hint, just in case: Chris is really into investments and my biggest hobby is travelling.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


FRIDAY NIGHT - Release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". We just wanted to see the crowds, so we went to the Barnes&Noble at midnight.

SATURDAY - we went to Joe Picasso's on Las Olas and painted some pottery. We chose a piggy bank so it would inspire to save money for future travel. But we had to leave our piggy there until Wednesday, so - no pictures.

SUNDAY - wanted to go to the Science Museum to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But all the shows were sold out. So we just walked around the Riverfront and looked at how we will live when we are millionairs (thanks to our new piggy bank).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dinner and Dancing

Traditionally, Wednesday nights are our coffee outings to a local Barnes&Noble. And since each small mint mocha frappuccino is 190 calories with 30g of sugar, it calls for an extra cardio prep beforehand.

However, I do get bored with regular jogs around the neighborhood. So today I tried Crunch Dance workout. Man, it sucked! I can't believe how uncoordinated I am. I got messed up during the warm-up! So I quickly switched the DVDs and finished strong with Crunch Boot Camp workout.

Oh, here's a quick vegeterian recipe:

Combine 2 cups of uncooked lentils, 2 14oz cans of chicken or vegetable broth, 1 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup each of chopped carrots, celery, and onion, 2 teaspoons of curry spice, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, and some black pepper in a large pot. Bring to boil and let simmer for about 30 min or until lentils are done. Then drain. Mix 1 cup of light sour-cream and 1 chopped tomato and use as a topping on this dish. It's really tasty and very healthy.

I would love to write more, but the Daily Show with Jon Stewart is on. Gotta go.

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Trip of the Lifetime?

To all my friends and relatives that LOVE to travel - wanna pick it up a notch?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Things To Do on a Rainy Weekend

The weather is pretty crappy this weekend because of the hurricane Dennis. Even though it's going throught the Gulf, it manages to bring rain and wind to the entire South Florida.

That's ok. We decided that it was time to do something more culturally elevated than snoozing on a beach blanket. And so we went to see "War of the Worlds"! All the future members of my not-yet-existent book-club would agree that the book is SO much better! However, cudos do go to Steven Spielberg for sticking to the original Wellesonian tripod machines equipped with death rays and for casting Dakota Fanning.
The one thing I learned from this movie is that in case of an allien invasion Chris and I are screwed. There's no way we can make it from Ft. Lauderdale or Daytona Beach to Boston (by the way, why Boston?).

Oh, another thing that I learned yesterday which might be of higher practical value is DO NOT BUY CHEAP SUSHI! A 6 rolls mix for $18.50 sounds too good to be true and it is.

However, you can never go wrong with free stuff. Even if it turns out to be crappy, so what - you got it for FREE. But there is nothing crappy about Museum of Art here in Ft. Lauderdale. And thanks to something that's called BankAtlantic, it's free for all any day of the week until the end of September.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The week is almost over

What a slow week! Even having a great 4th of July Monday did not help. I am not even sure that I can come up with the 10 great and more or less significant events that happened in my life this week...

EVENT OF THE WEEK: 4th of July

FOOD OF THE WEEK: Duck curry at Thai Thai restaurant

DRINK OF THE WEEK: IBC Cream Soda (down with the Diet version!)

WORD OF THE WEEK: SHUTUPik (Thank you, Dad)


HURRICANE OF THE WEEK: DENNIS and STOP WORRYING about us - it's going to Alabama.

THUMBS DOWN OF THE WEEK: Legal Seafood Restaurant because "They take great pride in making their dinner cost much." (Henry David Thoreau)