Monday, July 25, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

If you had told me three weeks ago that I would actually be writing this, I would give you a classic Tiffany look and call you crazy without saying a word.  Then today, I would eat my words and hate you for being right.  

Less than an hour ago, I finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  Before I give my two cents on this book, I feel that I need to point something out about the author that I thought was morbidly interesting.  Just before he passed away in 2004, Larsson finished this trilogy without any intention of having them published and one of the main characters in his books is based on young woman he witnessed being gang raped when he was 15.  Reading a little blurb about him, I've got to say that I can relate to him mainly because he started writing for one of the main reasons I did: as a way to unwind each day.  Also, it is said that he left an unfinished fourth book, and the beginnings to a fifth and sixth book.  Crazy!

So, I have to say, the first 200, 300 pages were almost painfully boring and made me consider putting this book down and continue reading The Divine Comedy.  I have found that most books that start out this way usually picked up half way through the book and the reader usually has to hold on for dear life for the rest of the book and that was definitely the case.  The story was insanely written, despite the fact that this was originally written in Swedish.  It is a murder mystery about an old man who turns to a journalist who has just been burned to find out what happened to his niece thirty years ago. This one kept me guessing until the very end.  Who I thought could be the crazy person wasn't who it turned out to be.  What I loved about this book is that it leads right into the next book, The Girl Who Played With Fire, which I will be reading as soon as I can get my hands on it. 

I really don't want to say too much about the story because I want more people to read this.  Unlike some of the book series that are out there, I would actually recommend this one for two reasons...well, three actually.
  1. It is well written
  2. It takes you on one hell of a ride and keeps you wanting to know what happens next
  3. Because in a way, Larsson wrote about situations that happen all the time that can and have been swept under the rug.  (You'll know what I mean when you read the book.)
Read it and let me know what you think!

Question of the Day

Out of all the conversations that could have stuck with me, it was this:  Can a place really change who you are and where you will end up?

Yesterday, at lunch, Mom and Dad were talking about moving back to Lansing in the next year or two since after Jazmone graduates from high school, there will really be nothing to keep them in Grand Blanc and in a way, they are right.  Dad commented that he kind of hated that they left Lansing in the first place.  Jay and Hillary joined the conversation, saying that it was Grand Blanc that help shape them as people.  Jazmone came later and adapted just as quickly as the other two.  Me, not so much.  Yes, Grand Blanc provided a few more opportunities that Waverly (Lansing) could have and allowed me to meet some interesting people, but to me, home was in Lansing.  (I'm sure my parent's would see this as a whiny post, but I'm okay with that.  This is my blog, so who cares.) 

So, I ask this: Is it possible for something so simple as moving to change how a person turns out even if the original place is still well to do?  If so, could it be that it forces the person to see what they need to work toward to fit in?  If this is this the case, I feel like this would force a person to conform to what society thinks is "right", losing that person that you really are? 

Or are you?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Making a Difference

Today, KT Mac sent me a link to a page that listed 101 situations that made this person stop and think.  Situations that, I’m pretty sure, we have all faced, whether it be a death of a loved one, love, thankfulness for what you have or whatever.  This list had it all.  As I was reading through this and silently cursing her for sending me this list that made me tear up, I couldn’t help but think, “Despite everything, I really should be a lot more thankful for what I have.”  There were a few stories that included children having more faith and seeing the world in a different way than the adults around them.  Or the poor person who was offered part of a sandwich, but told the person offering that they could share.  This was one of my favorites:

Today, after a 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said, “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.” MMT

I think in our haste to get through the day, we tend to forget that we only have that moment and aren’t promised the next.  Or that there are people worse off when we get upset over little things, such as the eyeglass place not getting my order right the first time and taking forever to ship the correct pair.  I wonder if we have forgotten that no matter what, somethings are out of our control and getting angry about it just isn't worth your time and energy. 
Keep that in mind as you start your weekend!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let's Start the Week Off Right

Something to think about for the week

Friday, July 8, 2011

Detroit, Detroit

Remember those days when the end of a trip was damn near dreaded?  When did that change?  I find it more than a little amusing considering the fact that just last week, I was counting down the hours until vacation began.  Now, I'm can't wait until I can sleep in my own bed, not worry about how long I take in the shower or worry about whether or not I am going to oversleep this weekend.  Call me crazy, but you and I both know its true.

I will, though, miss some of the Florida sights, like....

The view from my bedroom window

Hard Rock Cafe in Miami

Miami Skyline
And one of my fave's!
It was on the wall in the lobby, rather than the bathroom this time

Time to get back in to the usual routines and back to work on Monday.

Did I have fun?  Sure...just wish it hadn't rained so much.  I do want to go back and spend somemore time in Key West, since it was pretty much amazing.  Somewhere new next year!

Time to get on this plane...See you in Detroit in a few hours!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rained out

So, friends, I got a chance to check out the Everglades this morning and due to the weather conditions, it was not what I expected.  A little bit of background for you on the Everglades.
  1. That area hasn't gotten a really good rain in about ten months
  2. Normally to get into the air boats, people would have to step up into them, but we had to do the opposite and step down into them.
  3. The water right now is several feet below the normal level
Today, like the last few days, it was raining.  So much so that we had to run out and get ponchos on our way to Miami since we were going to be outside today.  See?  We were a little prepared.  We were a good chunk of the way into our air boat tour when it started pouring and our driver made us turn back.  I didn't have a problem with this for a few reasons.
  1. The mosquitoes were a mess and I got bit up
  2. The rain was cold
  3. It was there any other reason needed?
A mama alligator and her babies.  I thought they looked fake since none of them moved the whole time.

We ended up in the restaurant and the rest of the family tried some alligator bites... um, not me!  Our tour bus driver told us that one of the security guys at this park owned 10 Nile crocodiles.  Yes, you read that right!  Insane right? 

From what I hear, we are heading back to Miami for dinner.  Since it's my turned to pay, I'm picking the place...I think it's only fair. 

Hard Rock Cafe, here we come!

Random fact:  This is the only Hard Rock Cafe in the world that doesn't have an electric guitar on the roof, thanks to Hurricane Lola in 2005.  (See?  Mom and Dad, I was listening to all of those tour guides!)

Can Miami come out to play?

When it rains in Miami Florida, its like the world is crying.  I say this mainly because when I think of Miami, I think of sun and extremely high temps, not gloomy and barely 80*.  I mean, Michigan and Chicago had better weather than they did. 

Other than getting bit up by mosquitoes, we went on a tour of Miami and checked out the Viscayne house and gardens.  Personally, I could care less about the gardens, but the house was a historical hot spot, so that got my attention.  Unfortunately, they wouldn't let us take pictures inside (and they were serious about that with security guards at every turn), so I grabbed a few outside.

This looks like the entrance way to Wonderland
After that, we got back on the bus to listen to the rest of the tour.  While we were riding through Little Havana, all I could think about was how much I really wanted to try the Cuban coffee that I had heard about.  Its a very strong coffee that is usually served in a dixie cup.  They say that this small cup is equivalent to 5,6 cups of normal coffee and there is only one McDonald's that actually serves this.  Any other time, you'll have to go to one of the stands in Little Havana, but we didn't get a chance to do so. 

Anyways, the rest of the tour also consisted of a ride through Coral Gables, a beautiful area with amazing homes and the Venetian Pool, a few more areas that weren't as interesting. 

Our poor tour guide was given a 'Tiffany look' when he tried to get on me about not laughing at his lame jokes.  I really wanted to tell him that I was seriously considering the idea of giving him and the driver a tip, but he totally messed that up by calling me out over the mic.  I was nice though, and only settled for a glare, which forced him to continue with his tour. 

Weird thing about Florida is that it gets dark around 7ish, rather than 9:30, 10:00 like it does in Michigan.  (There really is a point to this little fact, I promise.)

We went on another tour that went through the Millionaire Row, showing houses where Usher threw an MTV after party, Diddy, Shaq, Gloria Estefan and many others live or lived.  Another favorite was the house where Scarface was shot and where Al Capone lived for 20 years.  There was one where the owner had his backyard air conditioned.  (Slightly out of control, but okay.)  My favorite part about this cruise was seeing the Miami skyline from the water. 

Was tempted to pitch this one, but I think it totally fits the city
Dinner was, yet another, disappointment.  We checked the Bubba Gumps restaurant and I've got to say that the food wasn't that good and it was seriously overpriced, but the service was great. 

So, it looks like I'll be checking out the Everglades and spending another day in Miami.  Maybe tomorrow, the sun will actually come out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Man vs. Food Bust

Sunday night, we decided to check out one of the restaurants that had been featured on Man vs. Food called Sarussi, which is supposed to have a great Cuban sandwich.  During the weeks before this trip, we had hyped ourselves up, expecting something great.

When they brought the sandwiches out, we were all drooling. (Don't judge!)

After the initial bites, we all came to the conclusion that maybe this sandwich had been hyped up more than it should have and wasn't as great as we expected since this is almost something we could make at home, minus the secret sauce. 

Can I just say that it was a total disappointment?  So thanks to this place, we were kind of forced to skip the other restaurant that had been picked out. 

Key West

Today, we went on a day trip to Key West and the drive down from Miami was absolutely beautiful...well, the parts that I was awake for.  Any pictures that I could have taken wouldn't have done it justice or should I say, would have been a total insult, so I really didn't even try.  (Sorry, KT Mac!) 

We ended up jumping on trolley that took us around the island, allowing us to get on and off when we wanted.  We were able to get a chance to see where Ernest Hemmingway lived while he was there, the southern most house in the US as well as the southern most point, which also notes that it is also 90 miles from Key West to Cuba. 

Please explain to me why there was a line for people to take a picture with this.  Then guess who said, "There is no way I'm standing in that line."
Also, to the left of this was a house that a woman had built as the southern most house to beat out the "other one" by 19 feet, if I remember correctly.  Of course, I found this to be somewhat amusing.

One of the weirdest things that I saw here was the fact that there are no squirrels running around.  Instead, there are chickens, roosters and chicks running around.  Apparently, cockfighting was not only a big thing around there at one point, but legal.  It was later banned and the chickens and roosters were allowed to roam around the city.  I don't know about you, but I found this a little interesting.

Mama and the babies with the rooster somewhere in the area
So, Key West is known for a couple food items: Conch and Key Lime Pie.  Both were tasted and neither were tastes that I would miss if I never had them again.  At least I tried them and I think that was the whole point of the trip.  (Right?)

Key West had this simple feel to it that I really enjoyed.  There, you didn't necessarily need a car to get around this small island.  A scooter, smart car, bike as well as your own two feet could get you wherever you needed to go just fine.  Besides, a car would be too much of a hassle since space is extremely limited.  Another thing was how this small place looked for any and every reason to celebrate.  They even still celebrate their momentary independence from the United States and from what one of our tour guides told us, they pull out all of the stops for it.  Also, its just so relaxed, for the most part.  No one has a real need to get anywhere and everyone knows each other.  This just makes tourists feel even more comfortable. 

Could I see myself living there one day?  Eh, maybe not until I'm in my 50's, but I could see myself going back to visit...spending more than a few hours there.  Key West has definitely been added to my "I need to go back" list. 

(Sorry about the lack of pictures.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Miami Observation

While we were waiting for our tour bus to arrive this morning at Bayside Marketplace this morning in downtown Miami, I got a chance to see something that we tend to miss out in the smaller cities.  I got a chance to watch Miami wake up.  It was like watching someone who wasn't a morning person slowly, but surely, wake up.  From watching the sun finish rising, the almost nonexistent traffic pick up, the cleaning people come through sweeping up the streets and sidewalks while others washed the windows and store/restaurant employees coming in and getting ready for their customers. 

In a big city, its sights like these that remind a person that even the big cities have their vulnerable moments, if it should even be called that.  It allowed me the opportunity to give the city another chance, since as we drove in this morning, all I could think about was how much I really wished we could get out of Miami as soon as possible.  Maybe, its not so bad.

Miami is like a non morning person....slow to wake up, but once they are, good luck keeping up with them.  A beautiful sight, I must say. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Random Story

Yesterday, we went to the Lion Country Safari, and saw the coolest thing.  One of the chimps had a used bottle in his hand, walks over to the water surrounding the area he was in and dips the bottle in to refill his bottle.  It was something like you would see a human do, which was kind of cool.

So this picture doesn't really do the story justice, but you catch my drift!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Random Pics of the Day

Here are a couple pics that I've taken of the trip so far and I promise there'll be more.
So bad for you, but sooooooo worth it!

Our dying house guest

Airplane Thoughts

As I’m sitting here on a flight to Fort Lauderdale to start my highly anticipated vacation, I can’t help but look around me, as I always do when I travel, and wonder where each person is going and where they are really coming from. Yeah, we all flew out of Detroit, but could that have just been as a stop in their travels or their final destination, much like mine? Are they traveling for business or pleasure? Could they be trying to leave a situation for a change of scenery?

What has driven this person to pick their final travel spot if it were for vacation? Could it be a girls/boys weekend or family trip? I have always wondered this. I guess it goes along with trying to figure out what makes a person tick. Or the fact that I have to determine how to deal with a person when they come to my counter at work.

A.D.D. moment coming up!

Then leave it to me to be even more distracted by how amazing the view of the earth from ten thousand feet. It reminds me of why I love to travel. I was once told that some people see traveling as a waste of time and money. No offense, but I find this way of thinking almost appalling because it just shows how closed minded they really are. These people have no idea what they are missing. They are missing sights like this and the opportunity to deal with other cultures that aren’t always available at home. I mean, just being able to look out of the window at the clouds below the wings of the plane. It’s like looking at the world through a crystal ball that can’t be used to predict the future. I guess I’ll never understand that way of thinking, but maybe that’s okay.

Back to our scheduled program.

(Flying in the middle of a cloud as I write this.)

Random facts for you:

  • Somehow, I made it over two months at the new gig. Yes, Ms. Pyscho Hypochondriac is driving me crazy, but I am not going to let her get to me. I was told yesterday by someone I worked with that they hoped that I didn’t get sick of her crap, pack up and leave like so many have before me. Since I actually don’t mind what I do and like the people I work with day in and day out, there is no way I am going to allow her to scare me off. I’ve dealt with worse, so bring it on!
  • Watching Matt Damon’s "new" movie and I’ve got to say, it reminds me of all the Jason Bourne movies. I really want to say, ‘Guy, pick a new role…Bourne is getting old!’ but I can’t.
  • Where did the year go?
  • Took a break from writing for a while, but it looks like my break is over since Miles and Devyn have been on my mind a lot lately. I’m still wondering if it would work out if they actually got together because of what they do.