not on the way to anywhere, though. That would just be cliche.
Got a phone call from a woman in a very noisy place (and from a number of which I don't even recognize the area code). At first, I assumed it was a butt-dial, but then she started saying "Hello, hello?". So I answered, cuz why not?
And she immediately asks me where I am. "Uhm. YOU called ME, why don't we start with you telling me who YOU are and where you're calling from?" "I need to know your location."
"I think you have a wrong number" got me an unintelligible, garbled response (part of which may have been due to background noise) and "I need to know your location so I can enter it in *garbled*"
"No. Not until you tell me who you are and why you want to know." Upon which, she hung up.
Whatever you “believe,” this is not as effective as medicine. Again
you can say, “It works for me,” but so do placebos. My point being, I’m
saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know
faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t
make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The
existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s
not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t
have your own facts.
Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God?
Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I
came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say,
“Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith.” If I then
said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it
can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me
out of the window and shout, ‘’F—ing fly then you lunatic.”
Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the
invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians
have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be
So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which
one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If
they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that
they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and
they don’t believe in 2,869.
You relabel those bastards and sell them anyway!
I had a few moments early on in the book where some of the science struck me as forced for plot, but once past the initial battle, things revolved primarily around characters and character interaction, and less around the science aspect of the sci-fi. For those who fear that sounds awfully "Hallmark Special-y", don't worry, there's not much sappy. In scanning the author profile, it seems Mr Drake is a veteran himself, so he's potentially writing on a subject he's had experience with, and he doesn't try to brush everything up and make it all roses.
Anyway, that's kind of a twisty way of saying I think it was a good one, but don't read it if you are hoping for cheery fluff.
She started begging the dealer to give her her money back... nicely, not threatening (at least at first) "Please can I have my money back, mister?" and that.
To which he had an eminently reasonable response, to whit: "Were you going to give my money back if you won? I don't think so. And I wouldn't have asked for it! If you can't afford to lose it, what are you doing playing card games with a hustler on a train?"
More begging ensued, which eventually turned to threatening to tell the cops that he robbed her. And again our clever dealer is witty: "I don't rob, I hustle. There's a difference, a big difference. Nobody forced you to play, I din't pull a weapon or pick your pocket. You ante'd up and you lost. Last time someone called the cops on me for robbing, you know what happen? He in jail. He in jail for filing a false report."
There are 2 ways to respond to this stupid statement (well, 3 I guess, if you count looking disgusted and refusing to speak to the perpetrator of such inanity) - 1: yes it is and 2: so what? have you ever met nature? she's a bitch.
"A 1999 review by researcher Bruce Bagemihl shows that homosexual behavior has been observed in close to 1,500 species, ranging from primates to gut worms, and is well documented for 500 of them." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
My long-term favorite example: Whiptail lizards, aka lesbian lizards - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teiidae "These lizards reproduce by parthenogenesis, and research has shown that simulated mating behavior increases fertility."
Specific familiar examples: Rams with attraction only to other rams, cows mount each other when they come into heat (useful in heat detection on farms, so an argument can be made that humans have selectively bred for this trait, but it did have to exist to start with), pet birds often pair off in same-sex couples or form cross-species bonds to other birds or even humans.
So anybody who claims that homosexual behavior is an unnatural human deviancy is either brutally under-informed, or intentionally disregarding fact.
If we should do what is "natural" then should we....
engage in infanticide? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
enjoy a little cannibalism? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
chalk rape up to "natural behavior"? how about incest? necrophilia? polygamy/polyandry? cross species intercourse? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Saturday we slept in quite late, for no better reason than because we could. Even once awake, we didn't get right to doing much; spent some time hanging out and reading, showered, and generally lazed about before heading to a costume party. It was a Greek themed party, and I have to say that I rather like the way Bruce looks in a chiton. :) I was a little disappointed at how many people didn't seem to make any attempt to meet the theme, but it was a fun night anyway. Music and a drum circle and some dancing, good food, interesting people. We were out well past the end of the bus lines running though, so when we decided to head back to the hotel, we called for a cab.
I ended up on hold for almost 5 minutes before speaking to a guy (Harvey, he told me 4 or 5 times during our 1 minute conversation) about getting a ride. He kept asking questions and then not letting me answer, or telling me he already had the information - if you already have the information, why are you asking in the first place? Anyway, he said they'd send us a cab "in the next 6-30 minutes."
Uhm... can you give us a little more narrow time frame than that? It's kind of cold standing out here in the dark at 2 AM, and there's no cell reception in the building. "We'll text you when we dispatch someone." Yeah, not really helpful there, Harvey.
So about 2 minutes later, a taxi pulls up. We walk over to it, assuming that this is our ride, despite Harvey's evasiveness. Nope, driver just needed something from the Walgreens right here. But if we're still waiting when he's done, he'd be happy to take us.
We were still waiting when he was done shopping.
So we hopped in (turns out his company charges less than the one we called anyway), and headed off. we were about half way to the hotel (40 minutes after I called) when the first cab company texted to say they were ready to dispatch a cab. So I texted back that we'd already been picked up. The company texted back that nobody actually reads these texts, and if I need assistance I should call again. Then my phone immediately rang before I could dial out, with an automated message from the cab company asking if we still needed a ride....
Anyway...the nice taxi driver who'd picked us up by chance was very chatty, and informed us of the bad areas of town to avoid (a few of which we'd already walked through at night, ha!) and ranted about how terrible the drivers in St. Louis were (while switching lanes without blinkers, and accelerating erratically). We eventually made it safely back to the hotel, where we packed all our stuff up for departure at oh-dear-it's-early Sunday morning, then collapsed in bed for an hour nap before getting back up to stagger off to the shuttle to the airport.
Once again, we made it through security without being more than perfunctorily molested and hauled our sleepy selves to the gate. While waiting, I pointed out to Bruce a guy who apparently spends some time at the gym; his arms were bigger around than my thighs. Upon sardining ourselves into the the plane, I was briefly amused to find myself in the seat next to big-armed guy. I became increasing less amused by this during the flight, as it turns out that shoulders 4 feet wide don't fit in an airplane seat, and I spent a lot of time (the entire flight) with his arm taking up about a quarter of my space. Sleeping did not happen for me on this flight, at all.
58 minute layover in Minneapolis should be ample time to switch to another plane from same airline, right? Well, it was...but would have been a lot more ample if the planes from the same airline were on the same concourse. We made it, and this time actually got to sit next to each other on the plane! Bruce slept the whole flight, I probably got an hour to an hour and a half of something resembling sleep. So, I guess Delta did us okay this time, certainly have had worse airline experiences! We caught a bus from the airport to Bruce's friend Zombie's place, where I fell asleep on the couch while Bruce and Zombie watched football.
Then we drove home, and returned to our normal lives. /vacation
After breakfast, we took the train to the Science Center and Planetarium. We caught a Planetarium show about Edwin Hubble and the Hubble Telescope, then wandered through the rest of the planetarium and science center looking at the exhibits. Lots of interactive stuff; this place would be a paradise for kids interested in learning. I was sad that we missed the "Born to be Wild" Imax show. They kicked us out at 4:30 when they closed... time flies when you're on vacation.
We caught the train back to town for dinner at Bailey's Range - apparently, Mr. Bailey has our number. This restaurant is owned by the same guy that runs the Chocolate Bar and Rooster. We definitely gave a disproportionate amount of our spending this week to him! I guess I am okay with supporting him though; the food at all 3 places was very enjoyable, and I was sorely tempted to order the "LGBT" burger (see menu) just on principle. In the end though, I was unable to resist the call of the ABC. Lucky had the American, because hey-mac&cheese! We also got billy goat chips, which are a locally-made potato chip with Parmesan cheese, and cheese paddles, which are Mozarella sticks on growth hormones and steroids. Seriously, the order is 2 sticks, which are probably called paddles because they're nearly large enough to row a boat with. We barely finished 1 of them between the 2 of us. Bring friends if you decide to go for these, you'll need the help! Milkshakes were delicious - salted caramel for Bruce, chocolate and salted caramel for me. Really, there was so much promising stuff on this menu that we had trouble choosing. I am also firmly in favor now of apples on burgers!
After dinner, we walked over to St. Louis' City Museum. The Museum is usually only open until 5, but stays up until midnight on Friday. We did the aquarium first - a very cool space with lots of interesting animals and information, but I think some of the tanks could have been better set up, both for visibility and for space for the inhabitants. The gennets were only visible via mirror, because the cage was so high that you couldn't see directly into it. Speaking of gennets - this aquarium had a LOT of land animals for an aquarium... Not that that's a problem, really, but I was rather surprised by the number of snakes and etc. We got pictures to make kresentiam jealous of the coatimundi cage. The kinkajou and sloth were adorable, and since we didn't get to see those at the zoo, it was nice to see them here. There were many warnings on various enclosures about inappropriate pets; as with the St. Louis children's zoo, a lot of these animals were released by private owners when they became too large or complicated to keep.
Then we left the aquarium for the Museum proper. We headed up to the roof, which is an open-air space of slides and crazy metal structures to climb and explore. There is a school bus driving off the side of the roof, and a giant preying mantis statue as well as a ferris wheel (because just being on the roof of an 11 story building isn't high enough!). There are stairs to get to most places, but not all - there are are metal frames for scaling up to everywhere, and we did a lot of climbing throughout the evening. The indoors of the Museum had almost nothing you'd typically associate with a museum. There was one hall of skeletons and diagrams, and a bunch of architectural examples and statuary. Then there was a hall of old arcade and fair-way stuff, which was pretty cool. The rest of the museum is basically the best jungle gym ever. There is a giant habitrail in the ceiling, a twisty tree house to climb, tunnels and caves with hidey-holes and crawl spaces with grotesques carved into the walls and sometimes actually forming tunnels, so that you crawl down the throat of a dragon. We spent a couple hours playing in the caves and then took a break for dessert.
Back to Gelato Tavolini, which is a conveniently short walk from the museum. Bruce had the butterscotch pecan this time, and I went for coconut and chocolate again. The chocolate was noticeably more bitter this time, so there is apparently some variation between batches.
After gelato, we headed back to the City Museum for "lights out"; at 10 PM on Friday, they turn all the lights out and let people play in the dark for 2 hours. This made a disappointingly small difference in the caves, but the rest of the place was made more fun by the additional challenge to exploration. We stayed until closing; crawling and climbing and shuffling through small spaces. A really entertaining full body work out.
We caught the last bus home, always a concerning situation of "hope we don't miss it!" Bitchy bus driver was driving again - she was letting people on the bus this time, but standing in the aisle talking on her cell phone again the whole time, except when she was arguing with riders. Couldn't even bother to hang up her phone to talk to riders! Bruce was approached by a guy while digging through his satchel for his bus pass - guy shoved a couple transfer forms into his hands and said he could get free rides using them. Bitch driver yelled out the door at Bruce "you can't use those! You shouldn't have taken them!" And then goes back to complaining loudly into her phone. After we were on and seated, a guy tried to board with a pass from the train and she told him he couldn't because it was the wrong pass (weirdly, if you buy a one-way pass, you cannot use it on the bus, but if you buy a two-hour pass, <i>for the same cost</i>, you can - but nowhere that we could find is that posted; we got caught by it on our way to Aftershocks last week), and he didn't have cash. So after several minutes of her refusing to let him on the bus (remember, this is the last bus of the night - he can't just go buy a new pass and catch the next one), Bruce got up and handed him cash to buy a ticket. At which bitch driver tells the guy he can get on and give Bruce his money back, because "he don't need to be in our business"... the same business she'd been loudly arguing in the aisle where every rider on the bus could hear it, as well as whoever the hell was on the other end of her cell phone that she STILL had not hung up.
I guess 2 rude people in the entire time were were there isn't bad, but given how nice everybody else we met/talked to was, it's a sharp contrast to deal with people like her and the Millennium shuttle driver.
We went back to Rooster for breakfast, and it was wonderful again. This time, Bruce tried the Slinger, and I had the Smoked Sirloin #3. We did better when we split them, I guess - neither of us had big enough bellies to finish the large portions, but they were yummy up until we declared defeat. We asked our server (Chris) for directions to a nearby place to get gooey butter cakes, which we'd been told we had to try while in St. Louis. He said he hadn't ever even had any, let alone know where the really good gooey butter cake is, and went to ask his manager. She directed us to Park Avenue Coffee, which was just a few blocks away from Rooster, so we strolled off in that direction.
Park Avenue Coffee appears at first glance to be just a fairly typical coffee shop, and the name doesn't change that impression. They do not, however, sell a bunch of pre-packaged, shipped in muffins and bagels. They make their own gooey butter cake in 76 different variations. We actually got to talk to the owner, who was friendly and happy to talk to Bruce about baking and which flavors are most popular and some other cooking stuff that went over my head. I asked if they deliver, and Bruce laughed at me and said "not to Washington, they don't!" which got him laughed at by the owner, who said "Sure we do. We seal up fresh-baked cake and overnight it." Which we may eventually take advantage of, but what I actually requested was that they take a piece of the traditional over to Rooster for Chris. They happily agreed to do so, and packaged up a piece of traditional for Bruce and a piece of triple chocolate (oh, like you're surprised) for me. We took ours with us as we headed back to the zoo, because we were still quite stuffed from breakfast.
We headed back to the metrolink to catch the train to the zoo, but ended up on the wrong side of the station to catch the train going the direction we wanted. A very friendly metrolink security helped us navigate the ongoing construction, actually walking with us back out of the station, across the street and down the block to the other station entry that came down to the other trains. I am guessing this station doesn't get a lot of people changing trains!
We headed back to the zoo to finish out the exhibits we didn't get to see last time... we made it two days, but it could be done in one day. If you get there early and don't dawdle. The gorillas were out today; Bruce had been disappointed not to see them last time. No new close friends among the gorillas for Bruce, guess that's just an orangutan thing. We couldn't get in to the stingrays - the exhibit is closed for the winter - which was a bit disappointing, but apparently there's a huge aquarium at, of all places, the City Museum, which we are planning to hit tonight. We went through the children's zoo to see the fennec foxes and the tree kangaroo. Tree kangaroo was cute, and has a baby with her, but it seems like they went out of their way to pick nocturnal animals for the children's zoo. The only critters really out and about were the echidna (cool as cool can be, that critter) and the mole rats, who don't care about night and day. One of the fennec foxes is a tripod; apparently she came to the zoo already missing her front leg, and the keepers we talked to didn't know what happened to her. She was a pet that was released to the zoo. Talked to the keeper for a few minutes about how often that happens... mostly with animals in the children's zoo, apparently, which makes sense. Going to have more people with small exotics (rabbits, chinchillas, fennecs, hedgehogs, etc) that the can't care for than things like large cats, just because the little ones are easier to acquire. She also said that a lot of their pet-releases actually come through the humane societies, not directly from owners, so many of them have little history with them on entry.
We took a break from walking and watched the antelope play (well, mostly they lay around apparently enjoying the sun and their cuds...) while we ate our gooey butter cakes. Delicious concoctions of yumminess! It's like butter and sugar with just enough flour to hold form (plus cocoa in the case of mine). Between gooey butter cake and gelato it's probably best for my health that I not stay in St. Louis long term!
When we'd finished the cakes, we headed through "Big Cat Country" on our way to the monkey house. Lions look very smug as they bask in the sun. We got to see the keeper feed the Coquerel's Sifaka, cute critters that I'd never even heard of before this visit. The absolute most adorable of the primates (in my humble opinion) was the pygmy marmoset. Because I suck, I totally failed to get a picture of him when he came and sat immediately in front of me.
After the monkey house was the Herp Hall, with a variety of beautiful snakes and lizards, and Bruce's favorite, the Komodo dragon. Sad Bruce, that we don't have a proper enclosure for keeping dragons at home.
On our way to dinner after the zoo, Bruce was hit up at a bus stop by a guy who said he was homeless and needed money for food. The guy was very focused on Bruce, and never actually spoke to me, it was a little trippy. So we walked with him to a nearby McDonald's and Bruce paid for his dinner.
Then we made a quick trip to a neighboring thrift store while waiting for bus connection, but didn't find good shirts to go with any of my growing collection of skirts with no matching tops. We did find a pair of cut-off jean shorts for me in a style Bruce likes for fifty cents, so couldn't pass that up. And back to the bus stop we trekked to head off to Farmaus for dinner. Due to the vagaries of bus travel, we arrived quite some time before our reservation, but they got us seated right away. We split the Butcher's Plate (the online menu has already been updated, so what we got was not exactly what is currently listed), which was a taster plate of meats and cheeses. The porchetta was yummy, especially paired with the Marcoot Jersey Creamery Alpine cheese. Pork pie surprised me - I had always imagined it served hot, but it came out cold and was quite nice. There was a lamb pate of some sort (name started with an r, neither Bruce nor I can remember and it's one of the things changed on the menu) that was interesting, but we didn't eat much of it - fairly reminiscent of tuna or chicken salad. Whipped lardo is basically what you'd expect - cured pig fat, processed into a spread. It was good, but I didn't eat much for fear of what straight fat would do to my digestion. The New Orleans style butter pickles tasted to me like pickles (not a fan, sorry), but Bruce said they were probably the best sweet pickle he'd ever had. As entrees, Bruce had the nachos (YellowTree Farm sweet potato chips, Salemville blue cheese, cherry wood smoked bacon lardoons, pickled Fournie Farms jalapenos, fire-roasted red pepper catsup ) and I had the bacon-wrapped meatloaf. The nachos were pretty damn good - the blue cheese was even mild enough on the "mold" taste that I could enjoy it in small amounts. The red pepper catsup was definitely a good touch. The meatloaf was good (for meatloaf, says Bruce), and the bacon was bizarelly easy to cut but still tasted like bacon. It came with mashed potatoes made with both sweet and Yukon gold potatoes, which was was pretty damn yummy. We didn't take dessert there, opting instead to head back into town for dessert at a different site.
On this trip, we had a very friendly bus driver who gave us directions on transferring to a bus that would take us directly to the restaurant. Unfortunately, said transfer was a 30 minute wait and then a 15 minute ride, and trusty Google maps said the place was only an 18 minute walk away. It was chilly and windy but not raining, and we didn't want to sit at the bus station for half an hour while the weather decided whether or not to soak us, so off we walked. We ended up getting side tracked about a block from our original destination (back to Chocolate Bar to try some of their other options) and stopped at Eleven Eleven to see what they had on their dessert menu. We stayed and tried the sampler. The chocolate torte was good, as expected (what can I say, my taste in these things is predictable). The creme custard napoleon was mostly Bruce's, and not bad but the phyllo pieces were quite sharp/brittle, making eating them a little uncomfortable. The caramelized bananas were, well, bananas in caramel sauce: good, but not what I expected. The gooey butter cake was a disappointment, and made us very glad we'd been to Park Avenue Coffee before coming here, or we may have never tried it elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, just...uninspired. It tasted alright but was basically just flat pound cake. We made immediate plans to return to Park Avenue for breakfast tomorrow for really good gooey butter cake.
We walked back to the metrolink, caught the train out to the bus station in our area of town, and then sat in the cold drizzle while the bus driver refused to let people on the bus, saying that she wasn't going anywhere - she shut the door right in Bruce's face and sat in the darkened bus talking on her cell phone for 20 minutes before she opened the door again and started letting people on. We were not impressed. It is probably unfair, but I'm going to go ahead and blame her for the fact that I am all congested and stuffy-headed again now, when I had been feeling better.
From Rooster, we headed to the Gateway Arch for the stereotypical tourist option of St. Louis. We didn't bother to do much research online prior to showing up, so were rather surprised at the "airport style security check" (yeah, that's really what they called it) at entry. Lucky for me, my pocket knife is under the limit and wasn't an issue, but my torque was a point of brief contention. Woman at the entry wanted me to take it off. I told her it only comes off with an allen wrench, which she made me prove by lifting my hair out of the way and turning entirely around so she could inspect it. She then called across (by which I mean yelled) to the guy at the metal detector that "it doesn't come off!" before sending me through. Weirdly enough, this very same torque has never been an issue at the actual airports I've worn it through. Anyway, even with the issue of the torque, they were getting people through security way faster than the airports do anymore, and we were on our way to the trolleys fairly quickly. This is NOT a ride for the claustrophobic! The trolleys to the top of the arch are chains of 8 pods small enough that I hit my head on the roof, and I'm not tall. Each pod sits 5 people, so if there is a big line up, you're going to be really smashed in. We were extremely lucky in our timing, and got our own pod both up and down, but when we left there was a line 3 or 4 full trolley loads worth of kids waiting. The view of town from the top is pretty cool, and includes a direct view into the stadium, where the St. Louis Cardinals were facing the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs. We decided that the way to watch games would be to bring binocs and a radio here, pay the $10 ticket to get to the top of the arch, and not have to fight for $200 seats in the stadium.
After leaving the Arch, we headed across downtown to the City Museum, but ended up not going in, because it turns out they close at 5 on weekdays, and it was already 4:30 by the time we got there. We plan to go back Friday, when they are open later. Lacking an immediate plan, we wandered off through town on foot, soon to happen across The Gelateria Tavolini. I am seriously disappointed in every single person who gave us recommendations of places to try in town and failed to mention this place! It was lovely; quiet, calm area to sit and read or talk; friendly service from a perky, easy going lady; absolutely freaking delicious gelato. It would be nearly a crime not to visit this place if you are in town! I had a split serving of chocolate and coconut; the chocolate was a wonderful semi-sweet chocolate, and I have no complaints about it, but the coconut put it to shame. It was the perfect level of sweet - delicious, not cloying - with flakes of real coconut for both taste and texture. Bruce and I are in full agreement that this place kicked all available ass in comparison with Ted Drewes, even though several people recommended Ted Drewes to us, though he was a little disappointed that they had no vanilla gelato available to try.
From gelato, we dashed through the rain to a clothing store down the block, and I tried on a couple tops. We picked one to go with a skirt I'd brought without a top, and then dashed back through the rain to the bus stop. We had a 45 minute bus ride out to where we planned dinner, which was just about enough time to dry off before we got off the bus and walked a block in the rain again to Momos. There are the typical tables and chairs you'd expect at a restaurant here, but we eschewed them in favor of cuddling on the comfy couch for dinner. We had the avgolomeno (lemon chicken broth with orzo pasta), the cheese plate with both white and whole wheat pitas, and finished up with chocolate phyllo. A little disappointed; the cheeses were all quite salty, which made them less enjoyable than we'd hoped. The chocolate phyllo was delicious though. During dinner there was a belly dancer working her way around the restaurant; she picked on Bruce and ended up giving him an impromptu belly dancing lesson, which was both fun and funny. Don't worry, I got pictures.
From there, back to the hotel room, and now, to sleep...
Anyway, today was day 1 of wandering around the St. Louis Zoo. Unlike most zoos I've been to, the SLZ is free, except for a few specific exhibits. We stopped at Carl's Deli on the way to the zoo and picked up sandwiches to carry with us, and eat later while wandering through the zoo. Nobody sane will ever say that the portions from Carl's are small! I had a half sandwich (peppered beef and muenster on kaiser roll) and couldn't finish it. Bruce attempted a whole sandwich (pastrami and Swiss on kaiser roll) and didn't even get close to finishing. I got pictures of several critters, including Robert B, the orangutan who was fascinated with Bruce - came straight up to him and started trying to kiss him through the glass. It was cute. I'll post pics when we get back into town and I have time. In the meantime, please note: hippos are amazingly graceful swimmers, sloth bears are crazy furry, red river hogs have wonderfully cute ears, Humbolt penguins make a lot of noise (and smell like fish), and butterflies are beautiful.
They kicked us out of the zoo at 5, we'll have to go back tomorrow or the next day for the other half of the exhibits. After leaving the zoo, we headed off to look for a wig for Bruce to complete his Halloween costume. We accomplished this after a few stops, and then headed to Ted Drewes for frozen custard. I was disappointed to find that all the custard is vanilla, and if you want a different flavor in a shake or mix, they add flavored syrups... so chocolate custard wasn't an option. I had a hot fudge brownie sundae, which was pretty good, but really didn't hold up to the chocolate from Crown Candy Kitchen yesterday. Bruce had a Hawaiian sundae (custard + coconut syrup + pineapple chunks + macadamia nuts), he says it was pretty good, but agrees the ice cream was not as good as Crown Candy Kitchen's.
And now, to sleep, the better to be prepared for the Arch and the rest of the zoo (and maybe the city museum?) tomorrow...
First stop was a fabric store (yeah, we pick exciting vacation destinations!) to look for cloth for costumes for a party we're going to this weekend. From there, we headed downtown. We had the basic idea of where we were heading, but we got a little uncertain when we transferred from the train to the bus, because there were 2 buses with the same number. So Bruce asked for directions to Pappy's... from a guy in a Rib Shack shirt. And then belatedly realized what he'd done when the guy gave him a sort of sour look before busting out laughing. Turns out that Rib Shack guy was just let go from Pappy's a few weeks ago, and Rib Shack is a new job for him. Social graces, we haz dem! Anyway, he was getting on the same bus we needed anyway, so when it was our stop, he told us so. Pappy's Smokehouse was great. We had pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches, both of which were delicious. Sweet potato fries, deep fried corn on the cob, and baked beans... the fries were wonderful, the corn was good but not significantly different than roasted corn on the cob, and the baked beans were apparently really good - I don't like beans, but I didn't hate these :). We got to talking to one of the servers (the servers were all friendly and high-energy, a fun bunch to watch work), and he was disappointed in us for not having the ribs; so disappointed, apparently, that he couldn't let it stand. He ran off to the kitchen and came back with a rib for each of us. First bite elicited a "daaaaamn, that's good ribs!" from me, and "that may be the best rib I've ever eaten" from Bruce. Seriously, any of you that like ribs and are in the area, make it a point to have the ribs there. And the sweet potato fries. Fabulous.
From there, we walked the rest of the way downtown, after being assured it was just a short way by one of the Pappy's servers... and if we'd been in comfy shoes and not already blistered, it wouldn't have been a problem. As is, I needed pretty frequent breaks on the way. We stopped and talked to a really nice lady at one of the bus stops... she claimed to be 59 and have grandkids, but looked like she was in her late 30s. Super nice lady, willing to field random questions from total strangers. We eventually ended up at the bus transfer station downtown, where we caught the Downtown Trolley. Kind of a zippy little bus that makes a figure eight run through downtown; we didn't get off anywhere, just looked around and made plans for the rest of the week.
When we got back to the transfer station, we switched to a bus to take us off to a different corner of town for dessert at Crown Candy Kitchen. Our waitress was super chipper and helpful (Bruce said that if he was still managing a restaurant, he'd be trying to steal her) and the chocolate ice cream was an incredibly good bittersweet (I lack the proper words to express for you how good this is - just plan on trying it if you are ever in this state, ok?). Trevor had black cherry ice cream, which he says was quite good, though not as much better than its counterparts at other ice cream places than the chocolate was. We picked up some chocolates to go and will be enjoying those later....
We also did some non-exciting drug store shopping for mundane things like hand lotion, but I figured you guys didn't really need details of Walgreen's and Scnuck's. And now, some reading and then some sleeping.
We saw a couple people biking through town on our way to the restaurant, which reminded me of another issue we ran into at the Millenium Hotel - they advertised the availability of free bicycles to use, but turns out they only have 2 total (remember the bit about 30 floors of rooms? 2 bicycles seems to me a .... scant supply for that that many guests) and both are currently broken. So Bruce was unable to borrow one to get around the neighborhood yesterday.
Unfortunately, we were immediately unimpressed with our hotel of destination.... we found the hotel shuttle waiting area, and after a bit of time a van prominently labelled "Millenium Hotel" drove up. And gave no indication of stopping. We stepped up and waved to get the driver's attention, and he stopped in the lane of traffic instead of pulling over. The window rolled down (and a cloud of smoke wafted out), and he informed us that he was not there to collect hotel patrons (read patrons with a sneer, and the whole statement with a put-upon tone), but if we really wanted, he could call the hotel and ask for a VIP pass to transport us to the hotel. The guy was seriously so rude about the whole thing that the woman on the sidewalk behind us, with whom we'd had no prior interaction, commented to us about his attitude and behavior.
We ended up slogging our luggage back across the terminal and catching the metro train downtown, then hiking the 3 blocks from the station to the hotel, because the Millenium doesn't run airport shuttles for mere patrons. I dunno who the Hell they think keeps them in business, but apparently treating those damn patrons like they're welcome doesn't enter the plan. They also don't believe in Wi-Fi in rooms (though there is Wi-Fi in the lobby), and while you can get internet access in the rooms by good old fashioned ethernet plug-in, they charge for it. There are 30 floors and they are hosting conferences, but there are only 3 elevators - it was faster to climb the 10 flights of stairs to my room from the lower lobby than to wait in line with the 200 other conference attendees for a lift.
So the prompter for this trip was a continuing education conference for me, which is how I spent most of Saturday. Bruce apparently met up in the elevators with another attendee's husband who was at loose ends, and the two of them wandered off to Hooters while we boring wives got educated.
We haven't done much exploration of town yet, but one thing I was unable to avoid noticing was the stench in the area where we were - standing on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, there was a strong and obvious reek of sewer, mixed with natural gas, and overlaid with diesel exhaust fumes. Stomach churning. I'm hoping that is not common throughout town.
Saturday night, Bruce and I returned to the metro to travel across town to a bar we'd been directed to, and tried the toasted ravioli, which is apparently a St. Louis thing... a St. Louis thing that Bruce is totally welcome to make me for dinner any time he feels like it, yum! We stopped by Hooters for dessert on the way back to the 'tel, because I had complained to him that he was supposed to take me with him when he went places I'd never been before. It was about what I expected; a sports-themed place with cute serving staff wearing tight shorts. The cake was good but not spectacular, and came in large servings.
Today I was once again conferencing most of the day, which left Bruce to pack up all our stuff and get us checked out of the room. At the end of the lectures, we hiked back to the metro station and caught the train back to the airport, where we caught the hotel shuttle to the hotel where we will be staying the rest of the week. This hotel is considerably lower-cost than the Millenium, but so far Homestead is kicking Millenium's ass in customer service. The shuttle driver was super friendly and helped carry our bags in to check in; the Wi-Fi is free and easily accessed; the building looks a bit older and less spiffy but the rooms have kitchenettes and we're on the ground floor, so no elevator lines.
Anyway, future updates will be more food and vacation/touristy stuff oriented.... we are considering heading to the Chocolate Bar for dinner tonight.
Moved on instead to Four Infiltrations and a Wedding, another Smashwords download, by Lichfield Dean.
It has potential, but needs a good editor. Some amusing bits, fairly predictable bumbling romance. I am a bit disappointed in that the woman isn't really portrayed as clever enough to hold up her end of the screwball comedy routine, she's got the sweet bit down, but seems frightfully naive for her supposed role in life.
Okay, I admit it, I'm just in it for the hats: "hats that... did things. Crazy things. Outlandish things. Things that hats had no business doing, especially the one that kept performing double somersaults with twist."
Hmm. Ending was a bit sudden... Definitely could use a good editor.
Okay. enough free download stuff. Fables it is. Book 6: Homelands.
Chewed through 2 Cory Doctorow stories; I Row-boat and A Place So Foreign. Both are available for free download from his website. I encourage you to go try some of his stuff if you haven't.
I Row-boat was twisty and fun, and other than feeling sorry for the parrotfish (you'll understand if you read it), I really liked it. A fairly short story, so a quick read, and I really enjoyed the concept of spam as the origin of successful artificial intelligence.
A Place So Foreign was good, but I didn't enjoy it quite as much. I am a bit slow, sometimes - I sort of half-caught some things but didn't understand the underlying meanings until much later, which had me pretty confused and distracted from the story for a while. Also, I think Bruce may have gotten tired of seemingly random questions like "Hey, who wrote The Island of Dr. Moreau?" and "No, I a CERTAIN Verne didn't write War of the Worlds, what the Hell, has Doctorow lost his mind?" It made sense eventually, but I had a harder time getting into this one.
I also attempted but gave up on Breaking Down, by Lelanthran Krishna Manickum (downloaded from Smashwords). Yeah, yeah, I know, it's only 8 pages long, but I still only made it half way. Just not into the whole "God was a mis-understood, lost alien" concept, I guess.
I did make it all the way through Samantha Warren's Battle of Black River, which I apparently downloaded from amazon at some point. It was decidely mediocre; the intro to a series, apparently, but not one that I think I'll be pursuing.
And now I'm gonna pull up something nice and fluffy, cuz The Sky So Big And Black seems to've left a bit of a heavy spot in my emotions.
Wrapped it up... the whole meme thing is fascinating and spooky. No detail was ever given about how the fixed Teri's legs. The Narrator didn't become someone likeable until he had half his personality and memories ganked and re-written. All in all, I think I could have done without the Narrator, just followed Teri and been happy with it. It got off to a slow start, but Teri's part was definitely a good story. I am left wanting to know more about where she goes from here, and really still very curious about the Marsforms.