Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jessie and the Missing Teeth

It's Saturday and the posts are flowing. This Flip Video camera is an amazing thing. Here 's the latest from Jessie:

These are mostly for the grandparents, but this one is pretty funny.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life Options

My first job in high school was working in a laundromat next to the school a few afternoons and evenings a week. After that I started a career in the food service industry that lasted till I graduated from college. I even took a few years off after my first year of college and waitressed, cocktail waitressed and bartended full time. My last job waitressing ended in 1987 when I headed off to graduate school. But in later years when money got tight, and my financial situation would look precarious, I always knew that I had the safety net of being able to get a job waiting tables and I could support myself. Last night I got to test the strength of that net and the result was nothing short of exhilarating.

Last night, after a mediocre, unfulfilling day in the studio for me (I didn't get done what I planned/needed to get done, it was hot, I was tired and crabby), a frustrating, tedious day at work for my spouse, and an unsatisfying day at Circus Camp for the J, the family decided to head off to our favorite little local restaurant for a comfort dinner and a bottle of wine for Dave and me. We got there just before 7:00 and there was a table of 16 partying women on the patio, a couple of tables with two people each on the deck, and another couple at a table inside. We sat down and within ten minutes there were three more tables of two, three or four people who had arrived.

The owner and one waitress were the only front room staff on as they have been really slow for the summer and weren't expecting anything different last night. They were already getting a bit frazzled with no hostess or bartender as back-up when the waitress had an emergency and had to leave at 7:30. By then there were nine tables--one the increasingly raucous large group of women. It was a beautiful, cool night and the thirsty and hungry neighbors were coming out in droves. When the waitress brought us our dinner and said she had to go, I asked the owner if there was anything I could do to help. At first she demurred, but when pressed, she said I could take out an order for three to the deck when it came up.

I took that order out, seated and set up more tables, got water, took drink orders, opened wine, and got drinks, took orders and served food. I was just going to help for a little while, but they were really slammed. Dave took Jessie home when they were done eating and got her to bed, and I stayed on. When things finally settled down and I took stock, it was 11:00! By the end I had learned the entire computer system and entered orders, processed credit cards, and closed out tables. It truly was exhilarating. I really, really enjoyed myself. I had a great time talking to people, bringing them good food and drink so they could have a good evening and a good dining experience in a great atmosphere.

Sure, it was a little chaotic and maybe a bit less smooth for them than it would have been with a professional waitress. But I know the menu, I am familiar with a lot of the wine on the list, and I could confidently recommend items. And the memory for orders and the ability to carry lots of plates and glasses came right back. It was far easier to slip back into waitressing after a 20-year hiatus than it would be to downhill ski again (same approximate hiatus). I reveled in the economy of movement necessary to do it well (combine as many things as you can into every trip from the kitchen/bar to the floor in both directions, and never have empty hands).

At the end of it all I hope that my friend and her restaurant benefited from my help, and that the customers who were there had a positive dining experience, because I sure had a wonderful time. It was *just* what I needed to perk me out of the doldrums, and I wouldn't mind helping out again. Last night I worked for a bottle of wine, maybe next time I'll work for tips!

(Photos courtesy of Dave and his Blackberry)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

First Feature Film: Circus Camp!

At the end of a week at Circus Camp, the little campers put on a show. This week's theme was Alice in Wonderland (the kids with the pink balloons on their heads are the white rabbits, the big blue hoop is the rabbit hole to Wonderland). After the little Alices go through the hoop to Wonderland, the story devolves. This movie is MUCH better in a bigger format--320X420 (standard web size) makes all the little people look even more itty bitty. But if you have a spare 11 minutes, enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Copperhead Snakes

An average of seventy people a day have been visiting Stranded in the South for the past few weeks. I finally figured out why. Apparently lots of people are searching Google for information on copperhead snakes. For quite awhile, on the Google results page the rightmost photo of the three photos at the top was from my post Bamboo, Five Toads and a Snake. I expect traffic to die down now that the same search (appropriately) goes to the Copperhead Snake site (from whence I got the original photo and neglected to credit it--sorry Copperhead Snake people). I expect traffic will go back to the normal crawl now.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Circus Camp...

Bill asked what Circus Camp is on Glass Incarnate earlier today. Well, this is what Jessie learned today in the magic lessons at circus camp...

Happy Birthday to Me

I love our cake plate...

This video thing is kind of like a train wreck. I really want to stop myself and look away (as I'm sure you do too), but it's just too horrific.

This Could Get Tiresome...

Tried out the camera and the pool (we have joined the Redneck Revolution) some more today. This post (and the videos) are aimed straight at the grandparents--and they may be too Leave It To Beaver even for them...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Technology At The Speed of Light

Not too long ago this morning I finished the post about my birthday celebration at the aquarium (see below). Since then I opened my presents, and put together and used the one from my spouse--a piece of technology, of course. But it's not just any piece of technology. It's the blogger's wet dream, a Flip Video--a video camera that looks like your first Barbie camera (mine's pink, like the one in the picture) and is about as easy to use. You put in the AA batteries, you turn it on, you point, you shoot, you flip open the USB adapter, plug the camera ino the computer, and, Voila!

I kid you not, the instructions are about two lines long, and it just... works. Hardware manufacturers who incorporate a software interface have been promising plug and play ease of use for years, but very (VERY) few of them deliver. My first technological oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-how-great-this-is in many years came from the iPhone (Dave's birthday present to me last year) and then I got another big zing from the Amazon Kindle. Now my first foray into the new generation of video technology has raised the bar on what I can do both on Glass Incarnate (video walk-arounds in the studio and at shows, tutorials) and on Stranded in the South (the Jessie video opportunities alone boggle my mind and are going to thrill the grandparents).

So without further ado, here's my first effort:

Happy Birthday... To Me!

Today I reached the celebratory milestone of 47. I don't know why I'm so excited about 47, but I truly am. Is it because I have accepted gravity? (They're going to point south no matter how much I will it otherwise). Is it because my number one goal this year--for the first time in my life--is not to lose weight? (It's to achieve a life/work balance). I don't know why, I just know I'm pretty up with 47.

And the birthday year started off well. In spite of the Phillies 4-2 win over the Braves on Friday night with a crushing final out at home plate, we had a great time at the ballpark--the fireworks were fantastic. It was hot as all get out, and it rained, but getting there, parking, getting out were all surprisingly easy--easy enough that I would like to go to more games and I normally would do anything to avoid the crush of that much humanity.

We continued the party last night at the Georgia Aquarium where we spent the night sleeping with the fishes. I didn't have my laptop or I would probably have blogged the night. As it was, Dave had his Blackberry and updated Facebook with enviable frequency (as seen at left).

The night at the aquarium begins at 3:00 pm with dinner at the Aquarium Cafe--you arrive and eat dinner on your own with vouchers they provide. At 5:15 everyone spending the night (there were 230 of us last night with about 200 between the ages of 6 and 11) gathers and breaks into groups for fun (and educational) presentations, experiments and behind the scenes tours. I was most excited to see the education area of the museum--not something ordinary visitors get to see--it's for school groups--and the top of the Ocean Voyager area (the 6.3 million gallon aquarium exhibit--shown at right).

At 10:00 pm we found out where we were going to sleep, and our group of 24 people (all families) lucked out and was assigned the tunnel under the Ocean Voyager (all of us settling on our mats shown at left). It has a 6.25 inch thick acrylic dome above so you can lay and watch the fish--including the four whale sharks (one of which is shown below)--swim over you all night.

For any of you who have visited the aquarium here the tunnel is the long area with the moving walkway and one of my two favorite spots at the aquarium (the other being in the Ocean Voyager room in front of the ginormous 2 foot thick acrylic window/wall). The tunnel--except for being a main corridor with emergency lighting on all night--is probably the best place to sleep as there isn't a bad mat--everyone gets a perfect window view.

Our sleeping companions were Fred, the potato grouper (shown at right), a hammerhead and several other sharks, fish uncounted, and schools of rays (shown to the best of my limited photographing ability below). I was hoping there was a cool name for a group of rays like rhinoceros get to congregate in a stubbornness and ravens get together in an unkindness, but apparently rays just school like most of the other fish. Dave thinks they should be called a beam of rays, I think he might be on to something. Herring get to be an army, and barracuda get to be a battery. Poor rays.

The best part of the sleepover for me though was the Starbucks coffee and big dispenser of half 'n' half they had waiting for us this morning at 6:00 when they rousted us from our mats. Oy. I didn't expect to spend the 47th anniversary of my birth sleeping on a floor with 23 other people, but I wouldn't have exchanged it with anything. A couple of hours of sleep when we got home at 7:00, and I am right as rain!